The final runner-up for the fanfiction short story competition is Andy Farenden.
Excellent research and a vividly drawn word picture of a tiny snapshot in time. Nothing much seems to happen and yet quite a lot actually does. Nice to see Mrs Enderby getting out and about for a change. Congratulations on conveying a complex world in such a few words.
Mrs Enderby dipped her toes in Gunyan River letting the cool water wash over her aching feet; she wasn’t used to being out in the field. After a day on her feet exploring the fabric market, the short walk from the pod to the river in the hard-soled leather shoes had been a less than pleasurable experience. When she returned to St Mary’s she would investigate the possibility of adding some discreet cushioning to the history department’s more basic period footwear. Her security escort, a lovely young man whom Mr Markham had assigned to her, sat further back up the bank under the shade of a nearby tree rubbing his worn feet too.
The assignment from Thirsk had tasked the history department with gathering information on the construction and establishment of the Donglin Academy in 12th century Wuxi, China. Which, for a short time, was a hub of neo-Confucian philosophy and home to scholar Yang Shi. For Mrs Enderby, it was an opportunity to explore the silk trade at the height of the middle ages along the nautical route of the Silk Road.
At first Max had been unsure about bringing her along on the jump, but had given in due to the relative political stability of the era and chocolate centred bribery.
It was late August 1111; Mrs Enderby basked in the warmth of the early evening sun. She had seen a great deal today and her recorder was full of rich bright fabrics and period dress. She had even been able to visit silk makers a little further along the river.
As she sat she noticed a group of young women, who she recognised from the silk makers, approached the water’s edge a little way off. They carried a large shallow bucket between them. Carefully, they began emptying water back in to the river filtering it through their hands. Mrs Enderby realised that they must be draining the water from soaked silk worm cocoons and trying not to let the last precious fibres escape. She drew a pocket-sized notebook and pencil from the secret fold within her dress and began to sketch them.
As the light began to fade and the young ladies finished their task a lamp lighter rounded the corner and began to light the lanterns that illuminated the path around the river’s edge. Mrs Enderby sighed, patted her feet dry with the base of her skirt – something that she would chastise a historian for doing – and slipped her feet back in to her shoes. Rising, she dusted herself off and headed back up the shallow bank to her escort. She smiled at him as he rose to join her. Today had been a good day. Wearily, they made their way back to the pod to re-join the rest of the team.
Mrs. Enderby sagged into her seat as someone passed her a cup of tea; she felt bone tired but satisfied. The historians completed the F.O.D check, took their seats and the world went white.