The Frozen Lake is this week’s #writephoto prompt from KL Caley of New2Writing.com. I confess when I first saw it, I thought it was some unworldly light and a black, starry background. But it’s just black of trees! I tried to get something else into my mind to overcome that first impression, but eventually I gave in. This is a 375 word Sir Woebegone scene.
The Frozen Lake
Sir Woebegone stood at the edge of the frozen lake, gazing at the scene.
“This wasn’t what I ordered.’
“No,” replied the dragon. “But it’s the nearest you’ll get to the surface of Enceladus without a fully pressurised spacesuit impermeable by extreme cold and acidic (or is it caustic?) vapour. Besides, my feet would freeze.”
“Why aren’t they freezing now? Mine are.”
“Oh, sorry.” The dragon leant low and breathed gently.
“That should keep them going for a few minutes at least. How long do you want here?”
“How come the bird’s legs don’t freeze?”
“Both gulls and ducks occasionally get stuck to the ice and need to be unfrozen, but the blood vessels have a clever bypass above the ankle that turns the blood around before it gets cooled in the feet.”
“In a nutshell, yes.”
“How clever. Swans too?”
“I assume so.”
“I like swans.” Sir Woebegone gazed at the graceful bird, its head hidden under its wing feathers. “Do they get cold beaks?”
The dragon just shuffled on his feet, leaving wet patches on the ground where he’d been.
“Why do those lines appear in the ice? It’s the same on Enceladus, and Titan, too, and maybe the other planet I’ve forgotten.” Woebegone frowned, and his visor slipped down to obscure his view.
“Function of expansion and contraction of ice with the currents below. Happens in the Antarctic too. Probably the Arctic as well, but the Antarctic’s more interesting.”
“Even though it’s fluid methane underneath Enceladus’s ice, not water.”
“Fluid, expansion, contraction, same processes.” The dragon yawned, melting an arc of ice in front of them. They watched as it froze again, leaving a neatly curved ridged tracing behind it.
“I see.” Sir Woebegone had never considered his dragon would be an expert on planetary processes. “How do you know all this?”
“With all the time I have, I don’t waste it, you know. Open University Course S283.”
“Ah. Do they do one on time travel?”
“Not yet; maybe you should write it. Are we done here?”
“Er…” Sir Woebegone took a long look around. “Yes, I think so. Thanks.”
“…You’re welcome,” said the dragon, settling back on his nice warm pile of treasure in his cave. “Tea?”
I enjoyed my Open University courses. They were very useful, until the education system got all mucked about (Gov’t policies). The info about bird’s legs came from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) online course on gulls I did in the spring. I’m a fan of lifelong learning, especially as the longer I live, the more interesting things scientists discover 🙂
Are you following the Giftmas flash fiction serial which started last Tuesday with Rhonda Parrish, visited me on Saturday, and finishes at Rhonda’s this coming Friday? It’s turning into a terrific story. If you haven’t started go to Rhonda’s first episode. If you have seen mine, go back to it, or go straight to the next in line, Stephanie A. Cain.
Cherie found a doorknob in her Great Aunt Agatha’s belongings… but Agatha died going out to buy some cheese. So why is she on the other side of the fireplace, in a cold and snowy place?