Micro Stories > Homer


Homer was not, by trade, an arctic explorer. Homer was not a lot of things, but what matters here is that Homer was not, by trade, an arctic explorer. Homer was a yuppie. Homer did, however, have a few ideas about how things should be done, and he knew what he liked. It was alpineer Rehnhold Mesner who once said that climbing a mountain was like drawing a line on a chalkboard. It was ideas like this that Homer liked. So he thought about a line across the polar ice cap. He thought about it a lot. He probably thought about it way to much.
He thought about what he would need to draw such a line. Dogs, a sled, provisions, and a state of the art satellite navigation system. Homer decided that he wanted to draw this line. And he wanted to draw it alone. So he got all the money he had together. It wasn't enough to cover all the expenses. So he sold everything he had. He even sold his wife and children to some slave traders from the Philippines. He sold his cat too. The cat didn't bring as much as his wife and kids. But then again I guess that's what you would expect.
Homer got on an airplane and flew north. He had arranged everything. There was a sled, a team of dogs, provisions, and even a state of the art satellite navigation system waiting for him. Homer was all set. He was ready to draw a line across the polar ice cap. Homer set out. He stood tall on the backs of the runners of his sled. He cracked his whip and said things like "mush mush" to his dogs.

Homer had gone on a dog sled expedition in Northern Minnesota the last winter to prepare. None of the other participants on that expedition suspected that Homer would draw a line across the polar ice cap. Most of the other participants were yuppies, like Homer. Hardly any of the other participants had ever sold their wives and children into slavery. Although some of them had sold or given away cats and dogs. Homer was different in many ways.
Homer was in pretty good shape. This was because as a yuppie, he participated in racquet ball and cross-country skiing. Both of these things helped prepare him for drawing a line across the polar ice cap. But the cross-country skiing probably more so than the racquet ball. Homer had also read many books about arctic exploring. The information in these books gave Homer a good idea what he might expect in crossing the polar ice cap.

Homer had available to him many things that a lot of the early explorers didn't have. Things like Gore-Tex laminate shell garments, and polypropylene underwear. And of course, state of the art satellite navigation systems.
Homer had been going for about three days when he started to change. He could go longer and longer without a rest. His rests too were getting shorter, and he was eating less and less. Yet he felt stronger than he had ever felt. He drove his dogs harder and harder. To make the sled go faster he began to throw away supplies. Food, extra garments, even parts of the state of the art satellite navigation system.
On the fifth or sixth day Homer passed out.

Homer came to, standing on the backs of his sled runners. He was staring straight up. His mouth was wide open. The sled was barely moving. All of the dogs, except one, were dead. The remaining dog was growling savagely and pulling as hard as it could. It was foaming at the mouth. There was a fire in it's eyes. The rest of the dogs were being dragged along behind the sled by their traces.
Homer just stood on the runners drawing a line across the polar ice cap.
After a little while the sled got wedged between two ridges of ice. It wouldn't budge. Homer climbed over the back of the sled, walked over his remaining supplies, off the front of the sled, and forward past the still struggling dog. He kept walking straight forward. He kept walking, and walking. As he became hot from the exertion of walking he started to remove his clothing. Leaving gloves and caps, and parkas in a trail behind him.

As he got lighter and lighter he moved faster and faster, until Homer was running across the polar ice cap in a pair of blue checked boxer-shorts.


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