stories

Polar King - Chapter (all)

This is the assignment essay for the summer vacation.
The assignment was to write an essay titled "A Summer Vacation Trip".
I heard that Kano had been to Hawaii with his mother.
Farther than that, Fujimori's family took her to Canada, which is much farther than Hawaii.
But I had no one to take me to a trip because I have neither Father nor Mother.
My Father and Mother died in a traffic accident when I was four years old. Ever since then, I have been living with Grandmother.
Everybody is going to make fun of me since I have not travelled anywhere so I cannot write the assignment essay.
Yet, to tell the truth, I've had a trip.
I went there alone.
This is true.
The place I've been is much much farther than Hawaii or even Canada.
It is the North Pole.
I'm not lying, not at all.
The reason I could go to such a far place by myself is because I had a letter of invitation from Polar King.
The letter went like this:

Dear Kazuhiro Uno,
How are you doing?
How is your grandmother?
Prices and taxes have gone up too high these days, haven't they?
I suppose, Kazuhiro, you will not go out anywhere during the summer vacation.
But that will give you trouble when the time comes to write the summer assignment essay.
So I invite you to the North Pole.
The North Pole is a wonderful place.
I would be glad if you'd come.
Don't worry about the train fare. Use the ticket I enclosed.
I'm looking forward to seeing you.
Sincerely,Polar King

I showed the letter to Grandmother right away.
She was very pleased and the next day she got up early in the morning to prepare a lunch box for me.
"Take extra underwear with you as the North Pole is a cold place," said Grandmother, putting my underwear and the lunch box into my bag.
She also gave me a thousand yen.
In the morning, Friday, August sixteenth, I set out for the North Pole with my bag.
Leaving home but going in the opposite direction from school, I turned the corner of Tomoe-Ya Candy Store, and went through Hachiman-Mae Mall, passing Sakura Beauty Parlor, then came out in front of Takasu-Hachiman Station.
I presented my ticket from Polar King to the ticket taker.
He was surprised at the ticket and said, "Well, well. You'll go all the way to the North Pole all by yourself? Good boy!"
A train bound for Hagite-Ochiai came along after I'd been waiting on the platform for a while.
There were many people in the train and every one of them gave me a pat on the back when they heard I was visiting the North Pole alone.
Passing the railroad bridge across Kamito River and making stops at stations such as Higashi-Tugumo-Cho and Hachiken-Sakagami, the train arrived at Hagite-Ochiai.
I had to change there. I asked a railroad officer at the station which train I should transfer to.
There were many people on that train too, but I could find a seat.
The train rushed, rushed and rushed through rice fields, farms and villages, through forests and woods, through big towns and beaches, through mountains and meadows, through railroad bridges and tunnels, and through countless numbers of them.
The train seemed going northward and northward.
At the northern end of Japan is Hokkaido.
I arrived at Hokkaido by train.
According to a railroad officer at Hokkaido Station, the land of Soviet Union is the north of Hokkaido, so you cannot go farther north unless you take a Soviet train.
The officer also told me that Japan and the Soviet Union once had been in a bad mood, fighting, invading territories and once friends,--well, now they are still getting along--besides, there had been countless of various other things that you cannot explain in a word, the numbers of complicating, troublesome affairs between them, therefore the Japanese train cannot go into the Soviet land.
So I had to walk from Hokkaido Station to the entrance of the Soviet Union.
The entrance of the Soviet Union is the exit of Japan.
I walked up, up to the north through Hokkaido Mall in front of the station, just as told by the railroad officer of Hokkaido Station.
Then I came to the end of Japan.
There stood the Soviet entrance gate, as large as the main gate of Tempuku-Ji Temple, and on the entrance was written "Entrance of the Soviet Union" in the Soviet language.
I passed through the gate into the Soviet land.
From the gate continues the Soviet Mall. There I walked through up and up to the north.
Soon, it was noon.
I was hungry, so I went into the Noodle Heaven in the Soviet Mall and ordered a bowl of noodle soup to have lunch in my bag with, just like when Grandmother and I had been to the Noodle Heaven in Tempuku-Ji Temple Mall to have lunch.
After I finished eating, I paid seventy yen for the noodle, and walked up, up to the north through the mall again.
Then I found myself in front of the Soviet Station. I presented my ticket again to the railroad officer of the Soviet Station and got on the train.
The Soviet train ran up and up to the north.
It rushed, rushed and rushed through rice fields, farms and villages, through forests and woods, through big towns and beaches,through mountains and meadows, over railroad bridges and through tunnels, and through countless numbers of them.
And the train arrived at the Arctic Station at last.
The North Pole was so cold that I put on my underwear as I came out of the Arctic Station.
I asked a Chinese noodle vendor in front of the Arctic Station for Polar King's house, and he kindly showed me the way.
I walked and walked through the Arctic Mall just as the noodle vendor told me to.
There were numbers of polar bears, penguins and fur seals walking around in the Arctic Mall.
And there stood icebergs, too.
Getting out of the mall and turning to the right at the ward community center, the seventh ready-built house from the corner is Polar King's home.
It was a very neat, new, ready-built house with a garage and everything.
None of its window panes were broken.
When I pushed the front buzzer, Mrs. Polar King appeared.
She came out smiling in her usual white pants.
She was a very nice-looking lady.
"I'm proud that you came here all by yourself. Good boy," said Mrs. Polar King and led me into the house.
In the house was a large dining room, as large as any dining room of my friends' houses.
Polar King was there.
Polar King was a tall, gentle man with glasses, and he was drinking beer and smiling merrily as usual.
Polar King had just come home from his office.
I said hello to him politely and talked to Polar King and his wife about school, Grandmother and various other things.
I also told them my friends made fun of me because I did not have parents.
Polar King got very angry and shouted, "I'll go and butcher all those swine for you!"
We enjoyed talking about other things and the three of us laughed together.
Polar King was so funny and good at telling stories.
Soon, night fell.
Fath Polar King said, "You stay tonight."
Mrs. Polar King prepared dinner for us.
The main dish of the dinner was meat.
And hamburger steak.
And fried chicken.
And curry and rice.
And then, omelette and rice, and fried prawns, and caramel pudding, and ice cream.
And there were many many other good things, so I ate more.
Everything was delicious.
Then we talked again.
Soon, I got sleepy.
Mrs. Polar King spread two sets of futon in the back room.
Polar King wore red pajamas and lay on the inside set of futon, and I lay on the other set, as I used to, with Moth Mrs. Polar King.
Mrs. Polar King, in her white negligee, smelled so sweet and nice.
She smelled so dear to me that I cried a little.
Red, blue, yellow and green lights were flickeringly reflected in the window.
They looked like the supermarket's neon sign in the back of my house.
When I told her so, Mrs. Polar King replied, "They are Arctic auroras, boy."
It was the first time I'd ever seen Arctic auroras.
The wind blew and stormed outside, but I was not scared at all because I was sleeping between Polar King and his wife who hugged me.
I slept soundly.
Next day, when I woke up, Polar King and his wife were not there.
Flustered, I hurried to the dining room and found Polar King eating breakfast.
I, too, had a toast, beacon, a fried egg, salad, milk, coffee and some fruits for breakfast with him.
Mrs. Polar King had got up early in the morning to prepare a lunch box for me.
Polar King said, "Which souvenir do you want for your grandmother?"
I said, "The Arctic ice, please."
"You may have as much as you like," said Mrs. Polar King taking lots of ice out of the refrigerator, and she put them into my bag with the lunch box.
"Won't they melt before I get home?" asked I, then Polar King laughed and said, "The Arctic ice will never melt."
Polar King and his wife saw me off when I left their home.
Just as Polar King had told me, the ice did not melt before I arrived home.
This is all true story.
(This fiction was inspired by a real, historical person. All events in this story are however fictional. The story first appeared in June of 1990 in _SF Ad_.)