A trail of footprints blemished the satin sheet of snow rolling over the bare landscape. Civilization had not tarnished this virginal place, though it had tried a hundred years before when water rose like the masses and overtook the lands, drowning almost half their cities and towns. Barons with thick skin and fat bank accounts lost billions when their greatest source of income disappeared with the fishes, so they ventured north and south to the poles and sought icy plots on which to stack mile-high condominiums and office buildings. Like their fruitless attempts to capitalize on Mars’ gaseous grounds, this experiment too failed. The ice rejected their money, which they tossed at her as if she was a tramp, and conjured violent storms to hurl them away.
Today she said nothing as a team of bulky figures, encased in layers of thermal uniforms, staggered across her chest in search of the world’s greatest myth. The maker of toys. The employer of elves. The immortal elder whose history and knowledge mights save the earth he’d watched humans destroy in a matter of four hundred years. Conspiracy theorists agreed: the Industrial Revolution had ruined everything.
After all, this man they sought had been making toys and delivering them to every child on earth in one single night well before the first factory was designed. His carbon footprint hardly registered on the global meter created to regulate the amount of energy used from second to second each day. Scientists struggling to save the world were eager to study the jolly man and learn his conservationist ways.
Do you think we’ll find him? One member asked his team through a microphone which resounded in their ears.
Hard to say, the most skeptical of the group replied, bitter he’d been assigned to the frigid, seemingly ridiculous task of finding a man only children claimed to see.
We have to believe, insisted another. We have to have faith he’s real.
The group trudged through the snow. The likelihood a real human lived in these parts was unfathomable. How could anyone survive two days here, much less a thousand years?
Okay, team, we’re close to the GPS location. Give me a sec to set up the thermal detection monitor and then we’ll proceed.
The man heaved his bag onto the ice and fumbled with the seal fusing its flaps together. When they finally pulled apart, he produced a long, thin rod attached to an odd-shaped, rounded disc. The rod lengthened ever more as he tugged on its metal joints.
Motioning for the team to follow, the man shuffled forward, holding out the rod so that the disc hovered an inch above the ground. Infrared photos had indicated a heated spot somewhere in this vicinity, leading them to believe the old man was hiding underground.
Beep…Beep. The disc emitted slow, rhythmic squawks as it floated through the cold air. Beep…Beep…
The ice refused to heed its call…
– Written by Miss A on December 24, 2012