I’ve been trying to get going with the journey to the north, and this is what I’ve got so far:

Ben kicks a stone around the service station forecourt. A clear northern sun has broken through the clouds and fought back the oppressing storms. Swinging round on his feet, he takes in the view, and again, circling around him. His bus stands alone in it’s bay in the middle of the forecourt – a handful of cars over the far side by the pumps.

His sight, sitll dizzy with the swinging, focuses on his cousin walking back towards him across a land that rocks from side to side like a seesaw. ro the first time in days Ben feels alive and excited. He’s on the road and he’s doing something.

His cousin steps up to him, handing over a hot dog and bottle of cola. She girns, shaking her head at Ben, enjoyig seeing the difference in him.

“So this guy you called. The one at Hólar,” Ben is curious, “You know him, how?”

“School.” Hanna’s reply is simply put and requiring further explanation, “Bjäkk. He was drummer in my first band – crazy guy – real quick sense of humour.”

“So, what was it? Rock music to … fish?”

“He was a real environmentalist. He used to pass up gigs to go on on demos an research trips.”

Hanna and Ben begin to make their way back to the bus.

“One of the reasons why the band split–” Hanna lifts herself up the steps into the bus, followed by Ben. Sliding back into their seats, their conversation continues, shifting variously between enquiries and explanation concerning Hanna’s past and present bands, and the details of Bjäkk’s acquaculture research into, as Hanna puts it with a smile writ large across her face, the secret life of the artic char.

Open your eyes–

Hanna sings softly to herself, the words coming to her in response to the view that she finds her eyes drawn into as the bus swings out of the services and back onto route one.

The question that rattles my brain is: does it work? I’ve just introduced another character – Bjäkk into the story – ready for when we meet him at Hólar. And he’s important because he can talk science with Ben and pop with Hanna and give us all some relief from Helen. He can also further the whole climate change/threat angle to the novel and return to the story later when the others are trying to piece together exactly what she found in the mountains…

I think it does work…?