The last thing Sebastian Huggins felt, immediately before he fell in love with the most beautiful woman in the Universe, was very, very cold.
Cold because Concorde, complete with its precious cargo of privileged New Years Eve revellers, landed not at Heathrow on the First of January 2000 AD as planned but due to a freak accident with a magnum of champagne and its metal bound cork, it landed in a deep crevasse, a cavern of blue and white ice, in the unforgiving Polar Ice Cap.
The valiantly heroic efforts of the flight crew, from keen eyed, sun bronzed pilots through to svelte, polite stewards, had slowed the supersonic flight, reassured the passengers, levelled out the serene wings and sculpted belly and brought the beautiful aircraft into the longest ice slide in history, shedding wings, tail and wheels before plunging deep into the icy chasm, yawning unexpectedly at the end of the impromptu runway. The shrieking fuselage, the shock of the impact and the quick blast of a fuel tank exploding brought tons of rocks, icy water and packed snow down on the plane in a frenzied avalanche of steam and spray, which froze within minutes locking the capsule and the passengers deep within the ice, where they disappeared from all human knowledge; for a long, long time.
The Polar Ice winced, crackled in hoary complaint at the invasion by the foolish, briefly warm tube of mammals, then burped up a few spouts of residual steam before grumbling back into a dark, timeless coma.
Days passed, and the intrepid, dogged searchers gave up their intrepid dogged searching and went back to their own humdrum lives; shaking their anorak enveloped heads in disbelief that something so large, so sophisticated and so expensive could vanish so completely – complete with its payload of disgruntled movers and shakers, who, had they had the facilities to instruct their lawyers from their inconvenient new location, would have sued the airline for everything it owned; right down to the last roasted, salted cashew nut.
Weeks passed and the newspapers reduced the column size to two miserable inches, tucked away at the bottom right hand corner of page five. Months passed and grieving relatives held funerals and glorious memorial services before making a brisk businesslike visit to the readings of the wills. After all – life must go on. Flowers were dropped from helicopters onto the incommunicative ice, near where the tail had been found, which was many, many miles from where the sleek body of that supersonic aircraft now lay stilled, immobile for ever, and deathly silent.
Years passed, while the insurance companies resisted claims in the USA, Britain and the European Courts on the grounds of habeas corpus. As one forthright American insurance assessor succinctly put it, while Lloyds of London (1999) Limited distanced themselves from his style but embraced whole-heartedly the spirit of his message; “no stiffs – no loot”. Decades passed, and the disappearance of flight BA-Concorde-2000-AD passed into the legendary literature of Ghost Ships, Pyramid Builders, Bermuda Triangles and Alien Abductions – and became a symbol of all things weird and wonderful in aeronautics.
A century passed, and the insurance companies after carefully deducting a not unreasonable annual management fee, paid up; on the grounds that they accepted the passengers had not returned to their families, had not been discovered alive and well and living in South America and were, on actuarial statistical grounds alone, after one hundred years, in all probability, fully dead. Sebastian Huggins, one of the privileged passengers, was not dead however and was not aware of time passing, but, though he mercifully did not know it, he was extremely cold. More centuries passed.
Sebastian’s first feelings, as awareness returned, and before he fell in love, were dominated by the most gigantic, excruciating, intrusive and overwhelming attack of pins and needles any soul in torment ever had to suffer. He whimpered with self-pity. He writhed with discomfort. He tingled with distress. There was nowhere to put the afflicted limbs and divorce them from himself until the attack subsided. He was the afflicted limb. It was all pervasive. It was universal. It was the whole of existence. And it was torture.
But he did feel warmer. The miracle was that he felt at all.
Gradually the pins melted into the needles and transformed into a deep hot pulse. Minute electrical impulses flashed through billions of little grey cells that had been in the OFF position; awareness gradually returned and peeked out timidly at the brave new world they were about to experience.
The book AD2516 – After Global Warming. Our Utopian future.