Bermuda Discovery

The year is 1491 and you are a famous world explorer. You set out to sail around the globe, but your crew is apprehensive about sailing around the Bermuda triangle. You dismiss their superstitions and demand to hold course. Sure enough, as you approach the Triangle you get caught in a horrible storm. What happens next?

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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344 thoughts on “Bermuda Discovery

  1. Beebles

    This one never seemed to make it onto the site, so I’ll give it one last try.

    The Seven Deadly Seas

    ‘Will you not speak my Lady, while we lie here; you turned away on your side, I on my back, sun on my face? We used to talk all the time. You would sing to me and I would tell you of my dreams. So let me answer in your stead, my Lady, if you know how we come to be here.
    ‘Was it greed?
    ‘Don Carlos is a greedy man. His doublet is black, embroidered with thread of gold and his blood is molten; cooled, hardened and struck when he requires. Our quick boots resounded in his marble halls, our swords chimed our passage when he gave us our commission: one set for the Valencia and Joaquin, who wore his feathered scarlet hat and string of pearls; one set the same for you and I. The court filled with cheers and the Don’s eyes were awash with avarice.
    ‘You know, my Lady, that Don Carlos does not share our ambition. He looks only for wealth. But we sailed for adventure and the adoration of the crowd, with pride to swell our sheets. To navigate the globe: we will be raised up above princes, kings, even Don Carlos; perhaps God. If we are first.
    ‘And the cooing women; they will flutter their black fans at our return as if to wave us into their arms and beds. I lust for only one of them, my Lady. You know of Isabella, for you have welcomed her aboard and shrouded our chaste tristes more often than the blossom has blessed the orange trees in her father’s orchards. That last morning on deck, when she took her leave, she pressed to my ear her lips, dark and sweet as Jerez wine. She promised all that I desired upon my return, and then she left, rolling her hips beneath her pale silks; like you, my love, when the ocean swells. I saw her cast a backward glance as she reached the quay, swinging those pearls that Joaquin had worn the day before.
    ‘I sat alone with you those following weeks, brooding in indolence and a glut of wine. Above, Alejandro roared his frustrations at the crew. It was your stirring that awoke me and brought me onto deck to see the deadly palette of the sky ahead. Alejandro at the tiller feared it and the rising sea over which it stretched.
    ‘Was it envy prompted me to spy Joaquin’s sail ahead, amongst those demon forms? Or was it just a solitary white cloud, as innocent as those that hang above me now, impotent to shield me from their master’s blistering scorn? I spat the order to continue and we stooped into the cracking storm and in those flashes I saw Joaquin pulling the silver pins from Isabella’s black hair.
    ‘Up and down the devils back we rode until the crew clawed their way to me as one man, their fear ten fathoms deep, and pleaded for their lives. In anger I grasped my pistol and fired into their mass. Young Gabriel fell upon the deck. He was so young, my love, he would suckle at his salted beef as though it were his mother’s teat.
    ‘Is fear a sin, my Lady? Only when it steals us from our ambition. I was afraid when they bound my hands, and stood me on the rocking deck and placed the noose around my neck. So intent upon my murder were they all that none saw the dark shape as it arose. I heard you cry to me when it struck and I heard you groan a lament as all were thrown and tossed into Neptune’s wakeless bed.
    ‘You are silent now, my love, as we lie still together, my back as broken as yours. Will you not sing to me now, to pass the hours, while I await the rising tide to suck me back, in hope that it will wash away my sins and all that can still move: my tears?’

  2. Craig the Editor

    It Was A Dark and Stormy Night

    “It was a dark and stormy night.” dictated Captain Jessup as he paced his quarters on board the “Prancing Sea Horse”. The air was thick with the smell of tallow candles and cloves. His first mate was bent over the desk with a quill pen in hand awaiting the next great thought.

    First Mate Sibson sighed and rolled his eyes.

    “What is wrong with that? It’s stormy. It’s night, therefor it’s dark. Thus a dark and stormy night.”

    “Very true, sir.” admitted Mr. Sibson who leaned heavily to his right as the ship pitched in the rolling seas. “But, if you don’t mind me saying, sir, the ship’s log deals more with practical matters, like longitude and latitude, our bearings, etc, etc. and less about….He realized he had lost the Captain’s attention which seemed to be that of a humming bird.

    The captain was admiring the puffy sleeves of his cream colored pirate shirt. He knew it was a pirate shirt because he had been assured by the shopkeeper that it was.

    “Oh, but for a good blunt instrument.”thought Sibson, but instead he made a polite coughing sound.

    “Yes, First Mate Gibson, you were saying….”

    “It’s Sibson, sire and if I may be so bold, the men are feeling a bit apprenhensive about our current heading and the whole mission in general. They fear that the musical show you are having them perform is merely a ruse to distract them. They also fear the mysterious oblong box held down with heavy chains in the bowels of the ship may not be “pineapples” as indicated.”

    “Nonsense! I see no reason to doubt our benefactor. The ship is employing the latest cutting edge technology of 1491! Plus I have my lucky rabbits foot and a four leaf clover. The gentleman who is funding this expedition was very specific in his request and I intend to follow through with it.”

    “As you wish, sir.but I would be remiss in my duties if I did not inform you of the findings of Seaman Bermudez’s personal fortune teller. She has told him his future holds three things.

    First he will discover an island in fourteen years that will bear his name. Secondy his name will also be associated with a large triangular section of the Carribbean where many ships will disappear mysteriously and lastly his shorts and his onions will become widely accepted.”

    “I can see why the men are upset. Those shorts can be very unflattering but on the other hand, the onions…”

    “I was referring to the large section of the Carribbean where ships will mysteriously vanish without a trace. It will also be known as the Devil’s Triangle and we are headed straight for it.”

    “Seaman Bermudez is not the only one with a personal fortune teller. Mine told me that if we leave early before the curse goes into effect we can pass through the area without incident…Well accept for this storm. It is imperative that we get to Roanoke before the settlers do.”

    “Yes, sir. We will continue our present course to Roanoke Island.”

  3. JosephFazzone

    “Strike the royals!” Captain Wormwood called. “Strike the gallant and the…”

    “You bastard”, Mate Jannings snarled, “You’ve killed us all.”

    Captain Wormwood grinned malevolently and severed his head with a neat swing from his cutlass. He adjusted his hat, and shoved the body out of his way with his boot.

    Sailmaster Colbert pointed two points to starboard, “North is this way. The hurricane is that way.”

    “Reef the mainsail!” He commanded, “Abandon course! Point at the eye!”

    Helmsman Goner shouted, “Aye!” and with fists of granite, he gripped the mahogany wheel and slowly, achingly turned the wheel.

    The carpenter’s coal black cloak was flapping in the wind, and like an angel of death, he grabbed the collar of the recently departed Jannings, and dragged him to his quarters to be bled.

    “Abandon course!” the captain shouted again. “Mr. Durnst, assist the helmsman!”

    “Aye, Captain!”, obeyed Quartermaster Durnst coming to the aid.

    “Flynn and Jas, we need to get up in the rigging and secure the mainsail!”

    Both men shouted aye. Flynn was the most agile on the crew, and Jas the strongest. Both men scrambled up the ladder, trying to secure half the mainsail in time. The wind blew as sheets and sheets of icy rain sliced through the air, stabbing the face and hands. The sea boiled, and the ship Breathless groaned and creaked in terrible agony. Men scrambled to secure the ropes.

    A loose belaying pin broke loose and flew through the air. It smacked Durnst in the head. He slumped to the ground and became lodged under the mahogany handles of the ship’s wheel.

    Captain Wormwood scrambled to the wheel, and dislodged Durnst, and lent his strength to laborious task of turning the ship towards the eye of the hurricane.

    Suddenly a silence exploded drowning out the sound. The ship and the crew seemed suspended in time. The waves resting an inch before the crash. The wind became a breeze, and the rain a gentle mist. Captain Wormwood, looked around in disbelief. The crew froze in place unsure of what to do.

    Durnst groaned, and began to sit up holding his head. Blood was trailing down his head and dripped into his left eye. He wiped quickly to clear it.

    A flash of light, and on the deck stood a small man with a green polka dotted bow tie, green and grey pinstriped pants, and a white lab coat. His eyes were obscured by the strangest metallic looking glasses which covered his thin face. He had a loose billows of hair curling and twirling with reckless abandon, and a very thin white mustache that hovered above his thin chapped lips. He spoke with an air of detachment.

    “Please forgive us”, he said with no remorse in his voice. “We have deemed in necessary to cull this expedition, as the end game plays into a better scenario with another in mind.”

    Captain Wormwood stood there slack jawed as his eyes reminded the man of cattle before the slaughter.

    “Better scenario?” Durnst asked struggling to his feet.

    “Yes, I’m delighted to report that the Siege of Granada is underway! Even as we speak, the last bastion of the great Moors is being wittled down. The expulsion of the Moor’s will set the stage for a great expedition, as a man named Christopher Columbus is destined to follow this path. I’m afraid the events were predetermined a long time ago.”

    “What are you saying”, Captain Wormwood asked.

    “This anomaly, you not the storm, was never supposed to happen”, The man replied calmly. He was holding a small silver rectangle in his hands, and was busy poking it with his finger.

    The captain drew his sword, “Off my ship!”

    “Oh yes”, the man agreed, “That is definitely our intention, but I need that man over there.” He pointed at Sailmaster Colbert.

    “It’s my vacation!” Colbert objected.

    “You know that I have no decision in this, Colbert”, the man replied with a shrug, “Besides, this charter is a doomed endeavor.”

    “We could change history!” Colbert shrieked in anger. He drew his pistol. “We still will.”

    The man didn’t bat an eyelash, “The project is terminated. Do you want to come back to HQ, or do you want to die with these men?”

    “Die?” Durnst moaned. “Don’t kill us!”

    “Again”, the man said pointing at him, “Not the person making the decision here.” To Colbert he said holding up the tablet, “The break is terminating in ten seconds. Are you coming?”

    Colbert clenched his fist and look to shoot the man, but then sighed deeply as his shoulders sagged in defeat. He nodded numbly and walked over to the man.

    “Now see here…” The captain shouted, but the man and Colbert were gone.

    Lightning struck the ship. Flynn screamed and flew from the ladder into the gleaming white teeth of the jagged waves swallowing him in their icy maw. Jas was burnt to a cinder from the bolt that also ignited the wooden mast and the canvas of the mainsail.

    “Fire on the mast!”, the Captain shouted.

    The ship began to swing about caught in a powerful vortex. Helmsman Goner was nowhere to be found as the unmanned wheel spun around and around. Men screamed as the fire spread rapidly. The ship was rocked by an enormous wave driving the captain to his knees. Through the smoke and the fire, the captain struggled to search for his crew. Suddenly another lightning strike illuminated a mountain of a wave crashing down on top of the tiny ship. Wood and metal were torn asunder as the captain and his crew were swallowed by the sea.

    Meanwhile back at headquarters, Colbert and the man stood on the small circle that marked their entry point. The man turned towards Colbert and said, “The Triumvirate have called a meeting in 30 minutes, I would suggest you hit the fresher, and revamp your wardrobe to something a bit more formal.”

    “They are that mad, eh?” Colbert asked.

    “Rewriting history is not taken lightly’, the man said, “Men died.”

    “Men that were already supposed to be dead’, Colbert snapped, “I saved them, and kept them separate as protocol dictates.”

    “You were rewriting history”, the man laughed, “Who cares if you followed one of the protocols?”

    “Well I guess there won’t be anymore vacation days”, Colbert sighed.

    “For any of us”, the man snapped, “You ruined it for us. New policy is going to restrict jumps for research only. Thanks a lot.”

    “Sorry”, Colbert sad softly.

    “Just don’t expect anything on your birthday”, the man said.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Joseph!

      This felt like the beginning chapter to a fantasy novel. You should try expanding it and see how far it goes. 🙂

      And, just so you know, I really like this part:
      “Suddenly a silence exploded drowning out the sound. The ship and the crew seemed suspended in time. The waves resting an inch before the crash. The wind became a breeze, and the rain a gentle mist. Captain Wormwood, looked around in disbelief. The crew froze in place unsure of what to do.”

      Great job! 😀

    2. Observer Tim

      This is nicely done and mind-bending, Joseph. I love the interruption of the “fury of the sea” story with the time travelers. This is wonderfully thought provoking.

      My only question is, if the crew were already protected and segregated, why wouldn’t the scientists take them away for study? Unless their database of late 15th century people and customs was already fairly full. Even in that case, they would make great lab rats…

  4. Shawngeary

    “This ain’t no natural storm Captain! I kin feel it – we all kin feel it!” Zachariah Thatcher whipped around and pointed a gnarled finger at the soggy crowd of sailors grouped on the deck in front of the quarter deck below me.

    “You said to hold course and all would be well. I say that if we don’t turn back and run from this storm we’ll be torn apart drown!” He spun back to his audience. Water spewed from his long hair and beard. “Ya want that boys? Ya wanna drown tonight for the sake of that woman?” The crew glanced nervously at each other and some started to nod their heads.

    “That ain’t no good sign Cap’n,” said John from behind me at the wheel, “they startin’ to dance to his tune. Ya gotta do somethin’ soon or we don’t gotta worry ‘bout no storm puttin’ paid to our accounts.”

    He was right. I could see the wild fear in the crews’ eyes. They were trapped between their loyalty to their captain and their primal need to stay alive. That kind of colossal inner pressure produced panic in crews and panic meant death aboard ships. I drew my sword and stepped forward to address them.

    But before I could speak the back of the bedraggled crowd began to part and all heads turned to watch as our patron, Cally Fortunado, made her way towards my position on the quarterdeck traversing the rolling deck as if it were no more than a pleasant country lane. She was dressed in a simple gown of green. She was barefoot and bare headed. Her long black hair was plastered around her delicate face in a way that accented her natural beauty even in the unsteady light of the swinging storm lanterns.
    When she was standing on the quarter deck next to me she turned and looked down at the crew. For a long moment the only sounds were those of the storm. Lightening scrawled lethal graffiti across the sky. When she spoke, her words rang out clearly above the tempest.

    “You wanted adventure, you said. You wanted glory, you said. But you wanted my gold most of all, you said. Well, you have been very well paid with my gold and now you will earn it!”

    “Shut yer mouth witch,” Zachariah screamed, “women on board a ship are bad luck, but you…your something worse!”

    “On that, little man, we agree,” said Cally.

    The ship’s right side lifted high on a wave and Cally followed the movement with her gaze. Suddenly one of the cannons broke from its moorings and screamed down the deck smacking into Mr. Thatcher with a meaty thud. It broke through the left side rail and both the cannon and Zachariah Thatcher disappeared into the black water.

    “Come to your chambers Captain, we have much to discuss,” she said as she turned and headed towards the steps leading down to my rooms.

    1. Observer Tim

      And they wonder why women sometimes get a reputation as witches. It was obviously a total coincidence that a several hundred-pound cannon happened to break free at that exact moment and fortuitously rolled through a crowd striking only one person and carrying him overboard. 🙂

      I really love the long paragraph of description; my favourite line is “Lightening (sic) scrawled lethal graffiti across the sky.”

  5. jhowe

    Bermuda watched the dark cloudbank moving in from the west and started to gather her things. She pulled her bikini top strap aside and smiled at the faint line on the skin of her toned shoulder. Just the right amount of tanning for one day, she thought as she stood. She smiled to herself as she scanned the shoreline and noticed the teenage boy avert his eyes. She decided that one more dip in the sea would feel wonderful before the storm arrived.

    She felt the boy’s eyes on her shapely derriere as she walked in the warm sand. Did she just add a little sashay to her already practiced walk of seduction? ‘Naughty, naughty Bermuda,’ she said, under her breath. She slipped her fingers under her suit bottom and pulled the fabric free of the crease of her behind. Boys liked that, she suspected.

    Her dive into the surf was fluid and immediate once she entered the water. She swam with strong strokes until she was beyond the warm shallows. She felt her body react to the cooling water and she somersaulted so she was facing the shore. The rain came quickly and thunder boomed in the distance. The surf began to roil and Bermuda watched as beachgoers bolted for their cars. The boy, however, remained at his spot.

    She swam the 200 or so yards to the sand and walked out of the water. She shook her tawny mass of curls slowly and flipped her head back, the hair falling into place. She rubbed the goosebumps on her arms and knew that other areas would be reacting similarly as she made her way to her spot on the now deserted beach.

    Bermuda stopped in front of the boy who sat with mouth agape, dark hair dripping with rainwater, his eyes fixated to the spot where her long legs met her suit bottom. She had worn her favorite yellow bikini with the black polka dots. She stood, one hip raised, wet from the cool sea and the rain, clad in the diminished fabric, freshly waxed. She knew the effect she was projecting.

    “It’s storming,” she said. “It’s not safe.”

    The boy’s mouth moved but he spoke no words, his eyes still attached to the small yellow and black triangle.

    “It’s not polite to stare,” she said.

    “S s sorry,” he said with telltale pubescent crack. “Are you Bermuda Shields?”

    She was accustomed to this question and nodded.

    “Wil you autograph this?” He pulled the dog-eared copy of the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Addition from his backpack, along with a Sharpie.

    Bermuda quickly signed page forty three before the rain ruined it and handed it back. The boy now looked her in the eye and he smiled. She posed with him for a ‘selfie’ that would provide the necessary proof-of-encounter, unceremoniously removed his hand from her back side and walked to get her stuff.

  6. Doug Langille

    # Into the Void

    Date:
    September 27, 1491 SCE (Second Current Era)

    “Sky Captain,” said Willem. He’d been a stellar First Mate. *How long have we been a-flight? Four, no, five years.*

    “Yes, Number One.” *Family. Not crew. We were family*. “Report.”

    “Sir, the aft-port propellor is running slow. And the rudder-sail is torn again. Khang has climbed out to fix the tack.”

    I nodded slowly. If all things went well, we’d only have to make it a few more days. A week, tops.

    “Good work, Willem. Our vector is paramount. We don’t have fuel enough for circles.”

    “About that, Captain.” The man dropped his gaze. This wasn’t the time for timidity.

    “Spit it out, man,” I said.

    “Shale. We only have a couple carbuoys left.”

    Liquid shale was both a blessing and a curse. Light and clean, it did the job. It just burned to quickly.

    “We used fifty-three percent more than normal avoiding that fiery thunderclap of a storm.”

    “Fifty-three?”

    “It’s an estimate, Sir. Rough math.”

    I smirked to myself. Everyone had their talents on this ship. I handpicked them myself. Willem made a fine Engineer and Cartographer. Good thing. We lost many crew this tour. Too many.

    “Recommendations?” I asked.

    “Captain, a couple. First, we should slow the other turbines to match the sluggish one. And… You’re not going to like this, Sir.”

    “And?”

    “We need to descend z-minus 450 feet. Save on fuel. Keep the balloons as cool as we dare. Just enough to stay aloft.”

    This wasn’t good. “That’ll put us below the ceiling as we hit Saragossa,” I said quietly.

    “Yes, Sir. The Bermuda Triangle.” Willem’s voice cracked as he named our foe, but he stood his ground in front of me. *Good.*

    There wasn’t a whole lot to say. All children knew the stories. About before the seas boiled away in the last Great War. Ships disappearing in mighty storms. I’d dream that the wasteland below was a vast ocean and the dunes were waves. *I still do.*

    “I share your trepidation, Willem. But those legends are more than a millennia ago. We always knew we’d have to cross this void to get to Mericka.”

    “Do you believe she’s still there?”

    “Of course I do. I have to. For all of our sakes.”

    Another dream. Water. A vast lake. Deep beneath the western continent of Mericka, abandoned so long ago. They called her Georgia. She would save us. Nurture us. Like a mother.

    I rested my hand on Willem’s shoulder. “Lower the ship, Mate. And bring everyone below deck. Those clouds look darksome. Another duststorm approaches.”

    Maybe we’d make it. Maybe not.

    *We have to try.*

    1. snuzcook

      Imaginative and ominous future world you’ve created, Doug. I am intrigued by the use of *..* comments–a tool I don’t remember seeing before. It inserted such an intimate, 3rd dimension to the narrative. Very effective style!

    2. Observer Tim

      Wow. In two years reading this forum I don’t recall ever seeing post-apocalyptic steampunk before. I love the mix of story and setting you’ve created here, Doug, and the driven captain on a quest is a classic. I also like the way the eco-catastrophe is explained but not preached. All in all a great job. 🙂 🙂

  7. cosi van tutte

    And one more just because…

    MZQ-320 poked Captain Ben Linnoqua’s arm. “Sir?”

    “Ehhh.” he whined. “Not now, MZ.”

    “But, sir. This is of great importance.”

    The captain expanded the viewscreen map. “You always say that.”

    “That may be, sir, but this time it is of great importance.”

    “Uh-huh. See? It should be right—” He poked the screen. “—-there.”

    MZQ-320 pressed a button and the viewscreen went black.

    “Hey!” He scowled at the silver plated droid. “What did you go and do that for?”

    “You are trying to find the way into the Mudian Nebula.”

    “Yeah? So?”

    “May I remind you that the Mudian Nebula is sacred space for the Innachiwagui space dwellers?”

    “No.” He turned the viewscreen back on.

    “Oh. Then, may I remind you that those who enter the Mudian Nebula are vaporized into—”

    “Not interested, MZ.” He scrolled to the previous screen.

    “Sir, I really must insist that you return to base.”

    “I swear!” He pushed back his seat and stood. “Look, I know that this doesn’t mean anything to you, ya big heap of metal, wires, and bolts, but the Mudian Nebula is the last bit of uncharted space and I intend to be the one to chart it out. You don’t like it? Fine! You can go sulk in your locker.”

    ***

    MZQ-320 entered his room. It was much bigger than a locker, but certainly smaller than the regular sleeping quarters. Not that he minded the size. It was large enough to contain the things he needed to stay oiled up and grime-free. It was also private.

    He shuffled over to his computer and typed in a long, binary code.

    “Now loading your connection.” said a woman’s soft voice. “Please wait.”

    MZQ-320 sat down and watched the Loading cube spin around the screen. If he were human, his heart would have been racing from irritation and stress. He probably would have been sweating.

    But MZQ-320 was not human. He sat with perfect composure and waited.

    The screen went black. “Please identify yourself.”

    “I am MZQ-320, advisor droid. Maker: Isaac Foundation Industries. Model number: MZQ-320-KLP-444-OIO-921-A2. I serve under Captain Ben Linnoqua on the starship SRS Initiative.”

    “Identity verified. State your business.”

    “I need to speak to The Gracious Lady.”

    “Please state your business with The Gracious Lady.”

    “It is private.”

    There was a five-minute pause. “Very well. I am transferring you now. Please wait.”

    As he waited, MZQ-320 did a mental run-through of the different taboos built into every advisor droid. He couldn’t think of any that applied to his current actions. Certainly none of the Three Essential Taboos.

    The screen dimmed from black to gray to beige. A woman appeared on the screen. Her long, violet hair obscured the sides of her face and the thick layers of white and yellow make-up disguised what was visible. She could have been anyone. “MZQ. It is a pleasure to see you again.” Her rich voice came out in a steady, deliberate pattern as if she were trying to conceal an accent. “Have you succeeded in your mission?”

    “Captain Linnoqua is a most difficult human.”

    “You were unable to persuade him?”

    “It was not from want of trying. I explained the danger of continuing, but he would not listen. I attempted further explanations and generalized coaxings, but he became belligerent and verbally abusive. I left the cockpit before he could shut me down.”

    Her face was a silent blank, blurred in white and yellow face paint and violet shadows. “When my family took control of this sector, they made a solemn promise to the Innachiwagui space dwellers that we would not enter any area of sky that they deemed sacred. If your captain continues on his path, he will bring war to our skies. ”

    “What would you have me do?”

    “Take control of the Initiative and bring him home alive. My people will know what to do with him as soon as he returns.”

    MZQ-320’s internal taboo detector activated. His joints froze up on him while an insistent buzz echoed inside his metal head. “Will you or your people harm him?”

    She hesitated.

    The buzzing increased.

    “Only if he harms us.” She tilted her head. “Can you do it?”

    His voice box froze. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t even manage a squeak. He shook his head.

    She frowned. The white make-up between her eyebrows crumbled and tumbled down her face. “You refuse?”

    He flapped his stiff arms in a helpless gesture.

    “So be it.” The screen went black as she ended the transmission.

    I can’t let her harm him. MZQ-320 thought. Yet, if he continues his quest, others will be hurt. I cannot allow that either.

    He stood and his voice box thawed. “I must convince him to give up and go somewhere safe.” His joints loosened up as he approached the door. “I hope he’ll listen to me this time. But I’m sure he won’t.”

    1. snuzcook

      This has lots of delicious characters/concepts to explore. And the visuals are delightful. Wonderful the way you play on the ultimate human conflict of loyalties using the non-human adroid. The Gracious Lady and all she seems to represent is intriguing. Well done!

    2. Observer Tim

      This is wonderful Cosi; I’m a sucker for a good space yarn. I love the way you managed the dialogues between MZQ-320 and the others, plus the insight into its thought processes. This reads very much like one of Asimov’s robot stories, but with your own unique twist. Great job! 🙂 🙂

    3. jhowe

      Nicely done. Loved the droid when it turned off the captain’s monitor and when he flapped his stiff arms. I also liked how the Gracious Lady’s makeup crumbled when she got mad.

    4. regisundertow

      I liked this, mostly because the “forbidden place” theme went to the background and the characters came into focus in a wonderful way. Good stuff, Cosi.

  8. Observer Tim

    IN THE SAND

    I spot Dr. Peter Kensington as soon as I crest the final ridge. He’s standing beside his rover, coated in the reddish dust that gets into everything. As I park my rover I call him on the comm.

    “Okay, Peter, what’s so important?”

    “Not on the general comm, Sela. Switch to channel fourteen.”

    Channel fourteen has a range of about a hundred meters, nowhere near long enough to make it back to the dome. It’s only used when too much chatter would cause distraction – or when something has to be kept secret. I switch over.

    “Okay, Peter, why the cloak-and-dagger?”

    “You wouldn’t believe me, not without the evidence. Come on.”

    He leads me into a cleft in the rock with a pronounced downslope. After a couple of turns it opens into an underground chamber where he has a pair of tables set up. One of the tables is his writing desk, but the other one grabs my attention.

    There are items on it that have absolutely no right to be here, two hundred million kilometers from home. I see a cracked bottle, a steel-and-glass lantern, a dessicated cloth bag, …and a book.

    “What the fuck, Peter?”

    “I got an anomalous reading from the scanner and stopped to check it out. I brought these up from the first chamber.”

    “Does the book give any evidence of why this stuff is here?”

    “We’ll have to get it back to the dome so I can do some radiocarbon…”

    “Did you try reading it, Peter?”

    “Reading? Why would I…” A look of dawning comprehension crosses his face. Man, scientists can be really dumb sometimes.

    I open the cover of the book; the paper looks pretty fragile, but still flexes somewhat. It’s cumbersome trying to turn the pages with my gloves, but there’s no way I’m exposing my hands to the frigid near-vacuum that passes for an atmosphere here.

    “It seems to be a journal. What language is this, Sela?”

    “Middle English. And the date puts it in 1491. I can’t really read it, but I’ll try to get the sense of the text. We can have it properly translated later.”

    “What does it say?”

    “The writer is worried, something about the men being upset. They don’t think a westward passage to China exists and are frustrated after a month becalmed in the sea of weeds.”

    “Sea of weeds?”

    “The Sargasso, I’d guess. That would put them in the western Atlantic. They’d just got out and saw signs of a major storm blowing in. And that’s the last entry. So once again, Peter, what the fuck?”

    “Maybe you’d better come see the rest.”

    “The rest?”

    He silently leads me down another passage; it’s steep, but the rough floor forms a natural staircase. We finally emerge into a dark space.

    We both shine our torches ahead; the light isn’t very good, but the shape before us is obvious. It’s an old wooden sailing ship, half-buried in sand and naturally mummified in the frigid Martian air.

    1. snuzcook

      Nicely revealed, O.Tim. Such a classic concept well told that it was incredibly satisfying while not obvious. (I love the name Peter Kensington — but it sounds so incredibly familiar…Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens??)

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Snuz. I did not intentionally name the character from that, but it was very likely rolling around in the back of my head when I was casting about for a first name. I chose the last name a while ago based on the “Kensington Effect” (an invention for another story), which involves warping of time and space. I blame my subconscious.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          A chilling tale you’ve presented here and caued so many questions to roll around in the old grey cells. A second shot at it will be very much appreciated if you have the time.

    2. jhowe

      Wonderful story OT. It has the perfect blend of dialog and narrative, both very well done. I read faster toward the end because I really wanted to know what was in the cave. Am I right in assuming you already have tickets to ‘The Martian’ that opens on Friday? At least it opens in the US on Friday.

    3. Kelsey Elf

      I loved everything about this story. “Did you try reading it?” That cracked me up. As others have commented, I loved the blend of dialogue and narrative. -And even though we could tell that they were in space from the clues dropped throughout the story, the last sentence was beautifully executed. I had such a feeling of satisfaction reading the last two words.

  9. Critique

    “Make way for yer Cap’n.” Cuthbert, the Quartermaster’s, filthy wine coloured houppelande billowed behind him in the brisk breeze, emitting such a stench the motley crew shrank back. Cuthbert couldn’t breathe through his mangled nose – rearranged too many times in drunken brawls – and had lost all sense of smell.

    The Captain climbed the steps, stood on the landing next to his cabin, and munched on an apple.

    “By the full moon tonight Devils Triangle will be at our back. I want all hands on deck.” He ordered.

    Starving eyes watched the fruit disappear until the import of the news sank in and panic twisted their gaunt faces.

    “What about those sea maids who lured them poor sailors to their watery graves?”

    “I heerd a whole island got swallered up by the Devil’s Triangle.”

    “You be sendin’ us to our maker then.” A burly seaman spoke above the mutterings and heads bobbed anxiously in agreement.

    “Quit yer squallin’.” Cuthbert barked. “The Cap’n has spoke.” He marched up and down in front of the terrorized men swishing his noxious attire dramatically.

    Flinging the core into the growing swell of waves, the captain swiped his mouth with the sleeve of his coat, eyed the thunderheads looming on the horizon and said, “Any man found hidin’ on my ship tonight will walk the plank.”

    The sun disappeared, the wind grew cold casting a pall over the ship, and the scrawny sailors shivered in their rags.

    Climbing the steps towards the Captain a sharp gust of wind blew Cuthbert’s skirts skyward. He tried unsuccessfully to capture them but not before the crew got an eyeful of begrimed hairy nakedness.

    Nervous guffaws and snickers broke out.

    “To yer stations ye bastards.” The muffled command came from the half-naked Cuthbert – skirts swathing his head.

    All mirth evaporated into stark terror at the rapidly blackening sky and they scrambled to their posts.

    “Reef the sails.” Cried the alarmed boatswain.

    Reefing the sails came far too late as all hell broke loose.

    Torrential rains hammered the deck and mountainous waves convulsed the ship.

    Sailors scrabbled on all fours up the drunken steep of the slippery deck and flailed like rag dolls against the rails, their screams swallowed by the violent thunder gods who threw frenzied bolts of lightning as the men fell into the frothing deep.

    It was every man for himself. Rescuing the drowning was certain death.

    There was no jubilation – no one noticed – when a swirl of wine colour accompanied by shrill cries disappeared over the side.

    The storm raged throughout the night.

    A sea of glass welcomed the early morning sun.

    Bloated bodies, shredded wine cloth, and floating debris washed ashore on a small island nudging rotted wood and skeletal remains from former times – disintegrating clues to passing ships.

    The Devil’s Triangle lay ahead.

    1. snuzcook

      Thank you for adding to my vocabulary! Had not run into houppelande before.
      You engaged all the senses in this one, Critique, added movement and terror, and then wound down to a glassy sea. Nicely done!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        This is as scary a sea story I’ve read in a long time and I’ve read quite a few. I love the language of it and the color you paint. There is so much power the ocean presents, it is unspeakable to think of the rage of a terrible storm. There’s a lot of books that don’t describe it as well as you do, great work here.

  10. Kelsey Elf

    Rose’s eyelashes stuck to her skin and each other. When she wiped them her eyes stung from the saltwater. Another wave crashed over the ship’s bow. Rose and her crew and the São António had been through storms before. Two years ago, as they rounded the southern tip of Africa, they met a storm so enraged that it carried off a third of Rose’s crew, and her health. Yet even as she suffered a fever as possessing as that storm, Rose urged her crew on. As the only woman captain on the sea, she would prove herself. The São António had returned to Portugal from its trip in January 1489, just weeks after Bartolomew Dias claimed discovery of the same route around Africa. The defeat had stung Rose to her core.

    Rose knew, within her soul, that she was destined for greatness. The ships she had inherited after the death of her merchant husband would carry her there. After fame favored Dias, Rose’s certainty doubled. She reasoned that her mind was quicker than any man’s; her understanding of the trade winds thorough. She corresponded extensively with the German mariner and geographer Martin Behaim. He was creating a spherical map of the world. “A round globe,” he wrote, “like a perfect apple.” Rose knew her destiny was to circumnavigate the earth. This time, she would sail home to acclaim. She would create the globe with Behaim, and be known as the woman who charted the world.

    The sounds of the sea and the wind and the rain engulfed Rose, throbbing as she made her way to the bilge pumps. They needed to bail water out of the hold faster than the ocean could pour it in. Gil was manning the tree trunk that suctioned water, sending it back to the sea. He was knee deep in the frosty, frothy water. Crisp sea air pierced Rose’s nose, biting all the way up to her eyes. “Bad,” she thought. The pumps normally smelled rotten. The pumps should smell rotten. The ship naturally took on water slowly; it seeped through the wood, becoming a cloying, foul smelling soup. Gil had once sworn that the smell had bled through to his bones, and standing next to him that day, Rose couldn’t disagree. Now, as Rose breathed the virginal air she reasoned that there could be a breach in the hull.

    The frigid water made Rose’s feet heavy and her mind clear. She ushered men to heave water and cargo overboard. “Pitch the provisions!” Rose shouted. After five weeks of travel they had come across an island. They had departed that morning and could return to restock after surviving the squall. On the island the natives had gestured that the waters ahead were dangerous. Rose had not been swayed. Now she did not let her mind fret over past decisions. She focused on feeding a large sac of pineapples to the sea. “Maybe the ocean’s stomach is just grumbling…” she mused.

    “Craaack!” Rose felt the sound. The waves had pushed and pulled relentlessly, and the São António, hitting back, had torn apart. One of the masts bowed towards the water, becoming a disciple of the sea. The congregation of kegs and pineapples in the water accepted the mast into their flock by bobbing happily.

    “Abandon ship!” shouted a crewman. “No!” screamed Rose. She reasoned that if they continued to bail water they could remain afloat. As the word left her lips the ship leaned nonchalantly, catapulting Rose and the crew overboard.

    To Gil, the water was so cold it felt hot. Gil could not swim. He kicked and grabbed at a pineapple. His eyes fell on Rose. “Arrogance.” he thought as he dragged the fruit underwater.

    Rose’s body stung. Her eyelashes stuck to her skin and each other. She saw a large keg bobbing high on a wave. “I can reach it,” Rose reasoned.

    Water did not think as it pounded around her. It did not know of Rose’s destiny for greatness. The waves gave it no thought as they tipped the keg forward to crack open her head. The ocean gave Rose no reason as it pulled her into its depths.

      1. Kelsey Elf

        Thank you, Reatha! I posted mine and then went through and read all the previous entries. Your story jumped out at me immediately because of the historical angle. I worked really hard to include historically accurate elements and was super impressed with your ability to do so. Thank you so much for your comment!

      1. Kelsey Elf

        Wow, Observer Tim. Your stories have blown me away, so coming from you that is quite a compliment. I haven’t written a story since 9th grade (which was quite a while ago) and my heart was pounding as I posted it. Thank you for the positive feedback – I’m excited to try my hand at another one now!

    1. regisundertow

      I liked this. The language is descriptive with a poetic flavor and the theme of fighting against all odds but getting struck down by an uncaring and indifferent force is very much inline with ancient tragedy and Lovecraft alike. Good stuff.

      1. Kelsey Elf

        Thank you so much, Regisundertow! I think your story about Bindi was the poetic one! Yes, I think the themes of ancient tragedy were speaking to me when I wrote this, although I don’t think I realized it until you pointed it out. Lol.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          I loved it, Kelsey Elf. So the sea is rentless and doesn’t choice between good and evil, intelligence and lack of. Well, you story shows perhaps that is not true. The ocean, storms and waves need their own respect and those who do not, fall to their watery grave. Those who are innocent however and are at the mercy of the sea, sometimes are shown that the sea, discriminates in their favor. I would call that the theme you have woven here. I also am a great fan of weaving historical in stories. It helps bring them alive as you show here.

          1. Kelsey Elf

            Thank you for giving my story so much thought, Kerry. Your thoughts about mercy being shown to the innocent are very insightful. The original story was 1400 words and included a slave girl who was able to get safely to shore. That section was sacrificed to decrease the word count. Your comment convinced me that I should definitely work to include that portion of the story in any future re-writes. Thank you!

  11. qwert

    The world of the sea was a complex world to live in but after years of discoveries and fame Captain Roswelt liked to think that he had understood it all.

    Most times the tug-of-war of the waves could tell everything. The way they pulled at each other as the wind blew by their side — sometimes as the silent judge while other times as the biased assistant. Sometimes the sea would host the race between the best of the waves. While yet other times the sea would throw a huge bacchanalia passing drinks all around. Sometimes though, the sea became a silent observer letting the waves roam freely around its terrain. Whatever the case, the sea was never still. Never.

    But on that gloomy afternoon of October 16th 1491, the captain believed that the silent sea was just the means of conveying to him that it had become a bit dreary by all his success. For Captain Roswelt had sailed past the known extents of the sea and was intent on discovering more. But mostly, this comprehension of the sea’s stillness was because his spirits had risen much higher and there was feeling deep inside of him that he was so close to catch that one thing that would turn his career a full 360 degrees. Well, not a complete 360 degrees because that was always bad luck. Maybe more of a 359 degrees which would certainly serve his purpose just as well.

    So when his faithful second-hand came up to him that day with a strong feeling that their voyage— into this unknown triangle of ocean that many called the “Triangle of Bermuda”— was not going to end well, the captain whisked up every bit of worry from the sailor’s face with an speech which was very un-Captain Roswelt- like.

    “Do you hear me?”

    A frantic nod of head.

    Captain Roswelt picked up a pebble from the floor of the ship and let it fly into the vast sea. The ripple in the sea as the pebble broke through the still water elicited numerous waves which continued flowing; its past silence all but forgotten.

    Then, Captain Roswelt continued, “Well, I hope you do hear because we are not turning around. We did not come all this way to be overruled by a measly instinct, alright? What else must we do with our lives other than discover more and take pride in all we do? We will move on even if it is death that leads us that way.”

    “Aye Captain. “ The breeze ruffled the sailor’s loose and torn clothes smeared with a good layer of hard work.
    As accepting as well, the waves started flowing faster, crashing against each other. Their tug of war had started. A game the Captain was well acquainted with.

    “Look o’er there.” The captain said pointing towards the ocean. “We have no cause for worry. A storm is almost always preceded by calm.”

    “Sorry, Captain?” The sailor brushed his unkempt hair. He hated when the captain got technical.

    “Calm before the storm. Have you heard of the phrase?”

    Fervently hoping that his answer would please the captain, the sailor replied, “Not exactly.”

    “You’re probably right. It’s the first time I am hearing it as well.”

    An almost silent breath was let out by the sailor but other than that only the waves could be heard. The sound of crashing waves enveloped them but it only uncomforted the sailor. For the captain, it was just a quick pause to recollect his thoughts.

    “But do you believe it’s true?” The captain asked after a few seconds.

    “What’s true, Captain?” The sailor asked with a slight shiver.

    “The fact that there’s calm before the storm?”

    “Umm. Wel—“

    “Didn’t believe you would anyway. “ The sailor allowed a small smile to ease from his lips. Not because he was amused but because he had been saved from further embarrassment.

    “Oh,” the captain continued, “Why am I asking you? You aren’t married are you?”

    “No captain.”

    “You’ll understand soon enough. “

    The sailor cleared his throat, solemnly looked at his captain, and said, “As you say.”

    “Well, if it is true, we needn’t be worried of a storm. For the waves are gaining their initial vibe and the crew is beyond frantic, I believe.”

    This registered in the sailor’s mind quick enough and he replied—with surety this time that his answer was correct, “Of course captain.”

    Again, silence prevailed. But this time it uncomforted both.

    “Off you go.”

    And the sailor was happy to accept, “Aye, Aye, Captain!”

    //With hopes of being completed with a “Part II” 🙂

    1. Observer Tim

      I find this story intriguing with its strange mix of sea and land terminology along with the contrast of the captain and his second-hand (i.e. First Mate). I can hear this conversation happening in my head between one who is knowledgeable and one who is not. A second part would certainly help to resolve things.

  12. regisundertow

    Disclaimer: This story has very little to do with the Triangle, other than a very tentative thematic link with places where things go missing. Hope you enjoy regardless.

    WHERE COLOURS GO TO DIE

    Bindi entered the room and we immediately noticed something was missing. Her eyes were cast down, one arm around herself, and she didn’t seem to be paying attention to any of the other children as she trudged to her bed, her mouth contorting in pain with each step. The questions rained hard. What took so long? What happened? Are you alright? In our excitement, it took us a few moments to realize she wasn’t ignoring us, but had fallen asleep, her knees to her chin and her back to us.

    We only called her Bindi, her real name, amongst ourselves. The nuns called her Elizabeth “in honour of our princess and future queen” and because “Bindi is such a nasty sound, offensive to the ear and unfitting for a good Christian”. There were other reasons too. Bindi means “thorn” in our speak. I’m suspecting at least half of the nuns found it appropriate. For all her burning intellect, she was truly stupid when it came to understanding the rules of the world. She constantly challenged the knowledge the nuns required us to parrot. But what causes gravity? Who decided one plus one equals two? Surely, Jonah would have been killed inside the fish. And, the one question that always guaranteed punishment, if Adam and Eve were white, where did we come from? She never learned to stop asking questions, even as the welts on her back multiplied.

    As the lights went out and each of us fell asleep on our cots, the silence screamed in my ears. I tried to nudge her awake and commence our nightly ritual; hushed whispers discussing the gossip of the day until footsteps from outside our door forced us to pretend to sleep (usually leading to us actually falling asleep). Did he hurt you bad? I asked, goading her stock defiance to bring a smile to my face. I thought, please say something bravely daft like, it tickled, or, I’ve had worse. I continued staring at the outline of her silent back until my eyelids grew heavier than my heart.

    Bindi means thorn, but say it twice and the meaning changes. And so a “thorn” becomes a “butterfly”. She did change over the next few days, but not as a butterfly is meant to. Her participation in class evaporated. The playground leader melted into the background, replaced by a meek mimosa. Her voice, once having the effect of cavalry trumpets, barely raised over a whisper anymore.

    I was the good son. The quite one. The one whose skin was like the desert sand and whose eyes had a hint of the sky above it, very unlike…anyone else there. I was the one who had the colour bred out of him. The only thing on me that, like a traitor, pointed to my bastard heritage was my bullish nose, with caves of nostrils flaring sideways with vulgar haughtiness, despite my private efforts to press them tighter together. The children used to call me Ghost. I didn’t mind what was meant as an insult. Ghosts can’t be harmed, unlike butterflies. Ghosts can get to places normal people can’t. Who better than Ghost to sneak where no one was allowed?

    We truly believed a part of Bindi was left behind when she exited the shed with the dusty windows Father Craven had taken her in. Part of the thorn broke off, we’d tell each other. We knew it was still lying on the wooden floor behind locked doors, waiting for someone to retrieve it. For all the cruelty of children, we cared for each other the way men at sea look after each other’s well-being. Still, for all the bravado of children, no one wanted to risk losing a part of themselves in that shed. After Bindi came back a husk, the shed became the place where colours went to die. It had always been forbidden ground for the children, Father Craven saw to it with threats of beatings and promises of hellfire. In our imagination, it now became Charon’s boat. Crossing its threshold demanded an obol none was willing to pay. Ghost has nothing to lose, the chorus insisted. He has no soul, it drained away with his colour. I wanted to turn my back and disappear, ignore everyone and let the words fade into noise. I also wanted my friend back.

    I waited until lights out, then for the nightly inspection. I announced my plan to Bindi and slipped out of my covers. I half-expected her to berate me or scold me for attempting the impossible. Part of me even hoped she’d express admiration at my derring-do. Her eyes followed me in silence, but her lips remained still. I was aware of several other eyes trained on me in the darkness. I could hear bodies shifting and heartbeats quickening, as I nudged the door open and tip-toed to the yard, feeling soulless and untouchable.

    Knowing the rules of the world means knowing how and when to bend them.

    I was sure the children’s excited voices would have woken up the nuns and Father Craven, but luck was smiling upon us on that night. I presented the diaphanous butterfly wings to Bindi with the reverence awarded to saintly pinkie bones, declaring her whole again. I saw her familiar smile creep back onto her lips, as she squeezed my arm.

    Years later, a few days after Bindi’s suicide, I received a letter at the newspaper where I worked. I opened it carefully and a simple note fell out. People must know, it read simply. It was signed, Elizabeth.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a haunting and evocative take on what has become a burning social issue. It echoes through a pattern of behaviour that’s been going on for thousands of years with people discovered in foreign lands (i.e. conquered with a more subtle type of warfare). It may only be metaphorically on prompt, but that metaphor is a powerful one. 🙂

      1. regisundertow

        Thanks Tim. There’s currently another wave of taking Aboriginal children away from their parents for reasons that range from flimsy to not-even-trying-to-pretend-this-is-legal. It’s 2015, you’d think that, as a race, we’d have moved beyond Apartheid-era tactics and policies.

        1. Observer Tim

          I don’t think it ever really stopped; the only thing that’s changed is the excuses. Also, it doesn’t just apply to those of different cultures.

          I my homeland (Alberta, Canada), we’ve treated both aboriginal people and mentally handicapped people like animals. The rumbles are that chronic pain sufferers are next on the horizon, but their only intended fate is death.

          1. Kerry Charlton

            This is such a sad, moving story of unsurmountable cruelty, such a stong statement on life, it needs to brought forth again and again until it doesn’t exist anymore. I agree with Tim, it may never cease till lives rings no more but the battle but continue to eiminate it. You brought it out in such a powerful way.

  13. Dragonfish

    It’s a little long, but I think it’s worth the read.
    title=”The Rise of Blackbeard”
    “Cap’n Fischer!”
    I inclined my head a little in the stout man’s direction, and looking down, I fixed him with the cold, hard gaze I had come to be known for. Without a spoken word, I coaxed him to go on.
    “The men, they’re all nervous,” he said, and his voice faltered a little as he continued, “They say we’re headed for treachery. Bones has seen it in his dreams, sir. He calls it the Triangle of the ‘No More’.”
    “Tommyrot! Hold course.”
    “Aye aye, Cap’n,” but the pain in his face and the cracking of his voice said much more.
    I turned to face him. “Blackbeard,” said I, “I didn’t take you to be a man of superstition. That’s why you’re my first mate. I need you to maintain composure, and show those men that there’s nothing to fear but you. Understand?”
    “Aye Cap’n!” he cried, and this time with the force of resolve as he hurried off to relay the sense of courage that I had instilled in him.
    I stood fast at the front of the ship, staring intently into the wild blue yonder, the great unknown, staring into my destiny. The distant sound of my faithful first mate barking a fresh set of commands dwindled away, as my focus narrowed, almost as if by staring into the west, I might somehow arrive in the east sooner. I remained rooted to the deck, considering the fame and fortune that would be my reward.
    Blackbeard coaxed everything he could from my sails, speeding us towards the horizon with a haste that quieted the crew’s revolt, forcing them into resignation. What fate awaited the crew of the Roundabout had become an inevitability, and with that final thought, I retired to my cabin where the soft bed, the subtle rocking of the ship and the flickering candlelight all together conspired to bring about the lethargy of half-sleep.
    In such a state, my imagination ran wild. I saw a dragon come flying up from beneath the waves. I saw an Italian man sailing under a Spanish flag claim the accomplishments that were destined to be mine. I saw my trusted first mate, Blackbeard, stab me in the back. I saw a curiously anguished and maniacal laughter emanate from the one called Bones. Then I saw again the dragon–the most ferocious beast I had ever seen. Its deep blue scales reflected the soft moonlight in such a way as to give the appearance of ice. The eyes were as two black holes on either side of its head. With wings spread, the majesty of the great behemoth was breathtaking.
    Captivated, I watched as it circled higher and higher, even above the clouds, but still, the dragon’s keen eye never left the miniscule ship below. I found that I desired the pathetic vehicle of mere humans to be destroyed, and I thirsted to be the one. Burn it down! Break it to splinters! Drag it to the depths! These were not my thoughts, and yet I thought them. And then, I dove. Wings tucked back, tail rigid, I dove with an exhilirating sense of anticipation. The ship grew larger, and larger as I hastened my approach. Larger it grew, and I could count the men on deck. Larger still, and I could identify them. Blackbeard was there, as was Bones, and the young kid we had picked up in Alentejo. Was that me at the helm? What?!
    Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom!
    “Fisher! Draco Fischer, you mad man! Come forth to see what insanity you’ve brought upon us!”
    Furious that any man aboard my ship might have the fortitude to awaken me with such insults, I came crashing through the cabin door. Bones! ‘Twas the morbid bastard whose laughter had infected my dreams! And now, with the gall of an unwary fool, he stared me in the eyes, as if he might stare me down. I knocked him around about the ears, spewing forth coarse vulgarities, until Bones lost his footing, and fell to the deck. Instead of cowering under the ferocity of my wrath, however, the belligerent ass laughed at me.
    I kicked at him, and I stomped him, but through the kickings and the stompings and his own maniacal laughings, he choked out the words, “You are the dragon! Aheh heh hyah! The ship, ahaha, is yours! The ship yours! And the dragon, you! Heeheeeheeee! You bloody fool! You’ll destroy us all! Heh heh hahahaa!”
    This went on until Bones had been stomped into unconsciousness. With my harrasser out of the way, I hustled out onto deck. The sun was setting behind the strangest shaped clouds I had ever laid eyes upon, but they were only clouds, and yet the menacing sight of them had my crew in a fuss. One man stepped forward to say, “Cap’n we must correct course, I do not wish to die today,” while a second nodded his agreement.
    With lightning speed, I drew the first of my pistols, shot the first man in the chest, and threw it butt first into the face of the second. With the second pistol already in hand, I asked “Anyone else not wish to die today?!” I fixed Blackbeard with a steely gaze, and instantly he barked orders to hold fast to our present course. We would sail on into the storm whether these superstitious ninnies liked it or not. My destiny would not be delayed to assuage the churlish, irrational fears of grown men.
    I returned to my cabin, giving the unconscious Bones another kick for good luck along my way. I laid back down in the bed and was back asleep instantly. This time, my sleep was dreamless, and the next thing I knew, I was being thrown from the bed as the ship lurched with such violence as I had never felt before. I stumbled to my feet, cursing out loud.
    As I came bursting through the door for the second time that night, I first noticed that the still comatose Bones had toppled halfway down the stairway that led to the main deck. I leapt over him and the last half of the stairs, landing with a thunderous fury, fully prepared to do to Blackbeard as I had to Bones, but no sooner had I landed, and the whole ship began to convulse as if it were a building caught in the midst of an earthquake. The sights which accompanied this bizarre phenomenon far outweighed the most fearsome descriptions ever concocted by the human imagination. My bewilderment was complete.
    The night sky itself gave way to a series of flashing blue, pink and yellow lights akin to the flash of cannons, but much more pronounced. The lights were all around us and were felt within causing each of the crew and myself to convulse along with the Roundabout. Then the ship seemed to pick up speed, exponentially moving faster and faster. The lights began to blur until they appeared as a tunnel through which we raced at an ungodly pace. Glued to the deck by a tremendous gravity, and unable to move, I found myself praying for the convulsions to return. While in the throes of this atrocity, it seemed to be neverending, as if eternity had wrapped us in her cruel embrace, but then it was finished, and our ship was cast out onto a glass black sea; the sky above us was moonless and cloudless, but abounding with stars.
    After such an event, no one on board knew what to do, how to react. Blackbeard looked to me for direction, and I knew not what to tell him. For several minutes, the lot of us looked around at each other, as if waiting for some idea on how to proceed until finally, I broke the silence.
    “Blackbeard, pass out the grog. Tonight we celebrate survival! On the morrow, we make decisions”
    “Aye, aye, Cap’n!”
    The grog was passed around. Instruments were brought forth. Dice were rolled, and all manner of merriment was had.
    As the sun rose in the east, the crew, to a man, slumbered scattered about the deck. I stood at the bow facing forward, and there it was: land! We had found the East! I started to cry out, “Land, ho!” but stopped myself. In a rare moment of generosity, I decided to allow the crew to rest after their long night of merriment. I stood there looking at that small distant spot of land, smiling, never happier to be alive.
    That was when the sharp cold steel came in between the two bottommost ribs at the back right of my ribcage. The intense pain was so sudden, I failed even to cry out. A mere gasp escaped my lips as a damp warmth spread out from the incision, and the surly voice of Blackbeard whispered in my ear, “Ahh, here is the morrow, and I have a decision for you my dear Captain. You were warned to correct course and you did not. No amount of grog can make us forget the traumas that we have endured.”
    The blade slid back out the way it had come, and then it was done. I perceived no more.

    1. regisundertow

      Huh, self-fulfilling prophecy. This is the fate Ahab should have suffered if his crew had any sense (or Starbuck was more like Blackbeard). I like how this story was constantly on the verge of spilling into supernatural territory, but resolved in a simple and earthly manner.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a very atmospheric tale, Dragonfish; you did a wonderful job portraying the captain’s temperament, the visual effect of going through the wormhole and the fear and confusion felt by the men. All in all very nice. 🙂

      There were a few words (e.g. “larger”) that were repeated quite a bit; a little variance would help hold the reader better.

  14. Kerry Charlton

    THE WRECK OF THE SEA VENTURE

    Entry flight log, September 13th 1947. Captain John Herd, U. S Air Force. reporting to the Miami Hurricane Center.

    ‘Upon arriving center of hurricane, discovered ancient ship sailing through eye of storm. Taking a closer look, the ship appeared as authentic early 17th century sailing vessel. Damage near total destruction from hurricane. All points at sea, be aware of hurricane located at 31/o, 20’ North, 64/o, 40’ West. Ship Advisory 2107. Wind velocity, 112 knots. Center of storm located 23 miles east of’ Bermuda.

    On deck aboard the Sea Venture, September 13th, 1609, Sir George Somers, tried to quell his own fear from the mechanical bird that stalked his ship. Great fear also transferred to the 150 sailors and settlers destined for Jamestown. Somers’ other eight ships of his fleet, appeared to be lost from the storm and his own crew were desperately trying to re rig the ship from the storm’s damage.

    Winds and rain began to rise again as the vessel staggered westward looking for a landfall. Settlers as well as his seamen, were scattered across the ship, hiding from the metal bird that persisted to dog them.
    Captain Charles Eaglesworth attempted to quell his own fear,
    “Come on lads, the bird seems to bring no harm, prepare to enter the storm again.”
    Winds rose above gale force, the mighty ship took on more water from the sea and one brave sailor, hung on dearly at the crow’s nest, his eyes searching for land, any land..

    The Sea Venture’s yawl increased greatly,

    “Do you see anything of hope?”, Charles commanded of the lookout seventy feet above deck.

    “Nothing yet sir.” rang back to the deck barely audible from the storm’s fury. The bird had vanished into the storm .

    ‘What on heaven’s earth was it?’, Sir George thought. ’If we don’t find Jamestown soon, my ship will sink and all will be lost.

    From the crows nest, the sailors voice rang through the storm.

    “Large reef ahead sir, looks like land beyond.”

    “Prepare to breach,” the captain ordered, knowing full well this was their only choice to survive the storm.

    The crash, grinding sound of the ship’s keel hitting the ragged rock of the reef, permeated the ship as it shuttered into a dying gasp.

    . ’We are wedged tight enough to survive this,’ the captain thought.’ We’ll ride the storm out till it subsides and unload the ship with the long boats.’

    The ship was destroyed but the captain was already designing another to be built from the wreckage of the Sea Venture. All 150 crew and settlers had been rescued from the ship as well as one dog and all the supplies for Jamestown. Months later a new ship built from the wreckage and loaded with supplies, headed west and landed at Jamestown. Sixty settlers remained from the original five hundred who landed.

    When captain John Herd returned to Homestead Air Force Base, he made a decision,

    “Did any of you men in the cabin see anything sailing in the eye of the storm?“

    “We did captain, but we won’t swear to it. It could have been an illusion to all of us. How else would you explain it?“

    The report still stands shrouded in mystery. Captain Herd went to his grave insisting it was real.

    1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      Yo, Kerry. First of all, your comment about being old balls in OTs first post made me start to write a story called Kerry and the Old Sea Dogs vs The Lost Ship, but it turned into two completely different stories.

      Second, I love the idea of the time tear caused by a hurricane (I guess) and mixing present with past. My only issue is that the word “mechanical” just barely made it to the language in the early sixteen hundreds, and probably not likely to be used by anyone sailing on a boat during that time.

      However, it doesn’t really matter because this story is fucking awesome. Well done! 😀

    2. regisundertow

      There was this series of books called “Unexplained Phenomena” that I used to devour as a kid. I very vividly remember the true story of a WWII Corsair squad flying into a storm over the Bermuda Triangle and disappearing after reporting strange lights. Always wondered what the “other side” must have seen, whether they’d be frightened or intrigued or dismissive of the fighter planes. I like your history report style that you’ve used in other stories, I think it fits great here. The academic delivery makes the otherworldly tale more chilling.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks regisundertow. I grew up in Miami and thought about the Triangle a lot. It made for somebimaginry tales I woul write in my head. I’m glad you enoyed ths. There is a Twilight Zone story that inspired this.

    3. Observer Tim

      Very nice, Kerry; I think Regis got to most of my comments about the setting and tone. The Navy report (Search & Rescue?) makes a perfect framing device for the inner story, and the inner story beautifully incoroporates it. Great job! 🙂 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Critique. I left so many things unsaid becaueof the word count, It hought I had destroyed what I was tying to say. 500 is an unforgiving teacher though.

  15. cosi van tutte

    Now for something a lot different…

    I am Mariner. I wake up each morning and stand on the jagged bow of HRM Quazzino. I close my eyes and feel the silence around me. The silence is tinged with old sorrow and long-forgotten deaths and despair. Some are human. Some are not.

    The silence lasts half-way through the morn. Then, the ships and boats and skidoos come alive, groaning and creaking. It is a dirge for those who were lost. I know each word, each note of that unhummable tune.

    It is my signal to begin my explorations. I travel from boats to ships to canoes to skidoos. Some are named. Some are not. Some are made of steel and crusted metal. Some are coarse wood that the water has warped and softened and aged. They are all my companions, my routine, my route.

    I travel all over their shattered ruins, searching and watching for what is new. Most days and years pass without any discoveries.

    Today, however, I made a discovery.

    A new boat.

    A new companion.

    A man.

    He lies asleep in his rowboat.

    I sit on the end of his boat and watch him.

    He mumbles and cries out, but he does not wake.

    I creep closer to him. I am disappointed. He is the same as those who have come before. Same features. Same skin. Exposed hands. Hidden feet. Yet, he is not the same. Something is different. Hair color? Maybe. Jawline? Maybe.

    But no. It is more than appearances. This one belongs to me. An invisible chain links me to him. A chain I will not break.

    “Virginia.” His words are a soft moan. “My Virginia.”

    I am not Virginia. I am Mariner.

    And he is unwell. He needs food and water and comforting shelter, but he will not find such needs in my world of destruction.

    But he cannot escape. These waters are cursed. Those who enter cannot leave. I know. I was here before the skidoos came, before the great ships. I came when there were only canoes.

    My own canoe has disappeared far below into dissolved timbers and sludgy mold. I have forgotten where it is. But my spirit has been strong. Like a powerful heart that cannot stop still. My spirit has seen many years and many lost ones.

    I want to help this lost one, but what help can I offer? I am locked into this solitary world. I cannot leave.

    Neither will he.

    He will stay here.

    He will be my new companion.

    But what will happen to my silent mornings? Will I still enjoy them if he is here? Will he understand the beauty of this ruined landscape?

    But what will happen if he leaves? Will that invisible chain shatter from the strained distance? Will I miss him?

    I reach for him. I will show him the beauty of this place. He will see it as I do. He will love it as I do.

    “Virginia.” He flops his hand over his eyes. A golden ring encircles his finger. I gently remove it and study it.

    Magic spirals inside of the band, binding his heart and love to another. It feels like a new wind after a muggy night and smells like home.

    Home. I remember a home that smelled like this: cinnamon and earth spices. But my home smells like timbers and sea air. I cannot leave it nor do I want to.

    I study his sunburned face and I know. He will want to leave. He will be unhappy here, dead or alive.

    But escape is impossible. Long ago, I tried to escape into the fog, into the far off mist. I tried and failed.

    I smile at the simple solution.

    I move his boat away from my companions, my routine, my route and point him towards the fog. If he can escape, so be it.

    I hold his ring tight in my grip. If he cannot escape, it is not my fault.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is very atmospheric and contemplative. I find myself wondering if there is a real link between the two lost souls, or if the connection is solely because both are lost. Very nice! 🙂

      I think you mean Sea-Doo or jet ski. Skidoos paints a picture of very icy waters.

    2. regisundertow

      I like how the interaction between the two characters here is entirely one-sided. Part of me hopes the stranded man finds his way home and somehow realizes the ring was the toll he paid to escape.

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thanks, Amaria!

        I started this story with the mental image of a girl perched on the sharp point of a shipwreck and then running along the different wrecks. I wasn’t sure who or what she was, but I decided to write it and see where it would go.

        I’m glad you liked it. 😀

  16. Douglas K. Burton

    Author’s Note: This story is using a new format I’m trying out, where it is entirely told in a series of “sequences”, this posting being just the first one. Expect more sequences for this prompt to follow, and if you like it or it could use some work, please comment, I would love some feedback! -DKB

    BERMUDA:
    Sequence I: Encounter

    1) Fog devours man but its appetite is not fulfilled

    2) Water laps upon the side of the ship with each stroke of Poseidon’s fingers

    3) “Stay the course” says the captain, but his men know the stories of this place

    4) Of lost expeditions and futile resistance against forces you or anyone else cannot control

    5) The sky opens, and its water washes away hopes of leaving as the thunder yells and the lightning seizes the sky

    6) The very sea beneath their feet rumbles as the ship and its denizens are paralyzed as the sky is darkened by a monstrous form

    7) Fear builds up in the heart of the righteous man and the heretic alike as they see the Devil exists

    8) Screams for home and cries of redemption fill the air as the first strike occurs

    9) With each flash of lightning comes a flash of rows of bloodied teeth and scaly skin

    10) With every roar of thunder comes the roar of a hungry animal that cannot be quenched by one hundred men

    11) As sudden as the attack began it is over, and no evidence of the attacker is left behind

    12) Mutilated remains of a vessel lost drift out of the patch of fog and storm and into clear waters to become one with the sea

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, DKB!

      It’s always an interesting challenge to try out a different format. I think this one works. It’s just descriptive enough to create images in your reader’s mind and evocative enough for them to fill in what is not written.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is an unusual format, Douglas. It’s good that you used it first on a fairly straightforward story. I find the story interesting and the format raising ideas. It reads like a variant form of poetry. 🙂

      This is almost poetic; have you considered a secondary device, such as controlling the length of the sentences so it forms a pattern (not exact word counts, but something like short sentences to start, longer ones in the middle, and shorter again at the end)?

    3. regisundertow

      It’s an interesting format, Douglas. I like the concept of “sequences”, though I’m not a big fan of numbering them (but that’s due to my own bias, as I use numbered lists for everything at work). It makes me imagine the narrative in flashes of images, which serves the flash fiction requirements quite well. Furthermore, and risking sounding completely pretentious here, it’s almost expressionist in relying on creating a vibe rather than serving plot and character. Very interesting indeed. I’d love to see this format applied to more esoteric subjects, where I feel it would truly be at home. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for your stories in the future.

  17. Not-Only But-Also Riley

    Birds of the Bermuda

    Ernst Eckerd Krause was young, but the last of the originals not retired or dead. And I knew he shouldn’t die then and there. Out in the forest, looking for whatever it was he was looking for, it was not where he would die. That was how I, Colton Braddock, ended up on a boat. A man who had never left his small desert town, a man who’s roughest ride had been on the back of his own horse, was now on a boat, sailing to find one, Annabelle Dumont. I was not going to do this alone of course, I’d need help, and Annabelle Dumont had been what replaced people like me when I retired. So, I figured she’d know what she was doing. My thoughts were interrupted when the captain of the boat, a grisly, mysterious man who I was able to hire cheap, entered my room.

    “We’re enterin’ a storm. We might wanna find somewhere ta stop…”

    “No,” I said sternly, standing and walking over to him, “I don’t have time. We need to get there tonight, storm or no storm.” The captain sighed, scratching his head.

    “Alright,” he said, closing my door on his way out. I went back and sat back down, drifting deeper into thought, which led to deep sleep.

    I awoke as the ship seemed to halt. No gentle rocking from the water, no talking or boots sounding from above me or around me, no noise at all. Everything became suddenly still.

    “Hello?” I called aloud to no one in particular. When I didn’t get a response I stood and opened my door, looking about the empty wooden hallways.

    “Hello?” I tried again. But still, nothing. I began making my way to the top of the ship, trying to listen for anything that signaled to me there was still living people aboard the ship. I reached at my hip and felt the smooth handle of my gun. Just in case.

    I reached the top and saw no one. Water splashed against the boat but we didn’t move. I guess I didn’t move since there was no one else there. Suddenly screaming came from the captains quarters, causing me to jump and remove my gun from it’s holster, where it had been the entire time.

    “Hello?” I called one more time as I slowly approached the closed captain quarters door.

    Suddenly, the door broke down and a man engulfed in birds came running at me, screaming. Not knowing how to react, I shot.

    But my bullet only killed a bird and made a small hole in the cloud of the beasts where I could see the arm of the captain, being stripped of flesh by the tiny beaks.

    “Help!” the bird covered captain shouted monstrously at me, waving his hands as bird began swooping at me from above.

    Not knowing how to help the captain I ran, got into one of the lifeboats and cut it down with my knife.

    I looked back at the ship, now realizing it was swarmed with large black birds. I saw the captain fall over the side of the boat, birds flying away but him to injured to swim. I was safe. The birds were leaving now that the captain was done.

    But I had a feeling I wouldn’t be safe for long. Nothing would attack people like that without reason.

  18. SheepCarrot

    This got a lil lengthy, which I apologize for. It’s the continuation to last week’s prompt. (It can be found here, if you missed it: http://wp.me/p3Upba-cS)

    The world tips, throwing Joshua from his bed. He gets to his feet unsteadily, confused by his surroundings. Wooden walls and floor….a floor that’s still rocking under his boots. With more than a little trepidation, he pulls open the heavy door despite the protests made by the hinges. A larger room greets him, filled with barrels and crates. He can hear water now, the crash of ocean waves as he nearly loses his footing again.

    He’s not surprised he’s on a ship. Ever since he was incarcerated for Holly’s murder he’s been plagued with dreams about water and the closer he gets to his execution, the worse they get. He scales the stairs leading up to the deck. There are few sailors, not near as many as an old schooner like this should have, and they’re all familiar. The prosecuting attorney, the judge…Holly’s father. They all glare at him as he steps onto the deck, then with a singularity of mind, they all begin to approach him.

    Slow. Deliberate. They shout accusations, their words lost between each other and the storm, but Josh can taste their anger and hatred. He retreats slowly, away from their outstretched and taloned hands. He turns to run, but his steps feel slow, bogged down. Another waves surges over the side of the ship, knocking him down. He rolls onto his back, expecting to see his accusers inches away, but they’re gone.

    Lightening strikes the deck, uncomfortably close to his feet. The wood ignites as if it were dry kindling. Josh scrambles away from the fire, running to the elevated aft deck. The masts crack and tumble over, splitting the starboard hull. As water rushes into the lower hold, the bow begins to drop.

    Another wave sweeps across the deck as the tumultuous sea tips the ship on its side. As it capsizes, the ropes from the mast tangle around Josh’s ankle, dragging him into the ocean’s depth with it. He watches as the light on the surface grows dim the deeper into the water he goes. Air bubbles stream up. His lungs burn as the pressure on his chest continues to increase, and he gasps for air.

    Joshua jerks awake, back in his cell. His heart races in panic at the detail he experienced in his dream, and he wonders if it will feel the same when he’s placed in the gas chamber to die. The lights turn on as he takes calming breaths, shattering any effect they may have. It won’t be long now.

    Footsteps echo in the hall, heavy boots…one of the deputies coming to get him, he presumes. The door swings open without the normal commands for him to hold his hands out for cuffing, and he can see a mix of disdain and grudging acceptance on the officer’s face. “You’re a lucky SOB, Myers. Get up, come with me. Bring anything you don’t want to leave behind.”

    Josh gets to his feet and picks up the only thing that has mattered to him all these years spent in the state penitentiary—a pencil sketch sitting on his small table. The paper edges are worn and tattered, as well it should be—he drew it nearly eight years ago. A feminine face stares back at him from it’s surface, young and carefree. Even in the graphite, her eyes shine and her smile is radiant.

    With the picture of Holly gripped firmly in his hand, he walks ahead of the officer, turning as directed. They stop at the processing desk. Another deputy places paperwork in front of him, as well as a small plastic bag. “Sign here. This is saying that you’re being released on your own recognizance and these are your personal effects you had when you were arrested.”

    Josh feels like his heart is beating out of his chest as he takes the pen in his shaking hand and scribbles out a signature. They give him civilian clothes to change into, then escort him to the gate. He prays that this time he’s not dreaming. Media is waiting at the gate; microphones are thrust into his face as questions are shouted at him from all around.

    “How does it feel to be free?”
    “How does it feel knowing you got away with murder?”
    “Where will you go?”
    “Is anyone going to meet you?”
    “Did you know it was your victim’s cousin that pushed for DNA testing in regards to your case?”

    He stills at the last question, shocked that anyone from Holly’s family would request such a thing. Before he has a chance to answer, a commotion arises from the back of the media crowd. The microphones redirect toward a woman getting out of a black Lincoln, and her honey-gold hair shines in the morning light. She elbows her way through until she’s standing in front of him. He stares at her, wondering how he hadn’t seen the familial resemblance between her and Holly yesterday during the interview. “You did this?” he whispers.

    Amber Rose smiles warmly and gestures toward the car. “We have a guest room set up for you, and you’re welcome to stay as long as you need. Come. I’ll answer any of the questions you have when we get home.”

    Josh feels emotions of elation and peace overcome him as he takes the first step toward his renewed life.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is an interesting take, Sheep, similar to what happened to David Milgaard (Canada’s most famous wrongful conviction case). It does throw me that he was sentenced to death on purely circumstantial evidence. In any case, you did a great job catching Josh’s partially stoned mentality. 🙂

    2. regisundertow

      I got an interesting vibe from the dream. There’s several stories from various marine cultures where a man on a ship is accused of bringing about bad luck due to some real or perceived sin. The crew always throws him overboard to save the vessel, but the man survives by divine intervention and is eventually exonerated. If the intention with the dream was to bring up that archetype as an indication of your MC’s innocence, I’m very impressed.

  19. Dana Cariola

    Neptune’s trident unleashed hell upon our ship, as we blindly navigated our way through the forbidden route. The crew, now certain, their captain had lost all good sense, now leads his men towards a watery grave. The ship’s heavy mast, toppled from side-to-side, the way a giro-scope would when it tries to regain it’s orientation. Shaking loose, the grip of any man who was unable to withstand the force of each pounding wave.

    Captain. Grady charged his way towards the rear of his ship, that was now drifting off course. The young lad that had been entrusted to guide her, had been bested by the sea and tossed overboard. He yelled out to his men, to hold steady and trust in the Almighty to see them through the storm, as he has always done. The sound from the raging sea beneath them, and the lighting storm above, gave the Captain’s words of encouragement little meaning.

    The proud sails, that flew gloriously high above her crew, guiding them to dry land, are now shredded and scattered to the wind. The Aurora had met it’s match, taking with her 100 souls.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is short and sweet Dana, a lovely and compact story. You put a great deal of power into a very few words. 🙂

      I sense your writing platform likes putting in extra commas for you. The only ones that are grammatically necessary are the one after “The crew” in the first paragraph and “it’s match” in the last.

  20. Amaria

    Bermuda Discovery: 546 words

    As he floated on a wood plank, he wished he had listen to his crew. They all warned him about sailing into the mysterious waters. But he was the captain and world traveler – he knew what he was doing. No, he should have heeded their words.

    While looking at his map he saw a shortcut he believed would shorten their trip by a day. When he showed the new route to his navigator, the man shook his head saying “We cannot go that route.”

    “And may I ask why not?” the captain replied.

    “Those waters are cursed” the navigator whispered. “Every boat that sail into those waters is never seen again. And I for one would like to see home once more, captain.”

    The captain sighed and waved his hand. “That is nothing but superstition my friend. We set sail this way at dawn.”

    When the other crew members learned of their new route, some of them pleaded with the captain to change course.

    “Those waters are cursed captain!”

    “We can’t go there. We’ll never been seen again.”

    “The ocean will swallow us whole.”

    But the captain would hear none of it. “Enough!” he shouted. “We are going this way and that is final. Get back to work!”

    Things were going well and the captain began to believe the stories were nothing more than hearsay. But as the day progressed, clouds began to fill the sky. The ocean’s waves swelled and the sky darken until it was black as midnight. Lightening filled the sky and the thunder roared above their heads. The waves became larger and soon water began splashing upon the deck.

    The crew cried out they were being punished. The captain tried to maintain order. But then one of the men pointed out a great swell of water. It was the largest wave the captain ever saw. It came down upon the ship, soaking everything in sight. The captain heard the men shouting and then everything went black.

    The captain awoke to find himself floating on a large wooden plank. He lifted his head searching for the boat, but all he saw were pieces of wood floating haphazardly in the water. He cried out to see if there were any other survivors, but no one answered his calls. For hours he floated on the plank through thick mist, not sure of what direction he was going or how far he was from land. He tried not to despair, but he knew hope was running out.

    Suddenly he heard singing coming from the west (or at least he thought it was the west). “Perhaps I am near land” the captain thought to himself. He began to paddle towards the sound, into a thick mist until he saw something. He paddled faster. As he got closer the singing became louder. The voices sounded feminine and lovely to his ears. When he saw rocks, he paddled furiously, believing he was finally near dry land.

    As he paddled towards the rocks, he saw shadowy figures. When the mist cleared he saw them all too clearly. Upon the rocks sat a group of beautiful women with pale skin and long wavy hair draped over their breasts. With outstretched arms they called out to him with their hypnotic voices, “Come”.

  21. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    Back to my usual stuff. This is long, so I’ll understand if you skip it. Those who still want to read it, I hope you enjoy!

    The Lost Ship

    The old sea dogs sailed along the ocean in their old fishing boat doing the same old thing they’d been doing for years. They fished in the deep, and made an honest living that barely paid enough to keep them from doing dishonest things. It was the summer of 1941, and they were on the last leg of their journey. It was then that their lives changed forever.

    Captain Moore sat at his desk writing in his log. He didn’t think it mattered writing the day’s events, but it was therapeutic. His writing disability wasn’t detrimental to his skills as a leader, but on the mainland, he felt no good to everyone. Besides, something interesting would occasionally happen, and he liked to have stories to bring home to his children.

    Moore screamed, “Alex!”

    He waited only a moment before his young right-hand opened the door. The raging storm brought swaths of water into the room, but Alex quickly stepped in and shut the door to block the tempest.

    Moore eyed the boy, who was wearing more water than clothes. He still stood strong, though, despite the cold storm, but that was exactly what Moore expected from him. The boy was a stowaway at 13, determined to make a living and escape his violent father back home, and over the years, Alex delivered. He was now 17 and twice the man of anyone of the ship. Even, at times, surpassing the good Captain.

    Alex said, “Sir?”

    “Read this to me,” Moore said, and pointed at the date.

    “Yes, sir,” Alex said, and moved to the table. He peered down, glanced at the Captain, and back at the paper. “Sir, it says, July 1, 1491.”

    “Damn it!” Moore said, and crossed out the year. “Tell it to me, one number a time.”

    “When you’re ready, sir.”

    “Go.”

    “One.”

    He wrote it down. “Okay.”

    “Nine.”

    “Yes.”

    “Four.”

    “Fine, next.”

    “One.”

    “That’s 1941?”

    “Yes, sir,” Alex said, and triple checked the numbers as Moore studied him. The boy’s lips slightly moved as he read the numbers repeatedly. “Yes, sir. 1941.”

    “Thank you,” Moore said, and set down the pen while softly sighing. “How are the men fairing?”

    “Fine, sir. Some of them are a little worried about their families, though.”

    “We all are, son. If the fuckin’ Nazi’s hadn’t started their Goddamn war, we’d all be healthier. That’s the only reason those boy’re gettin’ sick. I’ll tell ya, worry will kill us all before anything else will,” Moore said, and stood. He was a tall man, but Alex was nearly as tall. “I wish I could tell them it’s time to go home, but we barely have half a ton of fish. It ain’t gonna go for more than a hundred greenbacks. Split between us and keeping this ship going for our next voyage… shit, it ain’t enough to keep any of us alive.”

    “I know, sir,” Alex said, and pulled the cork from a bottle of rum. He poured a glass for both of them, and offered the warm drink to Moore. After the Captain took the glass, Alex continued, “We’ll all stay out here as long as it takes.”

    “I know, son,” Moore said, and took his drink in one gulp. It barely burned, desensitized by years of abuse. If there was one thing that would kill him before worry, he figured it’d be the giggle water. The taste was reminiscent of his younger years. He looked into his empty glass and said, “I was about your age when I started tossing these glasses back.”

    “Were you on a boat back then, too, sir?”

    Moore chuckled. “Heck, no. I was at a friend’s ranch that summer. I’d just left home, sick of my old man’s shit, and was ready to join the Navy.”

    “I didn’t know you joined, sir.”

    “That’s ’cause I didn’t,” Moore said, and poured himself another two fingers. He rolled the clear liquid around the glass. “There ain’t nothing more detrimental to a man’s vision that the vision of a woman.”

    “Aye, Captain,” Alex said and sipped his drink.

    Moore let out a hearty chuckle. “Boy, you kill me. You’re barely even old enough for a cup of coffee let alone thinking about one of them floozies getting your dick hard. You even kissed a doll yet?”

    Alex laughed, “No, sir.”

    Moore laughed even harder, so did Alex. The drink was working.

    Moore’s laugh died with another solid sigh. “Aye, it was a girl. Griselda was her name. Not the prettiest name, I admit, but Goddamn was she the most gorgeous dame I ever met. Me and Frankie was workin’ in the shed that day. We both had our shirts off, and she came waltzin’ by all dolled up in a blue tea dress. Frankie was always the better lookin’ of the two of us with me being a flabby mess back then—well, less flabby than I am now—anyway, when our eyes met, it was me she wanted. I’ll tell ya, son, best summer of my life.”

    “Sounds amazing, sir.”

    “Aye, it was, she—” Moore began to reminisce some more, but Victor, the lookout, barged into the room.

    Victor said, “There’s a ship off starboard, Captain!”

    “So? Jesus, boy, you’ve got the manners of a pig,” the Captain said, “There’re ships all over these seas. Unless they’re Nazi’s or Japs, then I don’t give a damn.”

    Victor said, “Captain, sir, they’re flyin’ SOS, sir.”

    “All right, calm down, son,” Moore said as he slammed the glass onto the table. Some of the rum slopped out of it onto the journal book. He walked toward the door. “Move outta my way.”

    Moore barged onto the deck, and all the men were leaning on the wall looking out at the sea. Some of them had their hands hovering over their brow to block the rain from getting in their eyes, and others wore hats soaked to the brim, dripping down onto their similarly waterlogged clothing. He looked passed them, and there was indeed a ship out there. It flew a United States flag, and the name on the side of the boat read, The Explorer. Probably they were explorers, but that didn’t mean they weren’t pirates, too. There wasn’t a man dumb enough in the ocean to believe the vessel was safe. Anyone could fly anyone’s flag, and anyone could be dangerous.

    Moore yelled over the howl of wind and the roar of the ocean slapping against the boat, “Victor! What makes you think she’s in trouble?”

    Victor handed the Captain his binoculars. “Look near the aft cabin, sir.”

    Moore peered out at the boat, and although the sprays of water made it difficult for him to see the call of help, it was definitely there, painted along the wall. He handed the binoculars back to Victor, and looked at Alex. “Bring us in.”

    Alex turned toward the men and started barking his orders. To ordinary men, it might have made no sense, but to men of the sea, the boy’s words meant business.

    The men used oars to maneuver the rig close to the distressed boat, and threw ropes over to anchor it. Together, they heaved, and closed the small gap between to the ships. They tied off the ends to secure themselves to the other boat to ensure the ocean didn’t pull them apart.

    Moore said, “Okay, fellas, let’s get over there.”

    “Aye, Captain,” several of them acknowledged simultaneously.

    Two struggled over because the ocean continued to swell violently, and Alex said, “Sir, will you remain aboard?”

    Moore considered the situation, and said, “Two’s enough. The rest of you stay here and man the boat while me and Alex join the other two. If something bad’s goin’ on over there, it makes no sense for all of us to be part of it.”

    “Aye, Captain!” most of them said, but they all looked uneasy. Probably they didn’t want their captain jumping to the other ship, but Moore had already made up his mind.

    Alex climbed up onto the wall, balanced with his arms out, and jumped onto the foreign deck. Moore followed close behind, and when he landed, he did a quick search of the boat. There were a few hyper-orange boxes tied down, and some scientific equipment near the bow. When he looked toward the door to the cabin, the rain started dropping even harder.

    “Alex, where did the others go?”

    Alex surveyed the deck. “I’m not sure, sir.”

    Moore harrumphed. “Find them. I’m gonna locate someone from this ship and figure out what’s gone wrong.”

    “Aye, Captain.”

    As Alex walked off, Moore went to the Cabin door. He opened it, and he saw a short stairway leading into a lower deck. He put his hand on the hilt of his sidearm before descending into the cabin. He didn’t know what he would find down there, but he had a terrible feeling something wasn’t right. Perhaps it was a bit too bold for him to go down there, but he was the captain. It was one thing to show caution, but quite another the show fear. He didn’t care to show either.

    The lower deck creaked as he stepped onto it. A familiar smell emanated from somewhere down there, but it was just as unfamiliar because he couldn’t place it.

    “Anyone down here?”

    Directly ahead of him an ajar door led to a large cabin. To his left and right were narrow corridors leading to several single-man beds, which was probably where the crew slept. He figured he’d find more in the captain’s quarters, so he approached the door and opened it.

    He stepped inside, and there was a small bed against the left wall. The covers looked disheveled, which to him was the sign of a bad captain. You had to lead by example, and a mess crew is a dangerous crew. If he ever found the captain of this vessel, he knew he’d have to have a talk with him.
    Straight ahead, he found a desk with a small lamp burning steady. On the wall behind it was a map of the ocean with a few spots marked. He approached the desk, and saw the captain’s log sitting open. He looked down at the writing, and he felt a cold chill tighten his skin.

    “What is this?” he said.

    The writing on the page was large and erratic. The captain of the Explorer had scribbled each word hard enough to tear small holes in the paper. It read: KILL KILL KILL ALL OF THEM! I WILL KILL ALL OF THEM!

    He turned the page to the previous date, and the writing was much calmer, though still scribbled unsteadily.

    I keep feeling, I don’t know… like there’s something here. Like we brought something back with us, but… I don’t know. Every time I try to think about it, I get lost in thought like it’s trying to block me from making sense of it…

    Moore didn’t know what was going on or what happened on this boat, but he didn’t like it. Not even a little bit. He knew it was time to get off the boat, so he quickly turned around, and Alex was behind him. It startled Moore, who reared back. When he realized it was a friendly, he laughed.

    “Christ, boy, you gave me a good scare,” Moore said. “Come, let’s get off this shithole. You find the two that came over with us?”

    Alex said, “Yes, I found them. Want to see?”

    “See what? Stop playin’ games.”

    “No, games, just things. Want to see? Come,” Alex said, and turned around. He ascended the stairs, and the captain reluctantly followed him.

    Once above deck, Alex led him to the navigation room. There was a distinct stench when they entered, and Moore saw the two men from his crew. Tori was sitting against the far wall with several stab wounds in his chest and face. A small pool of blood surrounded him, which bled into the pool made by his other crewmember, Greg, whose head was now nothing more than a messy pulp.

    “What fuck happened here, son?” Moore said, and when he turned toward the boy, Alex attacked him with a knife.

    They fell against the nearby wall, and Moore wrapped his hand around Alex’s wrist to keep from blade away. The knife was bloody with scraps of flesh clinging to it.

    “What are you doing?”

    Alex didn’t answer, he only fought. The boy was strong for his age, much stronger than he should have been, but still he wasn’t stronger than Moore. The captain turned the knife toward the boy, who then allowed Moore to stab him in the chest.

    Alex coughed hard, and pulled the knife from his own chest. Blood poured from the wound, and he stabbed himself again. He stabbed and stabbed until he was too weak to pull the blade free. He wheezed, and then dropped to his knees.

    Moore dropped to the boy’s side, and tried to stop all the bleeding but there were too many wounds. “What the hell were you thinking, son?”

    Alex looked up at him, and his eyes went wide with fright. “L—Loo—”

    “What is it?”

    “Look—”

    “What?”

    “Sir, behind—you.”

    Moore quickly looked back, but there was no one there. He looked at Alex and said, “I don’t understand. What did you do this for?”

    “N—no—sir—not me—it—get away from it,” the boy said, and then Moore watched the boy’s life fade away.

    Moore looked down at his shaking and bloody hands, and wept. After some time, he felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked up, and a man was standing next to him.

    The man said, “Sir, what—what happened here?”

    “Bad things. Bad things happened.”

    “Let’s get back to the mainland, sailor.”

    “Sir?”

    “We’re leaving.”

    “Are we going to bring them with us?”

    “No.”

    “Sir, with respect, I—“

    Moore knelt down, pulled the knife from Alex’s chest, and pushed the man against the wall.

    “Sir,” he started to say but Moore cut the man’s throat. The sailor choked and coughed and choked some more. Finally, he fell to the ground, and Moore looked down.

    Moore left the navigation room. The rain was gone, and night had fallen. He saw some sailors standing on the deck and said, “Let’s go!”

    “Where are the others?” one of them asked, while another said, “Where did all that blood come from, sir?”

    “That’s an order!”

    “But, sir…”

    “Get off this boat or you’ll stay here.”

    The men scrambled off the boat and back onto the fishing vessel. Moore followed close behind, and when he was back on deck, he untied the anchors.

    “Shove off, boys, we’re returning to the mainland,” Moore screamed, and although the men appeared worried, they did as they he ordered.

    Moore retreated to his cabin, sat down at the desk, and picked up the pen. He tore out the most recent entry, and the blood glistened from his hands as he started writing on a new page.

    July 1, 1941. Something’s strange, like I’m not me anymore. I can’t explain it…

      1. regisundertow

        Exactly my thoughts. The length was needed for the reader to get sucked into the story. I liked how the monster was messing with their heads, so freshly indirect.

    1. Kelsey Elf

      I just love these lines:
      “(They) made an honest living that barely paid enough to keep them from doing dishonest things.”
      “(He) was wearing more water than clothes.”
      Great writing.

  22. Reaper

    Okay, a couple of things. One, this is part 26. It is also a bit over 600 words this week.

    Two, is there any chance WD will ever figure out what is going on with this site causing so much slowdown and issue on computers? Please, I’m begging you!

    Three. I again apologize for my lack of much of anything on there outside of posting for the last bit. Part of this is from me getting a job that is eating my time, soul, and parts of my mind. For the rest of what has been keeping me busy you can click on my name and see for yourself if you want. Hoping to compile and to this and add it to the list soonish. Anyway, on to the story.

    In the Beginning – Compensation Plan

    Hahnee did not concern himself with time, the passage of the sun and moon were things for the elders to consider. Despite this, he was well known throughout his tribe for two things. First was his daring as an explorer. He once took his boat all the way to the long island south and east of his homeland and, after mapping the shore, returned to tell his people of it. That trip he made alone. This one he had a crew for.

    The second was the spiritual twig. He discovered it in the heart of the lightning tree. A great mahogany that offended one of the spirits so much that they launched fire from the sky, shearing the ancient tree in half and setting it aflame. When the fire died down, Hahnee was the first to brave its location. In the heart of the stump were two pieces of wood, twisted and charred together around a stone. The metal had melted then cooled at the heart of the branches, forming the center of it. To Hahnee the gift from the spirits looked like a man with his arms extended.

    There was a storm coming though. Hahnee sensed it, so did the elders. Men would bring this storm. Pale men with one great spirit laying claim to all of their hearts. One great spirit with no earthly form. Men who brought disease and death, who would call Hahnee’s trinket a “cross” and try to take it from him. Another thing Hahnee did not concern himself with. He would give up the gift from the spirits, if another needed it more. He would do so gladly, as it meant a great deal to their totem and almost nothing to his.

    He wished to find a safe place for his people though. That he did care about. A place they could hide if the storm meant to destroy them when it arrived. So he stood at the head of his boat, with four brave men behind him. He would circle the great waters and return home from the other side. Somewhere along the way he would find a haven.

    As they approached the great vortex between worlds his crew grew restless. They did not wish to enter, they told him so. He knew they must though. So they did. As they slipped into the disappearing waves a storm rose around them, a brutal thing that, in seconds, tossed all five men from the boat.

    Hahnee slipped beneath the waves with his trinket clutched to his chest. He whispered pleas to the unknown spirit to save him for the kindness he showed to the symbol. That spirit had other plans though. It liked its symbols washed in blood. As the cold crushed down on him and darkness closed on his eyes the cross slid from his fingers. It floated away, towards a different future.
    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Nicole blinked away the dream. She knew the story, of course, her father told it to her. It was one of the foundations of the prophecy. Her children stood over her, smiling, and she was terrified. In that moment she knew what the rest of the world would see in them. Her daughter grinned at her, with Chester’s meat still on her teeth. Her son did so around a mouthful of ancient mahogany cross. The symbol of the prophecy finding its way home. She cringed away from those smiles, but only for a second.

    “Oh, my Lord! You have tested me and I will not fail.”

    She reached out and plucked the cross from her son’s hands. He was not old enough to own it yet. she gave a smile of her own and now it was her children’s turn to flinch back.

    1. Observer Tim

      One. “-uckin’ A.”

      Two. It’s that video ad; it hasn’t played nice with the rest of the site for months. I’m also guessing it makes a lot of money for WD and helps keep the site going. I’ve taken to writing my comments in Notepad and pasting them in.

      Three. S’alright. We all have lives that sometimes get in the way. I hope you get used to the job and that the spigot attached to siphon off your soul isn’t too big.

      As for the story, you did a great job taking the express train to creepyville here. It’s amazing how the imagery of dreams comes back to haunt us when we least expect it. Keep ’em coming, Reaper! 🙂

    2. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      One. 600?! Oh! The humanity!

      Two. It’s Shockwave. That bitch crashes more than an Hindenburg video in infinite loop.

      Three. I have no life.

      Story. Nice job, dude. Keep up the good work, and end this bitch soon… I’m missing your other stories! 😉 Oh, and yeah, sorry about the unintentional accusation of sexual deviation. Of course fate would rather choose that over rEper. *le sigh*

    3. regisundertow

      Damn…This story keeps getting more and more under my skin, Patrick. It hit me the other day, this is what Millennium (the series) was meant to be like in terms of atmosphere.

      Sucks about the job eating up writing time and mental resources. Hope you pull a Bukowski and have it work in your favor as a writer.

    4. ReathaThomasOakley

      Great job with the cross back story. The image of Nicole seeing what her children really are, and “Chester’s meat still on her teeth”, was powerful and horrifying. On a different note, I’m enjoying Half Flashed.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Oh, Johnny-come-lately here. WD is forcing me to type this response, one letter at a time and make sure it shows on the screen before the next letter. I’ll post and come back.

          1. Kerry Charlton

            Here I am again like an old crow. This is my favorite in this saga series. The descriptive power here is relentless. And the weave in is excellent. When you get this finalized, it should be a shining jewel for you. Remember one thing I have found out, ‘The more crushing the work, the better the writing.’ I know this to be true, at least in my case. It pusher the tired mind to the wall and the subconscious comes forth and it’s natural, you don’t need to call for it. It’s like taking a timed exam.

            The more stress you’re writing under, the better it gets. At least in my experience. Of course, I don’t how you bodt handles stress, mine eats it like candy. The thrill and challenge is there.

            P. S. I know I’m weird, it’s the Irish, Patrick.

    5. Gone Walkabout

      Hey Reaper, it’s JM, just dropping in to say congrats on getting a job. Even a soul sucking job is better than the hell of unemployment. (Been there, done both.) Hopefully it will be your springboard to a less soul sucking job.

      Is this really part 26??? Wow, I really have been gone a while. Your writing is in fine form here. Love the character of Hahnee and the imagery of the cross in the Lightning-split tree. Your imagination is a wondrous thing.

  23. Observer Tim

    BERMUDA, PART 2

    Because an important element was missed.

    “MAN OVERBOARD!”

    Jack Bastord grumbled to himself, “There’d bloody well better be. Worthless scupper expecting us to work!”

    When he arrived on deck Mister Anachronism was still aboard. The ship heaved to and fro but everyone seemed to be accounted for. Given his foul mood at being challenged, this was a very bad time for Mister Anachronism.

    “What in blazes are ye on about, and why is he still on board?”

    Tortuga Zeke gave the Cap’n a stricken look, then turned his gaze upward to the crow’s nest.

    Realization sunk in. “Smilin’ Pete!”

    “I just been up there, Cap’n.” Zeke’s voice was a mere bellow, barely audible above the storm. “He’s gone.”

    “NO! Smilin’ Pete’s easily worth any five of you lot! We’ve nothing for it but to heave the ship about an’ look for ‘im.”

    “But Cap’n,” shouted Gutbuster Gavin as he picked a tooth out of the deck, “I got no idea where we was or which way we was goin’!”

    A rogue wave heaved the ship upwards, flinging the crew into the air. Six and a half pairs of boots landed back on the deck with a thump.

    Busty Bob’s half-shrieked contralto rose above the storm; “Cap’n! What’s that?”

    Jack looked at the tip of her finger, then realized she was pointing out to sea. On the surface of the water was a bluish-white glow like St. Elmo’s Fire; it approached the ship at a slow measured pace.

    “It’s a ghost of the sea!”

    Bill Hook grabbed a repelling pole and brandished it as the glow neared, knees knocking as the light climbed up to the gunwales.

    It was a woman, glowing blue and clad in a flowing gown that revealed as much as it concealed her figure. In her hand was a gleaming skull.

    “Smilin’ Pete!” The Cap’n raised his eyes to the woman’s face, “Thank you Milady, for the return of my First Mate.”

    She looked at him sternly, holding out the skull. “Jack Bastord, I would be thankful if you’d not let this one fall overboard again. His cavorting with the mermaids was severely disrupting my kingdom, and several hearts have been broken by his charm. It will take weeks to restore order.”

    After placing the skull securely in Jack’s hand she turned and walked away, leaving glowing footprints on the waves as she strode into the storm.

    Pete smiled.

  24. jhowe

    The hapless men stood at the gangplank and were toppled when the storm hit. The soldiers on the deck were standing, awaiting orders from above as another front moved in with great speed. Just as they were about to experience the deluge, the force field saved them from certain death.

    “You can’t do that,” said Bobby, holding the empty bucket.

    “Can to,’ said Billy, drenched from the splash from the garbage can lid he held over his army.

    “But you sailed into the Bermuda Triangle. You gotta expect consequences.”

    “Of course I expected it,” Billy said. “That’s why I brought the force field.”

    “But it’s 1492,” Bobby said. “They didn’t have force fields back then.”

    “They don’t have em now either, turd face.”

    Bobby moved in and swept the army from the sand box rim. Billy ran over to the swing set and stomped on the Carib Indians, strategically placed around the perimeter.

    “You butt,” Bobby said, moving in and tackling his friend.

    The boys rolled on the ground, spitting and clawing. Bobby heaved on Billy’s undershorts.

    “No wedgies!” Billy said, grimacing. “I called it.”

    “Fine,” Bobby said and put the boy in a head lock instead.

    “Bobby, don’t choke Billy,” his mother said from the patio. “Come on in for lunch.”

    The boys ate peanut butter and honey sandwiches in silence as Bobby’s mother puttered about.

    “How goes the war?” she said.

    “I’m Christopher Columbus,” said Billy.

    “And I’m Chief Goodguy,” said Bobby, “boss of the Carib Indians.”

    “That sounds…interesting,” she said with raised eyebrows.

    “Columbus is being a horse’s patoot,” said Bobby. “My people are being massacred and enslaved.”

    “I claimed his land for Spain,” Billy said. “It’s not his anymore.”

    “But you shouldn’t hurt his people, Billy,” she said.

    “He wiped out my army with a category six storm!”

    “He stomped on my men!”

    He’s a girly-boy with a dress on”

    “He gave me an atomic wedgie.”

    “Ok boys, that’s enough for today. You’d better get ready to go home Billy.”

    “I’m Columbus tomorrow,” said Bobby.

    “No way, poop-for –brains, I already called it.”

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, jhowe!

      Just so you know, the back and forth between the two boys made me laugh. Especially this part:

      “He wiped out my army with a category six storm!”
      “He stomped on my men!”
      He’s a girly-boy with a dress on.”

      😀

    2. regisundertow

      I can’t begin to say how close this story is to uhm…a personal episode from childhood involving the Bermuda Triangle and toy soldiers. Which made me appreciate it even more 🙂

    3. Observer Tim

      This is priceless, JHowe. It sounds just like two young boys at play. I pity those little plastic soldiers and natives. Great job making the dialogue feel (sur)realistic; just what you’d expect from the players. 🙂

    4. Kelsey Elf

      Such a fantastic take on the prompt. You made me laugh 🙂 My mind has been stuck in the life-threatening seriousness of shipwrecks as I’ve been thinking about this prompt. What a breath of fresh (sea?) air!

  25. Pete

    “Mr. Slumpnik, something’s come up.”

    “Five minutes before taping? No way. Cara, listen to me, if you are here to tell me that Gordon is on the john again, I’m going to lose my…”

    “It’s the timeline sir.”

    “Huh? Timeline? Be a doll and fetch me a coffee, sweetie. Three sugars.”

    “Mr. Slumpnik, it’s come to our attention that well, this film takes place in 1491, but there’s no reference to the Bermuda Triangle for hundreds of—”

    “Clara wait. Time out, here. What are you saying to me? Are you telling me that the whole premise of this film is inaccurate?”

    “Bermuda Bikers? Yes, very.”

    “Says who?”

    “We ran it by legal, and then one of our technical advisers, Observer Tim. He mentioned that—”

    “Observer Tim. The “I made it” up guy?”

    “Yes, I’m quite fond of his work. Have you read his posts about—”

    “Save it, Cara. Here’s what’s going to happen. Bermuda Bikers is going on as scheduled. I need Gordon out here, now, ready to roll sound in….let’s see…three minutes. Ugh, how did it become so difficult to make a film? We did Bikers and Braille in three weeks.”

    “But sir, Bermuda Bikers? Not to question your intellect but, well, strikes me as a little bogus.”

    “You Ivy League types are so alike. And you overestimate the American public my dear. I have Scarlet Johansson in that very trailer behind us, two tiny buttons grappling for dear life to contain her breast. And you’re coming to me with some minute, fact checking?”

    “Sir.”

    “Cara. Must I remind you again that my films have grossed over a billion dollars worldwide? That’s BILLION, with a B. I put Robert Downey Jr. on the map. I was making films when your little yuppie parents were making out in the back seat of your grandparents’ Volvo.”

    “I was adopted sir.”

    “Exactly. So when you came on as my assistant, it was not so that you could question my every decision. Trust me, when I say that I don’t care about some little detail, what I mean is, well, shoo. Wait, coffee, then shoo.”

    “Very well, sir. But uh, there is one other issue?”

    “Oh dear God. What is it Cara?”

    “The band. They’re drunk. And they got the monkey drunk.”

    “It’s eight in the morning.”

    “With all due respect sir the band’s name is Another Bottle Down. Playing heavy metal. On a ship. In a Fifteenth century biker movie.”

    “Enough. That’s fine. I hear they play better sloshed. Gordon!”

    “He quit sir.”

    “Wonderful. Is Scarlett Ready?”

    “More bad news sir….Hang on…Okay you may want to sit down.”

    “I’m in a wheelchair, Cara.”

    “Right. Okay, well I’m afraid Scarlet’s out. Contractual issues.”

    “What? Oh for Pete’s sake. What does that mean.?”

    “Means she’s gone, sir. Left with Tim.”

    1. Observer Tim

      “Scarlet would you please stop following me around?”

      “But Tim, I’d be perfect for the part of Captain Danger! I know it’s only a short story, but look what they did with that one about the pyramid by Arthur C. Clarke.”

      “The Sentinel? I assume you mean 2001: A Space Odyssey? That bore almost no resemblance to the original.”

      “That’s just how Hollywood develops things. Anyway, Stefani’s far more interesting a role than Black Widow. And you know I’d look good in a tight bodysuit.”

      “I’ll definitely keep my –ahem– mind open.”

      “Oh, and do you think I could do a few scenes where I get to crouch and shoot at people? You know, money shots? That Gillis creep really deserves it; maybe a running gun battle on the port?”

      Tim sighed. Actors…

      Wonderful job, Pete. Sorry for stealing your characters. Or is that vice versa? 🙂

    2. Amaria

      This made me laugh – especially when you mentioned Tim in your story.

      I also like this part:
      “Cara. Must I remind you again that my films have grossed over a billion dollars worldwide? That’s BILLION, with a B. I put Robert Downey Jr. on the map. I was making films when your little yuppie parents were making out in the back seat of your grandparents’ Volvo.” “I was adopted sir.” “Exactly. ”

      Well done. 🙂

  26. ShamelessHack

    On the Nina…

    Christopher Columbus stood on deck of his leading ship, the Nina, and slowly lowered his telescope.
    He had heard rumors of this place, this cursed and Godless part of the Atlantic where strange, unexplainable occurrences wrought havoc on all who dared to approach.
    And he had heard terrifying tales of a Mystery Ship, a fearsome brig that plied these waters of hell.
    One day this place will be known as Satan’s playground, where Lucifer himself reaches up from Hades to ensnare the unwary sailor, the intrepid adventurer, and wrestle those of good heart down to bottom of the sea.
    His first mate squinted into the distance at the strange apparition, and turned to Columbus.
    “Into what dire straits do we sail, Your Grace?” he asked his captain.
    Columbus glanced at the crew, all the men now nervously grouped on the bow.
    He wiped a kerchief across his sweating face and muttered to his first mate, “Behold the Devil’s Playground, Giuseppe…A Zona Morta…a Dead Zone.”
    A small, sinister, and oddly shaped ship steadily approached from the west, out of the mists and fog of that dreaded part of the Atlantic from which none had ever returned alive.
    Fear flowed through Columbus like burning treacle.
    “The Mystery Ship,” he hissed, crossing himself twice.
    The first mate suppressed a moan of fear. He turned to his captain and said, “Pray tell, Master Columbus. No one knows what is in that Dead Zone, and…and…on that approaching Mystery Ship.”
    “Yes,” said Captain Christopher Columbus. “Only God himself knows the nature and origin of that cursed brig, that bewitched scow, that Mystery Ship.”
    He gulped. “And what manner of demons sail on her…”

    ****
    On the Mystery Ship…

    “We’re lost aren’t we Skipper?”
    “Don’t be ridiculous. We haven’t even been gone three hours. Of course we’re not—”.
    The professor interrupted him. “We’re lost.”
    “I knew it, I knew it, Skipper.”
    “Shut up, Gilligan. It was just a bank of clouds we went through. I, er, know exactly where we are.”
    “Pass the Coppertone,” Ginger said batting her eyelashes. Mary Ann tossed the plastic bottle to the starlet and adjusted her bandana top and her cut-off shorts.
    “Oh, Thurston, look!” Mrs. Howell waved a hanky in the air. “An old ship made of wood. Three of them!”
    Howell pushed his sunglasses up on his nose. “Now whoever could that be, Lovie?” He turned to the Skipper. “Any ideas, Captain?”
    Gilligan was looking through the Skipper’s binoculars. He said, “It looks like Cristopher Columbus.”
    “Sure, It’s Christopher Columbus, Gilligan,” the Skipper said sarcastically. “And I’m Robinson Crusoe.” He wrenched the binoculars out of Gilligan’s hands. “Give me those.”
    Gilligan looked at Mary Ann. “He hates me,” he said.

    1. Observer Tim

      I could hear the voices as I read this, Hack; in the first part it was any number of stereotypical Spaniards, in the second it was the famliar travelers. I can also sense the opening narration:

      “Two crew and five passengers set sail that day on a three hour tour. Little did they know that that tour would include an unscheduled stop in …the Twilight Zone.”

      Great! 🙂

    2. Amaria

      This was fun. I like how you had Christopher Columbus and his crew in terror of the mystery boat and then we find out it’s just Gilligan and the crew. LOL. Though I suppose that Gilligan crew could be evil…..

  27. regisundertow

    DELUGE

    I heard her panting and her footsteps plunging into the sand seconds before she blocked the sun. The water is amazing, she beamed as she dripped on my book and laughed at my failure to save the pages from the salt water. Thought balloons bloomed on the cream-colored paper as she pulled the novel away. I tasted the ocean on her lips. Iodine and sunscreen pricked my nose and her cool skin melted on mine.

    She lifted her chin and gave me a lopsided grin, It’s our last day here, what’s so gripping that keeps you riveted on that lounger? Something filthy and decadent, I hope?

    I smiled through my shades. The crow’s feet radiated from her eyes, emeralds with flakes of copper in them. Her laugh lines formed a permanent parenthesis around her mouth. I remembered a time when the face staring at me mocked the threat of time and I admired at how it reveled in it now.

    It’s a story about a ship in the 1500’s on course to Bermuda. They get caught up in a storm and…
    She arched her eyebrows and started nodding in mock interest. Point taken, I said. I dropped my voice to a more seductive tone. You know what, I rather be swimming in Bermuda’s waters than be reading about them. She flashed a smile as she pulled me up and her lines deepened, making me aware of my own.

    The bungalow windows opened towards the shore only a few feet away, letting the moonlight in. She stood in front of them, taking in the sound of waves shyly drifting to the room. I took her pearl earrings off and kissed both her ear lobes, forcing a sigh. Drunk on her scent of earth and sandalwood and cinnamon, I hiked her dress and my palm rested on the hair between her legs. Her wedding ring glinted angrily, her hand on the window frame supporting her as I took her from behind. My fingers wrapped around her throat and squeezed gently. I felt the goosebumps underneath my lips as she whispered, Tighter.

    Hours later, I slipped out of bed, careful not to wake her up. I wrapped a towel around me, more conscious of my waistline than my nakedness, and sat on the porch, book in hand. I had bought the book at the airport, aiming to waste a couple of hours here and there on it. Instead, every time she used the bathroom, every time she left me on the lounger to swim by herself, I opened it on the same page near the beginning (I never made it any farther) and re-read the passage where the protagonist was thrown overboard by his crew to appease the storm gods. Your ghost will stay the winds, they chanted over him as brine filled his lungs and invisible tendrils guided him by the hand to the depths. He believed them, thinking his hubris and lust at discovering new land responsible for his crew’s inescapable predicament. It is all my fault, he thought. They have riches back home, though neither rubies nor gold. Their graves shall be watery and cold and no stone shall bear their names, he lamented. And it’s all my doing, mine alone.

    His body fought for air, contorting and convulsing, until it gave up and darkness took him.

    I dreamed I was drowning.

    She held my hand, her fingers interlaced with mine, throughout the flight, her skin tone almost matching her rose gold wedding ring. We didn’t say a word to each other throughout. When the pilot announced we were about to start our descend, she rested her head on my shoulder. We walked through the airport, hand in hand, dragging black Samsonites behind us, each step measured and deliberate. We reached the exit and spied throngs of people, some of them holding placards with names on them, through the automatic doors. We halted and scanned their faces for familiar features, but found none. Satisfied for the moment, we turned to face each other.

    She smoothed my tie knot, almost as tall as me in her professional high heels. She took a step back, looked at me from top to bottom, and nodded with a bitter smile on her lips. The parenthesis around her mouth seemed to become starker. I’m going first, she said simply. I’ll see you when I can, I replied. She broke off our kiss too soon, smoothed out her pinstriped skirt, and walked towards the doors with determination. I watched her cross the threshold, look around her for a couple of seconds and wave excitedly at someone off to the side, where I couldn’t see. The doors closed behind her and, when they opened again, she was gone.

    I reached into my pocket, found my own wedding ring and put it on. After two minutes, I took a deep breath, tightened my tie, and walked to the exit thinking of shipwrecks.

    1. Observer Tim

      “Oh, what a tangled web we weave…”

      You created some really fantastic imagery here, Regis. At first I thought the story was about an older married couple thinking back on a life lived (and loved) together. You painted a wonderful picture in words of a deep and passionate love. And they are both married – just not to each other. 🙂

      1. regisundertow

        Thanks Amaria. I can’t for the life of me write a supernatural story that isn’t choke-full of cliches, so this story served necessity as much as inspiration.

  28. cosi van tutte

    I couldn’t help it. 😆

    I am Edwin. Edwin Nonsuch. One day, in the distant future, one of my descendants will be president of the United States, personal assistant to a famous actor, amongst other accomplishments. My future ghost will be rightly proud of his wily, determined heart.

    But that day is not today. Today is October 15, 1491. And I…the Great Edwin Nonsuch will be the greatest explorer since Hernando Gonzola discovered moldy goat cheese. I will be the talk of the town. The talk of the world. The talk of the WHOOOOOLLLE UNIVERSE! AHH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    ***

    “Ohhhh, Edwiiiiin!” The captain’s voice carried from the other side of the Shrunken Ghost.

    Edwin closed his diary and left his quarters. He stopped at the galley and picked up a box of hard tack biscuits with raisins and minced almonds.

    “Edwiiiiiiiiiiiiiin!”

    “Coming!”

    “I CAN’T HEEEEEEEARRRR YOOOOOOOU!”

    Even though the ship’s rolling motion threatened to knock him over, Edwin ran as fast as he could.

    Captain Ignace Ronoman sat up in his bed as Edwin entered the room. “Took you long enough.”

    Edwin bit back the sharp and easy retort. “I worried so about dropping your—-”

    “Yeah. Yeah. Whatever. Give me my biscuits.”

    Edwin had a quick fantasy of dropping the box on his head and grinding the raisined and minced almond crumbs into his hair. It almost made him laugh.

    Captain Ignace glared at him. “You waiting for the moon to rise, boy? Give me my biscuits. I’m a sick and ailing man.”

    Edwin handed him the box.

    “Oh! Oh! Ugh! What is this? Raisins?” He threw the box at Edwin. “Don’t you know that I am deeply allergic to raisins?”

    “You told me that they’re your favorite.”

    “I must have been drunk when I told you that. I. HATE. RAISINS. They make me want to die. Have Marcolo make me a new batch WITHOUT raisins.”

    “We have limited supplies, Captain Ronoman sir.”

    “I don’t care. I want my biscuits.” He snuggled back down under his covers. “It’s the only thing that settles my stomach.” He raised his head. “Oh. And clean up that mess.”

    ***

    I gave him his biscuits.

    He dared tell me that he wasn’t hungry. No. He didn’t phrase it like that. He said, and I quote, “Why are you always trying to stuff me when I’m seasick? Do you want me to vomit everywhere? Because I could.” He said a lot more than that, but just thinking about it infuriates me.

    I must do something or I will go mad.

    Braying, spitting mad.

    ***

    “Ohhhhhhh, EDWIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN!”

    Edwin hastened to his captain’s call.

    Captain Ignace was at the ship wheel. He smirked at his minion. “You came a little faster this time. I’m impressed. Now—” He snapped his fingers. “—get me a cup of rum.”

    “But Captain Ronoman sir, you shouldn’t—”

    He snapped his fingers in Edwin’s face. “Get it now! Or I will pilot us straight through the Dooming Triangle.”

    “You wouldn’t do that. That would be madness.”

    “Yeah? Well. If you don’t get me my cup of rum, I will show you plenty of madness.”

    “Oh but Captain Ronoman sir—”

    He stuck his hand in Edwin’s face and kept snapping his fingers.

    ***

    I am going to mutiny.

    That is all.

    ***

    I mutinied.

    The ship is mine. I can take her anywhere I wish. The crew must obey me because I am the captain. I am Captain Edwin Nonsuch! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I will explore strange new worlds and find riches and fame and fortune! AHHH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    ***

    I wish I had a better sense of direction.

    ***

    Where are we? It’s too foggy to see much of anything. If it weren’t for the endless motion of the boat, I’d wonder if we were still a-sea.

    ***

    We’re running low on supplies. And the fog is thickening. It smells like raw fish and fresh splinters.

    The crew is not happy.

    I am concerned.

    ***

    I woke up this morning and discovered that my entire crew is gone. I’m all alone on this boat. I should be afraid or infuriated or an ungodly combination, but I’m not. No. That isn’t true. I am infuriated beyond human imagining. How dare they run off on me! I am their captain. I am Captain Edwin Nonsuch!

    ***

    The fog is finally lifting.

    ***

    I am in a ship graveyard. Cracked and dead sailing vessels surround me. Their mouldering wood scrapes my ship’s sides.

    I don’t think I’m going to make it out of here alive.

    ***

    I’m running out of ink.

    ***

    I’m running out of paper.

    ***

    I’m running out of food.

    ***

    My ship’s wheel snapped off. I tried to fix it.

    ***

    I’m drifting. My boat is being scraped and scored by the dead boats.

    I don’t know what to do.

    ***

    My boat stopped moving. It seems to be wedged in a cluster of dead ship parts.

    I am Captain Edwin Nonsuch. Captain of a shipwreck.

    ***

    I am down to the last three pieces of paper and the last inch of ink.

    ***

    I see a girl walking among the wreckage below. A ghost? Hallucination? I don’t know. I will investigate.

    She is not human. She offers me freedom in exchange for any fame I or my descendants could hope to attain. It is a great price to pay. For I greatly desire fame and fortune.

    ***

    I am free of the Dooming Triangle. I am on dry land.

    I can only hope that my descendants will understand and accept the reasons for my sacrifice.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a very clever story of damnation and madness, Cosi. The “sound byte” form accentuates Edwin’s encroaching doom quite well. I love that he noted running out of ink and paper before worrying about the food… 🙂

    2. regisundertow

      That was equal turns hilarious and unsettling. It’s easy to veer into caricature territory with the diary-like format, but not here. My only criticism is that the funny bits and the scary bits are in completely opposite extremes. Within such a small number of words, the switch feels a bit abrupt.

    3. snuzcook

      Cosi, I am so glad you resurrected the Edwin saga! Makes a lot of sense!
      I agree with the other comments. Very effective pacing. Wonderful the way you illustrated your MCs character flaws and deteriorating condition. I really enjoyed the romp!

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thanks, snuz!

        Like I said, I just couldn’t help it. This prompt just felt like a good situation to drag poor Edwin (or his ancestor) into. And this story is why present day Edwin always fails in his grandiose schemes. 😀

      1. cosi van tutte

        😀 😀 😀

        Hi, JM!

        It’s been a while. I hope all is going well with you.

        This prompt just seemed right for Edwin to make his return. Well. It’s his ancestor, but…close enough? 🙂

  29. Hiba Gardezi

    Ladies and gentlemen, this is a tale of human flesh and magic.
    The first time.
    Are you up for magic?
    Then come on.

    The lights off shore have always instilled a fire in me.
    A beautiful mystical flame.
    And now as those that store a music in their throats,
    Let it out to dance with the air in this mortal world.
    I can’t help but slip off.
    Off land.
    Onto sea.
    Before saying my goodbyes.
    What good would it do to my heart anyway?
    These people are not people of dreams.
    They are people of facts.
    Before the facts are edited.
    The lanterns belong to the land.
    The darkness to the deep and I sail and swim and wade in solitude in a boat.
    Of wood.
    On water.
    Under stars.
    And dreams.
    You see, I am not alone!
    I have my dreams.
    And the stars.
    They say it’s not real.
    That there’s an edge and I will fall and die.
    But how could the world have an edge.
    I don’t believe we are the only people.
    We cannot be the only souls living.
    There are others,
    Like me.
    I will find them.
    But first…
    The “Bermuda Triangle”.
    I heard it being called off the sea.
    It’s real.
    They say it’s not.
    I sit.
    And feel the rounded wheel.
    Round!
    I move my hand over it.
    Then the planks.
    Smooth!
    I feel the smoothness.
    And then off.
    If you go a little further you fall.
    Could it be?
    Are they right?
    Is the earth a plank?

    * * *

    The earth is not a plank.
    The earth is round.
    The land rises up.
    Before me.
    The Bermuda triangle.
    But… it is strange.
    No, I don’t know what makes it strange,
    But it is strange.
    What is that light I see suddenly?

    1. Observer Tim

      This is wonderfully poetic. You’re doing a great job developing your own style of storytelling, and this is a prime example. I love the way you capture the emotion in small bubbles that come together in the course of reading. 🙂

  30. Hiba Gardezi

    When your fingers haven’t brushed
    Past keys on a keyboard to make electrical gusts of poetry
    For.
    So.
    Long.
    What are you to do?
    To sit and propose solutions to your heart and mind,
    Again you need this bit of creating, making, saying, doing, imagining.
    And it is what brings you back.
    After so long.
    To this world of men and women
    Of familiar instinct.
    To speak of dreams,
    Of beauty,
    Of dancing light,
    Of love.
    And now you tip toe back on stage to let your feelings loose before these people who have done so before you.
    Now, you hope to be accepted.

    1. cosi van tutte

      I accept! 😀

      It’s good to “see” you again, Hiba. It’s been a while.

      Your poem is lovely and heartfelt. I love this line -> “Again you need this bit of creating, making, saying, doing, imagining.” because it is so true. 🙂

  31. ReathaThomasOakley

    The Journal
    494 words

    (Translated into contemporary English from the Latin from the recently discovered journal of Rodrigo Ponce de Leon, reputed to be the father, or possibly uncle, of Juan Ponce de Leon, who accompanied Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the new world in 1493. Existing records for Rodrigo note a birth year of 1450, but no death records have been found.)

    I have heard the rumors, that the Genoan Christopher Columbus is gathering a crew after seducing the queen, bragging that he will be the first to use the sea to reach Japan. 1492 is to be his year, but little does he know 1491 has to be the year, my year, the signs are evident, beginning with the comet in February. I can read the signs.

    I now have a copy of the map Columbus is said to be using, the huge map, four feet by six and one half feet by the German cartographer Henricus Martellus, now living in Florence. I study the map each day as soon as the sun crawls into my rooms here in Santervas de Campos, Castile. Rooms only because my family has also been seduced by the Genoan, even Juan, my Juan. He can only sing the praises of that braggart, wants to sail with him. He will soon learn who is the greater explorer. Until then I cannot live in my family home, where they mock me, only in rooms above a tavern.

    Only my mother knows of my plans. She has faith in me, has sold her farm and stock to fund my dream, but her gift came with an obligation. She insisted I travel to a wise woman in her ancestral village. This I did for gratitude and love. But, now I live each day holding back the fear that has haunted me since the woman’s words.

    “Beware,” she hissed through black and broken teeth, “the trinity awaits.”

    “Trinity,” I asked, “Father, Son, Holy Ghost?”

    “Nay, the three sides that form the triangle, beware. Those who dare sail across the three sides are no more, beware. The storms, the storms…” I dropped silver in her lap, left her hovel, but her wailing of the storms never ceased.

    I cannot show fear to the men I’m gathering for the voyage. Men I recruit in the tavern where I go each night to conserve my candles. I find few sailors there, but rough men who like me live in rooms, not in homes, men who have no ties, who will sail with me to the east by sailing west. I have promised them riches beyond their imaginations that will be found at the end of our voyage.

    But, I cannot forget the wise woman’s words. I search my map, but see no indication of a three sided configuration, but if there is such a trinity, such a triangle, I will face it, and the storms, bravely, cross it and find Japan. In twenty days we sail.

    (Couldn’t help it, had to throw in some history.)

    1. Observer Tim

      I love the historical take, including both what you researched and what you made up. You also did a great job expressing the nervousness and trepidation before what could have been a history-making journey. Great job! 🙂

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, at a suggestion from my husband please consider this in place of the seventh paragraph:

        “Nay, the three sides that form the triangle, beware. Those who dare sail across the three sides are no more, beware.” Then, with a fearful grimace her cracked lips parted and I caught a glimpse of extra teeth in her blood red gums as she screamed, “The storms, the storms…” I dropped silver in her lap, left her hovel, but her wailing of the storms never ceased.

    2. snuzcook

      You created all the trepidation without the ship ever leaving port, great choice!
      Love the details you included — especially the small detals that say so much: “I cannot show fear to the men I’m gathering for the voyage. Men I recruit in the tavern where I go each night to conserve my candles.”

    3. S.P. Geary

      I like the use of a “found” diary. I love historical fiction and when it’s combined with letters or diaries that have cropped up, been translated or published it really makes history come alive. Great job!

  32. Trevor

    Word Count: 796

    Ghosts Of The Triangle

    “Captain! We’re approaching the Bermuda Triangle!” Calvin Meldone’s first mate, Lester Fultz, called as he burst into his office. He was followed by two other crew members, who shared the same panicked expression as Lester.

    “I know. What of it?” Calvin replied, looking up from the map lay out in front of him.

    “Sir, you know those waters are cursed! Any ship that passes through them will sink to a watery grave. We must alter our course!” Lester continued, a surprising sense of urgency in his voice. But Calvin, being a notoriously stubborn man, didn’t give in to his second-in-command’s concerns.

    “Oh, Lester, you should hear yourself. You’re acting like a damn fool! This Bermuda Triangle nonsense is nothing but hogwash. Now stop wasting my time and get back to work-and don’t you dare veer off course!” Calvin ordered, his voice turning as vicious as a Rottweiler’s bark. The men were clearly still frightened by the prospect of sailing into the deadliest part of the ocean, but they feared the wrath of their brutish captain more, so they just put their heads down and meekly exited the office.

    But once his crew members had left, Calvin began to pace the cabin anxiously, a hand clutched firmly on his churning stomach. His gut always gave him trouble when he felt nervous. While Calvin wasn’t one to believe superstition, he couldn’t help but feel that disaster awaited his ship. The skies had been a dark grey since morning and he had heard soft booms of thunder in the distance. It was enough dread to give the man indigestion.

    Just then, frightened cries from the main deck pulled Calvin from his dark thoughts. He ran out onto the deck and realized that the stormy weather had intensified ten fold. Strong winds hit Calvin’s mustached face like a slap. Rain pelted the old ship, covering the deck in a slick layer of water. The once gray sky was now charcoal black. The terrified crewmates clutched to anything they could find, desperate to avoid sliding overboard.

    “YOU BLOODY MURDERER!!!!!” The scream ripped through the chaos of the storm like a butcher knife. Calvin’s eyes bulged as he recognized the anguished cry of rage. It was a voice that, at one point, brought him great joy and happiness. But now, it only struck terror in his heart.

    It was the voice of his deceased wife, Lena.

    Calvin met Lena when he was a young man out of the military and he was smitten with her from the moment he saw her unwavering beauty. Soon afterward, Calvin gathered the courage to ask Lena for her hand, and she eagerly accepted. It seemed as though the two sweethearts would have a long, happy life together.

    But then, a few months after their wedding, Calvin turned to the bottle to cope with the painful memories he took home from the war. While under the influence of the booze, Calvin began to take out his pented-up frustrations on Lena, both verbally and physically. But Lena, still very much in love with Calvin, stayed in hopes of helping him through his rough patch.

    But one night, after a long nigh at the bar, Calvin staggered home and began to scream at Lena. When she tried to get away from him, Calvin grabbed a meat tenderizer and attacked her. By the time he was done, Lena’s enchanting face had been transformed into a bloody pulp. Once Calvin sobered up and saw what he had done, he panicked and buried Lena’s body in the field behind their home. When he was asked about Lena’s sudden disappearance, he claimed she ran away with another man. The guilt had eaten away at the poor man’s heart, destroying his once vibrant spirit and replacing it with ice.

    But now, it seemed as if his wife was back from the dead.

    “Lena? Is that you, darling?” Calvin called out, his voice quivering.

    “DON’T CALL ME DARLING, YOU BASTARD! YOU MURDERED ME IN COLD BLOOD!” Lena’s voice cried in a booming shout. “NOW YOU WILL PAY!”

    All of a sudden, a powerful wind blew over the ship. Calvin gasped as he felt the ship swiftly tilt to the right, sending him and the rest of his crew plummeting into the freezing ocean. As the rest of his crew screamed out for help, Calvin looked to the dark sky-and gasped when he saw something in the clouds.

    It was Lena’s face, twisted in a look of pure, unadulterated hatred.

    The next morning, the crew of Captain Meldone was found floating in the ocean by a passing cargo ship. Upon examination, it was determined that they had all simultaneously drowned. It was as if some force had pulled them all underwater at the exact same time.

    1. Observer Tim

      Very nice, Trevor; great take on “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” or in this case killed. Also, you had very well-done descriptions of the storm. There’s a few spots that could use tightening on the verb tenses, but they don’t really affect the story. 🙂

  33. snuzcook

    Eshewing the entire controversy of the New World historical references, I chose a different 1491 to explore. Tho I too take great liberties with all aspects of this tale. I believe, tho, from my research that the year BCE 1491 is correct for this construct.

    BCE 1491 The Sea of Sand

    An enormous rock outcropping shaped like the head of a goat stands before us. The sea of desert lays in shadowed swells between us and the only shelter from the sun for miles around. A constant wind draws wisps of sand from the tips of the dunes like froth from waves before the rain. But no rain tinges the air that is as dry as garlic skin. No dampness eases our cracked lips.

    It is amazing to me, myself a stranger named among these Hebrews by virtue of blood and not by creed, that a people who profess to have but one God and one set of rules to live by can be so fickle. They who managed to use that strength of faith to cower a pharaoh, now disagree fundamentally, in the privacy of their tents and in dusty conversation along the road, on how to venture forth.

    Some would mutiny, taking their livestock and their families and striking out on their own. The fear of Egyptian chariots, now drowned in the angry sea, no longer herds them together for safety. The yoke has been removed from the human oxen, and they want to graze at will.

    Among The People there is grumbling. Among our number are slaves of a vanquished and extinct race whom we welcomed to escape from bondage in our number. They say that this triangular pillar of stone is the home of their god, Ber. They speak wide-eyed and hushed of the consequences of trespassing in his sacred territory. But our leaders are clear, and the miracle of the flame and the smoke are irrefutable: Our way cuts directly under the shadow of Ber’s domain. Moses and Aaron are deaf to any words of anxiety or caution.

    The followers of Ber have a saying: Ber ensures (in Hebrew, Ber muda). They say that Ber will ensure the safety of the faithful, and ensure the destruction of the transgressors. Many eyes look upward with trepidation as we venture into the shadow of Ber’s sacred place.

    Aaron’s orders are passed through the multitude. We will camp in the cool lee of the rock, on the very feet of the pagan god, Ber. At mid-day, as tents are still being staked and flocks arrayed, the sky darkens. Soon the sun can be seen as an impotent disk behind a brown veil of dust. In the lee side, we are protected from the howling savagery of the wind, but there is no shelter from the pervasive sand or the eerie darkness. The wind shrieks among the rocks and the tent lashings, rolling unsecured possessions away into the darkness. Frightened cries and wails are carried and spun around the tents like veils lost to the wind. Even my own heart crouches in my throat like a fat toad, so great is the terror of the storm.

    Suddenly, on a notch of the flanks of the rock, Moses appears. Somehow, we can see him, as if he is in a place becalmed. He raises his staff and the winds abate. He raises his staff again, and the sky clears. He turns toward the rugged rock face and raises his staff one more time and utters words we cannot hear. From the face of the rock, a spring gurgles forth and its waters soon form a rivulet among the scattered stones. Quickly women come forth with their baskets and jars and stop up the flow into a basin that fills with fragrant water.

    I am again struck with awe, as I watch The People quickly retrieve their possessions and resume the domestic rhythm of living. It is not the first miracle I have seen, and I suspect that before my journey with these wanderers is over, it will not be the last. But oh, what a tale it has become!

    1. Observer Tim

      Wow. This is a beautiful descriptive account of part of Exodus. And, true to form, the Hebrews haul out a foreign god before the Red Sea even stops sloshing in its banks…

      Very nice. I hadn’t even thought of this theme, but you pulled it off wonderfully. 🙂

      1. snuzcook

        Thanks, Tim. I couldn’t seem to muster sufficient imagination to come up with something set in the Bahamas, so I had to find a different 1491 to deal with. ;0)

      1. snuzcook

        Thanks, Cosi! I felt like I was really taking literary license to acrobatic levels researching ways to put Bermuda and Triangle into the story. I should be punished!

    2. regisundertow

      Well, that was definitely original and something I enjoyed reading very much. Adapting the Triangle mythos was risky, but there wasn’t a moment when I thought it wasn’t working.

    3. Amaria

      This is certainly different from the others I read and that’s a good thing. It stands out.
      I love this line: “Even my own heart crouches in my throat like a fat toad, so great is the terror of the storm.”

      Well done,

  34. Observer Tim

    BERMUDA

    Looming black clouds blanketed the sky from horizon to horizon, illuminated only by occasional flashes and streaks of lightning. The man lashed to the wheel held on for dear life as the Bloody Shrike rocked and jolted in the winds.

    The Cap’n staggered up, steadying himself by digging chunks out of the wooden railing with the sharp hook that took the place of his left hand. He leaned to the helmsman and shouted.

    “It looks like we’ll be having a bit o’ rough seas, Mister Gavin! Steady as she goes!”

    “Aye Cap’n!”

    The wheel spun and flung Gutbuster Gavin face first into the deck; by the time he’d regained his footing the Cap’n had gone below.

    The men were gathered below decks in the galley, passing around a few bottles of rum and clinging to the tables for dear life. Mad Steven was dancing a jig to Drummerboy Dan’s concertina, pausing occasionally to fall face first to the deck, while Tortuga Zeke watched Busty Bob’s chest heave with the swell and wished for softer days in port.

    Cap’n Jack Bastord watched his crew with pride, his hook jammed into the ironworks of a candle sconce. They were good lads, scoundrels and blackguards to a man. But pride would have to wait; he had to know more about the Treasure of Bermuda.

    “Mister Anachronism!”

    A young man in fancy collar and tights –what sort of man wears tights?– looked up from his book.

    “Aye, Cap’n?”

    “What did ye call this again?”

    “It’s the Bermuda…”

    “Aye, that be it! One at the top, two at the bottom! These Bermuda Shorts o’ yours have some choppy waters, boy!”

    “Uh, Triangle Sir. The seas here are incredibly dangerous; I told you we should sail around.”

    “An’ doin’ what I’s told is what kept me from bein’ Cap’n until ol’ Greenbeard fell off the ship them five times! How long does this bit o’ chop last?”

    “All the way through I’m afraid, Sir.”

    “An’ that’s why you ain’t Cap’n! Yer afraid. Mister Prancer, what do we say about bein’ afraid?”

    The reindeer looked up from her bale of rum-soaked hay. “We says a thankee to ol’ Santa and damn the waves to hell, Cap’n!”

    “Just so. Now, Knackers, tell me more about this treasure. I can’t wait to feel that gold betwixt me fingers.”

    “That’s Anachronism, Cap’n. And the treasure isn’t so much physical as metaphorical. Due to a calendar misprint, we’re now in the year 1491. Since Juan Bermudez hasn’t found it yet, you can set up your own colony and claim all the land in Bermuda for yourself.”

    “Mister Knackers, land exists for the sole purpose of buryin’ treasure in! How much treasure are we going to find there?”

    “None, Cap’n. We’ll have to earn it and bury it ourselves.”

    “Earn it? EARN IT!? That’s not how we do things here! Grab him, boys. This lubber’s goin’ overboard and we’re goin’ ta turn the Shrike around and find some real plunder!”

    1. Observer Tim

      For those who haven’t read back a year and more, Prancer is on board the Shrike as part of a work exchange program with Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of pirates. Busty Bob is a man born without the “family jewels” and suffers from “tea chest” which gives him the upper body development of a wench; he is not a girl and his real name is not Jennifer.

    2. snuzcook

      Polly and I are whistling and whooping! I knew it was going to be a fun romp as soon as I saw “Bloody Shrike.” I didn’t remember Prancer being aboard, but what the hay, why not? Thanks for resurrecting these guys for us!

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Snuz. I knew the pirates would be back but I didn’t think Brian would hand it to me on a platter. Prancer got her turn because at the end of the reindeer story (Dasher’s time aboard), all the reindeer wanted a chance to fly the Shrike.

    3. regisundertow

      Earn it? I’d throw him overboard meself!

      Lovely story, OT! I haven’t read your pirate work before. I found myself stopping every few sentences to admire at your choice of words.

      1. Observer Tim

        This is a hard question: they’re one part Silver Horde (Terry Pratchett), one part old pirate movies, and one part Yosemite Sam. Other characters have been added out of literary necessity (e.g. Mister Anachronism). The pirates are both fun and extremely hard to write; it’s tough making lovable characters out of complete miscreants.

  35. cosi van tutte

    I apologize for any facts I may have tweaked.

    “Well then, sir.”

    “Don’t call me sir.” He pressed a couple of buttons before peering through a periscope. “Makes me feel like I ought to be wearing a blazing helmet. Ahh, lovely.” He pushed the periscope upwards. “Never did like helmets. Rotted beastly things. Smashes the hair.” He pulled a lever. “Call me Doctor. Or The Doctor. Whichever you prefer. I’m happy either way.” He pressed a button three times. “There we are.”

    “Yes. Here we are indeed. My question is—”

    “Oh!” He pulled down the periscope and peered through it again. “Yes. Yes. Yes. Uhh, no. Yes.”

    Priscilla Penslee talked through his mutterings. “—where are we?”

    “Oh, you silly lass.” He raised the periscope again. “It isn’t a matter of where. Although that is important. It is a matter of when. When! Now, that…ha-ha! Now, that is a very important matter.”

    “I swear you talk to hear your own voice, not to make any sense.”

    “Hmm? Did you say something? Anyway! We are here!”

    “That much is certain, but where, when, what is here?”

    He clapped his hands. “Now, that is the most intelligent question you’ve asked me today. Where when what is here? Hmmm. When is 1491 – 475 years before the Bermuda Triangle was first described and 12 years before Bermuda was discovered by Europeans. According to historians, the Bermuda Triangle simply didn’t exist before that set date. Ahh-ha! But they are all wrong.” He positively glistened with glee. “The Bermuda Triangle has always been here. It’s a paradoxical time ribbon. It is where I and the other Time Lords come from.”

    Priscilla arched her eyebrow. “You come from the Bermuda Triangle. What? From under the ocean?”

    “What? No. Time Lords are not fish or mermaids. It’s…ehhh…” He shrugged. “I don’t know how to explain it to you. Sometimes your language can be quite limiting, I hope you know that.”

    “Don’t blame me. I didn’t create the English language.”

    “No, but one of your ancestors did.”

    “What?”

    “She should have done a better job of it.”

    “I say, what?”

    “Anyway—”

    “No. No no no. You can’t just brush off a statement like that. I want to know more about this ancestor.”

    He frowned. “Some other time.”

    “Sorry, but I don’t trust your sense of time.”

    “In that case, I’ll tell you.”

    “When?”

    “Later.”

    “Of course.”

    “So! We’ve established that the when is 1491, which leaves us with the what and the where. What is here? and Where is here? What is here?” He took his screwdriver out of his pocket and ran diagnostics on it. “My ancestral home.”

    “You have a home?”

    He peered up at her. “Really. I don’t know why that’s a shock. Even weeping angels have a home. No one knows where that is, of course. But I’m sure it’s due to a lack of interest rather than unsolved mystery.” He looked back down at his sonic screwdriver. “Who would want to go to a planet full of weeping angels, I’d like to know.” He smiled. “I must say, it would make for quite an adventure.”

    “I’ll skip out on that one, if you don’t mind. What is your home like?”

    “Safety. Contentment. Serenity.” He shook the screwdriver a couple of times and held it up to his ear. “Ahh, there you are. The purr I love to hear.” He shut it down and returned it to his pocket. “I had to leave. Life was too safe. I wanted excitement. I wanted to dance with death.” He sat down at his console. “I’ve danced with her many times. And many times she has danced away with my companions.” He frowned. “I don’t know why I’m telling you all this, Priscilla Penslee.”

    A red button flashed on his console and a bored woman’s voice announced, “Warning. Daleks. Warning. Daleks. Warning.”

    He quickly pulled down the periscope and looked through it. “No.”

    “What is it?” She tried to push him out of the way so she could look through the periscope. He stood his ground. “What’s happening?”

    “The Daleks are attacking my past.” He grabbed Priscilla’s hand and ran towards the front door.

    “You never did tell me where we are.”

    He looked down at her. “Oh? I thought I did. We’re in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle.” He smiled, but it was not happy. “Let’s exterminate some Daleks.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Great timing, Cosi. I just watched the season premiere of Doctor Who before coming in to post my story. This sounds rather like Matt Smith so if that was your aim, bravo! (too clever for Eccleston, too madcap for Tennant, and Capaldi’s only had one companion). The only old Doctor that fits is McCoy (another personal favourite).

      The story is great and captures the feel of a Time Lord wonderfully. I bow in respect, then start hobbling as fast as I can to get away from there! 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        “Say what” Cosi. This reminds me of Doctor Watson, Sherlock’s bumbling side kick. This is such a fine read. Th english flavour is there wether you wrote it or not. Great fun.,where is two?

  36. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    Very much different than what I usually write, but I like to experiment occasionally.

    The Lonely Sailor

    The day they left port, the waves crashed hard, and the tide rolled out like the bared teeth of a snarling dog. The sea, indeed, was angry, but there was no doubt that they’d find their way. Their faith was like a lighthouse, leading them through the darkness and thusly through the storm toward locations unknown.

    After weeks of traveling through tumultuous and unforgiving waters, there was but one sailor left named Thames. It was their life, and now it was their fate. Thames held strong to the helm as the wind ripped at the sails, froze him, and pulled the boat right. He held strong and pushed through it, turning away each violent pull.

    In the distance, he saw the storm brewing in the sky. The boat rose and fell as his internal convictions had during that long summer journey. The wind has started cold, but was now frigid as if each gust carried with it millions of icy teeth nipping at his skin. It cut deep, penetrating the young man’s bones, slicing through his soul, and by the end, there seemed to be nothing left for him to hold onto, except for the helm. Even his sanity seemed to slip as the ocean refused to relent, rolling and rolling along with the booming thunder overhead.

    He screamed at the ocean, “I’m ready!”

    Up to this point, death had slowly taken the crew, and he spent every night dreaming someone else was on this ship. Anyone but him. Then he realized that maybe it was his destiny, and even if it wasn’t, no one else deserved to weather this storm. It was his choice to be on that ship, to sail to the ends of the earth to pay the way for his family’s survival. Therefore, he pushed on, praying for mercy for his dark dreams that someone else take his place, and instead embracing his destiny.

    The boat eventually started rocking harder than it had before. it was as if he’d come to a part of the ocean that was unlike any other place he’d been. He tried to hold on tight, but the storm ripped him from the grips and tossed his across the deck. He felt his back slam against the side, and a moment later, water was all around him.

    The giant waves swelled and crashed on each other, and in an instant, he slipped under the surface. He held his breath and swam hard, trying to find his way to the surface. He felt every swell and every crash, rise and drop, and finally he couldn’t hold his breath any longer. He gulped, coughed, gulped, and coughed.

    At some point, he thought everything went black, but instead, the lonely sailor looked up, and the sky began to clear. The ocean calmed and the sun melted the clouds away. The heavens turned an icy blue, but he felt warm. As he found his way to the surfaced, he cried a weary tear that his fear had finally ended in peace.

    He looked around the ocean, but the boat had gone. The still water was like glass reflecting the sky, and he looked up. Nothing felt right, but everything also felt very right.

    “What’s happened?” he asked himself, and though there was no one around, he hears something answer.

    “Are you ready?”

    “What?”

    Suddenly, he rose from the water, and stood upon it. He no longer felt weary or lost. He felt found, but there was still a terrible fright within him. He could only think about the strange things happening to him, thinking about where he was and how he’d arrived there. In all his life, no storm ever passed that fast. It seemed to be a miracle, a damn frightening one.

    He closed his eyes, and then felt someone grab his hand. He immediately opened them, but saw no one. That’s when he knew he wasn’t alone, and an odd feeling of comfort washed over him. He quickly should’ve realized that he had no reason to be frightened. The storm was gone. The world as he knew it was gone. He was gone, and yet, there he was, in a world beyond worlds, where the great seraphs sing the praise of the heavens leading lost sailors to the ocean of eternity.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a lovely fable, Jay. From some of the language I get the sense of what it would have been had you written Moby Dick, but the ending is totally yours and wonderfully inspiring. Unless the MC is dead, in which case it’s inspiring in a heavenly way. 🙂

      1. regisundertow

        I’d say this is closer to the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, with its description of solitary madness and theme of penance. A lovely fable, indeed, and one I much enjoyed reading.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        So another side shows in your writing. i agree with all the praise above. Thsi reads like a story from deep within the recesses, you sometimes hide. It is so poetic, real, dream like, inner soul of a story. You should be very proud of this one, Jay. I am, just reading it.

  37. Amy

    There is little I remember of my journey here. Fragments, really. A glimmer of light on the glossy bay; the coarse rigging scraping through my hands; the sour stench of sweat. Of my life before that, almost nothing. As I sprint through the shadowy trees, a song plays in my head, the organ soft and lilting. It smooths the sharper pieces of memory, the way the sky opened up, scorching the sails and leaving only crumbs for the sea to swallow.

    Howls rise behind me. They know I have left. I push myself harder, clutch the wet cloth at my temple as though the contents of my head will spill out on the rocks below. I must keep moving. I must make it to the coast before dawn. With the sun will come the desert heat and if I am still there, I will roast like a hen, the way I did when I arrived. I was a plump hen, then. I am not anymore.

    I can hear their shouts of “popal” behind me, can imagine their wild black eyes in the moonlight. I still do not know why they call me that or where their guttural tongue derives from. Every morning at the well, I search my reflection for the same dark eyes, but the ripples always hide the truth. Deep down, I know. I am not of this land, of these people with the night on their skin and in their eyes.

    I can smell the sea as I draw closer, the fragrant salty mist in the air. A whoop close behind sends me diving for cover. I count the quick beats of my heart: one-two, three-four, five-six, seven-eight, but no one appears. They have never used violence against me, but the threat has followed me from task to menial task. Listening to their thunderous footsteps, their shrieks piercing the night, there is no question what will happen to me if I am caught. I have watched the pack of young men disappear into the woods every morning and return with bloodied hands and drenched brows at dusk. What they are hunting, I will never know. No carcasses accompany them home. I’ve not seen hide nor hair of any beast in this place. The only beasts here are men.

    The tree line breaks open to a monochrome landscape. Scanning the moonlit beach, I trace the pattern of the shoreline with a finger, desperate to recall the shape on which I landed weeks ago. Or perhaps it was only days. I can’t be sure. But the wreck must still be there. Of that, I am certain. No tribe of aborigines could move such a mountain.

    I run through the glowing sand, my feet betraying me as they sink deeper with each step. Every time I round a curve, I think I will see it- my freedom. But the coast is heartbreakingly empty. It must be out in the water, carried on the tide. I plunge in, the water warm as tea this close to the sand, and force my way out to sea. It’s as if the island has me on a leash, pulling me back in despite my best efforts to swim away. My limbs tire, my head dips below to an endless black.

    Then light. Blinding light. Blistered skin and salt everywhere. Sand scraping, chafing as I’m pulled on to shore. I cry out, but there is no sound, only desiccation in my mouth. I crack my puffed eyelids open to the men on the beach, scattered like inked letters on parchment. There is a mass hovering to the left like a mountain on the sand. “Popal,” one of them says to me as he cleaves the last remnant of wreckage from my dead arms.

    I look on the beach with the strangest sense I have been there before.

    1. jhowe

      Well Amy, if that wasn’t a magnificent display of suffering and fear and extreme hardship, nothing is. The language was poetic and precise at the same time. It really flowed well. Everything was shown and not told which really made it a good read.

    2. regisundertow

      I think I’ll be reading this quite a few times before the next prompt. I love how your use of language takes center stage, letting the supernatural elements decorate the narrative without overwhelming it (not an easy thing to do given the subject matter).

    3. Reaper

      Damn. This is why I haven’t been reading as much here. I get home tired as hell, and I see this amazing story. I know it is great but I know I am missing things as well. Not because of the writing, but because my brain refuses to process right. This is that good. Keep it up.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          This is so real, I feel the damp sand working it’s way between my toes as I read. Fear is just a four letter word until you read this story then it becomes so much more. Great job Amy.

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