Immortal in Ice

sami

Nordic Sami (Saami) people in Sapmi (Lapland) – Taken between 1900 and 1920 by Granbergs Nya Aktiebolag – Public Domain

William Shaw wanted to be alone, which is why he had settled in Lapland for a time. Unfortunately, history once again worked against him. The Nazis invaded as part of their offensive against the Soviets. He escaped into the icy wilderness rather be captured. No one could know his secret.

He couldn’t really die, not from starvation or exposure. Wounds healed almost instantly. However he could feel pain. His extremities were frozen. He’d walked as far into the mountains as his body would allow. If not death, then a long winter’s nap would be as welcome.

Then men came. They said nothing, looking to be hunters of reindeer. Shaw was picked up and taken to their camp. It had been long since he had come this way, hundreds, maybe thousands of years prior. He had lived among the Sami before. Perhaps he used to be one of them.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw challenge. The idea is to take a Google Maps location and image and use them as a prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 148.

Today, through something of a mishap, the Pegman takes us either to Northern Norway or Northern Finland. That’s a lot of territory to cover, but I picked Finland because I thought everybody else would pick Norway (the idea just popped into my head) and because it borders Russia, which could afford some interesting possibilities.

Since we’re talking northern Finland, the northern most portion is Lapland and man does it ever get cold there.

Of all the qualities this area possesses, I was drawn to the Regional Coat of Arms which depicts a traditional Wildman.

After doing a bit of reading, I found that the wildman is an iconic image associated with both northern Norway and Finland and possibly meant to depict an ancient member of the Sami people. The Sami are the only and northernmost indigenous people inhabiting areas of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. There are Sami who live along the coast and also the Mountain Sami who traditionally have hunted and also herded reindeer.

All of that is very interesting, but I needed a protagonist. I first considered a vampire, but then I recalled a character I created named William Shaw who I first introduced in January 2017 and reprised a few days later.

Shaw is an immortal or very-long-lived person, someone who has existed so long, he cannot remember where he came from originally or how old he really is. In my first story, I also made him a time traveler. He had met his love in early 20th century England, but then due to an argument, she left him. Unfortunately, it was to travel to America aboard the doomed RMS Titanic. Decades later, he was determined to use a time machine to go back and save her, but then there would be two identical immortals existing from April 1912 forward in time so I dropped the idea of expanding that story.

Here, we have Shaw still mourning his lost love, hiding in northern Finland. Sadly, his timing was off, because the Nazis invaded Finland including Lapland during World War Two as part of Operation Barbarossa, their plan to invade the Soviet Union.

So, not wishing to be captured and perhaps being discovered by the Nazis to be an immortal (if they tortured him, his wounds would heal almost immediately, which would certainly be noticed), he took the long trek north to meet his fate or at least to enter the next chapter of his life.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

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27 thoughts on “Immortal in Ice

    • Thanks, Peggy. I was out doing a bit of yard work earlier and it occurred to me that a very long lived person might not remember everything. Maybe there’s only so much memory capacity and thus they’d start forgetting their earliest experiences, eventually not knowing who they were originally or how old they were. Sure, maybe that memory would span centuries, but what if they’d lived for thousands of years?

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  1. If there were only a few decades lapsed between April of 1912 and the time when he wished to travel back to save his lost love from the Titanic disaster (say, from June 1941 or even earlier), there would exist two immortal versions of him only during those few overlapping decades. He would, of course, have to stay away from the original version of himself that was not yet ready to make the trip back, in order not to contaminate the timeline or create a paradox. He would also need to rescue the girl in some manner that allowed his original self to believe she had indeed perished with the ship, so that he still would do what he did to come back to accomplish the rescue. Any other course would force him into an alternative universe, unless, of course, he did nothing but continue along his original timeline without the rescue attempt. Since he would have full knowledge of what he did originally and where he lived during those decades while he believed she was lost, he could easily enough settle down with the rescued girl somewhere else sufficiently isolated from his original time-path. After June of 1941 when his original self had left the timeline to travel back for the rescue, the two of them would be free to relocate anywhere if they desired, without any concern about bumping into any other version of him.

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    • In fact, if he could reveal to the girl that he was a time-traveler, he could whisk them both forward past those few decades, and lessen the risk of contamination or paradox. Depending on the nature of his temporal tech, maybe he could even sneak onto the ship and persuade her to leave the ship with him, with no one the wiser. Of course, there is more opportunity for drama if he were to abduct her from the ship and have to explain later how she ended up with him in another time period, and then have to cope with her outrage.

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      • As I recall, the original story had him traveling back from 2017 to 1912, but the same principle applies. I do think however, that his trip back in time was one-way, though this being fiction, there’s no reason I couldn’t change the “rules.”

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      • OK, a century of overlap, unless he could go forward again without having to relive the period carefully avoiding his original self. And then there is the pesky problem of rescuing her from the ship without letting his original self know about it and without revealing any advanced tech that he might have brought back to aid his rescue effort.

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      • Oh it gets worse. In a conversation in the comments section of the original story, it was suggested (by me or one of the readers) that he sabotage the Titanic delaying it’s voyage for a few days so he could convince his lady love to return to him. In that eventuality, he’d have changed history significantly by likely preventing the ship from colliding with the iceberg. The Titanic would probably have actually arrived at New York, albeit a few days late.

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      • Apparently whoever made that suggestion was not concerned about the serious impact on the timeline that would forcibly breach into an alternative universe and threaten the time traveler with psychosis as his memory would suddenly contain two timelines worth of conflicting memories.

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  2. Enjoyed this immensely. i wonder if the Sami who rescued him know the legend about him – albeit as a quiet tale told around the fireplace on long dark winter nights.

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  3. well one thing I love about these challenges has to do with the way historical parts overlap (at times) and Penny wrote about the Sami people – and even reindeer – yet in different ways. And it sure gives us a feel for the location when these details emerge.

    and Shaw sounds like an interesting character for sure. and the “wildman” reminded me of the Yeti myths – but then not that much – just a little.

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  4. Hard to feel connected to any time and place when you’re immortal. You’ve conjured his thoughts and feelings well and given us an inetesting setting too, cold and frozen lands and reindeer and Nazis. It’s rich and complex. Great work James

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