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The Sound by Mike McCorkle Flyleaf Literary Journal Chicago Issue #11

"The Sound" by Mike McCorkle

Issue #11 / October 2014

Illustrated by Samuel Reeves


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MIKE MCCORCKLE is an emerging fiction writer and freelancer based out of Seattle. He recently spent a year living in Mexico instructing English and now works as a writing mentor and private instructor in the south Puget Sound. When he is not writing, Mike can found exploring the backwoods with his son Rylan and Labrador Betsy.




"Who’s there?” the old man yelled from his kayak. An oppressive silence overcame him like a wave. He was not a man to hear voices in the night nor go to church on Sunday, but how can he deny the haunting, audible intonation?




The sinister voice warned him as the boat crested over the first waves he met on the two nautical-mile, open-water crossing. He wondered for a moment if his mind was truly escaping him. Madness, however subjective, he rarely deferred to. In solitude noises can be explained away as the consequences of isolation. Despite his predilection to heed the plea of this sound, the old man continued, dismissing the warning as an encroachment of his imagination.


The glass surface broke open, spilling its perfectly symmetric ripples across the seawater. Rhythmically, the bow of the kayak cut through the long strands of kelp reaching for the surface like drowned men stretching for salvation. The old man drove his hand-carved Inuit paddle deep into the frigid waters of the Puget Sound, each stroke carrying him farther from a world he no longer belonged. In the Sound he found solace in the perfect equilibrium of nature. Only the soft acoustic song of the water rolling along his baidarka could be heard. The wind wisped across his menacing white beard as he led himself along the tidal currents that flowed out to the distant Pacific. Leaving the bay, the harbor seals barked their solemn goodbyes.



Q&A With Mike McCorkle

If, by magic, a signed first edition of your favorite book were to appear on your bookshelf, which one would it be?

To a God Unknown by John Steinbeck.


What influences do you attribut to having shaped your writing style?

For me, I am inspired by setting-driven stories. Authors like John Steinbeck, who created a strong sense of place in his work, inspire me to create something that is both tangible and intangible, caught between reality and fiction.


What inspired you to write "The Sound?" Did the idea to mix a suspenseful chase with darkness, unfamiliar spirits, and various tribal elements pop into your head one day, or was the story based on a personal experience?

There is a sense of mystery in the Puget Sound and the Pacific Northwest region. I have always striven to capture that mystery in my writing. The Puget Sound has an old world quality to it, a separation from the urban life in Seattle. When exploring, I often feel a deep connection to the native people who once inhabited the waterways. I wanted to create a metaphysical experience that embodied the enigmatic tribal connection that is so deeply rooted in Pacific Northwest culture. Once, in the middle of the night on a solitary excursion, I awoke to the sound of drums pounding away in the distance. I had been so far from civilization and there was a haunting quality to the sound. This served as an inspiration that  fueled the creation of “The Sound.”


What are you reading now? 

The Dubliners by James Joyce.


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