Snow’s end

David Mack
8 min readJan 30, 2022

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Three young girls in designer bikinis sit under a sun-shade, cooling mist cocooning them amidst large-leafed plants and day-beds. Beyond the swimming pool in every direction lie the sun-bleached trunks of a once-great forest. It’s a spring day in 2062 on a large estate outside Seattle.

The girls sip coconut water and Sequoia, with a stilted dramatic flair, announces to the group “And next week, I shall be wearing this”, pulling a yellow ski-suit and pair of googles out of a bag. The other girls giggle in confusion, one launching back facetiously “are you going to be a space man?”. Regaining her footing, with the haughty pretense natural to the heiress of a multinational grocery fortune, Sequoia rebukes “I’m going to be a pro skier at the Snowglobe!”.

Sequoia and her father, Dent, ride the bullet train through the golden Colorado Rockies. Their ears pop as the train eases through the vacuum lock and into a dark tunnel. “Are you ready for this?” Dent asks her daughter, a giddy smile on his face.

The darkness of the tunnel suddenly explodes into bright blue light. All around them are powder laden trees, white craggy peaks and gently twirling snowflakes. The passengers on the train dart for the windows, staring at what most of them have never seen before. Sequoia gapes at window “Wooowwww”.

An auto-cat picks up the pair at the train terminal, and whisks them away across the hills to Dent’s chalet. They arrive at an elegant glass construction, drop off their bags, then hop into an electric helicopter.

Later that day Sequoia’s friends enviously watch the footage of her on social media, all secretly pretending not to care. It opens with a panning drone shot of a mountain top, “SEQUOIA AINSLEY, PRO SKIER” title overlaid, a helicopter flies in and Sequoia, Dent and crew jump out. A guide says something to Sequoia, sets her into skis, and the drone comes in for a close shot. She says to the camera “I got this!”, her legs wobbling and the ski-boots fighting to keep her upright. With a gentle push she starts down the untracked slope, her arms erratically waving as the ski setup keeps her on track and guides her through a series of S-turns. Finally the video cuts to a floor shot and Sequoia’s hockey-stop sprays snow into the camera.

After skiing, and telling his daughter how proud he was, he leaves her with his staff and heads to a board meeting.

The first time the Countess of Savoy entered Snowglobe, she was speechless. Sitting beside Frank Erhart, its creator, she began to cry. “I have not seen… I have not seen winters like zis, since, I was a girl”.

“When I was young, in Switzerland, we still had zis, it was me, and my sisters, we would sled from ze castle down into the village. It makes me very good, very happy, to see zis once more”.

The Countess used the last of her inheritance to move the family castle, every last stone, to a hillside by a lake at Snowglobe. Upon its completion she took up residence there.

Wrapped in old mink coats with cups of cocoa she sat upon a balcony, silently watching the flakes in the pale light. She spent her final five years there contentedly.

The board meeting that night was hosted in Savoy Castle. Frank, at the head of a vast mahogany table, presided over the meeting, “I want to thank you all for attending in person tonight. It’s an exciting evening, we’ve pulled out the stops and brought you up to the old castle. There’s a new face at the table, many of you probably already know of Dent, well he’s just gone and bought a controlling stake in the company, so I want us to welcome him. We’ll keep to our usual agenda…”. The meeting hummed along, and a banquet dinner was brought out. Over port wine Dent and Frank talked by the fire. “You know, I’m excited to have you be part of this” Frank said, “can I take you around and show you some things?”.

Frank drove them through the darkness. “Not many know why I made this place. They know ‘Frank, the fusion guy with too much money’, but that’s not the real story”…

Frank Erhart in his prime was one of the finest engineers in the world. At the dawn of controlled nuclear fusion, he and a colleague from his Physics doctorate set out to build and sell reactors.

There was not a single piece of his reactor that Frank could not name and tell some story of how they had figured out a way to do it better. Not only were his reactors efficient, affordable and fast to deploy, their workings were beautiful, like clockworks.

They beat out the competition and the company rapidly rose to huge financial success, deploying as many reactors as possible to every country that would let them.

But despite providing a clean source of power, nobody stopped burning fossil fuels. The world simply consumed more energy, and found more ways to squander it.

As his company became a behemoth, a swirl of lawyers and consultants and compliance, there was no room left for Frank’s genius. So he left.

Frank and Dent arrived in a large cavern. Frank continued “after I got out of the company, I had a lot of time on my hands. I spent my time in the mountains, and eventually, I fell in love. Flo was, she had a simple connection with nature. I, over-think things. She saw them as they were. I’d think on how to catch a rabbit, and she’d just go and pet one. I’d accompany her on her field-trips, studying species and counting populations and such. We’d watch wolves and mountain lions and all sorts of majestic critters. The climate change, the de-population, it was hard on her.

We loved skiing and we loved mountains. She’d always try to get assignments to the cold places, which wasn’t too hard since most folks found the cold intolerable. One day, up in the arctic, skiing across a lake, the ice was thin and she went down through it. I close to killed myself trying to get her out of it, but it was too cold and too icy and under currents swept her way. She drowned hypothermic.

I searched for her body, and by the time I found her she was encased in an ice flow”. The two of them stopped, and to a sinking horror Dent saw a large block of ice in front of them, and knew what this was. Pale, weightless, the eerie blue ghost of Flo hovered in freeze-frame. “I just couldn’t let winter go” Frank said, wiping a tear.

Dent’s wife, Sheila Ainsley, called her daughter for lunch. “Sequoia! SEQUOIA??”. She tapped her watch, then began running, screaming her daughter’s name. She ran out into the driveway, screaming, to her daughter’s body lying on the hot asphalt. “We need help” she shouted at her watch hysterically, cradling her daughters tight-coiled black hair.

A heat-nurse flew down within minutes, the red drone with white cross quickly lining up over her daughter. A litter began to carefully shift her body onto it, and an IV docked into her arm, dispensing the fluids that would save her daughter’s organs from destruction.

That night Sheila sat with Dent at dinner. “We can’t live here no more” Sheila said, still wrapped with emotion. “We can’t live in a place that does that to our daughter”. “I know babe. We knew this was coming. You ok to move to Snowglobe?”. His wife looked into his eyes and nodded.

Frank gave his post of CEO over to Dent, retreating to the more comfortable confines of Chairman. “I’m too old for all this” Frank told Dent, “you have ideas and energy, and the world’s not what it used to be. I want you to do what you think’s best for this place”. Dent accepted as easily as putting on shoes. “You’re right, the world has certainly changed. I’m honored, and I accept the role, and I have a lot of ideas for how to safeguard our future here. I’ll tell you one thing: there’s war coming, and we better get ready.”

On January 12th, 2066, the United States Congress signed into law “The Heat Crisis Mobilization Act”. The president called the Chief of Staff of the Army later that day “You got what you need, now go and secure all the resources”.

The next morning a loud explosion woke the Dent family. Sequoia ran into her parents room, “Dad, what is it, what’s happening?”. Dent was already on the phone, issuing orders. He finished and gathered his family “Look, you ever feel like you live your life looking for permission? Like you’re trying to have someone tell you that what you did was right? For forty years I’ve been turning a blind eye to how we run this world whilst pursuing my agenda, pulling in profit and thinking no more on it. That sound was the US Government. They’re coming here to take this. I’m going to try and keep us all safe. I’m going to try and save this place. I love you both”. He kissed daughter and wife, put on his jacket and headed out of the house.

Frank and his chief engineer sat in a deep cavern, watching webcam footage. Bullets, casualties, houses under siege. Snowglobe had become a warzone.

“We’re losing” Frank began, “we’re losing to the very people who fucked up the planet that nurtured our species. After taking and exploiting until the planet could not bear it any more, they’re now here to take this too. I built this place as a sanctuary. Somewhere that winter, with all its animals and flora and magic could live on. This place was built on love. They can’t take that.

We end this.”

The chief engineer chewed on the statement, then wide eyed, “Frank, no, fuck no, we can’t,”

“They forced our hand. Dip the rods on all four reactors. The casings will melt, collapsing the chambers into a forced safety-shutdown. I reckon by tonight the atmospheric-insulation will no longer hold and we’ll get a heat cascade. Then there’s no energy-source on earth bringing this place back”.

After decades of careful maintenance, the pair put each reactor into its final, irreversible shutdown, turning twenty billion dollars worth of engineering into molten slag. Frank turned on the evacuation comms. “Well my friend, if you don’t want to go swimming, I advise you pack a bag and head out”. The pair embraced, and parted ways.

That evening a military officer informed the Pentagon that the Snowglobe had been secured. “Provision lodging and command center for two hundred cabinet VIPs by the week’s end”.

Chalets were cleared, prefab buildings trucked in through a hole blasted in the side of the globe.

Two days later the rapidly warming snow began to avalanche down the steep mountainsides, burying the military and their provisions. Four days later the 110 degree heat outside had turned most of the snow into meltwaters, flooding the landscape.

Dent, Frank, Sheila and Sequoia got out alive. They live in hiding outside of US territory, far far north.

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David Mack

@SketchDeck co-founder, https://octavian.ai researcher, I enjoy exploring and creating.