Archive for pipeline

Bright Jackets

Posted in Alternative Energy, Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , , , on April 29, 2012 by javedbabar

Katie stood in the middle of the field. It was a beautiful field, with oat grass swaying around her in the breeze, and rippling and swirling further out. It felt as if she was the centre of this motion. Two helicopters hovered above like slim dark dragonflies. Police cars stretched along the side of the field bordering the road, with people and cows scattered along the other three sides. The bright green forests clothing the lower slopes of the Valley set off the orange jackets of the hundred men closing in around her.

Katie felt groggy. Her mind was confused and senses dazed. What had happened to her? Why was she here? The police cars, people, and cows weren’t getting any closer; they remained behind the wooden rail fence running around the field. The helicopters were wavering but mostly holding still. The men in orange jackets drew closer, pacing slowly forward, approaching her individually and together, tightening their bind. This wasn’t their first time, thought Katie. Their speed and spacing was so steady that she felt like giving them marks. If there were a prize for synchronized stalking they would be sure to win it.

Katie’s stomach cramped, and she felt like curling up and falling down. However her survival instinct made this impossible. How could she make herself more vulnerable than she already was? She had to stay up, facing the situation, whatever it was. These words seemed familiar, why?

The men in orange jackets were a hundred metres away. If only she could use a tape measure to check their distance. Maybe they would agree that anyone five metres over or under the norm was not performing up to standard and should be removed, and as they got closer these tolerances should be reduced, so by the time they were within ten metres, those remaining must be within fifty centimetres of their radial norm. If they were careless, many, maybe even all, would be eliminated before they reached her. But theoretically when it was down to the last orange jacketed man, he was the norm. What would she do then? She could always run.

Katie realized that these thoughts weren’t helpful. She was in the middle of a field of swaying oat grass with a hundred men in orange jackets closing in around her. Focus, Katie, she said to herself, focus.

She remembered being awarded a medal, not so long ago. During a ceremony in Lucerne Village a golden disc was pinned to her chest by the mayor, the provincial flag was raised, and everybody clapped and cheered. That was where those words had come from. The mayor said that she had, “stayed up, facing the situation, whatever it was.” Yes, she had, but what was the situation?

She remembered a long tunnel. She was stuck inside it. But she had entered of her own accord. Was it a cave, a subway, a conduit? Yes, it was a big pipe of some kind. All of a sudden she needed to go to the washroom. She needed to pee. Was there something in that? Need to pee? To pee? Pee – to pee? That’s it. It was P2P. The multi-resource pipeline being constructed from Canadia through America to Mexica. Lucerne was slated to be the province’s first multi-resource hub.

Katie felt the helicopters draw closer as the orange circle constricted. They were blowing her hair about. How annoying, she thought – how would she look on TV?

Why did she remember the P2P? Had she tried to save this tunnel? Yes she had. Not out of loyalty to The Authority, simply the desire to be a good citizen. Somebody was trying to destroy it and she had stopped them. But the blame had been pinned on her. It was a case of mistaken identity – or was it? Did a hundred men chase misidentified women – you know, usually? She’d been framed for sure.

Katie was a government agent with an enviable record. She had served with honour abroad and was now stationed at home. But her local investigations had found the tail of something sinister. She remembered explaining to people that she was trying to save the pipeline, not destroy it, but she had become the prime suspect. She had seen something that day. Something they had tried to make her forget. What was it?

The memory returned. She had seen plans for a pump house to power this stretch of pipeline.

It was only then she realized that she had a gun in her hand. How did that get there? It must have been there the whole time. She raised the gun without thinking, felt a sting, and then nothing.

The shot by a helicopter sniper was made to look as if it came from a farmhouse in the next field. The old farmer there was refusing to leave his fifth-generation Old Family home, whose site was needed for the pump house. If he’d shot Katie that proved he was dangerous and needed to be taken out. So he in turn was shot by the sniper in the second helicopter.

A hundred men in bright jackets met in the centre, around a corpse.


Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , , on March 9, 2012 by javedbabar

Lucerne Arts Council had a good record with grants. Their writer-in-chief, Eric Voodoo, ensured that their annual roster of events was well funded; $3,000 from here, $2,000 from there, and you’ve soon got enough – at least enough to get started. You can top up funds with sales commissions, donations at the door, bar sales, and local sponsors.

This year had been a particularly good one. Their core event was always MADE – Music, Art, Dance, Expression – celebrating the community’s rich artistic offerings. This was followed by FADE, a fund-raiser for older artisans struggling to produce artworks as their minds and bodies fell apart. SADE was produced by the Upper Valley S&M sculpture community. JADE honoured the centenary of BC’s Chinese artists. PAID was the key sales event, encouraging visitors to slip their hands from their wine glasses down into their pockets, and for Gods’ sake buy something. RAID proved to be a self-fulfilling prophecy; it was busted and all of its “herbal artworks” confiscated. And the highlight for artists – though not necessarily for visitors – was LAID; where many artists put in a good performance. Due to clever use of bylaws, it was classified as a “mixed media/exercise” event and wasn’t busted.

Eric Voodoo stared at the one-page grant application form. Six million dollars was on offer! He usually ran these off like clockwork, but he’d better give this one some serious thought. It was unusual to be approached by a charity, but he wasn’t going to kick this gift horse in the mouth. Village 2 Village (V2V) raised awareness of third-world refugees. Could Westerners imagine leaving everything they owned behind, setting off in a convoy, and hoping for the best? This happened regularly in developing nations. They had no choice.

V2V was looking for a Canadian village to make the long journey to an American desert, live there for a week, and then return. It would be a well-publicised event, highlighting the plight of refugee-escapees. They realized that this was no easy task, and had allocated 50% of their annual budget to the event. Its PR value alone would be incalculable.

One morning Eric Voodoo awoke aflame. “Darling, I’ve got it!” he said.

“What’s that my love?” asked his artist-wife, Toni Yahoo.

“You know that we’ve always wanted to go to Burning Man? Well, here’s our chance! They want to move a village to the desert for a week. Let’s take Lucerne to Burning Man!”

Toni Yoodoo knew better than to dampen her artist-husband’s enthusiasm. And what’s not to like about a $6 million Village art project? It was she that coined the name of the new village, “Burningham”.

Eric Voodoo called V2V. “So just to check, you will arrange all the transport at this end, plus set up the infrastructure at that end – everything? The whole move will cost us nothing? And food, water, and fuel are all covered there too? How much cash do we get at this end – I mean cash in hand, not budget allocation? $1.5 million? I’ve organized some events myself; they all go over budget. What’s your contingency? Yep 25% is good. Ok, thank you. Expect our application.”

Toni Yahoo approached the Mayor and Council. They’d had an issue with her husband since his art attack on the Transparent Temple, and didn’t agree that it looked better as the Opaque Oracle. Cleaning costs were being calculated. It was a quiet time of year. A direct injection of $1.5 million into the local economy and a paid community holiday were enticing. Mayor and Council supported the application wholeheartedly, and signed up the whole Village. It was a historic, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And it would be a nice break from their anti-P2P campaigning.

The P2P pipeline was the most flexible channel in history, running from the Infinite City, through the US, into Mexico, with the ability to transport oil, gas, water, food, passengers, and freight. Its construction costs were 400% over budget, and it would cost $1 billion annually to run. This multi-purpose pipeline was deemed “Fundamental Framework” by Homeland Security, and every obstacle to its completion was bulldozed. But now that it was ready, a softer approach was needed.

“Ok honey, we’re all done,” said Toni Yoodoo.

“Great,” said her husband. “Did you set the sprinkler timers?”

“Yes, I’ve done that my love, and the lights, and thermostats. The house is locked and workshop alarmed – not that anyone will hear it.”

The convoy assembled in the Village centre, and headed down the Sea to Sky Highway, which was closed to other traffic this morning. Crowds cheered them in Strattus, and in Squashy, but people were strangely absent as they approached the City. Instead of leaving the Highway as expected, the convoy continued for six extra junctions, and then turned off. Security was very heavy here. V2V had no choice but to play along when Homeland Security had entered their offices. Every employee was shadowed by an agent. Some were replaced by agents.

“What’s going on?” said Eric Voodoo to the V2V worker accompanying their bus.

“Remain silent,” he said. “We’re about to enter the P2P tunnel. Say goodbye to your beloved Canadia. You won’t be coming back.” Eric Voodoo struggled but was restrained. The agent spoke into his radio. “Ok, the convoy is ready to enter the pipeline. Demolition of Lucerne can begin. Here’s to our first Multi-Resource-Hub in BC.”