“Bit chilly, innit?”…

That’s what she said… all of what she said.

I mean, she has the reputation to be rather mysterious, but nobody has seen a snowstorm for the last hundred years! And as much as my documentation from that time can tell me, this is a big one, so yeah… it is a bit chilly…

She is now looking over the edge of the roof, into the void that starts where the rooftop of the “Bletchley Tower” stops. She does not even seem to notice the snow flying all around her, accumulating on her shoulders, and on her head.

She does not seem to care.

She likes being here — on the roof. The rumours say that the tower was built here, in Bletchley, because this is just where she use to live as a child: In a small house occupying a spot on Brooklands Road, 51 floors below us.

Maybe this is what she is thinking about. And maybe she is thinking about the snow. Nobody is too sure how old she is, but she must have been a young woman the last time this happened — a snowstorm I mean.

It must have been before 2034, when Hugo — the Inventor — sent all these nano-machines to the atmosphere to control the climate. From then on, it could always be sunny where you lived, fields got exactly the right amounts of light and rain… all of it being entirely controlled from here: The “Bletchley Tower”…

So, how can she be so calm about it is what I don’t get. I have to do something!

“Hummmm… Miss Chloé?”

“Yes, Mathieu.”

“I have just been told that the weatherbots” (that’s what we call them) “are still working”

Her response comes after five (long) seconds, still looking out to the dancing snow: “So, why are they not doing what we tell them do you think?”

Ah! That’s the question… It was bound to happen one day or the other. Hugo disappeared shortly after sending his invention to the atmosphere, leaving all the computers and equipment just running there… And nobody knows how it works!

Sure, we tried to understand it, but could only get little bits. After a lot of discussion, and a lot of not being sure how to deal with it, the governments of the world decided to use it. And who better to be in charge than Chloé: She was not only Hugo’s sister, she was also the only one clever enough to get it to be used for the benefit of the highest number of people…

“We believe that they are receiving instructions from somewhere else…” I’m attempting to respond.

“Did I ever tell you that you have the same name as my father?”

Yes, she has told me… about a million times….

“Really? What a great man he must have been!”

It is always better to stay on her good side.

“It’s French… He came from France… but I guess you didn’t know that either — France does not even exists anymore… countries don’t exist anymore…”

Ah! That I didn’t know! She must be feeling nostalgic. I have heard of France, in History lessons at school, when they explained that, thanks to the weatherbots and to Chloé’s clever management, all of Earth’s resources were optimised for everybody to live well. All governments centred around The Bletchley Tower: No need for borders and petty conflicts anymore. We are all citizens of a world that provides for everybody.

“We are trying to figure out where the interference comes from, but…”

I’m really nervous. She is too calm and I don’t have anything more to tell her.

She turns around to look at me. Her large dark eyes surrounded by her long curly hair… grey and white… full of snow.

“You won’t find anything.”

And again, she says that without a sign of anxiety or doubt… it’s just the way it is.

“What do you mean? Do you know what’s going on?”

She smiles… slightly.

“Nobody knows what’s going on… Ever… Except him.”snow

She can’t possibly suggest that it is Hugo doing this… Nobody has seen him for almost a whole century! He must be dead!

She is back looking out to the falling snow…

“Don’t worry. It will stop soon… I like it you see… the snow…”

I can hear a small tremolo in her voice! The most important person on Earth, and somehow also the nicest and most composed woman I have ever met… with tears in her eyes!

“He is sending me a birthday present… I’m 120 today….”


By Mathieu d’Aquin.

Images from Dragan and Thomas Richter.