Short fiction: Storm

Graduation is supposed to be the beginning of great things, but for Angelica, it feels like life is falling apart. Unemployed and abandoned by her long-term boyfriend, she is contemplating her future without enthusiasm when she encounters a strange, old man in Albert Park. However, she’s not the only one to notice him.

Storm is a multi-author contemporary fiction serial set in New Zealand. It was started by Suraya Dewing, founder of The Story Mint where you can read the previous chapters. My contribution is Chapter 2.

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Chapter 2 

Angelica had never witnessed a hush like this descend on a crowd. Even the thrum of traffic had been muffled to the whirr of a mosquito. She squeezed in beside a heavily-tattooed couple who were staring rapturously at her former companion.

“Who is he?” Angelica whispered.

“Shh!” hissed the couple.

“Where the hell have you been?” On her other side, a cameraman from one of the national channels raised his eyebrows at her.

That’s exactly where I’ve been, Angelica thought, while mumbling something about being too busy to watch the news.

“That’s Dr. Jeremiah Noland.”

Angelica stared. As she glanced back to the Morton Bay Fig tree, a deep sadness suddenly welled up inside her and she was mortified to find tears spilling down her cheeks.

Dr. Noland had been the reason she’d chosen her major. In an age where remote cultures could be accessed with the click of a button, the famed anthropologist had travelled the globe, consistently showing the world there was always more to learn.

Or at least he had done so until his plane plunged into the Pacific Ocean nineteen years ago. He had been on his way to French Polynesia with an international team. Shortly before they lost contact with air traffic control, the pilot of the chartered flight expressed concern about an unexpected storm that was advancing rapidly towards them. Search and Rescue had combed the area for weeks afterwards, but the wreckage was never found. The world assumed there were no survivors until two years ago when Dr. Jeremiah Noland floated into the Hauraki Gulf on a driftwood raft.

He was barely coherent, babbling about years spent on an island with a tribe who had never had contact with the outside world. He had no recollection of the crash itself, and when he was told that nearly twenty years had passed, he broke down completely and was committed to a psychiatric hospital. When he was released, a few loyal supporters attempted to validate his story but Noland was unable to pinpoint the island’s location. He faded from public life and became something of a joke in academic circles.

Now, as twilight settled over the park and the lights of the city’s skyscrapers blinked above him, Dr. Jeremiah Noland rose creakily to his feet. His voice was soft, but it floated easily to the back of the clearing.

“Ladies and gentlemen, in the words of Marco Polo, ‘I have not told half of what I saw.’”

The crowd leaned in closer like a forest in the breeze.

“Both of us knew we would not be believed.” Noland surveyed the crowd, glancing at the cameraman. “Yet there is still one island on this Earth where people have never seen a camera. Heck, where people have never even seen their own reflections, except in a river.” Noland’s blue eyes rested on Angelica and she saw them light up with the same enthusiasm she had seen so many times on his documentaries.

“And now I can prove it.”

***

To find out what happens next, look out for the subsequent chapters on The Story Mint website. Each chapter will be written by a different author and a new chapter will be published every 1-2 weeks.

 

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