Friday Fictioneers – Pan’s Pipes

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - Pan's pipes 180801

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

Pan’s pipes

Pan took his pipes from his lips. Nature shuddered. Bees that had bumbled in wildflowers vanished from meadows; birds no longer sang evensong in woodlands; lions were forced by lack of prey to scavenge carrion.

But men.

Men had ignored Pan for decades. They had burned fossil fuels to keep him at bay, to be safe. They worshipped the car; television; money. They had beaten Pan.

In the Arctic, methane seeped from previously frozen tundra, and the ice burned.

In the Antarctic, a billion-tonne iceberg calved from an ice-sheet.

Pan propped his pipes against a fence, sighed, and departed.

 

Neil Macdonald, a writer whose opinion I value highly, has suggested that the story would be better if it were less declamatory. I think he’s probably right. So here’s a revised version!

I’d be fascinated to know what others think, and whether this second version is an improvement!

Pan’s pipes (version 2)

Pan took his pipes from his lips. Nature shuddered. Bees that had bumbled in wildflowers vanished from meadows, birds no longer sang evensong in woodlands, and lions were forced by lack of prey to scavenge carrion.

Men, though, were different.

Fearing Pan, they had forced him out of their lives, burning fossil fuels ever faster as they rushed about in planes and cars, or numbed themselves with the flickering images of television. They overwhelmed him, until ice burned in the Arctic and billion-tonne icebergs calved from ice-sheets in the Antarctic.

Pan propped his pipes against a fence, sighed, and departed.

 

 

72 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Pan’s Pipes

    • Dear Neil
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’ve been aware that several of my stories have been rather declamatory, with staccato sentences and short paragraphs. Now that I know somebody else thinks so, I’d better do something about it! I’ve written a second version, and posted it below the original. I hope it’s better!
      Thanks for all the good advice you give me.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Andi
      Thank you for reading and commenting. If it were only a nightmare, I would be greatly relieved. But climate change is real, happening now, and will get worse – much worse. Scientists think there is still time to avoid the worst scenarios, but action is needed immediately.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I am not an expert, but I like the exclamatory version better because it has a punch to the gut that the revised version lacks. You had me with ‘Nature shuddered’. The style of the first fits the message imo. Wonderful writing in any case, Penny.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Gabi
      Thank you for reading and commenting so thoughtfully. I agree that the original has more punch, and I’m delighted that you like ‘Nature shuddered’. Mind you, I still think Neil is right – I would do well to cultivate a less declamatory style. Perhaps the main thing Version 2 demonstrates is that I am less practised at writing longer sentences and paragraphs (all this flash fiction!). I need to be doing more work on my novel and improving the flow of my writing.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Rochelle
      Thank you for reading and commenting so wisely. Civilisation has given us a great deal, but at a considerable cost to the planet. At first we were ignorant of this. Now we’re no longer ignorant, and we need to find the political will to stop the damage, and ultimately to reverse it.

      Shalom
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Sascha
      Thank you for reading and for your kind comments. Thank you too for indicating which version you prefer. I must keep practising more fluid prose until I can achieve the same impact as with declamatory pieces!
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Jilly
      Thank you for reading and commenting so kindly, especially for comparing the two versions of my story. I rather agree about the punch of the original version, but I do still need to work on a more fluid style as well!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Jennifer
      Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comment. I agree that the original version has more punch. I think what I learn from that is that my prose style needs work, so that I can retain the punch without becoming too declamatory!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Kelvin
      Thank you for reading. What a wonderful comment, too, full of insight – thank you! Now that you point it out, yes, Pan is very present in the original version – even the sentence ‘They had beaten Pan’ is intended ironically.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jan
      Thank you for reading, and for your appreciative comment. I’m delighted you enjoyed the imagery. Thank you, too, for commenting on the relative merits of the two stories. I’m even more encouraged to work on that aspect of my writing. So I agree – good critique, Neil. And good encouragement, Jan!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  2. Dear Penny,

    I must say I do like both versions for different reasons. The first, for the much-needed punch in packs and the second, for the more lyrical version or gentler version…

    Have a fabulous evening!
    Dale

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We are the architects of our own destruction, aren’t we? The air’s polluted, land is being polluted and needless to say the oceans are too. There is yet another pollution which has been happening without the knowledge of the majority and that is Space pollution. With the amount of satellites and other space explorations taking place, there is a steady increase in space debris which is orbiting around our planet. At the current rate of development in technology and science, it won’t be long before an impenetrable layer of space junk covers our planet, hastening the greenhouse effect. Sigh! What a beautiful tomorrow to look forward to!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Varad
      Thank you for reading and commenting. At least we’ve started to experiment with ways of dealing with space debris, and nowadays satellites are expected to be directed back into the atmosphere when they have finished their mission. So the crisis is delayed, perhaps.
      But overall the outlook is bleak – unless we make care of the environment our priority, and then it could be very hopeful.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Shivam
      I’m glad you enjoyed the take on the prompt. I’m always delighted at the range of stories I read on FF. I’m sure if you try thinking out of the box, you’ll succeed and write a great story!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Deepa
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, it’s changing the way we think about the earth, use of resources, avoidance of waste, that is so important, and will give us a chance of saving our planet. Stories are a very good way of telling people about that, aren’t they?
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Piyali
      Thank you for reading and commenting, and for indicating that you prefer the first story. Although you are not a native English speaker, your stories are fluent and use a wide vocabulary. You’ll definitely become even better with practice!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for the encouragement, Penny. I do wish to learn and improve and I am glad to have joined the Friday Fictioneers. It’s an excellent way to hone my writing. Apologies for the delayed response. I am on a vacation.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I like both versions, for the same reasons as Dale – the punchier sentences do have greater impact, forcing us to look at what we are doing. ‘Calved’ in this context is a wonderful verb to use.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dawn
      Thank you for reading and commenting, and especially for letting me know you prefer the second version.
      I’m glad you like the idea. The pipes made me think of Pan, and, as he’s a nature god the story came easily!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I liked the declamatory tone of the first version. Things are getting worse, we should be declamatory. Sorry for getting declamatory on your page. Great take on the prompt Penny. I can see where the reference to the pipes comes from.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jolly
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad you liked the style of the original version. Please feel free to be as declamatory as you like about this matter on my page. As you say, things are getting worse and time is short.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Fatima
      Thank you for reading and commenting so thoughtfully. It’s helpful to know you feel that the second version is more detailed and gives a clearer more relatable picture. You’ve given me a useful insight – thank you!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Bjorn
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I agree that Pan will return after humanity has gone, with one proviso; that we don’t end the world with a nuclear holocaust. That might well sterilise the planet – and who knows whether life would start over?
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

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