THE ICE INVASION
So, the world ended. Well, maybe that’s being a little overly dramatic but, it isn’t far from the truth. It started almost a year ago, within the heart of the Arctic Circle. No one noticed at first. Seeing as the Arctic Ocean is always covered by ice to some extent, no one thought much of it when the ice coverage began to spread; that is, until it began to spread quite rapidly and scientists observed a dramatic temperature drop, which continued to decrease at a steady pace. Greenland was the first to go, soon completely swallowed by the fast-moving ice. They had no warning. All life – human, animal and plant – was obliterated by the freezing conditions. After that, word was quickly spread to all countries bordering the Arctic Circle. For East Canada, it was also too late. That was where my home used to be.
I had lived with my parents Ryan and Tina, and twin sister Rowen, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, my whole life. In fact, we had even lived in the same house – a comfortable, double-story, water-front home. As a kid, it had been a place full of magic and adventure. Now, the spectacular scenery that I could recall in minute detail, that had once brought wonderful, warm memories, held dark and foreboding promises instead. I had loved it there, however, as I grew older, my feet began to itch with the desire to explore so, when I finished school, I decided to go to the University of Winnipeg. I had tried to talk my sister into coming with me but, though we were similar in myriad aspects, in this we were different. She had no intention of leaving Halifax and hence started tertiary education in Veterinary Medicine at Dalhousie University.
My parents are dead now – at least, I am fairly certain they are – but Rowen… Rowen is alive. I’ve seen her. She’s not herself, but she’s alive and I am determined to get her back. Born only two minutes apart – myself being the older one – we had always been close. Some twins hate being compared to their sibling, or being viewed as identical. Not us. We tried to be as identical as possible. I always knew everything she was thinking or feeling at any given time; even if she never told me. It worked the other way too. We used to play a game where we would try to communicate with each other telepathically and guess what the other was trying to say. Ninety nine percent of the time, we got it right. Twin telepathy does exist. She was my best friend and partner in crime. I felt so incomplete without her. I could still remember how, when we were little, we would wait until mum and dad had gone to bed then, one of us would creep into the other’s room and into their bed. We had shared a room at one point, until mum decided we were becoming to unhealthily attached to each other. One day, we got home from school to discover we had been split into separate bedrooms. We threw an absolute fit but mum stood her ground. No amount of crying or pleading would change her mind. We had been all of seven years old at the time and still perfectly young enough to share a room in our opinion. So, we tried to make do. Sort of. Usually mum or Dad would find us in the morning, curled up together in one’s bed or the other’s, fast asleep. As we got older, this didn’t happen as often but, every now and then, if one of us had a nightmare or was upset for any reason, we would climb into the other’s bed and everything would be all right again. It was extremely comforting to know that you would never be alone, no matter what happened. Friends and family could come and go, but twins are forever. At least, that was the way we saw it at the time. I feel pretty alone right now.
My name is Reuben and this is my story – the story of the twenty-first century ice age.
APPROX SIX MONTHS AGO
I was studying one evening, the television on low volume in the background, when I heard the news reporter mention Nova Scotia. I grabbed the remote and turned it up.
“New fears have emerged today that far Eastern Canada has also fallen to the quickly spreading Arctic Circle. Are we seeing the beginning of a new ice age? Stay with us because after the break we will be speaking with…”
I tuned out. My heart hammered in my chest as I dove for the phone and dialed home. Surely this can’t be happening, I thought. I’ll ring home, Rowen will answer and tell me she knew it would be me calling and everything will be fine. However, there was only a dial tone to answer me. I still would not believe that my family had frozen to death like the poor citizens of Greenland. Grabbing my pack, I began to hastily throw in clothes and other necessities.
“Reuben.” My friend Seth gave me a look of sympathy.
“It’s not true,” I stated defiantly. “It can’t be.”
My stomach churned, causing the pizza I ate for dinner to threaten us with a second viewing. It can’t be true, I repeated silently to myself. While in denial, I recalled a conversation I’d had with Rowen a couple of days ago in which she had commented on how cold it was there. We were both used to the cold weather so I had thought it rather odd for her to comment on it. “Must be a cold snap,” had been my reply. We usually spoke every day at least once. The next day was the first time that we didn’t. I tried to ring her but she wasn’t available. Nor was she the next day, or the next. She’s just busy, I tried to reassure myself but, I knew it was more than that. Something was wrong; perhaps not an ice age but, something. Now, a small voice taunted me, chanting “ice age, ice age, ice age,” over and over again. It had been predicted of course. Scientists and the like had been prattling on about the dawning of a new ice age for years, saying it was not a matter of if but a matter of when. So, shouldn’t they have seen this coming? That’s how it always seemed to play out in the movies. Only, this wasn’t a movie. This was real life and in real life, my family was in potential danger.
“You going to try get home?” Seth brought me out of my ruminations.
“I’ll go with you.” Seth pulled his pack from under his bed and began to mimic my actions, tossing in clothes and other items.
I paused to watch him. After Rowen, Seth was my next best friend. “I appreciate the thought but I’m fine to go alone. Besides, if things are the way they are saying, it could be dangerous.”
“No way, man. I’m not letting you go wandering off into a brewing ice age alone. I’m coming with you and there’s nothing you can say to stop me.”
Sighing, I nodded my consent and we continued to pack in silence until the news reporter began to talk about the evacuation of both our Prime Minister and the President of the United States. I froze. This could only mean things were serious; properly serious. My skin turned cold as I listened to a speech by the Prime Minister.
“…therefore, we are advising everyone to stay away from the far Eastern parts of the country. Do not plan any trips and if you are still there, please, leave immediately. There is no telling how far the ice will spread nor how quickly. The safest option is to get out now.”
I turned it off and raced to finish packing.
On the way to the airport I tried to reach my family again, first calling the house phone then each of their individual cell phones. My parent’s cells did not even ring, instead answering with a message about the phone being off or out of range. But Rowen’s cell… My heart almost leapt into my throat when I hit call and it started ringing. Albeit, it sunk back down again when it continued to ring and eventually rang out. I tried again, thinking maybe she had just missed it. Nothing. It didn’t even ring the second time. Where could she be?
I ran to the desk once we arrived and puffed out my request for a return ticket to Halifax.
“I’m sorry,” the airline employee informed me. “All flights to Halifax – actually to the whole of Nova Scotia – have been cancelled. There has been no contact from there in over forty-eight hours. Planes scheduled to return have not done so and we have lost contact with several planes headed in that direction.”
“What?” I was dumbstruck.
“I’m sorry, sir. There’s no flight that I can put you on.” Her eyes were full of compassion as she told me the absolute last thing I wanted to hear.
Gritting my teeth, I turned away and walked pensively back to the car. “I’m going to drive there.”
It was Seth’s turn to be dumbstruck. “What? Dude, that’s a forty-hour drive!”
“Yep. I’ll leave now and drive through the night. I’ll drop you off at the Uni on my way.”
“You think I’m backing out just because we couldn’t get a flight? No. I’m sticking with you. It will be easier with two people driving.” Seth’s jaw was set and his mind made up. Truth be told, I was grateful. The idea of going alone was not appealing in the least. I just did not want to put anyone else in danger.
I clapped him on the shoulder. “Thank you.”
Seth nodded. “I’ll take the first stint. We’ll take turns in six or seven-hour intervals so, you get some rest and try to relax. I’m sure your family is okay. Maybe the power lines are just down due to the weather.”
“Maybe,” I murmured absently. Rowen, where are you? I pleaded with my twin, begging her to answer me. Of one fact I was sure, she was alive. Suddenly, an image appeared in my mind, a blinding flash of white. “Argh!”
My hands flew to my head. It wasn’t painful, it was just a shock. We had experimented with sending mental images to each other with mild success. It was something we were determined to master. You would think it would be a simple thing, especially between twins, yet even twin mentality has its restrictions. The more we practiced, the better we got, and found that it worked much more effectively if we also attached a strong emotion to the image. Rowen’s emotion in this instance was crystal clear. She was terrified.
“We have to hurry,” I emphasized.
Seth caught on to my urgency and jumped into the driver’s seat. “Then let’s go!”
I threw my bags in the back and leapt into the passenger side. As soon as I slammed the door shut, Seth took off. I’m coming, Rowen. Hold on.