Sunday, September 23, 2007

An Inconvenient Narrative - Narrative

A week late, here's a short narrative that pays homage to Al Gore's good friend, the polar bear.


It was mid-January, and a blistering New York sun beat down on the transparent shell of the New York Ministry of Culture. The Ministry of Culture, or NYMOC as it had been affectionately dubbed, was but one of innumerable Bio Dome Districts that had sprouted up across the globe after the dissolution of the United States government. Nobody had questioned the president's decision to relinquish their sovereignty to the UWA, and after losing half of the Eastern Seaboard, how could they? Ceding control to the United Western Alliance had been relatively painless; and after nearly a decade of pressure from the super-government, the people could finally breathe a collective sigh of relief. Now the United States, all of North America and Europe for that matter, was but a fading memory in an aging populace, and the BDDs were the ultimate answer to the challenges of a changing world.

The domes themselves were perhaps mankind's greatest engineering achievement. Constructed of massive glass panels supported by a web of alloy support beams, the domes often had a diameter of several miles across, and rose nearly a mile high at their centers. In addition to the vertical supports which gave shape to the domes there was a series of circumferential structures that ran parallel to the ground, and which housed the immense cooling systems required to keep the internal temperature at a crisp 73° Fahrenheit. Inside the NYMOC dome, an elderly man sat hunched alone on a bench in the crowded Pod station. The man stared lazily at the wavering sun through the torrents of water that continually cascaded down the outside of the dome, the waste product of the cooling systems above. The waste water, he knew, would enter a reservoir at the base of the dome, where it would be treated and redistributed where it was needed.

The sudden, harsh sound of a hydraulic pod door woke the man from his reverie, and he gathered himself, giving a careful tilt to his hat, before standing up. The child who exited the pod walked with the painstakingly sullen gait of every pubescent child since the dawn of time. Upon noticing the elderly man watching him, however, he smiled, and trotted over to his side. The man patted the child on the shoulder, and they walked for some time in silence. After awhile, the child lost interest in the bustle within the dome, and instead looked to the man. "I've never been to the Natural History Exhibit before."

The man nodded and gestured towards the intersection ahead of them. "Now you will," he said, and they turned the corner in silence. It was a nice day.

Around the corner was the Natural History Exhibit of the West Atlantic. The elaborate, imposing building stood imperiously above the rest of the district. The Exhibit was one of a series of similar museums that had been constructed in every major region of UWA territory, but this one was different. Inside the ornate facade was a complete record of the world as it had existed before the temperatures began to rise. The pair marveled at the impressive structure as they approached the massive gilded doors, and they entered.

For hours they wandered the halls of the museum, a life-sized narrative of their ailing world chronicling the delicate balance in which the planet had existed, and the disruption of that balance which had thrown the world into chaos. They progressed through room after room of displays recounting the melting of great fields of natural ice that had existed in the north, the opening of the fabled Northwest Passages, and the subsequent and dramatic rise in the oceans' water levels that had destroyed coastal regions worldwide. They experienced, as if through their own eyes, the mass extinction of species as the planet heated and began to wither, the widespread drought and famine, and the frenzied destruction across the globe as the newly-formed UWA struggled to gain control of the panic-stricken population. The old man gazed achingly at each exhibit, as if reliving a distant memory that had too soon passed him by. The child stared in open wonder at each of the detailed displays.

Eventually they came to an enormous spherical chamber, immaculately polished and filled with reproductions of the thousands of creatures that had been extinguished in the climate shift. Immediately in front of the pair atop a large pedestal loomed a bulky, menacing form, the first casualty of the planet's warming. The child stepped closer, frowning suspiciously.
"This is stupid, that can't be real."

The elderly man looked down at the child in startled confusion.

"Look at this!" He waved his arms. "Grandpa, who's ever heard of a white bear?"


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Nick Woll grew up in the Florida Keys, and is furthering himself in the fields of writing, software development, and web design. You can contact him at nwoll27 at gmail dot com.