Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Write on Wednesday: We are learning to make fire

I'm joining Ink, Paper, Pen for Write on Wednesdays!  

Write On Wednesdays Exercise 23 - Write the words of Margaret Atwood at the top of your page "We are learning to make fire". Set your timer to 5 minutes. Write the first words that come into your head after the prompt. Stop when the buzzer rings.

We are learning to make fire.  It is 117 days since we landed on Callista and our food supplements have run out. Smith caught one of the smaller possum things but none of us are hungry enough to eat it raw, well, not yet.  I ate some of the fruit that looks a bit like a mango for breakfast.  It tasted alright but made my lips go tingly.

The fire making has been harder than we thought it would be.  The air is thinner here than on earth and the fire sputters with a tiny flame because it needs more oxygen.  We are struggling too.  Everything we do takes longer than normal and requires more effort.  We are constantly panting for breath but Captain Denholm says we must conserve our oxygen packs until the shuttle arrives so we aren’t allowed to wear our helmets.

Smith overheard Captain Denholm and Lieutenant Hume talking last night and Base Command has told Captain Denholm that a rescue mission will take 280 days to prepare.  280 take 117 is 163.  163 more days on Callista.

Louisa has gone down to the river bed to bring back water.  I might go down and help her while Smith keeps on with the fire.  The last time I went down there she was washing and I could see everything through her t-shirt.  She crossed her arms real quick when she saw me there.  I think she feels funny being the only girl here.  Even Captain Denholm was trying to sweet talk her last night but I think she likes me the best because I’m the youngest and have the best abs.

I might take my pack down with me.  It will be a harder walk because I’ll be carrying more weight but I don’t trust Smith to not go through my pack.  I don’t know how his psych test went back at Base but he’s been acting pretty weird for the last couple of weeks.  Once he’s figured out how to keep this fire going I might get him to show me how to start it.  If the shit hits the fan with Smith I wanna be able to get a fire going at least.

Well, that’s it for now, gotta conserve the batteries in this if we’ve got another 163 days here.  If I get lucky with Louisa I’ll make another entry tomorrow, haha!  Over and out.


  1. Lots of foreboding. I'm guessing the protagonist is quite young, considering his self-assurance based on the state of his abs, LOL! I wonder if they'll last 163 days, sounds a bit tense on Callista!

  2. Interesting plot line, where will this go? I'm worried for Miss Louisa, though, with all those men around....

  3. I love how this is like a journal entry. And I am with Kate....What will happen to Louisa with those men??

  4. I wonder why they are there - what the back story is?

    I hope you carry this on it would be really interesting to know how the different characters play out.

  5. As a fan of sci-fi, I really liked this! The journal-like format is great, gives it a very honest feel. I like how you totally got the narrator's age and mentality across with the writing style and the bit about Louisa; it adds to the honesty. And how humankind has forgotten one of its most basic and important discoveries --fire-- is very revealing about our nature and somehow funny at the same time.

    Not to be pedantic, but I was the slightest bit put off by the science of this. I assume Callista is a planet or moon in another star system, since you mentioned a thin atmosphere and Callista is almost certainly not Mars. Therefore, the rescue mission will probably come from a nearby settled planet or moon. Space travel to even the nearest place (e.g. from Earth to the Moon) takes an average of 4.3 days (based on information from the Apollo 11-17 missions). This would mean that you'd have to take those days into account when calculating the days left in the crew's time on Callista (assuming the rescue mission will launch from an object orbiting Callista or orbited by it). You couhd reduce this to less than a day by assuming better technology (and therefore faster space travel) and possibly a shorter distance between planet and moon than the distance between Earth and the Moon, but then why would a simple trip lasting a few hours require more than half an Earth-year to prepare?

    I'm really sorry to go on about this, but I've often found that these little technical oversights have the potential to ruin an otherwise excellent story for me, and this certainly has the makings of an excellent story.

    / Rain

  6. lol Rain, thanks for you great comment! This is my first ever foray into science fiction (my genre is war/history) - I obviously have a lot to learn :) That's why I love these little challenges, its great to be pushed out of your comfort zone!


Thanks for commenting, I appreciate you taking the time xxx

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