Sunday, May 17, 2020

Story A Day In May - Story 17

 this is only a start of the story, but the idea was to start out in the 'We' voice, and switch to the "I" voice. So i did that part anyway. Maybe i can finish this one after the May stories are all done.

The Gamvik Experiment
by J. Smith Kirkland

The six of us boarded the train in Brussels as a team. We felt like great explorers headed to an uncharted land. The entire world is as well mapped out as the train system. There are no longer far away unknown lands, but our destination was to a country none of us had ever been, and to a project at a research facility that would take us to somewhere mankind has never been before.

Our mission waited for us on the coast of Norway. Like some villages nearby, the facility was only accessible by boat. So we would reside in Gamvik, and commute by boat when we went to work on the island. It all sounded very adventurous and mysterious to us. The fact that Gamvik has the northernmost lighthouse on the mainland of Europe only added to the romance.

Each of us brought our own expertise and perspective to the project, and we were excited we were chosen to be part of the team. Since we met at the university, we have all become friends as well as colleagues, and respected each other as scientist and humans. We were not all staying at the same place in Gamvik. It is a small village and we were split into two homes. But we decided we would all have meals together at one place or the other, so we did not lose our coherence as a unit.

The places we passed in the daytime were beautiful. We all took far too many pictures. It was somewhere before Karasjok, on the last leg of the train trip, that we ran into a dense fog. It was already getting dark outside. Nothing was visible more than a foot out the window. The train slowed to a crawl. We were so close to our destination, the delay did not diminish our anticipation or excitement. We were going to be there for months, a couple of hours delay would not hurt. But eventually, the train came to a complete stop.

We all waited, thinking it would start moving again. And waited. Forty minutes had passed before we started thinking someone should be coming through our car to let us know what's going on. Our team were the only passengers left on our car, but surely the conductor had not forgotten us. Finally, we decided, one of us needed to go check. I did not hesitate to volunteer. Liam said he would go with me. I didn't argue with that.

We moved through the next car up. There were no passengers there either. Then the club car. There was no one at tables, and no one working the food counter. We opened the door to the next car expecting to find a crew car, but all we found was fog. Our cars were no longer connected to the front of the train. The fog was too thick to see if the rest of the train was just up ahead. I said we could climb down and follow the tracks just a bit to see. Liam did not like this idea. He suggested that the train could be at the end of the line, and an engine has hooked to the other end of the train. I was willing to believe that, though I knew from the time table that we were not near Karasjok yet when we stopped.

We went back to our car and told the others the situation and our hypothesis. Then we continued to the other end of the train. There was only one empty passenger car behind us, then only fog. I didn't understand how we could have been disconnected from the rest of the train, or how nor one could have checked on us. But I was convinced that in the morning when the fog lifted, someone would be here to take us to Gamvik. I told Liam, we had to convince the others that is what is going to happen also. So no one panics. Somehow the two of us managed to do that.

I was not panicked, but I didn't sleep much. When the sun started peaking over the horizon, I looked out the window to see the fog had lifted. As I started to focus on what was outside the window, I saw a thicket of trees, a forest with ferns and underbrush. I blinked several time, thinking I was not quite awake yet. But the forest did not go away. This could not be Norway.

Liam, wake up.”

Liam breathed deep, and opened his eyes a slit.

Is it morning? Are we there yet?”

It's morning, but I don't know where we are.”

Liam looks out the window and has the same slow reaction that I did before starting to panic.

Where are we? What happened? How can we be in a forest?”

The others started waking up to his loud questions. And they had the same ones.

Everyone stay clam,” I told them, suddenly feeling like the leader of the team I was supposed to be, but not the way I was supposed to be.

I think we need to try to asses the situation. Three of us go out the front car, three out the back. See what we can determine. Don't stay more than ten minutes, then meet back here and compare notes.”

So that's what we did. Liam, Jenkins, and I went to the front of the train. Passing through the club car, Liam went behind the counter.

What are you doing?”

Just checking to see if there is any food here. I'm afraid we may need it if no one can find us for a while.”

I had not thought of that, but I wasn't thinking that far ahead yet. I was more concerned about if we would stay alive long enough to need more food. Outside my concerns were not diminished. Not only was the rest of the train gone, the tracks might as well have been. The forest had reclaimed much of the path. The train cars had also been weathered by time, far more than possible in the amount of time we were onboard.

Jenkins freaked out, “This is a dream; right? Wake up Jenkins! This can't be happening!”

Jenkins, stay with us. Science. This has to be explainable.”


Just stay calm and reason. We will figure this out. You go back to our car, in case the others come back early, tell them Liam and I are still investigating. We will start back in 10 minutes.”

Jenkins takes a couple of deep breathes, then nods in affirmation and goes back in the car.

Do you think it was wise to send him back alone?”

I think it was better than waiting until he saw that.”

I pointed to what looked like the ruins of a skyscraper looming over the trees in the distance. Liam stood slack jawed, and finally said, “Toto, I don't think we're in Norway anymore.”

The Prompt

Think up a narrative about some form of travel—anything from setting out on an adventure, to a school trip to somewhere, to crossing a border, to an accident on the way, (a train wreck perhaps).
Begin this in the voice of a collective first person: “We.”
How does a group consciousness describe the experience?
Consider both Karen Russell’s “St. Lucy’s School for Girls Raised by Wolves” and Ayșe Papatya Bucak’s “The History of Girls” as examples of this voice. Note that both authors introduce the element of the individual “I” at critical points among the we. See if you can identify in your story idea where the individual “I” might intrude or take over. (500 words and up)

Story A Day Framework

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