Friday, January 18, 2008

Tunguska, Part 3 (fictionalized history)

(In 1908, the last major Earth impact from an asteroid or comet occurred in the unpopulated expanse of eastern Siberia. 830 square miles of boreal forests were leveled. In this latest fictionalized history series, we travel back to 1908 to experience the "Tunguska Event." Prior series: X-ray Martyrs and Westinghoused.)

Just joining us? Go back to Part 1.

Cottage from the Kulik Expedition to Study the Tunguska Event
In the Vicinity of Vanavara

Vanavara, Russia
40 Miles from the Epicenter

The woman folded her hands against her body and tried to breathe quietly. Despite the noises in the distance and rattle in his chest, the baby still slept after she laid him in the cradle.

She joined her husband outside the doorway.

"What's going on?" she whispered.

"It sounds like artillery," he said. "I think the war has started."

She closed her eyes.

The weight pushed her too close to the floor. The pain of childbirth. Perpetual days. An unhealthy child. But she couldn't stand any taller.

"He's asleep?" he said.

"For now."

Another boom. The window in the room rattled.

Both looked to the crib.

When the whine uncurled from the blankets, she would have cried if she had any tears left for herself.

Another artillery blast. Much closer.

And a higher sound. Wind gusting down the mountain slopes.

"I'll go see," he said.

She returned to the crib and looked down at the little scarlet face.

Brilliant light flashed in the window.

Instinct dropped her body over the child.

The window glass shattered.

Little bees stung her face, and her shriek was ripped away by the whirlwind.

* * *

Down from the cottage by the lake, a fisherman knelt by a boat. As his half-finished knot dangled in his fingers, tendrils of smoke cascaded down from the sky.

Movement drew his attention to the house.

The young father stepped out. An ashen cloud billowed down the last slope of mountain.

The wind hit him.

The fisherman saw him fly, and twist, and disappear in the dust.

The same front swallowed the far shore and barreled forward. The fisherman moved to stand on weakened legs. His skin felt numb and electric.

A black wave raced toward him.



Hurricane wind blasted him, followed by the crush of breaking water.

On to Part 4.
Back to Part 2.


SzélsőFa said...

It's rather frightening, Jason. Thank you for the experience. Some really vivid description here.

Sarah Hina said...

I have to admit that my nerves are strained right now. I want that baby, and his family, to be all right. Somehow, I think they're not.

Your description is like artillery fire, too. The landscape shifts and bulges from frame to frame, like a reel of film snapping to life. Very effective and riveting, Jason. I felt the dread here.

Nature vs. Man? It's never really a contest, is it.

Anonymous said...

Szelsofa, these folks were beyond the true blast area. Still a pretty unpleasant experience, though. Maybe we'll see all of them in another part. ;)

Sarah, hold that thought about wanting them to be okay. Your hope may not be unfounded. ;) This kind of action is so fun to write, because you can really use quick sentences and white space to your advantage. As for the power shown here, it really is hard for me to fathom how much energy can be packed into things.

Chris Eldin said...

I'm thinking about the baby too.
And I want to know what happens to the fisherman.
What an incredible event! It must've seemed like the end of the world for the people there.

virtual nexus said...

Jason, fascinating subject choice.

Just catching up after the break - I used an extreme focus Vivitar lens for years on 35mm Minolta SLR - the only vague downside I found with it was the need to compensate for the light loss - and the weight. Otherwise a very versatile piece of equipment.

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Wow that was so awesome! Very powerful and well done! I really loved it and can't wait to read more! I guess I am an adrenaline junkie, really want more of this!

Anonymous said...

Church Lady, from what I've read, some definitely did interpret it that way.

Julie, I used a Minolta back in the 80's. It was my first real camera. I enjoyed it, but you really can't compare film with digital. So many more opportunities now.

Ello, maybe I should do more thrillers. I have to admit, they're fun (and a bit easier) to write.

WH said...

What a fantastic event to use as a backdrop for fiction. I have always been fascinated with the Tunguska Event since I'm interested in astronomy big time. This is excellent writing--and I'm envious that I didn't think of it :)

Vesper said...

Perfect pacing, just suitable for the event. I also like how you're showing the same event as it appeared to people in various places, more or less distant from the epicentre. Will you include reactions of people in Europe, for instance at the anomalous illumination of the night sky?

Anonymous said...

Billy, I'd love to add astronomy to my already overloaded hobby list. Maybe after the kids are grown.... Thanks for the kind words!

Vesper, thank you! I do a great deal of experimenting with trying to make language structure match the action. And yes, you are predicting very well the direction this will take! :)