I am excited to report that my short story, The Twelfth Quay of Water Street, has been accepted to be part of the Fogland project, a showcase for new authors. Soon after I heard about it, Fogland became a playground for my imagination, conjuring thoughts of mystery and suspense, embellished by a dash of the surreal.
The concept is simple: All the stories take place in the same town, a place that was given the nickname Fogland because its shrouded in fog for more than two hundred days per year. Some people say the fog has seeped into the psyche of the citizens of the town, that they’re not quite of this world anymore. If you walk down the streets of Fogland, maybe you’ll understand. And so, each story deals with a street somewhere in the town.
When I started thinking of submitting a story for the project, I considered what I knew of fog. Of course, my most memorable experience with fog was the first thing that came to mind. It’s the time I was flying to Kodiak, Alaska, and we had to abort landing twice because the fog was so dense that nothing was visible except the tips of slowing turning wind turbine blades, lazily curving up from the fog, only to plunge back down again and disappear. This was not a comforting sight when trying to land a plane, I can assure you. Even less comforting was this fact: if you run the whole length of the runway, you have two options. Land the plane or crash into a mountain. So aborting was not a simple matter of climbing back into the sky; it was a terrifying rocket-ride to get away from imminent death.
Once I settled down from that traumatic memory, a lyric kept coming to mind. It’s from Duran Duran’s 1981 song ‘Night Boat.’
Standing on the edge of the quay
No lights flashing on the water for me
Fog in my mind darkens my eyes
Silently streaming for a distant sound
Ripple river yellows
Rising for a breath of breeding and drowns
Stillness overcomes me in the night
Listen to the rising water moan
It had the right level of unease and mystery that I thought would work. So I had my tone. I just needed a story. Thinking back to my experience flying to Kodiak, and (let’s be honest) my general nervousness when flying, I came up with the hints of an idea. A plane, the waterfront, and fog. Oh, and a quay.
Here’s a teaser for my story, Fogland: The Twelfth Quay of Water Street, coming soon:
At the end of Water Street, the fog was typically at its worst. The thickest. Down low, touching the water, it could be so dense that thirteen-year-old Rudy could hardly see his glasses on his nose. But not today. Today, he could see the blue sky above.
“Play!” his baby sister Miranda suddenly shouted in her truncated version of language. Aren’t you already playing? Rudy thought, grouchy with his desire to escape the playground. His mother had forced him to tag along.
“Play!” Miranda said again. Rudy watched her gently rock back and forth in the blue rubber bucket swing, her arms held up to the sky, as his mother pushed. Both Miranda and Rudy’s mother were looking up. Rudy turned his head.
There were twelve quays that jutted into the water in this section of town, and the playground sat at the very end, at the place where the road ended, behind the twelfth quay of Water Street. Back along the road, the other quays were lined up like fingers poking into the sea. Warehouses dotted the shore and fishing boats dotted the waterfront. And in that direction, coming in over Quay 6, making a droning noise like a swarm of great bees approaching, was a shining metal beast in the air. The most rare of rare creatures in Fogland: the aeroplane.
Then Rudy noticed something disconcerting in the distance, out across the water. Was the fog coming back so soon?