I hitch the complaining muskeg up to the surrey and rub behind her ears. She snorts, clearing her nostrils, readying for the journey. We roll down the Isenglas windows and pin them, so that none of the gasses leak in. The chambers are full. Forty-eight million pascals of pressure, according to my portable toque-metre. It should be just enough if the weather holds.
We move swiftly through the night, up to the land where blackfly meets ice, and the chickadees are both boreal and common. From this vantage, the nozzle is just a silhouette against the stars. To the south, there is a vague sodium-yellow haze of 44-40, 401. But to the North—an untrammelled landscape, like an empty canvas.
It's the largest nation on earth. You could bury all of Australia in its armpit, and in Australia's armpit, Texas, and in Texas' armpit, Germany, and in Germany's Armpit, Lichtenstein, and in Lichtenstein's arpit, Monaco.
But that doesn't mean that Mercator has overlooked us.
We hook up the nozzle.
Longtitude by longtitude, like a Crappy-Tire air mattress, the nation fills with gas. Moose-muck gas, shit-disturber gas, Gas like a thousand million Coleman stoves.
And there she is. A nation so huge, so Mercator-ly projected that even Mars could cuddle up like an infant at a Terran breast, gurgling CO2 flatulence and lullabies. Cooing.
We smile as the DEWS rolls over the tundra. Alight and alive to the invasion of space, but not a space invader in sight.