Cartographer’s Earth

After my last bit of flash fiction, I found it a fun way to keep my writing muscles pumped. Here’s my response to Chuck Wendig’s latest Flash Fiction Challenge. The title/topic was chosen by a random number generator, picking two words from two lists.


Cartographer’s Earth

old-map-small

She tries to push me around with her invisible finger, but I usually hold fast. When her winds blow, I take down the sails. When the currents surge, I row against them until I’m slippery with sweat and my palms burn.

As I navigate my mind, my Earth, I rarely consult The Map. I visit familiar places. But when I grow bored, I look down at The Great Unknown highlighted by tentacled beasts.

That is where She ushers.

Often I sit at its edge, like the day before yesterday, and stare into the expanse. It was then that I knew She had been gathering her strength and I found myself thrust into the uncharted.

Several days in, I saw no monsters, but The Great Unknown, it did exist and appeared endless. The winds died but the stars were strangers. Having lost all sense of direction, I wasn’t sure how to get back.

I raised my fist at Her.

Exhausted, I fell asleep. I was shaken awake by a sudden halt. Peering over the bulwark, I beheld a small, brown, barren island upon which I was anchored. I began to despair until a glint caught my eye from the middle of the bar.

I rappelled down the side of my ship and marched through ankle-deep mud to that shiny thing. The closer I got, the dimmer it grew. Before my eyes lost its place, I reached down and picked it up. I opened my palm and stared at a tiny, heavy seed.

I fell to my knees and dug a hole with my hands, tossed in the seed and covered it back up. The tide began to rise and I quickly returned to my ship. As I floated away, I looked back and saw a sapling reaching out from the mud. It grew until the island was covered with Life. My eyes soon grew overwhelmed by the spectacle and I fell asleep, waking to familiar stars.

I sit at my desk now, mulling over a blank sheet of papyrus. I dip my quill into the inkwell and begin to redraw The Map. The tentacled beasts, The Great Unknown, they are still there but have shifted away from the island.

I know that I will soon be sailing once again with The Map in hand, filled with a fresh resistance to Her calls.


-Phillip

0 thoughts on “Cartographer’s Earth”

  1. Wow – this is perfect flash fiction. Lead the reader one way, with a twist at the end. Loved it. Beautifully written. You’ve inspired me to pull out some of the flash stories languishing on my hard drive!

    1. 😀 Really glad you enjoyed it Gwen! Especially since it inspired you to pull out some of your own flash stories. It’s been awhile since I wrote in that medium and I definitely found it to be fun again.

    1. Wow! Thank you so much for the nomination Ben and I’m really glad you enjoyed my flash piece. Interaction with other bloggers is a GREAT thing. You’ll find a lot of kind and helpful people in the community, without a doubt. I’ve added your blog to my RSS feeds.

  2. What a fantastic story! This line stands out for me: “My eyes soon grew overwhelmed by the spectacle and I fell asleep, waking to familiar stars.” Sometimes it’s like that with my writing–a great expanse of unknown, suddenly there is life, and then I’m overwhelmed by it and my mind shuts down. A writer’s life, from famine (of words) to feast (of words), from the Great Unknown to The Map.

  3. Great story, Phillip! I can’t help thinking of how inspiration hits, but then the siren call of the new and shiny sometimes interferes to lure us away from what we’re working on. 🙂 (Some of those islands on the map look like centipedes.)

    1. Thank you Linda! 😀 So true about the sirens’ call sometimes distracting us from our current voyage. And wow, you’re right…Now I’m seeing centipedes and amoeba and other weird things. Need more coffee. 🙂

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