ii) Fassn’s stomach rumbles but it isn’t that which rocks the boat

Fassn’s stomach rumbles but it isn’t that which rocks the boat. The water around the shallow-bottomed craft ripples a moment before a heavy thud impacts the paddle boat, throwing off the balance of the gang within.

Fassn continues snoozing as though he’s unaware, but Shyan, Cang and Abia take notice. They each sit upright and scan the waters. “What was that?” Shyan murmurs.

Another thud, this time more violently. The gang is a ways from the coastline and exhausted from over a day’s paddling already, and the meagre meals that have sustained them. The paddle boat slaps the water in protest as it tries to right itself. Ripples on the surface presage another blow to the craft.

“Water jumpers,” Abia says. She says something to the water in her native tongue, but only a moment later another thump, this the biggest yet. Even Fassn is awake now, muttering about his wings, how they would help in a situation like this.

With another thump, Shyan loses hold of her paddle, watches as it drifts away. The thumping continues, faster now, and harder.

i) Rising up over the water, the sun beats down hard

Rising up over the water, the sun beats down hard. It reflects off the river, burning the skin of the four rough folks in the paddle boat. Cang and Shyan paddle, each to a side, but their energy has depleted since their mad dash early in the day. The town is far behind, now, and what lies ahead isn’t certain.

“I’m hungry,” Fassn rumbles, his hands linked across his belly, his eyes closed. “Can we catch some fish?”

“Certainly, old friend,” Cang says, his breathing heavy between strokes. “Simply dive in there and scoop up a mouthful with those stubby fingers of yours.”

Fassn makes a face but it’s enough to know he might actually be considering it.

Trees and reeds go by on the banks. Birds flit above them, and aquatic creatures of all descriptions tussle and move below the surface. The sun moves across the sky as the gang follows the river north.

“Where are we going, by the way,” Fassn asks.

Shyan and Cang share a glance. She shrugs. “We’ll know when we get there,” she says.

the Chipesten bridge: a story circle

Communications consultant Sara Herfstadter pulled out of the concrete parking garage and onto highway 9, with little traffic impeding her. When she came to the Chipesten Bridge, though, she found it closed. Cursing softly, she made an aggressive U-turn that caused a driver in a beige Civic to lay on the horn. Sara knew there was an alternative bridge somewhere south of the county line, a rickety wood-and-stone number that offered the only alternative over the Chipesten in a half-hour’s drive. The sun sank fast as she navigated unfamiliar, poorly-paved roads, and had just reached the tops of the trees when she spotted the old bridge. There was a line of cars ahead of her – dozens of people had had the same idea. Sara cranked the radio and sang along to twangy country music with her foot on the brake. In tiny increments she eased her way toward the bridge, which looked even more dilapidated than she had imagined. When she reached it, she crawled forward, feeling each creak of the wooden planks beneath her tires. After an agonizing few minutes, the roar of the rushing Chipesten reaching for her, Sara emerged on the other side, onto a hard-pack dirt road, only to find it backed up with traffic straight on to the black horizon.

Logan Bright

exercise: N 2.7

N exercise 2.7 objective setting of Human vs Nature

The earth swells and falls in steep grades. The roots of young trees, coursing with vitality and strength, criss-cross the tangled paths, erupting from the soil like jagged rocks in an awful harbour. Sharp stones, too, fill the trails, made of edge and corner, points jutting up from concealing earth to snag errant ankles.
Trees rise up from the soil, reaching into the atmosphere, their vivid green canopies murmurring to one another, their heights unreachable. Dark branches caress and sway together in a lurid, cosmic dance. Birds, hidden within the boughs, chitter to one another, issuing threats, seductions. Now and then, a flash of darkness as a bird takes wing, casts its blurred shadow against the fecund backdrop. Insects, too, above, buzzing. Communicating in their incomprehensible dialect, too small to see at a glance, but crawling, covering every centimetre of the forest.
Some of the greenery is poisonous, to human and animal alike. Plain-looking plants, green stalks flashing in the sunlight, delicate white flowers atop; a Latinized scientific name, and a playful, everyday one; all belie the acids coursing through each fleshy cell of these plants, so unassuming in appearance. They’re scattered throughout this place, within the meadows, under the shade of trees, poking up among the smooth rocks of the marshy river bank. There is a cure for the poison, an antidote for the vicious symptoms, but it’s not to be found in the woods.
The white noise of a rushing river filters up through the vegetation from its valley below. There, the powerful water dominates the stones and dead trunks that have fallen into its path – it cuts the very earth over which it runs. Erodes, takes it away, particle by particle, exchanging today for tomorrow.
Shifting winds bring thick grey clouds into the sky where once there was clear blue. A chill descends and the green shadows lengthen to an inky grey-black. Roots and stones slither into darkness, concealed anew. Thunder cracks like a loosened load of rubble spilling onto the ground. The rain will come soon, the forest will be transformed.

Logan Bright