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Friday, April 29, 2011

"Proof of a Future"; CWCG #2 (Short Story)

Following is my short story for CWCG #2.  I went a little sci-fi/futuristic with this one which typically I find out of my element.  So, I had fun!  Give it a read and tell me what you think!

The words for CWCG #2 are:

Intransigent - refusing to compromise
Thesis - to defend an argument; research paper
Frailty - moral weakness; being frail

Theme: weather


Including the picture was optional; something for a little extra fun.  I decided to incorporate it, or should I say that cute little birdie dicided to incorporate itself. :-)


I watched his eyebrow furrow as he pondered my thesis.  His intransigence always caused great angst between us.  He continually refused to acknowledge that maybe I could be right about anything. But, this one time I just new I was.

"I'm telling you, they still exist.  They are still out there.  Somehow they found a way to adapt to the incessant rains and oceanic movement." I insisted.

"You are chasing a phantom!  No animal, bird or otherwise, could survive out there unless they grew gills and fins."

"But I saw it! Last summer solstice, I saw it!  It fleetingly fluttered around me, it was real." I exclaimed.

"You saw nothing.  A figment of your imagination!  Sudden over-exposure to the sun after a long wet season." Huffed the Governor who also happened to be my father.  Our relationship was strained and filled with disharmony.

It was so frustrating not to be taken seriously.  It ate at my soul because I believed so strongly and yet no one believed me.  I knew other species had to have somehow adapted to survive.  After all, I had seen the yellow-bellied warbler with my own eyes.

It was last year when I took out in the dingy, taking advantage of the calm and the warmth and the cessation of the rain.  I paddled and paddled, surveying the circumference of our tiny habitat. It was such a small piece of land that one couldn’t fairly title it an island.  Our isle measured less than the former island of Haiti, which no longer existed either.

We were number 4 in the 18 islands that existed after the war.  There were 5 Americas, 2 South Americas, 7 Asias, 1 Australia, and 3 Africas.  Water covered the entire surface of the Earth and it rained continuously with exception of the summer solstice, when the waters would subside like an outgoing tide for five days revealing each of our little islets left from what was referred to as Apocalypse though formerly known as WWIV.

My imagination summoned up the memories from last summer when the rains had finally subsided. The sky actually opened up, heaven-like glowing and glimmering. Leaving the tiny bits of land that remained from the destruction of our founding fathers.

It was that afternoon as I paddled, searching the landscape and the islet’s shores for signs of new growth, adaptation, life.  I didn’t even hear it so much as I felt it, hovering.  I looked above me and there it was.  The warbler.  I had to squint to see it floating against the bright rays of the sun.  My eyes were quite sensitive having been locked away in a capsule for the last 11 months and 16 days.  But it was there.  I think it was just as intrigued to see me as I was surprised and thrilled to see it.

Like the cockroach survived the dinosaur age, so the beautiful, feathered, land loving yellow-bellied warbler survived WWIV.  I recalled thinking how this would mean everything.  But when I returned to our commune no one believed me.  They accused me of spreading myths to build false hope.  And, I could not prove it to them as the summer solstice had come to an end, the waters and rain returned for another twelve months.

I was going to have to find a way to prove it.  I had three days before this year's summer solstice; just enough time to prepare for my excursion.  I had found this bird once, or should I say it found me.  I knew I’d find it again.  Only, this time I'd get proof that it had overcome the tragedy assaulted to our planet.  And, once I proved the yellow-bellied warbler did indeed still exist, the rest of our commune would believe me.  I knew this finding would be life changing for America 4.  And, for the other islands too.

Having collected my gear and four days ration of food and water, I loaded the dingy.  I felt excitedly optimistic as I paddled out around America 4 heading toward the location where I had discovered the warbler last year. Four days would be cutting it close before the solstice ended and the rains and tide returned but I wanted to allow myself as much time as possible. After all, it would be another 12 months before I had an opportunity to search again.

Following along the islet’s shore, a few hundred feet out, I could see green sprigs sprawling out from the water and up the sandy edge. The undersea grasses had adapted to what was called the wet season. During the summer solstice the vines climbed the landscape of the shoreline in a netlike fashion, soaking up the sun until they were so green they were almost blue. This was another confirmation to me that other life and species could adapt as well. As was standard, my father refused this stating that it was an organic process innate to plant life but in no way indication that a warm blooded creature would be able to simulate.  "A few hours of sunshine won’t grow a heart that pumps or lungs that breathe.” He would say. I found myself appalled by the frailty of his thinking.

I continued to paddle, listening as the waters lapped at the land’s edge.  Looking out there was nothing but miles and miles of endless ocean.  Although smothering for over eleven months out of the year, seeing it like this lit by the sun, made it somewhat beautiful.  Even in its beauty I respected its danger.  One only knew what lie beneath the surface.  That was where the anathemas lived, the only other creature ‘known’ to have survived the war.  Gilled and finned and tainted by the chemical warfare inflicted upon this planet.

The lapping and the sound of my paddling were the only things that broke the silence as I continued my journey. I paddled late into the night to get to my destination, though during the summer solstice the sun never set. I wanted to get around the other side of the island before finding a place to make camp for the next few days.  I had to be efficient with my time knowing sleep could come later. Though my arms were wary and sore, I was too alight with excitement and hope to sleep anyhow.

Finally, I found my way to the embankment where I had beached my dingy the year before. Though beached, I tied it firmly to a rock. Summer solstice lasted five days but I never fully trusted the tide. Without my dingy to return to the capsule I’d surely parish when the rains and tide returned, from the anathemas if not first from drowning.

I settled my gear and set up my make shift canopy to provide shade from the sun. My skin was pink and warm from so much sun exposure. I pulled out my provisions. The water was still cool and felt good on my parched lips and mouth. I snacked on dried tuna, which we had found a way to breed and raise in the capsule for nourishment.  Though, we primarily lived off of gardened vegetables that were saved by the founding members of the commune when the leaders of the prior world promulgated the nuclear war.

I sat and I watched. I stood and I waited. I decided to hike around the area and research the islet’s surface for anything encouraging. I found coral, dried and hard. It apparently hadn’t adapted to the solstice; though, I knew in a few days it would rebirth itself from the sandy soil’s foundation and bloom wildly again under the returning ocean’s water.

I didn’t see signs of much else. Only a skeleton of underwater life dried from the harshness of the sun above. It amazed me. How life seemed so different from what it once was. Yet somehow we survived and we’d continued our existence. I was told that there was once talk of living in space. That possibility died along with the multitudes after the warheads had been released. Wouldn’t five days a year in the glory of the sun be better than living in a capsule in space never to see the sun in this way at all? I had to think yes, which was why we were able to adapt and survive.

I found myself heading back to my make shift camp. I hiked along, stepping quietly, and constantly surveying my surroundings. But, I saw nothing. Not even my own shadow as the sun stayed high in the sky. Finally realizing my exhaustion I decided to bed down and nap for a while under the shade of the canopy.

I don’t know how long I had slept when I sensed something stirring. I tried to open my eyes but was blinded by the intense light of the sun. I had to sit up and take a moment to let my eyes focus. I heard something stirring again. I turned slowly toward the sound and then I saw it. It was pecking through the wrappings of my dried tuna. But, warblers didn’t eat fish or meat. They ate berries and…insects. So is this how the warbler survived? Eating krill, just the same as the anathemas?

I slowly shifted to a crawling position. I moved, inching my way closer. It was beautiful. Smaller than the warblers in the books I’d read to learn about so many of the species and animals that once existed. My heart was pounding with fear and excitement. One movement closer and the warbler noticed me. I immediately froze but it flew off so fast my eyes couldn’t trail it. But I had seen it. I’d wait. I’d wait until the very last second leaving me just enough time to paddle back to the capsule. I had to have proof. If I could get a feather, or a dropping or any other sign to prove its existence it would be worth the risk.

I waited another full day and still the warbler did not return. I was tired and dried, my skin now burning from the constant exposure to the sun. The sun I first found so wonderful was now turning on me. I had one day left before I must load up and begin the journey back to the other side of the islet. One day. I decided to set some sort of trap. Though, I didn’t have much to work with. I took the bag that had held my dwindling provisions and set it open against a rock. I cut the strap to make a cord long enough that I could separate myself from the trap and yet pull it when the bird returned. I tore a piece from my last strip of dried tuna and leaned down to place it as bait in the sack. Hopeful, the warbler would be hungry and return for another taste.

As I righted myself, my foot caught on a dead patch of coral tumbling me backward. I tried to catch myself but I was too slow and my head crashed hard against the rock. The pain was smashing, piercing, and I hollered out in agony. Then the world went black.

I don’t know how long I was out. I woke to a horrid headache. I tried to rise but the blood pulsed like a hammer inside my head. I was fearful for how much time I had lost. I needed to get back to the capsule before the solstice ended. But I had no idea how close that was. I’d failed.

I felt something pricking my hand. Turning my head slowly, painfully, to look I realized my fingers were still wrapped around the piece of dried tuna. It wasn’t pricking I felt but pecking. The warbler looked at me, turning its head sideways as if to see me better. It hopped closer and pecked at my shirt. It hopped back and pecked again at the tuna in my hand.

I raised my hand and it fluttered away. I adjusted myself to a sitting position while reaching for my head with my other hand. I felt something crusty and dry, most likely blood, damage from the fall. I noticed the warbler perched a few feet from me. Eyeing me, tilting its head this way and that. Observing me. Then, it tweeted. The sound was thrilling, and happy.

At that moment I realized life would be different, life would change. The warbler had adapted, therefore it was possible that other animals had too. I whistled. The warbler hopped closer. I whistled again, lightly and upbeat. The warbler chirped back to me, slanting its head to better eye me. I held out my hand, tuna in my palm. The warbler paused, twitched and adjusted its feathers. Then, without further hesitance it fluttered up to perch on the edge of my hand.

Watching the warbler picking at the tuna as it rested comfortably on my palm, I thought to myself, bird in hand, I hold my proof.  Now to get back to the capsule.

I'll be working to post the words and theme for next month's game this afternoon.  It's really easy, if you want to play along.  The only rules are to include all five words and the theme.  The rest is up to you.  Hopefully, you'll join us in our next game.  Be sure to check out those who've commented that they played along and read what they wrote.  I also am working on a linky to make it simpler to find everyone's, but with two children each breaking a bone and the multiple doctor visits -- I've been a wee off schedule. :-P

All is well though!  Happy FWFD of the weeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!



Melissa said...

Like I said before, I can definitely see this being expanded upon to create a novel-length book. :-D

Here's mine:

Farmer*swife a/k/a Glass_Half_Full said...

I pondered that but I don't know if I have that much sci-fi stuff in me. I don't know how people come up with these complicated stories such as 'The Host' and 'Avatar'.

Hey, did you try html coding because you should be able to include your direct link in your comment. ;-)

Melissa said...

I have an idea for a dystopian, but I'm not sure I could pull it off. Like you, I don't know if I have that much sci-fi in me. LOL!


Melissa said...

Where's everyone else's entries?!?!

Alice said...

Wow! I had no idea you had that kind of writing in you! You most definately will have to keep going with that story!! I can not be left hanging like that. You have completely surprised me with this one!:-))

Farmer*swife a/k/a Glass_Half_Full said...

Alice, Thanks! Me neither. But, I don't think I have enough future/sci-fi to keep going with this one. In my head the story played out that the MC found the bird and that meant things were lookin' up. ;-P

I'll put your link here since I need to show you how to do that again:
Mother Natures Cruelty ;-)

Farmer*swife a/k/a Glass_Half_Full said...

Alice, Thanks! Me neither. But, I don't think I have enough future/sci-fi to keep going with this one. In my head the story played out that the MC found the bird and that meant things were lookin' up. ;-P

I'll put your link here since I need to show you how to do that again:
Mother Natures Cruelty ;-)