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“Paradisiacal Glory” by Katherine Cowley

The Millennium was much colder than Robert had expected.

He removed his outer gloves and attached them to his parka so they wouldn’t fall into the icy water. Now, with only the liner gloves, the Antarctic cold attacked his fingers, but at least he could eat something.

Robert unwrapped the paper wrapper—no single-use plastic, not anymore—and bit into the granola bar. Many people had been given assignments where they lived before the Savior’s second coming. Robert thought longingly of his home in Florida. If he oversaw the Work of Renewal, he would remake the world entirely into Florida’s weather. Good temperatures all year round, like in the Garden of Eden.

He finished the granola bar and considered the paper wrapper. There was a proper disposal method for it, but it took extra effort, and the wrapper was biodegradable. He glanced around to make sure his daughter wasn’t nearby, then balled up the paper and threw it over the edge of the hovercraft, into the frigid water.

He restarted the machine, listening to the unnaturally quiet spin of the motor. No burning fuel now, it was all battery-operated. When he had retired a few years before, he hadn’t wanted to use heavy machinery again. He had also wanted a Millennial assignment which involved all day in the temple, but apparently God had other plans. There was no temple on Antarctica.

Robert turned the machine to the frazil ice setting. He reached out its large extended arm over the salt water and began the agonizing process of converting it into frazil ice. It made a sort of snowy slush in the water. In a few hours, he would go over the whole section a second time to convert it into sea ice, which apparently did something useful for Antarctica.

He sniffed, his nose cold despite the layers. When he finished, he could go inside and do something productive, like read the scriptures. He switched the machine’s setting from frazil ice to sea ice and tried it on the salt water. It worked! It could turn the water directly into sea ice. Skipping the frazil ice stage would save lots of time.

He was getting into a rhythm when he heard the voice of his daughter, Victoria. “Hey, Dad.” She had flown up beside him on her own hovercraft.

Robert turned off the machine. “Yes, honey?” He glanced to where he had thrown the paper wrapper. He could still see it, floating a little below the water’s surface. Hopefully Victoria wouldn’t notice it.

“I think you accidentally set your machine wrong,” said Victoria. “You need to turn the water into frazil ice first.”

“But the machine is strong enough to turn it straight into sea ice. It saves time.”

“True, but it won’t have the correct internal structures,” said Victoria. “We have to do this step by step, line upon line. Ice upon ice.”

Robert shrugged.

“You wouldn’t take a name to the temple and go straight to sealings without doing all the other ordinances, would you?”

“No, I wouldn’t.” Corrected, Robert turned the machine’s setting back to frazil ice. His daughter had been called to lead this sector’s ice efforts, rebuilding the permafrost and creating glaciers, ice sheets, and other sorts of ice and snow. The rest of the extended family was also assigned to Antarctica. He wished he had his wife and grandkids’ calling, working on the Penguin Renewal Project.

“I know you find it frustrating to do this,” said Victoria.

“It’s fine,” said Robert. “We only receive callings we’re supposed to have.”

“I had always wanted to visit Antarctica—what was left of it.” She reached out her arms, gesturing at the icy expanse around them. “And to think, now I get to help remake it, as it was meant to be.”

One of the things he had always loved about Victoria was her sense of wonder, the way the smallest things gave her delight. The sun glinted off the icy expanse, and as he tried to see it through her eyes, it did look beautiful.

“Did you hear about how we got all these machines? The hovercrafts, the ice machines, the air-cleaning planes?” Victoria’s husband Rafael was flying one of those planes right now, removing carbon dioxide, methane, and other pollutants from the atmosphere. “I heard that it was like with Nephi, or the Brother of Jared. That we were given plans and revelation beyond our technological abilities. Isn’t that amazing?”

“Yes,” said Robert, and it was wondrous, really. He tried scratching his ear, which didn’t work well with all the layers. “When Joseph Smith said the Earth would be renewed, he didn’t say that we were the ones who would have to do it. I thought God would wave His hands and it would just happen.”

“You always did say we were instruments in His hands,” said Victoria.

“I do feel awfully like a glorified icemaker right now.”

She laughed. “A paradisiacal icemaker, Dad. You’re making glorious ice.”

“Well, I better get back to it then.”

“You’re amazing, Dad. See you in a bit!”

“Love you, Victoria.”

She floated away in her hovercraft.

This time, Robert took his time making the frazil ice, watching the patterns it created in the water. Honestly, part of the reason he didn’t like this calling was it made him feel guilty, reminding him of how he had contributed to the Earth needing renewal. He had not been a very good steward.

He approached the part of the water where his paper wrapper still floated. He stopped his machine, not wanting his waste to become part of the glorified ice.

He made an improvised net with some spare parts on the hovercraft. It took about ten minutes—the paper kept slipping out of his grasp—but finally he got it out of the water.

Robert looked out at the ice and land and water before him. “I am sorry, Earth,” he whispered. “I will try to treat you better.”

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