Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Flash Fiction #4 - Garden of Eden

Actually stuck to the rules this week :) And then promptly forgot to post! hahaha ah well, it's still Friday. Enjoy!

Garden of Eden:

"Hello . . . “ she called loudly; the second time today she had done so. The only voice to answer was her own, reverberating off the canyon walls. She hadn’t expected any differently. She acknowledged her disappointment as a sign she still maintained hope – no matter how slight.

Even the predatory animals considered the sweltering afternoon heat too oppressive, so with that in mind she returned to the cave that had become home. As she lay down for her afternoon siesta she allowed her mind to wander to what used to be. She was strict with herself – such thoughts were only allowed for a few minutes each day and always at midday when she could at least console herself with “if I were home I’d be at work now, and really, I’d much rather take a nap.”

It was small consolation, but one of the little things that helped her survive. “I hope you made it back,” she said quietly to the memory of the last person she ever spoke to.

She and Chris had gone up together that day – as they so often did. Both were competitive skydivers and Chris also a pilot. A normal day like so many others they’d spent together, they decided to fly over the Garden of Eden – one of Liz’s favourite locations. In the arid desert, the lush green of the canyon always struck her as mythical.

The canyon had never been fully explored – aerial views only showed a thick canopy where logically no trees should be growing. Ground expeditions were always turned back – although the reasons changed each time. But mostly, it hadn’t been explored because there seemed to be no practical, that is to say moneymaking, reason to do so. But Liz liked it better that way; she really didn’t want to know. Its inaccessibility was part of its allure; the mystery of the unknown allowed her romantic side to daydream.

That Sunday the sky was clear when they took off in Chris’ old Cessna 172P. Both had their rigs – they would land at the base for practice after their flight. They had not been speaking while coasting over the valley – both lost in their own thoughts. The plane shook violently for no apparent reason and the look on Chris’ face went from relaxed to intensely focused in an instant. When he looked at her, Liz felt fear that the jolt had only barely kindled. He summed it up succinctly. He had no control; the plane was gong to crash. They would ride it out as far towards the edge of the valley as they could, and then jump. Liz quickly strapped into her rig, before taking the controls to allow him to do the same. Despite several requests, he’d never let her fly before – the thought that he would never let her live down the fact that her first flight crashed wafted through her brain as her somewhat morbid sense of humour warred with her sense of panic.

Chris would hold the plane and Liz would jump first; they were nowhere near the edge of the valley, but there was no time. He would exit as soon as she was clear. With a quick “fingers crossed” Liz leapt out of the too-quickly moving plane over the thick canopy of trees, trying to figure where it’d hurt least to land. A few moments, it seemed like a lifetime, later she saw Chris exit just after the plane started an abrupt nosedive.

Breaking through the canopy left Liz with scrapes and bruises but amazingly nothing seriously broken. For the first few days she fought her way through the valley she no longer thought of as Eden with a single-minded purpose of getting out. Getting home. Calling constantly to Chris, she never got a response. She climbed up as high as she could in the trees, but her cell phone never got a single bar of service. Even so she continually dialed 911 in the hopes that just maybe it’d work. “Everywhere coverage” she muttered the slogan to herself. "Yeah, everywhere but where you need it." The nearest multi-coloured bird chirped its agreement.

After a couple of days of endless work hacking through the bushes with her bare hands for little distance gained she was exhausted. So when she discovered the cave, she opted to stay there – at least for a while.

Nothing in her life had prepared her for this. Certainly not her expensive education – although, as her mother had so often asked, what *did* a phD in philosophy really prepare her for? So far all it had provided was brief entertainment as she remembered first year’s discussion of the Allegory of the Cave while watching the shadows stroll across her cave walls. She was fit and strong but had next to no useful survival skills. She knew very few plants and little idea what to eat. She thought she was being so careful, but one very bad experience with red peas left her fever ridden, violently ill and unable to eat anything for days. She dragged herself to the creek she had found and stayed there, immobile, drinking whenever she woke, till it passed. After that experience she stuck to the foods she knew. A limited diet, but one that kept her alive.

Over time her days became divided between survival necessities, and continuing to expand her trail. One day she’d think she was getting somewhere and the next she’d feel it was a complete waste of time. After her first meltdown when she did nothing but cry for days and her thoughts started to scare her, she began to force herself to continue regardless of her mood. And so her days settled into a routine, where her three daily calls for help took on an almost ceremonial roll rather than a practical one.

Therefore she was entirely stunned when, just as she was drifting off into her siesta, she was certain she heard an answering call on the wind.


Very nice! Of course, now you'll leave me forever wondering if she really heard someone or not...


Great story. Great little bits of detail that really make it work. Now. Where the heck is Chris :P


Hey! Nooo, you can't end it there! LOL. She went nuts didn't she? Sigh. Way to hook em. :-)


Ooo - there's that unresolved ending ...! Indeed, she might've gone nuts as Shannon suggests - or maybe it's Chris! Something about the pacing seems a bit slow to me in spite of all the action - maybe it's because much of it is a flashback? I'm not sure why, exactly. But i like the story - it's certainly dramatic :-)


What a very good story! I, too, am holding my breath hoping that help is coming...

Re what PJ said, maybe it would change the pacing if it were written in present tense, so we experience it along with the woman.


Yeah there was something not-quite-right about it that I couldn't put my finger on; I think PJ nailed it about the pace. Thanks!


kinda like the plane ambiguous're teasing me here i want resolution but maybe it is not to be had.., leaves me thinking...


I liked it. It did slow down in the middle, but it is a good story overall. Thanks for posting.


Hi, Lauren. I'm writing a blog post and the picture to accompany it is a shot of me reading your story on my iPod touch. Since it's your site, I figured I should ask you if it's OK for an image of your site to be used. You OK with that?


Hi Jon,

No problem :)

Look forward to seeing it!




I posted it. Put in a couple of links to your site. Thanks.


Richly detailed, and ending was like you threw your reader out of the plane into the unknown! (What? Where's the rest?) Nicely done!


I had to laugh about mom's comment regarding the PhD.

Poor thing. this is like Survivor on steroids -- I guess it doesn't pay to be too curious. :)

Great job -- although now I'll be worried about whether she went nuts or if she's going to find Chris.


I like the idea of her landing in a place that shouldn't exist. This definitely feels like it needs to continue, that ending is just a start. Great stuff.


Stories like this are why I love flash fiction. It would have been unfair to leave us hanging in a longer piece of writing, but here it works great.


I liked the ending. It made me feel scared and hopeful for her at the same time.


Nice cliffhanger at the end. Did she actually hear a voice? An unanswered question that leaves it up to the reader to sort through. I like that. Thank you for sharing.


Post a Comment