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New Short Story Published: Still the Earth

In 2014, I was travelling by car across the Icelandic countryside. If you've ever had the chance do it, you'll know that the Icelandic landscape can be stunning in parts, all mossy rock and snow and mountains. It's no surprise that a lot of people find in an inspiring place, and I certainly did. Here's a little story about my time there.

As my friend drove the car and I looked out at the mountains surrounding us, a story came to me. Almost fully formed. I mulled it for a while, maybe an hour or two. And then I told the story to my friend in one sitting.

The story starts like this. A young girl named Leah is working on the back of a great behemoth made of stone. This behemoth has a mountinous back and has marched for all recorded history through the endless desert under an unsetting sun. Her community lives in the shaded underbelly of the behemoth. But that day, as Leah gathered food for her family, she saw someone running from the sacred behemoth's head toward the community. Someone had seen something off in the distant horizon. Something known only in myths and children's stories. The ocean. The behemoth was marching directly toward the ocean. In the days that followed, Leah struggled to make sense of this discovery and, more importantly, the way her community fail to act.

It felt right to speak the story out loud, given its allegorical tone. Still, once I got home I wrote it down, embellishing some parts, trimming others. It didn't quite feel right on the page, and so I left it for a while in the bottom drawer.

Occasionally I'd talk to people about the story. I'd bring it out and dust it off. I considered turning it into a video game, and drafted a version that might work as a graphic novel (some concept work below). I went as far as write a script for an animated adaptation. None of them quite felt right.

A drawing of a large tortoise-like creature made of stone with a mountain on its back.
Concept art, Still the Earth. By Luke Marcatili.

Fast-forward to some time mid-2023. I looked at it again and decided to pare it right back to its original spirit. For the Nth time I redrafted it, made it first person, and diced it into chunks. I looked at a couple of publications I admired and sent it along to one called the Translunar Travelers' Lounge. This is an online magazine, free to access, based in the US.

Then, I waited. One never knows if it will take weeks or months to hear back.

As it turns out, the day I found out from TTL that they wanted to publish was also the day I got on a plane to fly back to Iceland, where the story was first imagined. And I write this post from Reykjavík now, in February 2024. Ten years after the idea first developed.

It's possible I could have written this story down, polished it up, and published it some time in 2014 or 2015.

But then the story wouldn't have a story of its own.

It's been a journey, but it's finally arrived. If you'd like to read it, click here.


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