Monday, February 11, 2008

Tunguska, Part 5 (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.

Another View of the Blast Zone
Kulik Expedition 19 Years Later

The crow's eyelid flicked black.

It looked down the standing pine stripped of its branches. Nothing moved in the waves of bitter smoke below.

The crow jumped, and it's wings cut into the air. They beat higher over the jagged remains of the taiga.

Wheeling to the south, the bird soared over the hot currents. Skeletal forest ended abruptly, and a bizarre openness fanned into the distance. Acres upon acres of trees fallen into line. The bark was scorched black, and the needles curled into ash.

As the crow flew, the devastation thinned. Frayed and split wood yielded to standing trees once more. An Evenki tribesman bundled remnants of his choum and hauled the drag rope. His red and blistered arms shook. It was a long way to the river.

The bird swept over a rounded summit and down the leeward slope. There, an infant cried by a leaning house. His mother rocked him as the father gathered poles to brace the walls. Below, a fisherman dragged a boat to the dry shores of a lake.

The crow turned, following the ragged edge of the blast zone. It circled down onto Evenki pastureland.

Stealing a place in a squawking storm of wings, its beak ripped meat from a reindeer carcass and snapped it down.

The day was failing, but no stars came.

Only milky orange light, and the yip of wolves prowling down from the rocks and mountain shadows.

Back to Part 4.


SzélsőFa said...

A brave solution comes out clever, I like this part (too).

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

I like the crow's vantage point. To show us the devastation. I am very interested to see what is next.

The Anti-Wife said...

Well done. Looking forward to the next installment. By the way, the picture reminds me of the way the countryside around Mt. St. Helens looked after it erupted. Like someone combed the trees down with a hot iron that killed all the vegetation.

Sarah Hina said...

They made it! What a relief. :)

Loved the bird's eye view here, swooping over the devastation. I saw it all so well.

And the slow return to normalcy atop that scorched earth. Food and shelter. A testimony to survival.

Great series, Jason. Is this the last installment?

Anonymous said...

Szelsofa, I felt like I had to do this one to tie up what happened near the explosion, but it did kind of bug me that nothing is really advanced. I'm glad that it was fun to read nonetheless.

Ello, it's not the most artful transition I've ever done, but this part does lead into the next one in a way.

Anti-Wife, yes, it's very similar! The explosion of Mt. St. Helens caused the same sort of damage.

Sarah, several of these were based on real eyewitness accounts, so I know that folks like these truly did survive. I'm sorry that this piece was kind of obligatory, but I tried to give it a little oomph to make it worthwhile. The next piece will be the final part. Actually, Vesper predicted it a while back. It's one of the most curious after-effects of the Tunguska Event. Thanks for all of the encouragement during this series!

Chris Eldin said...

I really like this. A lot. (I've had a fondness for crows ever since the movie.) only complaint is that it's too short. I think it's okay to pause for reflection in a story. Especially for this kind of devastation.

WH said...

"The day was failing, but no stars came." One of those sentences that really delineates the entire piece. (And my mind always reels to see those trees blasted in the spiral patterns.)

Jaye Wells said...

I love how many angles you're approaching this story from. The bird's eye view is a nice touch.

Anonymous said...

Christine, in a way, this piece (the aftermath) is continued in the final part. So, I guess it will be a bit meatier (oh my God, I can't believe I just typed that. No pun intended.)

Billy, that's so cool when you can pull those sentences from a story. I do try to throw a few in in the hope that a couple stick.

Jaye, that's really at the core of this series. It's a fun kind of writing exercise. To give very different feelings to the same occurrence. I think I'm having the most fun with this one. :)

Vesper said...

Others have said it already but I, too, have to tell you that I found the POV of the crow as being an excellent choice. Thank you for letting us know that the people shown in the first two parts are OK.
Beautiful images, beautiful writing...

Anonymous said...

Vesper, I know everyone was pulling for these unfortunate folks. I did want to show that although they're banged up, they'll be okay.

Thanks for the kind words. :)