Year 53 Day 112
I had no idea WildDog’s idea would be so popular.
Not that I wasn’t ready to ease my own sexual frustration! In fact, the women of the People have been looking more and more attractive to me. My night with WildDog’s wife proved that the likeness was even closer than I supposed. We fit in every way possible. It’s just as well that offspring are impossible, or I’d be tempted to settle down with a local wife.
At this point, with the People getting ready to leave on their annual migration, I think about half of the shamans have insisted I sleep with their women, to pass the “powers” on to them. Truth to tell, I’m getting a bit exhausted.
“You want me to do what?” I gasped at WildDog.
“To sleep with my wife,” he said calmly, “that some of your power may pass to her, and through her to me.”
I gulped. These People were very like the R’il’noids in many ways, but I was sure our DNA was so different that no offspring could come from such a mating. And if it reassured WildDog, why not? Face it, I’m lonely.
Year 11 Day 165
“Greenland-musk-ox hg” by Hannes Grobe), AWI – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.
Remember the part of the tideless sea that reminded me of an underwater mountain range? I didn’t even know what I was talking about!
The northern shore of the main north continent was at least fairly well defined. During the warm season I could tell water from land, though when the ocean was frozen to the shore it was a little difficult. Eastward from the strait, though ….
Imagine a partly drowned mountain range. Not one with just the tips of the mountains poking up as islands, but one with all of the valleys drowned. Let it be so cold and so dry that little survives but rock and cushion plants. Allow some surprisingly large horned animals to survive on the sparce vegetation. Now add a highly variable amount of drift ice choking the water-filled valleys.
I don’t think that a lot of warm water could get through.
So, hypotheses: this ocean remains frozen because there is not enough oceanic heat transfer from the south.
Year 11 Day 132
Well, I spent the day yesterday flying as far north as I could get in one day. Nothing but sea ice, and since it was (for a change) a clear day, I was able to hop from latitude to latitude as long as I could see there was no high ground. By the time I tired, I had confirmed that floating ice reached to the pole.
Two things are clear already. I am far enough north that the day is continuous. And this ice, like that on the west side of the northern continent, is inhabited. So far I am sure of the white bears and foxes, the seals, and some creatures a bit larger than seals with massive tusks. All live on ice floes, though the ones with tusks seem mainly found where the bottom is shallow.
I have seen the ones with tusks before, but rarely, I think they need shallow bottoms and ice floes in open water. They showed up occasionally on the north coast of the large land northern land mass, but that area does not have much open water in the winter. There are also some on the east coast of the large ice-covered island or continent. But while there is plenty of water there, the sea floor is only rarely shallow.
This shallow sea north and south of the strait seems to be an ideal habitat. Their tusks, when I found a skeleton, seem remarkably similar to elephant ivory. I wonder if it can also be carved and worked into ornaments.
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?