Flora and The Storm by Mari Fitzpatrick

An arpeggio splits: chords trip through clouds. As lightning cracks it stirs the wind that rises fast, and faster still when storm falls in to shake the rain that springs to join the artifice: the sky electrifies what’s put in place, it flits across the scripted lines, then runs a spiral through measured space; to play a sound, to etch a sense, to stroke an image on a layer, to loose a line that flies through time, an everlasting fishing tine:

On land the storm sweeps up the strand.
One made by beautiful human hands
That brought fauna, flora and trees together,
To create a place for humans, nature and wild wild weather.

Flora mounts the bucking steed. To harvest power she races wind: She collects sand to make the tales, to throw design; to tone and type: subtracting; adding; echoing through fantastic tides that never own a minute’s space. She builds the tiffs and adds the scores; just information saved in light, here all's at rest in Spirit Base as guides prepare that old four-four time metier, the one that fuels the stars and dusts the air.

Where Flora Lives

Flora lives in an extended version of reality, she sees humans in the same way that humans see TV, for her the Earth is a big screen she can click in and out of, it’s a big live working-day 3d map.

She is resting after the previous night’s storm, sitting in a runabout in the bay that’s lifting on gentle waves. Lazing under an old moon that’s slowly giving up the night. From under half closed eyes she watches early walkers search the shore as they plough through seaweed and pull wet driftwood up the sand. She is sleepily visualizing a rainbow dawn that’s dusted with rose gold when suddenly from directly under her, a guttural da-dum da-dum rises up from the deep. Pulled from the dawndream she sits up straight: She recognizes that sound.

She grids the surface with her eyes, then skims the area until she spots the shape: That old wing tip, the one that’s been stamped with a registration is raised slighly over the tide as it’s propelling itself towards a waterspout that has developed at “Aguas Blancas."

Aquas Blancas

Aquas Blancas is a refuel station, which is situated on one of the earth’s natural energy points. Here forces come together to form something new as energy splits and crystalline streams connect with an underwater current. It’s an area where information is collected, collated, and saved to reshape old images and lose what is no longer useful to the earth’s welfare.

Esteban runs the show, he is the area superintendent, he takes care of the waterways, it’s part of his remit to stay on top of the goings-on within the district.

On his monitor he is watching billowing sails drive in, hearing the command of, “Drop anchor" ring out over the silent air. Zooming in on the horizon, he recognizes the old three-mast-whaler, he’s just about to ping Flora to ask her to investigate to see who has taken it out for a spin when a case-ment opens on the side of his monitor. When he clicks on it it takes him into an echo chamber: A low boom fills his space, he turns down his volume to get a feel for the vibrations that form coloured shapes in the air around him, outlined mishapen water bubble imprints compressing and expanding on the air offer a delightful display for the wonderment of the uninitiated, but as Estaban reads the symbols he concludes that someone is listening in, and when he clicks on the data coordinates he finds an outline Storyman of a “Midget Bubble," and when he activates the zoom lens and volume control he hears the sound of an anchor falling.

And as daylight breaks on a bruised red and purple sky, Estaban sits back and waits for the noise to settle, and within minutes an image of a small,light, refined midget submarine fills the screen.

Marked by History

Meanwhile on the sound, Flora who is now fully awake is keeping account of the ongoing drama. She excitedly dials through to Esteban and while waiting on the connection she calls out to a couple of gulls that are flying by: "Hey guys," she points and continues as they turn towards her voice, “The old boy is back, he’s still trying to change the game, change the outcome." Their only retort was to change course, fly higher and fly faster.

“I hope you’re not too comfortable there, Esteban, Ahab just popped back," she said when he picked up, and she laughed again when she heard the groan from the other end.

“I have you on monitor," Esteban replied, “I saw the sails, and just hoped it was one of our guys out for an early morning spin."

“A quiet day would have been nice after last night’s storm." she replied, “And the 'Dick’ is in with him, I just saw his fin REG. There might even be a betting pool with this one."

“We have a problem then. We have a sub on the seabed and there appears to be a bleed through."

“You mean the sub can see us?"Flora asked.

“Well I don’t know about it seeing us, but he’s picked up Ahab’s noise on an acoustic sonar"

“A Hayes! Did you say a Hayes? How peculiar! Can you include me in the feed please?" Flora asked.

“I can include you and no I didn’t say a Hayes, I can’t see its manufacture’s tag.!"

“Mind you that’s an old model now, so it might not be, don’t know why I thought of it."

And Esteban just sighs, he knows from experience that it is pointless to try to stop her when she is in full flow!

Captain Barnacle

200 meters under the sound a man sits at a monitor, the cap that he’s wearing has the name “Barnacle" blazed in red and gold lettering over its peak. The log in the local naval headquarters has him work-ing on a research exercise, testing a new “Midget Sub" that has walking abilities. He is unaware of the activi-ty around him as he gets on with the job, his only concern is to get home in time for lunch.

Esteban and Flora have a visual of his surroundings on their monitor, they are looking in at him as he places a tiny eye shaped camera on top of a static line and sends it up to the surface. There it grabs a 360 degree panaroma image and directs it back down to his equipment.

As the monitor reads and stores the information, Barnacle writes up his day-book, adds the date and then a subheading: “Party Boat."

“Nobody writes up day-books anymore," Flora thinks, “and as she watches him she realizes that his camera has picked up the image of the “Pequod."

“Dead on the nail," she said to Esteban, “He can see the ship, now that’s something. It’s unusual for a human to have the sight!" Barnacle raises the volume and they both sit back, watch and wait; his face chang-es as he hears voices. They can see his brain in motion as he senses the unexpected disturbance. No one had filed reports when he left that morning,

He murmurs “A bleed through but from where?" as he sends the eye monitor up to the surface again, this time he sees a whale approach and hears a call: “Ahab, it’s him, it’s the “Dick" and he’s coming strong."

There’s a scramble as deckhands rush up on deck.

Then a shout, “Prepare the harpoon, drop the keelhaul. We need diversion."

And a reply: “Aye aye Capt."

Sonar blips track the diverging sounds and Barnacle now worried enters his code to release his anchor and leave the area. But even as he is revving the engine, Flora is inputting code into the stored image of the sub to isolate the boundaries. Just then Esteban confirmed his coordinates, “I have the download, they can’t see him, the bleed is one way, but on those coordinates the whale will take him out, just run him down."

Meanwhile Barnacle knew his bubble should lift on command, the legs should fold up, but nothing happened, he cleared his cache and tried again, and from the speaker a trumpeting sound grew: thump thump thump and his headlights tracked the shadow that grew bigger and bigger.

“Has to be a film crew," Barnacle thinks. “I wonder can I get their attention?"

At Spirit Base

Esteban watched as the cage settled down and locked over the sub.

“You added a cage around the sub, why not around the whale?"

“The whale is in the game," Flora replied, “the sub is the virus in this role play, and Ahab can’t see it. We isolate the virus."

“So Ahab can’t see the sub!" Esteban repeated. “So, what now?"

“Now we let them play," Flora replied. “It will only be an hour or so."

“Flora, he’s keelhauling, Charlie Brown." Esteban said.

“Don’t be ridiculous!" Flora exclaimed.

“There he goes, see look it’s Charlie okay, he’s the diversion, and he’s gone over and down, and round and over and down again. What did Charlie do to him? Does he want to drown him?"

Fora is searching “Google’" as he continues to muse. “Look at this," she says and she shows him the film news that she has pulled up on her screen, it appears that Charlie animated him a few years ago, declared him a national thug and it was reported, so it could be ego payback; he must be subscribed to a rag, Ahab received the link connection as soon as his name was mentioned in the article,-- and then turning to Esteban she exclaimed, "Well! would you wanna be animated?"

Estabe ignored the question and continued: “Can you get him out, can it be stopped?"

“No it can’t, that’s down to Charlie. Let them play, there are others betting on the outcome. It’s how it works in 'Ego Land,’ it’s all about choosing your battles, Ahab gets Charlie now, and then next time out ..."!

“Ah come on, it’s Charlie!" Esteban exclaims.

“No, It’s gaming, maybe even business. Who knows!" Flora interjects.

In The Midget
With his camera on a 360 rotating static line Barnacle watched what he believed to be a working film set in action. When he was a kid he had a part in a school production of Frank Lloyd’s “Mutiny on the Bounty," and he had been so impressed with the script, the production and the idea of the sea and high jinks; and how good stories were developed, created and connected, so this reality for him this was a bit of a treat, it had the guts of a good tale to be embelished and spun at the dinner table. And then he saw Charlie Brown being sent over the side.

He stood at that and hit his head off the overhead book shelf. “They can’t keelhaul Charlie, wait till the kids hear this, just as well I have the pics."

An experienced submariner, Barnacle knew that he only had to wait it out, though he had a cou-ple of real scares, and when he thought he could feel the whale’s breath through his viewing windows his life flashed before his eyes, and when he eyeballed it, man when he eyeballed it, it was so real!

That is if one didn’t know better, but then he realized it couldn’t see him when it came within ten feet of his 'Midget.’ The Capt., stayed in tune with the story ...enjoying the bits he recognised, reacting to the other parts, with nothing to do but wait on his team to answer his message he relaxed. He was getting ready to message them again, when the epilogue started and

Ishmael took the steering wheel, turning the ship about, Barnacle watched him take it towards the horizon as a dirge wafted over the waves and sang into the depths:

“And hear ye hear ye
this outcome has been stamped in time
In fiction, cartoon, and perfect rhyme,
No changes can be made to suit
The greed that trips along old routes.¿

Esteban and Flora were sharing elevenses when the memory cell completed its run and Ahab died one more time.

“Has there ever been a correction?" Flora asked Esteban when they popped into the command center at “Aguas Blancas" to reset the timeline, and check the downloads.

“Yes, one or two cruel acts have been overturned, not fictional ones now, some of those fictional characters are a real pain and it’s not even funny haha, Flora. Imagine if the “Dick" had got to the sub, like this morning when we saw the addition of a new character, another fictional character, anything can happen with the 'fictionalists’ get involved, but with events that have occurred in real life they sometimes get resolved in a better fashion."

“What would have happened if the 'Dick’ had got the sub?' She asked.

“Who knows!' Esteban exclaimed, “but I don’t want that though recycled or imagined here."

“Very good, so what happens now." Flora said. It was her first time to see a lockdown complete a cycle.

“I just make sure the cache is cleared and coordinates are reset and all goes back to normal." and he showed her the sequence of symbols and numbers that he had to imput.

“Are there the same for all events?"

“No each one has its own stamp, so let’s loose up the Captain! first." And here you go he said, and before a one could say, “Shiver me timbers," the cage was released and Barnacle’s monitor came alive again. His co-ordinates were reset to get him home in time for lunch. He sent the camera up one last time; he had hoped to contact the ship before he left, but it wasn’t to be, and Captain Barnacle knew that everything was about timing.

At dinner, later that evening he started the story with: you’re not going to believe this, but I got the photos, and when they assured him that they didn’t believe him and he went searching for the photos only to realize that they had been deleted.

Later in bed chatting the Mrs he agreed when she said: “That’s Life."


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