Between “Splintered Lands”, “Before Nunavut” and “Broken Light”, the work on writing their first full drafts have kept me busy and still going. So here’s a rethink from a month or two back on the opening for Broken Light, which has since swallowed up the short stories of MFR Collective and The Adventures of Jack and Megan to completely pull their stories and characters apart in order to redefine.
Broken Light (a new opening)
Out in front, an ice field cradles beneath a blue sky as it stretches to the horizon in all directions, nine, and then another nine small heartbeats drag at speed two long sleds and four men across the Bering Strait between Siberia and Alaska. For the first time since possibly the last ice age, waters of the Arctic Ocean and a quarter of the Bering Sea have frozen over, forming a two hundred foot thick shelf of flat ice fields, and broken thrust up ice mountains.
Having left St. Lawrence Island the party have made good time to be just two miles out from Alaskan shores, while a lone figure waits for their arrival in a makeshift ice hut above their intended landing beach. Calls echo out across the ice, as Alaska breaks above the ice in the distance, the eighteen dogs pour on the pace as the men step up and hang on for the last mile and a half. Smoke billows from a fire inside the hut high on the headland close by the Yukon River.
The lone figure spotting the party, scrambles down a narrow pathway to greet them as the two sled teams come to a standstill one man climbs from the near side, he thanks the other three in a Yupik dialect.
Yelling out in excitement on nearing the sleds, the lone figure, “John, they’re welcome to the ice hut up on the headland, fresh fish, other food supplies, and a fire. The plane is waiting, fuelled, and ready to go.”
John exchanges a few more words in conversation with his sled companions, as he bids each one farewell to then with a pack on his back makes his way across a snow and ice covered rock surface to joining the lone figure.
“Well, Julie Ro, you’re a sight for this one old man.”
“Hey, John, you didn’t get to paddle across this year, and the weather’s been crazy here of late too.
“No, not this time, everything all feels a little strange too, I have to agree on that count.”
“Why the rush this year, John, normally you’d be taking an easy trek down through Canada?”
“I need to visit home before the summer trek to South America, there’s someone I need to see, and I can’t avoid them any longer.”
“Okay, well the plane is all ready up top, we just have to get up there now.”
Julie and John scramble back up the narrow path to a small twin-engine plane at the edge of a natural ice runway. John knocks the ice from his grey beard, as Julie loads his pack into the cargo hold, a silence begins to drift in between the pair. Julie does not want to pry into John’s affairs, as she has avoided doing so for the past five years, and would like to keep his friendship. But what he said down on the beach has her concerned, though there will be plenty of time ease the worry on the long ride down from Yellowknife, due to the plane being only a loaner.
After having gone over the outside of the aircraft, both board, and Julie runs through her pre-flight checks for the ski equipped Twin Otter before takeoff. The hours pass at a slow pace, as the silence remains between the pair the entire flight to Yellowknife, not a word’s been spoken, John with a contemplative face, and Julie trying hard to hide her anxiety for his well being, and what’s up.
Arriving at their hotel, and having a meal, John heads straight to bed, while Julie chases up a few things in the bar before doing the same. “Jimmy, did you mange to get the snow chains for the Bonneville and Sherwyn’s Guzzi? Don’t want to find John, and I waiting here a day for the weather to turn sour out on the Yellowknife, or the Mackenzie”
“Yes, Julz, they’re all fitted to the scrambler and Guzzi, ready to go, Jake even fuelled them up for you. The ice problem is only expected to last out there another day, or so, after that clean ridding. But are you sure Sherwyn’s okay with you making use of his bike?”
“I need it out of my storage, it’s just taking up too much space. Plus John is heading for Patagonia, the long way down he says and so he can drop it off in Colombia, which is where Sherwyn is at the moment.”
Hey, by the way. What’s the news with MFR, I hear they’re setting up to operate out of another three global locations with some more of those custom C130 setups. Maybe you’ll get some more time off.”
“I doubt that Jordi and Nate intend to lessen operations, so more than likely it’ll mean training more volunteers, or recruiting more investor parties and partnerships to join the collective.”
“Here I was thinking maybe we were going to get to see a little more of you around here, Miss Ro.”
“Not a chance Jimmy, I’ve got better places to be. Anyways, goodnight, Jimmy.”
“Goodnight to you too, Julz.”
Morning rolls around soon enough, and John is in a better mood than yesterday, he’s cracking jokes, and telling wild stories to the hotel staff while he downs breakfast in the dinning room. Julie finishes up eating, and pays for the rooms, and meals. “John, you ready to roll.”
“Right with, Julie Ro, did you grab my pack from near the door?”
“Yes, all racked, and ready to go.” Julie’s motorcycle has been extended slightly, so it can rack one or two full packs, with a pair of saddlebags. A few other modifications exist in the suspension, along with a long-range fuel tank and all weather on and off road rubber fitted to the wheels currently in chains. While Sherwyn’s Guzzi is loaded up and ready for John to ride.
In moments both are out the door to Julie’s custom Bonneville scrambler and Sherwyn’s Guzzi with helmets on they set out on the long and winding road south.
Some nine and a half thousand miles away in South Africa, another two crew members of the MFR Collective, prepare to explore a new system of under sea caves that have become exposed post earthquake off the coast to The Overberg near De Kieders.
“Miss. Sukhova, Mr. Ramirez, we are just refuelling and we will ready to depart in about ten minutes,” says the master of a charter boat they’ve hired to ferry them out to the cave system, before he turns and reboards his vessel to continue tending to preparations.
“Piya Sukhova, well I think that’s everything we need.”
“Well I think so, Leon Ramirez. All except for a map of the system, I guess we’ll have to make one of those ourselves. But do you think we have everything under control for MFR to set up a new base of operations down here? Jordi seemed a little ticked off last night with our, the slow progress we’ve been making in negotiations the government and the various service companies and suppliers. So I’m not sure we should be taking four days off to go caving.”
“Piya, just this morning I secured the signatures for the aircraft hangar lease and priority clearances for runway use. We’ve narrowed the tenders down for aircraft and vehicle servicing and so the final round has gone out for those. Expect to receive them back in seven days. Open source suppliers have signed on to provide all our medical consumable and equipment needs. Everything is close to finalisation.
“What about the government signing off on the whole deal?”
“They’ve stated they’re taking a further ten days, at which time we’ll receive their final decision as to whether MFR will be allowed to operate out of South Africa.”
“No wonder, Jordi is not happy, you were supposed to have the government sign off on it a month ago.”
“Do you remember hearing about a plane crash a month back here in South Africa, well while you and the collective were still carrying out emergency medical relief in the Caribbean, the government minister I’d been dealing with here lost his life in the crash causing delays. Jordi’s feeling the pressure as the delays here have caused a bottle neck in her planning, along with having to find places to store the new C130 and the other vehicles and equipment being supplied on time. ”
“Sorry, I didn’t know about the government minster’s tragic loss of life. Anyway, let’s get aboard and go do some caving.”