There is Only the Present
Airspace Over McMurdo Research Station, Antarctica
Inna Kuznetsov failed to notice the air turbulence. She anticipated a rough ride in the small single prop plane and was buckled in tight. Besides, she was preoccupied with some newly received test data. The information absorbed her and revealed a confusing chemical analysis from ice cores recently extracted by the U.S. researchers. No air pocket would dare interrupt her work and she slowly but steadily worked through all of the reports. Plus, a rough flight was a small inconvenience to find out what the Yanks were up to out on the Ross Ice Shelf.
The only other passenger on board groaned, then threw up into a government-issued barf bag. He wiped his face clean with a white handkerchief and said, “I hate this place so much. Cold enough to freeze a man’s gonads solid. And you don’t fly here. You ride the world’s most extreme roller coaster at ten thousand feet.” On cue, the plane pitched to left and he dropped the full bag on the floor as he grabbed for the armrest.
The pilot contorted his body aware of the mess just made behind him. “Son of a…Not again! You know the deal about getting puke all over my floor.”
Inna did not look up from her papers, her face was void of emotion. “This is the most fascinating place on the planet. You’ve been in Moscow too long.”
“I wish I was in Mother Russia right now!” Daniil inspected the mess at his feet.
“That’s your problem, Daniil. You’re not in the present.” She finally checked his shoes. “At least we’re almost there. Now, get yourself together. You need to put on your best face for the Americans.”
“I am always at my best. But why bother? To watch you prattle on about ice? It’s just frozen water.”
Inna chuckled then said, “My dear Daniil. Water is a miracle. It is at the center of everything on our world, a wonder molecule. And the ice here in Antarctica holds secrets frozen in time. It is a historical treasure trove. The work we are doing here can change our understanding of world history. It may even change the way we live.”
Daniil groaned. “See. That is what I'm talking about. It’s just ice. At least it has nothing to do with politics or international relations. It makes my job easy. I guess.”
“Yes. The Americans are our friends here and we don’t speak to each other in code here. I know that’s hard to for you to understand. But remember there are so few people on this continent. We must help one another. Besides, we’re all just scientists with no political or military interests. None. We just want to be left alone and conduct our research.”
“I know you tell the truth. But we are still Russians. And we must be sure to follow the mandates as given to us by our superiors. It’s our duty.” Daniil stared off into some imaginary distance as he spoke.
Inna could not keep the smile suppressed. “You do your job. I’ll do mine. But you'll not have much to do. We’re meeting Bubba and Liz. You know both of them, and they know you. This will be a quick visit and you’ll be back home drinking vodka before you know it.”