From the Rejection Roster: Excerpt from “Ice”

ice

© National Geographic – projection of South America if all Earth’s ice had melted.

I’ve been doing a lot of marketing, progress updates, and reviews lately but not so much fiction writing on this blog. The reason is that I’m scrambling between writing the second draft of my first novel and writing and submitting short stories, hopefully faster than they are rejected.

Yes, I’m human, so having one of my tales not make the cut stings a bit, even though it’s totally anticipated and “normal.”

I still don’t like it.

So I decided to regularly (not sure how regularly yet) post a passage from one of my rejected missives that is temporarily out of play for your enjoyment and consideration. Naturally, the excerpt isn’t the story, but maybe it will be enough of a hint to tell you if anything is a bit “off” about it or if you can suggest improvements.

Therefore, without further ado, this short preview from my short story “Ice.”

“You mean to do this, then?” Afternoon of the next day, both the Captain and his First Mate stood on the dock listening to Eralia shout orders from the Star’s main deck, and watching longshoremen bring crates, barrels, and nets of supplies on palates and mule-drawn wagons, loading them aboard and down into the holds.

“In all of our days together, you’ve always followed where I’ve led. Why question me now?” Yong turned to Andrada who was still looking at the ship, the bustle of the crew, the same men and women doing the same work they’ve always done, but for the Mindanao native, it was as if this would be their last voyage.

“A man, a seasoned sailor, killed himself just because he knew we were coming to see him. It bothers me.”

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Using Climate Change to Illustrate Debates Based on Data vs. “Feels”

facts feels

Yes, this is Ben Shapiro appearing with one of his quotes. Don’t panic.

Relax. The point of this blog post isn’t to say that climate change is a hoax or to deny that it’s possible for human beings to damage the environment in any manner. The point is that when you want to convince someone of something, the way NOT to do it is to appeal to their “feels,” at least not when your point is supposed to be based on observable data and repeatable results from scientific experiments.

Case in point: climate change. The most liberal member of my immediate family, one of my sons, says that it’s possible for what we are currently observing to be “human assisted” climate change. He’s pretty smart and reads a lot (okay, reading and podcasts), so even though we don’t always agree, I can depend on him to present his point of view logically.

Now relative to climate change, he agrees with me that it’s not like the Earth has never been hotter than it is right now.  For instance, during the Cretaceous Period, according to LiveScience.com:

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Night Tightens Like a Noose

new day

© Sue Vincent

“The circle of an empty day is brutal and at night it tightens around your neck like a noose.” Elisa Gutierrez realized they only had a few seconds between the flash and the heat wave that would incinerate the both of them as they stood on the ridge overlooking what used to be greater Los Angeles. But she still turned toward Harvey Bowman, her boyfriend and co-conspirator, looking at his face, mostly hidden by the light suppressing lenses she also wore, amazed that he could wax poetic moments before they died.

“Are you nuts?” She grabbed his arm, feeling how perfectly still he was compared to her trembling. “We’re about to die and…”

Her voice, nasal Bronx accent and all, were cut off abruptly as the blast of heat, exceeding a hundred million degrees Celsius, reached them. They were both instantly rendered as dry, black ash. Seconds later, the shock wave hit them and they exploded, their remains scattered like autumn leaves in a hurricane. Amazingly, she could still see.

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Life After the State

rose garden

© Sue Vincent

David had lived underground all his life, his existence tied to the Hive habitat that had been manufactured hundreds of years ago, and his body, blood, work, all in the service of the state. He couldn’t have imagined the exquisite beauty of the garden he was now walking in, sunlight warming his back and shoulders, the sweet aroma of these spectacular plants, all so green, growing and alive, even after all the vid records he’d seen of life before the tipping point of global warming, he was still astonished.

“So, Mister. What do you think?” Ten-year-old Timothy had been assigned to guide the mysterious guest around the farm and the common grounds such as this community garden. He wore clothes strange to David, what they called denim pants, a “T” shirt, whatever that meant, and a hat. Oh, he’d used helmets on his job in maintenance to protect him against hazardous conditions, but what protection would one need in such an idyllic setting?

“I think it’s all quite amazing. I’ve never seen anything like this, all of this.” He spread his arms wide and whirled around in delight.

“You mean you lived all your life in a hole in the ground, like a gopher?” Timothy scratched at his dark brown hair under the billed red cap.

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The Sacrificed

alternate universes“I can’t do it, Erickson. I’m no killer.” Rafael Isaiah Johnson had traveled back in time 172 years to stop a global extinction event and save the human race, but the man he hoped to enlist as an ally, Austin Randolph Erickson had another idea, a murderous one.

The two men, one a Hispanic-African-American who wouldn’t be born for another 135 years was standing in the other man’s kitchen between the refrigerator and the stove, the exit to his back, while the opposing person, a white American man of Scandinavian ancestry was facing him and holding out the butt of a loaded semi-automatic Glock 20. The drawer to his left and second from the top was still pulled open.

“You’ve got to do it, Johnson. I believe you. I believe all of the holographic evidence you brought with you, that my unborn son is the key in time, the critical element in preventing the reversal of the effects of climate change. Take the gun. If I don’t exist, then he won’t be born.”

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Social Experiment

venice

© Fatima Fakier Deria

“They’re beginning to panic, Vym.”

Vym and Qloutyd were watching the news broadcasts from their alien stealth ship in low Earth orbit.

“Naturally. They expect Venice to be flooded in a century according to their belief in this climate change phenomena. They could hardly expect the famous canals to actually dry up.”

“They’re blaming…wait a minute, low tides caused by a super blue blood moon. They have the most colorful names for things, don’t you think?”

“It’s just more data for us to gather in our social experiments.”

“Our planetary climate generator is working perfectly. Humans are so easily frightened.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above to inspire creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

Venice is a very famous place with a long and remarkable history, so I tried to think of something unique. Looking up news for the city, I came across an article called Venice canals dry up after super blue blood moon and low rainfall cause water levels to drop dated 2 Feb 2018. It’s such an unexpected occurrence that I thought I’d have aliens cause it, as well as the whole climate change phenomena, as a social experiment to see how we poor humans would react. Apparently, we’re very predictable.

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

The Long Winter

skiing

© A Mixed Bag – 2013

“I can’t believe snow season’s extended into May. It’s incredible.” Dora had just finished her Junior year and would normally be cultivating her tan for the summer, but ski conditions at Snowbird were perfect.

Her boyfriend Herb Klein graduated with a degree in History and had been accepted into Law school. “It’s amazing, like summer is never going to come.”

Dora’s facial expression became solemn. “Herbie, you don’t think…”

“Think what?” Then he realized what she meant. “That’s nuts. With climate change and all, this is just a fluke. The temps will be in the 90s by the beginning of June. You’ll see.”

The gondola got to the top, and they stepped off with the other skiers. By the time she hit the powder, Dora had forgotten all about her foolish worries.

“Say Ted, take a look at this.” Ralph Manx had been a Senior Meteorologist at the National Weather Service for ten years, and he still couldn’t believe what he was reading.

“Same stuff, different day. No warm up in sight for anything above the 40th parallel.”

“It’ll be summer in six weeks. How is this possible?”

“Beats me. News agencies are already playing up ‘mini-Ice Age’ stories.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction – April 15th 2018 writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I saw that the photo’s file name included the date “15 May 2016,” which seemed a little late to go skiing (but what do I know?), so I imagined a winter that just kept hanging around. I found an image of the 40th parallel as it crosses the United States at The Daily Mail I could use for reference.

Picture a world where it’s winter everywhere above that red line.

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

When Science is Wrong

snake oil

Found at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

“Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. My name is Dr. Eric Sandersen, Director of Climate Studies at the American Foundation of Science Awareness. My studies of climatic changes due to atmospheric pollutants based on a half-century of data compiled by my department have shown conclusively that the Earth is headed toward an imminent and catastrophic ice age.”

Both the audience of scientists at the 1965 Conference of Climate Scientists and the much wider body of people watching on their television sets around the country started murmuring.

“I know this is a difficult piece of knowledge to take in, but the survival of our civilization is at stake.”

The crowd seated in the auditorium became louder and there were small outbreaks of arguing among some of the delegates.

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Extravagance, Thy Name Is Humanity

mars

Scientists have revealed a provocative new theory of moving planets like Mars, pictured, into an orbit that would create habitable conditions through such methods as using a satellite’s gravitational pull. (NASA/GODDARD)

The plans were extravagant in the extreme. For centuries, the thought of creating a Dyson Sphere, that is, manufacturing an immense hollow ball around the Sun with the inner edge of the shell positioned at One AU or the exact distance of Earth’s orbit from its star was thought to be the absolute cure-all for every problem introduced on the mother planet by human beings. The inner surface area would capture one hundred percent of all generated solar energy, providing an all but inexhaustible amount of power and living space, so humanity would run out of neither.

One of the biggest drawbacks was that you’d have to cannibalize every other object in the solar system just for the raw materials, plus you would have to find a way to create the energy necessary for the manufacturing process. However, the engineering genius even to design such a fantastic structure didn’t exist among Earth’s best and brightest and probably never would.

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Nine Thousand Stories

barge on a river

© BarbCT/Gallimaufry

“It doesn’t look the same but I’ve been away so long.”

Latham stood on the deck of the barge as it slowly ambled north on the St John’s River.

“You’ve traveled everywhere else in the world but never came home even once. Why?”

Professional tourist Bill Collins met Latham by chance at a bar in Côte d’Azur and after hearing his story, decided to go back home with him.

“I was afraid of what I’d find, memories and regret. This was once my home long, long before the white man came.”

“You still hurt because your people drove you out?”

“After all this time, you think I wouldn’t be, but it’s a deep wound. Everyone around me aged and died but I didn’t. They couldn’t accept that. Most people today would have a hard time with it.”

“Latham, I’ve spent my life traveling the world, experiencing everything, blogging about it all, but you’re the biggest adventure yet. I could travel with you for a lifetime listening to the stories of a nine-thousand year old man.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the Week of October 10, 2017. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

I have no idea where this photo was actually taken, but something about it made me think of Florida. I looked up rivers in that state and settled on St. John’s River since it’s the longest in Florida and is used for commercial purposes.

People have been living on this river as long ago as 12,000 years, but about 9,000 years ago, the climate warmed resulting in much of the polar ice caps and glaciers melting making for a wetter environment and allowing the Paleo-Indians there to go from living in camps to villages. Yesterday, I commented on someone’s blog how it’s rather intimidating to write about an immortal character because it’s hard to imagine what they’d be like with so many life experiences.

Learning of the history of this river, I decided to take a stab at it. Latham isn’t particularly secretive about his longevity, at least not with some people such as Bill, and I liked the angle of a professional adventurer and storyteller being captivated by the sorts of tales a man like Latham could tell.

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