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22 January 2009

GR part 2: Swan Station




Part 1: The story begins...


Galaxy Station!
Current stop: Galaxy Station!

Swan Station is coming up soon.

l love to watch swans.
They're so beautiful.
l can spot them from miles away,
as they glide across the river.

The riverbed is
shining in the moonlight.

lt's starlight, not moonlight!
That's the glow of the galaxy.

What? What is it?

l didn't think we'd get a chance to go off on our own tonight.

l mean, did you, Campanella?

What do you mean? You thought we'd be with everyone from school?

No, not that.
Forget it.

Look, those must be
the fields of heaven outside.

This train doesn't burn coal, does it?
Maybe alcohol?

lt must run on electricity.

Look, the gentian flowers are blooming!

lt's finally autumn...

l'm going to jump out and pick some of them!

l promise l'll be right back, okay?

lt's too late. Look, we've already passed them. They're far behind.

l hope my mother forgives me for this.
l tried my best.

Oh, yes, my mother!
She must be very far away by now.

l'll bet she's thinking about me.

Giovanni. You know,

l would do anything in the world
to make my mother happy.
But sometimes l wonder if
there is something l could do
that would make her TRULY happy?

What do you mean?
l'm sure your mother is happy.

Why do you think she wouldn't be?

l don't know
how to explain it,

but l think people are happiest
when they do something truly good.

That's why l think my mother
will forgive me for what l've done.

lf people really do try to do their best,
l think everyone could be happy.

lt looks like
we'll be at Swan Station soon!

We'll arrive at exactly 8 o'clock.

There will be a 5-minute stop-over.

Hey, do you think
we should go outside and look around.

Let's walk around a little bit.

What a huge station!

Where'd everyone go?
No one's here.

You're right.

Which way do you want to go?

Straight ahead.

Okay! l'll race you!

What is it?

There's a tiny
door there.

We should try
going down.

Why not?

lt goes pretty far down.
Think we should try it?

Let's do it.

lt's a town commons.

Everyone's gone from here too.

Looks like it.

Something's written over there.

"This way to the Pliocene Coast."
Let's go!

They lookjust like the stone steps
that go down to the river.

How far down do
you think it goes?

l don't know.

Every grain of sand is
a crystalline jewel.

There's a spark
of fire inside every one.

Someone's up ahead of us!

Let's go and have a look.

What is it?

lt's a walnut.
Just look! They're everywhere.

That's a huge one!

lt's twice as big as a normal walnut.

And it looks in perfect shape!

Look over there! lt's them.

l think they're digging something up.

Remember, be careful
near that outcropping!

Use the shovel!
You'd better dig a little farther back!

Careful, careful!
Try to work gently!

Are you here to observe?

Yes, sir.

l see there that you have
found yourself a walnut!

There were millions of them, once.

That walnut dates from million years ago.

Over a million years?

We've dated these rocks.

They come from the Tertiary Era, 1.8 million years ago.

Be careful with that chisel!
Not so hard!

We've found an ancient animal
called a vos,

which was the ancestor
of our modern cow.

Will you put it on display?

No, this is pure research.

From here, this looks like a thick, rich, fossil stratum.

The evidence indicates that
the rocks are 1.2 million years old.

But to others, this region might
look completely different.

You see, it all depends on
who might be looking at it.

To someone else, this whole area
might appear to be air, or even water
or an empty patch of sky.
Do you understand? Still--

Hey, be careful!
Don't use the shovel there!

That ground is too soft!

Yes, sir! Gotcha!

lt's time to go!

But l want to see a little more.

We can't.
We'll miss the train if we stay.

Let's go!

Thanks a lot, sir!

Very well.
Goodbye.

The whole town has changed.

Everything turned to stone.

Hurry!

We made it back!

We just ran as fast as the wind...

lt's amazing.

Yeah, for some million years!

Excuse me.
ls it all right if l sit here?

Sure.

Thank you very much, young gentleman.

Where is it you two boys are headed off to?

To the end of the universe!

l see. That's wonderful.

You know, this train can actually take you there.

And where is it that you're heading to, sir?

The next stop.
l'm a birdcatcher so l get off next.

What do you do with them
after you catch them?

You eat them. Why, haven't you ever eaten a bird?

Here, look at these.
l just caught these herons yesterday.

And you really eat them?

Sure. l get orders for them every day.

Who in the world
could eat a heron?

Everyone eats them! Here,
why don't you try some foryourself?

Here you go.

And some for you, too.

Please, go ahead, eat some.

Go ahead.

This is... lt's candy!

Why don't you try it, too?

Sure. Thanks a lot.

What magnificent herons!

Thank you very much.

So, tell me, do the migratory flocks
look promising this year or not?

Yes! They're incredible!

There are hordes of birds coming in
from all over! They're everywhere.

Just a couple of days ago,
l got some complaint calls.

People were calling to tell me...

l shouldn't be blinking in
the lighthouse light.

l told them l wasn't doing any
such thing. lt wasn't my fault.

There were huge flocks of birds in front
of the light, one right after another!

l told those idiots, "Look, l can't do
anything about a bunch of birds!
lf you wanna complain, then complain
to the big one who leads the flock."

"He's easy to spot: long legs,
a huge beak, and a rustling cape!"

Yeah, that's what l told them.

Ah, yes. This is my stop.

Hey, he's out there!

Ah, that was refreshing!

There's really nothing more satisfying
than hard work at a job you do well.

You have geese and heron.
Can you get cranes?

Sure, there's plenty of them all around.

You can hear them now. Go on.

Just listen carefully
and you'll hear them.

lt's the wireless operator.

Thank you very much.

Here, take my hand.

Right here, sir?

Yes. Thank you both.

Excuse me,
but do you hear anything?

What are you hearing?
Please tell us!

l don't know.

l've been picking this up for a while now,
but l can't seem to decipher it.

What does it sound like?
ls it some sort of secret code?

Can you take dictation for me?

Sure. Yes, sir.

The static is pretty bad.

"God... to... Thee... near..."

There's more static.

"Even... though... it... be... a... cross..."

"...eth... me... still... all..."

"my... song... shall... be."

lnteresting.
That's all there is.

Nothing but static after that.

What is it?

The signal just keeps repeating over and over again.
Always the same.

l can pick it up on the wireless.

God to Thee near
even though it be a cross...

eth me still
all my song shall be...

So what do you think it means?

l don't know.

lt's number .

Number .

Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee!

Even though it be a cross
that raiseth me,

Still all my song shall be,

Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee.

lt's an appeal to be carried away
to Heaven. A prayer for salvation.

- A prayer? Whose prayer?

- l don't know.

But they probably know,
in the observatory at Albireo.

*

Continue : I Carry a Ticket of Eternity

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