Escape from Silicon Valley

– 1 –

“I’m going to hunt Moa and you’re coming.”

“Are you alright mate?”

“Aye but listen, you read that article about the pricks at the top buying up land in New Zealand?”

“Are you alright pal? I’m sorry about what I said.”

“What did you say?”

“Do you not remember hoying the rum at me?”

“So that’s how it got in my hive! What did you say like?”

“Can’t remember. What article?”

“I’ll send you it. Come round mine in a bit. I rang in sick.”

“Rang in sick? This is Silicon. You’ll be out by November”

“Fuck them.”

“Got the article through. Looks long.”

“It’s worth the effort. Come round.”

Owen’s partner had left him. Said his moods were impossible to live with. He was having none of it, but it was true. I knew. We’d grown up next door to eachother. Shared flats, tents and canoes. Everyone who knew Sal loved her. She could do better than him and the entire hemisphere. It was definitely a blow. The night after Sal moved out, I’d pointed all of this out to Owen. He threw what was left of the rum bottle. It just missed my eyebrow and took out his hive speaker. We’d not spoken since.

It was pretty absurd, the article. If you know The Valley enough though, none of it was surprising. Some big dicks of Silicon who fancied themselves as the next Elon had been buying up abandoned sheep stations in the South Island of New Zealand. Building smart houses with panic rooms. They were convinced that the place was fertile ground for setting up a corporate, high technology freestate. A big name in The Valley had acquired a huge plot overlooking Lake Wanaka. Me and Owen knew the lake well. We’d had a fight in it once, and both of us left blood in it.

– 2 –

“Look man, just because it says that, doesn’t mean it’s actually unknown.”

Grease on cardboard had been left to make oil slicks in the air. Owen had skin peeling where he’d been scratching his bald head over maps for the past 72 hours. The hair tufts either side of his skull seemed to be stretching their arms as far apart as they could. All the windows were blinded, and the only two lamps in the flat were positioned over the map on the breakfast bar. It’s amazing how fast someone can drop to bits after they are dumped.

“Look. Those glacier plateaus. One is called the Garden of Eden, and one is called the Garden of Allah. Do you think you’re going to find Allah there, trimming the verge by next door’s apple tree, just because they are called that?”

“Come on. A glacier, a mysterious Great Unknown. The Gardens of Allah and Eden. It sounds fucking mint!”

“It’s not unknown. It’s charted on a fucking map!”

“Look at it. It’s a geologist’s dream.”

“Owen, I get that you’re struggling pal. Once you’re feeling like yourself again, you’ll remember that we’ve got it pretty sweet.”

“You’ve lost your shape, you. You used to be like a mad pirate.”

“And now I’m 35, and paying for it.”

– 3 –

You grow it from scratch. From Brazil, all the way up to the Mexican border wall. As you can imagine, you battle agencies both criminal and governmental in doing so. Those who believe there is power to be had out of the Amazon rainforest, but not much in it. Drug cartels, the CIA and farming conglomerates. None of these want to see The Americas become a forest canopy again. We called it The Last Rewilder. I worked on the story boards, and Owen did the game design. Not a soul in The Valley was interested, but I swear it was way better than it sounds.

(This story was recently entered for a literary short competition. Apologies, but it means I can only supply an extract for the time being.)

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