Feb 2019 challenge-28 days badge28 days, the title for February, went around my brain for a few circuits before I got two strands of inspiration.  The suggestions from the WEP team when announcing the prompt covered so many angles it was hard to find something they hadn’t suggested… just saying, folks!

I’d like to thank Intrepid for their flow of travel emails, and Paul Willett for the idea.  Then when I got into the details, I’d like to thank Jón Frímann Jónsson for his website Iceland Geology. And of course, I’d like to thank my fellow-travellers and wonderful guide Einar on my trip last year!

The assumptions made about climate change impacts on Iceland are entirely my own and not based on any formal research. Air quality in general is a different matter.

I’m happy for any sort of comments, but 28 Days is very much an experimental piece, so a full review would probably be inappropriate! It’s 996 words.

28 Days

Evidence: Iceland Climate and Tourism Service Enquiry into Bárðarbunga incident

Tourist record: Tori Arandone (US)

Vcard to Mom (transcript)

Hi Mom!

Well, I’m here, I made it!

It sure is a strange place. Reyki, the capital, is just a few buildings on connected islands, with a weird opera house sunken in the bay. You go in like onto a ship, but it’s great inside.  The other main building, the cathedral, is in the centre of one of the islands and it’s real pretty.  

The open air is unbreathable, even though it’s supposed to be free of smog. I just coughed and coughed when I took my mask off, so I put it back on.  We went to the ‘famous blue lagoon’.  It’s a tidal pool with hot water springs heating the sea.  Really great, but the stench, even through the mask… well, you wouldn’t want to know.  Worse than when the tank overflowed.

Anyway, we’re setting off tomorrow.  The other people seem okay. One guy has had to turn back, though.  Wheezing all the time. The medics took him away. I’m fine though. I just keep my mask on.

I only have a limited number of vcredits, so it’ll be a week till I next check in.

Love ya!

Vcard to Paulette (transcript)

Hi honey!

Yes, I’m here in the land of ice and fire.  Haven’t seen any ice yet, but cripes, the fire is scary.

The first place we visited was the old parliament area, the Thingvellir they call it.  Just a place of rocks and a flat valley and lake.  But the rock sort of formed a trail, with walls either side. It had pools alongside, steaming with hot water, and a waterfall rushed down into one of them with bubbles and foam and everything. Our guide told us to be careful, the water would give us terrible burns, it’s so hot. 

Well of course there has to be someone dumb on every trip, and wouldn’t you know it, two of the young guys at the back decided to go skinny dipping that night. I didn’t hear them go out, but we heard the yells and screams as the heli-med shipped them out. 

We have a new guide now, Ovar. He just said the other guy had a new group and Ovar takes the trek part. You know what I think? I think they replaced him for letting those guys get hurt. They weren’t nice guys, but they don’t deserve to get hurt, do they?

Anyway, I’ve teamed up with a nice couple and another woman who’s a bit stern. But nice enough. She reminds me of that cop I dated. God, I hope she’s not a cop! I’ll spy on her and find out.

Talk later!

Vcards to Mom, Paulette and Mikey (transcripts)

Hi Mom!

We’re already two weeks into the trip. It’s really nice. The food is good and the scenery wonderful. My feet hurt from the trekking, but you know, I said I needed a challenge, and it’s a good challenge. I’m doing fine, don’t you worry about anything. This message is short cos I want to check in with Paulette and Mikey.

Love ya!

Hi Paulette

Well, it’s a grand place but it’s tough here. The ground shakes occasionally. Ovar says not to worry, it’s the rift valley just having a little movement. Perfectly normal.  But we could see the glows in the night over towards the east. We asked Ovar in the morning and he said there was a little eruption near the old glacier field, only small, not to worry. We were ‘quite safe’.  I asked how ‘quite’ that was and he laughed and said ‘perfectly’.  I think Icelanders talk English like Brits, not like us.

We are camping on what used to be a glacier. It’s just rock now, but you can see deep scrapes where the ice used to move down the rock. My online geology course is really paying off!

We go across to the north side of the island tomorrow.  Ovar says it will be very different there. Not sure why, but still.

Catch you later!

Mikey

There’s a cop on this trip and I don’t know whether she knows, or what. Just keep your head down. Don’t say anything about me, or my trip to Iceland. I’ll get through this 28 days if it kills me.

Okay?

Vcards to Mom and Paulette (transcripts)

Hi Mom

I’m looking forward to the end of this trip. I can just about breathe the open air now; I’ve got used to it. The weather has turned cold and foggy.  It’s because we’re on the north side of the island where the warm current doesn’t reach any more.  I even saw some ice the other day. 

Having a great time!

Love ya!

Hi Paulette

For god’s sake don’t let Mom see this or know what I’m telling you. I’ve just told her all’s well. But it’s not.

[pause while she checks over her shoulder, bites her lip and rubs her hands over her face]

What should I say?

We camped on the edge of a lava field, an old lava field, from the volcano that erupted way back in 2019. Ore-something, all these names are so long like lama-lama-dingdong. There was an earthquake, and our gear slid into a crevasse that opened up. We were hanging onto our things in the tent, hanging on to each other, everything.  And then the smell!  We went for our masks, but we’d put them in our packs, and the packs had gone with the rest of the gear. Ovar got us to huddle together, wrapped us in an orange tent, and set the emergency beacon. Good thing we were all fully clothed against the cold. But everything else…

We’ve only got two more days of the trip left. [screws up face and wipes eyes]

Oh god, I’m scared. We’ll be fine, though. [sobs]

[end of stored data]

© J M Pett 2019.

'For god’s sake don’t let Mom see this or know what I’m telling you.' 28 Days... #WEP+IWSG #flashfiction Click To Tweet
Thingvellir, Iceland March 2018
Thingvellir; copyright J M Pett 2018

 

#WEP/IWSG short story challenge | 28 Days
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51 thoughts on “#WEP/IWSG short story challenge | 28 Days

  • 20 February, 2019 at 8:23 am
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    Hi Jemima – very clever … I was completely stumped by this prompt and gave up. Love the way you took your postcards – so interesting to read and a great take … well done – cheers Hilary

    Reply
  • 20 February, 2019 at 9:22 am
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    Interesting—and leaves a lot of questions to be answered in a longer story! Why the worry about a cop? Sad to think about that kind of end for Iceland.

    Reply
    • 20 February, 2019 at 9:30 am
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      Oh, and you’re right about the prompt giving too many ideas. I guess I kind of used one of them, but I think I twisted it enough ;). Maybe for April I won’t read the blurb. I also just realized that I was looking at last year’s prompts when planning ahead, and will have to stretch farther to make my idea about April work…

      Reply
    • 20 February, 2019 at 7:18 pm
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      I was thinking about her having to be away for a specific 28 days, but it was just some extra ‘business’ that didn’t evenutally go. Maybe I should have cut it.

      Reply
  • 20 February, 2019 at 8:01 pm
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    This was a brilliant take on the prompt, and I’d gladly read a much longer story centered around this concept! I loved how our narrator dished out specific bits of information depending on who she was sending the message to. A lot of people would selectively keep some things hidden from their mothers to keep them from worrying. Wonderfully done!

    Reply
    • 22 February, 2019 at 9:19 am
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      Thanks, LG. I wonder about making longer stories of my flash fiction. Maybe I’ll try it some time!

      Reply
  • 20 February, 2019 at 8:25 pm
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    An epistolary take on a prompt – that’s new. Personally, I try to avoid thinking about the climate change, but any time I do, it leads me to very unsettling places. Places like the one you describe in this piece. And to think we do it to ourselves.

    Reply
    • 22 February, 2019 at 9:20 am
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      Yes, climate change is unsettling. And if we don’t all do something together, very very soon, we’re going to be in a whole lot of trouble. But then, I’ve only just got myself forward into writing it in fiction. Thanks for visiting!

      Reply
  • 20 February, 2019 at 10:06 pm
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    I loved how you wrote this! And I agree with the others above, I’d love to read a longer version of this story!

    Reply
    • 22 February, 2019 at 9:22 am
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      Hmm, that seems to be a developing theme. I’ll think about a longer version…. Thanks for the feedback, Carrie 🙂

      Reply
  • 20 February, 2019 at 11:28 pm
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    Hi Jemima! just popped in for a quick hello and read, but will return for a deeper read. It looks intriguing. I love reading exotic, to me, locations.

    Denise

    Reply
  • 21 February, 2019 at 12:46 am
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    Very nice! Love the tension and the insights. Our future will definitely be bleak if we don’t make huge changes in how we treat our planet!

    Reply
    • 22 February, 2019 at 9:23 am
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      Thanks, Jemi. I was involved with a group called Climate Action Now! in the early 2000s. It’s frightening how little progress we’ve made.

      Reply
      • 22 February, 2019 at 8:37 pm
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        Progress has been so slow, Jemima – unlike the unbridled march of ‘progress’. Kudos to you for doing your part. I remember campaigning in the 1980s when I was in the Ecology Party. I’m still a green at heart but less able to take to the streets – or my soapbox.

        Reply
  • 21 February, 2019 at 3:15 am
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    Hi again Jemima. A great way to tell this story. A creepy trip, As much as I love to travel, I’d give this trip a miss. Our planet is undergoing so many changes. I wonder how many there are that we know nothing of. Your story is quite a warning.

    Thanks for participating in the WEP contest. Always great to have you.

    Denise

    Reply
    • 22 February, 2019 at 9:25 am
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      Thanks for both visits, Denise. It was one of my new year’s resolutions, to write more stories that fitted my blog’s tagline, so thanks for the opportunity, and for all the work you put in on the WEP project. 🙂

      Reply
  • 21 February, 2019 at 5:53 am
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    A tale that left me hanging on a crevasse wanting more – or maybe not. I fear this reality may be heading near fast. Clever use of selective information.

    Reply
  • 21 February, 2019 at 6:56 am
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    Wow, what a unique take on the prompt. Loved this. Drew me in completely. This guy has a lot going on in life, and I’m intrigued to know what’s up with him and Mikey. And if he is dead or not. This was awesome.

    Reply
    • 22 February, 2019 at 9:27 am
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      Thanks, Dolorah 🙂 I wanted to develop the cop thing, but maybe in a longer version…

      Reply
  • 21 February, 2019 at 10:05 am
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    Brilliant take on the prompt, very different. Great idea to use an epistolary flash. Why was the MC hoping not to be near a cop? I particularly liked the ending, hope they got back safely. Kudos.

    Reply
    • 22 February, 2019 at 9:28 am
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      Hi Nilanjana. As I’ve replied to Dolorah, it was something I wanted to make more of… the reason for the 28 day trip was not entirely voluntary… but difficult to get that in without cramming the story too much.

      Reply
  • 21 February, 2019 at 4:26 pm
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    Unique story that drew me in completely! Left a few unanswered questions, also. Will there be a sequel? 🙂 I hope this is not a harbinger of what might become of Iceland in future.

    Reply
    • 22 February, 2019 at 9:34 am
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      I think flash should leave some unanswered questions, for the reader to exercise the brain on!

      I think the scenario for Iceland I’ve built here includes glaciers melting (they are, everywhere), sea level rise of about three metres (that’s conservative, but the timescale is uncertain) and the reduction of the Gulf stream so it doesn’t go as far north (highly likely, and worries that it’s already happening). That last one will devastate the UK. Apply those to any coastal countries … I’ve been trying to work out how NYC would look… But how far in the future I’ve set this, even I’m not sure. Maybe 30 years, maybe 60…. The speed of change is part of the problem of climate change – how fast we can adapt.

      But you probably didn’t want to know all that!

      Reply
  • 22 February, 2019 at 12:46 pm
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    That’s quite a cool take on the challenge, Jemima! I like the dystopic setting and the way we get the information in the text structure–the different versions for Mom and Pauletter.

    Still writing mine up–it will go up on my blog tomorrow.

    Reply
  • Pingback:Do you write prompt-based flash fiction? #WEP #FlashFiction

  • 22 February, 2019 at 6:24 pm
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    This piece made me think a lot. I have so many questions. Why does the mc have to be gone 28 days? Why is the cop an issue? I liked the format of the story and would love to read more. It’s sad to think this could happen to Iceland, but more sad to think this can’t happen and do nothing to prevent it, but that’s an arguement for another day and time. Great entry.

    Reply
    • 22 February, 2019 at 7:02 pm
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      All I can say is, there is a connection between the 28 days absence and the nerves about the cops… maybe there will be a sequel, in some shape or form. Or maybe a prequel!

      Reply
  • 23 February, 2019 at 6:54 am
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    Hmm – did she miss her court date or something similar?. I love reading about other places and Iceland just looks so forbidding. I used to want to travel there, but haven’t done so. This is written well but leaves us hanging. I do hope you will pick it up again when the prompt fits. Kudos!

    Reply
    • 23 February, 2019 at 10:29 am
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      I imagine there was something like that that made her want to disappear for 28 days. As for the hanging bit: it’s evidence in an enquiry, and ends with [end of data]. That’s all I’m saying; the rest is for the reader!

      Reply
  • 23 February, 2019 at 7:37 am
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    Well, that took an unexpected turn! Great piece, Jemima. I like how you presented it in the form of transcripts. I’m curious about the policewoman and what the narrator is hiding-I’d love to know how this ends. You had me on the edge of my seat all the way through.

    Reply
    • 23 February, 2019 at 10:30 am
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      I’m glad you were on the edge of your seat. I’m sure you’ll work out how it ends.

      Reply
  • 23 February, 2019 at 4:53 pm
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    You built this beautifully and laid down exactly the right breadcrumbs for us to follow. Fresh and clean and very well-written.

    Reply
  • 24 February, 2019 at 8:16 am
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    Ok that was a scary ending. I wonder in which year your story is set as the “volcano that erupted way back in 2019.”

    Reply
    • 24 February, 2019 at 10:26 pm
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      Yes, the Ore-one is doing lots of activity at present, as I found from the website I mentioned at the top. I wanted a future where the climate had changed substantially. Maybe only 30 years, though.

      Reply
  • 24 February, 2019 at 11:53 am
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    I love the way you’ve presented this story. It has so much too it in such short bursts. It’s great to read between the lines as we read the different messages to different people. Great story.

    Reply
  • 24 February, 2019 at 6:17 pm
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    Hi Jemima.
    When I first started to read I thought you were chronically your own visit. And then the cop reference. Scary ending. Held my attention all the way through. Well done.
    Nancy

    Reply
    • 24 February, 2019 at 10:28 pm
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      Funny – I think it’s the second Iceland one I’ve written since my visit. It’s certainly a great place to imagine fiction for! And I didn’t discover my companion was a retired cop until we got back and checked each others’ facebook pages!

      Reply
  • 25 February, 2019 at 9:49 pm
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    When I was younger, volcanoes had a tendency to haunt my dreams. I live in Colorado, and we have some extinct volcanoes which haven’t erupted since prehistoric times. This made me feel a little more secure, until I found out about that blasted Yellowstone supervolcano. So, despite my best efforts, my life could still end as Volcano Toast.
    I am the sort of person who loves seeking out disaster stories. I enjoyed yours.

    Reply
  • 28 February, 2019 at 5:21 pm
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    Hi,
    I sincerely hope she’ll be fine. It doesn’t sound like she or anyone else will be returning alive. You built the tension in the story up very well.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

    Reply
  • 5 March, 2019 at 4:12 pm
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    I’m still doing the WEP rounds. Better late than never, right?

    Very clever and relevant take on the prompt. Refreshing format.
    I enjoyed the bursts of specific bits of information, dependent on the recipient of the info.
    Great job!

    Reply

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