Written for Kellie Elmore’s “Free Write Friday”, “Before Nunavut” derives itself from a jumble of different conversations during the week on bushfires, Nunavut, rockclimbing, and SCAM Jets. Note, the Kellie character is based on a couple of different people I know, both whom are highly competitive at what they do best, climb, and train. Normally I’d leave out a lot of punctuation for a FWF, but the direct speech was on a roll, and so luck gave it a ride… Happy reads!
The prompt from Kellie this week, came in the form of…
Let’s leap into the future with a time & place scenario.
The year: 2063
The place: An underground bunker
What’s going on?
“Dam, that was close. Lucky we’re right at the last level here in the bunker, or that drop without the elevator might have been the end.”
“Twelve feet is still tricky, here give us your hand.”
It’s now been sixty days since, Sea, and Kellie ventured to an isolated bunker in the mountains to train for the event of their lives, and now it’s time to return to the surface. But as you can tell, the elevator is no longer where it’s supposed to be, well where they last left it anyway. While Kellie is helping Sea out of the bottom of the shaft, Sea looks up. All he can see is daylight, no elevator, no cables, just a towering void going up a hundred floors to the surface.
“Hey Kellie! Take a look.” Sea points up through the shaft to the daylight.
“Oh hell… Well we did want get in some serious climb training in preparation for Nunavut 2063, just that it’s come a little early.”
“Kellie, you do realise we’re already in 2063, we spent Christmas, and new years down here because you wanted to train flat out for an extra thirty days.”
“Oops… my bad. Hey but it was good, wasn’t it…”
“I can’t refute that, we’re in the best shape ever for the three tandem climbs of the contest, but all our climbing gear is on the surface. Not that we need the gear to climb up a lift shaft to the surface.”
“Here, now give us your hand, and let’s get our stuff together, and get out of here.”
Soon Kellie has Sea out of the bottom of the elevator shaft. They quickly gather up a few items such as water, torches, and a few food bars, and figure they may come back to get the rest sometime, then again maybe not, for a hundred levels up, what’s left can probably wait for the next person. Soon Kellie and Sea start making their way up through the skeletal structure of the shaft, via a method of boost and lift, leap frogging one another until they make it to the last five floors.
“You know, this has been way too easy, how about a little contest?”
“What are you suggesting, Kellie?”
“We each take a corner, and first one to the top has to pay for dinner tonight.”
“Sounds fair enough, but what’s the catch?”
“Winners choice as to where we have it.”
“Okay, so long as we don’t have to take a SCRAM Jet to get there.”
“What’s with you, Sea? You love climbing, but you can’t stand flying.”
“I’ve got my reasons, Kellie, and maybe I’ll share them one day, but not right now,” says Sea, as he launches himself off the cross member up the steel.
“Hey! That’s cheating..”
“I guess you’ll have to get cracking to win then.”
Like climbing a coconut tree, Kellie begins to close the gap on Sea as she scoots up the steel. Through one, two floors already, and now Kellie’s drawn level, Sea tilts his head to the side to see her just feet across from him. But he misses his grasp on the steel, in an instant he drops, Kellie reaches out in a reflex reaction pulling Sea into the steel below her.
“Hell that was close again, I’m not having a good day am I, Kellie..”
“No, I don’t think you are, Sea.”
“You know what the problem was.”
“It’s that unfair advantage you have of working for your Old Man on hi-rises all around the globe.”
“You can believe that if you want, but I only did the books for Dad, though I did climb every tall tree I ever came across.” Kellie slows the climbing pace down until soon she’s reached the top first, Sea has conceded to her, for he is still beneath her, and can not see what Kellie id seeing.
“What’s up?” Sea climbs up around, Kellie to see.
There’s a chill in the air, but this is the equator, the tropics, and the mountain range the bunker is located in, is only a low one. Trees as far as the eye can see have been laid flat, burnt to charcoal. Mountains close by have gapping holes in them, or huge chunks torn from their sides, and tops. Kellie, and Sea raise themselves out, and clear of the shaft into sparse rubble remains of the concrete building which housed the entrance to the elevator, and the motors that operated it. Standing there, turning, looking around, up, down, their transport gone, ground scorched, in a world looking somewhat devoid of any life in their present vicinity.
“Well it looks like dinner has been cancelled.”
“Don’t think you’re getting off that easy, Sea.”
See below the line for more story, post Free Write Friday…
Kellie, and Sea find a lump of charred concrete to sit on together as they almost collapse, due temporary exhaustion from the climb, and the emerging impact on their minds as to what they’ve climbed into, a foreign place. Something big has happened, more than just a wildfire. Maybe nuclear war broke out, follow by conventional, or did something fall from the sky, an asteroid, meteors, or maybe a big plane. Too much to be a plane, but everything is either charcoal, or a burnt orange in colour, and loads of ash in places.
“So what do you think happened?”
“No idea, Sea, but it may just explain why the entrance, and elevator are gone just leaving a gaping hole for someone to fall down.”
“How do you think the old man, and his granddaughter three miles back down the road fared in their old storage bunker?”
“Theirs was in the side of a mountain, right. Unless, the bunker went a long way back into the rock… Just have a look at the mountains here, and some of the gouges in the earth almost like sand blasting, the place has been stripped and torched.”
“Kellie, lets get going before it’s dark. Three miles is not too far of a walk, and we’ve plenty of water and food bars.”
“Certainly sounds better than sitting around here the rest of the day.” And with momentum on their minds, Kellie, and Sea set out for the old storage bunker down the road. The silence of the landscape, but for the wind on their faces, lends an eerie start to the hike back down the indistinguishable road.
Bumping along at considerable pace, the pair soon rounds the bend before the home of the old man, and his granddaughter to find the bunker has survived, with the elderly white haired figure sitting in his old chair sipping tea, reading a book, and a mid-teenage girl up above the entrance practicing on her guitar.
“Grandpa, look! We’re not alone, it’s Kellie and Sea.” Grandpa looks up from his book.
“Well I’ll be, aren’t you pair a sight for these old half blind eyes. We thought we were the only ones left around the mountains here.”
“The same here, old timer, we’ve been down in the bunker at the end of the road for the last two months, an old friend of ours owns it, and lent it to us. But I’ve already told you that, well sixty days ago at least. My mind must be slipping,” says Sea. “Too much time away from civilisation. What in the world happened here?!” Sea shakes the old man’s hand, while Kellie catches up with Emara, and her guitar.
See below the line for more story, post Free Write Friday…
Sometimes you know where it takes you,
The road beneath bare tired, aching feet.
Where other times it’s wayward places,
In the music fathoms lost to feel no sleep.
On a waking earth, within the dreams of charcoal,
I’ve never seen a mountain sunset appear so scorched….
“Quick, everyone inside!” shouts the old man. “No time to explain, now.” Everyone rapidly makes for the entrance, Kellie queries Emara as to what is going on, as they scramble from off the ground to make it inside the bunker when a wild flash tears across the sky in a rush of fireballs as if a match ignited the air. Sea stands still looking out into the sky as further static discharges turns the sky into a tangle of plasma ribbons. “It’s not good, hurry, inside Kellie, Sea.” Emara darts inside, followed closely by Kellie, and Sea.
“What is going on, old man?”
“Sea, my name is Gregory, and what’s going on is like nothing I’ve ever seen, except these last two weeks, back when a huge shadow streaked past Earth near on at the speed of light. It was like the Sun had been turned off for just an instant, then within minutes there was calamity on the airwaves, as scientist were falling over themselves. The Earth’s gravity, magnetic field, and atmosphere had all warped. Chaos had begun to erupt in strange ways all around the globe, many they could not describe, but one thing was certain, before global satellite communication went down, they managed to recover a heavy blurred image recorded at twenty thousand frames per second of an asteroid larger than Jupiter ploughing deep into the Sun. What hit us just a few hours later were shockwaves of solar winds, one after the other for two whole days, they tore through our planets atmosphere reeking havoc. Mass global communication became fried by the third wave, here Emara and I went deep into the mountain, we stayed hidden for a week, until we thought it brave enough of us to venture closer to the surface again. We managed to pick up bits and pieces of information on an old communications radio in one of the bunker’s rooms, though we could not transmit, but we could listen, and that is how we know just a small amount about what has happened.”
A little more to reveal in a day or so…