Mapping the everglades

by Michael

The map he brought back from the wetlands was huge. It had to be mounted on the wall like a tapestry, and even then you couldn’t take it all in. It was like the monsters found in uncharted seas: a fire-breathing dragon that lit up the world with rivers of lava and a scorched, golden earth.

His airboat bucked along the narrow channels as he headed away from the rest of the group again. He’d felt their scepticism and had hated them for it. They were the same ones who hadn’t believed him and now he had brought them proof they still weren’t happy. Discontented rednecks, he thought. Especially the scientists.

The map had illuminated panels along the bottom edge – scenes of splendour and opulence, a gilt existence, ennobled privilege. Above were unrecognisable lands – FORD, Castlefro, Netherscape, Bystro, Nilarium – in Roman lettering. Rotherbas, Eaton, Briton. (Not that Britain.)

While he was gone, the map was examined, noted, recorded, decoded, rolled into a tube and filed in the basement where the Florida heat wouldn’t consume it. They went inside. Slid the large glass-fronted doors closed, leaving no jetty available for his return. They knew he wasn’t coming back. The medics looked at each other and called the time.


An unedited continual writing exercise in response to two unconnected pictures.