Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta ice. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta ice. Mostrar todas las entradas

viernes, 3 de marzo de 2017

Cold town

   It started very early one morning, as everyone in town was sleeping. It was very unusual but every single person was asleep and didn’t see the clouds forming in the darkness and the first tiny rocks of hail fall from the sky. What awoke most of them, hours later, was the sound of thousands of little balls of ice falling from the sky and hitting their windows and roofs with a certain insistence. Only some dared to go outside and check on their belongings like cars and such. It wasn’t safe.

 The white curtain created by the downpour looked almost solid at one moment. Everyone was fascinated by it, mainly because they had never really seen hail or anything similar to ice falling from the sky. The small town was located in a warm area, not that far from the sea. So the occurrence of a hailstorm was extremely rare and certainly very special for everyone there. Every social gathering was canceled and every family had to stay home, without studying or working.

 This resulted in very interesting conversations between members of families. People that didn’t really have a great relationship started speaking about something that they thought was interesting and harmless in a way too. They hall had theories as to why they had been hit by a hailstorm but the most people popular theory was that there was a cold front that came rushing in from the south and it collided with the very warm weather of their valley and then created the hail.

 The point was that everyone now was talking, every house in town had member that were now sharing thoughts and, after a few hours, those theories did not have a limit: some people found it easier then to explain to their children how babies came into the world and children would understand very fast. Other families discussed things they had left buried and unspoken and suddenly they were all solving problems that had been harassing them for years.

 It was difficult to explain. Some blamed the actual hail, others the temperature and others the fact that people had been made to stay in the same rooms and houses as their families, making them talk to each other. But they could have stayed as before, not speaking and having secrets from one another. There was something, some kind of special mood that made the families share what they had been ignoring on purpose for so long. Of course, not every scene in town was of love and beauty. Some were harsh as the truth is not always the prettiest of situations.

 But they talked and that was advancement. In a town were many fathers refused to hug and kiss their sons, it was a huge progress that they had started doing that, as the storm grew stronger towards the afternoon. Many years later, some elders said the water contained in the fallen hail had formerly been holy water from a special source. Others said a native shaman had enchanted the pieces of ice with a spell to make people truthful. They all had different and imaginative answers.

 It appeared to be that people were afraid to say they had feelings and that they had acknowledged that for a moment. Because after the storm, everything returned to normal and it made the situation in town much harder than usual. It was the reason for many of the younger people to leave that region and look for a better place for them. They had tasted a bit of something they had loved and now they wanted their lives to be exactly like that all the time, filled with love and not secrets.

 The elders and most of the parents returned to their old ways of not talking to their children and keeping all of who they were deep into themselves. Inside, they feared that they may have gone too overboard with their display of feelings but no one really thought it was like that. Everyone agreed that being open was the best option for all but they all thought this in secret. They did not dare to change what they had been doing for so long, even after the so-called magic in the hail.

 All the inhabitants that had been born over thirty years ago had develop something like a shell around them. They all had it and it was because during their times as children and teenagers, the exposure of feelings and displays of affection were deemed a weakness and something real men wouldn’t do. As for women, it was something one could expect from them but it should never be discussed or addressed in any way. In that part of the world, people had been raised to be like that.

 Young people had also been raised like that but it was the hailstorm that awoke something in them. It made them realize that things didn’t have to be as they had always been. Maybe there could be a little bit more honesty or love in the world. With the memories of everything said and done during the hailstorm, they decided to leave their homes as soon as they were able to and made a promise to always look for a truthful life, never falling back to the old ways of their families and ancestors. That’s why they all left, leaving that small town to die slowly.

 The ones that stayed there died in the following years, at a faster rate than normal. People from other regions came to investigate, as the mortality rate had accelerated in a fantastic manner. Some believed it had to do with a mysterious disease or something like that but no disease was ever found among the dead. Yet, for some reason, every inhabitant of that town was dying much younger than normal and out of nowhere, without any symptoms prior to their untimely death.

 Every day someone died and only one baby was born in the span of six months. Those rare babies would also day after a couple of days. Some people left town during those times but they weren’t many, just scared of death. Maybe that had made them decided they were maybe better off somewhere else. But that was a very rare decision to make, as most people stayed in town to die. Some days one, some other days up to five people would die. All in peace, not violently.

 They were no memorial services, not for any of the dead. They were just buried in the graveyard, and that was it. Life continued after that but in melancholic manner, as if it was slowly giving up on everything that had a beating heart. Investigators looking into the deaths reported in town, were driven away not long after by the sadness and depressing vibes that place had for people that did have warm blood running through their bodies, making them alive.

 The thing was that, all of the people there, the ones that had stayed, were not alive anymore, not like a normal human being. They had been dead inside for quite some time, way before the day the hailstorm hit them with its mysterious aura. It wasn’t anyone’s fault but theirs that they were cold and emotionless. They had decided to be like that, blaming their parents and their beliefs. They decided to accept the world as it was, instead of trying to leave their personal mark in it.

 A couple of years later, every single inhabitant of that town was dead. The graveyard came to be one of the largest in that country and only curious eyes would visit it. Family would not come and friends had never existed. Their houses slowly crumbled to pieces and in a couple of decades, no one even remembered such a place ever existed. And no one ever tried to rebuilt or anything like that. It was a done deal.

sábado, 9 de julio de 2016

Juno V

   Collecting ice from the rings was very dangerous but also one of the many things they had set up to do on the mission. The Juno V crew knew their responsibilities by heart and every one of them knew everything about their ship and their list of duties. They also knew how to fix the microwave if it broke or how to properly grow food in the small compartments where doctor Wood worked all day every day. Not that anyone thought he would leave or something, but rather he had told him how to do it.

 He was a botanist, one of the best, and had accepted to be on the mission because he wanted to test many of his theories and what better way than in a mission to Jupiter and its moon. It was the perfect place to make tests and try to execute every single one of his theories in order to know if they were accurate. His results would prove essential for the advancement of botanical technology on Earth and in other space missions.

 Wood had tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes and apples growing on his small farm. Well, it wasn’t really a farm because of the dimensions of the laboratory and of the food but he enjoyed calling it that, it made it seem less advanced, more grounded. After a few months, he was able to feed the other five people of the ship with his vegetables and they enjoyed their salad thoroughly. It was much better than eating one of those dehydrated meals they had in stock. No one complained about sizes or portions because they understood the difficulty of the whole thing.

 One of the astronauts that spend a lot of time with Wood was Brooke Stone. Ms. Stone was in charge of the telescope and everything related to the observation of the bodies they were studying such as Jupiter, Europa, Ganymede and Io. She love to spend her day taking pictures of them, trying to not only make them functional for work but also a bit artistic as she thought science lack a little bit of that sensitivity only real artists had.

 When she was younger, Brooke wanted to be a painter or a sculptor. But her parents did not encourage that at all. They were very accomplished scientists and believed the only art that made any sense was music and even if Brooke wanted to be a musician, they would have thought it would’ve been a waste of her time and their money. So throughout her childhood, she was convinced to become a scientist like them.

 She didn’t resent them or anything like that. If anything, she was pleased to be there, taking pictures of the chaotic weather of the gas giant, a very long distance away from her parents. They had a very tense relationship and she realized it worked best when they were separated instead of being in the same room. She loved her moments alone, which she used to draw, sometimes copying the picture she took.

 The adventurous one, the guy who took a step forward to pick up the ice shards with a robot, was called Alexei Ibaraki. His mother was Japanese so he had these different features that made every single person turn around to look at him. Not only was he very daring but he was also very attractive and interesting. He was one of those guys that always has a story to tell or that has that ability of making anything they say into something extremely interesting, even if it really isn’t.

 Alexei was also a model, besides an astronaut, and was used frequently in campaigns done in order to encourage children to study the sciences and getting interested into it. After being sent to Mars on a routine flight however, he became also the poster boy of several brands that wanted him as an imaged. His face was connected to beer, butter, insurances, banks, toothpaste and even condoms.

 The truth was he enjoyed that work but he loved to be in space doing work that was more important than selling beer to people that were already going to buy it. As he operated the hand of the robot that collected the ice from Jupiter’s rings, he realized that’s what he wanted to be doing his whole life. He wanted his actions to be remembered instead of his face. Alexei was tired that people only looked at him for his beauty and not his brain and wit.

 Carmen Nyongo, the medical chief of the ship, was very aware of the crew’s problems. She was not only a certified physician but also a psychologist that loved to spend at least thirty minutes which each of them every two days to check on their mental health. This was determined by the agency as something very important as they were going to be very far from home in a place where no one else had been before. They needed some support and Ms. Nyongo was an obvious choice.

 She had worked for years in military hospitals were she proved to be simply the kindest person ever to come in contact with all the soldiers and astronauts that needed her help. She loved to listen, since she was a very young woman. She liked telling her friends what she thought of the world but she much rather listened to them and their dreams and what they had inside their heads.

 Carmen thought people were extremely interesting and that’s why, after medical school, she got a masters degree in psychology. She thought it was essential to get to know about mental health in order to prevent and help people with their physical problems. She was not your average doctor but she had proven, once and again, that her methods made a lot of sense, to her and her patients.

The most frequent one, of course, was the captain. Her name was Katherine and she had been born in the Australian outback. Her parents still owned a big ranch there, where they had some of the best cattle in the country. With all the money they had won with that, they had built up a very good life for themselves and their two children. They rarely went to the ranch anymore, but it had been that place that made them who they were now.

 They lived in beautiful homes and went to the best school. When Katherine said she wanted to be an astronaut, her family didn’t say a word for or against it. They just supported her with money for every single expense she had to make to turn her dream into a reality. So she studied abroad and came back only on the holidays. From then on, the relationship with her parents was kind of broken, not really deep.

 They were not very sensitive people, any of them, but she would have loved more kisses and hugs in her life. She would have wanted to feel some kind of interest from them, but the only thing they did was giving her money and talking to her about it all the time. And when they weren’t they were busy. So when Katherine met Carmen, it was just a natural thing to become a very frequent patient of hers, even before the mission started. She just wanted to come to terms with the fact that she wanted recognition and she was never going to get it, not from her parents at least.

 The last crewmember, the one who made everything work properly, was Alejandro Obregón. Different from his captain, Alejandro had a very difficult life and had to raise himself to the place he enjoyed today. He was the happy father of a very intelligent young daughter. He loved his wife, whom he had met in a fast food restaurant after training in the astronaut academy. She was studying in a nearby university and they hit it off right away.

 They both had a very strong personality, the kind that made them being a little overdramatic but always effective in public. They didn’t mind being looked in the street as if they were crazy. They didn’t mind anything else than their love for each other. They also had in common that they supported a lot of good causes, maybe because they had received so little over their lives.

 Alejandro would always go to marathons supporting any type of disease, would march in the pride parade and would protests in front of police stations or administrative building. He was all about causes and its effects on people’s lives. He really believed everything could be better for everyone. And that’s why he had become an astronaut: he thought that a future where everyone was equal had to involve that final frontier and he was going to be one of those who brought it closer to every other person on Earth.

viernes, 16 de enero de 2015

The Winter

   Helena worked in one of the many factories located along the river, a fast-flowing stream filled with waterfalls and whirlpools. Every single worker of the factories and the people from the town knew that it was very dangerous to play or stand near the river. But Helena always did, just right before work and just after it. She loved to see the big chunks of ice go down the river, fast, as if they had a rush to get the waterfalls lying only some kilometers further ahead.

What she loved about the river was that she felt strangely alive when looking at it. For her, it was almost as looking a group of children play ball or a market filled with buyers and sellers. Anyway, not much happened in town so when winter came and the river started its battle against the low temperatures, it was always entraining to see which one of the two won the match.

Helena’s post inside the factory was just next to one of the big windows. She had to stitch together two pieces of fabric in order to make underwear, which would be sold in many stores around the world. At least that was what they told all the women working there and, as most of them would have never had the money to pay for such nice clothes, they had no idea if they got only to the next town or a fancy store in Japan, or something.

Through the window next to her, Helena saw the river trying not to lose its power, its grace and insistence. People around her never understood her fascination with it but she had no need to tell them. After all, it was her thing and no one else’s so, she kept this particular enjoyment to herself.

One winter in particular, it was clear that the river would lose the battle. Helena lived upstream and many sections there were already frozen. It did look beautiful, she thought, but it was better when it was liquid and it could do everything, even if it got dangerous and often devastating. By the factory, some waterfalls had frozen over too and it was clear the river wasn’t going to hold much longer which was particularly bad for town.

The electric energy provided to the houses, the factories and so on, were generated by a dam upstream but if they reservoir froze over the electricity would stop arriving. And that’s exactly what happened on the third week of January, when the hum of electricity coming from various machines suddenly stop. The heating system in the factory failed too and they were told by their bosses to get to back home. If they received a call, it meant they wouldn’t need to come to work the next day. Helena knew there would be no call.

She walked home but first stopped by the baker.  It was clear he was having problems to as they were trying, with his son, to turn on a generator that worked on gasoline. Not that gasoline wasn’t expensive but the baker couldn’t afford to lose the job of one day. So they turned the machine on and Helena took home a baguette and a couple chocolate croissants. She ate one as she walked towards home to make her heart feel warmer.

When she entered her small cottage, she looked through the window and saw how the river was almost entirely frozen. Only a small stream of water passed through the ice and it wasn’t enough to make the dam work; that was obvious. Helena left her bread in the kitchen and went up to change off her work clothes. She put on a thick sweater and loose pants, the kind you use to exercise. She went down to the kitchen and checked the time on a clock hanging over the oven: it was one o’clock.

Realizing they had really been let go rather early and wondering if this time the call would be real, she decided to make herself a proper lunch. She normally ate something like a sandwich in the factory’s cafeteria but the bread there was normally stale and the meat seemed to have seen better days. Helena decided she would take this chance to make herself something delicious to eat. So she checked the cupboards and the fridge, which wasn’t working anymore, and decided to make a nice fish on herbs and roasted potatoes to go with it.

She checked her oven and it did work. Thankfully, it worked on gas and not with electricity so she could cook her dinner there. In an hour, she was seating down to a small table by a window, the one from which she could see the frozen river. She started eating the fish, enjoying herself despite the cold. Then, for a moment, she stared again at the river but her expression was now pensive, almost sad. She seemed to scare the thoughts out of her head, in order to continue eating. But when she finished she was again looking at the window.

Several minutes passed until she stood up, washed the dishes and went to her room. Somehow, she didn’t really feel cold or tired. She just wanted to lie down and think. From her room, the river could be seen to but she deliberately lay with her back against the window. She didn’t want to look at it, at the water, anymore. She had tried hard to have a nice relationship with it but sometimes it got hard. It was as if winter made it harder on purpose, in order to make her remember.

 It had happened in winter too, so maybe that was why. One day, Helena had been walking upstream with her, holding hands, looking at every animal remaining in the cold and at every plant that looked as if they were also fighting the winter, just like the river. They had stared at the beautiful shapes of a frozen waterfall and the silent and peaceful sound of the remaining water, sometimes underneath the thick layer of ice.

The next day, she woke up suddenly, like scared or as if her body was warning her of an incoming danger. And it did: she looked through the window just in time to see how her only daughter, age five, was taking a first step into the frozen water. She ran as fast as she could, in her pajamas, almost falling to the ground, getting mud and frost all over. But as she drew near she heard that horrible sound, the sound that she would never forget.

It was the ice cracking beneath the feet of her daughter. In that moment, she screamed, calling her. Nowadays, she wished she hadn’t. The little girls, got even more scared because of this and decided to walk back to shore but then the sound coming from the ice became louder and Helena saw how her daughter was engulfed by frozen water. When she got to the spot where her daughter had been, she realized the river was only superficially frozen. Underneath, water still moved fast.

She ran downstream, screaming for help and then falling mute, as she saw her daughter’s body floating face down underneath a thin layer of ice. She broke it with her fists, dragged the girl from the water and held her in her arms as people gathered around and saw what had happened. Her daughter was dead, in the blink of an eye. From that day on she respected the river but she hated it too because it had taken her life from her.

Her daughter, a bright young girl, was going to be such a better person that she had ever been. She was going to be someone amazing and outstanding, fearless and strong. Helena was going to help her do whatever she wanted to be the best of all. She would have the courage to leave town and really live the life she wanted for herself. And Helena would have been proud and happy for her, because her life dream would have come true.

But the river ended that. She ended that. She blamed herself, even if it was worthless to do it. During winter, she remembered her daughter almost every day and tried to be strong enough to keep living but sometimes it got extremely difficult, because Helena realized she was truly alone in the world. She fell asleep crying in silence, in her bed.

But the following morning she went, as usual, to work. The dam was still no working but they had to work anyway. She stopped by the river on her way to work and looked at it for a couple of minutes, paying her respects. She got hold a beautiful surviving twig, with some leaves on it, and threw it in the water. Then she moved on, to work and to the rest of her life.