I can’t believe I am already on week seven of my ‘Ten Weeks, Ten Prompts, Ten Minutes’ writing exercises. Number seven on my list of Narrative Prompts is a prompt based in my home county of Cornwall, and I have just ten minutes to expand on it.
Prompt Seven: A desert stretches out ahead of us. Only, we’re stood on a Cornish beach surrounded by hundreds of other gawping onlookers. Where has the sea gone?
It didn’t take long for us to realise that it was just an illusion; the sea was still there, we just couldn’t see it. It must be some kind of perception filter used on a massive scale. People who were swimming, now appeared to be floating in the air. The couple who had been sunbathing beside us tune into their Link Slate, and we all gather to see reports of vanishing oceans across the whole of the United Kingdom. It’s the exact same illusion everywhere.
“This is so cool,” says Neve. “I’ve never seen an illusion on this scale. Do you have any idea how much energy it would take to pull this off? How are they doing it?”
“The question isn’t how, but who and why?” says Garrick, furiously taking pictures on his own Link Slate. “Come on, we better get back to the lab and see if we can find out what the hell is going on here.” He takes Neve’s arm and pulls her away from the desert that stretches before us.
“Let me know what you find out,” I call after them.
The air has turned cooler as the sun starts to set. I’ve sat here watching the illusion in a state of bewilderment for the best part of two hours. Some lads from my school turned up twenty minutes ago, and decide to skinny dip. It really was bizarre. They dived into the illusion, swimming in an invisible swell. Their naked bodies clear as day, and their hair wet from the disguised waves. Now, they’ve lit a bonfire and the talk of waiting to see how the illusion looks at night drifts my way.
I check my Link Slate, but neither Garrick nor Neve have linked me. They’re probably at the lab making calls to Professor Know It All or Dr. Important, finding out what this whole thing is about. It would be nice if they’d see fit to fill me in.
I better walk back to the flat before it gets dark. Mum will freak out if she thinks Garrick left me by myself at night. I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself, but Garrick won’t hear the end of it.
“Hey, you’re in class G8, aren’t you?” says a voice from behind me. “Sera?” Jack Freedman appears laden with sleeping bags, tents, and what looks like a gigantic game of Jenga. “Did Pim invite you?”
I fluster, dropping my Link Slate, and trying to hide my flushed face behind my hair. Jack Freedman has never spoken one word to me in my whole five years at Kowen School. “Um, no. I need to get going actually.” I retrieve my Link Slate, and throw my bag over my shoulder. “Anyway, Pim doesn’t even know my name. None of those guys do.” Dex Pimberly, or Pim as he is most commonly known, is the big ‘I am’ of the school. All the boys want to be Pim and all the girls want to be with Pim; all except me. “See ya.”
I hurry up the beach, struggling on the sand dunes.
“Well, I know your name, Sera,” Jack calls after me. “Do you want to stick around? I’ve got Jenga.” He holds the huge box up in the air with a grin on his face.
“Thanks, but my Mum is expecting me.”
“Link her,” he says, nodding to my Slate. “So, Jenga doesn’t tempt you, no? Okay, how about marshmallows? I’ve got pink and white.”
I giggle. “Pink and white,” I say. “You know how to camp.”
“So, what do you say? What better way to mark this weirdness than with a camp out?”
I stop and look back at the illusion. It would be cool to see it after dark, and if Mum knows exactly where I am she’d be okay with it. “Are you sure the others won’t mind me gate crashing?” I gingerly make my way back down the dune.
“Nah, you’re my plus one.”
My Link Slate buzzes. Finally, Garrick has linked me.
“Hey, you took your tim–“
“Where are you?”
“I’m at the beach. Why?”
“Get away from there, Sera. You need to meet me at the lab. I’m getting Mum.”
“Garrick, you’re scaring me?”
“Good. This is bad, really bad. The illusion is being projected from space. We’re under attack.”
Jack nudges my elbow. “What the hell is that?” he gasps, staring at the sky.
All excerpts are the works and property of K.J.Chapman