NaNoWriMo Word Count: 1,564
At the first clearing of the storm, after three days of winds clocked at 60 knots per hour, an L382G Hercules roared over Clyde River. Even students from the school clambered out of the front door at the noise the plane made banking and then landing at the towns airstrip of ice.
RMCP Sydney Brindeau in his official red parka and mountie hat pulled up on his skidoo to greet the plane. It was on loan from First Air as part of the renewed search and rescue effort to recover the town’s two missing Inuit hunters, Moe and Elijah. Sydney had been able to convince few superiors or partner associations to assist, but one of his call led to several others that gained them use of the Hercules, additional RMCP, a helicopter and a Kodiak raft. All were in the massive cargo bay of the plane.
RMCP Alex Kincaid stepped down after the door hatch and stairs opened. “Sydney!” The man’s deep blue eyes twinkled from deep within his parka hood and his voice resonated like the engines that had just died down.
“How are you Alex, good to see you,” returned Sydney who had once trained with Alex. “Has it really been 10 years?”
“Nah, it was just yesterday,” Alex said. The men clasped hands and shoulders as other mounties stepped out of the plane, followed by a well dressed civilian in a trench coat and black knit-cap.
“Who is this,” asked Sydney.
Alex looked at the civilian who was standing at the top of the steps, scanning the horizon of Clyde River. “That’s Conrado Elizondo. He’s from Texas, way, way south of here.”
“Is he with one of the mining companies,” asked Sydney.
“No my friend, the U.S. media has arrived with the Canadian Mounties,” said Alex who then waved to the man on the steps. “Conrado! We have arrived. Come on down.”
Conrado hesitated and said, “But this looks like the place we just left.”
“No, I promise you, this is not the place we just left. Clyde River here is much smaller,” said Alex.
“It’s like the desert. Only white. And deadly cold,” Conrado said before descending the steps with two heavy looking black cases.
“Conrado, I want you to meet an old friend and fellow mountie, Sydney Brindeau,” Alex introduced. “Sydney, meet the voice of Dallas, Texas, Cornado Elizondo.”
“Good to meet you,” said Sydney. “Are you covering our missing hunters?”
“Not exactly, but when I caught wind of the story I thought I’d come along,” said Conrado, hunching his shoulders and puffing great vapors of breath. “It’s cold!”
“Conrado was already planning to ride the Herc here with your scientist who is coming to town,” explained Alex. “We commandeered the plane early. Seems the scientist won’t arrive in Iqualit until 1 p.m. today and we needed to head out before the next storm blows in.”
“He can catch another flight,” said Sydney.
“Well,” said Alex, “He’s got equipment and such. But the rep at First Air said he didn’t need the Herc per say just that they were going to run the Herc up north for another errand so it fit their logistics. The scientist may have to wait another day.”
“Or two,” said Sydney, “If this next blast hits us tonight.”
“What’s with the weather,” asked Conrado. “Doesn’t seem like global warming after all.”
“The weather is unpredictable on Baffin Island, but we could always count on there being ice,” said Sydney. “We still have grand blizzards, some even fiercer than most years, but then we get periods of no snow and incredible melting of summer ice. This is the first time that a shelf of sea ice has broken up so early. And now these storms on top of that. It’s extremes in the weather from year to year that indicates climate change.”
“You sound knowledgeable on this topic,” said Conrado.
Sydney looked up at the school yard where most of the kids were milling around. Probably an early recess due to the arrival of the plane. He looked back at Conrado and said, “When you serve a community that is caught in the extremes, you pick up a thing or two.”
“So tell me,” said Coronado, “What can you say to a person like me from Texas who thinks melting ice might be a good thing for your community?”
“I’d say let’s stop talking and start enacting our plan to find two missing men who are in danger because of melting ice.” Sydney then looked at Alex and said, “Let’s get back on the Herc. I’ve got maps and some key points I want to fly over.”
Alex said, “Conrado, if you’ll excuse us, we have our mission to attend to. We’ll discuss the results if they are newsworthy. Hopefully it will be nothing more than two Inuit hunters holed up in an iglu.”
Conrado watch as the RCMP all climbed back up the stairs. He turned toward a low building which must be the airport lobby. He walked that way, his recording equipment and extra clothes hanging in the two cases that pulled uncomfortably at his arms. When Conrado got to the doors they were firmly locked.
The pilot had fired up the Hercules and it was already taxiing into position on the runway. If you could call a stretch of smooth ice a runway. The engines gave thrust and the lumbering plane took off none-the-less. “Now what,” said Conrado to himself. He set down the two cases and began peering in the windows. From behind he heard giggling.
“Hey, do you know when they open,” asked Conrado. The three boys about seven years-old each wore brightly colored jackets and hats. One boy smiling with both top front teeth missing just shrugged.
“Is there a taxi service in town,” he asked the boys. “I’d like to find a hotel.”
The boys chattered together in a language that sounded like clicking teeth to Conrado. Then they ran off. “A lot of help, they were,” grumbled Conrado. He looked again in the windows, looked for a sign that might post hours, but nothing seemed to indicate that the building was going to open. Conrado pulled out his cell phone. He already knew it would have no service, but it felt comforting just to hold it in his hand for a moment as if he were not so far removed from civilization.
Laurel Henney of GGP had personally requested that Conrado cover the company’s efforts to measure any true indications of climate change. “Hearsay of natives hardly counts for anything,” she had told him. In her opinion melting ice was merely a cycle and GGP would take advantage of what they were calling “low ice” to access any hydro-carbons that were inaccessible during times of “high ice.” She said that they had scientific evidence that melts like this had occurred before. It was all about fluctuation. Anyhow, their scientist would pull cores to prove those fluctuations and maybe even predict how long this one would last.
Conrado heard a motor coming closer and around from the back building a man pulled up on a snowmobile. Like the boy who had left, this man smiled with two missing front teeth, only he was missing his permanent ones. “You need a ride,” he asked.
“Yes,” said Conrado, “is there a taxi in town?”
“I got a skidoo,” said the man.
“A skidoo,” asked Conrado, not understanding.
“My sled,” he said, pointing to his snowmobile. “Get on.”
“Ah, my cases…” said Conrado turning toward the two black cases on the ground.
“Grab them and get on,” said the man, still smiling his toothless smile.
“Can you take me to a hotel,” asked Conrado.
The man nodded and said once more, “Get on.”
Carefully, Conrado stepped a leg over the back of the seat with one case in each hand. The man pulled out and Conrado thought he was going to fall over backwards. But he didn’t loosen his grip on his cases. Following a ling line of electrical poles and silver piping, Conrado thought maybe this was a road. They passed boxy houses and a few cargo containers with chimneys. It reminded him of border towns. Finally the man pulled up to a blue house with yellow-trimmed windows.
“Here,” the man said.
“A hotel,” said Conrado.
“Here,” the man said again. He turned off the engine and slid off, taking one of Conrado’s cases and walked up to the door. An elderly woman with hair as white as the surrounding snow opened the door, smiling. The man set down Conrad’s case and went back to his skidoo. He said to Conrado before leaving, “Grandma take you in.”
Conrado looked to the smiling woman who began motioning for him to enter, her tongue clicking in that unknown language. “Grandma,” said Conrad. He was not sure how hotel got misinterpreted as Grandma’s House, but he had no idea how he was going to explain it to Grandma who was now leading him to a back room. She opened the door to a bedroom and motioned for him to go in. Not the hotel room Conrado expected, but after his first meal with Grandma who made the most delicious fish soup he had ever had, he smiled as he watched her prepare fried donuts. This will do, he thought.