by T. Gene Davis
“Well there’s your proof.” Riley slapped Gus on the shoulder. “The Earth is flat.”
Gus stumbled back away from the edge, overcompensating for Riley’s slap.
“I told you he was smarter than you,” Violet chimed in with her hands on her hips. Her parka’s drab green somehow looked feminine despite its bulk. Riley shook his head and gave his attention back to the chasm.
Gus approached the edge again, cautiously. He got onto all fours, then on his stomach, and leaned his head out over the cliff of ice edging the world. Gus kept the bulk of his body firmly touching the snow and ice—as far back as possible from the infinite drop. Only his head hung out over the edge of the world. He pulled out his phone and started snapping pics of everything in sight.
Riley picked up a couple of handfuls of snow, molding them in his hands. He stepped up to the edge without taking precautions and dropped the snowball, watching it disappear into the sky-blue nothingness.
“I was expecting something more spectacular,” Riley admitted. “It’s just like looking up, … except you’re not.”
Violet took a picture of the edge and abyss with her cell and tweeted it with a short caption of, Our vacation at the edge of the world … going great.
Gus glanced at his phone seeing his wife’s tweet. He laughed at the immediate replies.
Haha. Nice Photoshop.
I’ve been there. It’s in Wyoming.
Joke after joke came in a torrent of replies and retweets. Even Riley replied, lol Violet. Sweet pic. It’d be sweeter if it was real.
Violet glared at Riley. “Et tu, Brute?”
“If you two want to ruin your careers, that’s fine. Just don’t take me down with you.”
“Ruin!?” Violet’s face turned more red than violet. “This is bigger than Galileo, Newton, and Einstein combined. My husband’s smarter than all of them, and the world is going to know it.”
Riley strolled away from the edge. He looked back at the South Ocean they had crossed to reach this place—the abyss behind him. He looked at the white-tipped gray waves breaking around their ice cutter.
“You know the history of Galileo?” He felt Violet’s eyes on the back of his bald head. “We might—MIGHT—not end up in a dungeon, but we’ll be starving on the streets if we share this. No one’s going to treat your husband’s brilliant calculations with any seriousness. Society is just as close minded as they were back when they burned Bruno at the stake.”
“Ironic, isn’t it?” Gus clomped up to stand by Riley.
“They burned Bruno at the stake for saying the Earth revolved around the sun, and here we are discussing the dangers of telling people he was wrong, and the Earth is flat.”
Riley turned to face Violet. She was one step away from the edge. “Yes, Gus is a genius. His knowledge of physics and math told us the route to bring the ice breaker, and when to ignore the ship’s navigation systems.
“Violet, you’re the geologist. Look at our ship. Now look at the ice we’re on. Now look at the edge. What’s to prevent some psycho terrorist from hijacking a cutter just like ours, and driving it right through the ice and over the edge?”
“I don’t get it.” Gus blinked. “Why?”
Violet remained silent.
“Lake Missoula anyone?” Riley frowned at Violet. “You may want to ruin your careers for future fame and glory, but you could kill us all.”
“I’m still not getting it,” Gus confessed.
“Glacial Lake Missoula,” Violet didn’t look red anymore. “Riley, you couldn’t drive a cutter through this ice. It’s a solid chunk of ice like a glacier, not ice with water under it.”
“Still not getting it. Where’s Missoula?”
“When was Lake Missoula is a better question.”
“It was a massive lake held back by an ice dam.” She waved around at the South Ocean. “Like that.”
“Ah. So I’m guessing the ice dam burst.”
“Yup,” Riley rejoined the conversation. “Can you imagine the contents of the oceans draining over the edge?”
“I’m not buying it,” Gus shook his head.
Violet glanced back at the edge, and then the ship. “Still, maybe I was hasty. We don’t know anything about the local geologic processes and ecosystems.”
She pulled out her phone and sent another text.
j/k. That pic took me a long time to make. Hope you liked it.
T. Gene Davis writes speculative fiction, poetry, articles, books, and computer software.
T. Gene Davis notes, … “I couldn’t help but ask myself, what would happen if you had proof that flew in the face of accepted science. Would a scientist whose livelihood depended upon government grants and the public’s approval dare go against the accepted beliefs of the rest of the world?”