Written for: D. Wallace Peach’s January Speculative Fiction Writing Prompt
If you could ask one question and have it answered with absolute wisdom and total knowledge, what would it be?
That itself was the question that drove The Great Race to the Oracle in 1900. An expedition couched in secrecy and kept quiet ever since – because the answer was too embarrassing.
It all began with the discovery of the oracle itself. An entity who has snoozed since the beginning of time in the farthest reaches of the Antarctic.
In 1899, an expedition to the South Pole drifted haplessly off course and discovered the oracle resting in frozen silence on a wind swept mountain of ice.
Nearby, the expedition found a Rosetta stone written in Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Han Chinese and Mayan. It explained that the oracle slept for ten thousand years at a time and only awoke to answer a single question with absolute knowledge and total honesty before resuming his slumbers.
His next scheduled appointment with humanity was to be sometime in 1900.
When word got out, the nations of the world rushed to reach the oracle first and be the one to ask their chosen question.
The Vatican dispatched a contingent to settle the matter once and for all, “Does God Exist?”
J. P. Morgan personally accompany the expedition to learn, “How can I get something for nothing?”
Queen Victoria wanted to know, “Will my boy Bertie ever behave?”
And the Freudians raced to ask, “What do women want?”
And so on…
But when the delegations reached the oracle, the seer of all knowledge remained mute on his mountain side, oblivious to their desires. He had slept for ten thousand years and was in no hurry to wake up.
Day after day, the expeditions waited..
Day after day, their supplies dwindled and the weather sapped their strength, draining them of their lust for knowledge.
Then during the deepest depth of the almost endless Antarctic night, the ice encrusted eyes of the oracle cracked open. His hands trembled, triggering an avalanche and sending a deep blue fissure in the ice splintering like frozen lightning toward the camp.
Only one lowly dog musher was there to witness the event. Everyone else lay shivering in restless sleep within their ice crusted tents.
The musher looked up.
The oracle gazed down.
“How’s it going?” the musher asked.
“Fine,” the oracle replied…
…and fell back asleep for another ten thousand years.
H/T to The Tick, a cartoon that my children and I snuggled on the couch to watch and laugh at every Saturday morning.
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