Day 23: Kirkwall to Lerwick

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Today the torch will be carried from Kirkwall to Lerwick

Kirkwall is the biggest town and capital of Orkney, off the coast of northern mainland Scotland. The town is first mentioned in Orkneyinga saga in the year 1046 when it is recorded as the residence of Rögnvald Brusason the Earl of Orkney, who was killed by his uncle Thorfinn the Mighty. In 1486, King James III of Scotland elevated Kirkwall to the status of a royal burgh; modern roadsigns still indicate “The City and Royal Burgh of Kirkwall”.

The name Kirkwall comes from the Norse name Kirkjuvagr (Church Bay), which was later corrupted to Kirkvoe, Kirkwaa and Kirkwall.(via wikipedia) (photo from http://www.orkneyjar.com/portfolio/scenes/kirkwall/kirkwallpano.jpg)
Kirkwall

Lerwick is the capital and main port of the Shetland Islands, Scotland, located more than 100 miles (160 km) off the north coast of mainland Scotland on the east coast of the Shetland Mainland. Lerwick is about 210 miles (340 km) north of Aberdeen, 230 miles (370 km) west of Bergen in Norway and 230 miles (370 km) south east of Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands.

Lerwick, Shetland’s only burgh, had a population of about 7,500 residents in 2010 and is the most northerly and most easterly town in Scotland (there are other large settlements more northerly in Shetland, most notable the village of Brae). (via wikipedia) (photo from http://i1.trekearth.com/photos/125220/lerwick_different_view.jpg)
Lerwick
 

The sea serpent in Orkney
From The Orcadian, November 11, 1905 | http://www.orkneyjar.com/folklore/shapinsay1905.htm

The article in the Orcadian is what started it all for Primrose—an organisation tasked with monitoring and tracking aliens and alien technology. Founder Captain Alfred McCulloch’s grandfather—a ninety year old retired fisherman from Kirkwall who refused to move out of his house, much to Alfred’s mother’s dismay—read the article out loud during evening coffee in front of the fire, mocking his ‘colleagues’ for being taken in so easily by the so-called spotted sea serpent.

Alfred had moved in with his grandfather after a car accident that cost Alfred his commission and the full use of his left shoulder and leg. After months of recuperation, he could walk a couple of miles a day without too much pain. When he set out in his grandfather’s old fishing boat—another thing his grandfather refused to do, sell the boat—during the summer of 1906, he’d forgotten all about the spotted sea serpent, at least until he found himself facing it, bobbing near the coast, as he rounded a small uninhabited island. Alfred remembered the article then, and his grandfather’s mirth and mocking, once he got past his frozen state.

“The body is described as massive as that of horse, covered with a scaly surface, and spotted. It was the eyes of the monster, however, that attracted most attention. These are said to have been as large as a bowl, and had a most fascinating attraction for the beholder.” – from the article in the Arcadian

The monster didn’t attack him, didn’t even come closer. It merely watched him, and followed Alfred’s every move. The eyes were fascinating, indeed. The monster was big, it was quiet, and the eyes had a look in them that reminded Alfred of the child-like joy he had seen in his nieces and nephews. It was hard to fear a creature that looked at him like that. Alfred sat in his boat for a while, watching the monster watch him, wondering what he should do. In the end he went with saying, “Hullo.”

The monster shrieked and dove underwater, leaving Alfred clutching his chest. It was the start of a strange sort of peek-a-boo game that would last for hours. Finally, after Alfred decided he would have to be the one to end the game, the monster surprised Alfred by flopping up onto the beach, stretching its paws out in the warm sand—Alfred had expected flippers—making a noise that Alfred chose to interpret as an invitation to join it.

Almost twelve years later, Alfred had gathered three more alien creatures on the small island. He also opened Primrose’s first office in Kinnon, far from his beloved Kirkwall, and gathered a decent staff around him, all eager to find more alien creatures inhabiting the Earth.

Today, 2012, Primrose has offices all over the world. Primrose also has a number of islands which serve as harbours for the non-hostile aliens Primrose hasn’t been able to send back to their homes. The small island north of Scotland is still in use today. Both Alfred and the Shapinsay sea monster are buried there.
 

Aliens, Smith and Jones

Cover-Aliens, Smith and Jones

Connor Smith works for Primrose, an organization tasked with monitoring and tracking aliens and alien technology. It’s a job that doesn’t know the meaning of “nine-to-five”. It also doesn’t leave much room for a social life, a complication that Connor hasn’t minded, until now. At the prodding of his best friend, Connor reluctantly puts himself back in the dating pool, even though it means lying about his remarkable life.

Elsewhere, Noah Jones has led a remarkable life of his own. Stranded on Earth in 1648, Noah was forced to transform himself permanently into human form to survive. He soon learned that in doing so, he’d become effectively immortal, aging only at a glacial pace. Alone, with no way to contact his people or return home, Noah becomes a silent observer of human civilization—always in the world, but never of the world. Then, hundreds of years later, he sees a face in a crowd and instantly feels a connection that he thought he’d never feel again. But he’s too late: Connor’s already taken.

Destiny is not without a sense of humor, though, and the two men are pulled inexorably closer, snared by the same web of dangers and conspiracies. Worse, Primrose is now aware of Noah, and they aren’t ones to leave an alien unrestrained. So while Connor struggles to understand the strange pull he feels toward Noah, forces without as well as within are working against them to keep them apart.

Available July 20th @ Storm Moon Press (20% discount for pre-orders)
 

Blaine D. Arden is a purple haired, forty-something, writer of gay romance with a love of men, music, mystery, magic, fairies, platform shoes and the colours black, purple and red, who sings her way through life. You can find out more about her and her works at blainedarden.com.

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6 responses »

    • Thanks 🙂 It was fun, a lot of fun (not to mention stress for leaving it so late *sigh*)

      I googled pics of leopard seals, and I think their eyes are too small to be ‘my’ sea serpent. Also… I gave mine paws instead of flippers, so that kind of rules seals out.

      I used to love reading stories about Loch Ness 🙂

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