Friday, June 11, 2010

Gullfoss, The Gold Waterfall

The fifth response in the One Lovely Blog Award Series is Oliver Fluck's picture "Greetings from Photo Paradise":



They said the sunless winter days drove people mad, but Gunnar knew better. It was the midnight sun. Gunnar dragged the upside-down wheelbarrow out of the back of the Volvo wagon twisting it rightside up, the wheel balancing off the dirt parking lot. His back popped as he bent back into the Volvo to pull the burlap wrapped bundle from where it had rolled against the car frame. He heaved the bundle into the wheelbarrow collapsing against the wheelbarrow's handgrips. The bundle much longer than the bed of the wheelbarrow, draped over the front and rear edges of the frame at obscene angles. Gunnar bent the burlap so it folded into the wheelbarrow's body over the axle.

Anyone I pass on the trail will see through this disguise, thought Gunnar. It might be after midnight, but a thin veneer of cracked clouds exposed the pale twilit sky, it wouldn't get any darker until after midsummer. He crawled into the back of the Volvo, and searching through the junk, he found three empty pots and a seedling tray. He arranged the objects to disguise the contents in the wheelbarrow.

Gunnar hefted the wheelbarrow, its weight pitching to one side. He thought he heard a soft moan and he stopped walking, motionless, to study the burlap. When it didn't move, he let out his breath. Around him, yellow-green ground cover and small willowy shrubs surrounded him as he pushed the wheelbarrow through their branches. The thick reddish clay scarred the ground and stained his athletic shoes.

The trail curved through the brambles. Several curves away, a man with a camera pack strapped to his waist walked. Gunnar pushed the wheelbarrow off the path, and kneeled in the dirt as he pinched off the edges of some of the ground cover. The photographer walked up to the wheelbarrow. "Halló, beautiful night for a walk, isn't it."

Gunnar stood up trying to position himself between the photographer and the wheelbarrow. "Já, it certainly is."

"What are you doing out here?"

"Just taking some soil samples," said Gunnar.

"Working, this late at night?" The photographer leaned his head to peer around Gunnar. "What is that? A body?"

"Nei." Gunnar laughed, even to him it didn't sound convincing. "Just some soil for an eroded embankment."

The photographer backed away, he didn't look like he believed Gunnar. Back on the path, the wheelbarrow bounced over the red clay as Gunnar heard the click of a camera. Nothing he could do about that now.

The waterfall roared over the rocks, mist coating the air and even Gunnar's skin with a thin clammy layer. The wheelbarrow swayed as he pushed up the last meters of the path. Fighting the wheelbarrow over the stairs of the wooden overlook, he realized it was easier to turn the wheelbarrow around and pull it backwards up the steps.

He hefted the rolled burlap over her shoulder, bracing it on the side of the overlook's platform.

"Gunnnnarrr?" A woman's voice. Björg's voice.

Nei. It was already too strong in her. They weren't safe. He couldn't let her infect the rest of the villagers. He paused. His hands bunched into fists holding the burlap, mist dripping from his eyebrows. He saw remembered images in the kitchen as he took the hammer and smashed it against Björg's forehead. Blood spattering the white linoleum. Staining his hands.

The burlap ripped as an arm punched through. White -- inhuman -- skin dangled from where the burlap had scraped it raw. The hand reached for Gunnar's throat.

Gunnar pushed Björg backwards over the ledge of the platform and stepped back. He fell to the wooden floor of the platform. He'd murdered her a second time. Shaking. Nei, she'd been dead since it had infected her.

"Gunnnnarrr. You cannot leave me."

Gunnar swiveled on all fours like a crab. Björg loomed over him, red scabbed blood covering the right side of her face. Inching backwards, Gunnar stopped with his back to the platforms edge. "I love you, Björg. But, you can't --"

"What would you do without me?" She lurched towards Gunnar.

"Nothing." Trickles of cold mist ran down Gunnar's back. He had no place to run.

"Other women?"

"Nei," said Gunnar. "No one besides you."

Björg stretched a disjointed arm forward, wrapping it around Gunnar.

Gunnar looked in her eyes, the blue eyes like the veins of a glacier. The eyes he had fallen in love with. He wrapped his arms around her, hugging her to him and leaned backwards falling down the rocky slope to the cascade at the bottom of the waterfall. His love clasped in his arms.

11 comments:

  1. Oh, I like this story very much ... and you've used one of my secret loves, Iceland, as the backdrop. (Don't ask me why i love iceland, it's inexplicable). He seems so cool and calculating and then gradually we see his grip on reality slipping. Very cool.

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  2. Hi PJ, I haven't been to Iceland, but I have been intrigued by it since I read John McPhee's account of the volcano's there. Given my inexplicable enjoyment of Sweden (I feel like home there), I wonder how it would be in Iceland. Thanks for the comments.

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  3. I've got to say, I'm quickly becoming a fan of your fiction. The story turned in ways I didn't expect to the final, horrible, lovely ending.

    Wonderful.

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  4. I also did not expect the twist in the ending. I thought from the start that he was going to dump someone's body, but not that the someone was still alive. Twisted! Interesting setting too!

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  5. Great story, Aidan. I've fallen in love with Iceland (from afar) over the last couple of years. It seems magical, otherworldly.

    Love this story. Your descriptions are great, the ending perfect. Well done.

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  6. Nice play on expectations. The turn to horror at the end worked very well.

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  7. Ganymeder, thank-you for the compliment. I'm still learning and growing at the craft and comments help me improve.

    Tessa, I found myself still thinking about pacing in this story from your exercise. I will be participating in more of those.

    Gracie, Halló. I hope you get a chance to experience Iceland close up.

    Valerie, thank-you. I was somewhat surprised at the turn to horror myself given that it isn't a genre I often read.

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  8. Nice #ZombieLuv piece Aidan! Is Gunnar infected too, if I may ask?

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  9. Thanks, Mari. Are you trying to get me on a technicality? Of course, Gunnar is infected by the end. :)

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  10. Very nice. I didn't see the twist ending coming, even if I should have! And here the whole time I was thinking he was some kind of sick serial killer. "What's he going to do to the photographer?" I wondered.

    Also, loved the details. "Gunnar looked in her eyes, the blue eyes like the veins of a glacier. The eyes he had fallen in love with." Probably my farovite line on this one.

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  11. Great story! Loved the setting and the pacing was spot on. "Gunnar looked in her eyes, the blue eyes like the veins of a glacier." was probably my favourite line as well.

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