Escape Artists
November 21, 2017, 07:13:38 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: The FINAL ROUND of the PseudoPod Flash Fiction Contest has begun!
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1]
  Print  
Author Topic: EP569: Safe Harbour  (Read 623 times)
eytanz
Moderator
*****
Posts: 5854



« on: April 03, 2017, 10:47:24 AM »

EP569: Safe Harbour

AUTHOR: Kristene Perron
NARRATOR: Divya Breed
HOST: Mur Lafferty

---

It begins with breath.

In. Wrap my hand around the handle at the bow of the kayak. Out. Drag the boat across the rocks. In and out, in time with the low moan of the fog horn in the distance. I welcome the grey of dawn though my muscles ache from the damp and cold.

Ten years since I set foot on the shores of Barclay Sound, since I smelled the salty sweet decay of the open Pacific. The blood pulses in my veins and no matter how hard I fight it a single word rises from the depths like a corpse: home.

My foot hits a patch of kelp, slippery as oil. There’s nothing to grab but, as I fall, my hands grope anyway. Knee hits rock, followed by hand, and a stab of pain—physical, for a change—pierces right through me.

“Shit!” I say. Sound swallowed by the mist and the water.

Shit, I hear echoing back inside my brain. No, not hear, feel. Sense? See? I’ve never known how to describe it. Whatever it is, it comes as both a question and an accusation and a warning.

I stand and wipe the gravel from my hands and knees. I’m bleeding but that’s unimportant. She’s out there. She’s alive. If not for the fog, I might have seen her spray from shore. This is a good sign. Isn’t it?

A final scrape and the kayak is floating. I pick up the faded yellow and purple life jacket, with its orange safety whistle caked with dirt, and toss it up on the rocks. I won’t need it today.

I look to the shore and everything in me breaks.

I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.

We can do this.

It all begins with breath.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: April 28, 2017, 10:01:42 AM by eytanz » Logged
Lionman
Peltast
***
Posts: 143


Next time, I'll just let sleeping dogs lie.


WWW
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2017, 05:39:17 PM »

I thought this story had potential.  I felt it was a major downer to have it end that way.

My father wouldn't have liked it, the good guys died in the end. :-/
Logged

Failure is an event, not a person.
Father Beast
Lochage
*****
Posts: 501


« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2017, 08:16:50 PM »

Admittedly, this might be an occasion where the language of the story was so overdone that I had trouble following what was happening, but let me see if I get this straight:

A woman undergoes a nanotech procedure to be able to talk to whales, and becomes pregnant while the nano stuff is in her. The child is autistic or something, and she freaks out when she discovers her husband (formerly an extramarital affair), basically arranged for this to happen. the she goes and DROWNS herself and daughter together as some sort of revenge or restitution or something equally crazy?

I can't bring myself to have pity for those who cause such destruction in their insanity.

I wasn't hot on this story in the first place, but the murder/suicide at the end really killed any enjoyment I might have had.
Logged
acpracht
EA Staff
*****
Posts: 182


« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2017, 12:16:18 AM »

Admittedly, this might be an occasion where the language of the story was so overdone that I had trouble following what was happening, but let me see if I get this straight:

A woman undergoes a nanotech procedure to be able to talk to whales, and becomes pregnant while the nano stuff is in her. The child is autistic or something, and she freaks out when she discovers her husband (formerly an extramarital affair), basically arranged for this to happen. the she goes and DROWNS herself and daughter together as some sort of revenge or restitution or something equally crazy?

I can't bring myself to have pity for those who cause such destruction in their insanity.

I wasn't hot on this story in the first place, but the murder/suicide at the end really killed any enjoyment I might have had.

I understood the ending as the daughter's consciousness moved into the whale via the nanites (which was the mother's intention). It was a bleak ending, I agree, but I don't think quite as bleak as it initially appeared.
Logged
Jethro's belt
Palmer
**
Posts: 37



« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2017, 10:17:37 AM »

Listening to it I didn't understand the ending. I thought about it and formed an idea (later confirmed by reading the ending), but with no foreshadowing that I could perceive as such, it just appeared out of the blue in a single sentence and went right by me or perhaps clubbed me senseless. Did I miss something? Maybe some technical talky?
Logged
TrishEM
Peltast
***
Posts: 150



« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2017, 08:52:48 PM »

Admittedly, this might be an occasion where the language of the story was so overdone that I had trouble following what was happening, but let me see if I get this straight:

A woman undergoes a nanotech procedure to be able to talk to whales, and becomes pregnant while the nano stuff is in her. The child is autistic or something, and she freaks out when she discovers her husband (formerly an extramarital affair), basically arranged for this to happen. the she goes and DROWNS herself and daughter together as some sort of revenge or restitution or something equally crazy?

I can't bring myself to have pity for those who cause such destruction in their insanity.

I wasn't hot on this story in the first place, but the murder/suicide at the end really killed any enjoyment I might have had.

I understood the ending as the daughter's consciousness moved into the whale via the nanites (which was the mother's intention). It was a bleak ending, I agree, but I don't think quite as bleak as it initially appeared.

This was my interpretation as well.
In the end, I believe, the mother accepted her daughter for what she had become, even though she had been affected through an experimental act without fully informed consent. Although it's not clear that the father would really have tried to mold the girl into another ship-killer, the mother at least feared he would treat her as more of an experimental subject than a person. She thought that enabling the consciousness to move into the whale was her daughter's best shot at growing up free. (Too bad for the whale, but presumably it had already been affected, too.) Her death and her daughter's body's death was the byproduct of that.
That's what I thought was happening, anyway.
Logged
Cygnwulf
Extern
*
Posts: 6


« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2017, 11:50:37 AM »

Admittedly, this might be an occasion where the language of the story was so overdone that I had trouble following what was happening, but let me see if I get this straight:

A woman undergoes a nanotech procedure to be able to talk to whales, and becomes pregnant while the nano stuff is in her. The child is autistic or something, and she freaks out when she discovers her husband (formerly an extramarital affair), basically arranged for this to happen. the she goes and DROWNS herself and daughter together as some sort of revenge or restitution or something equally crazy?

I can't bring myself to have pity for those who cause such destruction in their insanity.

I wasn't hot on this story in the first place, but the murder/suicide at the end really killed any enjoyment I might have had.

I understood the ending as the daughter's consciousness moved into the whale via the nanites (which was the mother's intention). It was a bleak ending, I agree, but I don't think quite as bleak as it initially appeared.

This was my interpretation as well.
In the end, I believe, the mother accepted her daughter for what she had become, even though she had been affected through an experimental act without fully informed consent. Although it's not clear that the father would really have tried to mold the girl into another ship-killer, the mother at least feared he would treat her as more of an experimental subject than a person. She thought that enabling the consciousness to move into the whale was her daughter's best shot at growing up free. (Too bad for the whale, but presumably it had already been affected, too.) Her death and her daughter's body's death was the byproduct of that.
That's what I thought was happening, anyway.
I have this same feeling.   There's so many stories out there about a displaced child being able to 'rejoin' their kind that the ending wasn't actually that hard for me to pick up, but I feel like the story skimmed over some important parts that would have made the ending feel more natural.  there was a distinct lack of detail about the girl's life being unpleasant. Sure, mom's was after she found out but a lot of that seems like she was doing it to herself as well.   
What was in the story about the girl seemed fairly benign, like dad was trying to make things comfortable and happy for her with the teacher and the whale song in the headphones (which we see mom rip away to much screaming and unpleasantness, and dad replace, returning the child to her happy place) and one news story about a whale seeming to attack a sub. 
I feel like if there has been more exposition on the girl being treated like a lab rat or a tool or something other than human, or even a more definite foreshadowing of that to come, the ending might have carried itself off better.  Instead, with what could have been a weird coincidence,  the protagonist takes a huge leap of faith, steals the kid and hauls her out into the ocean on a gamble, saying something about her imperfect research, but we as the readers have no idea what even that tiny bit of information is or where she even got the idea that the nanites could facilitate a consciousness transfer, since that wasn't hinted at before.

tl;dr, interesting concept and I see where it was going, but the explanation of how it gets there is lacking.
Logged
Zelda
Palmer
**
Posts: 75


« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2017, 11:30:53 PM »

I understood the ending differently. As I see it the whale (perhaps a whole whale population) was aware of the child and wanted the child brought to her. The whale attack on the sub was intended to put pressure on humans to give the child to her "real family." Indeed the whales by interfering with shipping may have been the cause of some of the human conflicts that are making the world uncertain and dangerous. As for the child, she is at core a whale that has been forced into a human body.

My strongest reason for coming to this conclusion is the way that when the mother and child reach the beach the communication between the child and the whale is much more intense than any communication the mother has been able to have with the child. When the child thinks "mother" the intense response of "daughter" comes from the whale, not from the human mother. Also, I thought that the mother's strong reaction to the sight of the sunken submarine and her understanding of it were influenced by the connection the nanites had made between the mother and the whale. Unlike other humans, she could tell exactly what it meant. That's why it triggered her to set off on the journey with her daughter. The mother realized only she could make peace between the species.

I think there is some support for this interpretation in the way the husband gets wapped up in urgent phone calls and discussions. I think he and his fellow conspirators know that they have caused some of the world's new problems. Their experiment has gone awry in a very dangerous way.

During part of the beginnng of the story I was irritated by how incredibly unethical the experiment was (and the more we learned, the more unethical it got). But other than that I found this a compelling story and I found the ending (which I believe to be a happy one for the child) satisfying.

Logged
Ichneumon
Peltast
***
Posts: 82


« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2017, 09:25:19 AM »

I think TrishEM got it right. I am confused why the nanites caused the child to bond or connect with the whale to the point of exclusion of the mother. I would have thought the nanites would have allowed the mom and child to communicate and bond closer than normal. It also made me sad that the scientist was the bad guy.
Logged
Ariadnes-thread
Palmer
**
Posts: 32


« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2017, 12:25:14 PM »

This story made me really, really angry. The SF elements aside, this is a narrative of a mother committing murder-suicide in order to kill her autistic daughter.

The SF trappings didn't really do much to change that basic narrative, for me, and as an autistic woman the narrator's actions— and the fact that it seems we are supposed to sympathize with her— were extremely upsetting to me.

Parents killing their autistic kids is common enough that we have an annual Disability Day of Mourning to commemorate these children. The narrative used by these parents is often that of autism as a thing separate from their children, without which their children would be "normal", so the moment in the story where, just before her death, Dylan becomes a normal child, was especially distressing and reminiscent of this narrative.
Logged
Katzentatzen
Peltast
***
Posts: 84



« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2017, 02:42:40 PM »

I do love my sci fi with a generous slice of horror. The child having been rewrote for whales by nanotech, yes, fascinating.
Logged

"To understand a cat you must realize that he has his own gifts, his own viewpoint, even his own morality."
--LILIAN JACKSON BRAUN
Varsha
Palmer
**
Posts: 30



« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2017, 08:16:05 AM »

Another story about talking to Whale... Wait, no this is deeper. And better.

Was the plan to use whales for the war all along?

Excellent clear narration.
Logged
Pages: [1]
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!