IIcefloes, icebergs, sea ice of all kinds – amazing stuff.  My letter I for the A to Z Challenge is ice, but as it’s flash fiction day I have to do a short story (500 rather than the usual 1000 word story).

There are so many different kinds of ice – these are just a few I spotted on holiday (go back to E for more details!):  ice on the seas approaching Svalbard; sea ice with leads through it on Thursday – completely gone by Saturday in main pic above; icicles – not normal on Svalbard, they’d had some warm weather!; pockets in the snow on the frozen lake, and pockets in the snow… on Mars (NASA photo via Zooniverse).

The Icefloe Cometh

The seal pushed its whiskers through the slushy surface ice, sticking its nostrils into the cold arctic air, testing for predators before showing anything else.  Safe!  It exhaled with a puff of water vapour and broke the surface with its head.  All clear.

It was further up the fjord than anticipated, The ice should not be this thin so close to the coast, not at this time of year.  Another mild winter, averaging -20 C.  Desperately cold nights interspersed with days when the ice had melted, even on land, where icicles hung from roofs.  Too soon.  The fish weren’t here yet, they’d be out in the warmish water on the banks, deep enough to think they were safe.  The seal had followed the warmer water, but it had pushed him towards the islands instead of the banks.  Silly mistake.  Potentially lethal.  Still, there shouldn’t be bears around here.  Too many people and too much noise.

A machine started up on the land, and the seal slid gracefully beneath the surface, heading back out to sea.

It made good progress, coming up in leads of open water that opened up between tracers of solid ice.  He got in among some growlers at one stage, small icebergs that could confuse a larger animal by tipping without warning.  The seal amused itself by pushing a few with his nose, just at the best point for the fulcrum effect.  He skittered away as one started to tip, revelling in the bubbles and krill disturbed by its crashing revolution. He took a deeper path, watching for activity on the surface.  He was near the herring beds now, and birds could be a nuisance.

Instead he saw feet, black pads swirling with white fur, paddling along steadily, deliberately, the body above buoyed along through the heavy freezing surface water.  The seal considered their relative speeds and turned away.  The bear looked intent on its heading, but the seal would need to breathe before he outswam it. He surfaced behind some blocky ice that crushed together to heave one surface above another.  It would do for a bear resting place at a pinch, but what the bear really needed was a proper flat ice floe a good meter or five thick.  The seal bobbed up and down, breathing and considering the likelihood of fish in the area.  The bear continue paddling,  It looked tired.  It needed a good meal.  Fish preferably, but seal if not.  The seal did not intend to be a bear’s meal, not today.  But the bear was heading at an angle to an ice floe up ahead.  It would miss it. Climate change was a damnable thing when it meant your hunting ground simply disappeared.

The seal flopped into the water with an ungainly splash.  Attracted by the possibility of food, and with no good reason to continue on the line he was taking, the bear angled towards the splash.  The seal increased his speed.

The ice floe cometh, the seal would continue, and the bear could rest.

© J M Pett 2015

Flash Fiction Friday – The Icefloe Cometh
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15 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Friday – The Icefloe Cometh

  • 10 April, 2015 at 5:39 am

    I love seeing ice but I can’t stand it on my car or the roads! Ha! Great meeting you through the challenge!

    • 10 April, 2015 at 6:46 pm

      And you too, Tammy!

  • 10 April, 2015 at 5:42 am

    That elusive Australian kids book we’re pondering over…Was it….Dot and the Kangaroo??!

    • 10 April, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      No sorry, Bruce. It was a series maybe 8 books for say, 10+ age group, and set in a rural area but not the Outback.

      Thanks for thinking of me again!

    • 10 April, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      Thanks, David xx

  • 10 April, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    My I is about Ice Storms and Icebergs. 😀

    Nice story! I could picture that seal so well.

    -Chrys Fey
    Tremp’s Troops – A to Z Co-co-host
    Write with Fey

    • 10 April, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      Thanks, Chrys!

  • 10 April, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    Lovely story, especially when it is 85 and humid here today. My pool is almost 70, just heating normally. Tomorrow, I swim! Good post!

    • 11 April, 2015 at 2:47 pm

      We had a lovely few days of around 65 or so, felt much warmer in the sun. Today temp is back down to high 50s, but if you can get in the sun and out of the wind, it’s very nice!

  • 11 April, 2015 at 6:57 am

    Seeing huge chunks of ice is always so amazing.
    J here, stopping by from the #atozchallenge 2015!
    Great post. I’m following you on your listed social media sites.

    • 12 April, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      Thanks J. Nice to see you again 🙂 Apologies for the delayed reply but my spam filter has been overactive and caught you and a few others. Heaven knows why…

  • 13 April, 2015 at 5:06 am

    Great story, as always. I was rooting for both bear and seal…the fish I seem willing to sacrifice to keep them both happy 🙂

    Woke up this morning at 8000′ and 21 deg. F (-6 C). That was cold enough, thanks!

    • 13 April, 2015 at 10:56 am

      Sounds cool to me! 😉

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