Sunday, 23 November 2008

Max And Cornelius

Max Powerdown and Cornelius Copian were stuck in a small village, surrounded by trackless desert on all sides. They had no idea which direction to travel in, nor how wide the expanse of desert was. All they knew was that they needed to escape the village, which was slowly dying, and move to a better place.

Within the village were two stalls. One, a purveyor of food, the other selling second hand wares and handcrafted goods. Max and Cornelius each had one hundred dollars in their wallets to spend.

Cornelius examined the food stall, and then moved on the to second hand wares shop. He was inspired by what he saw there. An old boiler, some lengths of copper tubing, and a serviceable pram immediately caught his eye. He considered for some time, and then decided that the best course of action would be to spend his funds on these items and cobble up a steam powered perambulator to speed across the desert, though this would mean using up the best part of his monetary resources. Max on the other hand, had considered these things, and believed a different approach was in order, stocking up on food and water, and a slow march across the desert. The funds he would be left with would allow him to take advantage of any opportunities or cope with any problems that might arise during the journey.

Max and Cornelius discussed their respective plans, going over the merits and problems of each. Cornelius proposed that Max invest in his project, allowing them to purchase resources to build a steam-car twice the size to accommodate both of them. Max argued that this would require twice as much wood and water, and so get both of them only half as far. On the other hand, he indicated, if Cornelius were to purchase food, sacks and waterskins then they would be able to carry much more food and water, as well as having more monetary resources available during their journey.

"Who knows what we might need to purchase once we make it out of this infernal desert?", Max finished.

The two argued for some time, and eventually agreed to disagree. Cornelius spent ninety-five of his one hundred dollars on the items to build his steam-car and set to work. Max spent thirty dollars on three sturdy extra-large waterskins, a large hessian sack and enough food to last himself two weeks. Climbing to the top of one of the stunted trees that surrounded the oasis at the centre of the village he examined the desert around and picked a likely landmark to aim for, a rocky hill out at the edge of the horizon. After drinking deeply from the oasis and filling his waterskins, he slung them and his sack of food over his shoulder and set out.

Two days later Cornelius had completed his steam-car. He filled it up with water from the oasis, collected a load of twigs and branches and set a small fire under the boiler, stowing the rest on board. Climbing the tree as Max had done, he spied the same landmark and determined that it would be his destination. He purchased himself a sweetmeat for luck with his last five dollars and boarded his steam powered perambulator, setting out at a clipping pace across the sands.

By evening Cornelius reached the rocky hill, and found Max camped there. He was hungry and thirsty by this time, and asked Max whether he might impose upon his generosity and share his food and water. Max considered this for a time. Cornelius indicated that it would be to their mutual benefit, as once he was free of the desert he would send help back. Max thought this was reasonable enough, so shared food and water with Cornelius.

The next morning, the two scrutinised the horizon from the lofty vantage of the hill, and spied a thin streamer of smoke out at the horizon. They agreed to make it their mutual destination, though Cornelius would need to take a more circuitous route due to a wide expanse of rocky ground visible in the near distance. By their calculations Cornelius should reach the destination in about two days, whilst it would take Max six days, even by the more direct route.

So they parted, Cornelius speeding ahead in the steam-car, Max trudging along at a measured pace.

The source of the smoke turned out to be further away than they had estimated. On the second day of travel out from the hill, the steam-car was still a day away from what could now be seen to be another small village. At that point, the last of the wood burned away in a puff of smoke and the steam-car shuddered to a halt.

Cornelius did some quick calculations and judged that Max was still two days behind, but somewhere over to the west in amongst the rocky ground. He, on the other hand, was still two days walk from the village. A check on the boiler revealed he had enough for a day of travel at most, but nothing to carry it in.

Should he drink his fill and hope he could make it to the village? Should he push his steam-car to the village, even though it would require so much effort that it might take him three days to get there and that he may run out of water before he reached half way? Should he head west in the hope of catching Max? Cornelius was at a loss, and slumped down into the sand in a state of despondency.

Meanwhile, far behind, but still well provisioned, Max trudged along in stoic fashion, unaware that his fellow was caught in such a plight.


Anonymous said...

I'd put my faith in the purvey of food - Freddie the Foodie -

Fredie once lived over the horizon in the smoke filled city - the same on the two escapees are aiming for. He was sick of all the stores selling bad food that looked OK - he decided to move when his eldest child Trent Trendie told him how good the peach was - nice and crunchy like an apple!!~

Knowing the wicked Fresh Fiend People had begun to brainwash the population, Freddie had to take drastic action. Freddie remembered living with his Great Grandmother as a little boy - she had a lovely orchard that grew delicious apples, peaches, and apricots and they tasted good - and a garden that had the freshest greenest greens on the planet - so he looked in the paper and bought a cheap farm in a dying village near a source of good water. The village was dying because it was deemed too small to connect to the new broad band service, and Telstuff was going to cut its copper line due to making a loss. The real crunch came when Contree Emergy unvieled its intentions to cut the power from July 1.. Just not enough MROEI(money return on energy invested)

The little farmlett had a ramshackle house (wife was trilled she could use her tech course in cob building to help do it up) and importantly the land had a clay base with sandy loam soil, an arm of the oasis ran into the block and climate was cool and mild.

Freddie planted his orchard, and collected donkey manure to start his garden. He and the good woman gardened to provide all their own food - and they cooked the most delicious meals that were the envy of the whole village.

But they still needed some spices, a bag or two of beans and wheat not forgetting clothes so Freddie took up a neighbours suggestion and rented the vacant food stall.
The stall did a roaring trade and a monastery out in the desert made him their chief supplier of both fresh wholefood and various treats!

It was big news when the Town mayor Cornelius Copian decided to up stakes and leave - he said there was no future without power and broadband so he built his gizmo and left. Freddies mate Max Powerdown had also decided to leave because Max new there was not enough resources in the land for the batteries needed for everyone to power their homes with solar unless it was connected to the grid - he also believed IT was essential in planning energy allocation in the years to come so he was off with Copian esquire..

Freddie and his wife had talked about the future - Freddie had spoken of life with this Great Granny - oil lamps for lighting and a fuel stove for cooking - gee how delicious that bread had been!!
Wifey spoke about her Dad turning the TV off for years until his kids learned to read and how calm and settled it had been - just like now in their little earth house getting food fresh from around their feet..

The Foodies were going nowhere - Paradise had been found and that was that!@!!


Geoff said...

I like your story, but I think you're being a bit harsh on old Max, he's not interested in a half-hearted effort at powerdown, he is, after all, "Max" :-)