Another new feature! Given my love for a vignette, Ali will provide me with a fun fact, which I will then be challenged to create a short story around. The fun fact will be the only true part. Please keep in mind that much of rest will likely be illogical.
Today's fun fact: A massive earthquake in the Tasman sea has brought New Zealand 30 cm closer to Australia.
Bertram bobbed in his life preserver, annoyed. This had been his shot at doing something truly amazing. Leave it to New Zealand to screw it up.
"Stupid Hobbits. I should have known." As he floated, he held the frayed ends of the cable in his hands. Now, looking back, there were so many things he would have done differently. For one thing, there had to be another two bits of land 20 km apart that he could have gone between. He winced as he imagined the disappointment in his coach's eyes. He then thought of the smug look on his brother's face now that his less-than-confident prediction about Bertram's goal had come true.
"Tight-rope walk across the Cook Straight?! You're out of your mind, you'll never make it. That's like twelve miles!" Marcus had said on the phone. Right you are, Bertram had thought at the time. 12.4274 miles, to be exact, and I will hold the world record and finally, finally he thought, you will have to admit that I've done something impressive.
The tension on his cable had been perfect. The foremost tightrope hanging expert in the world had attached it at both shores with the utmost formality. Though it was not in the least like a boat, aside from being something of a means of transport, the man had crashed a bottle of champagne over the end of the cable before Bertram began. The flash of the reporters' cameras gave Bertram a boost of confidence, and he waved gallantly as he mounted his cable with the grace of a very slender cat, or some such equally graceful creature.
There were buoys every half mile, with his cable snugly attached to them. For safety, two boats flanked him once he got out over the water, a net drawn between them. Though he found it a little embarrassing, Bertram supposed it would be pretty disappointing to make it most of the way across only to lose his footing and be immediately and handily swallowed into a waiting shark's open mouth. Now, floating in the shallow waters of the South Island's shore, holding the snapped end of his cable, he wondered if that would have been easier than returning home untriumphant. For thanks to that blasted earthquake, all his plans had been foiled.
Was he really supposed to believe that the island itself had actually moved?! Apparently it had only barely shifted, though 30 fresh centimeters of land had supposedly appeared on the west coast. It seemed that one centimeter of genuine shift was all it took to snap the end of his cable on the last line. He had reached the last buoy feeling ten feet tall, saluting the crew of the boats on either side of him. He'd even made it most of the way across the line when it happened. He supposed that even if the cable hadn't snapped from the one centimeter of stretching, he still would have fallen off, given the rumbling of the tectonic plates.
The waves lapped against the shore of the south island, now itself one centimeter closer to Australia. As they dragged Bertram in the net through the shallow water, he calculated that he had at least made it 12 miles, his dear brother's scoffing estimate of the distance. He felt himself begin to bump across the sandy shore as the water shallowed, and he dropped his cable with a small sparkling splash. Fair enough, he thought.