Check back every week for a new instalment of the online exclusive by Richard Cozicar The Ice Racer.
Global warming never happened. Not the way my great grand father had explained it to my father. They were warned that the world was supposed to heat up, the oceans would rise and lay claim to millions of hectares of inhabitable coastline, the drier areas of the world they were told would become barren desert unable to sustain humans.
Boy, were they wrong.
The great climate prophets of the early twenty first century railed against the continued use of carbon based fuels forcing governments to discontinue their uses. Only green power was promoted, massive turbines driven by the wind, solar panels to catch the suns rays and geothermal heat from deep with in the earth would be permitted.
I remember something my grandfather told me years ago. His stories were always told with a smile as he fondly remembered the days of his youth. “Mike,” he would say. “When I was a kid, my brothers and I would run out the front door to meet our friends with just our clothes on. We didn’t need thermal suits back then. In fact, if I recall correctly, sometimes we even wore short pants, pants that came above the knee and no socks or shoes on our feet.” And every time he told this story he would stop and I could see in his eyes the longing for the times he once knew.
He was old and I never questioned him because I enjoyed spending time with him and listening to his stories. I often wonder if he made them up himself or if his grandfather had told him similar tales. Sometimes I would lie by his side and close my eyes dreaming along with him of the wonderful world that existed only in his mind.
I knew he was old and his thoughts weren’t clear anymore, but still, the way he describes it, these places would be heaven. When I asked my dad about grandpa’s stories dad would laugh and remind me to not to take him too seriously because as long as he or anyone else knew the world has been a frozen tundra.
In the summer, the hottest time of the year, the temperature climbed to a balmy minus fifty, too cold to even consider walking around our dome without even a thinner heat suit on.
These were the things I thought about as I sat on the only obstacle to break up the horizon. A large hill of solid freezing snow packed and formed by the non-stop artic winds. Peering through the tinted visor on my helmet at the never-ending plains of white that stretched out in front of me I planned my next move. The batteries in my thermal suit still have some of power remaining and if I alternate turning then on and off I may be able to find my way out of this vast white frozen collection of shifting snow dunes soon enough to have a small chance of survival.
I say a small chance because I’m in hostile territory. Funny. Anywhere outside the massive walls of the New Capital was hostile territory. Hostile in the fact that anyone alone and separated would perish, if not from our enemies than from the wrath of the surface of this icy globe we call earth.
My crew and I were on the return trip to the New Capital with a cargo of much-needed fuel and food that we had collected from a site several hundreds of miles from home. The ice sled I was on got caught in a blizzard. A blizzard we were trying to out run even though we knew the odds of success were miniscule.
Just as we figured it would, the storm caught up with us and as the pilot I tried to force our way through. Being stopped by these storms meant undue hardships for both the crew and ship and with limited power supplies any length of storm could possibly leave the whole lot of us stranded. Besides, the Capital was in desperate need of the cargo, desperate enough that I had to risk running the storm.
I left my co-pilot manning the rudder while I ventured outside to fix one of the sails that had been damaged by the storms hurricane force winds. Stepping out of the shelter of the cabin I was ravaged by the wind and ice pellets. I was fully aware of the risks but it was my ship and my crew and the people at our settlement that depended on me.
I had not been outside for more than a minute when the sled careened off the edge of an ice hill that was camouflaged by the storm, tossing me overboard. With the ferocity of the storm I knew that by the time my crew realized I was gone the time for rescue would be gone. For my crew to turn around and search for me would put the ship and their own lives in jeopardy. The loss of one person was better than having the whole ship and crew disappear on this run.
I realized and accepted that fact; it had been burned into all our minds when we trained for these missions. I was not the first person to be lost to these storms and I certainly would not be the last.
How long I had been stranded I wasn’t sure but it must have been hours before the storm abated and by that I mean the winds died from hurricane force to a more normal savage howl.
Every man and woman that ventured out to the surface from our city had an emergency kit permanently attached to the back of our suits. The kit contained packs of food rations, a thermal shovel and a few small heating pods.
The thermal suit had its own emergency air supply but like the thermal heat in the suit I had to use it sparingly so I didn’t drain the batteries.
The air supply was turned on once I had made contact with the surface. The only option open to me when I was tossed from the sled was for me to sit down and wait out the storm. That part was fine but the winds from the storms bring large amounts of blowing snow with them so even a short time of being stationary resulted in being buried in several feet of snow. At least the snow helped insulate me against the frigid temperatures.
I switched on and off the air supply along with the heat in intervals in an effort to maintain the batteries. I waited under the snow and ice patiently and when I detected the winds decreasing I dug my way out to the top and searched around for shelter of some kind; but, I have to admit that in all my years of captaining a sled I have never been aware of seeing anything that resembled what I would consider shelter, just show and ice hills anywhere you turn.
Fortunately it was still daylight when I emerged from my temporary snow cocoon and made my way to this ice hill. In my time daylight only means that the dark isn’t as dark. All my life this is the only ‘daylight’ I have known. They said volcanic ash clouded the sky barely allowing light to filter through to the surface. That was how it was explained by elder knowledgeables when I was in school and it has been this way for the past century and a half.
Enough thinking. Time to either find some sort of shelter or dig deep into one of these ice hills and pray that I have enough heat to keep me alive for the next couple of days while I try to figure how I am going to survive and return to the New Capital.
The odds of me surviving are stacked against me but as long as I can still function I won’t give up hope. I don’t believe in miracles but now would be a good time for one.
A new Canadian Author with too many ideas in his head. Surprising even himself with where his stories go.