Delayed Drift by Craig Comer

Gravel crunched as the private shuttle pulled into the viewing lot. Below, a lazy stretch of water meandered farther than the eye could see in either direction. “We’re here!” said Joe. “Put that away.”

“Great, a river,” mumbled Derek, tucking his gamepod into his jacket.

“Nope,” said Joe. “Not a river.” He killed the engine and hopped out.

Derek rolled his eyes. “Come on, Suze, let’s see what dad’s manic about now.”

“Mmpf,” came a sleepy groan from the backseat. Derek hated that they looked alike. But then, everyone looked alike when you really looked close. Hands in his pockets, he trudged over to the cliff’s edge where Joe stood whistling.

“Must’ve been a big one,” said Joe.

“What’s that, dad?” Derek scanned the shore hoping some girls were around.

“The earthquake that caused this rift. Millions of years of expanding and contracting pressure, then about 40,000 years ago—BAM!” He whistled again, more dramatically. “Water’s full of salt, too, just like an ocean.”


“That’s because it is an ocean.” Joe grinned like a kid in a candy store. “Scientists announced it last year. Just amazing—they say that under the topsoil the earth is made of these giant plates that can break and drift apart. Some even argue it’s happened several times before. Crazy, huh? Like Gaul might’ve been near Medina. The Dagbons might’ve not existed at all.

“Uh-huh. Neat, dad.” Derek thumbed his gamepod.

Joe rolled his eyes. “So who’d have unified the tribes? Defined the Emperor’s Tongue? Would farm parceling have worked with different landmasses floating around the surface of the planet, completely separated?”

Derek shrugged.

“The opposite shore over there will be miles away, someday,” said Joe, “like the volcanic islands out in the Far Waters.”

“Seems stupid to build a bridge over it, then.”

Joe laughed. “Well, it’ll take time before that matters. The landmasses—they don’t have names for them yet—only move an inch or two each year. But just think, folks will have to cross an ocean to get across the empire. The world will be separated into chunks.” Raising his arms, he shouted, “An Earth divided!”

Suzy slumped into Derek, eyes still glazed. “Why’d we stop?”

“Some river,” said Derek, pulling out his gamepod.

Leave a Reply