(600 words) Alma stared out at an alien landscape, knobs of black volcanic rock formed into bizarre shapes and covered with moss. Somehow, in places even grass. She heard the roaring engine of her transport in the distance and breathed a sigh of relief, soon spotting the Land Rover driving along the narrow coastal road towards her. Then there was Gunnar, smiling. “Hop in,” he said in perfect English. As the vehicle powered its way to the unimaginable rendezvous, she thought of Hy and his love for Iceland. Perhaps that was why she was here again, she admitted to herself. Hy and his obsession with geology, his disdain for her and Charles in their ‘boring, suburban world,’ the world that had funded his education of course, but no matter, in his view. Then there’d been Vanessa and the crazy accident.
(800 words) Journalism was my husband’s profession. His name was Alan Worley and the ‘six honest serving-men’ gave his work the acuity and aplomb that propelled his novel, ‘Uprising in Eden,’ a tale of human duplicity in the garden of Eden, to fame. Following its prodigious success, he’d pulled the plug on his newspaper work and devoted himself to lecturing and giving readings, although after a year they had dried up. After all, one can only talk about the same stuff so many times, before running out of people who want to hear it. Then Alan had withdrawn from public life to work on the novel’s successor.
(700 words) It was late afternoon in October, the start of winter, and we were on the ring road, ‘Route 1,’ heading back to Reykjavik along the south coast. It had been a bright day, spring-like even. In just two months’ time though, temperatures would scarcely be above freezing and the 800-mile road could be treacherous. The coach pulled up and we trouped out to gawp at an area of low cliffs with exposed basalt columns. Hundreds of hexagonal grey columns stood neatly in rows, five to fifteen feet high. Gugga told us how visitors had once heard beautiful singing coming from among them. Elves it was believed.