Year 11 Day 130
I’ve come to a sea water strait that may or may not end this continent. It’s not very wide; I can levitate high enough to see land beyond. And it’s not very deep either. In fact, the whole sea water expanse between the northern continent and this land mass farther east is so shallow that it wouldn’t take much drop in sea level – no more that a buildup of the ice sheets – to make this new land continuous with the coast I’ve been following.
This strait is a bit wider than the one separating the tideless sea from the tidal see to the west, but shallower. I don’t believe it is really any as much of a division between continents as a flooded low-lying area.
Go on eastward, or follow the strait to the south? Since my main question is why this planet seems to have ice caps at both poles, I think I’ll assume that this strait is too narrow to allow much warm sea water in to melt the ice, and continue along the north coast of this new land mass. Right now the ice is within easy sight of the shore, but that may change as the season advances. At any rate, this will allow me to encircle the floating ice, and perhaps take an occasional side trip to the north.
Year 11 Day 45
Some images stay in your head forever.
I think I will always remember WildDog, sitting on the ground next to the snowfield I teleported in for the Gather, with Patches’ head in his lap. I knew she was failing, but she so obviously wanted to go with WildDog that I didn’t even think to object. I don’t think WildDog encouraged her to overdo, it, either. It was just that her time had come.
Death is nothing new or strange to the children of the People, and WildDog looked up at me with tears running down his face, but with complete understanding that his companion was gone. “She just laid her head in my lap and died,” he said.
“She was old,” I told him. “I think she hung on to see you again, and I believe her last moments were happy.”
He looked down at Patches’ head, and gently stroked her half-bald ears. “Can we bury her?” he asked. “Or is that just for people? Because she’s sort of people too.”
Yes, the People buried their dead, but my own people teleported their dead into the sun. I couldn’t manage that; my esper skills weren’t up to it. But I could wait until night fell and send her body toward the stars, and that somehow felt right.
So I told WildDog to look for Patches in the stars, where she would be guarding him as she had done since his birth.
Year 10 Day 345
Credit: Kevin Schafer/UC Davis photo
It’s a good thing I’ve learned to check the weather at a teleport destination, and set an automatic “return home” if I feel any danger. In nine fivedays I’ve actually managed to fly all day southward on no more than a handful of days.
Other days? Well, Patches has good days and bad, and when she has good days and her memories of favorite places touch my mind, I take her to those places. She doesn’t do much but lie in the sun, but she feels happy.
I never teleport into a lightning storm. That’s a lesson I learned years ago. But I decided that if I never teleported into cloud or wind, I’d never get very far south. Yes, the northern oceans are stormy, but not like this!
I’ve reached about 50° South, and with no sign of ice or land. I did, amazingly enough, see a bird today. It was soaring, rather than pumping its wings in flight, and it didn’t look as if it needed to land very often. It seemed to be getting its food from the water, which was teeming with life. Could it really be that far from land?
Year 10 Day 300
I can’t explore to the north this time of year. Not only is it bitterly cold, there is no sunlight. But in studying the images the ship captured as we crashed, there appear to be ice caps at both poles. And at this time of year, a little after the southern solstice, the southern polar regions should be at their warmest and brightest.
Granted, this continent I am on does not extend very far south – barely 35°. I can see nothing but ocean south of it, no matter how high I levitate. The images, which were taken at nearly this point in the seasonal cycle, are not much help, as there are too many clouds to tell whether I am looking at land or ocean.
That many clouds, of course, translates to stormy. After a day of flying due south from the southernmost cape, I was soaking wet and exhausted. I considered teleporting to the pole, which I could have done – I’ve learned that much. But what if this south pole is not water? What if it is high, perhaps even as high as the snow-capped mountains I have seen? Teleporting myself into sold rock, or even solid ice, is not a good idea. Even I know that!
So I will teleport each day to the coordinates I left the evening before, fly southward until I am soaked and cold, and then teleport back to my home. If I teleport into a region of thunder and lightning I will leave, but so far these clouds seem not to belong to that kind of storm.
Year 10 Day 298
I’ve wondered before how long wild dogs live, but now it has become a matter of some urgency. I think Patches is dying.
Her appetite has not been good the last couple of fivedays. It’s even hard to get her to drink water. I am not much of a healer, but when I try to feel what is going wrong with her, I think her blood cleaning system is shutting down. She’s lost interest in swimming, in chasing game, in all of the other things that used to be her consuming interest.
It’s strange to remember her as the orphan pup that came into my life even before I knew the People were here. She has become very much a part of my life. I remember how destructive she was, yet at the same time, how adorable.
She is an animal, I tell myself. So are the People, some part of me answers. They too will grow old and die. Is it my fate to live on, alone?
Jarn’s Journal is part of the remote back story of the universe in which my science fiction is set. For the entire Journal to date, check my author site.
Year 10, Day 211
I’ve added my observations of the shore of the northern ocean and its floating ice cap to the world map I’m building up in the computer. I find I’ve mapped more that a third of the way around this world. The eastern coast of the ice-covered mountains is a good 55° west of the lake where I live; the spot where I decided it was too cold to continue this year is nearly 105° east. Close to halfway, and while there were a number of river mouths and deep inlets, the only though connection to the ocean so far is the relatively narrow strait broken by the volcanic island. Perhaps the isolation of this northern ocean is the answer.
The proof will have to wait for next year. For right now, Rainbow is hinting she would like another of the wild pigs from the northern continent, not to mention the nuts I found last year as well as dates and figs. The fruit and nuts are no problem. The pig ….
They’re mostly eating acorns now—I checked. If they taste like what they eat, as the warthogs do, they should be quite tasty. But I will kill one only in self-defense, like the first time, or if it is badly injured. Perhaps I could rob a predator of its kill?
Year 10 Day 195
I am beginning to think this polar ocean may very well be landlocked, or nearly so.
I am flying along the shore of the huge land mass to the northeast.. Now and then I fly north, and find drift ice. Sometimes I don’t even need to fly north; ice extends to the shore. If I fly south I can find stunted trees. But mostly I find low vegetation: low bushes, sedge, grass, and bog. Occasionally I see reindeer, huge hairy elephants, animals like buffalo or other really strange ones with large noses, but they are relatively rare. Nothing that looks like the People.
Frankly, it is even more boring than the desert coast I was exploring a few years back.
Today is the southward equinox, the start of autumn here. The sun is setting at the North Pole; I teleported there to see the sun roll around the horizon. I’ve come more than a third of the way around the planet, and it’s getting cold. Already I’ve seen one snowstorm. At least I now know that the mountains far to the west are on a peninsula, rather than an island.
I think I’ll wait until the northward equinox to continue mapping this coast.
Year 10 Day 142
Well, I have a new puzzle.
The ice cap at the North Pole is very definitely floating. It’s not smooth; in fact collisions of large, flat areas of ice have resulted in ice ridges tall enough to be called small hills. But when I try to perceive land under them, there is nothing but salt water. Deep salt water.
This doesn’t make sense. Water is much more efficient than air at carrying heat from the equator to the poles. Given an ocean at the poles that is open to equatorial water, warm water from the equator will quickly thaw any temporary winter ice. Certainly the polar ocean is open to the warm ocean to the east of the continent where I am living; I’ve flown over it. What is happening on this planet?
I went back and studied the few images I have of the planet from space. It’s hard to tell the difference between clouds, snow-covered land, and ice, but I cannot rule out the possibility of land almost surrounding the frozen ocean aside from the corridor I’ve followed. It’s relatively warm now in the north, and there are about another eight fivedays before the sun sets at the North Pole, so I suppose I had better spend that exploration time following the coastline from the northernmost land I’ve found to the east. At least I should find out whether the mountain range where I saw the aurora is part of an island or a peninsula.
Jarn’s Journal is the (fictional) journal of a human-like alien stranded in Africa 125,000 years ago. He is interacting with some of our ancestors, but also exploring the planet with the aid of levitation, telekinesis and the salvaged computer of his wrecked spaceship.
Year 10 Day 132
Patches and I are swimming every morning before it gets too terribly hot, but in the afternoons I’ve gone back to exploring. I’ve decided the ice cap (or whatever it is) at the North Pole should be my next priority, so I’ve been flying due north from the volcanic island near the edge of the ice. Today I spotted snow-covered land to the west of my flight path, though so far it does not appear to bend around to the north of me. Of course, between the clouds and everything being white it’s rather hard to be sure, but there are definitely mountains. Is there a glaciated continent at the pole, or is this merely another large island? Or is this a continent that does not reach the pole?
So far, it is merely glaciated mountains below me and to my left, but I am never out of sight of the ocean to my right. If the clouds clear I might be able to get high enough for a better view, but the top surface of a cloud deck is not very informative.
A clear day at last, and I was able to get some altitude. I couldn’t get high enough to see any end to the ice sheet west of me, but the coast certainly appears to bend back to the west of the line northwards. I don’t know which is worse, the frustration or the cold — though of course the thought of the cold is welcome after the heat of the salt lake. Maybe I’d better just concentrate on making distance northward.
Year 10 Day 126
There are times when I wonder if I’m even as smart as some of the People.
When they are not here, I swim for exercise. Mostly I go to the salt lake, though it’s a little warm this time of year. Certainly not the lake by my home; it’s far too good a habitat for crocodiles. Yes, a warnoff would protect me, I think, though they don’t have much brain to affect! But I do not want to set a bad example for the children of the People, and I have implanted in Patches’ mind that she should never swim in or even drink from the lake.
So I’ve been taking Patches for long walks, and while I am keeping in as good condition as I can expect, my feet are killing me. I don’t think I have the genes to grow the kind of tough soles on my feet that they seem to take for granted.
This morning it finally occurred to me. Patches can swim; all mammals can. The crocodiles in the local lake make it unwise, but there is no reason at all I cannot take her with me to the salt lake and let her exercise by swimming with me. There are no predators in the salt lake, and as long as I implant in her mind that she should not drink the water she is swimming in, she should get plenty of exercise.
This morning I tried it.
I wore her out pretty quickly, and had to cut my own swim short. But there is a little fresh-water pool, too small for crocodiles even if the bottom weren’t visible, fairly near the shore of the lake and draining into it. We took a brief dip in that to wash the salt off both of us before teleporting home in time for lunch – a very small lunch, in Patches’ case. This schedule leaves my afternoons free for exploring. I think I may fly all the way north, and determine if the drift ice extends to the pole.