The Future History of the Arctic
100. Someone has broken into the Global Seed Vault.
99. If you kill an ice bear, you have to tell the Governor.
98. If you do not, you will be subject to loopholes.
97. The Governor has an expensive Spanish carmine speedboat he takes for unlawful cruises in the fjord next to town.
96. If you see an ice bear, you do not have to tell the Governor, but you must offer an ice bear something.
95. A sack of kittens.
94. If you do not, he will kill you.
93. In The Future History of the Arctic, the writer predicts one hundred bad things will happen before the good thing.
92. It is a lot like William T. Vollmann’s The Rifles.
91. Except for the yellow king parts.
90. “Life is a process of trading many hopes for one memory.”
89. Today the sun’s out, blazing like a white eyehole in the cloud-masked sky. 88. Someone stole dandelion seeds from the Vault.
87. When the sun never sets, life feels like a very long road.
86. Nothing is too far from nothing.
85. If an ice bear sees you, it will wait until you see it.
84. The Future History of the Arctic is a book in the museum.
83. The museum is closed.
82. Sack of kittens arrive as special imports.
81. Why not shoot an ice bear when you see him on the long road called life? 80. Guns have been outlawed for seventy years.
79. The museum has some guns.
78. The Governor has one gun—a rifle—he is the Governor.
77. A largely contested loophole in the legal system.
76. The Future History of the Arctic will be written by me.
75. It addresses the gun law loophole.
74. If you kill an ice bear, and you are the Governor, you still have to tell the Governor. 73. Another loophole.
72. Someone stole plain bean seeds from the Vault.
71. There was once a yellow king, but he died.
70. The Future History of the Arctic says others will come.
69. “In this mirrorless house of mirrors.”
68. Someone’s building a fantastic garden.
67. Then: Cake Time!
66. The Future History of the Arctic says the difference between the Governor and me is what one is willing to do with a gun.
65. No loophole for this.
64. Someone stole pineapple seeds from the Vault.
63. If an ice bear sees your boottracks but not you, it must offer you something. 62. A sack, kittenless.
61. This vexes.
60. Ice bears search for loopholes.
58. Some more ice?
57. A key to the museum?
56. This is a lie—no key exists.
55. Someone stole lychee seeds from the Vault.
54. “Sack of kittens for sale!” can be heard through the sun-blind town.
53. If the sun never sets, there is no such as a thing as a sunrise.
52. If you or I kill the Governor, you or I become the Governor.
51. If an ice bear kills the Governor, I could make a case that an ice bear becomes the Governor. 50. This is the case.
49. The museum opens for an hour, but no one realizes it.
48. The ice bear Governor outlaws all special imports.
47. The ice bear Governor outlaws all speedboats except his own.
46. The ice bear Governor keeps the gun law.
45. Someone stole elephant seeds from the Vault.
44. Public outcry: “We need more loopholes in the legal system!”
43. In The Future History of the Arctic, an ice bear becomes ice bear Governor. 42. You could look into The Future History of the Arctic and see what to do next about: 41. The ice bear Governor.
40. The sack of kittens market bottoming out.
39. The Vault break-in.
38. “A hundred kilometers away the yellow king’s grave cracks open like a seed pod.”
37. You cannot sell a sack of kittens for half a sack of kittens.
36. It’s so bright out.
35. The ice bear Governor takes lawful cruises in the expensive Spanish carmine speedboat. 34. He patrols for special imports.
33. Difficult to see the future.
32. No more sack of kittens imports.
31. Sack of kittens prices hit the moon.
30. “(How fine it is to have thoughts as empty as ice!)”
29. “(The yellow king’s thoughts are ice.)”
28. If you do not have a sack of kittens to give an ice bear, you must take an ice bear to the museum.
27. The museum is closed.
26. An ice bear will—sometimes—adopt a kitten.
25. A biological loophole.
24. With the Governor’s rifle, the ice bear Governor shoots the ice bear crossing sign. 23. We have the world’s only ice bear crossing sign.
22. Full of holes now.
21. Someone stole Japanese cherry blossom seeds from the Vault.
20. Someone is going to have to pay for all this.
19. “When his life is not completed, a man cannot die.”
18. In The Future History of the Arctic, we know what to do.
17. Un-outlaw imports.
16. Or pricecap sack of kittens.
15. Or more loopholes.
14. The ice bear Governor is banging on the museum’s doors.
13. Pay no attention to the bright sun; it blinds ninety-nine out of one hundred people. 12. Someone stole half-known seeds from the Vault.
11. The ice bear Governor wants to know what he’s going to do next.
10. I leave boottracks all over town.
9. I draw loopholes with my boottracks.
8. Sacks of kittens mewl throughout the endless daylit night.
7. The ice bear Governor sees my boottracks.
6. He cannot afford a sack, kittenless.
5. He offers me the rifle.
4. I shoot the ice bear Governor.
3. Now I’m the Governor.
2. I return all the stolen seeds—except pineapple—to the Vault.
1. I wait outside the museum with all the icy thoughts of a dead yellow king.
Alexander Lumans was awarded a 2018 NEA Creative Writing Grant in Fiction. He was also awarded a fellowship to the 2015 Arctic Circle Residency and was the Spring 2014 Philip Roth Resident at Bucknell University. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The Paris Review, Electric Literature, Guernica, The Walrus, Gulf Coast, TriQuarterly, Off Assignment, Story Quarterly, Black Warrior Review, American Short Fiction, Sycamore Review, Forty Stories from Harper Perennial, Blackbird, Cincinnati Review, and The Normal School, among others. He was awarded the 2015 Wabash Prize in Fiction from Sycamore Review, the 2013 Gulf Coast Fiction Prize, 3rd place in the 2012 Story Quarterly Fiction Contest, and the 2011 Barry Hannah Fiction Prize from The Yalobusha Review. He has received support from MacDowell, Yaddo, Arteles Creative Center (Finland), Jentel, ART OMI, VCCA, Brush Creek, and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, among others; he’s also received scholarships to the Sewanee and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences. He teaches at the University of Colorado Denver and at Lighthouse Writers Workshop.
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