‘An Alpine Folly’. A new flash fiction. #fridayflash.

There appears to have been very little action here at the flyingscribbler blog. However, appearances, as we all know, can be deceptive. Whilst the blog has, I admit, been uncared for of late, I haven’t been sitting on my laurels. No, indeed not; I have been sitting in my deck chair researching Greek Mythology. And that’s all I’m telling you about that. (Regular visitors might have a clue why). I’ve also been preparing a flash fiction for a competiton, which is now done. So this week, I have had enough time for this little piece. It is rather on the experimental side, so I hope it works.

It was triggered by a recent trip to Dubai. Have you been? It is, in my opinion, just the other side of too much. A ski slope in the desert? Impressive would be one word. Not mine.

I should point out that any similarities to nations in the Gulf or Europe are entirely accidental. (They wouldn’t actually be reading this. Would they?).

An Alpine Folly

The meeting to decide the date of exchange of the alpine nation’s sovereignty with that of the Gulf state took place in camera.

The specialised team of interpreters, selected for their knowledge of the finer points of Arabic and the convoluted declensions of various European languages, had been vetted by both parties, as had the stenographer; their discretion was vital to the successful outcome of the talks. In any case, attempts to leak details would be dealt with ‘efficiently’ and ‘definitively’.

‘Gentlemen,’ said the Emir, ‘I believe we have proven beyond doubt that the establishment of a permanent alpine environment in the desert is not only desirable, but also eminently achievable. I myself have skied on the slopes of the prototype, although,’ (and at this point the Emir deferred modestly to his alpine counterpart), ‘without a single degree of your own finesse.’

The stenographer paused, fingers hovering, whilst the assembled rulers, politicians and scientists enjoyed the joke. Not for the first time that afternoon, she had to stop herself from recording her impression of “(nervous laughter)”.

‘The scale of construction is,’ continued the Emir, ‘immense even by our current standards. To those who might suggest that it is an impossibility, I implore you to look at what we have already achieved: island communities visible from outer space; the tallest structures on earth; the world’s largest airports. All built on time and on budget, without the constraints of other nations’ pecuniary labour laws.’

 “(shameful silence, ten seconds.)”

The alpine President whispered to his aide briefly before speaking.

‘We are satisfied with your proposals,’ he said, ‘and we hope that you find our own equally acceptable. Our projections for desertification of the alpine meadowlands are based on a sound scientific analysis of current and future data; the exponential surge of energy consumption you promise in order to maintain our synthetic alpine environment requirements will in turn deliver the necessary conditions which your own future generations will need to continue your unique way of life in our former homeland. Indeed, gentlemen, it is this very symbiosis which makes our endeavours so satisfying. Merely adapting to the planet’s changing environment is not an inconvenience which nations such as ours should have to endure.’

“(uncomfortable silence, five seconds. degree of embarrassed sweating.)”

The President continued.

‘This is, I am sure you will agree, an act of supreme selflessness; a collective philanthropy which will bequeath certainty and continuity to our grandchildren. We should not, nor indeed will not, be bound any longer by international treaties which are doomed to failure. Bilateral action, such as ours, is the only conceivable way forward.’

“(general agreement. relieved smiles. some forced.)”

The Emir sipped his sparkling water, placed his hands firmly on the table and smiled.

‘This is a new era in both our nations’ histories. The rest of the world will come to envy our decision to act now; they, sadly, will wish they had displayed the same degree of foresight which we ourselves have implemented.

“(selfish bastards. can’t believe I’m hearing this.)”

‘There is no significant argument to convince our governments that sharing our wealth with less fortunate nations will result in a favourable or advantageous future for our vested interests.’

“(could at least try.)”

The President rose to his feet, holding out a steady hand.

‘So, Your Highness, if we are agreed, I suggest we leave the finer details to these very able people.’

The Emir shook the President’s hand firmly.


“(someone should know about this.)”


Later, after her interrogation, the stenographer contemplated her mistake in entering her own thoughts into the machine. She rubbed her bruised cheek, brushing away a tear.

“(I never even got to say goodbye.)”


© flyingscribbler 2011





22 comments on “‘An Alpine Folly’. A new flash fiction. #fridayflash.

  1. Icy Sedgwick says:

    Interesting concept here, and I loved the way you interspersed their discussion with the stenographer’s comments. Good way to add her insight to the proceedings.

  2. Anne Michaud says:

    Your use of (stage directions via the steno) is brilliant and quite funny at times… until the last one, which really ties up the piece nicely.

    • Thank you Anne. I was very pleased with using the stenographer like that. I wasn’t sure if the ending was a touch melodramatic, but I had laid the foundations for a grim ending.

  3. ibc4 says:

    A great device, handled confidently.
    Love the humour in the aside.

  4. Hi there Justin — this really flowed along. Loved the Emir’s modest deferal, the stenographer’s “(nervous laughter)”, and you get a special award for the use of ‘pecuniary’.

    “(shameful silence, ten seconds)” – lol.

    Very good politico-speak. Feels like you’re there. Got a slight bump, somehow, when I hit the interrogation after “(someone should know about this.)”, but I still loved it. Crazy, great idea. It’s probably being built right now, complete with animatronic reindeer…


    Greek Mythology, you say? Hmmm… gets tent out and starts camping near an undefined area in cyberspace, ready to beat the queue…

    • Thanks you stephen for your kind comments. Glad that so much of my story worked for you. I was wondering whether I could have left out the ending entirely…There really is a giant indoor ski slope in Dubai, with snow and constant temp of minus 3. There are ski lifts and a mock Swiss style cafe called St Moritz.

  5. Tony Noland says:

    The interspersed comments from the stenographer were like a Greek chorus, calling out the moral course of action as the action unfolds.

  6. I found it humorous that the stenographer accidentally typed her thoughts.

  7. Interesting premise and interesting device being used here. Nicely done, and I agree with everyone about the humor in the ‘thoughts’

  8. Helen says:

    The stenographer’s comments brought a touch of humour to their discussions – I felt very sorry for her in the end, she was the humanistic element in the room.

    Nice piece of writing!

  9. John Wiswell says:

    It was funny to just look at this:

    “(uncomfortable silence, five seconds. degree of embarrassed sweating.)”

    and wonder how it would be spoken, let alone sound. It’s like Steven Wright used to joke, “Sometimes you can’t hear me because I’m speaking in parenthesis.”

  10. Chuck Allen says:

    I agree with the others – great story, and the stenographer was an excellent addition.

  11. Stephen says:

    A sad ending for the stenographer. Those last words portend great tragedy. Some thoughts, to turn a popular phrase, are better left unsaid (or unwritten, as the case may be). Well done.

  12. adampb says:

    This was a great experiment. Loved the perspective of the stenographer as the different angle; great laughs from me. Loved it.
    Adam B @revhappiness

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