Return To Mount Terror (excerpts)

The little boy tied a knot in the polar circle, he rolled it up and put it in his pocket and he spoke, I must never forget, it is not here among the people, it is so much farther towards the cold. Later when I'm grown up I'll believe nothing anymore and that's when I'll find it. And he grew up and he believed nothing anymore and that's when he found it.

The little girl tied a line to her arrow, she aimed her bow in the direction of the cold, she shot her arrow and then she spoke, wherever this arrow lands, that's where I'll find it. And the arrow disappeared in the shadow of the earth, and she followed the line all the way to the end and that's where she found it.

And so was it really a coincidence when they both arrived at the same time and place? Because the moment they saw each other, the living myth was born right then and there. And they both spoke, all that matters is that we never forget, this is the point that does not move, the axis of the world, the land where all meridians come together, the country of no colors where no one lives, and wherever we are, steam will come from our mouths when we speak of it.

And the people of the world asked as they always do, where is it you come from and what is it you do for a living? And we could say nothing because steam doesn't fit in words. But now the meridians will speak for us, black lines left behind by humans across the surface of the earth like letters, and letters make words and words make stories and so each meridian is a story and all stories point to the same pole, all different perspectives looking across the land from the coast to the pole, each time a different coast, each time the same pole. So now everyone can know what we do and where we're from.

Regular mail doesn't get delivered to Antarctica. But sometimes a bird carrying a letter in his beak lands at our feet. He falls over from exhaustion, he's searched all across the continent to find us, we revive him with a blanket and a fish and maybe a drop of whisky. He survives his deathbed and tells us all about his near-death experience. The letter has already blown away unopened across the ice field, the message is lost but the messenger lives. Or an empty plastic bag with a single word printed across it, swept from the deck of a ship passing in the night, whirled up high through the clouds, it scurries across the ice and runs circles around us like a dog that's glad to see you after spending the whole day all alone. Catch me if you can... But we're not fast enough, and the bag with its unread word blows back over the water. Or we find a dark green bottle with a message inside, drifted across the whole southern ocean, maybe expecting a nice smooth beach, and instead washing up against a towering wall of ice. We reach down and fish up the bottle, pull out the cork and listen. We find no words inside, not even paper, only music, not even notes. Music that howls at the wind and whispers with the snow, music that flows like rivers of ice, music like the emperor chick's first meal of half-digested squid. And then it's silent again. The bottle is empty and waits for our answer. We howl and whisper our words, we sing them and growl them. Words that undress the heart and leave it naked in the cold. Music that needs no clothes. PS. No one here thinks you're crazy. But be warned, love is not entertaining, love is cold and love is lonely, and the closer you get the lonelier it is. If you do come, bring your instrument. Now the bottle is full. We put in the cork and throw it back in the ocean. The green here grows inside stones, slower than the slowest ice. Our garden is so old. God bless Antarctica.


Now that was something which even he in all his omniscience hadn't foreseen. That it would turn out to be such an easy job in the end. That they would have sorted themselves out in advance, all according to whatever delusion they happened to believe in. The lazy cowards. Each belief possessed its own flock and there was no one who was not possessed. So now all he had to do was inspect a few superintendents in order to dispatch entire populations up or down by the billions, depending on his final judgment. Cheering or wailing, depending on what direction they were going. Of course he still had to stick to the admission rules of his own holy book, otherwise they could all just go to hell for all he cared. Now he would be stuck for eternity with the feedback of his own word. All his own fault of course, his own creation, too late now to reorganize the whole setup... Anyway he was almost finished. Just a few so-called freethinkers to wrap up the final day. What, he should judge them all one by one, just because they thought they thought for themselves? All they ever did was violate his copyrights and anyway they didn't even believe in him and that was really the minimum requirement. And then there was still a case in absentia. Let me guess, didn't hear the trumpets or what? The skies breathe into everything that craves air. No need to think about it.

All words and images copyright 2008 by Vanita & Johanna Monk

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