This month I am participating in the A to Z blog challenge.

The challenge involves 26 posts in April, all somehow connected to the alphabet. My theme for the month is short stories. The Story Factory needs market research, of course, so I will be reading a short story for each letter of the alphabet and trying to learn some new techniques for my story writing. My lacks seem to be characterization and emotional experience, so I am mainly looking for stories to teach me those things. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments if you know of an amazing story. Another component of the challenge is the blog road trip, where we visit each other’s blogs, leave comments, etc. While I would like to visit a couple of blogs every day, it is more realistic to do Road Trips on Sundays. (Of course, my ongoing, 52 bad story challenge is still on, as well as the 2021 creative hours in 2021.

Fever by Harlon Ellison

Fever is a very short story that imagines what it would be like if Icarus survived. I found it in the anthology by Joyce Carol Oates.

For those not familiar with the myth, Daedalus and his son Icarus were imprisoned in a tower in Crete. Daedalus created two sets of wings using feathers and wax, then taught his son to fly. As they began to fly, Daedalus warned his son not to fly too high, or the sun would melt the wax, nor fly too low, or the seawater would soak the feather. Icarus forgot the advice and flew higher and higher, causing the wax on his wings to melt. The tale ends with Icarus falling into the sea and drowning. The island of Icaria is named for him. 

Ellison posits that Icarus was blown over land and came to rest in a cart of sheep’s wool. Naturally, falling so far meant broken bones and a case of amnesia. A local family adopted Icarus, but for some reason, he never aged. He lived life as a vineyard hand and Certified Public Accountant in Switzerland. 

He apparently is still alive and living in Berne. And his life seems unremarkable. Ellison tells us only this: he sleeps nine hours every day and dreams of the sky, and in the morning, he wipes the fever sweat from his body and sees unfamiliar faces in the clouds.

That one bit of information lets the reader know that he does, in fact, have a memory of who he once was. That makes me a bit sad to read. But I am in awe of how Ellison wrote such a short story with a powerful punch. The last two lines alone are stunning.