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.

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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?”

  13. lionetravail

    “North by Due North”
    (This hopefully works as a stand-alone, but is meant to follow the last 2 prompts I’ve done- the extended action of the Istanbul prompt, followed by the nightmare at the window and the death of the mythos-hunting, unnamed hero’s lady love. This takes place perhaps month or two later- I hope those who are following enjoy, and those who are new might be inspired to look back.)

    I woke to shrill screeching, and my bed shaking like the end of the world. Bright sunlight flooded in as the windowshade flew up. The digital clock read 2:37 AM.

    The rumbling continued, and my heart slowed as I realized what it had to be. I doubted I’d get any more sleep, so I got out of bed, dressed and geared up, and went above deck. I found the Captain of the Norwegian Coast Guard Vessel Svalbard at the bow, looking over the railing to the water, and speaking on a handheld communicator.

    “Aksel,” I said to him, interrupting.

    He held up a hand, and continued speaking into the walkie, looking over the bow as he gestured vigorously. The engines reversed and the ship backed, turned, and forced its way into the ice at a new angle. It seemed to make better progress.

    “Ja?” the Captain said to me.


    “We are making progress north; we’ve hit pack ice, about three hundred miles north of Longyearbyen, a little over five hundred from your destination.”

    “Satellite data?”

    “The North Pole is solid ice this year. We will see how close we can get before you will take a helo from the ship to your goal.”

    I closed my eyes and felt the ‘midnight’ sun against my lids, turning them bright red. In my mind’s eye, I saw Cerise’s torn body, her blood staining our bed, and I shuddered. Her last reading had brought me here- on my way to defeat the Windwalker before it manifested.

    I opened my eyes. Aksel was gone. What…?

    Cries from far behind me. Calls. Shouting. And then I saw a streak of blood at the railing before me! The ship lurched as it went into reverse, and as we pulled back from the ice I saw the Captain’s body lying on the pack ice, blood splashed around him. I saw a greyish black rope around his chest, and then it squirmed and I realized it was a tentacle, come up through a crack in the ice.

    I looked around as the ship lurched again, coming to a stop. A glance over the side showed more tentacles from the water on both sides of the bow, clutching at the Svalbard, weaving their way up to the decking. They were far too long to belong to a shoggoth such, as had attacked Cerise and me, but we were sailing roughly two and a half miles above the Amundsen Basin, the deepest point of the Arctic Ocean.

    Home to the drowned city of Rlyeh, and dreaming Cthulhu.

    But they don’t help each other- why would the Sleeper be hunting me? I wondered. Did it send the shoggoth too, first to my dreams, then to the window to kill Cerise?

    The ship shuddered again. I heard a helicopter’s blades begin whirling from the flight deck. An ancient alien god’s minions versus a modern, top of the line war machine- I had no idea how it would turn out. But the Captain might not be dead, and I still had to get to the North Pole to stop Ithaqua before its conjunction came.

    I ran for the rail and vaulted it, leaving the deck of the Svalbard for the bloodstained pack ice where Aksel’s body lay.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This is a unique, imaginative tale. If flows so easy for the reader to immerse in. The premise of an attack helicopter war ship in battle with a sea monster. It reads like an action film. When is the next installment?

      1. Observer Tim

        Very nice continuation on the Cthulhu mythos take, Lionetravail. It makes me a happy nerd to know I’m getting the secondary connotations.

        It strikes me that hunting these things is a very quick trip to a jacket with sleeves that buckle in the back, or at least to some fairly significant PTSD..

  14. Observer Tim

    I told you there was another one…


    “Well lads, there we was, three days becalmed an’ that great tentacled beast off’n the port bow. I was at me wit’s end.”

    “That’s no’ a long distance away, Cap’n Jack.”

    “Shut up, Mad Steven! D’ye want the rest o’ me story or not?”

    “You said there’d be rum!”

    “Shut up, Bill Hook! Ye’ll get yer rum when I’m finished.”

    “Never, then.”

    Jack Bastord glowered. He had a good glower; several ships had surrendered upon seeing his glower. But these pirates were a tougher sort; he’d hired most of them himself. Finally he gave in.

    “Busty Bob, pass out the rum rations!”

    Busty Bob sighed. Just because he’d been born without family jewels (he told everyone he’d lost them in a fight) and had impressive breasts (his da said that was a ‘tea chest’, like a beer gut but caused by too much not drinking) and couldn’t grow even the thinnest moustache, that were no reason to treat him like a serving wench. But he’d seen the dark side of Jack’s temper, so he did as he was told. Someday people like Bob would be liberated, but not today.

    “Now where was I?”

    “Becalmed!” rang the pirate chorus.

    “Right. There we was, becalmed. We tried everythin’: talkin’ about good weather, lettin’ up red smoke in the mornin’, whistlin’. But nunnat worked. Even Gutbuster Gavin fartin’ inta the mainsail wouldn’t move us. All that did was make the yardarm sag.”

    Busty Bob brought drinks to the front row, taking a quick sip of each as he handed them out.

    “We hadda come up with sommat. I was takin’ my morning exercise fighting off boarders…”

    “We never had no boarders! Ye was just staggerin’ around an’ wavin’ yer sword!”

    “Shut up, Tortuga Zeke! Ye may ha’ been there, but ye wasn’t there. Ye was too busy swabbin’ the deck an’ duckin’ yer head ta see anythin’.”

    Tortuga Zeke lowered his head. “Aye Cap’n.” He knew better than to contradict Jack; after all, he wasn’t the first Tortuga Zeke.

    “So while I was fightin’, I says ta myself, Jack, the reason we’re stuck is ‘cause we got no Cap’n. A ship without a Cap’n goes noplace. An’ we was definitely noplace.”

    “Dint you frow the old Cap’n overboard, Cap’n?”

    “No Mister Gavin, Cap’n Greenbeard walked over the side of his own accord. Four times. All that screaming about murder an’ mutiny was just ‘is way.”

    Busty Bob handed Gavin his drink, taking a good swig before doing so.

    “So I decided we needed a new Cap’n, an’ we was gonna vote. I passed around the hat ta’ take in names meself. When we was done there was only one name in the hat – mine. An’ that’s how I came ta be the Cap’n o’ the Bloody Shrike.”

    Busty Bob downed a mug of rum, then used the dregs to polish Smilin’ Pete. When Bob passed out on top of him, the gleaming skull ended up buried in cleavage.

    And Pete? He just smiled.

    1. lionetravail

      Great fun, OT, though it lacked a little of the ‘zany’ of the first encounter with this pirate crew. Still funny, but something about it had a little less of that sharp snap for me when comparing it to the first piece. Not sure what, exactly.

  15. sjmca1966

    Note: Our two protagonists made their first very brief appearance at the end of a story called – Crossed Wires, during the War Never Changes prompt. If you didn’t read it I wouldn’t bother going back if I were you. There’s really no point.

    Otterman and Dolphinboy in – Revenge of Teuthida the Squid Woman.

    It was a clear and sweltering day, the Ottercopter landed gently on the helipad atop the Hyatt Regency in Maui. The sole occupant stooped as he exited the aircraft and shook hands with the Hotel Concierge, “Hello Sir, I’m Derek the Hotel Manager!” (sorry, but he looked like a concierge).

    Meanwhile down by the pool. . .

    Dolphinboy looked up and frowned, Dam. He’s early.

    Otterman entered the pool area, pausing to roll his eyes. Dolphinboy had poured dish-detergent down his blow-hole again and was blowing bubbles for a bevy of scantily clad beauties, they were gleefully popping them with squeals of delight. It certainly seemed to work better than his old party-trick of biting the heads off live fish.

    “I’m sorry to cut your vacation short,” said Otterman, “But we have an urgent matter to attend to.”

    Seven hours later (yeah, I know Google says sixteen hours, but you’ll see why I cut it down in a second). . .

    The supersonic (told you) Otter Force One touched down on the waters six miles off the coast of Monaco, it came to rest a short distance from Otterman’s private island retreat, “So, like let me get this straight Dude,” said Dolphinboy, “You think Teuthida the Squid Woman survived after we like totally dropped her into the erupting volcano?”

    “Stranger things have happened my cetacean cohort.”

    In less than a minute the two aquatic crime fighters were emerging from the water onto the golden sands of the island. In less than five minutes they were back again, they’d forgotten their luggage, “How are we going to find her Dude?” asked Dolphinboy.

    “I’m pretty sure she’ll find us. And for the love of Neptune, will you stop calling me Dude!”

    Later that night (around the time when it’s really, really dark). . .

    Otterman and Dolphinboy stood at the railing of the Otteryacht IV (get a load of this guys ego), “Can you see anything?” asked Dolphinboy.

    “No, it’s really, really dark.”

    Dolphinboy climbed the steps to the lookout and activated the searchlight. He was scanning the surface of the water when he felt a tap on his shoulder, “Aghh! Don’t do that to me,” he said.

    “Sorry,” said Otterman.

    The light then caught her, standing on the bow of the yacht, ”We meet again gentleman,” said Teuthida.

    “To what do we owe the pleasure?” asked Otterman (he hadn’t read the title of the story).

    Dolphinboy whispered in Otterman’s ear, “Ask her how she survived the volcano, you never ask our arch enemies how they survived.”

    In a split second, Teuthida unleashed two tentacles and wrapped them around Otterman and Dolphinboy. She sprayed them with a dark substance that made them drowsy (where did the spray come from? I hear you ask. Um. . . it was an oral secretion. Why? what were you thinking?), “I’m feeling drowsy,” said Dolphinboy.

    “Me too,” said Otterman.

    An unspecified amount of time later. . .

    Otterman awoke to find himself and Dolphinboy bound, on a moving conveyor and heading for a fish mulcher.

    Stay tuned til next week. . .

    1. Observer Tim

      This is clever and funny, sjmca. I was hoping Otterman and Dolphinboy would put in another appearance, and what better than an ocean story. At least Otterman doesn’t call his sidekick “chum”; in context that would be disturbing.

      There were a few issues with grammar and sentence structure, but nothing (yet another) editing pass wouldn’t fix. The sarcastic narrative comments brought to mind Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

    2. lionetravail

      Cute- these guys are like 1970’s superhero TV for me: the classic Batman and Robin, that kind of thing. As a stand alone piece, some of the transitions seem sudden and improbable- fun in that pulp sort of way.

      I hope we find out how the squid woman survived that volcano.

    3. Reaper

      Nice. This reminded me of shows and movies I loved when I was younger but would in general give a pass to these days. The tongue in cheek voice of it made me love it in the modern context however. So great job.

  16. dedewitt

    Never piss off a mermaid.

    Honestly, I didn’t understand why her boyfriend liked me more, either. She had shimmering hair and wore a seashell-studded seaweed corset; I used tangle-free shampoo and wore a sweater I stained with SpaghettiOs back in the seventh grade. I was the obvious loser in this competition, but apparently I had some hidden charm that captured the heart of the kingdom’s underwater prince.

    And his future queen owned a sea monster.

    The creature’s thick tentacles choked the deck and main mast. Rumor had it the captain had jumped ship, and as first mate I was left to lead the crew. I had been in this enchanted world less than a month. I knew nothing of sea monsters, or how to commander a ship. All I did was win a poker game. I should have let Cricket win so he could deal with this mess. With me as first mate everyone was as good as dead. But I had to try.

    “Jimmy, Harris!” I yelled, “Grab the oil from the kitchen! Everyone! If you can’t swim, grab someone who can!”

    I pulled the dagger from my back pocket. The poison pulsed blue within the blade. There was just enough for one more victim. No second chances. No refills.

    Jimmy and Harris brought the hot oil from the kitchen. I pointed to the tentacles attempting to pull our ship underwater. The boys understood well enough. They ran to the creature and poured the hot oil on its hands. It gurgled from the water, its arms squirming from the burn. It tried to recover its grip, but the oil was too slick for the creature to be successful.

    “Just be careful not to -”

    Too late. Jimmy tried to dodge the flailing arm of the creature and slipped on the hot oil, tumbling down the deck and falling overboard. Harris grabbed a cannon rope and jumped to his aid. The rest of the crew spent their time either avoiding the oil or finding a weapon to beat against the beast.

    A third tentacle shot from the water, this time grabbing the top of the mast. It pulled the mast towards itself, tipping the ship to her side. Barrels and supplies to crash into the water. The crew would be next if I allowed it.

    I slid down to the edge of the ship and faced the twisted waves. I could see the creature’s enormous violet face beneath the waves, its piercing white eyes with red pupils. My heart stopped. Making eye contact with a vicious sea monster was now at the top of my Most Terrifying Moments list.

    It reached a fourth tentacle towards me. As it did, the mermaid devil crowned her violet hair from the water next to the creature, smiling with blood-thirsty teeth.

    With the knife in my hand, I had a choice: the beast or its master.

    Any constructive feedback on this is appreciated. I can always use the help on how to make my tense/action scenes better.

    1. Reaper

      I like the voice and you develop a world and the character very well. Love the ending. There is a repetition of water twice in a paragraph and waves in the next one towards the end, would recommend switching that up, especially waves as I honestly didn’t notice the water one until I went back to look at the waves.

      I love the story and it felt like the beginning to something longer. I didn’t get a lot of tension from it. I mean I understood that it was a tense situation but I didn’t feel it in my gut. Now part of that is probably the amount of these stories I’ve been reading. However part of it is the voice is a little to matter of fact and clinical. I would suggest taking out some of that world and background building and focusing more on the emotions of your MC. How does she feel? Have her spend some more time realizing how insignificant she is compared to the mermaid. Maybe at the end give her a realization that she has a choice and she is doomed either way so the choice is between kill the monster and save her friends or kill the owner and get revenge. But definitely focus in on the emotion and the danger over the whatso of the story to ramp that tension.

      I hope you understand I am giving super critical feedback because you asked about specific points in the writing. I don’t think the story needs to be changed because I love the voice and a focus on tension would change that. Also take with a grain of salt as how I feel tension build I’m sure varies from others.

    2. snuzcook

      I greatly enjoyed this, Dedewitt!
      Because you asked, here’s a specific that may be useful as a general suggestion:

      In the excerpt below, you made a statement of a frightening event. But then it completely broke the mood *** when you shied away from that to go into ironic introspection. I would cluster the introspection together and then commit to the frightening, otherwise you water it down and the reader can’t commit either.

      The creature’s thick tentacles choked the deck and main mast.**** Rumor had it the captain had jumped ship, and as first mate I was left to lead the crew. I had been in this enchanted world less than a month. I knew nothing of sea monsters, or how to commander a ship. All I did was win a poker game. I should have let Cricket win so he could deal with this mess. With me as first mate everyone was as good as dead. But I had to try.

      Note, I think you do the ironic introspection well, and it is entertaining. And you clearly described the tense events. But juxtaposing them is counterproductive.
      All suggestions and criticisms are offered with a ‘use or discard at your discretion’ caveat!

      1. dedewitt

        Appreciate it! Thanks for pointing out that there is a time and place for introspection. That’s very helpful. I can use this in the future. Thanks again, snuzcook!

    3. sjmca1966

      There’s nothing critique wise I can add to Reaper and snuzcook, you’re in good hands with those two.
      I enjoyed the story, especially the mishap with the hot oil, this adheres to the old writing adage, that when your protagonist is stuck in a hole, start filling it in with dirt, it’s a great tension builder.
      Nice job dedewitt.

    4. Observer Tim

      Lovely tale, Dedewitt. I fell for the main character from the first line and found myself hoping at the end that she would win. It ended one fight/argument too soon.

      On the technical front, Reaper and Snuzcook covered all the key points of writing action except one (that I know of): short sentences. Each sentence should be like an arrow, fast to read and with a single point. This gets the reader’s adrenaline going and does a good portion of your job for you.

      1. lionetravail

        I agree with the ssuggestions above if you’re going that route, but the ironic voice was also entertaining, with the snarky kind of narrator being highly fun.. but yes, even with that snarky voice working for you, more surprise and twist is good :)

  17. Kerry Charlton

    SORRY, first part posted without my review.

    The schooner strained from the maneuver and steadied itself but the drag from the giant sea monster slowed the ship. An eerie cloud bank encased the schooner for a moment. Winds fell to a dead calm. Fog thickened to a choking, stifling air. And then it was gone. Winds increased, the drag disappered. Lanor raced to the rail.

    It’s gone,” she said. “Thank God.”

    Brian slowly lifted his binoculars to his face.

    “Look aft,” he said.

    Lanor’s face turned to terror.

    “It can’t be,’ she screamed.

    Bearing down on the Victory Chimes, a seventeenth century pirate ship, with a skull and cross bones flag, fired a warning shot across the bow of Brian’s schooner.

    Note I didn’t get to proof the part posted first, God forbid.

    1. Reaper

      This is interesting. The very steady personalities through the story were done well with an I don’t believe what you’re saying then facing a challenge to overcome attitude then having them crack at the end a bit was nice. You have a way of writing people well, heroes not super heroes. The story was full of little details that were engrossing. This is one of those story straddles that line of your comfort zone with I believe one foot outside but you handle it with the sheer elegance that is one of your trademarks and it makes this amazingly enjoyable.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you, for the kind words, considering my computer did it’s best in trying to destroy this. Lanor asked to read it first before I included her in my tale. She doesn’t want to look bad, not that I ever would. I started to sail when I was fifteen, living in Miami. Also had a dream about owning a large schooner, settled for five daughters instead. Best decision in the long run. Doesn’t mean I can’t dream about it.

        I wonder if Brian and Lanor can outrun the pirate ship?

    2. snuzcook

      An exciting tale, Kerry! I love the bravery and poise under fire of our Lanor, and Brian’s quick thinking. Clearly, the story didn’t end in the fog bank. Look lively, Mateys! More adventure ahead!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Snuz, Sounds like you really got into this. Maybe one more post will come. ‘A Time For War’ has to fit in there somewhere. Where is the time?

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks sjmca. You’re the God partent to this story.It never would have appeared without your help. I’m glad you enjoyed this, even though I couldn’t proof the spelling, gad.

    3. Observer Tim

      You told a great tale of action and adventure on the high seas, Kerry. As usual with your fare, I am impressed. Who knew the Grand Banks were so dangerous?

      And I love the way you snuck a wee bit of time travel into the story. Hopefully it’s not the Bloody Shrike behind them, though I think Brian and Lanor are sufficiently gutsy to bluff their way out if it is.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks, Tim. I’m already planning a second installment. Your right about Brian and Lanor. Especially Lanor.She has many talents, most of them physical as the pirate captain in about to encounter. Stay tuned. It should show up on the next prompt.

    4. lionetravail

      Nice story, Kerry. It feels like you are taking your time telling it- it’s luxuriant. I would suggest you continue this, and don’t rush the ending. There is a lot still to tell, things i want to know- why’d the crew except Lanor and Brian disappear? Who lashed the wheel, and why? What was the haunted feel? How will the pirates react to the windjammer, which, depending on their era, may still be a design from their future? Where does Lanor get her poise and strength?

      So please tak your time with this one, okay?

      (But don’t neglect the one we are jointly working on either!)

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks David. I love the idea of expanding this. Once Lanor deals with the pirate captain, we can get back to the main plot. Wait till you find out what Lanor can do against a burly, blood thirsty pirate. I can hardly wait to write the action. I’m writing more and more, picking up some speed. So our story is still a go project.

    5. lionetravail

      Nice story, Kerry. It feels like you are taking your time telling it- it’s luxuriant. I would suggest you continue this, and don’t rush the ending. There is a lot still to tell, things i want to know- why’d the crew except Lanor and Brian disappear? Who lashed the wheel, and why? What was the haunted feel? How will the pirates react to the windjammer, which, depending on their era, may still be a design from their future? Where does Lanor get her poise and strength?

      So please take your time with this one, okay?

      (But don’t neglect the one we are jointly working on either!)

  18. Kerry Charlton


    The Victory Chimes, a windjammer, sliced through waves off the Maine coast as it had done for 114 years. Three proud masts rose from the yawl of the schooner deck. At five in the morning, Brian climbed topside at first light. He had left Lanor asleep in the main cabin. ooking aft, he noticed the ship’s wheel lashed to a post. He saw no one, no captain or mate or any of the crew.

    An eerie sense of ghost ship, sent him racing below. A quick glance confirmed Lanor was no imagination. Searching the rest of the shi that charted grous of forty passengers, brought not a soul on board.

    “Wake up baby,” Brian said. “We’re all alone on this boat, none of the crew to work the sails.”

    “Don’t play games, it’s too early for me to think,” Lanor answered.

    “See for yourself, I’m going topside to check navigation.”

    Unlashing the wheel and checking the compass and satellite scanner, Brian found the windjammer tracking dead east, ninety miles off the Maine coast. A sailor of Lightning class boats and small racing yachts, he had no feel for a three mast, large schooner, a hundred and forty feet of ship, carrying thee mains and nine jibs at full sail.

    Lanor, a seasoned sailor herself, stood by his side.

    “I’m hooking to a lifeline and checking to see if the launch is missing,” she said. “Better turn into the wind to slow the ship, Brian.”

    As she looked over the rail, a chilling scream reached Brian.

    “What’s the matter?”

    “The launch is missing but they’re a bigger problem.”

    “What now?”

    “I don’t know how to describe this. Looks like a giant squid is clinging to the keel. Tentacles of a size I’ve never seen are wrapped around half the ship.”

    “Who’s playing games now?”

    And then Brian saw a tentacle circle around Lanor, trying to pull her off the ship. Running across the deck, he pulled his small knife and plunged it into the quivering mass wrapping around Lanor’s neck. Stabbing again and again, the slimy arm of death releasd it’s strangle hold on Lanor and he pulled her to safey.

    “Can you hold the wheel for a moment so I can look for a rifle below?”

    “Tha isn’t going to help,” she said. “Tack her downwind to reach top speed. Be careful she doesn’t broach. Maybe the increased speed will release the squid.”

  19. derrdevil


    Lighting ripped open the night sky as the ominous bulk of the Sea Lion crashed through a roaring wave. Thunder boomed above but it could not be heard over the driving winds that sprayed it’s sibilant sting into old Barlow’s face. The first mate latched tight onto the rigging as the ship heaved over to the starboard side, breaking over another colossal wave.

    Barlow had never seen a storm quite like it. He was a seasoned sea dog, with many years on the open seas, and a great captain in his day. Commander of his own ship, and leader off his own crew. But the years were not so graceful for him. He had lost favour with his men, and men don’t sail with a captain they don’t trust. But, nonetheless, he had swallowed his pride and stepped down to first mate. There was nothing like the open seas. And a man born of the ocean could never give it up. Not even to his dying day. The storm spat in his face and threatened that day with authority. It was wild, a raw torrent of unyielding power. And Barlow was enjoying every second of it. He had never felt more alive in years.

    Mountains of water sloshed viciously around the main deck. A brave – or rather stupid – sailor dived into the raging pool to secure a loose sail on the opposite side of the main deck only to be swept over the railing and swallowed into the great unknown. Up on the sterncastle, the captain was nowhere to be found.

    “Cap’n!” Barlow called out for him, shouting from the forecastle deck hoping to gain the attention at the stern. “Man the fucking helm, dammit!” His efforts were wasted. Nothing could be heard in the madness. Not even a though could be processed. Barlow cursed and spat into the great black of the sea. But when he peered over into the sullen darkness, something had caught his eye.

    A great mass had latched itself to the bow of the ship. Barnacled tenticles, massive, powerful and sinister, slid up the bow and wrapped it’s great form around the mast and made its way onto the top deck. Men scurried toward the stern as the Sea Lion dipped, face down into the blackness. Barlow, hanging on to the riggings of the main deck, saw his fate, eye to eye. Huge, translucent, soulless eyes that pierced through him.

    Barlow was a great captain in his day. But this beast made him know his insufficiencies. In that fleeting instant, Barlow had known all that he had stood for – a captain of his own ship, a leader of men, a man that challenged life and gripped it by the balls, a man that lived for the day, a man in every essence of the word and the ideal – was for naught. This great beast looked him through, sized him up, and spat him out like he was a guppy. Barlow knew then that he had much more to live for, but it was a realisation too late.

    The last thought he remembered was that it was a good thing it was so wet and dark, and that all of them would die in the storm. None of the other sailors would know that, before his last breath, he had soiled himself.

    1. Reaper

      Interesting story. The end can be taken as either a punchline or a life lesson. I choose to take it as a lesson and find it amazing. Loved the language on this because of the way it flowed throughout giving it a unique and artistic voice.

    2. snuzcook

      An engaging portrait of a man, derrdevil. You really expose his hubris, which is not so different at its core from many others, and his moment of truth, which could very well parallel the more mundane but equally honest essence of others. This was an inspired prompt in which to weave this story. Well done.

      1. derrdevil

        Hi guys, thanks for the awesome comments. The initial idea was for an allegory of a man. But that last line came off as a major punchline to a joke. It made me laugh so much that I just left it as it was.

    3. k.spicer

      I like this yarn derrdevil. Good story, good voice. Although I didn’t see a clear reference to the time period in which this scene took place, I had the feeling that it was in days past. If that is the case then I felt that the word “balls” was a more modern term and that the word “stones” would have been more appropriate for an older time period. If however it took place in modern times then please ignore my obsessiveness. If I’m being too picky with words please feel free to kick me in the literary “stones”, or “balls” whichever you prefer!

    4. Observer Tim

      This is a great tale, derrdevil. The others used up all my comments, so all I can say is that you set a powerful atmosphere with a gripping tale of man being humbled before nature. And the last line added just the touch of humour needed at the end.

      1. lionetravail

        OT’s comment resonates perfectly for me-he humbling of mortal arrogance before nature. The language was reall effective here. My only suggestion is the monster sizing him up and spitting him out like a guppy-it confused me given that it looked like the beast was about to swallow him,t was already spitting him out?

        I think the size analogy as a guppy is great,but the action of spitting was the only slightly jarring thing for me.

        1. derrdevil

          I think maybe I should have phrased it better. It was Barlow’s thoughts on the monster and what it was thinking about him. Nothing actually happened in the story. It was Barlow assuming the worst, hence his brown pants.

  20. kellster

    Why is everyone so frightened? My father yells to the crew to secure rigging, pull up the nets, radio for help. I just look back to the water. It is still there, looking at me.

    We started out at dawn and the sky was pink. “Red sky at morning, sailors take warning,” my father had said jokingly.

    I loved these mornings when my father took me out on the boat. I felt more alive on the water than anywhere else. I loved to watch my dad and his crew work, see the heavy, dripping nets, feel the salt spray and the motion of massive water carrying us.

    The catch had been really good this morning, and I sat at the bow while they hauled in the wriggling mass. After a few hours, the initial excitement had worn off. I would be in the way anywhere else, so I sat and looked at the water that stretched on away, imagining all that was happening below me.

    I had been watching for a while when I began to see something take shape beneath the waves. If you stare at the ocean long enough, your eyes can play tricks on you. It’s almost like staring at the clouds and seeing shapes, so I waited to see what would happen, what image my eyes would conjure.

    Then I saw the eye. At least, I thought it was an eye. It rose toward me slowly. You think that because the sun is shining and the water looks blue that it will be clear beneath the surface and you’ll be able to see things clearly, but that’s not true. It’s dark in the deep ocean. At first, I just imagined that it was an eye.

    The eye rose from the darker water and became clearer. It was huge. And strangely beautiful. The black pupil was surrounded by an iridescent greenish white, like the inside of those shells I find all the time on the beach. I could see the outline of the body that it belonged to. It stretched in many directions back down into the dark. It was massive. I had read about squid before, so I could guess what this was. Wasn’t it strange for it to be up here at the surface? These things went through my mind, but I never thought to be scared. I kept looking at that eye.

    You know how a small child will hide behind his mom or dad and peek out at you? This creature seemed to be peeking at me from behind the ocean’s surface. I felt its curiosity. I was curious too.

    Then someone else noticed it. He gave a cry of alarm as he leaned over the side to help pull in the netting. Then there was a rush of motion as men rushed over to see what he yelled about. I thought absentmindedly about how big it must be if they were seeing it at the other end of the boat.

    I’m not sure why I’m not afraid. I think it’s his eye. It doesn’t look mean. It looks . . . calm. Suddenly, my father is beside me looking down, hands on my shoulders, yelling for me to get back from the railing. He rushes back to where the other men are pulling at ropes and then makes for the wheelhouse.

    There is a lot of noise and frantic movement on deck, but I turn back to the water. As I look back, a slick, pinkish arm begins to reach slowly from the water and creep up the side of the boat. My breath catches and my stomach does a little flip. I do feel a little afraid of what might happen, but I stay still. The arm moves slowly, gracefully snaking up toward me, and the eye continues to watch. The thin tip of the arm stops at the edge of the deck just feet from where I’m perched.

    Are the men still shouting? Everything feels still as I turn toward the wheelhouse. My dad emerges with a pistol in his hand.

    I turn back to the arm that is waiting patiently so close by. It doesn’t seem to sense that something bad is about to happen. I’m filled with an overwhelming need to reach out to it.

    I look intently at that eye and reach out. My Dad is shouting at me. Noise.

    I place my fingers on that thin, wet, shiny tentacle. It is so smooth.

    Now it is gone.

    My Dad is standing next to me breathing hard, but the arm and the eye have disappeared. The ocean rolls on in the sun and there is no sign of anything below the surface.

    Like it was never even here.

  21. JRSimmang

    If you’ll indulge me just one more. I’m thinking of turning this one into a novel. Honest feedback would be appreciated. It’s a tad over the word limit, and for that I apologize.


    After a restful night, it was wonderful to wake up to the sounds of lumber cracking and the screams of men. I gathered my notebook, knife, and collection tubes. I sleep in my clothes.

    “Professor Richmond, I believe you are being summoned above decks!” shouted young Master Delvish.

    “Good heavens,” I said as I wobbled my way up the narrow staircase. “He seems to be a little larger than how I read him.”

    Water was pouring in through the doorway. “He’s certainly large!” My young protégé laughed as ocean brine soaked through his smart doublet and trousers.

    On the deck, my men were scrambling to gather the ropes, harnesses, and nets.

    “Where’s Captain Forsythe?”

    Master at Arms Griffin cast a sideways glance at me (ever the stoic). “It appears the dear Captain has decided now was the appropriate time to learn how to do the front stroke.” He cocked his head to the north. Sure enough, the Captain was swimming back in the direction from whence we came.

    “Ha ha! Good lad,” I yelled.

    Three of my men were grappling with the first tentacle, which was twice their size stacked. Two of the Captain’s men were struggling to maintain their balance on the second tentacle. A third burst through the surface of the water and headed straight for my head.

    Crack. Master Griffin unchambered a pellet.

    “No! You fool, I want this thing-” I notice a few drops of blood on the deck. “Quick! Delvish! My Swabbing Cloth!”

    Delvish patted his breast pocket, leapt over an incoming tentacle, ducked under another, swung from a rope, and landed on his feet next to me with the cotton in his hand.

    “Alright, no need to show off.” I snatched it greedily, squatted down, and allowed the cloth to soak up as much of the viscous fluid as I could. I’ll precipitate the sea water out later. My vile was ready to receive the cloth.

    Then, it unleashed an awfully dreadful sound. Sixteen of the men on board immediately covered their ears and cried in pain, fell to the deck, and began writhing about. A few of them leapt overboard.

    I’d read from an earlier text that this beast has the ability to drive mad the weak of spirit. I knew then that it was psychsonic (the only other beast we’ve encountered with that ability was the banshee of Ireland). Of the sixteen, half were frothing at the mouth, two were twitching about incessantly as the salt water washed over their eyes, and two more were vomiting uncontrollably. This is why I don’t hire sailors.

    The boat we had commissioned was standing up to the test. It rocked, sure, but it was supposed to. This prevented capsizing, which, when confronted by a beast this size, on its own terrain, could be death. I must make sure to congratulate Bronson and Sons for a fine job.

    Right about the time of my momentary respite, Delvish was snatched around the midsection by one of the massive appendages. In an instant, he was picked up and raised into the air. The sun was behind him, making him glow poetically. He smiled down upon me and mouthed, finish this task, before he was hurled a half league through the air. He landed somewhere in the water.

    “Set the discharge!” I barked. Half a minute later, we felt the surge of the subsonic explosion under the boat. Clever design, really. “Ready the cannon!” I shouted.

    The beast was using the boat as a simple ladder.

    At first, the bulbous head was nothing more than a shimmering surface of foul-smelling carrion. Then I realized we were staring at the enormous rotating eye of the leviathan.

    “Wait for it,” I held up my hand. The water was seeping on to the boat. My men had lashed down five tentacles to the deck. One had ripped off the mizzenmast, but that was just for decoration anyway.

    The eye. Deep blacks and purples, while oranges ringed the outside. Though the flesh was scarred, it flashed in cooperation with the colors of the decks and matched the skies. It turned it’s eye to me, and the beak emerged from the prow. It was similar to an octopus’s, but of course much, much larger. The beak was lined with rows of teeth, which I could only assume served to further digest food. It’s prey? Who knew. It was certainly carnivorous.


    A single blast, and the sedative sunk itself deep into the corneal conjunctiva of the mammoth. I didn’t know how fast the sedative would take to work. The lashings were already being worked loose.

    One… two… three…

    The beast shouted again.

    Four… five… six… seven… The tentacle raised in the air went slack.

    Nine… ten… the beast drooped, the boat lurched forward, and we all sighed our relief.

    “Help!” I heard. Delvish. That cheeky bastard. To the East, I could make out his hands waving. “Master At Arms, we have a man overboard.”

    -JR Simmang

    1. Manwe38

      I love the style of this; I felt like I was on the deck of a 19th-century whaling boat!

      Excellent descriptive writing and great use of both tension and humor. Nicely done!

    2. Reaper

      I love the story full of larger than life characters. I have a problem placing the time period as it first seems older but the use of subsonic and sedative have me thinking closer to modern. I am assuming that is intentional. The only constructive feedback I can give is the voice might grow stale in a novel for some people. Not for me, I love well done light melodrama and literary fiction but it might not work for everyone. I would buy this book though.

    3. sjmca1966

      I enjoyed this JR. I was left wondering about your MCs intentions for capturing the monster, is it professional ego (perhaps a race or a wager with an equally eccentric contemporary)? Is it purely for research purposes? I don’t think there’s a sideshow aspect here (a la King Kong).
      Anyway a great read, I laughed at, “Alright, no need to show off.”
      Well done.

    4. Observer Tim

      I love the voice, JR. Professor Richmond sounds like a modern-day Doc Savage, living for the thrill of hunting monsters. I say modern day, but the tech only puts an “early limit” of the late 1940’s on things. I would enjoy this story if it escaped into the world.

      My constructive comments:

      – vial not vile
      – the “half-league” hurl of Delvish is definitely an exaggeration. Swimming a mile and a half that fast strains credulity. You could probably leave the measurement out. Purhaps “hurled away like a (insert colourful metaphor here)” instead.
      – it definitely needs another pass to clean up the verb tenses. Mixing can have an artistic effect, but I don’t think that’s what you’re going for here.

    5. snuzcook

      Nicely done, JR! It puts me in mind of a Capt. Nemo character or other brilliant ‘renaissance’ man in backstory–well ahead of his time in technology, without remorse in his use of whatever resources are at hand to accomplish the task he has in mind. The way that he tells Delvish not to show off is delightful, in keeping with the exaggerated ego of the character. The real question here, which would be loads of fun to read in your novel, is: What does he want the creature for, and how will it go dreadfully wrong?

      1. Kerry Charlton

        My thoughts upon reading your story, was Jules Verne. Did someone unearth a missing story of his. To be truthful, I enjoyed the hell out of it. Edit comments above would be most helpful to the intensity, enjoyed the touches of humor, makes a delightful read.

    6. lionetravail

      I’ll echo the others. It’s got the best of the epic-laugh-in-the-face-of-danger feel of Jules Verne, or Horatio Hornblower. There are some tense changes, but I can see this in novel form. I’d say go for it.

  22. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    (Excerpts taken from a leather-bound journal found wrapped in plastic and floating on the ocean surface. No date was found within its pages, and much of the ink had been destroyed by the saltwater.)

    It’s been only hours since I became stranded on this island. There’s large emerald trees, and different types of animals cooing and calling from within that thicket. I plan to stay on the beach, and try to sow food from the sea as best I can.

    I don’t know if there are any other survivors. I don’t want to go into the forest to find out. Something about it bothers me. So for now, I plan to stay as close to where I washed ashore as possible.

    (Several destroyed pages.)

    …and the moon glows gorgeously, glistening from the ocean like a million pale blue glow bugs dancing on its surface.

    I found some dry wood, and now have light from a fire I manage to work from it. I’ve been eating leaves because it’s really hard to catch fish. Now that I have some means of cooking them, perhaps I’ll try harder tomorrow.

    When I left the port of the eastern continent, I was merely a man with a dream to explore the world. I wasn’t keen on the ocean, but so far it’s grown on me. I may no longer float upon it’s surface, but the longer I stay on this beach, the more I come to respect and love that great blue body of water.

    (several more damaged pages.)

    I found people on the island. They were just down the beach from me the whole time! How could I not have noticed them? There was the Captain’s aid, don’t know his name. And there was that woman, Annabelle. She was wearing that same gingham dress, except it was now mottled with sweat and damaged by the elements. Still a visage of beauty, dare I say!

    I still haven’t caught any fish. I prayed to God, but have heard nothing. Is He just a myth? Would He allow such things to happen to His children? I know we were given free will, but this is not MY free will. If I had my own way, I’d be back at Bronwent with a full drink!

    The leaves aren’t keeping me sustained. I think I will have to go into the forest soon to find food. It still scares me, but I must. I have no choice or I might die.

    (Several more damaged pages. The writing becomes sloppier, some parts illegible.)

    I went to the forest, stood at the foot for some time. I watched the leaves move, but there was no wind. I watched…

    …and for some time it just stared at me. It looked like a little boy, but it wasn’t. There were no boys with eyes like his. They were dark and cold. I don’t remember there being a boy on the ship, but he didn’t appear to be indigenous, either. I wonder…

    …then I went back to the beach. Hungry, and the boy was not allowing me to go into the forest. I waited for some time, and decided to find out what the others were doing up the beach.

    …my hands were shaking when I washed his blood off them. The striations of that crimson liquid seemed to snake through the clear ocean’s body like a red ink had been poured into it. The woman had run. I’ll find her tomorrow.

    (Several more damaged pages. The writing becomes almost entirely illegible, but a bit of it has been recovered.)

    The ocean…it knows me…I’ve been watching it. I still…the boy, but I think he’s been here a long time. Not a boy. Not a boy but a…

    …I think…a giant creature just below the ocean surface…slightly pink, gesturing to me with his tentacles. It speaks to me…

    …tomorrow I’ll find her.

    (Recovered from a page containing the final words.)

    I’m no longer hungry…my mouth tastes odd. Like copper or iron…it mostly won’t wash off my skin, either. No more survivors except me.

    …and the rash around my eyes and mouth don’t hurt anymore. I’ve been talking to…and he tells me this place can be mine, too. He likes to share. The boy seems nice…he isn’t scary.

    Marbol is the name of the water-thing…which gave birth to the boy. I can’t…but not worried. The ocean…and it brings food to us, says the boy. I’ll not starve…and I’m welcome to stay forever. I think I will.

    1. Critique

      An imaginative take that I enjoyed. I’m thinking the MC has resorted to cannabilism, is hallucinating and suffering from a disease – copper taste? A different end then the movie Castaway.

    2. JRSimmang

      I certainly wasn’t deterred by the errata you claim exist in this piece. There’s just enough information to fuel the reader’s paranoia. Taking the story to the shore of some tropical island is unique. There’s a sense of hopefulness that morphs through the story as well. At first, it’s of rescue, then of survival, then finally of relent. Nice character development, and the set up is thoughtful. I saw the movie, probably some Dario Argento piece, playing in my mind the whole time.

    3. derrdevil

      It’s those damn leaves, I tell you!! Haha loved this Jay. Was great reading a journal take with a really solid execution. I like the character build you’ve got there, from helplessness and hope, to survival, to thriving. And all of it a little off-centre and insane. And what’s that about copper and iron? Sounds like the Doc knows an awful lot about cannibalism hmm

    4. Observer Tim

      Excellent story of the slow descent into madness, Jay. I can’t tell whether the monster (or the boy) had something to do with his deteriorating sanity or arose because of it. I’m sure you intended it that way.

      The taste of copper or iron – that’s about as close a description as I can think of to the taste of blood, especially when there’s a significant quantity.

    5. snuzcook

      Intriguing, Dr. Jay! Of course, I had to google metalic taste, and I can see there are several causes that could be consistent in this story. I guess one of the best aspects of this story is that it is a mystery–where and when did the writer pen this journal, and could someone else possibly be destined to relive his experiences? In excellent tradition of scary stories–another great submission!

    6. k.spicer

      You do have a way with words, Jay. This was intriguing and disturbing at the same time. Reminiscent of “Lord of the Flies.” The phrase, “The ocean…and it brings food to us, says the boy.” Stands out in my mind as if he is waiting for more victims to wash ashore. Very nicely done…as usual.

  23. JRSimmang


    Quanahoc Island. 2014. The water is murky, cloudy, dirty, no doubt the intention of some dastardly plan.

    I am submerged, isolated. Yet, I am the only hope for the planet. My captain, and only compatriot, has gone AWOL. I cannot blame him.

    Oh the humanity. HUMANITY!

    The water begins to boil underneath me. All over, tiny whirlpools dip and drop beneath the surface. I feel as though I am a salad being tossed by the sea.

    The first tentacles wrap up either side of the boat, and the line drops. Water seeps onto the prow.

    “No!” I cry. “Save yourselves,” I beseech.

    There is a tug again, and I resolve I must-

    “Ellis? Did you just shout something?”

    -fight back!

    I grab the shipboard axe, take a deep breath, and leap over the side! With one hack, I send a tentacle into the deep. That’s when I get a look at its face. IT’S HUMAN!

    I’m splashing all around me, my axe slamming into the tentacles as a moth does into a light bulb! And soon the water turns into a sludgy slime.


    The face of the monster contorts and writhes in agony. It grimaces and I swim deeper to catch it. The only way to rid the world of this disgusting deviance is to strike straight into the –

    “Ellis!” The woman bursts into the bathroom. “Ellis, fortheloveofgod I thought you were drowning.”

    I look up into her pleading eyes. “Oh, sorry mom. I was freeing the world from a horrible sea monster.”

    She sits down on the toilet. “And making a decent mess of it.”

    The floor is covered in slick bubble-water. Some of the bubbles were still formed and mountainous. Another story for another time. “Yeah, sorry. It’s dirty business slaughtering the world devastator.”

    She laughs. “Well, hurry up, my little superhero. You still have homework.”

    “Not the sinister villain Homeworkeo! I shall vanquish him to the netherworld!”

    She fluffs my hair. “That’s the spirit,” and she exits.

    I look down at my boat, which now seems an insignificant child’s toy. “Next time, kraken,” I mutter, and lift the drain stopper. The water slowly drains, and I dry myself off. Perhaps I’m getting too old for toys and baths.

    -JR Simmang

    1. Critique

      What a delightful take on the prompt JR Simmang. I thought you did an excellent realistic job of writing the little boy’s adventure interspersed with the Mother’s questions. Loved it :)

    2. Reaper

      This had me smiling from start to finish. The over the top beginning and the amazing ending. I am willing to bet almost everyone here was some version of this kid.

    3. sjmca1966

      Great fun JR. I had a toy Stingray (from the Supermarionation TV series) when I was a kid and you took me back to my own bathtime adventures as a member of the World Aquanaut Security Patrol.
      Loved this piece!

    4. k.spicer

      Nicely done JR. Like everyone else I too was taken back to my childhood days when I was the super hero. A great take that was well written. I loved it!

  24. Kerry Charlton



    A slate, grey sky surrounded the hallowed burying grounds where fallen soldiers from the Revolutionary War had been laid to rest. As a cold, drizzling rain pelted Tom’s face and sank to the center of his mind, he wondered,

    ‘Why am I here? Who is calling me to change history and why is my feeling for Nancy so strong? Underneath the soil my knees sit upon, her body rests in eternal sleep and has for over twenty years.’

    Leaving the burial grounds and walking toward his car, Tom turned as if being called and looked at Nancy’s grave stone. It shined with an eerie, luminous glow and within the stone itself, Tom watched as her eyes followed him as he stepped backwards on the sacred ground. He stopped again and raised his right arm in a military salute. Nancy’s eyes nodded slightly on the face of the granite and she recognized his farewell.

    Three days later, Tom delivered his request for a year’s leave of absence to the director of Brooking Institute. Jack Pennington looked across his desk in complete bewilderment,

    “Why Tom? Is there something personal you want to tell me?”

    “It’s strange Jack, I’ve known you since William And Mary. We were Sigma Chi’s together, brothers of The White Cross and even though I’d trust you with my life, I find it difficult to tell you.”

    “No need to explain. You’re on full income for the year, What are your plans if I may ask?”

    “I will tell you this. I have travelled back in time, twice now. And I may be falling in love with a ghost. You’ll just have to trust me.”

    Jack’s face froze in disbelief as he put his arm around Tom’s shoulder and walked him to the exit door.

    “Good luck Tom. You may have a Pulitzer in the making.”

    Jack hurried back to his office, picked his secure phone up and punched speed dial. In a moment, he said,

    “Hello Susan, Jack Pennington here. Do you have a moment to talk?”

    Silence put a slight chill on Tom’s face as he entered his town home in Georgetown.

    ‘Odd’, he thought, ‘I don’t here classical music playing.’

    As Susan approached, he saw a pain in her eyes he didn’t recognize. ‘So Jack called her. Well I planned it that way, but I didn’t anticipate this kind of reaction.’

    Susan surrounded Jack with a tender embrace,

    “Would you like a scotch honey?”

    “That’d be nice,” he answered. Drawing her body tight, he kissed her tenderly. “Long day, baby.”

    “I figured that, care to talk about it?”

    They walked arm and arm toeward the living room fireplace, as Tom’s mind catapulted over 22 years of marriage,

    ‘The loss of our only child, Laura, to melanoma at the the age of sixteen. A brutal knee-chopping slice of life. Through our faith and love for each other we survived but our marriage had been shaken to it’s roots. We had mended from the blame we charged each other, for not noticing Laura’s melanoma before stage four had ripped her from our love. But has it been to much?’

    ‘And now this,’ Tom thought. ‘How can Susan handle time travel and true affction for a woman who has been dead for 22 years?’

    Tom poured his soul out before his wife until an early dawn had peaked through their living room windows and yet, she understood not a word of it. Susan rose from her chair beside Tom, placed her hand to his face and kissed him on his cheek,

    “You do what your heart tells you, for mine is empty to your love. Maybe it will return some day, but with Laura’s death, all feeling of my life are gone. God help you darling. I hope with your journey into the past, you find what you’re searching for. God speed, my husband.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you, Manwe38. These are wonderful comments from you This is the third in a series and I’m just beginning with this tale. As long as the forum wants to read more, I’ll write it.

    1. Reaper

      This just keeps getting better and more intense Kerry. You had a moment where you had Susan hugging Jack instead of Tom which made me go back and make sure I knew who was in the room. Other than that and a couple of editing points that I know haunt both you and I, I saw no flaws in the writing. I love what you have done with the relationship. How often marriages fall apart after tragedy or medical scares even when they turn out for the best, and this one didn’t. I love the depth of the characters you have written here. This is the kind of marriage you don’t see from many people under seventy these days. Him accepting his obligation and her holding onto the man instead of giving up when love fades. You went to another level on this one and I am still very hooked.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Reaper for the read and your thoughts. Jack? Tom? Geezer Moment. Keeps life interesting. It was your thought to keep the wife and do the back story. Don’t go anywhere, I need your constant help! I am as hooked on this as you are. Trying to figure out a new time portal without being redundent.

        As soon as I have it, I’m on to the next chapter. Once Tom and Nancy join up again, I’m going to keep the plot there. Plan on a rescue attemp by the two to try to save Delores from her death because of a Japanese attach on an Australian Hospital Ship in WWII. I went back to part two and wrote back story on Delores.

        Want to come down here and help?

    2. sjmca1966

      I just read all three and the story is becoming very deep and intriguing Kerry. I like the path this is leading us down. Keep it up.
      P.S So glad you found us (we weren’t hiding from you, honest!). :)

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you for the read and your help getting to the prompt. It happened once before last Christmas. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. Chapter four kicking around in my brain.

    3. Critique

      I hope Susan and Tom can rekindle their love for each other – they’ve been through so much and yet they don’t hang on but allow each other the freedom to be.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you for your thoughts Critique. Don’t worry about Susan and Tom. I have the last chapter already in my mind. Did you pick up on the thought that Jack had Susan’s personal number in his speed dial?

    4. Observer Tim

      This is touching, Kerry; I get the feeling that both of them are letting go in their way. From a story mechanics perspective I find myself thinking “Aha! Now Tom is free to go after his new untarnished love. Now how’s he going to find a time portal?”

      This is fascinating; keep on going, please.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Tim for your thoughts. Your thinking is right in line with mine, but the story never gives up on the idea that Susan and Tom, somehow will be able to renew their their love and each will travel through new love, pain, remorse and then reconciliation. Sounds like a plot for Hallmark.

        Stay tuned for Part Four.

  25. originalalchemist

    Sam stepped out onto the bow of the 120 foot yacht. Rogue strands of his hair caught the salted breeze and danced. The sun was setting and he wanted to watch. He gazed out at the horizon and saw the retreating sun set ablaze the ocean in countless sparkles. He breathed in deeply as he looked down and watched the ship slice through the orange tinted waves. Then he exhaled deeply in an unmistakable sigh. He was happy to be out here and away from his family. Mother and Father were drunkenly dancing and laughing loudly with their friends inside. Sam hated them when they were like this. Which it seemed to him was more often than not lately. He had begged to be left at home, but his parents wouldn’t hear of it.
    “You’re going to come on the yacht with us Samuel,” his Mother demanded. “I don’t care if you think you’re too cool to hang out with us just because you’ve your driver’s license. It’s going to be a family affair. All of us together. That’s that. If you’ve anything else to say about it you can take it up with your father when he gets home. I’m certain he’d love a debate with a teenager after a long day at the firm.”
    With that she returned to her wine and her socializing with the ladies she’d invited over. Sam didn’t even bother to protest any further. When Father returned from work (only a mere four hours late) he went right into the bathroom. He didn’t bother to even say hi to Sam. He simply walked by smelling of booze and strange perfume that didn’t smell like his mother. Sam overheard him mutter to his mother as he walked by that the guys at the office trying to make partner took him out. She simply shrugged and told him she was going shopping without even glancing at him. And now here they were as a whole family. With the addition of two other couples that had been invited. No other kids though.
    Sam secretly hoped that his parents would drink too much and end up overboard. He could be one of those orphans that inherited his parent’s fortune. Sam smiled thinking at how great that would be. The sun vanished and night took over as he turned around to walk down the starboard side of the ship. He stumbled over something in the dark. The lights from the yacht turned on and Sam was shocked to see a tentacle arm sliding toward him. He scooted back towards the hull of the ship. Frantically he was looking around for something to defend himself with. He looked to the wall and saw a fire axe. Sam sprang to his feet heaving it high in the air ready to slam it down on the sea creature, but was ashamed to see it was only a hose he hadn’t wrapped back up from spraying the deck earlier. He slid back down the wall laughing still grasping the axe. He felt so foolish thinking that some monster of the sea was going to kill his whole family.
    Sam laughed for five minutes until he had a new idea. He looked at the bladed edge of the axe and then back to his stumbling drunk adult companions. He thought of his earlier wishes to be an orphan, and he realized not all monsters have to come from the sea.

    *if you enjoyed this I’d love for you to read the Open Window story I did. It is in the top of the comments section titled Beast. I posted it after this prompt came up but I would love some feedback! Thanks for reading.*

    1. Reaper

      This starts of subtly dark and goes even deeper. Interesting story of broody teen turning to insanity, I say insanity instead of evil because no sane person can see themself as a monster. You portrayed this very well. The only two things I saw in the writing were the mention of the strange perfume that didn’t smell like his mothers. I think you only needed strange of not smelling like. It is a little thing but I was in the moment and that jarred me out a bit. The second is the number of didn’t even’s. Once or twice was good but it lost power because all of the didn’ts were like that. I would suggest choosing one you want to draw the most attention to and leaving the even off of the others. This is a wonderfully written and intriguing story and now I need to read your last one.

      1. originalalchemist

        Thank you very much Reaper. I’m pleased you read this and commented as I always look forward to your comments on my writing. I agree with you on both of your suggestions and I feel that there is much more wrong with the story. Truth be told it started as a much darker story inspired by yours, but I couldn’t resonate with the MC that imagined tentacles pulling them back to finish killing the ship’s crew. Maybe it’s a story for another prompt!

    2. sjmca1966

      This is a very dark tale indeed originalalchemist and I like the concept. I enjoyed the piece overall, however I feel it could have been improved with a bit of editing to improve the flow, e.g. Then he He exhaled deeply in an unmistakable sigh. | And now Now here they were as a whole family.
      We don’t get a lot of words to play with here, so it’s important to make them all count. :)

    3. Observer Tim

      This is intriguing and dark, originalalchemist. It reads like the opening chapter of a thriller, or the opening of the MC’s confession at the climax of a thriller.

      Reaper and Sjmca have spoken very well on story structure, so I’ll go in a different direction. It seems unlikely to me that someone old enough to drive and living in a house this alienating would refer to himself as a “kid”. Also, if the other couples are young enough, you could add a dimension of further insanity by him plotting to kill five of them and leave the last one for “other purposes”. Finally, since this seems to be an evening trip, he might consider taking the boat out to deeper water, reducing the likelihood of further “complications”. He’s just learning, but if he’s going to become a successful monster, he’ll need to consider quite a few details…

      1. originalalchemist

        Observer thanks for reading and I appreciate your input. To be honest your suggestion of keeping one for “other purposes” has left me feeling rather unsettled. I am happy that my brief and hastily written little story has given you all these nefarious ideas. Thank you for commenting.

  26. sjmca1966

    Avalon –

    Night was the loneliest. I found quiet consolation sitting on the deck of the Avalon. I gazed at the moon, she was seductively slow-dancing across the sky, her endless reflection in the gentle ripple of the ocean was a more than able dance partner.

    I thought of Gabrielle and the kids, of their sacrifices in the name of my crazy adventure. They’d almost lost me two years prior and were well aware I could and probably would come out of remission. When my medical team finally gave me a reluctant all-clear—to set out across the Pacific Ocean—the reality of my selfish quest had made me question who I was.

    I ran over my nightly check-list before I clipped Captain Theodore to the helm, he was young Libby’s teddy bear—a friend to keep me company, “All yours, Cap’n,” I said, saluting before I headed below.

    That night I was startled by a thump against the port hull. I was on deck in a flash. Surveying the yacht and the surrounding waters with my flashlight I detected nothing untoward.

    I woke again to the rising sun softly brushing my left cheek. I ascended the small flight of stairs and as I stepped on deck my legs were whisked from under me. I was laying in a sticky translucent gel and when I looked around, the whole of the deck was smothered. It irked me to lose valuable time washing away the putrid gunge, but once under sail, I was calmed as the breeze began to pick-up. I made great progress during the day. Exhausted come nightfall, I missed the evenings performance from the celestial Fred and Ginger.

    The following morning, I landed on the deck again with a thud, This can’t be a coincidence, not two mornings in a row.

    I lay awake that night with my survival knife sheathed at my hip and my spear-gun close at hand.

    It was the early hours of the morning when I felt Avalon list to port. On deck I sensed It. Captain Theodore was not at his post. I heard the water break behind me, I swiveled as a massive tentacle lurched up and tried to gain purchase around the radio antenna, the aerial was ripped into the sea.

    Before I could react a second tentacle wrapped around my left ankle, the spear-gun jolted from my hand as my elbow hit the deck. I grabbed the bottom guard rail with both hands as I was stretched out over the ocean. I knew I couldn’t hold on with one hand but I had to reach for my knife. I released my right hand and grasped the handle of my razor-sharp blade. I hit the icy water and began slashing furiously at my captor. I was released from the creatures grip, but I was thirty feet from sanctuary. I swam towards the bow of the yacht, my energy sapping by the second, each breath becoming shorter in frequency.

    It seemed an eternity before I reached the beautiful Avalon. I struggled on board and made a bee-line for the spear-gun. The yacht shook violently. I steadied myself against the cabin, my feet braced against the helm. The creature rose from the sea with its tentacles flailing, its gnashing beak protruded from a giant corona. I took aim and fired, the barbed spear hit its target and smashed the shell of the beak. The sea was in turmoil as the creature thrashed and writhed in agony. The high-pitched squawking was deafening and I was been showered by a thick black ink. All eventually went quiet as the creature submitted to its injuries and lay dormant on the surface.

    I staggered down below, stripped and dried myself. Changed and warm, I sat and stared at the blank page of my daily journal, not knowing where to begin. A single red spot then stained the paper, I automatically tilted my head back as I’d done so many times in the past. I’d seen off one monster, but an all too familiar one was back. A tear drop quivered on my top lip as I thumped the desk. I activated my emergency beacon.

    I was beaten.

    1. Reaper

      Wow. This is a wonderfully written, emotional, and powerfully rollercoaster. I am trying to think if there is anything you didn’t make me feel with your writing here and the only thing I can think of is hungry. You didn’t make me feel hungry but other than that I think you hit everything. Amazing.

      1. sjmca1966

        Dam I missed one! Here’s a little epilogue for you (no prizes for guessing where I stole it) –
        “Anyway, like I was sayin’, calamari is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, calamari-kebabs, calamari creole, calamari gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple calamari, lemon calamari, coconut calamari, pepper calamari, calamari soup, calamari stew, calamari salad, calamari and potatoes, calamari burger, calamari sandwich. That- that’s about it”.
        Thanks Reaper, I appreciate your comments.

    2. Isidurs Bane

      I am in tears with this. There are few monsters scarier than cancer, and your MC’s bravery against the sea-creature–and the elation I felt from it–were quickly erased by that last line.

      What a beautiful story!

    3. JRSimmang

      The pacing is executed flawlessly, my eyes able to keep up with the story. I appreciate being able to make a judgment about the MC immediately as well. Thanks for keeping the back story to a minimum and letting the action speak louder than words. Clever naming the ship Avalon, by the way. Perhaps the next night it will be obscured by fog.

      1. sjmca1966

        Thanks for the great comments JR. When a few ideas were going through my noggin for a story, The Lady of the Lake came and went, but Avalon stuck.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I haven’t read many ‘Top of The Mark’ stories, but enough to realize this is a gem. I was immediately captured in the first few words. Your MC is wonderfully vulnerable. Pefect comes to mind. I find nothing but pure, exciting story. Bravo X three.

  27. Marie Therese Knepper

    Sea Food
    by Marie-Therese Knepper

    Beautiful Hespera, you never fail, Edouard smiled to himself as he watched the first of The Kraken’s tentacles slowly emerge from the moonlit ocean. Content in the knowledge that the crew, captain included, were still knocked out from the effects of the Sea Hag’s special potion he’d slipped into the ship’s rum supply, Edouard lowered himself over the starboard side and into the dinghy he had secured only a short while ago.

    As Edouard rowed safely away from the soon to be sinking vessel, his thoughts once again turned to his siren. Hespera – his savior, friend, and – dare he think it – lover; of sorts.

    She came to him on what he had planned to be his last night on this earth. Only 15, he’d been shanghaied by the vicious Captain Blood. Born a deaf mute, Edouard had been an easy target for abuse. His torment began at the hands of the parish priest who ran Port Royal’s orphanage. Longing for freedom, Edouard jumped at the first opportunity for escape. Little did he know that the caretaker who secured his release from the orphanage was secretly in league with Captain Blood. Sold into slavery aboard The Night Princess, Edouard had nothing left to live for. So when The Princess’s crew took safe harbor in Tortuga, Edouard planned his final escape.

    Walking the imaginary plank to his sad life’s eternal rest, he heard his first sound. Having no other sound to compare, Edouard was overcome with emotion. He heard her before he saw her. Hespera. The maid of sea legend. Edouard grasped her outstretched hands, and was jettisoned into a hope-filled sea. Here, Edouard could hear and understand. Here he was home. Here he was reborn: a man with a plan. Here he had a family, all of whom suffered abuse in one form or another from the blackhearts who roamed the Seven Seas. Here, he and his kin plotted their revenge.

    And now, only a fortnight from their plotting, Edouard stopped rowing when he caught a glimpse of his lover’s scales shimmering in the moon’s light. Once again grasping her outstretched hand, Edouard relished the sight of The Kraken’s tentacles ravaging the unsecured bow of The Night Princess. The green flash is nothing compared to this, Edouard sang in triumph, as the giant’s death hold brought The Princess plummeting to her sure demise. As the last of the stern slipped under the roiling waves, Edouard and Hespera languished in The Night Princess’s death rattle echoing through the murky waters.

    (To be continued…)

    1. icandootoo

      Just to be clear: You promised to continue this… I hold you to that promise :-) This is really fascinating. Dark, yet happy. Of course I have to love it. :-)

      Okay, so may I ask- is Hespera a Kraken, the Kraken, a spirit, the goddess of immortality?? I wasn’t very clear on that point. But keep in mind I’m sleep deprived at the current moment.

      Where is Edouard? floating? underwater? incorporeal?

      1. Marie Therese Knepper

        Oh, icandoo, you have me laughing :)

        Hespera is a mermaid. She rescued Edouard from his suicide attempt. I would say that Hespera and Edouard are the Bonnie and Clyde of the Seven Seas. This is the first of their many adventures :)

        Thank you so very much.

    2. Reaper

      The truest and most complimentary thing I can say about this is I hate the to be continued, because I want more now. Wonderful writing to an elegant story.

        1. JRSimmang

          Marie, we’ve sort of developed a kind of installment practice here in the WD board. It’s been great fun reading continuing stories, while giving newbies the opportunity to go back and read the beginnings.
          I’m with the rest of the crew here, I’d gladly jump into the second, third, fourth, etc. parts. Edouard is an interesting character, his flaws being not only physical handicaps, but his seemingly devil-may-care attitude toward human life.

    3. jhowe

      I loved this. Loved the reference to the Sea Hag (a Popeye memory?). Loved the mention of the green flash. I go to the Caribbean a lot and the green flash legend is still going strong.

    4. snuzcook

      Wonderful, MTK! I am eager to read more. I find I am not entirely certain about Hespera–I worry that Edouard’s propensity to leap from the proverbial frying pan into the fire may now have landed him in something even hotter. You’ve got me hooked.!

    5. Critique

      I had to look up Kraken and Hespera. In my view you’ve created an intriguing mythical story that could be ongoing :)
      I have one question: is Edouard part amphibian? It sounds like he can survive underwater.

    6. Observer Tim

      You’ve created a very compelling character in Edouard, Marie. Even with so few words I find myself sympathizing with him and drawn in. I’d love to see what more you have to reveal about him, and all that you have yet to reveal about Hespera.

      Keep on writing this, please.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Sorry to be so late getting here, but the delay was well worth it. I see a beautiful love story here between man and spirit. I’d call the first part, inspired to say the least, I also feel like Reaper. Upon reading the last paragraph, I felt a total let down. Why did it have to end, Marie?

  28. TheAwkwardLlama

    Inspired by the story of poor Pip from Moby Dick, which has haunted me ever since high school.

    The ship bobbed on the swell of the ocean, so small from a distance as to remind the boy of paper boats he had made for his little brothers just last year. He shivered as he gazed at the water surrounding the whaling boat in every direction, black and cold as angry eyes. The second mate, who was exchanging loud, jovial profanities with the rest of the crew, paused at the boy’s frightened face.
    “Why boy, there’s naught to fear. Once the hunt begins you’ll forget you ever wished you were home with mother!” He cuffed the boy’s shoulder in a friendly manner.
    The further from the ship they rushed the more the boy was overwhelmed with the sense of his own insignificance. The sky was as big as God and the ocean vaster still. For the first time since the crew set sail from Cape Cod, the boy retched and lost his breakfast over the side of the boat.
    The harpooneer stared at the boy, sneered, and spat at his feet, saying no word.
    In an hour’s time they were well ahead of the second boat. The ocean was growing choppy. The boy closed his eyes and thought he could almost hear his mother’s voice in the salt-laden wind whipping at his face and WHUMP! He was shaken violently from the dream by something crashing against the bottom of the boat.
    “Whale ho!” shouted the second mate hoarsely. “Harpooneer ready!”
    A second thump, more violent than the first, knocked the boy to his knees and nearly tipped the boat on its side. “By God!” exclaimed the second mate. “She’s as much a hellion as my second wife!”
    The boy was frozen where he was, too frightened to even pray. Instead of the sleek round back of a whale, a long, glistening, foul-smelling blue tentacle rose from the waves and snatched the second mate from the deck. His gurgling cry was cut short by a splash and the tentacle and the man vanished below the black water.
    The harpooneer screamed a curse. Five more tentacles closed on the stern end of the boat like a hand crushing an egg. He stabbed one blue arm and gouts of black blood rushed over the deck. A sixth tentacle, big around as the harpooneer’s broad shoulders, plucked him up skyward and dropped him to the water below.
    The boy hurled himself into the ocean, knowing the monster would return to the boat until it was crushed like a violent child’s plaything.
    Below the surface his eyes blinked open. Through the murky water he saw the incomprehensible bulk of the kraken. One single luminous eye gazed upward languidly. The boy instinctively relaxed and allowed the current to carry his limp body away. He floated to the surface. He was the only singular object in the deep black infinity, save for some wooden flotsam and an errant clump of yellowish seaweed. He felt his mind dissolving into the ocean like a single drop of rain.

    1. seliz

      Great descriptions throughout the piece. I particularly liked the point where the boy was thinking about his mother when the kraken crashed into the boat. I could almost feel him being jarred from his daydream. Nicely done.

    2. snuzcook

      You told this story beautifully, TheAwkwardLlama. The opening was pensive and poetic, and the ending took us gently back to the vastness of the sea. The action is clear and tense, and your metaphors are wonderful. Well done!

  29. Augie

    (Please read part 1 posted below, it will make more sense to this story.)

    A native tale of a boy earning his feathers into manhood.

    PART 2

    The Second Feather

    The brave appears on the deck of a large wooden ship with a scrub brush in his hand. A man with silver shiny skin hits the brave with a leather strap, shouting in a foreign tongue.

    The other men in silver rejoice, raising long knives and nets.

    Kuruk the spirit bear whispers in the braves mind. “ They see land young brother, free the slaves they have captive below.”

    The brave peers down the stairs, “One of the silver warriors stands at the entrance.

    The guard never saw the spirit bear strike him down, “Take his keys.”

    The brave enters the compartment filled with chains. Each chain holds a tribe member dangling from side to side.

    The eldest of the prisoners summons the young brave. Pass the keys and sit by my side as the sea fulfills its promise!”

    The brave looks at the wise man, “What is happening?”

    “The current returns us home. These men are fools! They have forgotten about our keeper.”

    The brave ask, “Shera?”

    The elder lowers his head in grief, “No, her daughter.

    Shera came from a long bloodline of keepers of the sea, and loved nothing more than the sea caressing her ankles. Each day the sea would ask, “are you with child?”

    Shera would smile, “Don’t worry, the tradition will continue through my blood.

    The sea became impatient and called its great monsters, sinking the villagers fishing boats.

    “Give me my child, or I will bring death to your shores!”

    Shera looked out to the monsters slaughtering tribal fishermen.

    “When I am with child, I may return!”

    For years she turned her back to the sea. In anger the sea starved her people and sent massive waves to her shores.

    Shera was losing her love for the sea.

    Her village was warned by southern tribes of the men in silver skin that slaughter with long knives and spread invisible death.

    Surely the sea would never bring the murders to the shores of the keeper!

    One morning Shera looked to the sea, great ships pushed by the wind rushed to her land.

    The foreign men slaughtered and enslaved her people.

    Once the great ships left, Shera walked into the sea.

    “Look to the mountain, which is out of your reach! You will see my daughter Ketan! I curse you with my life that you will never be worshiped until you bring back my people!”

    Shera fulfilled her curse, her daughter watching from high above.

    The sea witnesses as the young keeper Ketan, turns her back as he consumes her mothers life.

    The old man shape shifts into Kurak the Great Spirit Bear.

    Get ready young brave! I can smell the shores of our fathers. Ketan is calling!”

    The ship rises, speeding on top of a massive wave as the tribe men run up on deck.

    Giant monsters lash their tentacles at the men wearing silver skins.

    The young brave looks across the angry seas as hundreds of large ships showing different tribal colors share the same fate.

    The shouts of cheering tribal members from each ship replace the screams from the slaughtered men.

    The glow of the keepers orb grows stronger, calling her people home.

    The sea has fulfilled its promise. The young keeper Ketan holds the glowing orb, chanting to the sea. Her people rejoice, dancing on the soil of their land.

    The great monsters pull down each ship; they would never find these shores again.

    The journey of the original Keepers painting on the caves wall has ended.

    The young brave sits in the cave, staring at the fire pit.

    Chief Ka-e-te-nay, rider if the Great Spirit Bear Kuruk, hands the brave his second feather.

    The Great Spirit Bear Kuruk yawns, “ There are many stories on these walls little warrior, I suggest you get some sleep.”

    1. Reaper

      Nice Augie. This has a wonderful voice that seems to fluctuate between traditional Native legend and modern fable. I enjoyed it a lot and as I always did when hearing those legends looked for the spirituality, connection to earth, and the lesson. Deep and rich this is one of your best.

      1. Augie

        You gave me a great compliment here! When I was young, our school teacher (Ms. Grant) challenged us to write stories each week. Funny, the less a person has, the greater the imagination they can summon. I originally wrote ‘The Twelve Feathers’, a story about a young brave becoming a man. (I was 12). Of course, in those years I didn’t know the moon actually has two seas at one time, but heard stories how the moon always shows us her face. Thanks for you comments. I hope to find prompts to tell the other 10 stories.

    2. sjmca1966

      This was masterful Augie. You transported me to your fire pit and I sat leaning forward warming my hands on a cool starry night. I was listening to you while entrenched in the journey as you weaved effortlessly between different times and worlds.

    3. JRSimmang

      I’m entrance so far, Augie. The single line paragraphs work to propel us into the urgency of the situation and almost seem to mirror the impatience of The Brave. I have to agree with Reaper. This tale is certainly a Native American legend.

    4. snuzcook

      This second feather story is incredibly rich with the understanding of the human heart, as reflected in the longings and actions of the beings in the vision. What wonderful and powerful messages of belonging, rejection and reconciliation, along with the clear illustration that bad things happen when you abandon your rightful role. Each of these stories is a gift, shaped with beautiful phrasing. Thank you, Augie.

      1. Augie

        snuz, actually I was nervous posting this. My first feather story didn’t get much attention, (I really liked your response to it) But I knew this prompt was my only chance to continue the journey. I rewrote these stories a few years ago, I never thought I would be able to share them. Thank you for your continued support.

    5. Dennis

      Augie I’m so glad you found a way to continue sharing these stories. The first one had me mesmerized in the way the story was told. This one had a similar feeling but also a more earthy feel I think with the subject matter. Young brave will be wise beyond years by the time he obtains that 12th feather. If you can’t find a way to tie them to the prompts, share them any way. Thanks. :)

      1. Augie

        My story is of the little brave, Oh-hee’-iee-kah (Sioux for brave). If this child only knew what he would experience later to become a warrior. Thanks for your continued support Dennis. These 12 feathers mean so much to me. It’s nice to look back in time at the younger version of my self.

    6. Observer Tim

      Wow. This legend is powerfully told, Augie. You’re telling a beautiful story of a boy’s journey into manhood, far more compelling than the commercialized versions we so commonly hear. I went back to read the first feather (I don’t know how I missed it), which is also great. I look forward to seeing more of these stories/legends as time passes.

      1. Augie

        Thanks Tim! My best friend ‘Scorp’ grew up on a res and helped me fill in details of my original adolescent versions, (which were very simple). He talks and acts like the great spirit chief in the stories. I cannot wait to tell you the ‘singing rock’ on the burial mound!

  30. Augie

    A native tale of a boy earning his feathers into manhood

    Part 1

    The Second Feather

    Kuruk, Great Spirit Bear and keeper of souls woke the young brave.

    “Pick the second story for your journey into manhood where you will be given a warriors name. You have earned one feather, wear it proudly.” (First story is in Zombie prompt)

    The brave points to a painting of a woman looking to the sea. Two silver feathers bound to her wrist flow in the breeze. She holds a glowing silver orb over her head.

    Kuruk says in a calm voice, “Ahh, the keeper of the sea. First, you must learn the birth of the sea. Jump on my back and hold on”

    Kuruk charges out of the cave, “We come to you mother, open the path.”

    With a great leap, darkness surrounds Kuruk and his rider.

    Kuruk whispers, “Do you feel the emptiness? ”

    Bright tiny lights speed by as Kuruk races towards ‘mother’.

    The brave stares at the glowing orb, “Great Kuruk, is that the moon?”

    The spirit bear lunges forward, “Yes, and the rays of loyalty continue to shine on her daughter. She will never turn her head again. She is, the creator of our land and seas.

    Once, she was the only child circling the mighty grip of her father. In the long cycle, her time was equally divided in darkness and his playful rays of light. She laughed and spun when his fire tickled her two seas. In darkness she yearned for his light, her seas grew cold.

    She dreamed of having a daughter, but father controlled creation. Over and over, the cycle continued. Her fathers light, the empty darkness.

    Away from his sight, she cast bits of rock. Each time she circled, she added to her creation. She named it, ‘Earth’.

    A time came when her seas no longer danced for her father. She desired to return to her creation, left alone in the dark. The father searched for answers and was enraged witnessing her form a child.

    He waited for her to look away, and she did.

    Launching massive balls of fire, he attempted to destroy her creation. She saw his anger and broke free from his grip.

    Spinning out of control, she reached out to her daughter. Her tears poured, extinguishing the blazing sphere. She held on tight as they spun deeper into darkness away from his burning eyes.

    The father witnessed her love, giving up the only thing she had.

    Her two seas.

    He reached out and pulled her back into sight, she held her grip on the inflamed daughter. She continued to spill her tears until all the flames were extinguished.

    Mother spilled her two seas and never looked away again. She still plays with the seas on her child and shines brightly in the darkness. Her daughter will never feel alone.

    In time, the seas looked out to the land. It had created many creatures that worshiped its depths.

    But no creature on land kneeled to its great power. The seas pleaded with mother, and Ashura, walked from the depths of the sea onto the shore.

    The keeper of the sea had been created.

    From now on, her blood would be passed down to every generation worshiping the sea.

    Many generations later, the young keeper Shera called to the seas sinking invading ships of men in silver skins. The sea summoned its mightiest monsters, pulling the ships under with their massive tentacles.

    The sea protected the shores of her land, until she refused to produce a child.

    In response, the sea brought ships from every land to her shores.

    The Spirit Bear raised his voice, “So now, now we journey to the story of Shera, keeper of the sea.

    Kuruk jumps through the stars towards Earths Sea.

    The brave is stunned finding himself scrubbing the decks of a large wooden ship. A man with silver shiny skin shouts in foreign tongue and lashes the brave with a leather strap.

    Kuruks voice filled the young braves mind, “Look to the water, tell me what you see.

    The brave stands and looks out, “Monsters! Many of them, circling the ship!”

    Kuruk softens his voice, “Now look to the land, what do you see?”

    The brave held his hand over his eyes blocking the sun. His eyes and sees a glimmer of light.

    “A woman, holding a silver orb over her head! It’s the keeper!”

    Kuruk shouts, “hurry boy! Come below decks and free the prisoners! There isn’t much time.”

  31. Critique

    Sorry fellow writers :( The imaginative juices came up dry on this one.

    April 2021

    After two days I was beginning to relax. Dark navy waters stretched endlessly on the horizon making sense of what Captain Ingalls told us at dinner last night – I was one of a dozen honoured guests invited to sit at his table – that the ocean is the color of empty. The charming captain proudly expounded on the safety of his cruise ship. Intimidated by the highbrow folks sitting next to me, I didn’t bring up the troubling question of the cruise ships that had vanished several years ago into thin air.

    A cruise (paid for by my late husband’s life insurance policy) suited me perfectly after attending writing conferences back to back. Before embarking I researched the ship and located the coffee shops with comfy chairs where I could sit and start the research on my first novel about a serial killer on-board a cruise ship. I had nothing else to do but lounge in the sun, cool off in the pools and happily eat or drink whenever the spirit moved. Pure decadence.

    Following a nap, I decided to go for a drink on the upper deck. Glancing over the stair rail, I froze in mid step. Massive tentacles crisscrossed the ship’s hull like a fishermans net and I could see it creeping upwards. Fright seized my throat.

    Taking the stairs two at a time I reached a deserted upper deck. Huffing and puffing I staggered to the rail and looked down again. The net had advanced well beyond the first deck.

    “Hello? Anybody there,” I yelled.

    Rushing inside through double doors I collided with one of the guests from the Captain’s table last night.

    He grabbed my arms roughly. “You should be down in the galley. Captain’s orders.”

    “What are th..those ropes?” I looked up into unfriendly eyes. I sleep with ear plugs so I would have missed any announcement.“Wh..what’s happening?”

    He pushed me away and started talking on a two-way radio. In perfect Somali he said. “Nevel, the Captain is contained in room 1245. The ship is secure and the takeover is on target. I have a small matter to attend to but I want you to proceed with the plan. We must not fail.”

    My parents were missionaries in Somalia when I was a girl and I was fluent in the language. Terrified by the ‘small matter’ he mentioned I backed away. By the time he looked up I was behind the buffet counter and had located the chute door. Thanks to my research I was soon spiralling down in the dark. I landed with a shriek on top of some passengers sitting on the floor in the galley.

    Explaining my story to the Ship Officers, the Captain was soon freed. The Captain had access to a code that would disarm the tentacle take-over by the Somalians. The bloody waters surrounding the ship soon washed to a dark navy as the tentacles disappeared. I guess the Captain had done his research too.

    1. Reaper

      I don’t know about the creative juices but the sauce made of awesome seems flowing like wine. Loved the take and the line the ocean is the color of empty.

    2. snuzcook

      Wonderful take on the prompt, Critique. Putting the Somali pirates into the future opened great latitude for high tech or bio-engineered weapons they could use. You wove in all the necessary elements in with very believable explanations. And I love your poetic turns of phrase. Well done!

        1. Kerry Charlton

          A very exciting, well thought out tale. I was prepared for the worst and you brought the rescue to the story. If you think this non-creative, it’s anything but. Very well done, Critique.

          1. Critique

            Thanks Kerry for your comments.
            Science fiction writing doesn’t come easily for me and I felt my story sounded tame, hence my comment the imaginative juices were lacking ;)

  32. randytramp

    Adjusting his sailor hat, the young man breathed in salt water, now spraying his face. He followed the ship’s trail to the horizon. Flying fish caught his attention. Oh, he loved being on the ocean, drinking in the vastness of it all.
    Suddenly he fell against the bulkhead. The trail disappeared. The water became still. He heard the engines screech like a trapped animal. Sam pulled himself up and felt the back of his head. He looked at his hand – blood. Wiping his hand on his pants he walked over to the back of the ship.
    Strange black tentacles reached from the ocean deep, slow and in charge. The captain was not in his usual spot. One more glance he found that everyone was gone.
    A harpoon, get a harpoon, he told himself. Turning around he ran to the steps. Without touching one step he slid down on the handrails. Quickly looking around he found the weapon in the corner. Rushing up the stairs he found the creature had blocked his way.
    He aimed the weapon at the monster. The ship shifted and his harpoon went off sending the arrow into the side of the ship. The tentacles continued to descend, causing the sailor downward. The ship took another roll. Then another roll.
    “Wake up,” a ship mate shook Sam. “It’s your watch.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Nicely done, randytramp. Don’t you hate it when real life interferes with your dreams?

      Welcome to the site!

      For the sake of old fogeys like me, it helps to put an extra line break between paragraphs. It also makes the story look longer…

  33. moscoboy

    Star Chaser
    We missed our fishing boat. Tom and I walked along the deserted pier in Galveston looking for a boat that would take us out to the reefs so we could catch some red snappers. We found the Kat Man in port with its mate loading provisions.

    “We’d like to go out to the reefs or an oil platform to catch snappers. We’ve got $100 dollars for a four hour ride, what do you say?”

    The mate went up topside to the wheelhouse and spoke to the captain. “The captain will take you on, but we’ll be anchoring overnight to do some serious fishing. Are you game for a moonlight cruise at no charge?”

    We looked at each other and laughed, “Hell yea. Got any beer aboard.”

    “Aye,” said the mate. “We always carry plenty of spirits. Come aboard so we can shove off.”

    The Gulf of Mexico was choppy, but we made good time. I notice we were going in the opposite direction of all the other fishing boats into brackish waters that are called the dead zone.

    “Are you sure we’re going in the right direction?” I asked the mate.

    “Aye, you’ll get plenty of snappers at sundown, maybe even sooner. Come, sit in the fighting chair and I’ll rig you and your friend up.”

    We trolled the dead zone until we were out of sunscreen and full of beer. I undid my straps and got out of my chair and took a long wiz. The sun was gone, but the boat halogens were all lit up like a cruise ship.

    A group of tentacles came over the stern and the boat began to sink as a hideous monster mounted the stern. The creature had an octopus face with long bat like wings and two limbs with long black claws that tore at the varnished wood.

    “Captain come help.” Tom and I backed up into the galley from the monster’s menacing tentacles.

    The monster stood 15 feet tall and his stature grew as he eyed the wheelhouse. The mate woke the intoxicated captain and turned him in the direction of the monster and yelled into the captain’s hairy ear, “It’s the Cthulhu, he looking for you.”

    The captain became animated and took out a foul smelling fish from his pocket and held it in the air as a trophy and in a booming voice screamed, “Away with you Cthulhu, the stars are in alignment, go now before the cosmic ones come to claim you.”

    The Cthulhu doubled in size as the boat began to take on water. Its rubbery skin began to flex and its wings caught the air currents and disappeared. The boat leveled off and we began to bail out seawater as the captain brought the diesel engines to life and turned for home.

    We arrived in port the next morning the mate handed us a cooler full of red snappers and said, “Tell ‘em you had a hell of a run.”

    I would like to thank The Cursed Knight for his visionary contribution to this prompt.

      1. moscoboy

        There was a lot of people eating in other prompts, so I decided to steer the reader astray from the obvious. The Cursed Knight, my beta-reader, suggested having the fishermen eaten. Being a contrarian I did the opposite.

      1. moscoboy

        Thanks for the read. The Cursed Knight is my beta-reader and a game character. Cthulhu is a character created by H.P. Lovecraft in a 1926 short story. It’s a monster with an octopus head, anthropoid body with claws at its feet and legs with long narrow wings. See Wiki for details and pics.

    1. snuzcook

      Very entertaining read, moscoboy! All the way through it was clear something really bad was going to happen to these naive guys. I found it really very funny when the creature finally appeared and then was sent away almost casually by the captain who exhibited unsuspected familiarity with the supernatural realm. Told in manner of all great fish stories.

      1. moscoboy

        The Cursed Knight is a game character and the moniker for my beta-reader. I was aiming for a dark tale. No fishermen were harmed in the composition of this prompt.

  34. snuzcook


    I dream in the caress of the currents. I have fed well, and I am content. From my crevasse beneath an ancient volcanic overhang, I listen to the song of the whales as they migrate and dream of battles well fought.

    When I was a youngling, my life was very different. My world was confined to a tank in the world of the land creatures. I could see beyond its transparent sides and observe their movements. I could not hunt in the normal way, and the creatures provided me with food and simple diversions. I learned something of their logic, and practiced solving the simple puzzles they placed in my tank. I did not know that life could be different, and it pleased me to entertain myself in this way for I needed to grow and learn.

    When at last I was released to the open ocean, I used the simple lessons I had learned to survive. But I knew nothing of the ways of my kind, and I fought many battles to finally learn my place and find a home of my own to defend.

    I was fortunate to find this grotto. It is lush with and teeming with food. I have grown large and powerful in this place, capable of defending it against any intruders. I have dominion over all things here, and my stewardship has kept it in the optimum balance for all its residents to flourish.

    Still, I relish new challenges. When the boat entered my realm in the cool of the night, my curiosity was awakened.

    It had the taste and smell of the land creatures, the tang of metal, the dry bitterness of wood and the acrid presence of fuel. But inside, deliciously hidden, was the unmistakable presence of food.

    I recalled the puzzles of those ages ago. Delicately, I unlatched obstacles, opened blocked passages. At one point, the boat shuddered and belched and attempted to escape, but I disabled its fuel-soaked heart. One by one, I located my prizes and withdrew them from their hiding places. By the return of the sun, my hunger was sated, and I left a final morsel to entertain myself later.

    Awake now, I observe my prize. It bobs passively on the surface, its broken mechanisms silent. I can sense the vibrations of movement. The final creature is active, exploring its trap. There is a kind of desperation to its movements, as if it is puzzled. But there is no escape, except to abandon its vessel and leap into the water. But that would be no challenge at all.

    No, I must teach it to stay where it is. I will chase it, as I chase crabs into their holes by my very presence. It peers over the side of the boat. I reach up, letting it see that my arms embrace the boat. My action achieves the desired effect. It disappears deep into the many-chambered trap.

    Good. I can wait for the final challenge.

    1. Reaper

      Others have gone a similar route but this is amazing. You always have this varied and intense voice that matches your character. I never expected you to write a monster that I rooted for but you got into the head of it so completely that I did. I feel like a traitor after the fact but in the moment I was rooting for the old one! The wording is magical and just beautiful. Your opening paragraph especially was so powerful it overwhelmed me.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is really really good, Snuzcook. You portrayed the alien perspective so wonderfully. I am reminded of the opening of the Secret of Nimh; it’s poetic justice for the “monster” to put the human into a laboratory perspective.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You are so imaginative with your approach to storytelling, in my opinion, you can make a bloody fortune writing childran’s and young adult fiction. You have a very special talent, snuzcook.

  35. lynnmcmahon

    THIS, from a writing site? What gives?

    “peak vs. peek”

    Let’s look at three homophones: peak, peek, and pique. Peak is a topmost point, such as a mountain peak, or to reach that point:

    We’re sort of at peak demand right now.

    A peek is a glance or a quick look, like you do with the unwrapped Christmas presents at the bottom of your loved one’s closet. It can also mean to glance or to peer at. It’s frequently paired with sneak, which can lead you to use the incorrect peak:

    Residents take a peek at bike and pedestrian safety plans

    Yellowstone Offers Sneak Peek Of New Visitor Center

    Finally, pique is to upset or excite someone. You will sometimes see peek one’s interest for pique one’s interest, but don’t be fooled. If you’re piquing someone’s interest, you are exciting their interest not taking a quick look at it:

    If that doesn’t pique your interest, you can leave (but I’m keeping your shoes).

    Here’s your mnemonic device:

    You have to reach to gain the peak.
    If you peer at something, you are peeking.
    And if you’re piqued about something, there’s usually a question in your mind about it.

  36. PatDatMann

    Is there a better Place.

    Panoramic, picturesque even preternatural is the beauty of this immense majority of our planet. The beauty is truly awe inspiring, I’ve always remembered thinking so; beginning as soon as my burgeoning boyhood when a ferry ride was more exhilarating than any roller-coaster or carnival could ever be. The very thought causes me to accelerate the modest vessel further regardless to the growing the upswells and the increased volume of rain fall besides I had a rain suit to keep me dry and about a half bottle of Jack Daniel’s to keep me warm. Every since my younger days as boy excited about ferry rides and peddle boats I’ve always felt at home on the water- liberated almost, as if whatever worry or care I might have had on my mind could be left on dry land. Its a new frontier, they even have separate laws for life on the sea- not that I’ve ever concerned myself those as that would be contrary to my voyage in the first place. In fact I credit the ocean for my appreciation of all things beautiful especially that of a women. The way the ocean’s waves sways and how they glimmer in the sun and moon light would make you sure you were surrounded by treasure. Curvatures and shimmers of the ocean easily brings to mind the likeness of the female anatomy- the shine in her eyes, her smile; the treasure to be had. Sitting at the helm of the adequately sized fishing boat in a whiskey addled daze imagining how beautiful she would be today- I let go of the engines throttle to discover I’ve burnt more than half of the tank of gas. The world is always moving, things are always happening, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, so much so that the idea of you standing, sitting or laying still is a farce. I felt alive in my increasingly small boat as it swayed to the rhythms of the ocean as the heavens wring out water every ten minutes or so. I looked up in gratitude for my respite as I view every moment spent at sea as a gift. At that very moment a short down pour graced my face and I began to weep. I wept because it knew that the feeling of being in sync with one of mans greatest mysteries can never be shared with my own greatest creation. It was then when I realized that I could never enjoy the sweet escape of life again, as it became clear to me as mere act of cowardice- thats when I felt the rocking. There was no tidal change but a growing tumult near the engine at the hull, which was only to the right of my backside. I followed my first instinct to turn on the engine and open the throttle towards the closest bank but I was much too far out. Before I was able to get 20 feet away from the initial disturbance there were multiple squid tentacles demolishing and sinking my modest boat where my life became as dim as the depths of the sea.

    1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      You build good character and scene here, but maybe forgot about the story just a little. I read once that good character and scene setting is important to the story, but it means nothing without a good story (or something like that). I wish you’d gone a little further and built a bit more of a “tale” to match the body you constructed, but overall your sentences flow very nicely. Haven’t seen you post here before, but it might just be because I’m blind. :p Look forward to seeing your posts in the future! If you are new here, welcome to our little corner of WD. :)

      1. PatDatMann

        Thanks for the welcome my friend. I appreciate the thoughtful feedback as you are so very right. I noticed that there wasn’t enough emphasis on the story of the event at hand during the proof read. I suppose that’s the beauty of the 500 word limit, it really helps distill weakness we may not otherwise view as such. You’ve definitely been an aide in that process. I just hope I can do the same for you.

    2. Reaper

      Adding my voice to the welcome aboard. I will say this is descriptive and blindingly beautiful. I want to agree and disagree that you do not have enough story. On its own I would agree but that is not how this reads. There are hints to something more, act of cowardice, can never share with my greatest creation. This reads like the start of a story where the rest is a flashback, as the MC drowns him remembering a child that took their own life or something like that. Could be a misinterpret. As a stand alone it could use a bit more but as a beginning to something like that it is perfect other than a few tense shifts.

    3. Observer Tim

      This is a fascinating chapter in a longer story, PatDatMann. To me it feels more like the end than the beginning, perhaps the last chapter or the Epilogue. The descriptions are fantastic and brought to mind my own love of the the sea, only discovered in the last ten yearrs.

  37. Reaper

    Alrighty then. Last one of these for a while. If you haven’t and you’re interested in reading these you can read them in order by reading… My Participation Trophy (Reaper), My Participation Trophy II (Dr. Jay), III (Reaper), IV (Mr. Baggins), V (Dr. Jay) on the World Cup Madness Prompt, then (the rest written by Reaper) A Saner Boss I, and II on War Never Changes, III and IV on The Open Window, V right here, and then One Alone I back on the World Cup Madness prompt and finally this one. Man this has been going on forever, I really do need to compile these. Thanks to everyone who has enjoyed this so far and encouraged it continuing. Oh, and as usual this one is a bit longer and is off the prompt completely.

    One Alone II

    There are few things worse than spending three years in hiding. That day I lived most of them. I knew I was being watched so as discreetly as I could I slipped the straight razor Sebastian left behind into my pocket. As the clack of cheap shoes echoed an approach in the desolate room I could only hope their equally cheap owner did not notice. Uttering a long suffering sigh I addressed the pig in the room.

    “Agent Hendricks, so nice of you to join me.”

    “You must not have many friends to know it was me.” He drawled in his obnoxious Boston accent.

    “You are asking how I knew. You have a certain destitute air about you few can match. Your substandard footwear lends a repellent definition to your gait. The vulgar fabric of your suit issues a migraine inducing swish and causes a rash to crawl across my skin just being in the same room with it. You are also the most odorous man I have ever met who does not live on the street. I assume you never shower from the stench of sweat covered by the aroma of garlic stuffed jalapenos you consume with every meal, the emanations of cologne bottled in sweat shops you bathe in, and soul melting perfume of those third world cigarettes. You must smoke enough of them that you should spontaneously develop lung cancer.”I heard his breathing shift but he did not draw his sidearm. I was as deep under his skin as I wished to be so I continued. “To what do I owe the displeasure of your company? I assume you received my message three years ago.”

    “I did.” He slid closer, too close. “Your message telling me what you had done. That I would want to investigate you but it was out of my hands.”

    “But you did not listen.”

    “You knew I wouldn’t.”

    “So you asked your superiors at the Bureau and they said?”

    “Exactly what you knew they would. It was out of our jurisdiction. To leave you to Interpol, the Mossad, the remnants of the IRA and KGB, and the Yakuza. They’ve been hunting you ever since right?”

    “They have.” A white lie as the Yakuza was keeping me alive for the favor I did them. I needed him to back up. “You overheard me with my foster son?”

    “Yes.” He hissed the word. “You’ve played us all. You have everyone chasing after you so we aren’t looking into your daughter and what she drove Sebastian to.”

    “True. I assume everything but that last bit is in your unofficial file. What of that young protégé of yours, Agent Johnson?”

    “He knows nothing yet. I’m operating off the grid. But if anything happens to me he’ll get my notes. He’ll know everything you’re up to.”

    “Everything but the last piece. Everything except why. Maybe he would be smart enough to leave it lie.” He inhaled sharply but didn’t back up. I had to push him more. “No matter, since he’s already dead.”

    Agent Hendricks winced away from Samuel at the proclamation. He wondered if he had cost Johnson the young man’s life. He was reaching for his gun as he backpedaled.

    Exactly what Samuel wanted. Fast as a striking snake the retired Don came up from the chair that had so recently been his prison. One precision slash with the razor severed the artery in the agent’s neck. Hendricks dropped the gun he was drawing to clutch at his throat as he sank to his knees.

    Samuel felt bad about that one. Feds were just doing their job as he was and killing them was never pleasurable. Samantha and Sebastian needed time to play though. He dropped his last clue, the signature razor, onto Hendrick’s back as the man expired.

    He was finally on his way to the ancestral mansion in Sicily. Maybe he could finally enjoy his retirement. He knew it was unlikely but at least he could enjoy some decent pasta in his twilight years.

    1. Isidurs Bane

      What a great story!

      Loved the descriptions, and that paragraph of dialogue was spot-on. I went back and read the others, and this is a creepy and fitting way to end the series (if this is indeed the end).

      Well done!

    2. Critique

      The horrors of killing (for whatever reason) and the brutal consequences came through clearly. I confess I haven’t read the sequential order of this saga – maybe I will if life slows down ;) I thought this was well written – terrifying content.

    3. snuzcook

      I am in awe of your ability to hold so many different characters’ motivations and inner conversations and be consistent segment after segment as they narrate. The MC here is a truly bad man, but the reader can see the personal ethic within he works, and so we suspend judgment and even ?respect? him for it. It is a fascinating tale, written with great skill.

    4. Observer Tim

      A dark ending to a dark tale. Of course the problem in that business is that retirement is often short; either the police come for you or your business associates do.

      It’s been a great ride, Reaper.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m getting used to the slicing ann dicing to the point I concentration on action and the reasoning and the motavation behind the scene. I’m with snuzcook on the juggling you present with so many characters in play. This is brilliant Dark, Dark!

  38. pulp

    The Ocean

    There lay I in the depth of the ocean, insusceptible, free and asleep. I won’t describe how the water felt, for it was a part of me, I won’t describe how the ocean looked, for who have I to compare against it. Asleep through centuries with my existence lost in time, I forget my name.

    The world lies awake in the security of my ignorance. The last that I saw of them was when the sky had turned red and threw blazing stones at me. That day the monster of their conscience had taken birth and I was he. To their mercy had risen their saviour from his temples and books, a figment of the truth in their conscience, and laid me to rest for centuries to come.

    It is time that I remind their posterity that it was I who haunted their nightmares, that it was I they were taught to fear. As the sneering sunlight creeps through in its endeavor to light the ocean floor, I arise from my slumber, tentacles raised in worship towards my first victim, that floating boat.

    1. Reaper

      I like the fact that while I read this as Cthulu fan fiction it can be sourced in so many places or completely original as well. Nice and tight again and just all together powerful.

    2. lionetravail

      A fun, fun take inverting the prompt- well done.

      And I agree with Reaper- my brain goes right to Cthulhu, but it doesn’t have to. This could be the start of a different mythology altogether, especially telling it from the monster’s POV.

      “Grendel” by John Gardner tells the Beowulf story from Grendel’s POV, by way of example- you may have something worth expanding on, Pulp.

    3. Critique

      In a few short words you’ve created stunning visual pictures in my mind. This is descriptive and thought provoking. I think this may be the first prompt I’ve read of yours pulp. Your writing talent shines here!

    4. Dennis

      I very much enjoyed this as well with the style of writing and creating a snippet of what could be a bigger tale if you chose to write it. Well done.

    5. derrdevil

      I had to read this over a few times. Not because it was difficult to read, but because it was so well written. I loved the pov of the monster, as even the way you word it, it reads so authoritative ie. like in your opening line: ‘There lay I’ instead of ‘There I lay’. You not telling them what you’re doing, but rather where you are in what you doing – making the mc the main part of the sentence. And I just think that it is a brilliant way to view things. A different and fresh perspective. Lovely!

  39. Susana

    Coming from a long line of ship captains, my father could not be happier on the water maneuvering his wooden boat that was handed down from his father. The boat which he named Petunia, don’t know where that name came from, he never disclosed it, I guessed it was a past love. Which was soon to be mine; glided through the calm azure ocean. This was our last outing together for a while, and he had told me that as of next year Petunia would be mine. The week had been bittersweet as we sailed happily on the Atlantic. The sun was warm, the days were long and the nights filled with starts and cool tropical breezes. His quest to find the mystery of the triangle was ending; he spent the last 20 years trying to find the monster that took his father from the same boat. He told me the story umpteen million times, and that he had to find this sea monster and kill it. It was a matter of honor not to mention revenge. Through the years the story became more elaborate as he told it, was it true? I did not know. All I know is that my grandfather died before I was born. I also knew that my father wanted a son. Instead he got me a daughter with his same red hair and a tomboy attitude, which suited him just fine. My mother was never interested in sailing or boating, and his obsession for revenge was too much for her and left him when I was three; I never saw her again.

    As we sailed closer to the triangle he again told me the story of the day his father jumped overboard to save his boy and of course his precious Petunia. It was after lunch and we usually relaxed on the deck and rested. I was sunbathing, my skin glistening with sweat and the smell of coconut sun tan oil lingering in the drifting breeze when the boat lurched forward so forcefully that I almost went overboard. Holding on to the railing, shaking myself awake I saw something that was straight out of the fairy tales dad would tell me when I was young…a huge, long tentacle. Seaweed hanging on it as it slowly inched itself up the side of the boat. I must be dreaming because there is no such thing as a giant octopus, or so I thought. The thing was slithering towards my leg and if I had not moved it quickly I would be his next snack; a coconut tasting snack. Looking around I did not see dad as I screamed at the top of my lungs for him.

    The horrendous thing looked like a black slithering snake. I ran towards the bow as the arm kept coming towards me trying to grab my leg, or foot. I was thankful for my oil encased body as the thing could not get a hold of me tight enough to take me out of the boat. Running but slipping on the wet deck towards the wheelhouse I finally saw dad; he had the harpoon in his right hand and threw it towards the seaweed snakelike arm that nearly entwined itself around my ankle. “Candice, move your ass” he did not miss and it impaled itself into the tentacle. Smiling from ear to ear he turned the boat around as I clamored breathless up to the wheelhouse. Miraculously the wind was blowing the right way the boat sailed forward as the sea monster dove back into the ocean. I don’t think I’m getting Petunia next year by the look on my father’s face; he’s not done chasing the sea creature.

    1. Reaper

      Nice story Susana. The opening is a bit confusing, mostly because you repeat a couple of ideas in different words in a very short period. I might consider reordering this and putting the exposition from the beginning in the middle, thoughts as she is being chased. It seems like it might enhance the flow. Once I got into it I loved the whole thing. The story is sweet and sad and I loved that he told Candice to move her ass. Wonderful story that I would happily read more of.

    2. sjmca1966

      Nice work Susana. I agree with Reaper, the start was a bit shaky, but once you found your voice it ticked along nicely and a great story unfolded. There were some great discriptions, I could almost smell the coconut sun-tan lotion. The last sentence was a great finish to the story.
      Well done.

        1. lionetravail

          Interesting story- has a little of the feel of Moby Dick, though your MC’s father seems slightly more sane… at least at this point of the story.

          A suggestion: read it aloud- to yourself, a friend, family. If it doesn’t flow conversationally, edit. I’m fortunate to have a wife who indulges me by listening, and I find I continually edit based on how it sounds when I read. I always find things to change, even after prior editing passes- spelling, grammar, typos, awkward phrases.

          Still, the story is a powerful one, with good elements to build upon- the father’s obsession, the MC’s disbelief turned to belief. Will she take up the obsession? Poetic justice demands that her father fall victim to the monster, leaving a double legacy of revenge on her plate! What happens next, hmm? :)

    3. Observer Tim

      I like this, Susana. It’s a little shaky off the line, but then you hit your stride and it’s engaging and powerful.

      I’ll tell you my dirty secret for beginnings: I start the story early (i.e. before the essential starting point), then cut the abortive introduction off once I’m done, preserving only the tiniest essential bit. I don’t know if that would work for you, but feel free to try it.

  40. Augie


    Tony and Mo climb in separate tubes, bear hugging the torpedoes.

    “Mo, ya sure dis is gonna work?”

    “Yea its gonna work! Didn’t ya hear the captain scream arm da torpedoes?”

    “Wuz dat before or after da freaking monster ripped off his head?”

    “Before stupid, how else could he have told us?”

    The sonar-man shouts into their tubes, You’re going to see “TORPEDO ARMMED lights in a second, that means hold on with both arms.”

    Mo chuckles, “dat’s what the captain wuz saying!”

    Click, “You boys ready?

    The mobsters scream under water, holding on to the torpedoes launched from the submarine.

    Four hours earlier….

    Just off the coast, an American submarine comes to a depth of 30 fathoms. Suddenly, a loud sound echo’s through the hull.


    The captain panics, “Sonar, what he hell is that?”

    The sonar-man listens through his earpiece, “Sir I don’t know, but it sounds like two men arguing as they gargle water.”

    The Captain shouts, “Surface, now!”

    The captain runs on deck. Two men’s upper bodies are running, but their feet are stuck in 5 gallon buckets full of cement.

    “It’s going to get us Mo!”

    Both men scream, “Ahhhhhh”—“Ahhhhhhh”

    “What part of its body do ya think dis is Tony?”

    Mo and Tony scan the submarines long tubular shape and face each other.


    They to attempt to run again as the captain approaches, “Shut up! How the hell did you two land on my submarine?”

    Mo looks at the captain, “Submarine?”

    The sonar-man chips away the concrete in the buckets as the Captain questions the mobsters.

    Tony chuckles “ Were on a secret mission! Da godfather brought us out here on his yacht and put us in his dingy with a camera. Apparently da Russian mob is screwing with da international date line. Dat’s not good fer business. So, we need ta take a picture of dem in action and turn it over to da Fed’s.”

    The captain looks confused, “Your going to take a picture of the International Date Line or the mob?”

    “Both of course, we need evidence!”

    Mo slaps Tony, “Its a secret stupid.”

    The captain backs up, “OK, so explain the concrete filled buckets around your ankles.”

    Tony giggles, “Da godfather explained dat water spins da other way below da equator. These concrete boots will stabilize us where the whirlpool is. ”

    The captain shakes his head, “Ok, You were screaming about a monster?”

    “Mo gets excited, “Yea, we wuz looking fer da Russians when dis big octopus reached in da dingy and grabbed my camera! I wuz busy bailing water out, apparently da godfather didn’t know da bottom of his dingy was full of bullet holes. Dat’s when Tony shot da octopus.”

    Tony smiles

    “Den it’s……dad ….showed up and slammed our boat with its huge tentacle!”

    The sonar man finishes removing the buckets and shouts, “Incoming!”

    The captain turns, “Incoming what?”

    Mo slaps the captain in the back of the head, “Da monster stupid!”

    An enormous tentacle snatches the captain and rips his body in half.


    The sonar-man shouts, “Hurry, we need to dive!”

    Mo shouts, “ are you crazy, da monsters in dare!”


    The enormous creature chases the submarine for hours.

    Mo shouts, “What does it want?”

    The sonar-man smirks, “ I have an Idea! You two can escape through the torpedo tubes!”


    The mobsters hang on for life as their torpedoes speed under water. The monster is gaining on them!

    The torpedoes lock on to the hull of a boat and starts pinging. Mo and Tony freak out and let go.

    The monster follows the torpedoes, the explosion is horrific.

    Soon after…

    The godfather clings on to a large chunk of floating debris from his yacht, looking eye to eye with Tony and Mo.

    “So, let me get dis straight. You two stupid’s rode torpedoes out of a freaking submarine running from a monster?

    And den, just by chance, BLEW UP MY YACHT?”

    1. Reaper

      I still think you have a hit here. Wow, I want to hate these two but I just fall more in love with them every time they show up. Other than the captain never saying arm the torpedoes the writing on this was perfect.

      1. Augie

        Man, I found many mistakes! The problem was I got the idea driving home and typed as fast as I could once we arrived. Then, everyone went to bed leaving me upstairs! I could have taken my time! Anyway, I knew I was over the word limit and wanted the reader to assume that the captain screamed out “arm the torpedos” prior to being ripped in half. Yea, Tony and Mo have become my ‘easy writers’ when it comes to the prompts.

    2. sjmca1966

      These guys are adorable, Augie. I’m not sure whether someone should get hold of Scorcese or the Farrelly brothers, perhaps they could collaborate.
      Nice work!

    3. Observer Tim

      You’ve definitely found a winner here, Augie. The antics of these two are hilarious, and their actions and dialogue flow so smoothly. I can see them as ‘heroes’ of some 1930’s mobster comedies.

  41. Dennis

    I staggered up to the deck to get some fresh air. As I leaned over the rail with dry heaves, my so called hallucinations were proven real, that some beast with massive tentacles had hold of the yacht. Still not sure if what I was seeing was real, I decided to see what the crew had to say, only to find them on the floor, dead. Then my worst fears took hold of me and I hurried down below to check on my family. There they were, lying so peacefully. Dead. I kissed my wife on the cheek as tears flooded my eyes. How did this happen and why was I spared?

    Soon thereafter I heard a voice laughing. It grew louder and louder but there was no one around. Was I imagining it? But then I recognized the creole accent and it knew it was the crazy man from New Orleans.

    “I curse you for not aiding those around you and instead spending your riches on yourself,” he had said to me in that thick accent. He seemed to be upset that I spent my hard earned money on my new yacht instead of sending aid to help the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. I didn’t take him seriously and now I wished I had.

    Back on deck I leaned over the rail again. The monster was still holding on to the boat and seemed to be pulling it towards an island off in the distance. I tried reversing the engines but to no avail. What hell was I being delivered to?

    Near the shore a low bellowing voice spoke which I knew to be the beast’s.

    “Leave now,” it ordered. What was I to do but lower the dinghy and row to shore? I began to walk around to see if others were there when I heard a metallic sound behind me. Standing there was this young guy, leather jacket, some kind of weapon hung across his shoulder and lighting a cigarette with a Zippo.

    “Who the hell are you?”


    “What are you doing here?”

    “To kill zombies. I’m a zombie killer.”

    “Zombies, what? What are you talking about?”

    Jake pointed and I turned around to see them walking towards us. Beings, if they could be called that, barely walking with decaying flesh and lost looks in their eyes. Without hesitation, Jake removed the weapon and fired upon them, exploding all of their heads. He then took off for about an hour, returning with a satisfied look on his face.

    “All dead.”

    “What next then?”

    “Gotta run. Always more zombies to kill.”

    “What about me?”

    “Sorry, word on the street is you have a curse on your head.” And with that, he was gone.

    I turned and looked at my beautiful yacht. At least I still had that. But then the long tentacles emerged from the sea, smashed a hole in the hull and sank it.

    Now I have been rowing for I don’t know how long. Should someone find this journal, please learn from my mistakes.

    (I know this could have been longer but decided to keep close to the limit at 509. As for Jake, he is the MC of my Zombie Killer prompt some months back and decided to being him in for a cameo.)

    1. snuzcook

      Fun to see Jake come round for another adventure, Dennis! A story about curses, greed and Cain-like wandering is always intriguing and somehow vicariously satisfying. Good choice for this prompt, and well done!

    2. Reaper

      At first this felt like an odd and good variation on the concepts in Thinner, then you brought Jake back and it got very surreal. Love his reason for not sticking around being the curse. Not afraid of zombies but not messing with voodoo. Classic.

      1. Dennis

        Thanks Reaper. There was definitely a lot thrown in. I did want to give the feeling of where the hell did this Jake guy come from. It felt like this was his introduction before he got his own spin off.

    3. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      I sometimes have to remember that there’s a word limit, and that we can’t be as excessive with our descriptions as we’d like to be… lol

      Anyway, I really liked the story, and the moral–not deluted in the least–was good. I did, however, find only one problem with the monster–or whatever he was. The fact that he murdered the people on the ship, including the man’s wife, seems to go against the reason he went after the MC in the first place. The MC didn’t help the people when he could have, and so the monster kills innocent people because the MC didn’t help innocent people? Monster needs to get his head on straight! lol

      Well done, Dennis. :)

    4. Critique

      It’s tough bringing a story to a satisfying conclusion with 500 words or less. Your story just begs for more Dennis. The MC’s failures had enormous consequences ie. the death of his family.

    5. Observer Tim

      Great story, Dennis. I thought of the MC’s curse as somewhere between Jonah and Job. It was great seeing Jake again, too.

      Now I’m wondering (a) why he didn’t go to the island, and (b) what tortures would he find if he had. Or it just took him an unspecified long time to get there. Or the island is the torment of Tantalus. The openings are endless.

  42. Observer Tim

    Every prompt about the sea deserves pirates.


    The Bloody Shrike sat becalmed two hundred miles off the coast of Tortuga. First Mate Jack Bastord stood at the wheel, swinging it lightly back and forth. He bellowed up to the crow’s nest.

    “Ho Gutbuster Gavin! D’yer see anywot?”

    “Nary a thing, Mister Jack!”

    “Any signs o’ Cap’n Greenbeard?”

    “Nary a… wait Mister Jack, I sees him off the port bow!”

    “Aye then!” Jack picked up a skull and set it on the wheel mount. “You watch the wheel, Smilin’ Pete. I’ll go get the Cap’n.”

    Jack tromped forward with his distinctive thump-kloc. Most pirates went thump-clomp as they walked, but Jack had specially carved his wooden leg for the acoustics. The deck was as still as if the ship sat on solid ground; Jack hated when the deck didn’t sway, but that was all right. He hated a lot of things.

    Busty Bob was standing by the forecastle. Jack counted Busty Bob among many people he hated, but the man had been useful. Thing is, you couldn’t trust a man whose mainmast had been lost in an accident, and especially one with no facial hair or Adam’s apple, and with a chest bigger than most o’ the girls in port.

    “Ahoy, Mister Jack!” Bob said in his light contralto voice.

    “Ahoy yerself, Bob! The captain’s stuck to the side of the ship; get yer bill hook!”

    “Bill Hook’s sleeping off his rum ration, Mister Jack.”

    “No, ye lubber! Get that pole wit’ the metal thing on the end what we uses for unfouling the rigging! It should be able to reach far enough!”

    When they reached the bow they saw that Gutbuster Gavin had held the telescope up to his eyepatch again. The captain wasn’t on the side of the ship, he was being held in a giant tentacle.

    Captain Greenbeard bellowed incoherently at the top of his lungs. Busty Bob swung the hook and gave the tentacle a resounding thwack. The second time he swung the unfouling hook dug in and a spray of green ichor shot forth.

    The tentacle dropped the incoherently-shouting Captain onto the foredeck. After a few swipes that Busty Bill deftly deflected with the hook, the tentacle finally backed off.

    “See to the Cap’n, Bill.”

    While Busty Bill helped the Captain stand and gently ushered him off the side of the ship, Jack strode-kloc’ed to the bow and brandished his hook hand.

    “And you,” shouted Jack at the tentacled horror, “stop throwing him back!”

    1. snuzcook

      I had to reread the punchline, just to be sure I got it right. That is hilarious! Your pirate yarn has it all, sound effects, crewmen with colorful back stories and just as colorful injuries, slap stick and a sea monster. Kudos!
      BTW — hope this amulet of humor will keep you safe and sound on your own voyage!

      1. Observer Tim

        Thank you greatly, Augie. You’ve not seen the last o’ Smilin’ Pete; someday I may tell the story (or maybe a few of them, pirates have been known to tell yarns) about how Jack Bastord came to have a human skull as his trusty confidant.

    2. sjmca1966

      I wouldn’t even attempt something like this Tim. I loved it. Poor Bob really has identity issues, there were shades of Blackadder (one of my all-time favorites) in this.

      1. Observer Tim

        You should, sjmca. Just take your favourite cartoony over-the-top speaking style and try to write characters in it. The top is a wonderful thing to go over (except maybe for the German machine guns). I’m sure the result will be great, especially if you have fun writing it.

        I wish I could write the kind of evil sarcasm that Rowan Atkinson does so well in Blackadder; that’s now on my ‘writing growth’ list.

      1. derrdevil

        Ditto on the bill hook. That was brilliant!

        I loved your characters, OT! They came to life. So animated, really enjoyed it. And a special mention to Smiley Pete!! Haha that was neat adding it in there.

    3. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      Great read, OT. I feel like the exposition prose sounded less pirate than the pirates, and stole away some of the fantasy for me. BUT! The story was so engrossing that I was able to look past it. :D This is a great read, OT! Thanks for sharing!

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Jay. I deliberately try to keep the descriptive prose “straight” so it makes the pirate dialect seem more comically piratic. I’ll have to look it over and see about adjusting the balance.

    4. Critique

      Fabulous. I laughed out loud that Jack carved his stump for the acoustic affect. Brilliant from beginning to end O. Tim.
      ps. Sorry,I had to laugh that your characters name changed – I’ve done it myself :)

      1. Observer Tim

        No problem, Critique. It’s a risk we take when dashing off quick stories. I just say ‘drat’ and laugh at myself.

        My favourite example was Bela/Ursula from George of the Jungle. Rather than admit they made a mistake with the character’s name, the creators put both of them into the theme song.

    5. Observer Tim

      Thanks, guys. Ever since I created the pirates for “X marks the spot” (May 8), I’ve been itching for another excuse to use them. I think I can feel another tale prowling around the back of my brain as I write this. If it attacks, I’ll be sure to let it out.

  43. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    No horror this time. I know, I know… we’ll check for body snatchers later. ;)

    When I was a young lad, I managed my way aboard a ship. The Sinking Kitchen, they called her. Not sure why, though. The previous captain was a cook, and the first mate, a Mr. Klem, was a rowdy young fellow that liked to harvest vegetables on the bow, though I never saw anything grow up there other than layers of crusty salt. Given their proclivities for food, though, I suspect that’s how they named her.

    Anyway, we was out just south of what you call Mexico. Me and some of the crew members, Barnacle Bob, Lustful Larry, and John played a game of Thieves Ace, which was a game of stealing each player’s ace. The boat rocked and danced on the sea like a drunk wench in whorehouse full of waterbeds. (Don’t tell yer mother I said that.)

    Any who, suddenly, we heard some of the men scream from the upper deck. At first it sounded like they was celebrating somethin’, but then it sounded more like fear. From the aft, I heard the sound of our anchor let loose. The chain links echoes loudly through the cabin, and it splashed into the ocean. The Sinking Kitchen, as stubborn as she was, had no choice but to stop.

    I ran above deck to see what all the hullabaloo was about, and one of the crew, Scurvy Steve, told me some kind of creature came aboard and kidnapped Captain Miles. I thought kidnapped was prob’ly more like captured dinner, but that thought was fleeting when half the crew began calling me captain.

    They all looked upon me with eyes hungry for an answer as to what we should do. I really wasn’t sure, so I told the men to withdraw the anchor so we could be on our way. I figured we should make haste lest we become food of some sea monster, too.

    Well, they tried, and I suppose it was good advice to leave, but the anchor wouldn’t budge. They tried and tried, but it seemed to be caught on somethin’. A single large tentacle of some kind of creature slipped through the surface of the choppy ocean and splashed back into it.

    Crabby Carl almost wet his pants, and the others again looked at me for guidance. I didn’t know what to tell them, so I just pulled my knife from my boot, bit down on the blade, nodded, and jumped into the ocean.

    There she was, just below the surface. It had what seemed like thirty tentacles, eyes as large as the moon, and skin as dark as the night. There was no time to spare, and so I attacked it.

    The creature grabbed my legs and pulled be further down, and it wrapped so tightly around my ankles that it burned fierce. I had a new found respect for Gonorrhea Greg, bless is soul. Any who, I screamed my last bit of air, and dropped the knife. I scrambled for it, but it had gone.

    Well, I’ll be true. I thought all was lost. I figger’d the sea would have me that day, and that was all right. I’d lived a long life, had no kids and no wife to speak of—though I had me many women. (Don’t tell yer mom I said that, neither.) So, I was as good as sea food, and it was okay.

    Still, I found a kind of fire inside me. You know the kind? Like when you touch a hot stove, but on the inside.

    Any who, I fought that bastard. That creature, it tried and tried, and you know what I did? Well, without my knife, I had to find some way to stop it. The only thing I could think to do was wrestle that old creature. And I did. Took all forty of its tentacles and tied them together. One by one until it sunk to the bottom of the ocean, into those dark depths.

    After fixin’ the anchor, we pulled ‘er aboard, and sailed for the horizon. After that, I was captain of the old ship, renamed her The Drowning Squid, I did. Met yer gran-mama not long after, and the rest was history. And boy do I have some history about that! Mayhap another time.

    1. snuzcook

      Love the storyteller structure, Jay. I bet you had a blast har-harring to yourself as you worked out the voice! It was at least as fun a read as it was to write. Thanks for a delightful story!

    2. Reaper

      Love the voice and the writing on this. You nailed this style. I will admit with the don’t tell your moms in there I was expecting it to end with and that’s how I met your mom.

    3. lionetravail

      Anywho you look at this it’s a winner :)

      “Gonorrhea Greg” i would recommend keeping at tentac…er, arm’s length. Brilliantly fun take, right to the tying all 40 tentacles together.

    4. PatDatMann

      Yea I’d definitely agree with all the previous comments. The vivid imagery of your storytelling truly leaps off the screen for me. The naming of the characters is only one of a few great example of your creative development you put into the voice and overall character of the narrator that truly goes a long way with this reader. I truly felt like a young pupil listening to the tall tales of sea captain grandfather. Really engrossingly tactful story. With that said there were instances where I felt tension and anxiety mounting for the narrator and crew that was someone minimized by either comical verbiage or more lighter hearted description- which is understandable given the capacity in which the story is told. Just given how creative of a write you are I’d like to see you toy with tension little. Spooking kids is always good fun.

    5. Dennis

      I enjoyed this other side of you. I could easily see this being told to crew on some dark stormy night at see. Methinks PatDatMann has not read your other tales yet. :)

    6. derrdevil

      Haha love this old guy. I think the dude was getting lost in his own long tales… Was it 30 Tenticles or 40? Even if that’s a mistake, I think it adds brilliantly to his character. But I did think that the brackets were out of place. Don’t think you need them as it is the old man telling this take to his grand kid, after all. Great story, Doc!

  44. seliz

    Letting Go

    On the water, away from all the stress of our regular lives, it’s easy to forget I’m mad at my husband. His wide set blue eyes are glued to me as we stand on the deck of our cruise ship. When I meet his gaze, he flashes me a hundred watt smile.

    I should be happy.

    I’m not.

    Every smile my husband gives me is soured by thoughts of her.

    With a pang, I turn away from him.

    “Steph, please,” he says, his arm finding my waist and pulling me to him. “Let’s just have a good time. We need this.”

    I nod.

    We do need this—to heal; to pick up the shattered pieces of our marriage. But I can’t help the bitterness that is gnawing inside me. Bitterness so strong that my chest constricts.

    Just when I feel like I can’t breathe—the bitterness suffocating me—movement catches my eye. A flash of red peeks up from choppy waters.

    “Will you look at me?”

    The boat rocks violently before I can answer. With trembling hands, I push myself over the rail to see what happened. Massive red tentacles grip the side of the boat. Fear pulses through me as I turn back to Jeremy.

    But he’s absorbed in what he’s saying.

    “I know you think it was easy to hide the affair from you, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t easy for either of us.”

    The word, “us”, pierces me like a knife to the eardrum.

    “Us? As in you and my sister? That was my family, Jer!”

    “I mean, technically, she’s still your family.”

    Anger courses through me.

    I’m seeing red and it’s not just my temper.

    Red tentacles blast up from the water and slam onto the boat with an earsplitting crash. The impact jerks my body upward and throws me into the railing with a thud.

    As the boat tips from the weight of the blow, I grasp for anything to hold onto. Wave after wave pounds on my back, as I struggle to say aboard the capsizing boat.

    Another tentacle rises out of the water and towers above me, curving to push the boat down. If I don’t get killed from the crushing weight of the blow, I’ll die from being pulled to the ocean floor. I only have one other option.

    I let go.

    I slide off the deck and plunge into cold water. Trashing wildly, I struggle to stay afloat. Each wave slaps me painfully until I’m completely submerged. My lungs burn. The desire for air is crushing, but I can’t reach the surface.

    Then it stops.

    I no longer need air.

    I’m watching myself drown and it’s okay. I’m ready to let go. As I say goodbye to the life I once loved, my vision shifts. Brightness surrounds me like the sun beating down on open eyes.


    Jeremy’s voice jerks me back to reality where I’m sprawled on the deck of the boat—which is still in one piece. An oxygen mask pumps air into my lungs.

    “You had some kind of panic attack and your throat closed. I couldn’t bare losing you knowing that you were still angry at me.”

    With shaking hands, I pull off the mask and look him in the eye.

    “I’m letting go.”

    His relief is palpable as he hugs me. It takes a few minutes of me shaking him to make him release me.

    “No, Jeremy. I’m letting go of you.”

    1. jhowe

      That was good Seliz. Heartbreaking yes, but well done. It would be very hard to recover from a betrayal of that magnitude. You captured the emotion.

    2. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      She went crazy-woman for a moment there. lol I’m a sufferer of severe panic attacks, and you almost gave me one when yo usaid her throat closed! You made me do research, and thankfully, that likeliness of that happening to me without the aid of allergic reaction is nil. :(

      Good story, though, seliz. I think she probably needs some therapy, but good thing she knows she needs to let go, at least. :) Nice job.

    3. sjmca1966

      Great synbolism in this seliz. The voice you gave your MC pulled me into the story with so much empathy and had me gripped the whole time.
      Nice job!

    4. icandootoo

      wonderfully imagined = vivid, real, and terrifying. I love the way you painted this – a full movie in a single scene. So much conveyed with so few words. Brilliant.

    5. snuzcook

      Skilfully written tale of inner crisis translated into external metaphor. I really like this. Brava, seliz! It is a technique I have never attempted to pull off, and you did it so well. Your choice to use it for this prompt was inspired. (Okay, I’ll stop gushing…) Did I mention I liked it?

    6. Reaper

      I love this seliz. The writing is amazing and there are small touches in your symbolism and voice that just do it for me. The tentacles being red matching both rage and possibly lipstick was mesmerizing. There is a moment where I want her to forgive him and have the happy ending but then your word choice when she comes around is so telling. What he says… I couldn’t bare losing you knowing that you were still angry at me. It is so selfish I wanted to punch him. Well done all around.

    7. lionetravail

      Nice job, Seliz. Very powerful writing here! I think you ‘got inside’ the head of your character nicely… i thought the attack was metaphor for her rage and bitterness, but i honestly thought she was going overboard to drown. I’m glad she didn’t, and found the strength to live. I think this would be fun to expand well beyond the prompt limits, and let you explore the emotions and reactions and outcomes with as much story as you feel needs to be told. Yes- i’d want more :)

    8. Observer Tim

      This story manages to have great depth and symbolism within a very simple context. Wonderful, seliz.

      I’m with Jay; I’m glad panic attacks don’t actually stop your breathing, though I have held my breath until things got fuzzy a time or two.

  45. JRSimmang


    I saw her again on the tarmac, I tell myself again because no one is listening. Her blonde hair, her thighs, her elfin hands. Cypher sidles up next to me, and we’re off toward the SS Farborn.

    The helicopter makes its touchdown on the helipad, located aft, 2.3 hours later. We are greeted by a man in bright orange coveralls. He introduces himself as Sgt. Maj. Raleigh.

    “Come with me,” and he motions toward the cabin.

    I follow behind and squint back over the horizon as the sun shudders. The quick solution for seasickness, they say.

    Inside, Raleigh runs through the bells and whistles on the control panel. “This is the most advance SONAR surveillance system to date. It can penetrate depths of 20,000 leagues [insert gratuitous Nemo joke], and no surface is clear of echo.”

    It sounds impressive.

    “Captain. It’s back.”

    He bows briefly to join the ensign at the readout. “The same blip?”

    “Yes sir,” he says.

    Portside, the ship rocks. I know why.

    Starboard, the ship rocks. I know why.

    The crewmen scatter.

    I walk down the stairs with Cypher. The beast begins to climb up the sides of the ship.

    The crewmen begin to jump over the sides, as if that would assuage their fears. There’s nothing there but the ocean.

    She’s here now, standing on the edge. She beckons to me. I have been a horrible man. Why she would beckon to me, I do not know. She smiles at me, and I remember holding her hand. The apartment was painted teal, and we stood in the doorway, watching the light refract off the window decoration. There was a pristine apparition like a practiced ballerina flitting over our floor. I held her hand and she leaned her head on my shoulder. “It’s like she was never here,” she whispered into the air.

    I move forward, tentatively feeling the boat shift and rock under me. The helicopter fans whir. The Captain. Chicken shit.

    At the end of the world, I join her. The long tentacles wrap themselves around me. She was here; she is not now. I am pulled under, faster, farther. It was here for me all along.

    -JR Simmang

    1. snuzcook

      Interesting and poetic, JR. It”s as if it has one foot in each of several different genres. Was it all along intended by the MC to be suicide by tentacle? Or was the creature calling to him, luring him with the image of Cypher? This would be a fascinating expanded tale.

    2. lionetravail

      Awesome. Introspective, this piece seems to me an exploration into the soul of a desperately wistful man, where his personal tragedy has come to first overshadow, then dominate, his life. Gorgeous language and feel to it.

  46. jhowe

    The lobster man pulled the weathered skiff from the back of his battered pickup truck as the sun began to rise. The calm Caribbean water was turquoise, streaked with yellow and orange. He lugged the boat to the water’s edge and fitted the oars into the locks. “What should I do?” said his cousin who was urinating on some rocks near the truck.

    “Grab the cooler mon. We get lots of lobsters today. I can feel it.”

    Manny struggled with the cooler and stumbled as he hoisted it into the boat. “Too much ganja for you mon?” the lobster man said.

    Manny looked to the sky and laughed, his dreadlocks cascading on his sun weathered back. “Methinks there’s no such thing.”

    “Like too much sex, right mon?”

    “That’d be right,” Manny said as he climbed into the small boat. He pulled a plastic bag from the pocket of his shorts.

    “Later mon,” the lobster man said as he pulled on the oars. “We work first, then we play.” He tossed Manny a swim mask and fitted his own mask onto his face. “Time to dive mon,” he said handing a lobster snare to his cousin. Manny reluctantly set his stash aside and prepared to hunt.

    Slowly, the cooler began to fill with squirming Caribbean lobsters as the lobster man and Manny surfaced again and again. Towards noon, the lobster man declared they had caught enough for one day. “We sell these to the restaurants,” he said. “They pay good money.”

    “We play now?” Manny said, picking up his stash of weed.

    “Yeah mon; now we play.” He accepted a fat joint from Manny and lit up. Together they shared the reefer as the boat drifted. The effects were astounding and the men laughed as the waves lapped against the sides of the skiff.

    “What’s that?” Manny slurred.

    “What’s what mon?”

    “Your head is giant.”

    “My head’s the same as yours…what’s in this mon?”

    “I enhanced it,” Manny said.

    “What did you give me?” The lobster man stared at the dwindling roach as a long barnacle covered tentacle arose from the water and caressed Manny’s face. “Watch out mon!” he shouted.

    “Watch what?”

    “Your face mon,” The lobster man said. “Watch out!”

    “You’re the one with the giant head.” Manny said reaching for the joint.

    The lobster man struggled to grab an oar as the tentacle continued to molest his cousin. “Don’t worry mon, I’ll get it.”

    “Put that down or you’re going to fall in the sea,” Manny said. The lobster man swung the oar and Manny ducked, taking the blow on the back of his shoulder.

    “Hey man, that hurt.”

    “No worry mon. I got it.”

    “You got what?” he said, rubbing his shoulder.

    “The monster… he tried to get you.”

    “Oh,” Manny said. “Then thanks.”

    “No worry.”

    Manny picked up the plastic stash bag and sniffed. “Maybe a little too much enhancement, you think?”

    “Maybe so mon. We better get the lobsters to the restaurants before they die.”

    1. k.spicer

      jhowe, this was not only a great take on the prompt, it was a very good story. Well done! PS. I think I’ve had some of that “enhancement” before! But I regress.

    2. MCKEVIN

      Eh Mon I really like this. Different style from your usual voice which means you’re still pushing yourself Mon. I wonder what would be the lobsters take on this? Lol.

    3. sjmca1966

      Your linguistics set the scene perfectly jhowe. You left the door open for so many more mis-adventures from Manny and The Lobster Man (actually wasn’t that a Marley song?). I was left wanting more. Well done.

    4. snuzcook

      Ah, jhowe! A day on the boat with Manny and the Lobster Mon. And a nice day that would be, too, with a little ganja to pass the time. (sigh) Reading this I actually felt my lungs expand in a long-ago abandoned reflex.
      Thanks for the fun read and the sidle down memory lane! I agree with other comments–it would be fun to hear from these two characters again!

    5. Augie

      I live in Washington, (hint). I think this business would never make a profit if I was either of your characters. I see a large BBQ pit on the boat with roasting lobster covered in butter and spice! Great read jhowe!

    6. Dennis

      Very entertaining. I expected something worse to happen to Manny. Wasn’t,you that had the story about the peace pipe last week? I see a theme emerging.

    7. Observer Tim

      I arrived at the party too late, mon! All the good comments have been taken.

      I’ll have to settle for echoing all of the much-deserved praise, jhowe. You did a great job with the setting, the feel and the voices.

  47. snuzcook


    Thank goodness the ocean is calm. The rest of me is still trying to find my equilibrium after last night. That concoction that Howard’s Jamaican first mate was pouring had a wicked kick, something straight out of a witch doctor’s pharmacopeia. I had never had such a weird reaction to spirits before. I found myself both elated and oddly afraid. People’s voices had taken on a sinister tone, and the dark faces of the crew had a decidedly feral caste.

    The conversation had certainly contributed to the nightmarish evening. The scientist that Harold had invited along was regaling us with reports of forests of kelp walking along the bottom of the ocean and giant forms of sea life among the islands where we were headed. The natives, he told us, considered the waters we were passing through to be sacred, and believed that human sacrifice to the ocean demons was necessary to prevent the end of the world.

    Of course, this is 1927. The islands are all tame, now. No one believes those old superstitions anymore. Still, by the time I lurched my way along the deck to my cabin, even the moonlight had seemed malevolent.

    I had dreamed that the yacht was in the grip of a Poseidon-like being. He picked it up and shook it, and all the people had fallen out, one by one, into the hungry sea. I had managed to hang on, unnoticed, until he set the vessel back among the waves.

    Now on deck with the calm seas and the clear sky above, the dream is overshadowed by my hangover. I need coffee to clear my head. The dining room is empty. Not even the aroma of coffee. Annoyed, I plunge into the galley, only to find the place entirely vacant. A cold sweat beads along my spine. Refusing to jump to conclusions, I run to the cabins. I find Harold’s door ajar and the bed empty. There is no sign of anyone in any of the other cabins. The beds are tousled as if they had been abandoned suddenly. In my own cabin, I tuck the service revolver I carry in case of sharks into my belt.

    The yacht shudders suddenly, and the bow dips. I run forward, and nearly drop in my tracks. Long, snakelike arms are rising out of the water and wrapping themselves around the starboard rails. Even as I pull my gun and fire I realize it is useless against the enormous creature emerging from the sea.

    Running back aft, I release one of the lifeboats. There is still no sign of anyone. I can’t waste time in speculation. The yacht is already listing badly to starboard under the weight of the enormous creature. I release the lines and fit the oars into the oarlocks. I intend to get as far from the doomed vessel as possible.

    The arms of kelp that reach out of the sea to freeze the oars in my grasp have a very different idea.

    1. k.spicer

      Nice story Snuz, I really like this one. One question: Is there a reason you chose 1927? Call me obsessed but I looked up events for 1927 to see if there was a connection. Closest connection I could see was on June 4th Johnny Weissmuller set swim records in 100-yard & 200 yard free-style. Maybe this guy was on board when he set those records! (kidding) But this was really well written. Good job!

      1. snuzcook

        Thanks, k.spicer!
        1927 was randomly chosen to place the event in a decade when anthropological and zoological expeditions were gadding about looking for undiscovered sources of myth, and when adventure stories of the time might well include tales of this type.

    2. Reaper

      I love this snuzcook. The year was a perfect thing for me, especially with that always there feeling of, everyone knows in this day and age that the old myths are false. While I have something against it was all a dream stories I love ones like this where you thought it was all a dream but the terror is real. If they are done well, and this was done very well.

    3. Augie

      WHAT? This is such a great story! Man, I have to read this one again! Why? Well, my training promotes, “learn from the best, fight another day.” I know you have told me in the past “swimming with the dolphins’ (which by the way is really cool), But I will say it again. I hope to become a powerful writer with your skills. I have many stories to tell, but because of my back ground, they have to be written perfectly. That is how I view your writing. Thanks Snuz!

    4. lionetravail

      Great myth come to life, and 1927 is a great time frame. This had some of the character of King Kong, Mighty Joe Young, and that discovery, but with the inevitable tragedy feel of a Titanic.

      And for the younger folk, I’m talking Black and white originals. For me, i think this is the end scene of a movie, the kind that leaves you in wonder and tears after youve gotten close to the characters through the earlier part.

    5. Dennis

      I was just thinking the same thing, that it had the feel of the original King Kong. The mood created at the beginning gave this an adventure/thriller feel to it. Ver enjoyable read.

    6. Observer Tim

      This is a great story, snuzcook. You did a great job building the suspense and providing that last little jolt at the end.

      As for 1927, it was an age of optimism, exploration, and pulp heroes, where anything was possible. The signs of coming disaster were there, but nobody was paying attention. You chose the time setting perfectly. I can almost hear Barrymore narrating (John, not Ethel).

  48. Reaper

    Meant to post this on the last prompt but life has been hectic. Apologies for the completely off topic, but only one more after this and then I’m done for a bit until that inspiration strikes or Jay points out another good prompt for continuation. :) For those following this story please enjoy, for those not doing so please ignore unless you want to go back and read the previous segments.

    A Saner Boss V

    The Yakuza deserved special treatment because their history echoed the Italians’. It comes down to a couple of things most people don’t understand. First is why made men were traditionally full blooded Italian.

    Not even Italian but Sicilian and from a specific part of the island. The rules got blurred over time. The original Dons were misplaced nobles. Most people don’t know that. They were bringing some of the old country to America. Something else most don’t know anymore. In the beginning the Mafia was the good guys.

    In the early days the cops didn’t care about certain immigrants and their descendants. In WOP neighborhoods if you called the cops they were as likely to beat you as they were to run you in or not show up. Some enterprising young men took it upon themselves to start protecting their own. They took care of their neighborhoods and pretty soon the Italians were going to get their local goomba instead of the cops when there was trouble.

    The Yakuza has a similar history. The government of Japan turns a blind eye to Yakuza dealings. So long as they aren’t too blatant and don’t get out of hand. It has something to do with them helping out during the last revolution. These rice eating gangsters backed the guys that won so the government owes them.

    Mostly though, it’s the fact that they look after their own. You ever notice how after a major disaster in Japan there is never as much looting and violence as there would be anywhere else in the world? The cops are just as distracted. It’s because the Yakuza takes to the streets and stops being criminals long enough to back up the cops. So I have respect for them.

    This one bigwig owed me a favor. He also had some underling that had lost his honor. I don’t know how that happens in the east but I just went with my good fortune. When I stepped into his office I was on the phone.

    Sebastian had not seen me in a long time. I think that is why he fell for the body double when he raided my yacht. The double didn’t look that much like me so my foster son must have only seen him from a distance. The man had slipped the trap by swimming away, something I could never do with the gut I had developed in the intervening years.

    Realizing the ruse was no longer useful I told my daughter to kill him. Yeah, just like ordering a pizza. Some reflexes re-grow easy.

    So I got to my real business.

    Samuel let the recording play. He did not understand the words but knew the message was an explanation of the loss of honor. As the Yakuza underling did the honorable thing and took his own life Samuel called the local police.

    With them on the way he removed the CIM card and battery from his phone. He replaced them with the unique versions and dropped his phone on the lap of the corpse. It was the second to last clue and eventually he would need to discuss them with one of the Feds he “worked for”.

    Samuel then returned home. He spent three years in hiding. He was avoiding Sebastian, true, but he was also doing something more important. He was looking guilty.

    1. Augie

      Reaper, I became addicted to this site a few months ago.( My wife and brothers pushed it, telling me not all civilians suck) At first it was a difficult transition trying to figure out where I stand in ‘civilian’ eyes. While I am still dealing with the transition, (I have my CCP and carry four additional 14 round clips). I say this to you, from me. Your writing abilities is shocking, but what I enjoy more is your responses to others. If you have, or ever do get published I want to know. Writing from the heart is easily detected by those that live by it. Great read, once again Reaper!

      1. Reaper

        Augie, the only three things I can say to this are thank you, thank you wife and brothers for me, and I definitely will let everyone know. Looking at Amazon publishing the first one hopefully before the end of September.

      1. Reaper

        Thank you and all good words. Samuel was becoming too much of a bad ass when I wanted him to be more of an intellectual who had not lost the ability to get his hands dirty so I was going for that calmer feel.

    2. Observer Tim

      You have a lovely description of the thematic connection between the Yakuza and the Cosa Nostra here, Reaper. It’s even better that you’ve integrated the explanation into the story in a beautifully seamless manner.

      I would almost feel sympathy for both groups if it weren’t for the fact that they feel it’s their moral right to prey on those they claim to be protecting.

  49. Reaper

    One Voice

    The ship is sinking and has been for some time. I see no evidence of captain or crew. The crew is taking an extended meal break. The captain’s whereabouts are a mystery. I do the only thing I can.

    I look over the railing again, begging God to let what I saw be my imagination. I receive the same result all men in my predicament do. When has anyone found a need to beseech the divine when it was nothing but their imagination? I was not the first.

    The tentacles crawling up the side are not the most disturbing aspect of the scene. Each is ten times the size of a human and I see only a portion of them. They are the vibrant, dirty green of late spring leaves in New York. At the tip of each is a mouth of razor teeth the brown of dentures stained by years of bitter tea. Each has one eye faced backward to see only itself. They softly whisper in different languages, seductively creating madness and chaos; inspiring images of Babble.

    More disturbing are the cracks in the hull, fissures that have existed for years. The monster or monsters embracing the boat are greedily holding it together. That cannot last, for when they slither close enough to touch they strike each other like snakes. Biting and spitting venom they battle until one falls away and the ship takes on water at an increased pace.

    Tearing my eyes away I survey my fellow passengers again. I am not alone in my realization. The others have seen and broken into groups. Alone I wander amongst them. I listen for wisdom.

    “The crew has sold us to the beast for their own safety.” Speak those clad in leather jackets and thick rimmed glasses.

    “It visits us as punishment for idleness and acceptance of the deviants among us.” This echoes between soft, well dressed gentry casting accusing gazes.

    “We must sympathize as we have brought this on ourselves in some manner.” Say folks bound in tweed, sporting pocket protectors.

    I hear many opposing views. Most speaking do so with furtive glances at the ones they blame. As the tentacles creep ever closer I notice, most do not speak. Instead they continue to dance, wander, and ignore; hoping it will go away. They wait for rescue, for someone else to act. From all of them I sense fear. Voices are disparate but emotion unified. So I speak.

    “Friends and fellows we are not powerless. We possess a duty not seen in generations to set aside petty differences and act. Risk death together or face destruction alone cloaked in the cold comfort of our disdain. Follow me, defend the little we can call our own.”

    I heft the nearest object I can use as a weapon. Leaning over the railing I wait for my chance to fight back. Looking around me I wonder at what my voice has done as many of my fellow passengers stand beside me.

    1. DMelde

      Great story Reaper. Vivid descriptions. Our fathers and grandfathers were a very successful generation, some call them the greatest generation ever known. Their success defines them. How we handle what that success has wrought is what will define us. There are, indeed, cracks in the hull. Very well done!

      1. Reaper

        Thanks DMelde. I am always interested in where my writing takes other people, especially something like this. I am prone to commentary these days but this one I considered posting as it is a bit further into the commentary than normal for me. Eventually I did but there were some edits because the images were either a little too on the nose not exactly what I wanted.

    2. jhowe

      I found your descriptions of how the monsters greedily held the ship together to prolong the inevitable to be very interesting. I also liked how you described the way the passengers were dressed. You wrote well on this one.

    3. k.spicer

      Reaper, the language was captivating, the story intriguing and your MC’s speech made me think of Winston Churchill. Inspiring piece of prose that has left everyone contemplating the deeper meaning. Masterfully done! Kudos to Reaper!

      1. Reaper

        Thank you k.spicer. Winston Churchill, I can take that as a compliment. :) Normally I leave a little mystery to it because I am often more interested in hearing what others think than I am in giving my own exact view but there are enough questions and comments that further down I am going to go into detail and take the chance of being shunned as the villain of the piece.

    4. sjmca1966

      A very powerful and emotive piece Reaper. You made it seem so effortless in the way you melded the prompt to the social commentary. I sometimes miss metaphors, but everything on or outside the ship was so well represented.
      Well done.

      1. Reaper

        Thank you for that. I tend to like to keep my metaphors light enough that the story can be read as just a story. I tried on this one but a lot of this is directed at things I feel strongly about. I am pleased the metaphors were that well represented.

    5. lionetravail

      I hate to guess at any overarching ‘answer’, given the powerfully metaphorical feeling of the piece. And yet you have such concrete descriptions of some things, and not others, and a part of me wants to put some ‘order’ to my thoughts and see if any of what I’m thinking and feeling meshes with what you expressed here.

      If I had to pick one thing, it would be as a call for unity in a nation with very little of it at this time. The political leaders have failed to lead in many instances, the “ship” of the nation is at risk from frightening forces outside, the “passengers” are the citizens who find themselves ready to cast blame or seek for reasons and yet not to do anything.

      For me this really feels like a political and social commentary- the beast’s observed characteristics are rather specific. I love this, it’s like a modern fable.

      1. Reaper

        Okay, spoiler alert I am going to give away a lot of my thought process here. If you want to not know about the story or some of the beliefs of the writer you may want to skip this if you read comments! :)

        I actually cut a lot of metaphors here because I did not want the message they implied or thought they were too on the nose. A lot of what you see is on or close to what I was thinking when I wrote this. I will say that initially I was going to put something in about there being fifty life rafts and that many would be lost if they tried for escape but more would if they did nothing. But the message there was not really what I wanted to get across. I wanted the idea of one voice can make a difference and if we stand up and do something nothing is impossible and how it’s worth it to try even if you fail.

        Not so much a call for unity but for action.

        Starting early on the ship is meant to be the US of course and the tentacles that are all part of the same beast but with separate agendas are the color of dirty money with an eye that sees only themselves and react savagely were specifically my comment on special interest groups with the fact that their actions are destroying the ship but then they work to hold it together because they are stuck to it. The further reference to the teeth was a not so subtle jab at the Tea Party. Note not the Republican Party. I do not affiliate with either party but do not condemn either one either. Which is funny because my Democrat friends think I’m a Liberal Republican and my Republican friends think I’m a Conservative Democrat. So the forces causing the risk are actually internal.

        The passengers are the citizens. They are put into groups and I had more but the word limit made me limit to conspiracy theorists, people that blame all things going wrong on offending God, and those that want to blame our/themselves for every harm suffered. Most of the passengers were the disinterested masses that take no action but wait for people they do not agree with to lead them and then are never happy with where they end up. But yes each group was looking to cast blame on another group and that was keeping them from other action. Initially I had the second group casting looks at another group made up of homosexuals but could not figure out how to do that with clothing without being offensively stereotypical and again it was a little too on the nose.

        The crew that is absent when the people in their charge needs them was specifically a shot at congress and how much time they take off while being ineffective.

        So yeah, pretty much social and political commentary and I happily accept it being like a modern fable. Thank you for the comment and see you got me talking and I think I put more words here than in the story! I hope removing the mystique does not detract from the story as what I meant is not the only meaning.

        I am really waiting to get booed for some of the philosophy presented here.

        1. Observer Tim

          No boos here; I could tell there was a social allegory and a call to action, but your explanation makes it crystal clear. This is a very enjoyable and thought-provoking tale.

          The only difference from my side of the red line is that there would be at least one person in a tweed jacket with a pipe attempting to open dialogue with the tentacles…

        2. lionetravail

          No boos here either, and I think the exposition of your thought process is both revealing and educational on how a great writer is inspired, and proceeds.

          I also think most of the US citizens fall in the middle between the nonsense of the extremes- I’m financially conservative and socially libertarian, myself. (I really don’t see why we keep Congress- if the US were a company, and had losing year after losing year, we’d fire the CEO and Board of Directors in a heartbeat.)

    6. icandootoo

      Reaper, is it just my imagination, or is this a powerful parable dressed up as a horror story?? I love what you’ve done here – and frankly, I’d read more if you chose to write it. Great as is, but REALLY great if you have (as I suspect) injected another layer of meaning below the writhing surface.

      1. Reaper

        It is not your imagination though I would not personally use the word parable because of the possible religious connotation that was not intended here. I know these days it more often means social or political commentary and message which is how I assume you mean it and you are not imagining things.

    7. Dennis

      Reaper, not sure what else to add but that I’m amazed at how quickly you put something like this together. And I find the story very moving and uplifting in the sense of fighting for something more true. We’ll done.

  50. sjmca1966

    The Taniwha –

    I thought of my late wife, as I sat and stared at the name on the boat, The Procrastinator. It was thirty-five minutes after scheduled departure before she finally arrived.

    “Yoo-hoo!” she called, from the end of the jetty.

    I buried my head in my hands. Melanie was laden with high-market shopping bags from every tourist trap in Paihia. She was dressed in a sailor suit and stopping to dislodge a stiletto every third step she took.

    “You can’t wear those on board,” I said, when she finally arrived.

    “Silly-Billy, these are my land shoes.” She reached into a bag, “Ta-da! These are my boat shoes.”

    They were boat-shoes alright, but Michael Jackson would’ve called them ostentatious.

    We’d been traveling about an hour, before George—our skipper—caved and put on the eye-patch that Melanie had bought him. He was even tolerating been called Captain Jack. I’m gonna have to slip him a bit extra, I thought.

    I was the first to be strapped into the fishing chair. Like any good charter boat skipper, George started spinning yarns to break the monotony, “You know the local Ngāpuhi tribe has a legend, once a year a Taniwha will snatch a beautiful woman from a boat to carry his offspring.”

    “What’s a Taniwha? asked Melanie.”

    “Taniwha is Maori for Water Monster. It’s said to be as big as an ocean liner, with a dozen tentacles as long as a freight train and as thick as Kauri trunks.”

    “Makes me wish I’d been born plain,” said Melanie.

    I buried my head again.

    After forty-five minutes, the sky started turning black, “Sorry guys, but we’re going to have to head for shelter. I don’t like the look of those clouds,” said George.

    Melanie gave me her—patented—disappointed look, “Can’t we order one of those planes to drop those seeds that make the clouds disappear? You know like you did for my twenty-fifth birthday.”

    You know what I did next.

    I woke around five in the morning. George was not in his bunk. I took a walk up top and stood in horror to see the inflatable gone. I was relieved to hear the chug of an outboard motor seconds later, “Oysters for breakfast!” yelled George.

    Out of no where a huge wave sent the inflatable hurtling onto the deck of the boat.

    Melanie arrived at my side just as it surged out of the sea. The tapered end of a tentacle sprung towards us and picked Melanie up with one vacuumus suction cup.

    She was gone in an instant.

    It must have been twenty-five minutes while George and I just stared at each other like Wagner and Walken.

    The sea then rose again and Melanie was flung back onto the boat.

    The Taniwha paused a second, shook its head, gave me a sympathetic look and disappeared.

    1. jhowe

      I have to admit, I had to explain myself for the people in my office when I laughed loudly at the last line. The fact that the Taniwha managed a sympathetic look is what did it for me. Nucely done.

    2. Reaper

      Oh my this is hilarious. I saw the kidnapping coming and was thinking a great tale about the dangers of vanity. Then you hit me at the end. The staring at each other got me laughing and then it just didn’t stop. That head shake is amazing. Full of wonderful, inspired lines. I almost think Liberace might have been a good choice to throw in with MJ and Elton John but not as well known any more. This made my day.

      1. sjmca1966

        Thanks, Augie. I’m trying to explore as many genres as I can. Humour is one area I feel most comfortable. If it doesn’t make me laugh, I don’t post it.

    3. Dennis

      Ah a great read before I leave work for the day. I like how you add your local folklore into your stories. I agree the last line was priceless. I think I’m due to write something humorous myself. Hopefully next week will lend itself.

  51. icandootoo

    I suppose it had to happen sometime – you don’t go searching the ocean for a giant squid without expecting to meet one, after all. However, judging from the size of the suckers on the upper right tentacle currently creeping up the starboard side, ‘giant’ might have been a slight under-projection.

    I spend thirty precious seconds debating the proper term I’ll use when naming this beauty – Architeuthis walterii ounds considerably better than Architeuthis sneedii (but then again, I’ve always hated my last name). Or maybe I should do something silly - Architeuthis spongebobii??

    I spend another thirty seconds imagining the look on Howard’s face when he realized I’ve scooped the discovery of the century – at least! – right out from his oh-so-advanced underwater camera. I linger particularly long imagining how red his pasty little mouse face, with his twitchy little nose will get once he realizes that this also means I’ll probably get tenure.

    Tenure… tenure…tennnnnnnntacles. Tentacles! There are tentacles wrapped around my ankle. There are tentacles around my ankle, and there is no one on deck. Where the heck is everyone???

    I call out (rather loudly) for the captain, for Edwardo, for June, and finally even for Howard, because let’s face it, you can’t name anything that’s already eaten you, and I can battle it out with Howard over naming rights later as long as he saves me Right. This. Instance.

    Unfortunately I’m on watch, and the captain is – as usual – passed out drunk in his cabin; and Edwardo is busy cooking something in the galley; and Howard’s still miffed that I got the second watch and he’ll have to do the third watch, so he’s pretending to be sleeping.

    I don’t know what else to do, and I’m rapidly losing feeling in my left foot, and – is it my imagination or is there a beak coming up over the side of the boat?

    Think….think….think….. come on, man, you’re a bloody scientist, surely you can solve a small problem like being eaten by a giant – make that colossal squid!!

    I grab the closest object I can find – it looks like one of Howard’s crossword books – and I roll it up, and (don’t laugh) hit the tentacle with all my might, because, there is really nothing else to do; and then
    I hit it a little harder – because let’s face it: a giant squid is not a naughty puppy – and amazingly the tentacle lets go. Perhaps a giant squid is a naughty puppy, after all.

    The beak disappears from view and the remaining tentacles, which had been steadily wrapping themselves around the ship, flail in the air for a second or two before sinking into the sea. I race below deck, second watch be damned, and try to find Howard.

    Who is not in his bunk.

    Who is crouched over his bloody monitor, smiling.

    “Look what I just captured on King Cam,” he says smugly. “I’m thinking of naming it Architeuthis howardii.”

    I hit Howard with the rolled up crosswords. Repeatedly.

    1. snuzcook

      I love this! Wonderful the way the intellectuals lose sight of what is happening right in front of them over visions of naming rights for posterity. Cleverly written, and I love the final twist.

    2. k.spicer

      ican, this was another good take on the prompt. I loved the calmness with which the MC handled being potentially eaten by a giant squid…stereotypical scientist (I loved it!) and the ending was bon appetite! Good job!

      1. icandootoo

        Thank you so much, K. Spicer :-) At first I really, really, REALLY did not want to do a prompt response, but I guess good comes out of writing what you don’t want to write, many times, doesn’t it?? I am so glad you enjoyed it.

    3. lionetravail

      Wonderful take on this, Icandotoo. Loved the story, the flow, the present tense, and the absolute ludicrous voice of the scientist geek in his element. “Tenure, tenure, ten….tacles!” hee!

    4. Reaper

      This is priceless! Love the voice, especially the wasting a precious thirty seconds. You dropped me into the head of your MC and made me a believer. That you made this funny is amazing and I am still chuckling at the last line because I can’t help but imagine Howard as a naughty puppy.

      1. icandootoo

        *grin* thank you so much. I am excited and pleased that you like it – I personally was in absolute horror over the prompt (I generally don’t do ‘that’ sort of writing – the whole giant squid is coming for you, thing) but I had committed to filling every single one of these prompts for the next year, no matter what, if possible, and – with the last three especially – I am finding some of my favorite bits are coming out of the prompts I don’t want to write. Apparently not feeling very inspired by a prompt is very… erm… inspirational for me?? HAHA I am so glad I could elicit a chuckle from you – I see Howard precisely that way. Bad, bad scientist.

    5. Dennis

      I thoroughly enjoyed this. Having been a BIO major, I identify with all of that self naming going on that I always thought was ludicrous. And also the race to get their name on the paper instead of collaborating on the research.

      1. icandootoo

        this. times infinity.

        You are officially my favoritist commentor ever.

        Because you are perfectly right – it’s ridiculous. How much science is wasted in the vacuum created by ego??

    6. Observer Tim

      This is brilliant, icandootoo. When it comes to the academic pissing contest priority discussions, Walter can always assert his superiority by claiming (with photographic evidence, no less) that he was the first to make a direct observation of the creature.

      All’s fair in love and academia.

    7. Critique

      I’m glad I took the time to scroll down and read more prompts or I would have missed this gem :)
      Gotta love a nerd I say. Their intellectual focus creates situations not unlike the Tony and Mo stories I’ve been following here ;) Thanks for such a fun and well written read!


    Thirtyish and I still wished my dad had faith in me. We’ve had our ups and downs but the last argument was the worst. I’d won $40.000.00 in the lottery, invested most of it and splurged on a mini yacht. I love it! The original owner had it made of Cherry wood and stainless steel on the inside and Everwhite fiberglass outside. It’s still a top of the line 2015 model. All I asked my dad to do was take the maiden voyage with me and all hell broke loose.
    “You’ve never had a boating lesson in your life so why would I ride with you?”
    “Because I’m your son, I want to make you proud and operating a boat is just like driving a car dad. “
    “I think that money you won has gone to your head. Don’t be no fool Junior.”
    I got up that next Saturday morning, grabbed a bottle of champagne from my bar and headed out to Navy Pier. I called my dad once again.
    “C’mon dad, make this maiden voyage with me.”
    “No Satan’s voyage for me. Goodbye!”
    “I love you dad.”
    I approached my yacht like I behave on first dates, with tender loving care. I started the motor and it purred like a kitten. On autopilot, I enjoyed Chicago lakefront views, seduced by crystal blue waters and pampered by white cotton puffed clouds that danced above me. It was a perfect day for christening a boat. I went below to get the champagne and when I emerged, I saw a half man half frog creature covered with tentacles coming up the side of the yacht. Scared shitless I grabbed the safety ax hanging nearby. Phibianman stung me with electrical jolts just as I slashed off one of its arms. Orange blood and blue acid spit splashed and burned me as I continued chopping off tentacles. It felt like Habanera peppers on raw skin. Finally, the ax split the thing’s forehead and it dissolved itself. My feet puddle in grayish black ooze that smelled like rotting meat. The ooze stuck to my shoes like syrup as I tried to return downstairs. I’d almost it made when I saw another tentacle sling on deck. I hacked it with the ax but another and another appeared. I gave up fighting and locked myself below. I watched as more creatures boarded my boat. There were too many to count and too many to kill. I threw the engine from autopilot to overdrive and watched the things slip and fall and fly off deck. In doing so, I fell hitting my head on the captain’s wheel. Dazed, I saw my dad’s disappointed face in a cloud. I just wanted him to be proud of me. The boat slowly filled with water and began sinking. Blood drooled from my eyes and mouth. My life with my dad flashed before me. I held the champagne bottle up to make a toast.
    “See dad, it’s just like driving a car.”

    1. lionetravail

      Ooh, dark. Turns out father still knows best, though i dont think any lessons would have helped. A suggestion- dad somehow knows its going to be a Satan voyage… its a little giveaway early that it’s not likely to end well, and just how does he have that insight? A little back story, or make the prophetic reveal a little more subtle. Or, it could be ironic, if dad says “satan voyage” because he feels the son’s a sinner, and then its literally a hellish trip.

      Cool story

      1. MCKEVIN

        Thanks for stopping by and commenting lionetravail. The “Satan voyage” response was to show the father as hard of hearing and nothing more. Lol. But thanks for the information about back story.

    2. sjmca1966

      Oh, I cringed at the thought of your MC taking to the water with no experience, I was surprised when his ineptitude was surpassed up by multitudes of dark creatures (internally or externally I’m unsure).
      Nice job MCKEVIN and very enjoyable read.

      1. MCKEVIN

        Thank you. Had not the MC turned on the autopilot the story would have had a different ending. When it rains it pours.Lol. Thanks again for reading.

      1. MCKEVIN

        Me too. I think all fathers should resolve their issues either on sea or land. Just so you know, Doug became a grandfather recently and also lost his mother. Tracy, just received his conceal and carry gun card. They’ll return soon. Lol.

    3. snuzcook

      Poor MC. Really didn’t have a clue. Clearly, he was brave and adventurous, but all that potential was wasted in lack of experience. Dad really should have taken a little more time.
      Nicely done, MCKEVIN.

    4. DMelde

      Sad story. I can’t help but think that the phibianmen wouldn’t have shown up if dad had gone on the cruise and shared time with his son. Very well done!

    5. Reaper

      Very enjoyable. The best part of this for me was your MC. I felt really bad at the end because he was a likable guy. Positive and wanting to spend time with his father and build a closer relationship. Most people at the end would have been cursing dad or themselves because of how they ended. You could read that last line as dark but I choose to read it as a very positive line, that even in the end he is choosing to see the bright side and happy his father is going to survive. This seems very deep and uplifting in spite of the dark nature. I love it.

    6. Dennis

      Very enjoyable story, even with the sad undertones. The saddest part was seeing the son try to connect but the father was still stuck in his ways.

    7. Observer Tim

      And that’s what the MC thinks driving a car is like?

      I couldn’t quite tell if that was a last ironic thought or a punch line. The principle of quantum indeterminacy made me read it both ways. Wonderfully ironic black humour.

      Great story, McKevin.

    8. Critique

      I found myself pulling for the MC :( A sad tale about a father and son relationship that failed. I thought the story flowed smoothly making it an easy. Well done.

  53. k.spicer

    I love this life. The salty breeze brushing against my face, the white foam breaking on the bow of the ship, the white-tipped wake extending out as we sail through the deep blue brine. This is what I live for; this is why I enlisted. The Navy seemed to be a perfect fit for me, and my knowledge of all things electric is what landed me on this floating science project in the middle of the Pacific. Life doesn’t get much better than this.

    The sounds of warning sirens cause me to look away from the vast beauty of it all and I slowly walk over to the large transformers attached to the deck and begin throwing switches causing the oversized equipment to come alive. The difference this time is that there is an identical vessel to ours sailing a hundred meters off our starboard side with antenna cables attached between our two vessels. Exactly what this experiment is supposed to accomplish I don’t know, but the last time we cranked the generators up to full power we had one heck of a light show. The Russians were even sending planes over us to see what was going on.

    A red flag is waved from the bridge as I walk over and grab the large pole switch connecting the nuclear-powered generators to the transformers. The transformers are designed to increase the power output by seven fold; what happens then is anybody’s guess. Grabbing the handle with both hands I hold my breath and pull the handle upward shoving it into the on position.

    The ear piercing pop and the sound of ten million volts of electricity rushing through the line towards the transformers is something beyond description. I step back as I feel the electricity passing over my skin causing the hair on my arms to stand at attention and my heart begins to pound. I watch the gauges as the transformers boost the power beyond anything I’ve ever experienced, peeking out at just over seventy million volts; my whole body begins to tingle.

    Looking across the starboard at the other vessel my breath nearly stops as I see the ship glowing with the brightness of the sun. The antennas between the ships are glowing as well and the radiance is beyond anything I’ve ever witnessed. I look at my hands in amazement and then down at the rest of me; my entire body is emitting energy beyond anything I’ve ever seen.

    That’s when I see it. I look off starboard and see something creeping up the side of the other vessel, like black ivy climbing a fence. I run to the edge of the railing and look down. It’s happening to us as well. Staring into the deep I can see a vortex of blackness, deeper than anything I’ve ever known, spreading outward swallowing the ocean and everything before it. “What have we done?” I whisper as I watch a hungry blackness devouring everything in sight.

    1. lionetravail

      Awesome. Reads like the opening scene in a movie that happens before the star shows up trying to figure out what happened to the experiment :)

    2. sjmca1966

      Very cool k.spicer. Just before I read this I listened to the radio and the news bulletin ran a piece on Japan commemerating sixty-nine years today, since Enola Gay famously took to the sky over Hiroshima. Very freaky.

    3. Reaper

      Very nice. I saw the comment about super hero origin and admit I was thinking the beginning of a classic style Godzilla movie. The descriptions were intense and really pulled me in with a moment of Tesla association of the power running through the MC.

      1. k.spicer

        I have to admit that the last paragraph was a desperate attempt to salvage the rest of the story when I realized I wasn’t going to even be close on the word count. I decided to end it with the last paragraph showing some sort of black hole swallowing everything. Something must have happened to stop the reaction though because we are all still here! Thanks!

    4. DMelde

      Great story. “I love this life”…now die as…”a hungry blackness devours everything in sight.” great first/last lines combo. black ivy, red flag, transformers (transforming sea water into a vortex of blackness.) great imagery. Well done!

    5. Observer Tim

      I have to admit after all the descriptions of voltage I was expecting the source of the tentacles to become overcooked calamari. Instead I got the opening chapter of a more interesting version of the Philadelphia Experiment.

      I’d love to see a next chapter, assuming the MC and shipmates don’t get killed instantly.

      1. k.spicer

        I agree about the Philadelphia Experiment, truth is energy technologies was my major in collage so electricity is a favorite subject of mine and since even today there are areas of electricity that no one can explain I love to explore parts of it in my mind, guess that’s why I’ve always been fascinated with Tesla.

  54. DMelde

    Tim was on the sun deck of the Alaskan cruise ship, the Albatross, observing glaciers calving icebergs. This was Tim’s first cruise in the frigid waters off the Alaskan shore. Tim knew that if he fell into the ice cold water then he wouldn’t live more than 30 seconds. And if the freezing water didn’t kill him then a falling iceberg probably would, and if, by some miracle, he should make it to dry land then a grizzly bear the size of an elephant would certainly eat him. All of this Tim knew because he was prepared, so it came as no surprise to him when he looked over the side of the ship and saw a tentacle slowly rising up towards him. The tentacle was big, with suckers the size of dinner plates. As he looked into the water below Tim caught a glimpse of a giant black eye observing him. He was just about to leave the sun deck to find the captain when he noticed all of the lifeboats bobbing up and down in the water heading off to shore. He saw the captain and all of the other passengers waving good-bye to him from the lifeboats. Tim was all alone.

    Then the storm hit and a 100-foot tall wave of water hit the side of the ship. Tim raced downstairs to avoid the sharks being thrown onto the sun deck by the giant wave. Once downstairs he saw why everyone else had abandoned ship; the engine compartment was on fire.

    “Wow,” Tim thought, “Am I ever glad I bought travel insurance.”

    Thinking quickly on his feet, Tim opened the hatches and the next wave from the storm put out the engine fire. Then he raced aft to the galley where he grabbed two salad forks. Using the salad forks and a shoelace from his boot, Tim was able to fix the broken engine and stabilize the ship. Next he ran back up to the sun deck where he used an umbrella to push the sharks back into the water, down into the waiting tentacles of the giant creature. Fully satisfied, the creature burped as it withdrew its tentacles and left the ship. All was suddenly quiet.

    Looking around, Tim was amazed to see that he had survived. Then he saw the captain and the other passengers running around on the beach. Tim smiled. It was his turn to wave good-bye as the grizzlies ate their fill…

    Happy cruising Tim!

      1. DMelde

        You mean the cat assasins? Cats specially trained in the martial arts as ninjas but still easily distracted by feathers and shiny objects? You mean those cattasins? Well…you see, they don’t like water, but I guess I could have used them to save the remaining crew and passengers on the beach from the bears. Maybe I should have done that, but I don’t know if Tim would approve of me saving the people who abandoned him.

    1. sjmca1966

      Tim inadvertantly added an extra part to the prompt this week and I was wondering if someone would pick up the challange. Nice job DMelde, you did not disappoint.
      When I was contemplating ‘Timmy Does Alaska’ I had him trying to see Russia, because someone said you can, before been mauled by a polar bear.

    2. Reaper

      This is so over the top and amazing I can’t help but love it. This reads like a twisted youth story. I don’t know how many parents would let their children read something like this but think it should go on the required reading list. I can’t stop smiling, especially because you set up early on that he was prepared for anything.

    3. Observer Tim

      Thanks, DMelde. This is priceless! I’m glad to see I lived through it. The only thing missing was Tim doing a victory dance and shouting “Cha-ching! Salvage!” as he contemplated selling the now-abandoned ship in port. That and finding one of the poolside cuties and figuring out a way to rescue her, while we’re fantasizing.

      It’s been a stresfull week between preparing for the cruise and preparing to move at the end of the month (my landlord sold the house out from under me; that’s why I’m late posting a response). This was a very welcome escape!

    4. WritingKittenOfLoki

      HaHaHa! Love it DMelde! I LOVE the second to last paragraph especially. Guess I would have died in that situation, using salad forks and a bootlace to repair the engine would never have occurred to me, neither would feeding the sharks to the giant creature with an umbrella. :)
      Happy travels Tim!

  55. Amyithist

    The sea was choppy; grey and listless in color, it eluded to the storm brewing just beyond the horizon. The air was singed with anticipation; something was coming. I slipped from the back deck, passing the mizzen, my eyes flitting up to the crow’s nest atop the mast. I couldn’t see Henry; which meant he was either down in the kitchen eating another midnight snack, or he was sound asleep. Good, I thought, scurrying toward the bow.
    I wasn’t sure which direction the ship was sailing, but I knew I was headed away from home. I had been taken prisoner at Port of Figueira Da Foz in Portugal. Papa had been shot and undoubtedly killed attempting to rescue me and with Mama already having passed from fever, I wasn’t sure where I’d go once I was off the ship… But I could hardly stay another night fighting away hands groping at my bodice or lips straining to press against mine…
    I gathered my petticoat and gown as I climbed the weathered wood steps toward the bowsprit. My heart thundered in my throat. Any minute, I could be discovered and who knew what would happen to me then? I dashed up to the railing of the ship. Salty droplets of sea sprayed over my face. I leaned over the side, preparing to jump… But something odd caught my eye…
    I squinted against the mist, gasping for the breath the whirring wind was so desperate to take. There! On the hull! What on earth am I seeing, I thought, panic suddenly swelling in my chest. Large pink tentacles crawled up toward the bowsprit, reaching toward the tip of the beak deck. I screamed and teetered back. My feet slid over the dampened surface and I fell hard against the wood.
    A tip of tentacle slid over the railing, gripping it with such power, the wood began to split and crack. I scrambled back, startled as I collided with something. I twisted, gaping up at Captain Thatch as he glared down at me. “Where do you think yer going, Ms.?” He bent, grabbing me by my waist and hoisting me to my feet.
    “Captain,” I cried. “Look!” I pointed in the direction of the monster. Captain Thatch’s eyes widened. His grip loosened and he pushed me behind him, shielding me from the advancing danger.
    He bellowed at his crew and within seconds, men armed with swords and guns clamored to the deck. “It’s her,” Captain Thatch howled, grinning. “It’s the old scallywag herself!” He pointed toward the monster, without so much as a tremble in his hand. He turned to me, bowing slightly. “My dear, this is no place for a lady. Please, take shelter in my cabin and wait for me to get you.”
    Normally, I would have protested; told old Thatch where to go and what to do with his orders. But this time, I gratefully proceeded back toward the poop deck, down the hatch, and into the captain’s private quarters. I have to admit, I was slightly taken aback by the magnificence of the cabin. As I crossed over to the silk-lined sofa, my fear overwhelming me by the second, I listened to the scuffle up top.
    Guns blasted. Men screamed. Wood groaned and thunderous cracks blared above the roar of the churning sea. The ship rocked mercilessly. For the first time since I’d been kidnapped I found myself praying that I’d see Captain Thatch again. “Oh please, God,” I prayed aloud, “don’t allow the monster to kill the Captain…”
    I closed my eyes as silence settled over the ship. The only sound I could hear was the sloshing of the water against the rudder. I whispered another prayer for the captain. “Well, well,” his voice came from out of nowhere, startling me. “I don’t know that I’ve ever had someone pray for me.”
    I flushed and jumped to my feet. “Is-is it dead?”
    He smiled, tossing a tentacle into the center of the room. “Dead as dead can get,” he beamed. “And you, my dear, are safe.”
    I lowered my eyes to the floor, tears splashing down my cheeks. “Until tonight, that is. Until your mates want something to play with.”
    Captain Thatch’s face furrowed. He moved further into the room and took off his hat. He smelled of sea and death. “My dear, please take my word that from this day forward you will be safe. You are, as of today, mine.”
    I didn’t like the idea of being owned. I didn’t like the idea of living at sea with the men who killed my father. But until I could find a way to escape…it was the best I could do. I turned my eyes up to Captain Thatch, forcing a smile. “As you wish, Sir Blackbeard.”

    1. lionetravail

      Amy, what a fun insertion point into the legend o’ Blackbeard! Nicely told, and great scallywagging flavor.

      (Though I’m sure the choppy sea ALluded to the brewing storm :))

        1. lionetravail

          No worries- I call it the ‘fast upload prompt’ toll, and leave it at that. (I’ve had to get EZ pass for how often I pay it.) Didn’t take away from the story :)

    2. sjmca1966

      Oh Amy! This was mystifying, strangely erotic, tense and aghh, I could go on forever!
      Beautiful prose mixed with such a creative mind, as always.
      P.S. Kerry is going to love you for using scallywag!

    3. jhowe

      Really well done Amyithist. I enjoyed this read a lot. I looked up poop deck because I’ve always wondered why they call it that: The name originates from the French word for stern, la poupe, from Latin puppis. So there you have it.

    4. Susana

      Lovely-reminded me of the romance novels I read when I was young-“you are safe” as long as you do as I say-knowing how the rest is. Loved it!

    5. Reaper

      Whenever I see your name I strap in and know I’m going on an amazing ride and this did not disappoint. Love the language and the scene you created. You developed rich characters and a world in a short amount of words. I particularly loved the twist on the romance novel theme. That you approached it then backed away into something more powerful. Just wonderful. The only thing that seemed off to me was the guns. You set a scene in a different time and then it felt a little more modern in the mention of them. It didn’t ruin anything but I might suggest using the word pistols instead to keep with that older feel and something like thundered or cracked instead of blasted. Not necessary at all but seemingly more in the flavor you were going for. However as it stands I am in love with this story.

      1. k.spicer

        Good point, that was the one spot that felt a little spongy to me but the story was so well done that I was happy skipping over it. I love a good pirate tale…and apparently so did the Captain!

    6. Observer Tim

      I can’t really add much to all the praise I’ve read here. That’s the drawback of getting behind on reading. You’ve spun a lovely pirate yarn, and it’s a very entertaining read.

      In editing, I would consider swapping out telling the captain where to go and replacing it with giving the captain a piece of my mind or some such. The phrasing of the comment is a bit of an anachronism. Also, the captain would likely call her “Miss” or the diminutive “Missy”, rather than Ms (probably the first one, given his reputation for civility to those in his care).

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You did an excellent job on this story. Your details rounded and fleshed out the MC’s attitude. You also bring forth the helpless feeling your MC has in front of her. What a horrible decision to make, the crew or BlackBeard. Ugh!

  56. keyhonay

    I opened my eyes and was violently tossed on to the floor of the sleeping cabin. Stumbling to my feet, I made my way towards the top deck. As I reached the bulkhead door there was a scream for mercy and death. I flung open the door and stood in horror at the sight before my eyes. The deck was washed with blood, water and some type of translucent greenish goo. I called out to the captain and the others but there was no answer. There was a sudden whoosh and tentacles shot out of the water surrounding the boat on all sides. They waged in the air for a moment as droplets of water showered down on to my up turned face. Then they all fell on to the deck, wrapping around the boat. I could hear the hull begin to snap and crack. I looked down and saw the captain’s old rusty machete. I grabbed it by its blackened, duct tape handle. A cry started deep within my sole and burst from my mouth, “AHEEEEEE”. Having accepted my fate at the first glance of this Kraken, I ran to the closest tentacle. With all my strength I brought the machete down on to the appendage. The machete glided through, like it was warm butter. A jet of its greenish blood shot in to my face and showered the deck. Then a sound came from under the boat. It was deep and the boats deck seems to hum with this vibration. I watched as the cut off tentacle of the thing flounder on the deck like a fish. The wounded tentacle was pulled off the deck back in to the water. The remaining tentacles started to tighten on the ship again. I made my way towards another tentacle. I could feel the boat was now being pulled down in to the water. I raised the machete and was about to hack at a tentacle. I was thrust up in the air and away from the boat. The machete was flung from my hand and sailed away from me. Falling through the air I could see the boat moving further away as I arched back in to the water. When I splashed down the air was knocked out of me and the world went black. When I came to I was alone and floating on my back, looking up at the blue sky. Around me pieces of the boat floated near. I swam, to a large plank a few yards away. I was able to get my chest up on to it and laid my head down on the sun warmed wood. A tentacle grabbed on to one of my legs, I felt it tighten and the bones snap. There was no time to scream as the thing ripped me from the plank and pulled me down in to the inky abyss. As the darkness surrounded me I watched the blue sky grow smaller and smaller.

    1. darren.white58

      Excellent post, I found it full of action and excitement. I could totally picture some poor fisherman snapping awake from this nightmare.

    2. lionetravail

      Grim indeed. Easily pictured, and nicely done with the brief hope dangled, when he survived the shipwreck to get onto the piece of the boat. Well done :)

    3. sjmca1966

      I enjoyed this keyhonay. The climax was almost flawless. I would’ve liked to have seen some paragraph breaks, there were a few unnecessary words that hindered the flow early on and a couple of words that took the story out of tense. Overall though this had great voice. Well done.

    4. k.spicer

      Nice story, but I agree with sj1966, when I first saw the post I almost skipped it to save myself the eye strain because it was one large block of words. It needs paragraph breaks to ease the eye strain…but it was a good story. Keep up the good work!

    5. keyhonay

      Thank you all for the comments and I was being sloppy with the layout on this one, I apologize. I was so focused on the word count, I missed a few things like that and the wording :). I’ll take my time next time. Thank you all, again for the comments.

    6. Observer Tim

      This is an enjoyable story, keyhonay, and you did a great job of keeping the action going throughout. The verb tense stuff also threw me, as did the “one huge paragraph” format, but those can be fixed in an editing pass.

  57. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    Tick Tock

    WARNING: This is the third part in a series spanning three weeks. You should look back at previous prompts War Never Changes and The Open Window for parts I and II (respectively). I hope to be more active this week with my comments, and look forward to reading another round of fantastic prompts from everyone!

    Alexis looked over the edge of the boat. Sinuous snakes of light slithered along the surface as a cool fishy breeze blew her blonde hair out of her face. The day was hot, but the cool wind softened the sun’s touch. There was nothing but the soft hollow splashing of water as it spanked the side of the small boat, and just north floated a gorgeous view of islands adorned with feathery green trees and cream sand frosted with each wave’s foam. A perfect vacation.

    She took a deep sour breath, and reality ripped her from that sweet archipelago, placing her back in the dingy hotel bathroom. The tiled walls seemed to be held together by the dark grime crusted between them. A slick invisible sludge coated the acrylic walls of the bath, and the water in the tub seemed green as if algae had tainted the water. There was a distinct stench of piss, and the sound of her male neighbor arguing with someone echoed through the small vent near the ceiling. A perfect vacation. Yeah, right.

    She focused on her knee, which poked from the surface of the water like a smooth fleshy rock. The light glinted from the crown, and she wondered why the man in the next room was so angry. His voice came as nothing but garbled resonances. The hotel didn’t provide any kind of sound deadening, but the voice bounced around enough to destroy the words.

    Just beyond her knee, the water dripped from the spigot. Drip, drip, dripped, and it tick, tick, ticked. Each drop hit the water and soft ripples spread through the surface of the warm water. Drip, tick, ripple. Drip, tick, ripple. She raised her hand and splashed the water, hoping to end that miserably mesmerizing drip. It continued, unabated.

    She looked up at the vent, and her teeth ground together. His voice had become a catalyst for anger. Her hands fisted under the surface of the water, and her legs tensed. She had a lot of peeves, and people screaming was one of them. She didn’t know exactly when it started, but all she knew was that she needed to make it stop. Needed to stop him.

    She shot up from the water, and as she stood, blood dripped from her naked body. A crimson pool of blood streamed down from her clavicle, between her breast, and past her naval. The fine hairs of her skin caught some of it, but most of it landed back into the tub, which was now full of blood. As it dripped from her scalp, she could taste that it was the same blood from her dream. She wasn’t sure how she could tell the difference, but she knew. Of course she knew, and somehow, at that moment, it was all right.

    She threw her white robe on, and as she passed the mirror, she looked at herself. Her hair fell in thick strands over her shoulders, and the clear water beaded upon her neck. The woman watching her was not a stranger, but was a stranger just the same. One that never smiled. It was the other her. The reason she was in the hotel room in the first place. Well, she wasn’t certain of that, but since that stranger was, in reality, no real stranger, then she knew it had to have been her that put her in that shitty hotel room.

    More screaming. More anger. More rage.

    She walked quickly and with pronounced determination out of the bathroom. The white robe trailed behind her, and she picked up a gold and silver letter opener provided as a courtesy to long-term hotel guests. She clenched it tight in her fist, and left hotel room 3A and slammed her fist upon the door to 3B.

    1. sjmca1966

      Yeah, Jay. I merged all three together and read as one. The continuity is there, the voice is consistant and Alexis is one troubled young lass! Your adherence to the prompt may be tenuous at times but the undertones are still there would stand up in most courts.
      Nice job. Keep it up.

      1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

        I agree.. I haven’t been keeping the prompt close to the story… but Brian is throwing me a lot of curve balls haha. I think he might be doing it on purpose. :p

        Thanks for reading SJ… can’t wait to see what you’ve cooked up this time. :D

    2. Reaper

      The continuity is really good. What is impressive to me is that you do manage to stay close to the prompt and present each phase as its own self contained story as well. Difficult to do and nicely done.

          1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

            Lame, I actually had to look it up. Navel is the type of orange. Naval is having to do with the navy. This is English, why can’t it all be spelled the same like everything else! I quit, going back to German. lol

    3. Dennis

      You did an amazing job trying to tie each prompt to this story and I have been enjoying reading them. My only editing note is I thoroughly enjoyed the eerie feeling you created in last week’s addition and this week didn’t quite have it, although still creepy in its own way. It is hard to put into words the mood you set last week, but I want more. In any case I look forward to whichever direction you take us next week.

    4. WritingKittenOfLoki

      Good one! More trouble for Alexis. Glad you’ll be writing more of her.
      I hope she doesn’t kill the man. I can’t see her as a killer. She seems more of the “can-be-intimidating-but-underneath-is-scared” type – but maybe that’s just me, thinking I’m so smart and know what she would and wouldn’t do; you know best Jay.

  58. darren.white58

    so it was a slow day at work and I kind of got into this one. Before I knew it I was already at fifteen hundred words so I’m gonna post this one in segments. any way here is part one

    A Magi’s promise – part one

    The sky burned a hateful orange as the sun slowly dissolved into the vast sea staining the usual south pacific cerulean into a rolling plane of fiery red. I had hired the Fisherman’s Folly and her captain in one of the little hole in the wall bars found in the aptly named Poverty bay of northern New Zeeland, and while discretion came with his reputation the small fortune I had paid to be ferried out into the middle of the ocean guarantied he stayed below deck out of sight for what I had to do next.

    I knelt on the smooth fiberglass prow of the ship and prepared my offering. The defrocked priest who taught me the ritual said that the calling required three things, the sacrifice of a sacred object, the blood of a magi, and a token of the callers intent. I laid the piece of white silk in front of me and stared up at the cloudless sky praying for the strength to see me through the next hour. I pulled off my wedding ring the thin gold band resisted seeming to grip at my flesh in desperation. I held the symbol of my promise to my late wife on the flat of my palm and tears started to well up and roll openly down my cheeks as I drew my diving knife from its sheath at my waist. I laid the blade next to the ring closing my hand into a fist around the two. With a sharp yank a lightning bolt of pain shot through me. I let the hot blood collect in my palm for a second and sheathing my knife I dabbed a finger into the inkwell of scarlet and started to paint the required symbols on the cloth. Once that was complete I slapped my hand down on the cloth leaving the ring in the center of a crude crimson hand print. All that was left was my intent; I reached into the pocket of my khaki shorts and felt for my impromptu totem. The brass nine millimeter cartridge glowed in the setting sun and I could think of no better summation of my hearts burning desire. Placing this last piece of the ritual with the others I folded the silk into a small square and dropped it over board as my still bleeding hand dripped a steady staccato rhythm in time with my pounding heart.

    I didn’t have to wait long, and as the last rays of the setting sun struggled desperately to remain, the enveloping night smothered them and brought along with it the purpose for coming so far from home. The boat lurched violently as the first tentacle of the beast snaked its way up and over the railing. The speed of second, third, and forth surprised me as they slapped down on the deck each with a resounding thud and crackling of fiberglass.

    “Ahh, Magi so good of you to come,” said the gurgling hiss from behind me.

    1. darren.white58

      Part two –

      “Why all the dramatics nymph you knew I would.” I said turning to discover the sallow face staring at me from where she sat on the raised pilot’s platform of the fishing vessel. She was smaller than an average person and clothed in rags that stuck to her wet lithe form, from a distance could have been mistaken for a young girl but from here her greenish yellow completion and rows of needle like teeth destroyed the illusion, laying her true form bare.

      “Your one to talk.” With a light underhanded motion she tossed my bullet in a lazy arch through the dusky gloom. I snatched it out of air before it bounced off my chest.

      “I want her back nymph. I’m here to deal, a life for a life that’s what you said when you took her.”

      “I did say that, but I never expected you to actually trade yourself. My bet was on some foolhardy attempt to take her by force. But then again love does such funny things to you humans.”

      “Do we have a deal or not,” I said drawing out the small knife again, the blood from my palm oozing past the hand guard causing the knife to shimmer as I pushed my rage through it. “We could always give foolhardy a shot”

      Her hissing laugh sounded like waves breaking on sand as she stood and dropped with ethereal grace to the deck. “No, no need for that I think, a life for a life was the deal.” She snapped her fingers and one of the unseen tentacles erupted from below curled around an ancient diving bell so covered in barnacles and sea life that it could have been chipped directly off the Great Barrier Reef. Placing it on the deck with a delicate dexterity I though impossible from something so huge, the nymph crossed the gently pitching boat running sharp webbed fingers delicately along the muscled tentacles as she passed. Finally reaching the diving bell she gave it two soft raps and bent close to listen for something beyond my range of hearing, her green tinged lips pealed back into a hideous smile framing the blackened needle teeth. She stood up strait and with another snap the diving bell was lifted and with a rush of water and small sea life there was my daughter coughing and sputtering on the deck.

      “Dad?” she said trying to catch her breath.

      “Go below Fiona, this is almost over baby,” I said as gently has the fury coursing through my veins would allow. Never taking my eyes off the creature I saw Fiona with eyes as wide as dinner plates take in the scene unfolding around her. She rose on shaky feet and stumbled into the cabin out of sight.

      “Now father of the year if you will just stand over here we can complete this nights business.” The nymph said pointing to the spot under the diving bell with a clawed finger.

      “Yea about that, I don’t think I’ll be going with you.”

      1. darren.white58

        Part Three –

        Her head snapped around and the once pretty almond eyes had narrowed into slits as she boiled with rage.”And what do you mean be that little magi,” her hissing whisper seethed.

        “You just said a life for a life, and as much as you want my blood nymph I brought something you want even more. I know you can smell him sitting down in the hold amongst his trophies. How many fish do you think he’s caught on this boat? This is your patch of ocean to protect, how many of your charges do you think he has snatched from the water and gutted right where you are standing now? Can you smell the blood on him?”

        She looked down at the deck and seeing the shallow pool of pink water growing redder by the second from the wound on my hand. She threw her head back in a vicious shriek that shook my fillings and carried over the open water for miles. Bringing her eyes back to mine she shook with rage and shouted, “ Fisherman.”

        “Yup and he’s a real asshole to boot.”

        Throwing her arm into the air, webbed fingers spread wide, the tentacle hovering in the air above her straitened sharply uncoiling from around the diving bell throwing it into the sea with a crash that sent a cascade of sea water back onto the deck. In one smooth motion she brought her arm back down and the tentacle followed punching a jagged hole in the deck that caused the whole ship to pitch forward. A moment later the tentacle retracted pulling a kicking and screaming man from below. The nymph walked slowly and with purpose across the deck to a small tackle box that had fallen off the pilot’s platform. She knelt fishing around inside for something with her back to me until finally she found what she was looking for. Calmly ignoring the captains screams she pointed at me with a thin bladed filleting knife.

        “Your payment is acceptable mortal, but don’t think a gambit like this will work twice. Take your daughter and go, but be mindful to teach her better manors when traveling through our realm.” The tentacle at her feet coiled its tip into a small platform and she stood upon it bathed in the light of the growing moon as she rose into the air, bring her face to face with the still screaming upside down captain. She brought a finger up to his lips the way a mother quiets a crying child and coed into his ear, “you’re going to want to hold your breath for this next part.” And without another word she dove into the water disappearing without a splash. The monster tentacles all retracted back into the sea dragging the wild eyed captain with them leaving the deck quite as the sea rocked the damaged ship it their wake.

        1. Dennis

          Really enjoyed this great tale. Work must have been really slow as this is full of detail and great descriptive language. Yes this could have easily been a much longer tale with more backstory, etc, but I thought it felt complete.

      2. snuzcook

        I love the way you used the MCs pain to drive him beyond the limits of acceptable behavior, and the slow reveal of just exactly how bad it was going to get.
        Well done!

    2. sjmca1966

      I liked this darren. I’ve fished in Poverty Bay, I’m not sure that I want to again now.
      There was great tension in your writing, a well constructed story that led to a satisfying conclusion.
      Well done.

    3. Reaper

      Good story well written Darren. Your MC is a nicely gray character, I won’t say antihero because I stick to the traditional definition of that but by what it means in modern writing I’d say he fits well. There were a couple of editing words that were more noticeable because your story grabbed me and dragged me under until it was done, and there were very few and editing pass would fix them. You created a very deep world. It almost feels like the nymph should have insisted on the MC actively sacrificing the captain to pay the debt, but that is just an interpretation of protocol I felt and the ending is satisfying and rich as it stands.

      1. lionetravail

        Well done story, especially over three parts. I liked the flow of it, the story, and the twist when the father/MC turned the ‘tide’ by redoing the deal.

        I think it’s solid as is, but you’ve created such a rich story that more story might be better. If you tailored it for length in the prompt format, that’s one thing, but if you wanted to expand this into something longer, I most certainly would recommend it. One thing I’d like to see is how the MC justifies to himself that he’s sacrificing another human for his daughter. Here he does it, and says what sounds like the kind of lip service I’d expect him to say for a sea nymph to get her riled up to go for his counterdeal, but it’s pretty cold to do it. A few lines about how he’s justifying it, or that he’s accepting a certain amount of ‘evil stain’ on his soul and going to have to suffer with it because that’s just how it is, would really make this stronger.

        1. darren.white58

          Thanks for the feedback I really appreciate it, my original idea for ending was to have his daughter watch the last bit unfold from the doorway and have him try explain after seeing her horror and disappointment. but I was already so far over the word count I made myself stop at what felt like an ending, though I admit its kinda weak.

    4. Observer Tim

      This is a gripping story, Darren. I’m torn about my reaction to the MC; I can see what he’s doing in response to a threat but it still seems a bit cold to me. If you choose to expand this, I would be more interested in going backward than forward; that is, seeing how he came to be in this situation. The story itself is his masterful solution, and a good one it is.

    5. WritingKittenOfLoki

      Woah, Darren, great take. I’m not quite sure how you imagined Nymph, but I was picturing a, thin, green & yellow, version of Ursula from The Little Mermaid. I think it would make a great full length novel. I had an idea, for his justification of giving her the captain – perhaps he (the captain) is a murderer, that has somehow managed to keep from getting caught; better yet maybe he was responsible for the wife’s death, but there’s no way to prove it, so the husband/father decided to kill two birds with one stone.
      Anywho, wonderful tale! I enjoyed it a lot. :)

  59. Pete

    The Day of Wreckoning On the SS Malaprop

    I’ve heard it said that a rainy day can be hard on a man’s sciences. But that morning, the weather was so perfect I hardly noticed that Captain Skinner was nowhere to be found. It was a blessing in the skies, and after having been beaten and pounded by the choppy storm waters for too many days to count, when I peeked out to find the purple clouds, so golden and heavenly and lined with silver, I’d just as soon it was a optical conclusion.

    But being that I never let a gift horse in the house, I took full advantage of the rare opportunity for some thinking time. But my morning refluxion was short lived, because to my udder horror, I saw the enormous testacles crawling up the hull of the ship. I shook the shock from my eyes, and it donned on me that my shipmates weren’t sleeping, but dead.

    I allowed myself to look again, hoping to shed sunlight on the problem, but instead only confirming my submissions. The sun was blurred out by the black clouds, which, like the blue bonnet plague, had returned to see the destruction through.

    Our ship shook and cracked, moaning with agony from deep within its vowels. The beast had me in its clutches.

    I scurried up the crow’s nest, the rusty harpoon gun in hand. My mother once told me that I bit the doctor who’d cut my biblical cord, so if that bastard wanted me, he’d have to earn it.

    A calm breeze fell over me up there, and I took a moment to quantum placid before whispering a quick Hail Mary and that was that. Let dead dogs sleep and such. Although I do remember hoping that whoever wrote my autobiography would mention that this Second Officer was one tough as snails son of a bitch.

    When it shot out of the water, I thought it might just be a pigment of my imagination. I took a good hard look at the creature, it scales shiny and black, orgasmically grown somewhere in the foggy depths of the sea. It was a ghastly, slivery sort of sea servant, the kind my grandfather once spoke of after a bout with his whiskey. If he were alive today, he’d be turning over in his grave.

    The beast lashed and swung itself for the boat, I held on for dear wife, fighting like a caveman being attacked by a thesaurus. I fought to stay steady, as all that shivers is not cold. From his grotesque mouth dripped the mangled body parts of my shipmen, who would never see the right of way. I focused, just as the beast rose with a roar and I saw the gleam in his eye. It was my one shot and I made the most of it. As the harpoon bound for him, I looked into his eye, right into his soul. I’d like to think that the last thing he saw was my ugly mug.

    He let out a wail that seemed to pierce the dismal sky. The ship wobbled upright as it slipped from the beasts grasp, as the beast itself fell back into the hell from which it came and I knew that for all intensive purposes, he was deader than a hangnail.

    I tossed the harpoon gun to the deck and scurried to find survivors. There were none, only the empty hat of Captain Elroy Skinner, R.N. I picked it up and put it on. It fit perfectly. I looked out to the open sea, the clouds parted and the sun returned. The deck glistened in with the blood of my fallen comrades, but all was calm and peaceful. I said a few quick goodbyes to my fellow ship mates. And then it was back down tow the cabin, where I drank myself to Bolivia.

    1. Reaper

      Amazing. It took a few mistakes for my brain to realize they were intentional. And since I have nothing I can say but awesome I will throw out two quotes that entered my head as I read this. They are from two of my favorite things so please take the association as a compliment.

      “They’re all dead, Dave. Everybody is dead, Dave. Dead, Dave, dead.” – Red Dwarf


      “We’ve gotta get you a book of proverbs or something cause this mix and match shit has gotta go.” – The Boondock Saints

    2. snuzcook

      This was extremely well done in a style that is so far outside my abilities that I bow before you.
      Incredibly fun. Thank goodness I was reading it alone, because guffaws were exploding all over.
      I’ll echo jhowe: Priceless.

    3. Observer Tim

      This is a great and strange story, Pete. The malaprops make it harder to read, but since that’s the tale’s gimmick, it means they’re working perfectly. I alternated between lauging and cringing. As you said in one of your comments, deliberately writing like this is not easy.

    4. WritingKittenOfLoki

      I absolutely love this Pete! This is awesome. :) It makes me think of Weird Al’s song “Word Crimes”.
      Is he somewhere in the specific ocean?
      My favorite line, to be Pacific, is “If he were alive today, he’d be turning over in his grave.”

  60. Cceynowa

    Doubt at the Helm Rating TV-14-L

    For five years we rode the waves of marital bliss, testing the depths of our passion and exploring the horizons together. Five years of a vast and beautiful experience, and then I peaked at his phone one night. Who the hell was Cindy?

    Cindy works at the bank, and Cynthia works at the pharmacy. Cindy at the bank is in her sixties and due to retire soon. Must be the pill pushing Cynthia.

    He had been picking up all our prescriptions and running all the errands the past few months, telling me to rest. I didn’t need to be over doing it, doctor’s orders after all. Work and home. Rest. Go to work, on light duty, come home. Rest.

    The ladies at work are jealous. Their husbands had not been so gentle and understanding during their pregnancies. I was lucky, they said. I was cared for deeply, and until I knew about that bitch Cindy, I was inclined to agree.

    We’d been enthusiastically trying for a baby for over two years. He was excited when I finally conceived. I was too. Gleefully I endured the extreme nausea and back spasms my doctor said was normal for someone with my medical history and age. I smiled through the leg cramps and headaches, rejoicing to see him smile at me in return. We had defeated my polycystic ovary syndrome and his diabetes, and we were victorious. Now, there were missed calls, lengthy calls, and probably hidden text messages.

    At dinner I said, “My feet are cracking, I think I will get some lotion from the pharmacy tomorrow.” He was calmly eating his mashed potatoes.

    “I can stop by if you want,” he didn’t even look up. Hiding his guilty eyes no doubt.

    “No, I’d like to see some new faces. Move around a bit more.”

    “Don’t over tax yourself. Doc said you were close to bed rest as it was. Only four more weeks and then you can run a marathon if you’d wish,” he smiled at me. Delighted in his own little joke; I had always despised running.

    “Do you not want me to go to the pharmacy?”

    “I didn’t say that,” he was finally catching onto my tone. I detected an edge of panic in his voice.

    “Well it sounded like that is what you said!”

    We laid rigid in bed that night. I loathed the thought of him touching me. His hands practically stank with Cindy’s perfume. In the darkness he said, “Have I done something wrong?”

    He sounded so innocent. I could feel his want to place a hand on my grotesquely swollen stomach.

    “Who is Cindy,” I asked. Tears were blurring my words.


    His question re-kindled my anger. “I looked at your fucking phone,” I screamed.

    “Cindy,” he repeated. “Lucinda Herrington, the pastor’s wife. I am helping her plan a surprise after-hospital shower for you.”

    Of course. Lucinda. No one I knew called her Cindy.

    [Word Count: 493]

    [Inspiration: “O Captain! My Captain!” - Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass.]

    1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      Reminds me of my ex fiance, who happened to look at my phone, no joke, right after my crazy ex sent naked pictures to my phone. Of course, *I* was the one that got into trouble, ruined a perfectly good relationship… score one for the crazy ex. Although, some have said that if she didn’t believe me, then it wasn’t a good relationship, and I argue often that it’s naked pictures people. That’s like a nude smoking gun.. er breasts. lol

      Anyway, as always, a fantastic read CC! The dialog felt a little forced, but overall I loved it. :D