Archives for category: Nature

It’s been a while. I guess i didn’t wanna talk about my everyday life anymore. So many people do. Let’s keep the carbon footprint under control. This time i’m posting a short story. It can entertain you guys or maybe annoy someone. Hope everything is well with you all…

 

 

Aurora

 

A short tale

© 2018 Giuliano Saade. All rights reserved.

 

The Speech

 

   It was january 15 when the old lady turned on her Tv set. The channel dial was strangely missing leaving only an on and off switch and a volume dial for her to control the appliance. That didn’t bother her or any other citizen in Litzsvinia. The small country had only a state channel and that would bring no need for a dial. President Ruiz was not a totalitarian man and the only reason to keep a TV station in the hands of his government was the lack of other possible tv station owners in the country. With its 1745 citizens according to last year’s census there was actually no  real need even to advertise products and a station with no sponsors wouldn’t last much. 

   Today was a special day for the small nation. What started as a dream project for president Ruiz and his team finally was taking place. The country was going to rightfully claim a spot at the south pole. They built a research station really close to the pole and therefore could enjoy the minus sixty degrees Fahrenheit average temperature to do their research or whatever they see fit to do in such conditions. Actually one of the hard tasks president Ruiz and his team encountered was to find an actual relevant user for the station. With 1745 citizens according to last year’s census there was actually not many scientists. President Ruiz and his team found one in the Litzsvinian National University. They were so lucky this scientist was nothing less than a glaciologist. A scientist specialized in Glaciers. Litzsvinia had no Glaciers but that’s not the subject of our story.

   Before the eyes of 1744 Litzsvinians president Ruiz is about to start the speech for the inauguration of the Dzingala Manen general science station. At first this event would be held in the south pole but since it never gets above positive fifty degrees Fahrenheit in Litzsvinia according to last reading in 1956 the president didn’t feel inclined to try his first snowman effort in such a kind of weather. And so he took the small stand: “Dear Litzsvinians! It is with immense joy and a deep sense of accomplishment and that I announce to you today the most important endeavor our country ever produced. With the brand new Dzingala Manen general science station in Antartica  Litzsvinia becomes part of the scientific elite. And to start it’s operations a very own Litzsvinian glaciologist professor Bjork Boradvish will spend the next year inside the station autonomously. It’s a great challenge since winter is coming in the south pole so with are sending a dog as his companion. This will be a great day to our nation!”

 

The station

 

   The day was february 20 but it was impossible to figure this out or anything else about this place by just looking at the landscape. Ice and sky. Just ice and sky all around as far as the eye can see. No mountains or rivers or trees or animals. Nothing but a metallic structure that reminds some old containers put together. By the position of the sun we could say it’s late afternoon but since this is the south pole and a day here have the duration of one year we could say nothing at all.

    Inside the structure there was a man checking all sorts of things. For him the inside of this structure told as much as the outside. It was his first time in a research station and even if it wasn’t, Dzingala Manen general science station looked nothing like the other stations in the frozen continent. There were three bedrooms one work room and one room that was a mix of kitchen and laundry. That was it. There was no entertainment and no workout area. There was no interior design to make one feel at home. The bedrooms were pretty basic resembling hotel rooms. The kitchen slash laundry was more like a laundry with freezers where you had to eat between washing machines. The workroom was nothing special. A big bench with some computers and some old fashioned equipments. On the good side there were big windows in every room where you can see the outside. Actually there was a bad side even to this good side as someone trying to sleep in a nightless day would prefer to have control over the light that hits his face.

   By the man was a dog. His name was Friedrich. Fred for short. The man was Bjork and he realized at this moment what would it mean to spend one year alone in this unwelcoming place. To be fair there was the dog. Also there was a radio with the reach of five hundred miles. Just enough to reach another station where there would be a man working during the winter. A radio friend. Someone he could call if things went south. Someone to cheer him when he was homesick. At least it was what president Ruiz told Bjork. The Glaciologist didn’t worry too much about this aspect of his year long staying until now. He was naturally a loner and didn’t seek social interaction even when there was plenty. And this is why he was not looking forward to his next task. He promised the people from Litzsvinia’s tv station he would record an audio upon his arrival and send it via satellite. His countrymen were anxiously expecting this:

   “Hello Litzsvinia. Hello my compatriots! This is Bjork calling directly from the south pole station using our very own technology! I’m ready to fulfill my task and use this winter to bring amazing discoveries to our country and the world. Have a great winter and check out the progress on Litzsvinia’s very own website. Long live Litzsvinia!”

 

The South Pole

 

   Winter in South Pole used to be very cold going under less hundred degrees Fahrenheit. So once you were at the station there was no leaving until the next flight arrived eight months later. Everything you needed to live was inside the station. From shelter to food water and gas to fuel the heating system. The station was really plain but everything needed for survival was there. A preparatory program was available in the United States and Litzsvinia sent its glaciologist. It was a difficult trial to Bjork with psychological tests and endurance tests as well. If anything went south… well… he was as south as anyone could get and nobody would show up to save him. 

   That close to the pole night lasts almost six months. His whole eight months stay would resume in a very long day. Starting with two months of sunset followed by five months of evening and one last months of morning. Not many are prepared for that. People usually get insomnia and have a very hard time sleeping. Many people also have depression and other kinds of mental illnesses. Bjork was doing this for Litzsvinia and also because the president ordered him too.

   In the first day of his stay he checked everything the manager left for him to consume. He found in the freezer seven hundred and twenty meals that would last him the whole eight months. Breakfast lunch and dinner. In big cabinet he also found dozens of Vodka bottles. He guessed that was his safety net in case things got really lonely. 

 

The research

 

    It was the eighties and no kid was so much into science. Science fiction in other hand was a major thing. And as most of the kids Bjork grew up listening stories of other universes and ships that could take us there. That’s what got him into a science major but as he later would learn Litzsvinia with its 1745 citizens didn’t have a lot of room for space exploration. So the young adult tried to find a spot in science with the least social interaction possible. He would very much prefer interacting with aliens than humans. He found the study of Glaciers. Ice don’t talk much and giant glaciers may resemble other planet’s landscapes. It was perfect to him. He was remembering college while drilling the first role into the ice for his readings in a spot close by the station. He also collected ice samples into tubes and these tubes into a big box that looked like a beer cooler. Maybe it was. Back at the station he downloaded his readings into the computer and checked the satellite signal in some other instrument. With all ok he sent the data from his readings. 

   After that he washed his hands, took one of the food trays from the freezer and heated it in oven. He opened it and checked it. A sausage with a gray mass that reminded mash potatoes with some gravy over it. Also there were vegetables. He smelled, stuck the fork into the sausage e gave a big bite. That’s when he decided to call his radio buddy for the first time. The station computer had one of those headsets with microphones. The kind attendants uses at fast food drive thru. That way we are not able to hear the other part of the conversation or the friendly tone of the person on the other side of the line.

 

 -Hi there. How are things in the big station? Many people? Wow. That many!? Me? No. I’ll be by my myself for the next eight months. Yes. Really. I know. Hey… What do you get to eat at fancy station? Yes. Today. Great! That sound nice! I got Litzsvinian barbecue. For some reason they think i like it. I’m having the meat but the rest I’m giving to the dog. Great. Radio me if anything come up and don’t forget lonely Bjork here. Yes! I will! Cheers. Bye.

 

   After hanging up he finished his sausage and gave the mashed potatoes and vegetables to Fred who ate it all gladly. He threw the tray in the trash and left to the dorms. Bjork prepared to sleep in full daylight. Everything felt funny in that situation from flossing to putting his pajamas. He had to use a mask to cover his eyes from the sun.

 

The loud noise

 

   Bjork was working on the drilling when he heard a big noise coming from the station. He looked back and sow some electrical sparks in the satellite antenna. He got back into the station worried about the electricity but things seemed to be working normally. The dog was barking clearly bothered with something and then he noticed computers were weird. Crashed. He turned them on and realized the computers were asking for time preset as a new one would. He got his phone to see what time it was but it was also affected. It didn’t turn on. He tried to contact his pal with the radio but the radio was dead. Surely some magnetic problem was messing with the communications. He cursed this new tech. Old equipments were not that sensible to magnetic fields. Bjork tried to fix the computer’s clock manually since the automatic update wouldn’t work with no communication. He guessed it was around 11:00am because soon he would have lunch. 11:00AM march 12. If this worked at least he would have the time back on running. He could figure out the rest later but time… computer crashed again and now with no bangs or explosions. Probably the damage was more complex than a single crash. He spent some time trying to fix it. How much time he couldn’t say. How would he live without knowing when to sleep and when to eat? Sun wouldn’t help here. So he tried until he was really worried but tired. He took a tray and heated it. It was around lunch time when time “stopped”. He started eating paying no attention to it and lost interest after 3 bites. He ran to his dorm and opened the bag, picked up a voice recorder and checked for batteries. No luck. He searched in the office cabinets and found a pack of batteries. Now he had a recorder and it seemed he lost his appetite. So he popped record:

 

   “Bjork here. It’s march 12 maybe in the afternoon but i’m not sure. It seams the station lost communications and i have no record of time. Earlier today i heard a bang. I thought of magnetic pole shifts. This loud noise came from the antenna with some sparks also. Probably the cause of the problem with the computers. They keep crashing. I lost radio as well. Even my cell phone is dead. Surely it has something to do with magnetic fields. I’ll check the antenna. I’m also keeping this recorded journal. Sometime later this may help. How can i make it with no clock in here for 6 months? Let’s see. Luckily the power seams to be working. That’s it for now”

    

   Later that day he checked the fusebox of the antenna and also all the parts of the computer system. The dog was complaining for a while now. It seemed hungry. Bjork remembered he didn’t leave feed him and stopped what he was doing: “Sorry Fred. Hold on.”

   He fed the dog. While Fred was eating voraciously he looked at his eyes: “you know the right time to eat, right?” That was when he decided to eat at the same time as the dog. It was his best bet at the time.

   Bjork didn’t know what time it was. Maybe it was too early to sleep. He knew he was tired and stressed. It was enough for one day. He looked outside while drinking tea with some spirit he just poured in the cup. The landscape was as still as a picture. The white snow ground with nothing else on it. No hills no trees no nothing. Above a still blue sky. Nothing apparently changed since he woke up.

 

Dusk

 

   It was April 3. The arctic was falling into the long night. The sunset was glowing beautifully. Any sensation of belonging was gone. Life was as frozen as the ice outside. So was time. Bjork eyes were drifting in the landscape as if it represented the emptiness of his soul. He was standing by the window looking outside for what it seamed like an eternity.

 

   V.O. “Being Alone in a timeless world is both a curse and a blessing. The stillness of it all resembles eternity. You are not able to avoid yourself, your voice, you doubts. It’s pure living in the moment. On the other hand you feel like you are traveling in a different speed. As if one year in this place could mean one day somewhere else. No one prepares you for that. Body or mind. I’m not sure anymore if I move too fast or too slow. If I took a long rest or a short one. Nothing makes sense. Sleeping doesn’t make sense. Dinner doesn’t make sense. So i work and wait for October and the first plane to arrive.”

 

   Afterwards when he was inputting some data on the computer it crashed again. He turned off the computer and left the room to the outside door. After a couple seconds we could listen to a faded scream of frustration coming from outside. He knew now his situation wasn’t going to improve easily. To finally give in to the idea that he would have no rescue before October was something he was still not ready to do. Desperation was slowly growing inside him and even with the best training Litzsvinia could afford he felt totally lost and unprepared.

 

   Bjork was trying to sleep between awake and asleep when he heard a voice.

“Join me.” He got out of bed and approached the window. He saw the figure of a naked woman by herself outside in the cold snow. Bjork woke up startled. It was a dream. He looked visibly tired. He opened the freezer and the amount of food trays missing indicated some time has passed. He picked up a dinner tray, opened and gave a look, gave up and took a breakfast. The dog came close and he did pet him. He opened the freezer picked up another tray and heated it. After it was hot he gave it to the dog. They ate silently. Some time later in the same table Bjork took a notebook and a pen and started counting. One thousand, Two thousand, three thousand. After sixty thousand made a mark. There was 6 marks on the page when he looked to the dog while counting. Fred was looking back at him very curiously. He dropped the pen: – Do you think i’m stupid? I know. I think i am stupid. I guess i have too much time in my hands.

 

   After a lot of work the radio finally started to work for a couple minutes. He tried his radio pal who promptly answered:

 

“Hey. Hey. It’s Bjork. Hold on. Listen to me. What day is today? Hello? hello?” Fire came from the console insides and the sound died. He was not able to connect to his pal again and by the looks of it the radio was really ruined this time. He sat in a corner and there were tears in his eyes. He was overwhelmed by the situation and had no resources to correct it.

 

Aurora

 

   May 27. All was dark outside and the big windows finally announced nighttime. Bjork had a beard and looked like he could use a shower. He had a drink in his hand and computers were all shut down. He was writing in a notebook with a pen. “Without time there’s no reality” was the sentence he was writing when the dog came closer:

 

    “Yep. Who cares about it anyway. Let’s give you some food and read you a story.” Bjork took a diner tray and heated it. He gave it to the dog and finished his drink. While Fred was eating he started reading from a book:

 

    “To enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable any more. For this reason a sleeping apartment should never be furnished with a fire, which is one of the luxurious discomforts of the rich. For the height of this sort of deliciousness is to have nothing but the blanket between you and your snugness and the cold of the outer air. Then there you lie like the one warm spark in the heart of an arctic crystal.” He was reading reading Moby Dick.

 

    Afterwards he dressed as many layers of clothes as he could handle. Looking like a much bigger man he went outside and looked at the sky. It was a beautiful Aurora. The magical lights were close to green and filled the night sky like giant draperies waved by invisible hands. If Bjork could find any sense of belonging in this place there it was. The universe was showing its tricks and he was able to relate with it as a friend would. It was a really brief encounter unfortunately. The thermometer marked -70 degrees celsius and the thirty seconds he was outside were enough to freeze his nose and ears and almost shut down his conscience. Fred started barking trying to call him inside and after a couple seconds he noticed and got inside but before this he looked to the empty field of snow as if looking for something.

 

    It was still night and Bjork was sitting besides his bed drinking some spirit and changing the tape in his recorder. A presence enters the room. The woman he saw in his dream approached and sat by his side. She had no clothes and yet didn’t seem to mind the cold. She was of a beauty hard to explain. She was very pale yet she looked very welcoming. Her fair skin and light hair made it hard to distinguish her in the snow yet she looked warm and tender. Her voice was soft and inviting. He wasn’t perplexed or overwhelmed. Maybe it was the liquor but he looked comforted by her presence:

    “Are you real?” he asked.

    “I don’t know. What real means?” she answered plainly.

    “Do you have a name?”

    “No. Can you give me one?”

    “Well… I could… Aurora.” She smiled. 

    “That’s a beautiful name. She replied. “Are you planning to stay?” 

    “Yes. I’m stuck here.”

    “You are free to leave. No?”

    “No. People will come for me but I can’t tell you when. I don’t know when is when.”

    “Maybe “when” is not that important. You should enjoy. Look at the sky. It’s beautiful.”

She got up and walked towards the door and he followed her as she left the station. After 10 meters into the dark snow field she faded and as waking from a dream he finally listened to Fred barking a couple meters back. He went back to the station with the dog both almost frozen and shaking. The dog licked his face repeatedly as he hugged him for a long time. 

 

    In his room Bjork pushed rec in the tape recorder: “It’s official. I’m going crazy. I met Aurora and it was the best thing that happened in these last months. I didn’t obsess about time when she was here. But Aurora is not real and if i’m seeing her it’s because i’m far gone in this place. I can’t wait to see her again.”

 

    The next days were almost ordinary. He fed the dog and cleaned his room and took his bath. Really ordinary things but with one detail. Every once in a while he would lose himself looking through the windows.

 

    It could be July or August. Who could tell for sure? It was still dark and we couldn’t say much more. He was checking the freezer and realized that there was only food for two months and that if he stopped feeding the dog with it. He didn’t take care of his food supply but how could him when he had no knowledge of time? Assuming the first flight was three to four months away more or less he would need to reduce his diet in order to survive. At least there were still dozens of Vodka bottles. He wondered if a man can live of those for some time. He ate part of the food in the tray and put the rest back in the freezer. Fred didn’t seem happy since he was sniffing around his table the entire meal. Bjork tried to pet him but dinner was noisy. The poor thing didn’t want to go back to dog food.

    Back in the room he looked a long time at his face after he washed it. Later on when he was almost sleeping something moved in the dark. A presence that became more and more noticeable until it got inside the sheets. It was Aurora. She reached his mouth and they started kissing and moving around in what turned out to be an intense night of sex or so he felt it.

 

The clock

 

    Bjork woke up alone. He wondered if it was a dream and started his day as if it was. It was not hard to wake up and change. He was energetic and feeling more alive than any other day at the station. Actually he felt more alive than he could even remember. That day he was cooking his breakfast when suddenly an idea hit him. He was staring for no reason to the countdown clock in the oven. This countdown clock had only a round dial with a sixty minutes counter but still he was mad about not thinking of that before. He picked up an empty bottle and made a small hole on the bottom. He filled the bottle and turned the oven to maximum time of sixty minutes. By doing this he learned that the bottle took 12 times the full dial countdown. So it took twelve hours to empty or two bottles a day. He marked the bottle at every hour using the countdown clock and now he had a clock.

    After a week Bjork already looked different. More rested. He knew what time to eat and when would be the time to bed. He started working again and his notepad was getting full. One thing he was not able to master was the time to sleep. Usually he would wake up many times during the night to check the bottle. As it was clearly time to get control back Bjork decided to build a contraption by his bed. A bucket got filled up with the water from the bottle to a point where water overflowed through a small dent and dripped on a metal plate loudly. The time for this to happen was set to eight hours. After a couple nights he started waking up to with no problem. Everything was getting better day after day. Time returned to that place. He was able to feel he was twenty five hundred miles from Punta Arena’s port. He didn’t have many answers but what he had was enough to keep him until the cavalry arrived.

 

A new day

 

      Morning was rising at the pole. Bjork caught himself looking at the window again. Or it was Fred who realized it? Was it that obvious? The fact is that the dog made a habit of demanding to be pet every time Bjork froze looking outside. If Fred was human he probably would be asking Bjork why didn’t he get Aurora out of his head even after everything started to get back to normal. Why was he interested in the personification of his own madness? Bjork felt it was like vertigo and the secret desire to fall. His routine was making it all better but also was killing something he didn’t want dead. His scientific brain was driven by control and always felt deprived of fantasy. This place helped him to trigger a kind of desire his mind was not ready for. 

    Later that day he wrote a footnote in his notepad: “Maybe “when” is not that important.” and while writing he could remember her. All his life was marked by planning and development, constrained places and time sets. In these last months some doors were opened and would never close back. He was not the same. The longing for her was not fading al all. Quite the opposite. He started questioning many of his life’s choices.

    It was time to bed and Bjork prepared his alarm. After changing clothes and brushing his teeth he laid down on his bed and put the mask over his eyes. And there he was for at least a couple hours. He tried and tried to sleep but something was keeping him. After some time he stood up and looked Up. He knew there was no turning back. He was getting more tense and more certain by the minute. He knocked the down contraption close to his bed. Then he charged towards the clock and released the water in the sink throwing the bottle afterwards in the garbage basket. He started throwing the computers outside at the snow and at last he threw his smartphone. He looked at all that stuff one more time and closed the door behind it. He felt so free at that moment he went back to bad and in a couple moments he was finally sleeping heavily. That’s when he felt it. A presence in the room. Someone was getting inside the sheets. It was Aurora.

 

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That’s not an usual challenge… But it’s halloween so let’s do it…lol…I have two shots…one is more obvious…even for carnivorous as myself…I like to look at my steak on the plate…not like this…lol…and the more important is a detail you will not recognize because it’s in portuguese….the brand of the product is “happy pig”… The second is about chaos and how some things so naive to us when out of context can give us a weird sensation…

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Wow…This is a challenge that asks for a gallery. Some of the shots many will know already… Because i love the horizon and i’m always posting it… Anyways it’s a great way to wish a great week to you all… 🙂