Captain off Deck

The ocean is a vast and beautiful thing. Taking a quick peak off the side of your boat you realize something strange. The tentacles slowly creeping up the hull aren’t your imagination and the captain’s nowhere to be found. Where do we go from here?

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

Want more creative writing prompts? Pick up a copy of
A Year of Writing Prompts: 365 Story Ideas for Honing
Your Craft and Eliminating Writer’s Block. There’s a prompt for
every day of the year and you can start on any day.


Order now from our shop.

You might also like:

619 thoughts on “Captain off Deck

  1. dowritenow

    This is way over the word limit and I’m not too hopeful of it being read.
    Many thanks if you do. Constructive criticism would be welcome.

    —— Rayla Comes Home ——

    All things happen for a reason. But the truth is not for those quick to mark the good and bad of things.

    Who can tell what queer impulse brought her to those waters

    She was the last of the royal offspring, unremarkable in all respects, forgettable as the rain in times of plenty.

    Year after year, she had watched the king and her brothers struggle to shut the door on their covetous neighbors.

    In recent times there had been talk of their enemies banding together. They could still hope to swiftly pick them off, one by one, but not without deepening their coffers ten fold.

    She had heard tales of a magical world where the rarest of rare gems, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, grew on trees and shinning rivers of molten gold and silver nourished the amethystine soil.

    Many had left to put their fortunes to test. None had returned.

    And still, Rayla of seventeen summers, armed with little more than a fairytale, determined that the only way to save her people would be to bring home this unknown, unseen bounty.

    She set sail, one morning, in the quiet hours, on a small vessel with seven grizzled gallants, too old, too frail to be of use to the king.

    To their astonishment they found themselves at the shores of the fabled land after a tranquil journey of but a few weeks.

    There could be no mistaking the brilliant light setting the island ablaze. Sparkling jewels of all hues, blue, violet, green, and many that could not be named lay half buried in the stepped rock face.

    They quickly dropped anchor and in great excitement the captain and his men raced towards the iridescent marvel with pickaxes and large sacks.

    Rayla watched from their ship with delight the ease with which the old rocks yielded their gems. Soon they would be on their way home and all would be well.

    The men continued their plunder, walking further and further away from the ship, growing steadily smaller, until Rayla could no longer see them.

    Hours passed. Rayla began to wish they would return. Surely they had enough, by this time, to keep the kingdom fortified for several generations to come.

    Rayla made up her mind to go after her men. Just as she was about to climb down from the ship a long, tentacle shot out and wrapped itself around her right ankle.

    Rayla gave a cry and looked down to find a large amorphous grey creature with tiny, green eyes staring up at her. Innumerable hairy tentacles swarmed about her.

    Rayla screamed again and yanked her foot away, only to lose her balance and land on several of the writhing feelers. The horror’s furry touch caused her to retch.

    By this time she was sobbing loudly. Fear and revulsion fought to see who would choke her first. And somehow, in the midst of her terror, a violently shaking Rayla of the hopelessly knotty tresses found herself wondering how the thing managed to keep those tentacles from getting tangled.

    It may have been that moment of shared understanding or perhaps the monster simply did not want to be sat on anymore. It suddenly released Rayla and gathering its numerous tentacles slithered away and over the side of the ship.

    Shocked by the unexpected reprieve, Rayla remained sprawled on the deck for several minutes and then still whimpering, she stood up and made a trembling dash towards the rocks.

    Strange whistling, sucking sounds started to fill the air around her. It was colder now. A thin mist swirled around her.

    And there, just beyond the rock face were the seven men, chipping away at the gems, with their tentacles.

    “Stop! Stop! ”, Rayla ran to each of them.

    “We have enough!”

    “Please stop! Please!”

    “I’m sorry! Forgive me! Forgive me!”

    But there were no minds left to heed her cries.

    Even as she watched their bodies shrank. Their faces lost all form until all they had left were their eyes and their tentacles.

    Rayla remained still as the stone she was standing on. The creatures, her men, slowly crawled away.

    And then this child of no particular grace or wisdom came to a decision. She would stay on the island so this fate may never again befall another.

    Months passed, perhaps years, it was hard to tell. Many came with desire in their hearts. They listened to her tale and laughed at a mad woman’s demented ramblings. Some were kind and offered to take her home. But none left.

    The tentacled creatures would crawl to her from time to time bringing her shellfish and other fruits of the sea.

    They would often stay nestling by her feet.

    Perhaps they remembered in a primitive way something of what they had once been.

    Perhaps her touch brought them comfort.

    As time went by the weight she carried grew lighter. The pain dissolved. The guilt crumbled and turned to dust.

    She waited for a miracle, no longer.

    Rayla was now content to just be.

    Then one day walking about the island she felt something sharp between her toes. It was a blue gem. She bent down to remove the little stone. The creatures following her swarmed about, curious.

    She picked it up and in that moment the little jewel came to life, it’s warm glow briefly turning them all blue. And Rayla watched in quiet wonder as one by one the creatures were restored to their human forms.

    Rayla and her men returned to their kingdom with the gems that had waited with her.

    News of her healing gift spread. Enemies became protectors.

    In time others came forward to learn from her but there were not many. For only those who had stood true in the face of great adversity could bring forth the healing power of the gems.

    And thus did little, insignificant Rayla save her father’s kingdom.

    Perhaps love is kin to the truth in a way that wisdom can never be and in the alchemy of love the basest of creatures may yet come to be a people’s salvation

    Had the seven not succumbed to their greed would Rayla have discovered the true worth of the gems?

    All things happen for a reason.

      1. dowritenow

        Thanks for reading, k.spicer. Yes, it is well over the word limit. sigh. I tried. Kudos to those who can pull off descriptions no matter what the word count.

  2. k.spicer

    You may want to read the first part of Shanghaied that I posted earlier before reading this second part. Hope you like it.

    Shanghaied Part II

    The lighter sprang to life on the first try and seeing that flame was as liberating as it gets. The instant I saw sparks fly from the demolition cord I ran. The narrow corridors leading to the deck seemed to go on forever but the moment I reached topside I knew I was free.

    Leaping over the side of the ship I dove beneath the rolling waves of the Pacific; it was colder than I imagined. The instant I came up for air I felt the compression of multiple explosions erupting simultaneously. I swam as hard as I could away from the burning ship and when I stopped and turned I saw the most beautiful sight I had ever seen.

    The ship was aflame and explosions continued to rattle her from bow to stern sending debris in all directions and for a brief moment I thought I saw the face of Satan appear in the rolling smoke as it bellowed upward toward the sky like some sort of offering to the ocean gods.

    Debris fell like rain from a clear blue sky and I dove beneath the waves again in an effort to avoid being pelted by pieces of the Ocean Ferret as she blew apart in a giant fireball. Then as quickly as it had erupted it went silent.

    When I came up for air I saw the bow of the Ocean Ferret reaching skyward as if desperately grasping for the outstretched hand of God, then succumbing to the realization that there was nothing but empty air. The Ocean Ferret faded and drifted lower and lower until she was swallowed up by the very sea that sustained her since her conception.

    I watched until all that remained of the Ocean Ferret was a few pieces of smoldering debris floating across the turbulent waves and I swam towards what appeared to be a section of flooring or perhaps the remainder of a wall and pulled myself up on it collapsing in exhaustion; free at last.

    Staring at the sky for what seemed like hours I heard a faint sound as if someone was calling out from another world. The sound of splashing caught my attention and as I looked around I saw a figure drawing closer.

    I looked around and grabbed a drifting board to use as an extension to reach the struggling form and draw him into the drifting island. Pulling hard I drew him in to the edge of the raft where he could grab hold and then I froze in horror. A golden toothed smile shined from the water’s edge as Captain Sly took hold of the refuge.

    “Good boy.” The Captain said in his brash tone. “When I sees it was you I thought you would leave your ol’ Capin’ adrift.” Reaching a hand up, he motioned. “Hear boy, giv’ me a han’.”

    Without hesitation I took the board and pushed the Captain backwards dislodging him from the raft, his voice growing dimer as he drifted just out of reach. The last words I heard before the ocean swallowed him were pleas for mercy…something he had never shown.

  3. agnesjack

    I am humbly sorry for this miserable effort. I’ve been incredibly busy and missed the last few prompts so I didn’t want to miss this one, even though the new prompt is up already (RATS!). —Nancy


    Monique heaved a voluptuous sigh. At forty-two she was still quite stunning, although it took a little longer in the mornings to get there. Art, who had invited her on the four-day cruise, had loads of money but he was such a slobbering lover that she was dying to end the relationship. She had agreed to come because she hoped to find a new prospect. Jack, the captain, wasn’t rich enough to be the main course, but he was handsome enough to make a nice side dish. Ralph, the dot-com billionaire and Andre, the real estate tycoon, were definite possibilities, though.

    It was dusk and the men were in the glass-enclosed, air-conditioned stateroom toward the bow, drinking and playing cards with the only other women on the boat — a plain Jane who was actually named Jane, and a young blonde named Leisle.

    Leisle came sauntering toward the stern, still wearing the bikini that barely covered her tight, twenty-something body. Monique resented her intensely.

    “There you are,” Leisle giggled. “I won three games.”

    Monique smiled. You mean they let you win three games, you nit.

    “I just came back to get my wrap. Art put the AC up real high for some reason.”

    My God, Art, you are such a transparent pig, Monique thought as she watched Leisle cover her breasts.

    When Leisle left, Monique climbed the ladder to the upper deck and sat in the covered lounge area. She assumed Jack was at the helm just above. Jack had resisted her advances thus far, which was highly perplexing. Perhaps, God forbid, the wedding band actually meant something to him. She went to the small bar and rattled some glasses. Maybe he’d hear and come down for a chat.

    In a moment, he did, but he flew past her, climbed down the portside ladder and headed for the bow. He had a gun in his hand.

    Suddenly, there was a thud, a sound of breaking glass and screaming. She heard shots being fired. More screams and more thudding and then silence.

    She called the captain’s name. No response. She called the other names. Nothing. She climbed down the ladder and walked slowly toward the bow. Something had broken all the glass windows on the starboard side of the stateroom. There was no one there, and the stateroom looked like a hurricane had passed through.

    She ran back to the stern and climbed up to the helm. With the captain’s binoculars, she scanned the ocean. A whooshing sound came from behind and a slimy hand reached over her shoulder and grabbed her breast.

    “Art, you jerk! That is not funny,” she said, but when she looked down she saw a tentacle, not a hand. It began to wind around her body. She hit it hard with the binoculars to no avail. Soon the creature had her completely in its grasp — its tentacles placed in all the right seductive places as it slowly lifted her struggling body up toward the sky before sinking into the ocean.

    [Fade to black. Roll credits.]

  4. Manwe38

    Hi all–first part of this is all the way at the bottom. I’m kind of new here, so any feedback would be appreciated. Thank you! (and I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s stories–so much amazing talent on this board!).


    I struggled to keep my balance as the ship lurched beneath my feet like a California earthquake. Below decks, the trunk-like tentacles beat against the hull in a rhythmic parade, matching the pace of the one inside my chest. Several feet away, the hideous man-thing was a rot-infested pillar, seemingly unmoved by the chaos and screams.

    I fell to my knees and looked up at his face. “Who was she?”
    The mandibles around his mouth drooped. “One whom I loved. But I was betrayed.”
    “It doesn’t matter.” His voice became deep, like the bottom of the ocean, or the rush of a conch lying still on the beach. “She cursed me, and now I will live. Like this. Forever. Alone.”
    “Is there something I can do?”
    He laughed, a bubbly sound that conjured images of drowning. “You can’t help. No-one can.”
    “But why sink this ship?”
    “I must her feed her souls. Only then can I rest, at least for awhile.” He cocked his head. “Why do you ask?”
    “I don’t want to die.”
    “You won’t. Once your flesh is consumed, the Kraken will store you inside of its mind.”
    Sounds charming. “For how long?”
    “Until you are freed.” The grin was back. “It depends on your sin. She’ll make you wait, though, a very long time.”
    That wasn’t good. If I were about to be judged, I had reason to worry. I’d never hit her, or broken my vows, but I’d given my heart to gambling first. In the final reckoning, that would cost me some points. Big time.
    The deck dropped like a plane in a storm, and I hit my head on the side of the rail. Around me, the screams had grown into a singular wail, a tornado of sound and living despair. There was the shriek of rending metal, and I knew the ship was breaking apart. I looked back at the figure. “Who are you?” I shouted.
    “Davy Jones, Captain, Flying Dutchman.”
    Ah, Pirates of the Caribbean, three feet away. Great. I scowled; I always thought it would be the Mob, but instead, I was about to get killed by a Disney Movie. There was just one more question I had to ask. It was facetious, but who the hell cared?
    “The girl,” I said. “What was her name?”
    The grin faded. “Do you have to ask?”
    “Indulge me. I’m about to get eaten.”
    “All right.” He sighed. “She’s one of the gods.” He looked away. “Calypso.”

    1. Manwe38

      Thanks guys!

      Wasn’t sure how to end this one, the ‘Disney thing’ just sort of popped I to my head.

      Thank you for reading, and I look forward to posting more.

  5. lionetravail

    Part 2 of this prompt- first, read below (or back the last 2 prompts :))

    North by Due North, continued

    …My right foot broke through the ice as I landed, and I sank in to my thigh. The knee-high arctic muck boots I wore didn’t stop the shock of the frigid water as it soaked through the pants and rushed inside, down around my foot. I braced myself, pulling my foot up, and felt something under the ice grab and yank it downwards.

    This time I sank to my crotch as the ice crunched beneath me, and the muscles in my upper leg began to spasm. I heard a muffled *crump* behind me, and turned in time to see a missile dart from one of the launched helicopters into the water where it exploded. Blood and chunks of meat burst into the air, and the water boiled angrily around us. Several tentacles, dragging at the bow of the ship, suddenly recoiled into the water. The pressure pulling me downwards also vanished, and I struggled, falling forward to crawl along the pack ice and pull my numbing leg out of the water.

    I heard another helo take off, and then the deck guns of the Svalbard opened up as well. I scrabbled towards the Captain’s body when a huge explosion slapped the air behind me, sliding me forwards helplessly. A fireball rolled hissing over the edge of the ice before dissipating, and I turned to see one of the helicopters wrecked and lying ninety degrees to the vertical, impaled on a scorched tentacle for just a moment before both dropped into the ocean and were gone.

    I got to Aksel just as I saw him jerk suddenly upright. Like the doomed helo, he, too, was impaled on a tentacle.

    Then his throat moved and a grotesque parody of his voice emerged:


    This was not good. My gaze was frozen as the sounds of hyperwar went on behind me.

    You have become emboldened by success and your dreams waft the stench of your self-assurance I care not what victories you win over others but your fear and pain and despair taste far sweeter You will fall to despair or to error or to horror or to the elements or to time and your task will remain undone while I endure I offer this gift to feed your nightmares

    … and Askel’s body fell to the pack ice before me as the tentacle whipped back through the ice and into the sea.

    I turned back to see the tentacles disengage from the Svalbard. The cutter had sustained significant damage to the upper superstructure of the railing, and fresh scoring along the steel hull was apparent. One helo flew tight circles around the ship, nose down like it was sniffing for signs of the disappeared enemy. I waved to get the attention of its crew, and it lifted its nose and flew my way.

    The muscles of my leg still spasmed and cramped, but I forced myself into motion and went to Aksel and lifted his corpse in my arms. I turned back, unsteady on my feet, to see a harness lowered for us from the helicopter. The Captain was winched up first as I waited my turn. My teeth chattered and my leg ached, and I knew that neither of those things could be blamed completely on just the cold…

  6. yaxomoxay

    Got a pounding headache… so sorry if it doesn’t make any sense.


    “Cthulhu, I found you!”
    I couldn’t say anything else. He, the Great Priest, was in front of me, bathing next to my tiny boat.
    For the past twenty nine years I looked for him wherever evil was, that is reading unnamable tomes, studying unknown cults, and watching the most popular reality shows.
    Behold, world; HE is in front of me.
    I mean, let’s face it. He’s ugly, big time. The tentacles are the most graceful part of his body and, to my surprise, he’s hairy. The wings are two pathetic sorry leathery triangles. His oval head is… well, too oval, almost geometrically incorrect. His eyes are a mix between My Little Pony’s eyes and a mushroom. You get the picture (I hope you don’t).
    After I found him, I tried to talk to him, I tried to convince him to conquer the world, and eat every single human – except me. And he had to start with my wife.
    Bad decision. The dude was so depressed that he started crying – more than a cry it was an anguished version of a Culture Club’s song.
    “I am not worthy,” he said. “What kind of mighty eldritch, super elder-God, gets capped in the middle of a polluted ocean for thousands of years?”
    I tried to console him, but to no avail. He went on discussing on how disappointed he was about Cthylla, on how Azathoth always cheats at poker, and how Yog-Sothoth stole some sort of key from him earning him the nickname of “The Key”. Apparently, the key let to a safe box located in an important Swiss Bank used and managed by the Great Old Ones.
    I tried to tell him that everything has changed, man reached the moon and so on. Yet, he started complaining on how “that Lovecraft dude, and his minion, August Derleth made a joke out of the name Cthulhu,” and how he is now a card game instead of a revered, yet intangible god.
    Seriously, after twenty minutes of poignant cries, I had enough.
    “Enuff chap!” I said. “I uncapped you from your cage and you didn’t even bother to ask for my name. You are selfish. You think you’re the center of the universe. Bad news, that title belongs to Azathoth.”
    I looked at me, with his wide mushy eyes as if had just slapped him with a wicket bat.
    “Sorry,” he said with his high-pitched voice. It was difficult not to laugh, this huge monster could sing with the Bee Gees. “What is your name?”
    I had enough of him, and I saw no possibility for an alliance, so I decided it was time to be honest with him.
    “Reaper. Grim Reaper.”
    He looked at me, and then Cthulhu was no more.

    1. usedname

      Loved it! Your humor is spot on and the pacing is well done. I kinda did imagine the mushroom eyes as a sorta really sparkly hammer head shark eye.

  7. Bilbo Baggins


    Captain Armistead traces the scrolling letters of the book with his rugged fingers, admiring its meticulous Medieval calligraphy. Emblazoned on its purple cover are the faded words: “Fabulas de Profundo Pelagi”, ripped with age, torn from a monastery’s shelf.

    “It’s in Old Latin. Mid 400s, I’m guessing.” He hands it to me.

    I hold it almost reverently, but want to cast it to the floor at the same time. Its yellow, stained pages echo mystery, king’s halls, smoky betrayal, potions, thousands of ships’ voyages, the different tales and tongues for the same power.

    Flipping through, I spot illustrations, dissections, measurements. I recognize them almost instantly, even without the charts in the ship’s cabin, sprawled haphazardly on his desk.

    “The Colossus,” I whisper, touching three deep scars on my neck, a burning red.

    Captain looks at me with sudden regret, his eyes a drowning blue, knows.

    “I shouldn’t have sent you on that mission.”

    “Doesn’t matter now. I have this—I can defeat it. With time, and with your help.”

    Setting the book on the desk, I swivel to the windows, for once enjoy the view. My hands shoved in my pockets, the green water sloshes in undulating waves, blocking out the horizon. But I get no rest, not even in my hammock, the stars shaking me awake. It could be here, anywhere.

    “I always offer my help, Killens. When have I not?”

    He smiles now through his fatigue, gazing at the maps. The old boards of the Abasco groan around us, beset by the ocean’s brute power.

    Three writhing, pink tentacles burst through the windows, the back wall shattering. I hurtle to the floor, bracing myself for the painful constriction, its suckers wrapping around my limbs. But instead, Captain Armistead lets out a shrill yell, before I hear the familiar wet cracking of bone.

    I steady myself on the tipping floor, brushing off shards of broken glass. Poking my head above the edge of his desk, he’s being thrashed around, unconscious, limbs flailing. No hope of saving him. I need to get above-decks. I slide the book into my coat, feel its heaviness.

    Two more slimy tendrils slide up the hull to block my path. I whip my sword from under my heavy grey coat, thrusting and slicing. Memories rush back. Its hard beak, gouging into my skull, the narrow escape, the salt sea rushing into my mouth, choking.

    “Get back! Philipps!” I yell, at the door now. The first mate bursts in with his laser rifle, letting loose a stream of rainbow darts, but the creature pulls up its force field now, and I watch helplessly as the shells dissipate, clouds of red, blue and purple.

    “It’s getting stronger! We need backup!”

    Enraged, it throws Captain into the water with a hollow splash. I can imagine the sharks gathering afterwards, circling. Philipps desperately adjusts the chamber, fitting in explosives. His stubby beard clings reluctantly to his chin, a sorry excuse for a new captain.

    “They’re coming. Just steer the boat away, so I don’t blow it up!”

    Racing through the door, sweat lining my coat, I’m nearly blinded by the hot sun. I see the crew, working hard to ready the cannons, their hands trembling. I hear the fizz of a rocket behind me, a dull thump as it impacts.

    I run to the head engineer, breathless and expecting more of its tentacles to attack at any moment. No other ship is near, can’t help us.

    “Activate the back thrusters at once!”

    “But, sir, we can’t—not here!”

    I grip his shoulder, lean in with urgency. “I said, do it.”

    His eyes are an icy grey, ready to crack as he pushes the button, and the floor surges beneath us as the wounded ship struggles.

    At first it seems like we’ll be dragged back into the water, but the hot fumes blowing from the pipes sears the creature’s unprotected belly, and its arms finally release. I push the lever as far as I dare, inching the Abasco out of the waves as the seconds pass.

    The rocket detonates, viciously carving a crater in the ocean, sweeping spray up to the hull. We’re caught by the aftershock and the bridge shakes. Up to full throttle now, the ship soars away, eating up the miles to Sri Lanka. Philipps comes out from the cabin and wearily salutes.

    “Admiral Killens, the threat has been neutralized.”

    I don’t tell him about the book, merely nod. A slight mist obscures the giant squid from our view, as it rolls back into the deep, dark wilderness we call the ocean—it’s fate unknown.

    (I’m already working on the second part, entitled “Pacific Forge”. Stay tuned. GH)

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a nice sci-fi take on the prompt, Bilbo. I loved the way you mixed items from multiple timeframes to leave me curious about the setting. The only place I got really confused was the discussion of shells from a laser rifle (different meaning for the term I assume).

  8. cliffreporter

    I do not believe those tentacles creeping up the side of the ship are in my imagination, but that bottle I I bought from the carpenter’s apprentice an hour ago was not rum and it is proving difficult to tell what is real and what is my imagination. I am certain that my current state of mind contributed to the reasoning the crew had for binding me to the foremast and possibly why the captain is nowhere to be seen. I tried to yell to the nearby boatswain, to find as to why I was tied up and to determine if he was aware what was on the other end of the tentacle, but the crew apparently gagged me too. How could this happen? We were three days out from San Juan and, as navigator, they would need me to steer a course through the nearby reefs. I apparently blacked out, as I was nude. My wrists and ankles were tied tightly. As I struggled against the ropes, I watched a purple tentacle the size of my arm wrap around a stanchion near the port longboat, I saw a cooper who was looking over the side at what was below. His face blanched whiter than his neckcloth. Before he could give the alarm, a purple tentacle wrapped around his belly and pulled him over the side without a sound. I jerked at the bonds with new fervor and eventually loosened them enough to pull out my left hand. I tried to retrieve my rigging knife, but grabbed the skin of my thigh, as the knife was still in the pocket of my breeches which were Neptune-only-knows where. Whatever was in the rum bottle must have worked its way through my bowles, because, as I pushed my left hand down through the bindings to loosen the lines around my ankles, I felt a sudden need to relieve myself. I freed the bonds and began working on the knot at my wrist. The tentacle on the port side, was soon joined by another on the starbord, but I was only vaguely aware of the monster below, as my guts turned in my belly and I felt an impending explosion was iminent. The boat slowed to jib and the monster seemed to get a better grasp. I heard a creaking as the muscles of the creature gripped the hull. The brigantine would certainly be crushed within seconds, but all my mortal brain could concern itself with, was removing the final rope from my wrist and freeing myself of the poison within my innards. My fingers bled from the exercions, but I was able to free my right hand from the lashings. Thankful now for my nudity, I dashed to the starboard gunnel and thrust my bottom side over the rail. Before bowing over to release my bowels, I had the briefest of glimpses of a purple-grey being with black eyes and an orange beak the size of a man. I had little time to think of my impending fate. As I heard a low growl that grew into a roar, my bowels released their contents down toward the monster. Doubled over with the effort, a second waive of spasms gripped my intestines and an inhuman smell, either from the monster or from my own expulsions, wafted from below. With the relief from my body’s discharge, I felt the sudden, paralyzing fear that I was about to be devoured by a sea monster while hanging — naked — over the edge of the vessel on which I was third ranking officer. As I cringed and waited to be dragged down into the depths by the beast, there was nothing to hear but the lapping of the sea against the hull. Standing up straight, I looked over the perch I had just inhabited to see nothing but blue water stained black by either my waste, or the monster’s inky discharge. After retrieving a set of breeches and a shirt from my locker, I entered our position in the log, along with the information required to have the carpenter’s apprentice flogged and report the loss of our cooper who jumped ship near San Juan.

    1. Observer Tim

      Wow, that must have been some drink! Some bowel movement, too! I’m kind of curious whether the event was real or a hallucination, but it works either way.

      My red pencil asks that you break this up into paragraphs for greater clarity.

    2. dowritenow

      I agree with the comment about paragraphs .. but perhaps this was intended as a journal entry? “Brigantine” … wow! You seem to know your boats.
      “… about to be devoured by a sea monster while hanging — naked …” I think it might be interesting to explore the psychological aspects of this situation. Easier? Harder? Maybe with a greater word limit. Thanks for an interesting read.

  9. dsjarvis

    First Mate

    Oh captain my captain, I must apologize for my actions. As your first mate I should have more tact, but you must understand that you brought this upon yourself. The creatures of the deep have no allegiance to you or I, but they can be bought. Not by diamonds or pearls, gold bars or silver coins, but by the blood and flesh of selfish men.

    At our last stop at port, your uncanny and derisive behavior attracted the unwanted attention of the authorities. Seeing as we are murderous thieves, our stops on shore should include nothing more than a few glasses of beer, maybe some rum, and a private room with a lady of ill repute.

    Instead of resolving the conflict like a strong and honorable man, you elected to have your shipmates – men inferior in rank and title to you – arrested and charged for your crimes. They were promptly hanged as pirates, and their bodies paraded through the town square like rag dolls. These men sacrificed for you, fought for you, saw their brothers die for you, killed for you, stole for you, and tolerated your condescending tone, despite the poor wages for their labor.

    Upon realizing that you felt no remorse for your actions, I decided to question all that I learned from you over the years. Yes, you showed me the world, helped me become a deadly assassin, taught me everything I needed to know about the sea, and made me rich beyond my wildest dreams; still, I couldn’t disregard your blatant disloyalty to the very men who would have jumped in front of a bullet for you.

    So, instead of sneaking into your room and cutting your throat while you were sleeping, I consulted a witchdoctor for advice. She informed me that the kraken could be awakened by a simple spell. For the spell to work, I needed your gold watch, a lock of your hair, and some gunpowder. The witchdoctor explained why each item was necessary, but I was drunk on rum and eyeing a busty mistress standing in the street instead of listening.

    Luckily for me, you took off your gold watch before you fell asleep, so stealing that was easy. Getting a lock of your hair was a challenge, but the rum deepened your slumber, so you didn’t feel a thing. Our ship was fully stocked with gunpowder, which meant the plan was underway.

    I chanted the words she told me to say, and awaited the kraken’s ascension. Its tentacles overtook the ship and caused it to sink. Although you were bound and gagged, your eyes revealed your fear nicely. The kraken swallowed you whole and surely digested you well. As for me, I went down with my ship like an honorable man – a captain of only thirty seconds. Perhaps we were all selfish men, but a selfish man without dignity is only fodder for the kraken.

    1. usedname

      I really liked this one the mc was cruel,maybe a bit stupid, but very interesting. Even though he ended up fish food like the captain I felt his motives were justified.

  10. k.spicer

    This one is a little off prompt but what the heck!


    I obviously never thought this one through. I had no idea that this sort of thing still went on, at least not in this day and age in the United States. In my lifetime I’ve been beaten, abused, cheated, taken advantage of and even molested as a child; this is the first time I’ve ever been shanghaied.

    Come to think of it, maybe I’ve been shanghaied my whole life. After all, being shanghaied is all of those things wrapped up into one neat little package, only instead of happening over years it all takes place in the short time it takes for the tide to shift.

    In hindsight I would have been better off staying and facing a jury of my peers than living through the hell I’ve gotten myself into here. My first mistake was asking that salty looking fella on the dock where I could buy passage to Brazil. The second was actually meeting with the scoundrels he told me about.

    The voice inside my head was screaming for me to run from there the moment I entered that dirty little dive down on the docks. If I ever get out of this I’ll never, not listen to that voice again.

    The only thing I remember after that was waking up in the darkness of the ship’s hull and seeing the golden toothed smile of Captain Sly. He said that I was to accompany him and his crew to Peru and that I would have to work to pay off the passage to Brazil. Since that time we have crossed the ocean countless times shipping illegal arms and gunpowder to countries and dictators alike.
    My attempts at escape have been futile since every time we get close to anchoring they lock me below deck. My bones are showing; the only foods I get are the scraps the crew leaves on their plates; even the rats below deck are beginning to look appetizing to me and now, on top of everything else, whenever the first mate takes to drinking he also takes a special interest in me, especially on our longer more lonely journeys between ports.

    There are a few things I’ve come to realize since I’ve been trapped on board this hellish voyage; one being that Captain Sly has no intension on ever releasing me. I’ve also come to the realization that I can’t continue to live like this. Oh, and one other thing that I’ve come to realize; where the gunpowder is stowed.

    I finally finished my last project in this place I call hell. It took me nearly a week to run all the demolition cord without being detected. I forgot to thank the mate that gave me the cigarette this afternoon and I’m sure he’ll never miss the lighter that I lifted from his pocket; no matter though since he’ll never be using it again. There’s just one last question that I have before lighting the cord. I wonder what Heaven will be like?

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a deftly-told tale of involuntary life on the high seas. I’m saddened by the fact that the only way out the MC can think of is death. The bad news is that, since the MC’s last act will be one of suicide and murder, wondering about heaven is as close as he’s likely to get.

      1. k.spicer

        One never knows about these things Observer, I could see the MC making a mad dash and jumping ship just before the fireworks start. Perhaps heaven to him would be anything that’s left to float on. That could make for an interesting scene come to think of it!

    2. dowritenow

      You do paint a moving picture with your words. I specially like the paragraph that begins with “My attempts at escape have been futile ….” It flows beautifully! A suggestion – I feel the tension drops at times because of the somewhat length explanations. This section, for instance, could be tightened up by removing the multiple “realize/realization”, removing “one being that” (or maybe just use “one”) and so on. “There are a few things I’ve come to realize since ….” These are my personal preferences. Feel free to ignore them. Thanks!

      1. k.spicer

        Your absolutely right, I remember struggling with that paragraph and I wasn’t happy with it when I posted it, but it was better than what I had written prier to that. No excuse, I guess I just got lazy. Thanks Dowrite.

  11. pinkbamboo

    once again, I took the prompt and went running with it. XD

    hope you guys like it and not too lengthy

    Kraken. Kraken. Kraken.

    That was my only thought when I saw that huge tentacle coming up from beneath the water. I turned to run but my legs were numb, rooted to the ship.

    “Captain!” I screamed as I grabbed my right knee and tried to move it away from the same spot but I couldn’t. No one answered me, no one was going to save me. I was alone, helpless and terrified stranded on this big ship.

    The terrifying monster was dark purple in color as it emerged from the water. I was trapped on the same spot as it grabbed me by the waist and lifted me up. I was staring at it face on as it blinked that one eye it had.

    “Please let me go” I shouted at the creature as I struggled to slip out of its grip. It was slimy and cold as I tried to scratch the tentacle which was holding me up. That made it angrier as it gave high pitched scream and slammed me to the floor of the ship.

    “You are a stupid worthless woman” the creature was speaking to me. I stared at it through a daze, wondering if it had lips.

    “Let me go” I continued scratching its tentacle as it stared at me.

    “What the fuck are you looking at, you miserable bitch?” and I was thrown across the deck.

    This time I managed to run and I did. My head was throbbing and my nose were bleeding from the slam but I had to get out of there, somehow someway I need to stay alive. The creature let out another scream and wrapped its tentacles again – this time around my neck.

    “Matt!!!” I shouted

    “This is what you deserved” the creature screamed again.

    I could feel the grip getting stronger and my legs were kicking back and forth as I slowly blacked out ..

    A huge gasp and I sat up, jolted from my sleep. I was sweating but the air conditioning was on. I turned around to look at the clock – 7 am. Time to get ready for work as I flung the blanket aside and got out of bed.

    The broken vase in the corner of the room caught my eyes but I quickly turned away. I have no time to clean it up yet. The roses which were in the vase were all over the floor trampled. No longer beautiful, just crushed.

    I walked to the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee and sat on the stool, thinking about work and what happened last night. It made my head hurt but I ignored it, I can’t deal with it yet. I took a sip of my coffee and winced. It stings.

    I showered and put on my makeup, carefully dabbing under my right eye to conceal the darker shade of skin. At least it was getting better. I put on my lipstick, wincing again as the shade of red covered my bottom lip. I really shouldn’t but it’s easier to cover up the crack instead of answering to anyone. I have no patience to deal with it yet.

    I chose my turtleneck sweater this morning as I slipped it on. It carefully covered the bite on my neck and I pulled the long sleeves to cover up the purple marks on my arms. I smiled in front of the mirror. I looked as good as I could be.

    I picked up my bag and my purse fell out. My credit cards were gone and there were no cash inside. I frowned and thought about going to the ATM during lunch, no time to get it done yet.

    On the way out, I accidentally stepped on a belt on the hallway. I picked it up and put it aside, trying to ignore the fact that the size of the belt matched the size of the red mark across my back. I checked my face once more before I left home.

    That’s when I noticed the blue mark right under my hairline, partially covered by the fringe. I turned back and walked quickly to the bathroom but I slowed down. I broke down, leaning against the bed and I cried. I cried for a good 10 minutes before I rummaged through my bag for my phone. I have to deal with this now.

    “Hello social services? I’m want to make a report about domestic abuse. My boyfriend Matt..”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      That’s very powerful story, pink and a brave one. When there no one in a woman’s life to turn to, God forbid, then your Mc did the right thing. We have a close friend, who as executive director of the Battered Women;s Shelter in San Antonio, told of experiences I never though possible. It’s a great response to the prompt and I’m proud of you for writing even though I hope with all my heart, it’s a piece of well written fiction.

      1. pinkbamboo

        I just took the prompt as metaphoric as I could rather than trying to think of something in the sea, I almost skipped out this one too until I brainstorm before sleep last night.

        I thought of an alternate ending to this but it would turn the story ugly, this was what I thought of adding to the last sentence..

        (I stopped talking because I felt cold suddenly. I turned around and Matt was standing there, leaning on the doorframe and looking at me. He was holding the belt and I started crying again)

        But I thought it was a little too dark for my liking. Oh no, this is just merely fiction from me. I’m single as can be.

        1. lionetravail

          Great story, and I think you left it just perfectly- a small amount of hope, that your MC not only realizes she needs help, but takes the step.

          In fact, if you did add the additional sentence, I would leave off the crying part there- it seems less ominous than what you’ve already provided, and she’s already cried looking in the bathroom mirror, and it would backslide from the slight hope.

          If you wanted to dash that hope, I’d use your additional paragraph, but change the last phrase of the sentence-> He was holding the belt. “I came back for my sunglasses… just who the *&*# are you calling, darling?”, and leave us shivering again :)

          1. pinkbamboo

            Awesome! I love your sentence. You’re right, we already seen what Matt had done, hearing him speak would add another element and dimension to him. Your sentence really left me shivering. Love it, I read it several times.

          2. lionetravail

            Well, you’re the one who set the tone, Pinkbamboo! I just thought the ‘darling’ works so well because it’s so utterly inappropriate given all you’ve revealed.

            Great stuff.

    2. Critique

      This was a dark, imaginative, and different direction for this prompt. I liked the brave actions of your MC at the end! And I’m very glad it is a fiction story pinkbamboo :)

    3. Observer Tim

      Very nice metaphorical take, Pink, and stongly written. I especially like the contrast of the morning “routine” with the description of the injuries covered by each act. Too many versions of this story end before she picks up the phone.

  12. usedname

    The tales of Swift Blade and John Boot~

    First encounter

    “Man overboard!” thats the first thing I heard before the sight of bright pink suckers, sobered me up. In no way was I a light weight when it came to rum. However, i could find no other explanation for this sea based acid trip other than the glass of rum in my hand.

    Shit had hit the fan, or should i say the deck. Glass shards splintered like diamonds as my feet leapt over the makeshift barrel table. I narrowly escaped the gigantic tentacle as it tore through the boat like goat cheese. In the process however the force of the impact flipped me over and off the ship. For dear life I hung onto the ship’s railing. A little nauseous and scared out of my mind ,I looked to the night sky for an answer. Any answer really.

    “Zeus! Could you please talk to your brother? He’s leaving his crap everywhere!”, I cried holding the edge of the -quickly- sinking ship. A wretched bolt of lightning tore through the clouds, landing a few feet shy from my dangling poop deck.

    “Ah!” Last time I ask a god for help.

    In my final seconds on this earth I somehow drew back to my memory of the moments just before.

    “Aye, isn’t the ocean just a beautiful thing!”, the captain slurred alcohol strong on his breath. Not to mention the putrid aroma of decomposing ‘pirate’s mouth’ wafting along somewhere underneath.

    I recoiled from his ghastly fumes and instead turned my face to the “beautiful” ocean. With gray clouds and turbulent black blue waves, it was very hard to see beauty in the ocean tonight.

    This man was hailed as the strongest and most feared pirate in the entire east and yet with one drop of liquor, he turned into a nostalgic fool.

    “Aye cap’n” , I agreed begrudgingly. If it wasn’t for that ‘beauty’ I’d never have come on this ship against my father’s wishes. In the deep churning sea, I found my hope of a better life. This was my first night as a pirate and the last a fisherman.

    “Missin’ the docks already ar’ ya?” he whispered, sincerity hiding in those water logged eyes. Already he was refilling my glass with rum. Why the captain decided to sit with me I have no idea, but now I found myself welcoming his company as the new guy on board.

    “Yeah,” I admitted softy. Maybe this man was really sensible; I mean one doesn’t get the name ‘Swift blade’ without having something to them.

    “Its too late anyways!” He guffawed and laid a very unreassuring hand on my shoulder.

    He grew serious suddenly and drew me closer, “Aye boy, but these waters do change swiftly, they do.” I tried my best to listen to him withstanding the close proximity of his mouth to my face.

    The grouchy old man didn’t seem to notice my struggling and continued. ” Don’t be getting up to no trouble now. Ya see ‘im there.”

    He pointed to the crew man drawing at the ship’s sail. “He’s been out here for a few months. He keeps finding himself trouble. But he’s gone completely bonkers. Everyday he screams- “

    “Giant Tentacle!” the man yelped as a huge purple arm wrenched him from the deck, into the sea, leaving only a wet puddle behind.

    In a flash the captain was already in motion both of his silvery blades slung out ready for action. Without a second thought the man ran head first off the ship, blades aimed directly at the beast.

    “Man Over Board!!”–

    That was the first and last time I had seen Swift Blade. Finding purchase on the ships I pulled myself back onto the ship. Clutching my chest, I watched the horrible monster drag more and more men down into the sea. Here beside myself in fear I wondered dismally. “Will that Captian really go down sinking with his ship?”