View Full Version : Short Story - Marsha's Island

December 5th, 2013, 07:19 PM
Power cuts across America - the main news on CNN.

The reports were sketchy and nobody knew the cause. Marsha clicked around the rest of the page, reading other news until she became bored. Alone in the house for the first time in weeks she already felt isolated, and it was only mid-morning. Dwayne, her husband, had gone to the mainland with the staff and would not be back until evening. With no guests on the island today she was alone with Guido.

She grabbed her crutches and pushed up from the chair, then aimed herself across the room towards the windows. It was a fine day and Guido was pottering along the beach, sniffing around the seaweed while his black floppy ears fluffed up in the breeze.

Turning back into the sitting room she gazed at the framed pictures they’d taken from a dive last year. She stared at the one in the middle – a clear head shot of the dolphin responsible for her current state. Usually the creature was graceful when she swam, but last week she had smacked Marsha’s leg with her tail and broke a bone. Marsha had given up trying to figure out this “accident”, and was only thankful this hadn’t happened to one of the guests they took diving.

She rested on the sofa until midday then went back to the computer and checked emails. Nothing of interest had arrived so she went to Divers.com and searched the forums.

Casting her eyes along the threads nothing grabbed her until she spotted a question: “Do Seals Attack?” Clicking on it, she read a curious report of a capsized yacht rescued off the coast of Canada. The rescued couple claimed their boat was overturned by a group of determined seals. Unlikely, she thought. Most replies dismissed the story as false.

Guido pushed the door open and came pattering across the carpet with an eager set of eyes and a wagging tail. After pushing herself up, hobbling to the kitchen and giving him his canned meat she made some coffee and went back to the news.

It seemed the power cuts were the result of faulty connections underground. No further explanations were given, but the article thought it mysterious how this happened in New York, Washington, and Dallas. The energy firms would get it fixed by the end of the day.

After browsing around the web for the rest of the afternoon she went to CNN.

Her heart skipped a beat.
“Tanker grounded off the coast of Florida.”

She stared at the picture of a three hundred foot tanker slanted along a beach. She couldn’t bear to read about oil soaked Pelicans or blackened waters but her anxiety eased when she read that not a single drop of oil had spilled. The article wondered how this could happen during a calm stretch of ocean outside of the hurricane season.

At 17:10 in the afternoon she prepared the fish Dwayne had caught yesterday. He would be back any minute with the staff and they’d planned to have dinner on the patio. Two meaty looking trout came out of the fridge while Guido sat nearby looking alert as she chopped their heads off.
“Nothing for you.”

She dumped the heads in the bin, knowing he’d only sniff them a few times before leaving them on the kitchen floor.

The oven baked fish smelt tempting by 6 pm as Marsha gazed out the front window. No sign of Dwayne on the horizon. The staff must be scrambling around getting the last minute shopping items like they usually did on their days off.

By 7pm she was trying to forgive them, convincing herself they deserved it after waiting all month for a free day – bookings had been up over the last few weeks. The fish was cooling off in the kitchen, the salad had been prepared and the table set on the patio. So she had little else to do except feed Guido and wait by the window. The sun was setting behind the house and she’d seen no ships passing.

The fish was kept warm in the oven and she satisfied her hunger by nibbling on a few crackers with cheese. Back at her desk she read the news of two farmers attacked by a bull in Greece, then another story about Elephants killing a village of people in Kenya.

An email from her mother, due to visit next week, told of a problem with her travel plans, but she’d keep Marsha posted. I’ll phone her tomorrow, she thought as she gave Dwayne a call. She left him a message after he failed to answer. She hated it when he came back after dark.

By 8pm she was outside the house, frowning across the dark sea. Something seemed amiss; often she saw drifting specks of light on the horizon, but tonight there were none. She shuddered as she moved herself back inside. Guido was lying calmly under the coffee table.

By 9pm she had eaten her share of the fish and left the rest in the oven. Now she was back online staring wide eyed at the news. An update on the beached tanker told that crew members on lookout saw several whales pushing the ship off course. Whales? Jesus! Other reports from Europe said London had woken to a power cut, as had Paris, Amsterdam and Rome. Again the reports were imprecise. She left her desk and switched on the television but found only static.

Going back to her computer she searched Divers.com and found a surge of threads with titles like:
“What is going on?”, “It’s the End.”, and “Animal attack.”

Some posts were silly remarks about the power cuts claiming rats had chewed the lines beneath the cities, but there were many about animal attacks that caught her attention. One, posted by Hugo55 from Alaska, spoke of wolves descending on his fishing village and killing twelve people. He’d posted snapshots of snow covered streets showing wolves gathered in a pack while trails of red snaked over the road. She couldn’t tell if this was real and posted a response.

“Any confirmation of this?”

Within ten minutes a reply was posted from Hugo55:

“I am stuck in my home, wolves are outside.”

He sent a link to a video he shot from his bedroom window: it showed a pack of grey wolves around a building with smashed windows with more blood trails soaked into the snow at their feet.

Another poster claimed the city of Bombay was overrun by rats attacking people. She shuddered as she went back to the news sites but found none had been updated since she last looked.

She called her husband again but was told the person she is calling is out of range.

Her heart began to thud as she searched for information from the coastguard. The site was up but presented only a message advising people not to travel by sea. She went to the US Navy website and found a message stating the military had taken over the main sea routes.

Puzzled and worried she went back to the news sites; nothing updated.

Hugo55 sent her a message.

“I’ve shot all the wolves I think…pretty quiet here now, not found anyone alive.”

“How big is your town?” She asked.

“1342 people.” He said. “Have you heard about Europe?”

“The power cuts?”

“No. Dogs are going wild attacking people; they think Rabies has broken out.”


“No Shit!” He said. “Everywhere I look I find stories of animals attacking, and it seems to be only the mammals.”

“What about the power cuts?”

“They think it’s the rats. I’m Ok. I’ve got power here; we’re not on the grid, have generators.”

“Me too, I’m on an island.”

“Do you have any animals there?”

“Yeah, we get birds here; and we’ve got a Spaniel.”

“How’s the Spaniel?”

Marsha checked; Guido was sleeping.


“Watch him.”

As she watched him the dog’s ears suddenly pricked and his eyes opened. He then turned his head to the window in a way that told her someone was here. Then she heard it, or rather them. By the time she’d lifted herself up Guido was already out the door.

Outside the full moon sat over the sea like God’s torch. Its silver light cast down on a thousand cries coming from between the waves. Dolphin calls had filled the air, and everywhere she looked their heads peaked from the water. Countless heads, and countless calls, adding to the chorus layer upon layer. Never in her time on the island had Marsha heard such a deafening pitch.

Guido stood at the end of the short pier, his head held high as if listening to the incoming calls. Then it stopped.
Guido turned back to look at Marsha. His ears were down but his jowls were up. Even from this distance she could see his bare teeth.

December 5th, 2013, 07:40 PM
I'm thinking of entering this in a competition but thought I'd let someone on here shoot me down first.

Any comments appreciated.

The word length is less than 1500, which is a rule of the competition so I've really had to cram.

December 7th, 2013, 06:07 AM
I hope she uses those crutches to mess her dog up.

Good build up, interesting premise. The intensity really gathers momentum. By the end I was glad I had read it.

These are things I wrote while reading they aren't really even noteworthy:

Power cuts? Implies to me the power company is cutting the power.
Caused me some confusion at the beginning. Realized later you meant power outages or black outs.

Thank you for explaining why she was in crutches quickly.

I guess people do it, but she was drinking coffee midday after having
rested on the sofa for most of the morning? That is weird.

The "article thought?" The article said or the author thought.

Wonder what was causing the mother problems with travel? Clearly we know what it was, but it would be interesting to know whether the mother had been told no boats would be going out, or there was a problem with the airways, or some other issue.

Good luck, I hope you submit to the contest. This was a good story.

December 7th, 2013, 12:28 PM
Thanks Fredd. I am submitting it.

December 8th, 2013, 01:18 AM
I liked it. I love the build up and could clearly imagine the island and the wolves gathering outside the window on the mainland. Love the way the reader is left hanging. I think you should submit it.

December 8th, 2013, 11:17 AM
Thanks Sammy Fredd - I thought about the issues you mention. Power Cuts - I am English and we usually say power cut. Marsha resting all morning - she has a broken leg so assume she must get tired easily. Lots of people drink coffee in the afternoons. I have seen people drinking it at night time! Her mother travels - I initially had it being a problem with the railway, but had to take bits out to get the word count down below 1500 The article thought? - Marsha is the narrator, so perhaps that's how she thinks of it. I often use that idea when reading articles and think of the article and author as the same Anyway thanks for showing me some issues. If Black out/Power cut is a big difference in America can you let me know?

December 8th, 2013, 09:28 PM
I'm from the U.S., but I've only lived in the southern portion, so perhaps they speak differently up north. I've never heard the phrase power cut. I've heard "the power company cut the power" after someone didn't pay bills.

I would say power outage is what we hear the most as a general term, but for large areas (like New York, a country, a state, or a county) we would hear black out.

December 8th, 2013, 11:50 PM
I'm Australian and we say power cut too. I think either is fine tho.

December 10th, 2013, 06:40 AM
Very good build up, I agree as well. Interesting premises for a story. Being American, yeah I agree with the term power outage. I saw before reading that you are in London so some of the terms I was able to understand the usage. When whole states of counties are out of power, we say Blackout. Plus the word Blackout carries some weight when used in this type story. My opinion though. While reading, I was wondering when the time would come when her very own dog would turn on her. I knew it was coming which is good because there was tension while reading it. Good stuff. These are the types of stories I love to read. I would read this book if it were made into one.

December 10th, 2013, 07:09 AM
That was a very good read. Look forward to your other work. Very talented.

December 10th, 2013, 09:25 PM
Awesome read. There were some quirky lines here and there but for the most part it was solid.

December 10th, 2013, 10:14 PM
Thanks for the comments.

I agree that "Blackout" is the better option and will change it.

December 11th, 2013, 06:54 PM
Awesome read. There were some quirky lines here and there but for the most part it was solid.

Thanks Glenn84 - Which do you think are the quirky lines?

December 11th, 2013, 07:46 PM
The power cut lines seemed a bit odd, but that's because I'm American. It seems like you've went ahead and changed it to "blackout," which is good. You refer to time in the standard and then switch to military. Again, nothing really big. Just minor stuff.

December 11th, 2013, 08:06 PM
Ah yes, I noted the time differences and changed it all to military. Cheers.

December 17th, 2013, 06:13 AM
It was thrilling! I loved this work. You had a great build up to the final scene. The work just drew me in as I read! I could feel my heart thudding in suspense as I read this work, it was intense. What really drove it was the whole time I was wondering what the dog would do. If all the animals were going insane, why was the dog still normal? Then you shattered that...

December 17th, 2013, 11:17 AM
Hey thanks Katon. That is really great feedback, and what you describe is what I intended. Cheers, its very encouraging for me.

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Hey thanks Katon. That is really great feedback, and what you describe is what I intended. Cheers, its very encouraging for me.