Thor's Doll

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Steep cliffs rose boldly from the shimmering waters below. The imposing rock faces stood as a vanguard over the fjord that wound its way through the unforgiving Norwegian landscape. Nestled along its shore sat a village that knew a dark secret held by the protective crags.

Three decades before the hamlet had been witness to the awesome wrath that the mountains could bare. A terrible rockslide that crashed into the inlet resulted in a tidal wave that savagely snatched sixty-two unsuspecting souls. The residual mental shockwave that reverberated through the collective psyche of the community still haunted those residing in the hallowed land. 

Grete was keenly aware of the destructive power that the sea could harness. Her father was a victim of the giant wave. Later, her husband disappeared while on a fishing expedition. As a single mother she eked out a Spartan existence tilling the soil and mending neighbor’s clothes. She lived in constant fear that her two children, Unni and Tore, may befall a similar fate. Her children were raised with the incessant warning to stay off the pile of residual boulders that now projected into the fjord.

Despite their mother’s pleas Unni and her older brother were not afraid. They were without regard to the potential peril that await because they knew that the charmed fjord had another secret. This one was not mystical but predictable. With discipline it could even be controlled.

Unni and Tore learned the unique feature while sitting at the end of the outcropping. For hours they skipped stones across the placid crystal water. They watched the ripples waft from the various impacts travel uniformly out in neat circles. As the waves moved ever farther out they joined with other waves creating an interference pattern that was simple, yet elegant.

Unni was the first to notice that if she stare unblinking at the ripple's point of origin then the subsequent ones were fundamentally different. Rather than fanning out in all directions and colliding with others they instead traveled in straight lines. Somehow her observation made the waves strangely act as a particle.

Unconcerned, the siblings now scrambled over the rocks. They traversed the outcropping that ran from their sod roofed home towards the shore. In Unni’s hand she clasped her coveted doll. Her mother constructed the toy with strips of fabric salvaged from one of her father’s worn shirts. To Unni it was her most prized possession.

In a foolish move common to youth, Tore suddenly ripped his sister’s doll from her hands. With a wry smile he threw it. The precious doll sailed from the rocks and landed short of the water line.

Unni shot her brother a dirty look and then reluctantly accepted her fate. She scampered down and leisurely walked to the doll. As she reached for it, the ground suddenly thundered as a cacophonous boom rang from the mountains.

Millions of tons of granite sheared off a nearby cliff face. The mass of boulders crashed mercilessly into the fjord. The surface of the water initially lowered before violently exploding high into the air. The massive wave that followed bore down to the children at an angle. It would quickly glance past the rock wall and then consume the space behind and sweep away the vulnerable girl. Tore looked on in stunned silence as his sister faced the same villainous sea that took her father and grandfather.

Unni only had one chance at survival. She would have to unceasingly observe the water. If she did, the wave would act as a particle and roar in a resolute line past her and the end of the wall. Should her gaze falter then the tsunami would act as a wave and fill in the void that she helplessly waited in.

Her breathing quickened and sweat beaded on her forehead. The pounding of her heart echoed in her head like maddening drums. Despite the pressure inside, her gaze was unrelenting. She watched with a mixture of horror and awe as the water transformed like the ripples from skipping stones. A well-defined beam of water rushed violently past the wall leaving Unni shielded from harm.

As the tidal wave past, Unni, believing that she might actually survive the ordeal, allowed her thoughts to return to the doll. Her foot began to sweep the shore without breaking her focus on the water. Her toes probed over the grass several times before sensing the beloved doll.

Her mother’s desperate scream broke her concentration. Unni turned to the familiar voice only to be immediately enveloped in a world of liquid. The torrent of water made up and down indistinguishable. She thrashed wildly, desperate to stop her tumbling. Her mouth opened instinctively to yell for help only to have her cry cruelly muted.

Images became electrified. The nearby rock wall that she desperately sought to grab turned to flashes of yellow and orange. Her brother's pained expression was seen as a glint of bright red, then green, then gone. A fringe of black surrounded the shearing flashes before filling her field of view. She embraced despair.

Abruptly her momentum halted and her body forcefully pulled vertical. The fingers of consciousness took root. Unni awoke in the arms of her mother who now stood on the rock outcropping as the deluge passed.

Grete had overcome her fear of the water that had cursed the family. After hearing the terrible crash and seeing Tore on the rocks she knew that her nightmare had come true. Overcome by the primitive urge to protect her children she boldly rushed across the projection of boulders. From a corner of her eye she spotted the striped fabric of Unni’s doll. Without hesitating she plunged her hand into the frothing sea and pulled her daughter to safety.

The treasured doll floated away. Now ignored, it transformed into a wave and became indistinguishable from the sea.

About the Author: 
Since my youth I have been fascinated with quantum mechanics. My father and I would talk late into the evening about the nature of the world. The simple queries posed have remained with me long since his death. I am a career firefighter, paramedic, army vet and father of three.