They put the first stage of the Loop on the Loop for poetic reasons, I s’pose. Fishermen’s wives stood out on the porch pinning up clothes while the engineers dragged a 40-inch carbon-fibre pipe across the bog.
Nobody knew much to say; seemed like the argument was all but done in the House by that time. Joey Smallwood himself couldn’t have made the case better. A brighter future, they said. Economic advantage, they said. Open access to the Euros, they said.
To Canadians it seemed odd to put a space launch service in Newfoundland, but Gander and Stephenville had always been ditch points for shuttle missions. The engineers had come over in the oil years, and a few had settled down and worked out the math and the politics.
Someone mentioned the old speech about wool gathering on Mount Olympus at the outset of the project, but it didn’t get much notice.
So they dragged a line from Cape St. Mary’s to Cape Clear Island, and the Irish were one people again for a little while, fiddles and lilts sailing back and forth the Atlantic to ramble over the bogs and frighten all the dogs on the rocky road to Venus, one two three four five.
It powered up like the biggest damn chainsaw you ever saw, like the Light Sabre of God. The prime minister came down for a ride, just a little pop into sub-orbit, barely worthy of the appellation, and really just a cheap flight to London as far as he was concerned, but it made the news and that was enough.
It tore loose on July 1st, because this is a myth like all the other myths and that’s the day for those kinds of things on the Rock. The great groan of metal tearing, sagging down over the ocean, the hiss of failed parachutes as the serpent tried to right itself, and she was gone.
St. John’s, for once, got the worst of it, the snap of the cable like the angry whip of some lesser god, slicing off that little bay clean, 350 kilotons of dynamite in one go, bigger than Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a wave of dirt and water surging outwards and pushing into the bays and homes of those unlucky enough to be caugh in its path. The tsunami pushed the province back a hundred years. Ireland, too, wiped like a blackboard, clean off the earth and into Boston’s memory.
The snake slinks down into the Atlantic now, edging closer to the bottom every day. A little heat from the blast still animates it, the iron core spitting and cracking and pooling behind it.
Maybe we’ll rebuild the old rail bed when it’s done.