Chapter 5 - A Land of Endeavours
This is a story of a certain place on a certain day.
A lone car was driving along a road at the bottom of a great valley.
The road was smooth and polished. Running right beside it was a stream of fresh, clean water. The road snaked along the base of the valley, leading deeper inside.
On either side of the road and the stream were rugged rock cliffs, grey and unwelcoming. Not a single tree grew on the rocks--only small patches of grass poked through the cracks.
The sky was clear and beautiful, but something about its splendour looked quite fleeting and ephemeral.
The cold silence of the desolate landscape was broken only by the sound of the sputtering car engine, its noise ringing out into the skies.
The car was a small yellow mess. It looked like only a miracle was keeping it running at this point.
It was towing another car behind it. Or rather, a large hand cart made of metal pipes. Sturdy tires were built onto either side of the cart, which shook and rattled in rhythm with the yellow car.
In the cart were many large vinyl bags, filled up and looking somewhat like sandbags used to build dikes during floods.
Over the bags was a blue tarp, which was secured to the cart by a strong piece of rope.
"Beautiful scenery, don't you think? The quality of this road's nothing to sneeze at, either." Said the man sitting on the right side, behind the wheel.
He was a slightly short but handsome man. He wore a short brown jacket with the collar set upright.
"If only it weren't so damned freezing here. It's summertime, for crying out loud. Of course, considering our altitude and latitude, I suppose it's only natural." The man added, trying to close his collar closer to his neck. He was wearing a thin pair of gloves.
Cold air mercilessly batted at them through the wide-open windows.
"This is nothing." Said the woman sitting in the passenger seat. Her long, shimmery black hair was tucked into her jacket so it wouldn't blow around.
"I'm afraid cold weather's my worst enemy. In any case, Master…"
The man glanced at the cart behind them with the cracked side-view mirror.
"Look at how much we ended up buying. You do understand that we'll incur heavy losses if we don't manage to sell it all?"
The woman called 'Master' seemed nonchalant about it all.
"It's all right. I acquired reliable information. They'll buy it all at astronomical prices, though I can't say I know why."
The man looked curious.
"Are they digging a tunnel of some sort, I wonder?"
No one answered his question.
Car pulled car as they drove along a great distance.
"We're finally here."
They had just passed through a large curve in the valley, when they spotted the land to which they were headed. It was a small country, beyond which they could see the end of the valley.
The country was encircled by a black wall, and looked as though it was neatly nested within the valley itself.
A little distance beyond the village, the valley turned white.
There was no road or stream there.
A great, blinding mass of white was covering the end of the valley, reaching into the distance until it was hidden entirely from view by the mountains around it.
The object was made entirely of ice. Its edges were jagged, forming walls higher than the walls around the country.
"So this is what they call a 'glacier', is it? I'd heard about them in the past, but this is my first time seeing it in person…" The man squinted against the harsh radiance of the glacier as he drove along. "So they were telling the truth. A real glacier… What do you say to having a quick look at it once we've sold our stock of explosives, Master?"
"Of course. But only after we've finished with business." The woman answered.
The little car slowly sputtered towards the country.
They entered the country, dragging behind them a veritable mound of explosives.
"Travelers! Welcome to our country!"
They were received with open arms.
Of course, a great deal of the welcome was for the explosives they had brought along. They sold their stock at exorbitant prices in the blink of an eye, cart and all.
In conclusion, they were now much richer than when they first entered the country.
"Quite excellent, don't you think, Master? What do you say to a few more of these trips?"
"If you're willing to drive through the cold, by all means."
"Then I assure you, I have no complaints!"
"But first, let me ask these people something."
The man and the woman parked their car and approached the people who had purchased their stock of explosives. They were now beginning to transport it.
"Since these travelers brought us all these explosives, we won't need to wait for our regular supply! Let's get to work!"
As the people excitedly hurried hither-dither, the woman asked them what they were planning to do with the explosives.
"By all means, stay and have a look before you leave!" They told her, and led them to the ramparts from which they could see the glacier.
"Can you see the edge of that glacier?" Their guide asked. The man and the woman nodded.
Beyond the boulder-littered valley was a great white wall, towering over them like a fortress.
People carrying the explosives had climbed to the top, and were busy at work with something. They soon completed their task and quickly vacated the glacier area.
"We're ready. Let's begin. Fire in the hole!"
The moment the guide finished, the ground shook. A moment later, a powerful noise echoed across the valley.
The explosives went off at different points along the glacier. Pieces of ice split open and cracked, slowly crumbling and scattering over the earth.
The sonic boom of the avalanche followed and rang out through the valley. By the time it faded, the glacier was slightly but surely smaller than it had been before.
"Ah, so that's what it was for. It's little wonder you'd need a mountain of explosives for a job like yours." The man commented, astonished. "Of course! Is it possible that the glacier needs to be kept in check in order to prevent your country from being engulfed?" he asked triumphantly.
"Not at all."
"Even without our intervention, that glacier will not reach our country. It has never done so in the past."
"Then… could it be that you use that ice for industrial purposes, or sell them as products to other nations?" The man asked.
"That is one of our secondary benefits, yes, but not our main purpose."
The guide answered the duo's questions.
"We are trying to warm up our planet."
"I beg your pardon?" The man asked.
The guide began to explain, much like a professor in a lecture hall.
"Travelers. Have you ever heard of a theory that claims that human industry is slowly warming up the planet?"
"Well, I can't say I haven't."
"'Global Warming', wasn't it?"
The man and the woman replied. The guide nodded, satisfied.
"We first heard of this theory when we read through an old book. It said, 'Global Warming will melt glaciers'."
Up until this point, the two travelers had no difficulty following their guide's line of thought.
"Reading this, we realized something. Clearly, the solution was to melt all the glaciers in the world."
The travelers tilted their heads. Their guide continued enthusiastically.
"This is why we decided to begin by melting that glacier you see before you. We sell the pieces to distant lands, melt them under the sunlight, or toss them into the stream. What do you think happens then?"
"Huh? Oh, well, I wonder…" The man was taken aback by the sudden question.
"Naturally, it means that the planet will slowly become warmer! And that will make our land so much more liveable. We can say goodbye to the harsh winters! Travelers, you won't have to wear winter jackets in the middle of summer anymore!"
"Well, I suppose…"
"Don't you agree? I'm sure that by our grandchildren's time, the world will become a much better place for us all!"
The man said nothing.
"I understand. I hope things go well for your country's efforts." The woman said.
"Of course! We shall endeavour to bring upon us a brighter future! To change the world!" The guide replied enthusiastically.
"But…" The man started.
"What is it?"
"I understand your plan in theory. But don't you agree it may be a rather difficult task for your country alone?"
"Not at all, sir. Our country has a saying, you see. We put our faith entirely in this message."
"Oh, and what might that be?"
"The saying goes--"
The two travelers spent two nights in the country of endless explosions.
On the third morning, the shabby yellow car drove out the gates it had entered through. It was no longer dragging a cart behind it.
As they passed through the country's walls, the man looked out the window and at the land one last time before stepping on the gas pedal.
"Master. Do you think they'll ever be rewarded for their efforts?"
"Who knows? Even if they are, I'm sure we'll be long gone by then. It doesn't really matter either way."
"I suppose you're right. Now, what do you say to a few more return trips? Where there's money to be had, I'd like to be present, after all."
"As long as you put in some effort." The woman said.
"Absolutely!" The man replied, "I'll show you my greatest endeavour yet. I won't lose out to those people, mark my words."
The man looked ahead as he stepped down on the gas pedal.
As the little car disappeared from view, a large flag emblazoned with the words of the people's belief fluttered atop its tower.
The bold words by which the people lived were:
"One small step is the beginning of planetary change. Never give up. Do your best."
Continued in Chapter 6.
Continued in Chapter 6.