Moving Forwards part 4

When the sun went down, Rodger had still not reached any islands. He took off his safety harness, a lot of good that had done him, and packed it into his rucksack. As the choice stood between the stones and the water, he lay down to sleep in the middle of the path. With the cold stones digging into his back. He wrapped himself in his coat and the spare clothes.

The next morning he woke shivering. His nails blue as the water. He poured some biscuit dust into his mouth for breakfast and continued down the path at a run. Trying to force his muscles into generating the warmth that had left him. He had to slow to a walk after twenty minutes. Sweat would only make it worse.

Then there was something new on the horizon. A dark silhouette, wider than the path. And something seemed to be growing on it. One of the islands at last. He sped up. It had already been about twenty four hours since he left Frederick.

As he approached the thing, it gained colour. Green. Grass? And something tall as well. Trees? He began to run again. Even if he did not find anything else, at least he would be able to sleep softer tonight.

The green was indeed grass and looked very much like the grass from his own dimension, except it curled after about three inches and grew in spirals. It made the island look like one big curly pillow. The trees spiralled as well. After about three metres they curved back towards the earth.

He stopped right before the border between stones and grass. It was very clearly defined. No grass grew among the stones. No stones lay in the grass. He knelt down. Picked up some of the stones. There did not seem to be any earth underneath them, just stones piled on top of even more stones. But the grass grew in dark soil which began so abruptly that it looked like someone had shaped it.

He dug into the soil with one finger. There was a fine net holding it in place. That settled it. There had to be some kind of intelligent life somewhere. But where were they?

The ground seemed solid enough. In fact, it seemed hard- packed; it did not give at all under his weight. The left and right edges of the island were sandy beaches. But just beside the path large rocks were piled up, each more than a metre in diameter. Perhaps to keep the net in place?

On the opposite side of the island, the white stone path continued to another island, seemingly identical to the first one.

If someone had made these islands then someone had to be maintaining them. But how long until they came? Would they need to cut the grass? He grabbed a handful of grass and pulled. It ripped off in his hand. It even smelled like ordinary grass.

He dug down with his fingers and pulled up a clump of close woven white roots and plenty of earth. Just as the grassroots he was used to. The only difference was the spirals. And because of those spirals the grass stood no taller than about three inches anywhere on the island.

He paced from beach to beach, among the trees. What if they only had to maintain the islands once a month? He could not wait for that. He took three stones from the path and placed them in a little pile in the middle of the island. Hopefully, someone would see that if they came and know he was there.

He strode off to the next island. And the next. And the next. Leaving small piles of stones on each. When it grew dark he rested his rucksack against a tree and used it as a pillow. It was still cold, but at least it was not as lumpy as it had been the previous night.

 

————–

This is part 4, read parts 1-3 here:

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2 Comments

  1. Hey There W R Woolf,
    This question may be a little off-topic, Almost every aspiring author writes with the expectation of eventually getting published. But to get published these days, a short story writer needs to jump past an almost insurmountable cascade of barriers – from the query letter stage to the submission stage, from literary agents to publishers, and then on to the general reading public, all in the hopes of one day selling your short story and earning an amount of money sufficient to pay down the mortgage.
    Cheerio

    Reply
    • What you say is very true.
      And even though I’m hoping to publish some novels as well, it will be difficult making a living just by writing.
      Still, I’m going to try.
      What happened to the question?

      Reply

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