June’s Writing Prompt: Going Down

For May’s writing prompt, go here.


Let me tell you a story about a place called Downland. In Downland, there are hills, ramps, staircases and elevators, much like in the real world. However, no one can ever go up them. Once you’ve gone down, you can’t return. You can walk on the level all you like, of course.

(Yes, there’s a tangential “The Bottle Imp” inspiration here.)

Unlike vertical Andean civilizations, in which having everyone living at different elevations resulted in more vertical trade than horizontal, Downland would presumably have almost all horizontal trade. One exception might be an extensive use of dumbwaiters.

Are there basements in Downland? If so, are people forcibly extricated from them, such as through being dug out?

Is air travel still possible? If so, does the plane track its departure height so it’s somehow prevented from landing somewhere at higher elevation?

Is throwing someone downward considered a dirty fighting tactic?

What happens when someone attempts a ski jump? Are there other less voluntary ways for a person to go up?

Since Downland is setting-focused, the characters and plot can be whatever you need them to be. It’s the quirks that shine here – all kinds of ordinary or extraordinary situations that suddenly have physics problems. Something as benign as a pogo stick might cause problems if someone wants to use it to climb a stair.

This is a fun one because, unlike fictional wars that affect a couple countries or fictional romances that affect a couple people, everyone in Downland feels the brunt of the scenario pretty equally. One wouldn’t want to be born right by sea level, but people are considered born fortunate or unfortunate on Earth too.

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