STORY B – Started by Del Van Gorder School in Yukon, Canada
Marc Dixon was 18 and not sure what to do with his life. A semester at Montreal’s Champlain Regional College had left him undecided. He’d taken off the winter term, looking for a job or an adventure – whichever came first.
Happily Marc’s folks had surprised him with an Air Canada ticket to go see his aunt who lived in the Yukon, in Canada’s far north. It had been on Marc’s “sand” bucket list since Tante Monique had gone north to work for ReCLAIM Domain, a company that restored defunct mine sites to natural habitat. Marc was definitely for the environment. Wolves, caribou and wolverines needed homes too.
Marc’s aunt had married Doug, a local equipment operator in Faro, who was part of the Kaska First Nations band. His people had lived in this harsh environment for over 20 millennium. Doug’s last name was Shorty, but he was over 6ft – a tall Shorty. Marc’s aunt was 5ft, so she was now a ‘short’ Shorty.
Marc’s adventure started when he landed in Whitehorse in time for Rendezvous. He grinned when he met trappers, mushers and can-can girls as they walked along the quaint, rustic main street. He’d watched men and women pack over 100 kilos of flour packs in a contest that re-enacted the famous Chilkoot trek of the1898 gold rush era.
A month had flown by in no time filled with snowmobiling and ice-fishing and exploring trails around Faro. A major thrill had happened when Marc’s aunt and seven colleagues had won $25 million in a Lotto Max draw. Monique had decided to help Marc continue his “sand” bucket list by giving him an Air Canada ticket as a gift.
He could go anywhere they flew. How was he to decide? The Sphinx? The Eiffel Tower? Machu Picchu? Marc took the dart his aunt gave him, closed his eyes and threw it. “Thwack”! Marc’s eyes snapped to the map. He’d be heading to …
Nowhere. This was strange – he was sure he had heard the sound of the dart hitting the board. In confusion, Marc searched for the lost dart, scrabbling on his hands and knees. His aunt was in the doorway, her piercing amber eyes sent a shiver up Marc’s spine. He turned around; he was surrounded by darkness. There were no walls, no ceiling, no floor…nothing. All was gone except Marc, the map and his aunt.
Turning back to his aunt, Marc swore he saw traces of a smile.
Then it all happened too quickly; a pale, cold hand, with long black fingernails tore through the map. The elongated fingers wrapped themselves around his neck, choking him. He was pulled into the map. Marc shut his eyes fiercely and screamed in terror. He was falling…falling…falling…
He landed. Where was he? This wasn’t quite the adventure he’d had in mind.
It was ice cold, as cold as the hand that had choked him. Trembling, Marc sat up, opening his eyes. The barren wasteland stretched before him. A harsh wind cackled as it blew wildly, whipping across the landscape.
As his senses awakened, he turned around. An abandoned station hunched against the cruel wind; a dim green light pierced through its rusting metal frame. To the left of the station, was a sign: ‘Welcome to Ellesmere Island’.
Swift dark figures danced just beyond his vision and Marc thought he saw a pale, translucent face in the window.
All of a sudden he heard a sound of fluttering wings, turned round and saw an ebony–dark raven flying towards him. The bird passed just above his head and then out of the corner of his eye he noticed that the face from the window faded away.
Following the raven, Mark approached the fjords. It seemed to him that he beheld the blink of the green light, and in front of his eyes a huge ship ‘U.S.S. Proteus’ appeared. He caught the blood – chilling raven’s screech, whirled and saw there was nothing else but a newly erected fort.
Hardly had Mark moved into the food storehouse, when he spotted an emaciated figure of a man creeping along the wall. It was obvious that the rogue was about to steal some food.
The moment he reached for one of the sacks, the door were battered down and two men barged into screaming: “You’d promised it would be the last time Charles Henry! You know what Adolphus Grey does with scoundrels”. The scuffle broke out. And then… all started to vanish into thin air. The last thing Mark perceived was a dim gunshot.
He opened his eyes and saw a repulsive man with clotted blood on his temple. Mark realized that the face from the window and the thief were one and the same person.
To his surprise, Mark heard a hoarse voice of the man murmuring: “I need your help. But first you must hear the story of Lady Franklin Bay Expedition…”.
On hearing the name “Lady Franklin Bay”, Marc opened his eyes wide and a shiver ran down his spine.
As the wounded man started to tell his story, Marc remembered his grandmother some years ago taking a small, golden key, which nobody was allowed to touch, from the mantelpiece. A key which opened a chest with the letters “L.F.Bay” engraved on it…..but the wounded man had started his story so Marc forced the memories of his grandmother out of his mind and focussed on the present…
“…well, you know, in the 17th century the West Indies Shipping Company owned a ship, called the “Lady Franklin Bay”. It was one of the largest ships ever built. It used to sail all over the world, especially to England and South America, bringing back gold, silver and precious materials to the Crown.
One day during one of several expeditions, sailing near the shores of South Africa, the Lady Franklin Bay was attacked by priates who killed all the crew except for a young boy who had hidden in the ship’s galley, but they didn’t manage to steal the gold.
The young boy’s name was Charles Henry, and he was one of my ancestors. He retrieved the gold and made his way to Naples where he set up a famous pizzeria called “Lady Franklin’s”. But the West Indies shipping company thought Charles Henry was one of the pirates so he was arrested and he lost everything except for a small wooden chest which contained the recipe for the special Lady Franklin pizza and most of the gold from the ship!”
The more Marc listened, the more he was sure his grandmother possessed the chest he was talking about!
Marc leaned towards the man, and whispered excitedly: “So, tell me how I can help you…”
The Writers of this Story
Del Van Gorder is a K-12 school, located in the isolated northern Canadian village of Faro, Yukon. Faro is a town of 400 and the school has 52 students aged 4-18. We are surrounded by stunning mountains, frozen lakes and rivers, and lots of snow for most of the year. At least once a year we are the coldest populated town on the planet.
Harrow International School Hong Kong is the first international boarding and day school in Hong Kong. Set into the hills, it has tremendous views across the marina, and shopping promenade of the Gold Coast and, beyond, to the harbour and Lantau Island in the distance.
K.Brodziński I Senior High School in Tarnów. Our school is the oldest one in our town with more than 830 ambitious, enthusiastic and open-minded students, age 16-18. Tarnów is located 78 km from Cracow and has a population of about 110 thousand people.
Liceo Chiabrera is a high school specialising in Modern Languages and the Classics. The Modern Languages studied are English, French, German and Spanish. We are in the centre of Savona, a town situated in the north west of Italy. We are on the coast but surrounded by hills and then quickly into mountains so we have a range of landscapes from beaches to country villages to mountains. The students who have taken part in this project are in the third year and so are 16/17 years old.