Back in the spring of 2019, a scene came to me. At this point, I honestly can’t remember what triggered the idea. Often scenes come to me when I’m reading something else, something that inflames some inner creativity. This may have been that, or perhaps it struck me otherwise, out of the ether, tied to some other happenstance or musing. I really don’t know.
But I sat down and started it, just the first couple paragraphs. And then I added a little more, and then I had this short opening scene of about 400 words that I really liked—that left me so interested in knowing more. More than anything else, I wondered, What the hell is that sound in the distance?
I meant it originally to be a work of deindustrial science fiction and so the sound had to fit into that rubric. I had an idea or two, even sketching out a few notes and writing a secondary scene, from later in the story; but that idea never quite coalesced for me in relation to this opening scene (though the secondary scene I like, too, and I wonder if perhaps the idea it is built around could be its own story, independent of “In the Distance”). As something like eighteen months passed and I moved onto other stories, I still on occasion thought back to this scene.
In the interval, I wrapped up Into the Ruins. And now I feel no particular need for this story to be one of deindustrial fiction. Recently I came back to it and I wondered what if the sound was something stranger—something supernatural, or something of the gods? But still that revelation hasn’t come to me. The sound remains a mystery.
I have this thought, though. It’s that one day I’m going to figure out that sound, and I’m going to take my inklings of Madelyn (I have ideas about her, and she interests me) and I’m going to better figure out Kellan, and I’m going to make this into something. But for the time being it’s none of those things—it’s just this ongoing mystery that occasionally tickles the back of my mind. So I’ve decided that for now I will put it here, on this site, as one of my Fragments. And perhaps one of you, dear readers, will have some idea of what that far off sound might be, and why it might be so terrible. If you do, and it’s an idea you’re willing to share, drop it in the comments. Perhaps I’ll realize what this story is meant to be.
“In the Distance” is short, earning its designation as a Fragment. Yet I like it, and I hope you do, too. You can read it here.