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Coke Bottle – A JourneyDarren Wimhurst

Darren Wimhurst
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This story was shortlisted for the Writers Rebel Flash Fiction Competition.


An empty coke bottle is tossed on a beach in California and takes the Current south toward Mexico. There, it hops the North Equatorial, crossing the Pacific. Near the coast of Japan, it travels north on the powerful Kuroshiro Current. Deflated, it goes eastward on the North Pacific, where the vortexes of the Eastern and Western Garbage patches gently loll the bottle towards its brethren. They form a plastic island in the Pacific, four times the size of France.

The bottle spends its days bobbing and whistling the tune of the currents. The sun works it over – photodegradation – until it’s legion. Microplastics colour the water spectral. Coke’s ghost. Some of its number guard the surface, preventing sunlight from reaching the algae and plankton below. This means less food for turtles and fish. Hungry cod mistake the microplastics for plankton and though they are many, the bottle doesn’t have the faculty to scream.



Michael lives at home with his parents in a village in West Sussex. On Tuesdays, the chippie arrives and stations himself midway between the pub and the church and receives a larger congregation than both. Michael joins the queue to pick-up the family order: two cod, three chips, two mushy-peas and a pot of curry sauce.



The bottle doesn’t know how many of its number remain in the cod. But now they’re in Michael.

It no longer remembers form, is surprised to find its kin in air, water, earth and blood. No synthetic material has travelled further.



Michael’s consuming five grams of plastic a week, the equivalent of a bottle cap. By 61, he’s inhaled 20kgs of plastic (the equivalent of two large household bins).

Michael’s lung cancer forms part of a study demonstrating how the body’s immune response to microplastics leads to scarring, fibrosis and cancer. By the time the study’s replicated and governments begin to listen, it’s too late for Michael.

He will decompose before the microplastics inside him.



Darren Wimhurst is participating in The Novel Studio at City University, which offers fifteen selected students the opportunity to work exclusively on their novels for a year. He’s worked in financial services, as an NHS mental health counsellor and as an English teacher.

He writes:In researching my novel (Business as usual), I was staggered at how plastic has permeated our lives. It is to the natural world what the internet is to communication, it connects everyone and everything, which is terribly sad. Coke bottle, a journey, is a snapshot of our relationship with plastic.”