March 7 – March 21, 2018 Flash Fiction Contest “The Harbor” (Bonus)

Theme: This post is for stories that start with the paragraph: “It was dark. Not pitch black, but some gray darkness that barely allowed shapes to form. All I/he/she could smell was the tang of seaweed, all I/he/she could hear was the breaking of waves.”.

Story Requirements:

  • The setting is a harbor or marina, or the town surrounding it.
  • Glass

Word Count: 1,200 (1500 will be accepted as the word count changed mid-prompt.)

  • This is the thread for stories as well as general comments. Say hello and be sure to check the “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” box for email notifications.
  • To leave feedback/Comments directly relating to a particular story – click “reply” to the story comment.
  • Specific critiques, comments, and feedback are encouraged. If you do not want honest professional feedback do not post a story.
  • Keep feedback and critiques to a civil and constructive level, please. Please critique stories for construction, style, flow, grammar, punctuation, and so on. The moderator has the right to delete any comments that appear racist, inflammatory or bullying.

Please Note: Comments may be considered “published” in regards to other contest requirements.

All stories are fall under general copyright laws. No part may be reproduced without the express consent of the respective author.

Story Submission Rules:
  1. One story per author. You may post more than one but only the first story will qualify for voting.
  2. Stories must be in English, unpublished and your own work.
  3. Stories must fit into a single comment box and must stay within the word limit set for each contest.

Voting starts Wednesday morning at 9:00am PDT / 12:00pm EST / 10:30pm IST / 5:00pm WET/GMT/ 4:00am AEDT (Thursday) and ends the same time on Thursday / 4:00am AEDT (Friday).

  • You may vote only once.
  • You cannot vote for yourself.

To be included in the “writing prompt roster”, you must have submitted two stories in the last sixty days. The roster is alphabetical and can be found here.

See How to Participate for complete rules and disclaimers.

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120 thoughts on “March 7 – March 21, 2018 Flash Fiction Contest “The Harbor” (Bonus)

  • March 7, 2018 at 8:13 am

    Cool, a bonus contest.

  • March 15, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Hey all – I updated the prompt so it didn’t have to be in first person.
    Just an FYI. 🙂

    • March 16, 2018 at 2:44 pm

      Carrie, what does ‘glass’ mean in the requirements? I just noticed that. I set me story in the harbor/marina, but don’t get ‘glass’.


      • March 16, 2018 at 2:46 pm

        I must be practicing my accent for tomorrow. I set MY story in the harbor/marina, not ME story.

      • March 16, 2018 at 2:51 pm

        Glass could be anything, a glass cup, a glass window pane, glass eye…
        Any interpretation any interpretation!

        • March 16, 2018 at 9:03 pm

          Thanks, I’ll get it in there somehow.

  • March 18, 2018 at 9:48 pm


    • March 18, 2018 at 9:49 pm

      I am trying to write something else other than, “hello”. it seems to say invalid security token and not submit my comment.

      • March 19, 2018 at 6:44 am

        It seems to be submitting your comments fine?

        • March 19, 2018 at 8:31 pm

          it only allows short comments. ive googled it and others have had trouble with the same error code. ive attempted 15 times in the last 24 hrs and only 3 have gone through

          • March 19, 2018 at 8:37 pm

            What error code are you getting?
            We’ve literally had thousands of comments on the site and this is the first time I’ve ever heard of this issue.

          • March 21, 2018 at 6:45 pm

            The error code is “invalid security token”. Its too hard to explain but my desktop is so 2010. therefore i just used my phone instead and that was good.

        • March 21, 2018 at 12:01 am

          Another newcomer question that doesn’t seem to be answered in the official rules:

          Who is allowed to vote in this contest?

          1. Anybody who feels like it?

          2. Only people who submitted stories with the current prompt?

          3. Only people who have posted at least two stories in the last 60 days?

          • March 21, 2018 at 7:12 am

            This is a public forum.

            Anyone with the link can vote. We have non writers who read the stories sometimes vote.

            #3 is explained in the “Writing Prompt Roster” page under the Why and How to Participate. It is only in reference to who gets to be on the prompt roster.

            To be included in the “Writing Prompt Roster”, you must have submitted at least two stories in the last sixty days.

          • March 21, 2018 at 7:14 am

            Thanks for the question.

            I have clarified by adding “Anyone can vote but…”

            Anyone can vote but writers MUST submit your top five (5) votes for your story to count.

      • March 19, 2018 at 8:02 am

        Just copy and paste your story to the comments section. If you can write a comment, you can submit a story. And, be sure to check the ‘notify me of new comments via email’ box, so you can see it was submitted and receive comments from people who post stories or make comments and critiques.

    • March 18, 2018 at 9:52 pm

      if anyone could help, that would be wonderful!

  • March 19, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    The Night Mother’s Prize By Wendy Edsall-Kerwin ©2018 [word count 755]

    It was dark. Not pitch black, but some gray darkness that barely allowed shapes to form. All I could smell was the tang of seaweed, all I could hear was the breaking of waves – that and the captain’s snores. It was just before dawn and he had finally passed out. I had been hiding in here for hours to pull off the perfect heist and I needed to get it done before the sun rose. You see, I’m a thief and this ship is the Night Mother – the most successful pirate ship on the inland sea. Tonight I prove my worth as a crewmember.

    I had seen the Captain place my target down on his nightstand just before falling into his bed half clothed. Now was the only time he didn’t have it on his person, thus my only opportunity to steal it. I had been a thief for as long as I could remember, but the problem with this harbor side town was that I’ve been a thief for as long as anyone could remember. Getting on this ship was my chance at riches and the freedom that only the sea provides. All I had to do was prove that I was devious enough to be a part of her crew.

    I crept over to the nightstand, shuffling to avoid as many creaks as possible. I paused as the captain shifted, snorting a little, until he resumed his rumbled snores. This close I could smell the whiskey and tobacco in his night sweat, covering up the seawater and pitch smell of the ship. I reached into the dish on the nightstand, gently plucking my prize from its bed. I quickly placed the decoy and secured my treasure. Crossing to the open window, I shimmied down a rope I had secured there earlier. I swung onto the dock and with a flick, unhooked the grapple. Sighing with relief, I went to find my own rest for a few hours.

    When the sun was well past its zenith, I returned to the ship, this time on the gangplank. I had seen movement on the Night Mother’s deck, so I figured most of the crew was done nursing the after effects of last night’s shore side bender. The captain was nowhere to be seen, so I looked for someone who seemed to be doing more grumbling and pointing than the others. I figured he was in charge for the moment.

    “I’d like to speak to your captain,” I told the suntanned and bristled man.

    “What would he want to talk with a saltless local like yourself for? He’s busy at the moment.”

    “I have something of his, something he holds dear. I’d like to exchange it for a position on this ship.” By now some of the others had gathered around.

    “I’ve got a few positions for ya,” another sailor spoke up.

    “Are they all involving me spanking your ass while you call me ‘mommy’?” I turned and grinned viciously in the direction of the joker. The pirates started to laugh while the first one said, “I like her.”

    “What’s all this laughter interrupting my beauty sleep?” Everyone turned toward the somewhat hastily dressed, but still imposing, figure of the captain as he crossed the deck.

    “This one here wants a place on the crew. Claims she stole something ‘dear’ to you.”

    “Aah, and what could that be? Nothing was missing from my cabin.” His second in command let out a small gasp. “What’s wrong? Did I forget to button my trousers?” The captain turned toward the crew and they started giggling. “What on earth is wrong with you people?” he bellowed. I stepped up to him, offering the hand mirror I had brought with me. He looked at his face and saw his eyes. The right one was bright blue, contrasting starkly with his dark skin…and his brown left eye. I pulled out my stolen treasure, a brown glass eye, holding it up to glint in the sunlight.

    “Now, about my position on the Night Mother…”

    The crew started whooping and clapping me on the back as the captain laughed and snatched his eye from my hand.

    “Ha-ha, we have a deal. We ship out at the tide’s turn this evening. You can bunk with Gina and Susu. Just try not to steal any more body parts; George over there has few enough legs as it is.”

    I stowed my meager possessions below and got to work helping my new crewmates prepare for departure.

    • March 19, 2018 at 8:17 pm

      You don’t back down, Wendy. Just keep the good stories coming. Nice story. Easy reading and good characterization. I have a great line for you. It’s from an old joke, but if you could have fit it in, it would have been awesome. At the end of the story after the Captain gives you the job, he says, “After this Lass, rest assured, I’ll keep an eye out for ya!”

      • March 19, 2018 at 8:37 pm

        That was a nice fun story Wendy. But I was a little confused by the colors of the eyes. The captain had one blue eye and one brown eye after his glass eye had been stolen. But shouldn’t there have been an empty socket where the glass eye had been. Presumably the “decoy” the narrator left was another glass eye. But wouldn’t the captain be happy with the replacement–unless you were trying to say it was the wrong color? And shouldn’t a pirate just be wearing a black patch anyway?

        • March 20, 2018 at 10:42 am

          The decoy was a blue eye. The captain didn’t notice that the eye had been switched out (due to getting up from a night of hard drinking), and since it was a different color, it was obvious to anyone looking at him. I was trying to keep it a bit obscure so there would be the funny reveal. I guess it was a bit too obscure.

    • March 20, 2018 at 7:42 am

      A fun read and a surprise to find out the main character was a girl!
      I do agree with Mike, the different colored eyes and the need for a glass eye doesn’t make sense. It would make more sense if there was a socket to put the glass eye into so no one knew he had a fake eye.
      But also – I doubt if you have a glass eye you’d leave your stateroom without looking for it!

    • March 20, 2018 at 7:44 am

      Also – I fixed the missed period and end quotes for the sentence: He’s busy at the moment.” 🙂

    • March 21, 2018 at 12:38 pm

      Fun story – like it a lot, Wendy.

      It was great the way you picked up and built on the sensory element of smell in the prompt and built on it, e.g. with “I could smell the whiskey and tobacco in his night sweat, covering up the seawater and pitch smell of the ship” – helps to build the atmosphere and sense of place

      Not sure if I missed something but I couldn’t see any problem at all with the eye-swap and the captain’s not noticing it – all read smoothly to me!

      Nice humour in the dialogue too!

      • March 21, 2018 at 1:17 pm

        Thanks, Andy, I’m glad you noticed the scents. I wanted to bring in the lines from the beginning.

    • March 21, 2018 at 6:52 pm

      A great “coming of pirate” tale! Short n sweet!

    • March 22, 2018 at 4:59 am


      God. Sorry I took so long to get to your story, Wendy of Blowtorch Heights. (I spent too much time defending myself from Andy’s vicious two-sentence assault.)

      I liked your story too. I would repeat Andy’s comments verbatim, if I wasn’t sure I’d be charged with plagiarism. I’ll paraphrase.

      Crisp, smart dialogue. A humorous take on robbery, pirating, having one eye. I was not confused over the eye swap either. Thought it was very clever. There were only three of them, and one was blue. I know a couple of pirates, and they’re actually ambivalent about their patches, but kind of fussy about their glass eyes.

      You’ve got a wonderfully creative mind, and a gift for delivering your stories without any excess description.
      I look forward to reading your stories.

      (I stand by what I told Robt., Wendy. Kenny doesn’t lie.)

      • March 22, 2018 at 10:17 am

        Thanks, Ken! I try really hard not to over describe, but it’s also hard to make sure I describe enough. A fine balance.

  • March 19, 2018 at 6:11 pm


    It was dark. Not pitch black, but some gray darkness that barely allowed shapes to form. All I could smell was the tang of seaweed, all I could hear was the breaking of waves.

    “Heh Mike Moran! You’ve got hordes of people here waiting for their drinks. They’re starting to get very angry, as well as thirsty.”

    The shouted summons was from Jack Condon, owner and manager of the Crow’s Nest in Gloucester, Mass. I was a bartender there, but had stepped out for a quick smoke. Unfortunately, while listening to the breaking waves, I had lingered too long. I couldn’t help worrying about my brother Bobby. He had left three weeks ago as part of the crew on the schooner Falcon, headed for the Grand Banks in search of swordfish. Nobody had heard from the ship since a week ago when Winter Storm Errol pounded the region off Nova Scotia. The Coast Guard had searched for survivors. But there was a lot of ocean to cover and the ship’s radio beacon didn’t seem to be sending a signal.

    Facing the harbor and just a short distance from the big pier where fishing boats tied up to offload their catch, the Crow’s Nest was a natural gathering place for the fishermen and their friends and families. Bobby and I lived in rooms above the Nest, along with several of the younger and more transient people in the local fishing community.

    If the Falcon had been a larger ship, Bobby would have been its boatswain. But, with a crew of only six men, everybody had several roles to play. When he wasn’t on a fishing trip, Bobby would work on the Falcon and a few other ships in the harbor. He repaired damaged woodwork, painted the ships, and did general maintenance of the diesel engines, power generators, stoves, beacons, radios and navigation equipment. That was almost a fulltime job, but Bobby still went to sea occasionally. Taking a trip was like buying a lottery ticket. If the catch was good enough, a crew member could collect as much as $5000 on his return to the harbor.

    After I got back behind the bar, I rushed to fill all the back orders from the thirsty customers. Then, when things slowed down to a normal pace, I spotted Christine slumped at the end of the bar and looking very depressed. “Chris,” as she preferred to be called, was the wife of Felix Cutter—the captain of the Falcon. Everybody assumed she was distraught because she had lost her husband. But I knew she was more concerned about Bobby. On the Falcon’s previous expedition, Bobby had chosen not to be a crew member, but had remained in Gloucester. Then he proceeded to have a secret love affair with Cutter’s wife. For the latest trip, Cutter insisted that Bobby join the crew of the Falcon. Perhaps he suspected that Bobby was fooling around with his wife, and decided to keep him close.

    There was a sudden crash at the end of the bar. Chris had slumped forward and knocked over her glass of Merlot. I hurried over and started to mop up the spilled wine and remove the glass splinters from the top of the bar.

    “Don’t worry about it Chris. I’ll get you another glass. Everybody’s really uptight tonight.”

    When I brought her the fresh glass of wine, she leaned forward and whispered in my ear:

    “I really loved Bobby. I’m having a baby and he is the father. We were going to get married right after I divorce Felix.”


    Next morning, we woke up to amazing news:

    “MISSING FISHING SHIP IS SAFE” was the banner headline.

    The Falcon lost its electrical power after the storm–fuel cans for the power generator had washed overboard. So there was no radio and no navigation equipment. And the crew weren’t able to recharge their smart phones. However, one crew member, Bugsy Camusso, had not used his phone–a cheap ‘burner’ phone. And he couldn’t make phone calls while they were outside the range of cell towers. When the Falcon came closer to the Massachusetts shoreline, Bugsy found he could make calls. He dialed 911, told the police the situation, and asked to be connected to the Coast Guard.

    When we heard the good news, we rushed to the pier. There was one huge traffic jam, but I lived just a short walk away. The police had cordoned off the entrance, and were not allowing any vehicles to enter. They only admitted close relatives of the Falcon’s crew. Already on the pier were a Coast Guard communications vehicle, a Fire Department ambulance, and a couple of police cars. Only one TV camera crew was allowed access—the networks had been forced to draw lots to select a single “pool” crew.

    About an hour later, a cheer went up as we spotted a white Coast Guard ship entering the harbor, followed closely by the grey two-masted Falcon. The Coast Guard vessel then stayed in the center of the harbor while the Falcon docked. Fishermen and a couple of Coast Guard officers climbed off the ship and onto the pier. All the fishermen were very fatigued and one could hardly walk—just dragging what looked like a broken left leg and supporting himself with a wooden stick. Two paramedics rushed over from the ambulance and unfolded a wheel chair, so that he could be seated with his leg supported while they took him to the ambulance. Family members rushed to hug and kiss their loved ones. The only exception was Chris. Instead of kissing her husband, she stood by my side as we looked for Bobby. But there seemed to be only five crewmen on the pier.

    “Heh Captain Cutter,” I yelled. “Where’s Bobby Moran?”

    “Sorry Mike, we lost him,” he shouted back.

    Kate Elliott of NBC News, had been interviewing one of the Coast Guard officers and she seemed very annoyed by the loud interruption. But then she realized that this might be a more dramatic line of inquiry. So she ran over and shoved a mic in Felix Cutter’s face, while I fired some more questions.

    “Whadya mean you lost him?”

    “During the storm, the rudder jammed. So Bobby figured the net had got wrapped around it. We decided he should go overboard and try to untangle it. He freed the rudder okay, but he never came back. The water was still very choppy, it was a cloudy black night, and most of our lamps were dead.”

    “Didn’t you put a tether line on him, so you could find him if he was trapped or stunned?”

    “Of course I did. I’ve been doing this for twenty years and don’t need some bartender telling me what to do. But the line got broken or perhaps he accidentally cut it when he was cutting away the net.”

    “Sounds more like you cut the line—as the name Cutter suggests.”

    Then Chris exploded:

    “You murderer! I’m divorcing you and having Bobby’s baby. That was an imperfect storm. It should have killed you, but it killed Bobby instead.”

    • March 19, 2018 at 8:21 pm

      Damn,Mike. Did you take a writing course the last couple of years? Great story. I still see some things I think you should work on, such as the ending, Although I do like the line ‘an imperfect storm, I think it could be reworked. Truly liked the story and I can see so much improvement. Showing not telling near as much. Dialogue was believable and a good story all around. Congrats.

      • March 19, 2018 at 9:04 pm

        Thanks Roy/Chuck. The ending was rather abrupt and not quite as I originally intended. Before I had to make cuts (no pun intended) to meet the 1200 word limit, the story was more clearly defined. Mike asked Felix why he had sent Bobby to fix the rudder instead of doing it himself. Felix explained that Bobby was a highly skilled boatswain, and he hoped he would be able to salvage the valuable net instead of cutting a huge hole in it. Also, another member of the crew told Mike later at the bar that he had seen Felix cut the tether line. However, the suspended ending might have been more effective than the one clearly exposing Felix’s guilt.

        I would welcome any suggestions you have for improving the story. Though I don’t think I’ll change this version (already 1191 words) I would certainly like to improve the version I eventually post on my blog.

    • March 20, 2018 at 12:01 am

      Dammit. I repeated the word “phone” three times in two lines. Make that: “Bugsy Camusso had not used his phone — a cheap ‘burner’ unit. And he couldn’t make calls while outside the range of the cell towers.”

    • March 20, 2018 at 8:06 am

      What a great story, at first all the different characters confused me, trying to keep them all straight. But they really came together for me. I love a good ship/fisherman story.

      The end seems a bit abrupt, the reaction from his wife seems odd, as an old sailor I’ve never heard anyone use the term “imperfect storm”. I think something like:

      The reporter turned to Chris: “What’s your reaction to the news of Bobby’s death?”

      Ignoring the reporter, Chris stared at Cutter. “You murderer! I won’t rest until you go to jail for killing the father of my unborn child!”

      ….or something like that. Just a suggestion.

      Two small nitpicks:
      #1. “Then he proceeded to have a secret love affair with Cutter’s wife” It’s not a secret if everyone (including the husband) knows about it!

      #2. “He dialed 911, told the police the situation, and asked to be connected to the Coast Guard.” He would not have spoken to the police, the dispatcher would have relayed him to the Coast Guard.

      • March 20, 2018 at 10:43 am

        Thanks for the helpful suggestions Carrie. However, only Mike new about the secret affair, and the husband merely suspected it. I tried to emphasize that with the comment that everybody in the bar assumed she was distraught because she had lost her husband. But, per your suggestion, in the next version of the story I’ll remove the word “secret”.

        I assumed the dispatcher was a police officer. But you may be right. She could have been a civilian providing a separate service.

        • March 21, 2018 at 8:20 am

          Reading it through the second time, I do see that Mike is the only one who knew about the affair!

          Also – I didn’t catch but good point Wendy made about the woman drinking while pregnant. She’s is bad all the way around!

        • March 22, 2018 at 3:30 pm

          I totally see what you’re doing by using secret. It’s an extra-marital affair. But those come in a variety of styles and models. Do you want the affair to seem tawdry? Unseemly? Or do you want the affair to have the aura of destiny about it? Instead of ‘secret affair’ – you could use ‘illicit affair’ or a synonym for that. I mean its a good place for a word that helps define the situation in some way. Andy seems most adept at that. (But we don’t have to tell him that.)
          I didn’t even notice the two items that Carrie mentioned, so I’m just commenting on her observations. It just seems so relevant, such a little thing, and so hard to do properly.

      • March 20, 2018 at 11:02 am

        I think the people of Gloucester, Mass would understand the “imperfect storm” description. The earlier “Perfect Storm” (book and movie) was a (true) tragic story based in Gloucester, when they had lost the entire crew of a schooner named the Andrea Gail.

    • March 20, 2018 at 11:06 am

      I really liked the beginning of this story, Mike. Mike Moran felt like a real person in real circumstances. I agree with what others have said about the ending, but it is hard to get everything you want to say the way you want to say it sometimes and stay within the word constraint. I do think that the part about the cell phones instead of saying that everyone but Bugsy had a phone whose battery died, you could just say that they had to wait until they got into cell tower range. That with the loss of the radio is enough to convey why they hadn’t been in touch. I do also have concerns about the amount of alcohol a pregnant woman is drinking, though it is a tough situation she’s in. But it does have a real feel to the characters and scenery and the pacing is good.

      • March 20, 2018 at 11:20 pm

        Yes, I agree with all your comments Wendy. To accommodate my improved ending, I will condense the part about a crew member being able to make a phone call. Also, I already had to cut a comment by Mike to Chris saying that she should’t drink so much if she was pregnant. I will put that back in the longer version for my personal blog.

    • March 21, 2018 at 12:54 pm

      Interesting and atmospheric story, Mike.
      I agree with Roy’s comment about a bit more show, rather than tell, in places. Conveying some of the narrator’s information through dialogue across the bar could do that with a bit more power. And you handle dialogue well, so why not?

      The line ““I really loved Bobby. I’m having a baby and he is the father. We were going to get married right after I divorce Felix.”” mixes tenses. I think keeping it all in the present tense would be consistent, and also express both Chris’ hope and her love.

  • March 20, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    I write what I know and I don’t know what seaweed smells like. Cattails, now that’s a different kettle of fish. So saying, I hope using the word “cattails” instead of “seaweed” doesn’t disqualify me. But if it does, read the rest of the story and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Additionally, I ignored the period after, “breaking of waves” and finished defining the location.

    August 10
    By Robt. Emmett
    [1100 words +/-]

    It was dark. Not pitch black, but some gray darkness that barely allowed shapes to form. All I could smell was the tang of cattails, and could hear was the breaking of waves on the sandy beach beyond. To be safe, I’d taken the long way around the lake to the creek by way of the fog-shrouded south shore. When I’d started out, half an hour ago, the lake had been like a sheet of glass, calm and quiet. It was more than I could say for myself. An occasional water bird’s trill broke the silence. Entering the cattails east of the cottages, I shut off the idling motor and coasted until the boat squished into the lake bottom. I eased over the side of the boat and six inches of muck oozed between my toes. “Jeezs, I hate walking in loon shit.”

    I waded in the knee-deep water a fifty feet before my toes found the sand, the beginning of the creek bed. Then another twenty feet in ankle deep water and I climbed the low bank to the gravel path at the bridge. Now all I need is a place to wait. I wanted to spot her before she saw me. I spotted a boulder nearly concealed from the path by some elderberry bushes on the far side of the bridge. Looking over my shoulder, I watched the fog on the south shore disappear.

    I waited some more.

    The sun was now above the trees. She’s not coming.

    What a waste of my time. As I eased my sore butt off the boulder, I heard footfalls on the bridge.

    What do I say?

    She walked by me. Two steps later I inquired, “Can we talk?”

    She slowly turned and faced me. “There is nothing to talk about.”

    “I think there is.”

    “Your opinions mean little to me.”

    “I’d like to try and change your mind if you’d let me.”

    She shrugged, “I must be getting back now.” Turning, she started back toward the bridge, walked around me, and headed back to Cottage #4.

    Without thinking, I angrily blurted, “Is the way those snooty nuns at your fancy school teach you to act? I’ve sat on this damn cold rock for an hour or more to apologize for my thoughtlessness and you are too stuck up to give me five minutes of your precious time.” I started toward my boat. I didn’t even glance at her as I walked past her on the way to my boat. Over my shoulder, I hissed, “I don’t need this.”

    Correction, I don’t need this Shit.

    “Wait,” she said. I kept walking. “You wanted five minutes of my precious time. You shall have them. Nevertheless, you will not lie to me over your shoulder. Please stop and turn around.”

    “Since you know my words are lies, you can have the five minutes back.” I kept walking.

    “They are not returnable.”

    I turned to face her. “My words aren’t lies.” In a voice calmer than I felt, “Let’s sit on this boulder.” She hesitated and then nodded. Even though the stone was not large enough for two people, we sat there without touching each other.

    By the time I was finished telling her the same story I told Mickey, our hips touched. “Well, do you believe my words or do you still think they are lies?”

    She leaned her head forward, fingered her hair behind her right ear. She slowly turned and looked me in the eye. “Are they lies?” she asked mockingly.

    I pushed myself erect, took a step away, turned, and pointed my finger at her nose, “Give me one, just one, reason why I would lie to you.”

    She straightened. Her eyes squinted and focused intently on me. “Kenny lies to get his way with girls, why not you also?”

    I grabbed her shoulders, pulled her off the boulder, and onto her feet. There was fear in her eyes, anger in mine. “You’re damn lucky. If you were a guy, you’d have a broken nose for that Kenny remark. Don’t ever put my name and his in the same sentence again.” I shook her. “You got that?” I shouldn’t have grabbed the way I did, but I sure as hell wasn’t a womanizer like Kenny.

    Her head hung down and in a small voice, she answered, “Yes.”

    “The five minutes are up.” I started down the creek bank.

    “Comparison was unfair. Please do not be angry with me. Can we start over?”

    Her request caused me to stumble and slipped into the creek. By the time I recovered and was back on the gravel path, she’d closed the distance between us.

    “Apology accepted?” she asked.

    My anger was still there. If I wasn’t careful, I’d….”

    … just shut up and say …

    “Yes, I think it would be a good idea.” I stuck out my hand, “My friends call me Chevy.”

    “My friends call me Desirée,” she replied, as she accepted my hand. “Chevy what?”

    “Just Chevy,” I said. We went and sat on the boulder again and looked at each other. I almost put my right hand on her left knee. Before it touched, her left hand was under mine and the corners of her eyes seemed to widen.


    I squeezed her hand and she squeezed back. “Is that something the nuns teach you?” I asked.

    She giggled. “Yes, as a matter of fact, they do.” We both laughed.

    We sat, oblivious to anything but each other’s presence and chatted.

    My hand drew her chin to mine. We were about to kiss.

    Kat’s sharp voice cut through the air. “You Rat-Bastard, get your filthy paws off my cousin. Get out of here, you … you worthless piece of dog crap. I don’t ever want to see your slimy face on this end of the lake again.”

    To Desirée, I whispered, “My cue to leave.” She squeezed my hand as I stood. I walked wide of Kat as I headed toward the creek and my boat.

    “Good riddance to bad rubbish,” Kat called after me. Then to her cousin, “What were you thinking, Desirée? Letting him put his mitts on you. How could you? Next thing you know you would have let Mister Skuzzy, low-life, Rat-Bastard of a creep kiss….”

    • March 21, 2018 at 9:21 am

      Hi Robt. I really enjoyed this story, the dialogue was great and the characters were relatable.
      Unfortunately the intro paragraph being different and I don’t see the “glass” requirement either – disqualifies your story from qualifying.

    • March 21, 2018 at 1:12 pm

      Robt – the replacing of seaweed by cattails makes sense if your setting is an inland lake rather than the sea (no sea, no seaweed!) Do cattails have a tang, though? We call them bulrushes over here, and I can’t recall them having any smell. The sandy beach maybe doesn’t quite work with this change either. You could have sited it all in an estuary as a compromise, perhaps 🙂

      Interesting set-up of a tale where a bit of rough meets a bit of posh, as we say over here. Like Jack and Rose in Titanic, perhaps. Would be good to get some insight into what is the cause of the offence, and why Desirée’s cousin thinks he’s a rat.

    • March 22, 2018 at 4:38 am

      I don’t know where swamp-boy gets his information, but Kenny never lies. Even when he should. Swamp-boy appears to have anger management problems. He pulled her off the boulder, he shook her, he scared her. What the hell is wrong with this guy?

      Mister ‘Walks Through Loon Shit To Abuse You’ seems to have a big problem with Kenny. He should take it out on Kenny, not Desiree.

      Come on Mister Dances With Cattails. Show-Me-What-You-Got.

      Sorry Robt. As a Kenny, I automatically side with the apparent villain in your story. It can’t be helped. Next time, make Kenny a Roy and I’ll show you more mercy. Hahaha.

  • March 20, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    “Closing Mulberry Harbour”

    Author : Bryan McNamara

    1,529 words (1,493 without the prompt!)


    It was dark. Not pitch black, but some gray darkness that barely allowed shapes to form. All I could smell was the tang of seaweed, all I could hear was the breaking of waves. Although, there was something familiar to this taste in that the fog, laden with salty memories. It seemed to drown me with wretched emotions that caused my heart to race. Especially when presented with the familiar properties of the seaside in which I stood. My knees quiver and the title of the indistinguishable scent eluded me. Over the crashing waves of guilt, I could hardly hear this other soul speaking,

    “This beach is said to be haunted.” It seemed to be a man and it didn’t seem hostile. Still, with such lack of confidence in my defenses, I gripped my cane tightly, “An old man like you should not venture too far from the hotel in this fog and it being so dark.” My heart calmed, as I quickly deduced the voice to be that of my son. He approached from the north, the direction of the waves. He wore his military jacket, issued by the Royal Navy, atop his fatigues. Over his left shoulder, through the fog and in the distance, I could see a light from our hotel 300 meters away. He appeared in the fog with a smile. I smiled back and spoke fiercely, “it is I who the demons should fear-” He interrupted, mocking me by completing my phrase in synchronicity,”-Not the contrary!”

    I turned my head to look at him, surprised at my own predictability. He looked at me contently and beautiful as ever, I must say. I saw the young boy he once was, turned to the man he grew to be before me now which caused me to smile proudly. Then, I resumed letting the rolling tide tickle my senses and memory, “Before you is Mulberry Harbour. What’s left of it, anyhow. I came back with your boy.” He gazed out at the English Channel with his hands joined behind his back, looking gentry, “Yes. Port Winston, as some like to call it. One of the many bright ideas of Briton’s fearless leader.”

    Forlornly, I looked down at the wet sandy beach noticing how cold it was. “The rubble, a totem to death itself… for most.” The notion of his death quieted my speech. I cleared my throat as my notable gravitas was amiss and my faint voice appeared weak. The perilous memories of searching for him the weeks that followed could not be suppressed and smothered me. I could feel his eyes on me, observing my remorse and heartbreak.

    “Yes, I can recall,” he agreed. It pleased me that he did so remember fighting the Germans side by side, as father and son.

    There was a stoic pause between us. “Yes, father. Life does typically end with death.” He pointed out, “Understand, father. With us and many other brave men, Operation Overlord led to even more success than anticipated because of this Mulberry Harbour. I was partaking in my duties when those fierce, unforgiving winds and waves pulled me from the earth and kept me under the English Channel. It had to be someone and I am comfortable it was me.” I observed his desperate demeanor as he urged, “You must remember, we fight for purpose. Remember what we live for. It may not bring you peace or solace but at least it will bring purpose. A man’s purpose defines his humanity. His life becomes meaningful. As does his death. It was not my intention to meet my fate and have you mourning for eternity. You must rediscover your purpose, Father.” I looked at him on edge. It was not usual to be so candid and expressive. His message sent chills all over my body.

    It was true. I spent a tremendous amount of time in mourning. And perhaps have become weaker than I should have been for my age because of it.

    As I pondered his words, I realized I had always believed his death was in vain. He did not. He kept looking out to sea then with a touch of frustration he ribbed, “You’re old! Surely, you must have realized this notion by now.” He smirked and turned his head to me and I laughed aloud. “You have the nerve of your father in you.” I concluded, “Yes, I suppose I could learn a thing or two yet, eh.”


    With the sunrise on its way, we could finally distinguish where the ocean met the cloudy horizon in the distance.


    “Whenever I am seaside, there’s always a smell that bothers me. A smell that harbours confusion and makes me weak in the knees.” I mentioned.


    “What do you do when this tribulation occurs?”


    I scoffed in disagreement, “Tribulation? It just old age, boy!” I barked, perhaps my stubbornness allowing me to forget the levity of our conversation.


    “Surely, you don’t believe that. Do you?” He asked.


    I did not. The facts and events of this very beach’s history are miserable to ponder and reflect upon. Unfathomable, horrific memories of many nations let alone my own personal hardships. I couldn’t help but wonder if the elements of those horrific memories had a hold on me.


    “Let me ask you, Father. After the night of the storms and when Mulberry Harbour proved no longer useful, did we fail the mission?” I could tell this was a riddled form of questioning but I amused him with the expected answer, “No.”


    “What did the military do after the demise of Mulberry Harbour?


    “Abandoned it and focused all their troops to support Gold Beach. And eventually the French Port”


    “Exactly right. They found a new means to support their purpose and eventually liberated the French port. A crucial decision made to executing a large objective that allowed us to apply pressure and win the war. I would believe such an outcome was worth the cost of one more Englishman, wouldn’t you? Even your own son, be it his will.”


    I shook my head as I reluctantly understood. I believe a tear began to shed from my eye. I despised his death. It seemed unfair and unjust. There, I began to realize what a fool I had become. For the sake of his beliefs, he would not have had it any other way. He placed his hand on my back, showing his compassion, as I wiped my eyes. He continued to speak, “The scent you smell… it’s blood, Father. Many people still claim to smell it on many beaches around the world, even though the war ended many years ago, the battles are eternal. I suggest to let it serve as a reminder of your purpose. My purpose especially. No more mourning,” I looked up at him out the corner of my eye, he drew my gaze and he added, “Remember Its the blood of righteousness. Without it, we stand for nothing. Forgetting that, would be a dire mistake for our children.” He relaxed his posture, “Speaking of which, thank you for bringing your grandson, Father. I gave my life here, if nothing else, for a better life for him. If it was just to see a grandson frolic about with his grandfather on these once blood-sodden beaches. It would have been for the better.” He finished his sentenced with emotion and I realized mentioned, “I am surprised he is not already gallivanting about.” I faced my son squarely for the first time since he appeared on the beach and embraced him with such love. Such a love and bond could never be surmounted or broken. I sobbed and cried “You are my life, son. Here you are, showing me the way. Saving me.” I continued to sob uncontrollably as I clutched him. As I pulled away to observe his existence once more, I cupped his cheek and told him I loved him. Once more, he pulled me close and I closed my eyes, absorbing every moment. He was content with his life of sacrifice. As I should be. The fate of the world showed promise because of it.


    A fog horn sounded from far away and we glanced to the sea once more to see a freighter. Just over the horizon, the sunrise began to break through the clouds and the darkness, I can say, had fully disappeared. I went to look back at him and he too disappeared with the clouds and darkness.


    I stood there, now alone and though I should have been confused, I knew I need not feel that way. The sacrifices of my son were as well my own. They and many the like, were for good. “Righteousness” I whispered to myself aloud. For us, such beliefs remain common place and I had forgotten for all these years. I stood propped up with a cane and to enjoy the sunrise. Just then from the hotel, I saw my grandson running in search for his Grandfather. When he reached me, we sat together watching the sunrise. With plans to frolic and play along this once bloodied beach.


    • March 20, 2018 at 11:36 pm

      Great. I love WWII memoirs. Perhaps you should have explained for the benefit of non-Brits what Mulberry Harbour was. Also, like several of the other writers, you seem to have overlooked the “glass” prompt.

      • March 21, 2018 at 11:43 am

        Yes! I do think its needs that context as well. Thanks Mike!

        • March 21, 2018 at 12:45 pm

          I knew what the Mulberrry Harbour was because my father worked for the contractor (Sir Robert McAlpine and Sons) that built the mobile walls for the artificial harbour.

    • March 21, 2018 at 10:36 am

      Bryan, I like the idea of the son’s ghost justifying his death to his father, giving meaning to his sacrifice.

      • March 21, 2018 at 11:40 am

        Thanks, Wendy! This prompt kept me busy the last few weeks and I appreciate any feedback!

    • March 21, 2018 at 11:43 am

      Voting note – “Closing Mulberry Harbour” will be allowed because the post originally had 1500 words as a requirement. I updated the post after it had published to avoid word count confusion, all posts will be 1200. As it’s my fault we’ll allow it in the voting options. 🙂

      • March 21, 2018 at 5:11 pm

        I appreciate your compassion however, I neglected to include the ‘glass’ factor in the prompt. So i think I am uneligible, sadly.

    • March 21, 2018 at 1:43 pm

      Melancholic story that well captures the angst of the grandfather – and perhaps of a generation.

      “Mulberry Harbour” is confusing to me – it seems to be presented as only one, but there were two of them, one at Omaha Beach and one at Gold Beach. And Port Winston was the Mulberry at the latter, which doesn’t quite fit with the destruction in the storm – seems like the son was with the Americans rather than the British, though you say he’s in the Royal navy…… So I can’t follow how this is presented here.
      And maybe these details do not add anything to the story, really? I think it would be more accessible if you just referred to D-Day and the beach, perhaps. It’s the mood, not the detail, that captures the reader.

      • March 22, 2018 at 8:16 am

        yes! I had gotten my facts mixed up while writing it. By the time I realized, I was too far and thought I could get away with it. But no! Andy had to go and use his past knowledge and exploit me! haha. jokes aside, thank you for insight Andy! First post for me so It goes a long way

        • March 22, 2018 at 8:32 am

          Bryan, I used to teach modern European history, before changing tack completely career-wise. I’ve a wall of history books here.
          I’m not at all an expert in military history, but there was something that didn’t feel quite right. But it’s a detail that shouldn’t detract from the essence of the story.

          BTW, my (British) aunt met her (American) husband during the preparations for D-Day. She was in logistics for the Royal Navy, coordinating ship movements, and he was an officer on the American side.

    • March 22, 2018 at 11:30 pm

      Hi Bryan,
      I like the concept. Dad meets dead son on haunted beach. Comes to terms with his sacrifice. I think it needs more editing. It’s easy to become confused. Esp. the part where the character says, ‘It pleased me that he did so remember fighting the Germans side by side, as father and son.’
      Was that intentional? That line threw me for a loop. How was that possible? What did it mean? I suppose it’s possible, come to think of it
      And: ‘We fight for purpose.’ As opposed to ‘a purpose’?
      Translation: We fight for meaning. There are assertions here and philosophical issues that deserve contemplation, but are not conveyed with enough clarity. At least not clearly enough for me. A missing word or typo can distort the writers intent.
      But there’s a lot in this story to think about.
      Personally, I think all soldiers of war die valiantly, especially the ones who are scared. Most die for a cause or ideal that they believe in. It’s not the cause they died for that’s noble, it’s their sacrifice for whatever cause it was, that makes Them noble.
      But if ever there was a just cause, it was the fight against Nazi Germany.
      My father, who is 93, landed on Omaha beach. He was not with one of the first waves though, lucky for him, and me. But he was there when they were still collecting and stacking the bodies. They used low-ranking black American soldiers for that task. Almost exclusively.
      Anyway, I think you’ve got a good story here, but it needs clarifying, and editing.

  • March 20, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    Tide and Time Waits For No Man

    It was dark. Not pitch black, but some gray darkness that barely allowed shapes to form. All I could smell was the tang of seaweed, all I could hear was the breaking of waves.

    I could barely make out the pier as the waves gently lapped at my feet. I wanted to be on the boat before my friends and was already running late. Running toward the boat, I stumbled over something in the sand and pitched forward. Wiping the sand from my face I looked back at my stumbling block.

    I could barely see the long damp hair clinging tightly to the face, the eyes closed. Girl, I wondered, although you can’t really tell anymore? I couldn’t see enough in the dim light to tell.

    A cold chill ran down my back as the famous scene from Jaws played back in my mind. You all remember the famous joke that followed. ‘What’s the only kind of shampoo you can find on the beach? – Head and Shoulders.’

    Slowly but surely the light began to soften the features of whatever I had stumbled across. My mind began to play tricks. Long hair that was wrapped tightly across the face and top of the body, covering her breasts. At first glance it appeared I had stumbled over a Mermaid. She looked just like you’d think a Mermaid should look. Top half completely and beautifully human; bottom half, all fish, scales, tail and all.

    Then, I figured out what it was. My college buddies had arranged this and I was the butt of a practical joke. What a laugh they’ll have when they get to the boat.

    I had taken a few steps toward the boat, when I heard a cough and sputtering sound. The practical joke was sitting up in the sand and gasping for air. I hesitated. I shouldn’t have, but I did. I turned and walked back toward the girl.

    I knelt down, “Are you OK?” I asked. She gasped, trying to hide her half-nakedness. She turned her head and gasped again. “What can I do? Do you want to go back in the water?” I reached out and she withdrew, a frightened look on her face.

    “Please, don’t touch me,” then, “you speak English?” Her voice was musical and lovely. It wasn’t a sound, it was a feeling.

    “Well, I guess so, since I don’t know Mermaid, or whatever it is you speak,” wondering who I was talking to: some part time actress, or paid college coed? “Who put you up to this?”

    “Just let me catch my breath. It has been many centuries since I have breathed out of the water.”

    “Yeah, centuries. Right honey. you can drop the act. It’s gone far enough. Whatever little joke you are part of is over. Now that I know you are OK, I’ll just stumble on down the beach to my boat. Before I go tell me who put you up to this. I’ll pay you double whatever they paid you if you tell me who it was.”

    Her eyes, beginning to shine as if they had a light of their own, grew big. At that moment, I was mesmerized. I was close enough to look deep into those pools of rippling azure as they drew me in. I could smell her breath, hot and sweet with a hint of seaweed. I felt lightheaded. “No one paid me.” This time the words formed in my mind.

    “Look, you’re OK, so I’ll be moving on.” Those big, beautiful blue eyes looked deep into mine, and during that moment I spent an undetermined amount of time. An endless measure of desire and lust, bordering on rapture. Perhaps eternity. A wave splashed onto my feet.

    I shook it off. “Look Goddammit, this has gone far enough,” I said. “You can’t be real – there are no such things as mermaids.”

    “As you can see, I have no legs.” She flipped her bottom half toward me. I was either looking at an honest to god mermaid, or the best actress I’ve ever seen. As she lay in the sand with the surf running over her body; she shimmered in the early morning light, the water dripping from her scales. Actress or not, I had never seen a more beautiful woman. “What is your name?”

    She trilled a sound, “You can’t pronounce it, but Lori will do. What’s yours?


    “Will,” she repeated. The way she said it made me weak in the knees. “I like that. Now I must go.” She quickly flipped into the next wave and disappeared. I stared out to sea waiting to see her again, but she was gone. I stared after her a very long time, then finally left for the boat, wondering why I felt like I did.

    On the boat, as I waited for the guys to show up, I heard a splash, thought I saw something near the boat and rushed over. ‘Jesus,’ I thought, ‘you really want to see her again.” I can’t explain it. When I looked into those beautiful bottomless eyes, I saw beauty or forever, or maybe her soul. Perhaps I saw mine. But whatever it was, I wanted to see it again and experience that feeling once more. What’s the word I’m looking for? She was enchanting.

    My friends finally showed up and the early morning drama was pushed aside. Later that afternoon, after a few IPAs, I told my friends the entire story of the beach and the girl, and told them their little joke didn’t work. Laughing, they assured me they had no part in the charade on the beach, but wished they had. They spent the rest of the afternoon kidding me.

    After sundown, as they were leaving, Randy, one of the guys checking his cell phone, said, “Hey, check this out. The found the torso of a young woman washed ashore just down the beach, possibly a shark attack.” Then, without mercy, he said, “Probably the top half of Will’s ‘Chicken of the Sea’. Their laughter stung long after they left.

    The news left me devastated; was it just a big college frat joke after all? At morning’s light I had fallen in love and by nightfall my romance was over. I know what I experienced with her was real, or was it? Was it just a cruel joke?

    This wasn’t all in my head. I couldn’t get her out of my mind and reached for the bottle trying to drown my crazy thoughts. Each glass seemed to help so I kept drinking, right straight into oblivion.

    I awoke when a large splash rocked the boat, Hearing faint music. I sat straight up, which hurt. Badly hungover, I slowly made it to the deck which was beaded with water and there, written in seaweed was, “Lori was here.” It’s not a joke! I never told them her name was Lori!

    I spend my nights on the boat now. Watching, and listening for the slightest ripple or splash. All I think about is her. She’ll be back and I’ll be here, waiting…waiting for as long as it takes.

    • March 21, 2018 at 10:43 am

      I have to say, after both your and Mike’s stories, I’m never vacationing in New England – missing sailors, floating torsos. But seriously, I enjoyed this story and I like that the mc kept thinking it was a joke being played on him even after he was enchanted by her. I like that her name is Lori, I imagine it is short for Lorelei the siren.

      • March 21, 2018 at 12:24 pm

        You imagine correctly, and I left that strictly up to the reader. For some people without knowledge of the Loreli, Lori works. For those with a reasonably well read palette and know the story of the Loreli, I wanted them to think exactly as you did.

    • March 21, 2018 at 1:55 pm

      Enchanting vignette, Roy. I remember translating a passage from Die Lorelei back in German class, something about he combing her golden hair as she enchanted sailors to their doom. Your narrator is doomed to unrequited love – for a mermaid, or a torso. Like the mystery.

      There’s a bit of a problem with repetition at the start. I know you’re writing in 1st person, but there are 9 ‘I’s in the first 9 sentences. I … I …. I …
      And 3 ‘barely’s in the first 3 paragraphs – thought we might be in for a Teddy Bears’ Picnic in the dunes 🙂

      • March 21, 2018 at 4:45 pm

        My beta reader pointed out the I problem and I thought it had been reasonably corrected. Guess not. Good catch. I barely had time to finish, so cut me some slack on the Teddy problem being barely there. Another good catch.

    • March 22, 2018 at 4:26 am


      Nice story. Imaginative, great writing, nice pace. Nice little twist when the MC realizes he never mentioned her name.

      I have one minor criticism and one suggestion. The criticism is purely technical. In the middle of the story, the dialogue lacks contractions in a couple of sentences. ‘Whatever little joke you are part of… Now that I know that you are OK…’
      Then further down there’s a ‘What is your name?’

      My only other issue was the woman’s torso. It’s a bit macabre—for this story. Wouldn’t finding the lower half of a very large fish be less gruesome and work just as well?
      It’s just a thought.

      • March 22, 2018 at 5:53 am

        Good comments Ken, and in thinking back, I wanted to leave it something real in his mind. The bottom of large fish wouldn’t have impacted him. He would have hope.

        But a woman’s torso – that really destroys his fantasy. Remember these are his asshole college buddies and I want the reader to decide if they were joking or actually did have nothing to do with it. Remember, the buddy told him it was a report, but he didn’t prove it. In his drunken state he imagined the very worst, and that’s where I was going. He thought she was gone forever, then she pops back up, and he won’t miss another chance to “look into those bottomless eyes, once again.” if it presents itself.

  • March 20, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    Beautiful story Roy/Chuck. Couldn’t spot any mistakes. Love the name Lori. Apart from sounding like a British truck, it is the name of a waitress at Cafe Nine in New Haven, who is the world’s sexiest grandmother.

    • March 21, 2018 at 8:40 am

      Thanks, Mike. BTW it’s good to see you back here. Keep it up.

  • March 21, 2018 at 8:18 am

    Challenged by Carrie Zylka
    (953 words)
    Copyright © 2018 Carrie Zylka. All rights reserved

    It was dark. Not pitch black, but some gray darkness that barely allowed shapes to form. All he could smell was the tang of seaweed, all he could hear was the breaking of waves.

    The wind picked up and the clouds broke, revealing a moon full and swollen, tugging at the tides as it danced across the sky. Jerrod lifted the glass in salute as the pale light sparked against the waves. “To you moon, may you ever shine bright.” He said softly and swallowed the rest of the scotch.

    The liquid flowed down through him, leaving a warmth in its wake. He was slightly drunk already, but he was determined to get absolutely annihilated by the end of the night.

    By morning he would be free. Free of his cloying, needy, malicious mother. And he would have everything. Everything he ever wanted. Money, power, women. All of it would be his for the taking once she was out of the way.

    He rested his hand on the rail of his yacht. The water softly lapped at the side but the ship was moored securely and did not move. It was late and quiet and he reveled in the light cast upon the water by the moon.

    It was warm for this time of year and he tugged at his collar, loosening it. He thought about the young girls he’d had delivered to his stateroom. He was eager to enjoy them. It would be a fitting end to this night of matricide and treachery. He’d given up much to make this happen. He recalled the shadow that’d cornered him in a dark alley a fortnight ago. The dark man? Creature? He didn’t know what. All he knew was it had whispered of great riches and power and desires, promising him everything he’d ever wanted in return for a single signature. The man had offered to do away with his spiteful mother, allowing him to inherit the merchant’s wine business. Their family business was extremely lucrative. But his mother was a shrewd business woman, and she was not overly indulgent of her wayward party boy son.

    As he thought back to that fateful meeting, a sound behind him caused him to turn. A thud, like a sack of flour had been thrown and hit the wooden deck.

    The glass slipped from Jerrod’s fingers as he took a step back. Before him stood a creature he’d never thought to see.

    A tall figure wearing soft white clothing, silvery brilliance emanating from its form. Massive wing bones stretched from just below the figures’ shoulders. Thousands of layered feathers, white as the newly fallen snow swept downward to cover the great arching wing structure. The creature wore close fitting pants, the hilts of knives peeked out from cleverly hidden pockets. He wore a sleeveless top that left sculpted and well-muscled arms bare. Dark gray eyes, holding holy fury and wrath stared at Jerrod.

    For a moment neither moved. Jerrod was stunned, he could feel the raw power emanating from the angel, and knew he was in great peril.

    “You, Jerrod Balho of Khôr ‘Angar, have been judged and been found wanting.” The Great Angel Strážca spoke, his voice washing over Jerrod with finality.

    “Oh I don’t think so…” A deep smoky voice spoke from the shadows. “This one belongs to me.”

    From the darkness the same creature stepped. Jerrod blanched as he now saw this figure too had wings. Only these wings were blood red, the ends dipped in black.

    “Korbin.” Strážca spat, as if the name was acid in his mouth.

    “He’s bound to me and I’ll not allow harm.” Korbin moved to stand in front of the human.

    Strážca let his hand rest lightly on the hilt of one of his knives. “Do you challenge me? Do you seek to prevent the Judgement of this mortal?” His eyes narrowed dangerously, the promise of violence danced across his body.

    Korbin held up a fist. “I do. I know the old tenets and I formally challenge you.”

    Strážca hissed, clenching his teeth together in disgust. “Fine, we will bring this before the Retributioner. Be on Vellira three days hence. And I would caution any actions before then.” With a great flurry of feathers, the Angel flew off into the night sky.

    Jerrod pushed back from the railing, he was still in awe of the creature but alcohol made him brave. “What the hell was that all about?”

    Before he realized what was happening, Korbin had him by the throat and had lifted him into the air. “You stupid puny mortal.” The Dark Angel hissed. “You’re causing me a great deal of trouble. To prevent your untimely death, I had to challenge him for the right to end you myself. Now I have to go to their world and argue my case. Meanwhile, my hands are tied and our deal is stalled.”

    Jerrod beat his fists around his throat, desperate for air.

    Korbin snarled and tossed him to the floor.

    Jerrod coughed, gasping for air. Finally he was able to speak. “What does that mean? Challenge him for the right? Right to what?? Kill me??”

    The Dark Angel stood staring out at the nothingness of the sea, his black eyes drinking in the darkness. He barely acknowledged the question. “Yes. It is your contract. You forfeited your life in tens years’ time to me. In exchange for the death of your mother and your family’s business. That you stupid fool is what you agreed to. But now I’ll have to fight for the right.”

    And suddenly he was gone, melting back into the shadows, leaving a very confused, very worried man lying on the floor of his yacht.

    • March 21, 2018 at 8:53 am

      Interesting story. Leaves me wanting a little more, and I have to admit, I’m not much into the ‘Dark Angel’ thing anymore. It’s one of the reasons my children’s books are stalled. It’s heading toward a Dark Lord sort of thing. However, you kept my attention and the only thing I would point out is the protagonist seems unaware of his predicament. I mean, doesn’t he know who these people are? After all, he signed the contract and apparently was told the terms. All that aside, your writing is very good except for a few minor typos: wire instead of were; this figure to (instead of too) had wings. Love the detail and you say a lot with a minimum of words. Something I need to work on. Good job, Carrie.

      • March 21, 2018 at 12:04 pm

        Like Wendy stated, and Mike pointed out the question too – spoiled rich bratty kids get more than they deserve and rarely feel it’s fair. I firmly believe that. So many entitled people out there in my opinion.

        As far as him not understanding, I feel like those who’ve never had to truly work for what they have, are always looking for the easy way out, always looking for the “get rich quick” scheme and rarely read the fine print.

        I have a lot of extra words, I think I should perhaps explain that a little more. Something along the lines of the Dark Angel wowing him with what he’ll get out of the deal and barely explaining the consequences. Like those radio commercials where the fine print is read super fast and no one can understand Ha!

    • March 21, 2018 at 10:51 am

      I too want more to this story. I would love to read about the confrontation between the two angels, so I hope you extend it! The description of the dark angel was great and I loved your intro to the story – very descriptive and it really painted a scene. Obviously, I lean toward fantasy stories, but I liked where this one is headed. As for the comment about the mother not being stingy, I think coming from crazy rich family probably skews your definition of ‘stingy.’

    • March 21, 2018 at 2:24 pm

      Intriguing story, vividly told, Carrie.

      BTW I strongly agree with your comments about entitlement v hard work!

    • March 22, 2018 at 5:43 pm

      Your writing is robust and sweeping, yet economical. (Like a Harley.) What’s cool about this story is that the main character is now conflicted. Does the White Angel’s ‘Judgment’ mean death? Is he rooting for the Dark Angel now? Perhaps helping him? (Is he like an egg on a peaked roof?) And what a battle this is going to be. That’s why this continues, because the battle between vanilla and chocolate is going to be epic!

      It’s not surprising that readers would confuse your character with the devil. Lots of similar mythos. ‘Dark Angel’, ‘promising everything…in return for a single signature.’

      One short passage looked poorly expressed and frankly, I found it confusing.
      “You stupid puny mortal.” The Dark Angel hissed. “You’re causing me a great deal of trouble. To prevent your untimely death, I had to challenge for the right to end you myself.”

      That doesn’t match the rest of your writing.

      “You puny little mortal,”
      “You ignorant jackal,” the dark one hissed. “Your existence just made mine more difficult. To prevent your premature death, I must challenge for the right to terminate you on my terms.”
      Something like that.
      You should rework that passage in any case. It’s a pivotal point in the plot. Seems to me.

  • March 21, 2018 at 9:37 am

    A very well written piece of fantasy fiction, Carrie. Though, of course, you can write your own rules in that genre, I thought there was only one Dark Angel, not a whole tribe of them. Also, if the guy’s mother was so stingy, why did he already have a luxury yacht while she was still alive.

    A couple of nitpicking comments: A typo, “wire” instead of “were”. Also, I was taught that “judgement” should be spelt “judgment” (with only one “e”), though I think it has now become optional in American English.

    • March 21, 2018 at 11:35 am

      Good catch on the typo.

      This is actually a short story out of my current manuscript. Which is a science fiction/fantasy hybrid where angels are dying out (long story – God is on vacation) so they are using science to hybridization process to make new “angels” using the feather of an archangel and humans.

      “Dark Angels” are the purists who joined the bad guys. I see your point though, I don’t want people to think he’s the Devil because he’s not, but I could see where people would see that as a confusing point.

      Hmmmmmm…. might have to add a bit on the re-write for the podcast.

  • March 21, 2018 at 10:13 am


    “It was dark. Not pitch black, but some gray darkness that barely allowed shapes to form. All she could smell was the tang of seaweed, all she could hear was the breaking of waves.”

    Eloise lowered the manuscript and looked Alex in the eye. A quizzical arch of an eyebrow. “You wrote this?”

    “I did.”

    “Have to say, it’s not your usual style. I mean, it’s a little bit like ‘It was a dark and stormy night’, but I can see a) your first sentence is short – not your usual two-page spaghetti of sub-clauses, and b) there’s not a single word of more than two syllables. Are you ill, Alex? Or have you taken a writing course?”

    Alex chuckled. “No, in a moment of weakness I read your ‘Writing by numbers’ blog. You know, the one by the literary agent who can teach but can’t do…”

    “Yeah, yeah. Heard it all before. But this,” said Eloise flicking through the thick bundle of paper on her lap, “is almost good. Just needs some tweaking here and there. Like bring the first murder forward by about thirty pages, give the detective some inner demons – and this could be a winner. It’s dark, has a bit of a retro feel. I like it. But raunch up the sex – this is 2018, so no need to be so coy.”

    Alex topped up the wine in their glasses. “To our number one bestseller!” he toasted.

    “Indeed.” They clinked glasses. “Now – tell me why you wrote the bugger on a typewriter. Is your laptop broken?”

    “Do you like him?” asked Alex, gesturing over to the antique Underwood typewriter on his desk.

    Eloise stood to take a closer look. “He’s a fine beast indeed. But – why?”

    “Well – let’s stroll down to the harbour. I’ll buy you the finest fish and chips in Britain and tell you all about it.”
    They sat outside the fish bar, looking across Anstruther harbour. The small fishing boats bobbed gently on the water. A gentle late May breeze blew strands of hair across Eloise’s face. She pulled them back with one finger and tucked them behind her ear.

    “You weren’t kidding about the fish and chips!” she enthused. She licked the grease from her fingers. “And now I get it, why you came here. The harbour, the smell of the sea, the seagulls calling. You wanted to get away from all distractions, soak up the local vibe and focus on your writing.”

    “Exactly,” said Alex. “And that kind of explains the typewriter too. I saw it in charity shop – ”

    “When you were buying your clothes?” teased Eloise.

    “ – and it just appealed to me. I’ve found, when I’m not connected to the Internet I can just write. No distractions. The words just tumble out. Been a struggle to find the right typewriter ribbon, though. And I’ve singlehandedly revived the Tippex industry!”

    “The what industry? Oh, OK. Must be an age difference thing …!”

    “So, you really think you can sell it?”

    “Yep. I’ve already got my list of publishers to pitch it to.”

    * * * * * *
    The phone rang.

    “Eloise? God, it’s good to hear from you. I was so worried when Max told me about your accident. Are you OK?”

    “I’ll live. But they say it was touch-and-go for a while. I don’t know what happened, the car just seemed to spin out of control, and the next thing I’m here, in hospital.”

    “But you’re recovering?”

    “Broken leg. Cracked ribs. Some big bruises. And months of physio ahead, they say.”

    “Thank God you’re still with us. But you sound quite – downcast. Must be such a shock.”

    “Alex,” said Eloise, then paused for several moments. “That’s not the only thing. I’ve got some bad news about your manuscript, and it’s going to make this a difficult conversation.”

    “That’s not important now,” interjected Alex. “If no publisher is biting on it, it can wait. The main thing is you take your time recovering.”

    “It’s not that. Max had a call from Diane Bromley. You know, of Bromley Publishing. She’s accusing you of plagiarism. Said she had almost exactly the same manuscript in her possession. Pretty much the only changes are the ones I made.”

    “What? That’s not possible!”

    “Let me tell you the story. She says it was written by her uncle, Daniel Bromley, back in the 1970s. It was even published. Then he was accused of plagiarism. Some angry guy called him out at the book launch at Foyles, waving the exact same story in manuscript. Said it had been written by his father, and rejected by several publishers. He had the letters to prove it too. So all copies of Daniel’s book were pulped. Daniel drowned a few months later. Some people say he took his own life out of shame, but no one knows.”

    “This is crazy, Els,” said Alex. “I know I wrote that story. I typed every word, without looking at anything else remotely like it. I was here, in Anstruther, disconnected and just writing! There’s no way I plagiarised anything! How could I, if it was never available? But – tell me about the original author, that angry guy’s dad.”

    “Well, his name was Joseph Crabtree. Apparently he wrote the first draft in 1938, then went off to war. Fought in Burma, and was captured by the Japanese. He survived, but came back a changed man. Obsessed with finishing his book and getting it published. So, some of the dark detail in the book may come from his own experience.”

    “Yes, I see.”

    “He ended his life in an asylum, lost in his story and ranting about his treatment by publishers. Alex, tell me honestly, did you write this? I need to know, because I’m spooked out by all this. I’m not superstitious, but with my accident, then hearing about what happened to other people involved with this story … Anyway, there’s no way we can push ahead with any of this.”
    * * * * *

    Alex jumped from his seat to hug Eloise as she made her way on crutches through the bookshelves.

    “Foyles have done us proud, don’t you think?” he said. “I’m so glad you trusted me on this.”

    “I’m still worried, Alex. I’ve been worried about you every moment. Every time the phone rang, I expected bad news about you.”

    “But here we are. I’ve done my research, checked with the families of all the people involved. Diane’s over there, and those are grandchildren of Joseph Crabtree. And this is the book.”

    He gestured to a table where there were several piles of the book ready for signing. Next to the table was a large banner proclaiming: “It Ends at the Harbour, by Joe Crabtree, Daniel Bromley, Alex McNeil and TW Underwood. A collaboration across time.”

    “Hm, the marketing guys are loving this,” said Eloise, taking a glass of champagne from a silver tray.

    Alex nodded to a round table where the typewriter stood between photos of the authors and a glass of champagne. “How about we do a selfie with the writer who links us all together, TW – for Type Writer – Underwood? OK, smile!”

    • March 21, 2018 at 10:18 am

      That’s 1197 words, I meant to add.

      Anstruther is a charming fishing village in the East Neuk of FIfe, in Scotland, btw, between the other charming villages of Pittenweem and Crail. All quite near St Andrews. I recommend a visit next time you’re in the area!

    • March 21, 2018 at 10:56 am

      I thought about starting my story this way (in another incarnation of it), but it took it a completely different direction than I would have. I love the twists in this and the creepy typewriter and then the fun ending. Great work Andy!

      • March 21, 2018 at 5:33 pm

        Thanks, Wendy!
        My original plan was to have Alex find the typewriter in his neighbour’s attic – you know, the one he helped clear and could keep one item. If I’d realised we could have had 300 more words, would have done that and added one more twist 🙂

    • March 21, 2018 at 12:33 pm

      Well damn, Andy. Interesting story, a good twist and, (whether or not it’s even possible to that easily get the squabbling relatives and so on of each to agree to such a proposal) I decided to suspend belief. Couldn’t find too much wrong to really grumble about so I’m going with an ‘A’ here for Andy, Alex and Anstruther, (as you can see, I like names). Good job.

      • March 21, 2018 at 5:36 pm

        Thanks, Roy. Yes, this story was brought to you by the letter A.

        Suspending disbelief for a story about a possessed typewriter? Surely not!

        • March 21, 2018 at 6:52 pm

          Here are some pictures of Anstruther, including the award-winning fish and chip shop!
          Mmm, must go there again soon!
 (hope the link works!)

          • March 21, 2018 at 9:04 pm

            Oh Hell no, no problem with the possessed typewriter. What I had a problem with was the four different authors and/or heirs actually publishing the book equally and getting together. That’s why I suspended belief.

          • March 21, 2018 at 9:05 pm

            Possessed typewriters, haunted chairs, those are good things. Good luck

          • March 22, 2018 at 4:28 am

            @Roy: “What I had a problem with was the four different authors and/or heirs actually publishing the book equally and getting together. That’s why I suspended belief.”

            Not a problem. Alex is a good diplomat, and the families are keen to see longstanding issues resolved. And there is some money in it. Whether a) more of the royalties to the estate of the original and major author, or b) royalties to a mental health charity of everyone’s choice, or c) a mix of these.
            And these days, people will do anything for their moment in the spotlight
            Plus Alex gets to live, that’s his bonus

            Easy, huh? 🙂

          • March 22, 2018 at 5:55 am

            While it was more tongue in cheek, I do realize what you were doing and did, in fact, like that it had a good ending and was tied up rather neatly.

    • March 22, 2018 at 2:29 am


      Well, I’m very sorry to have to say this, but I loved this story. I was hoping for a dud from you this week, but no. Not Andy. You had to pick this week to put on a writing clinic. Thanks pal. There goes my shot at coming in third, you, you selfish,,,,,English,,,,,person.

      Your humor is so natural. The dialogue is awesome. Amazing job of keeping the reader informed as to who is speaking without ‘he said’ and ‘she said.’ Very clever idea for a plot. You have a really fluid style that makes whatever you write easy to read. (Have I told you lately that I hate you?)

      If there’s anything I could fault, ironically, it would be the last couple of lines. It seems like you forced the ending to fit into a dialogue that doesn’t work that well. You could end it with exposition. You could leave it the way it is, too. You’re a better writer than me. Hell, the story will probably get more votes than mine, so I wouldn’t exactly rush to adopt my suggestions.

      (Don’t worry though, whatever you do, I’ll still hate you. You can count on that, at least.)

      • March 22, 2018 at 4:16 am

        Many thanks, Ken. For the compliments, and the fulsome hate 🙂

        Yes, as I went along I found I wanted to centre everything around the interaction between Alex and Eloise. And try to portray a change in character in Eloise who is very lively and bubbly at first, then downbeat and anxious … Originally the middle part was going to involve other characters – instead Eloise refers to them. Hope that works.

        And yes, the ending could have been different. Like the obedient chap I am, I really believed the word limit was 1200. Had I observed the flexible 1500 (which I only saw afterwards when i read through the stories and comments) – I could have put more into the resolution of the plagiarism issue and smoothed the ending a bit. (On the other hand, the editing down process no doubt sharpens up a story overall, and that’s what flash fiction is all about.)
        I think there’s too much information in the one sentence at the end, which is maybe why it seems a little false to you?

        • March 22, 2018 at 5:14 am

          It’s not the “How about we do a selfie with the writer who links us all together,(?) Or the ‘OK, smile!’ It’s the ‘TW – for Type Writer – Underwood?’
          If it just went, “How about a selfie with the writer who links us all together? Mr. Underwood. OK, smile.’
          It’s the TW for Type Writer. By this point in the story, it’s clear that the typewriter is, if not the main character, the star, the raison d’etre. So the final line need not be so obvious. I mean, it’s delivered like a punch line and maybe you wanted it that way. But it would be more agreeable to me if it was the tidy end of a story.

  • March 21, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    Ok peeps.
    It’ll be a bit before I get the voting page up so if anyone has a last minute story or wants to post a re-write now is the time!

    • March 21, 2018 at 1:09 pm

      A disappointing turnout this time. Was hoping to see great stories from Alice, Ken, Phil, Maude, and others–especially after Alice said she loved the prompt. To ensure that we have more than five stories on which to vote, perhaps you should waive the requirement for the “glass” prompt. It wasn’t mentioned in the introductory email, and I wasn’t aware of it until Roy asked about it.

  • March 21, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    The glass element was a part of the original prompt. I have it with my original notes that also included the 1500 word count that was there originally.

    • March 21, 2018 at 1:54 pm

      Yes, it’s always been part of the requirements.
      The only thing that changed was the word count for consistency across all the contests.

  • March 21, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    First Mate.
    By Ken Cartisano ©2018 (1200.)

    September 5, 1883. Near Krakatoa.

    (“It was dark. Not pitch black, but some gray darkness that barely allowed shapes to form. All I could smell was the tang of seaweed, all I could hear was the breaking of waves.”)

    And the ringing of the ship’s bell. I sat up quickly, pulled on my pants and vaulted up the ladder onto the main deck.

    Luke Sutter, my solitary crewman was waiting for me. He usually slept on the bow, unless it was raining, when he would sleep in a small forward cubby hole.
    “What is it?” I asked, irritably.
    “That sound, Skipper.”

    A low but pervasive rumbling could be heard in the direction of the sea. And the last thing you want to hear in a harbor is the sound of waves. The lack of wind ruled out any kind of storm and, considering our location, I told him to free the mooring lines.

    The harbor was dark, a light chop had gear on every boat clanging with a sense of indefinable urgency. But other than a few gas lanterns on one or two boats, nothing moved.

    “Now, mister.”

    Luke was a young lad I’d hired on Sebesi. A runaway from a brutal father at the age of 12, he stowed himself on a steamer in Portsmouth three years ago. He said the conditions were worse than slavery and swore he’d never serve another shipmaster as long as he lived. I promised to treat him fairly.


    He was a good kid, raised around boats, and a hard worker. “Yes, now, you lubber head. Clear the lines, we’re getting underway.”

    He jumped to the dock and began releasing the lines, tossing them skillfully into the boat.

    With some coaxing, the engine sputtered to life as Luke leaped back on board and ran to the bow.

    I put the engine in gear as he was casting off the last line. We cleared the slip and headed for the channel to the sea.

    I looked back. Only one other boat was moving. A long, sleek, white paddle-steamer. I knew her skipper, and savored the satisfaction of knowing that I’d been even quicker to get underway than that old piece of salt-water crab bait. Thanks to Luke.

    As we exited the mouth of the harbor the sea was frothing, white with foam, and smoldering like a cauldron. I felt like a frog, aboard a large frying pan, sailing over a sea of hot oil.

    Luke calmly coiled the lines. He was less fearful and more curious than I. We watched the heavens erupt with lightning bolts. The masts glowed a phosphorescent green as small rocks and ash began to rain from the sky. Without looking my way, he said, “Where to?”

    “Deep water,” I told him. “The deeper the better.” I knew these waters well. “Due west,” I said, giving him the tiller. On a small trawler like mine, a good crewman is worth his weight in silver. But steering a course at night, in these conditions, would make even the hardiest sailor flinch. Luke took the tiller without hesitation.

    We held that course for hours.

    Without warning we experienced a jolt. An ominous portent that left us both feeling uneasy. I took the tiller and sent Luke below to fetch my spyglass. A false dawn lit up the sky to the south. Ten seconds later, the sound hit us, a noise so loud it was painful. I couldn’t hear anything.

    We stood there, me and Luke, deaf and mute, transfixed by the orange glow. Mysterious flashes illuminated billowing purple clouds while the sea danced as if possessed. Meanwhile, the boat motored in a wide lazy circle while we slowly regained our senses.

    I gave Luke the tiller again and went below to calculate our position on the chart. When I returned to the helm, I ordered him to come about, and lay a heading toward the thing we’d been fleeing.

    The look on his face at that moment formed an unbreakable bond between us. Though fifty miles distant, we were facing the maelstrom, heading right for it, a volcanic glowing and flickering cloud of molten death and devastation. We were buffeted by booms and blasts. Showered with mud and ash. But he trusted me.

    I was grateful for that trust. I’ve no interest in boys or men, and my unmarried celibacy is a condition of my employment, nothing more. Luke’s handsome features affected me not, but there was something about his manner, his grace and courage that stirred something in my chest. If I felt anything else, I denied it.

    Luke surrendered the tiller, grabbed a shovel and started clearing the decks. In time we each took turns going below, coughing, gasping and refastening our makeshift masks to protect our lungs from the onslaught.

    It was into this inexplicable sense of calm desperation, that a distant and incessant thunder gradually gained our attention. We both stopped what we were doing. “What the devil is that?” I said.

    The realization dawned on us simultaneously, I swung the boat directly toward the sound, while Luke darted for the bow.

    Peering through the spyglass, I confirmed my worst fear. It was a massive wave, bigger than anything I’d ever heard of, bigger than I thought possible. It was on us in less than a minute. All I had time to do was shout, “Tether yourself, Luke.”

    We rose rapidly, as if powered by a supernatural force, the ship tilting upward till her bowsprit was pointing at Orion’s belt. As God is my witness, I was standing on the aft bulkhead, the deck, inches from my nose. Unsecured items slid and fell around me. A two-stone grappling hook nearly stove in my skull.

    The crest of the towering wave threatened to topple us over backwards. But it was moving so quickly, the old boat, and all her fittings, was launched over the top like a breaching whale, then slammed back into the water like a hammer. The force and speed of the wave had become our salvation.

    I was left lying on the deck in a daze. After some time of drifting in the darkness, hearing no sounds of leakage, cracking or sloshing, I dared to hope that my boat was intact.

    My relief was short-lived, as I soon realized I was alone. I called out Luke’s name, and then listened, over and over, until my voice gave out. I searched the boat then, and found him in the forward bunk, bruised, bleeding and unconscious, but alive.

    We drifted for days afterward, I made repairs, stowed our scattered gear, took what readings the soot-filled sky would allow, and nursed young Luke back to health. With no broken bones or serious puncture wounds, his condition steadily improved. Until one day, he was sitting up while I fetched him some soup. I set the bowl on a table, and sat on the edge of the bunk. “Tell me now, Luke. What’s your real name?”

    Luke’s face turned florid, knowing what I knew. She stuck her chin out defiantly and said, “Lucille Sutter, sir. You can call me Lucy.”

    Before she could object, I kissed her full on the mouth.

    • March 21, 2018 at 1:55 pm

      Ken, this story is amazing. It truly had me on the edge of my seat – so much excitement! I didn’t see the twist at the end coming either.

    • March 21, 2018 at 3:01 pm

      Excellent writing, Ken!
      And great double-meaning in the title, ‘First Mate’, too

      One thing – he’s alone on a boat in a position of power over a 15 year-old girl.
      Do we interpret this romantically? There’s no sign of reciprocity, so should we read it as #metoo east of Java 1883?

      • March 22, 2018 at 1:20 am

        Thanks for the feedback and the compliments.

        To address your reservations, the short answer is, yes, Luke should have been older. I forgot to adjust the age when I changed that character’s gender, and the ending could, and should have been more gallant or refined. But I was in a hurry. So I settled for a plausible ending without considering all of its ramifications. (I hope I haven’t injured your delicate sensibilities.)

        So I’ve already raised the character’s age, and will give that ending much more thought. I like to think I can come up with something more definite. (Or less definite.)

        As for the ‘position of power over a 15 year-old girl.’ That sounds politically correct. Maritime history is rich and complex.
        This is 1883, and fictional. A time, in fact, when a skipper’s word was law. They could have you flogged. Not Luke, you, Andy. Didn’t matter what the crew or passenger’s age or sex was. It was all about getting everyone and everything to their proper destinations with as little loss of life or property as possible. Captains had reputations. It was a lot of responsibility and power: The abuse of which was widespread, but not universal.

        Ever read the book, ‘Two Years Before The Mast’? It’s a doozey. The hardship and conditions those old sailors endured is mind boggling. And the book, (you probably know this) was written to discourage young men from stupidly signing up for these long-range voyages.

        I like your story by the way, (and am presently going to carve it up like a Christmas turkey.) Just kidding you buddy. It’s clean and neat. With your signature smooth eloquent glibness. (Kind of like the opposite of what I just wrote.)

        • March 22, 2018 at 3:57 am

          Just to be clear – I think your story is great, and so I reciprocate the hate! (as in your comment on my story 🙂 )

          The #metoo thing is an observation, not a criticism. Many a worse thing happens at sea, as they say. Men, women, livestock – if you have an itch, scratch it. Say thanks (or pay) later. Or not.

          But I threw it in as a 21st century feminist, as of course I am. We all are now.
          Guy feels a stirring in his trousers around a teenage boy. Relieved he’s not gay, he moves on him/her when she’s powerless in her sick bed. Which is why she dresses as a boy, to avoid being ill-used at sea. How old is the guy, anyway?
          Or – care and respect has grown between them over the years together, and love blossoms.
          The story operates on two levels – and that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s somewhere between the two, mixed motives and emotions. Like Woody Allen … :-0

          Haven’t read Two Years Before the Mast. But read a lot of Joseph Conrad, mostly set around that time, and often at sea. One of my favourite authors for a while. And have you read Amitav Ghosh, Sea of Poppies? Set in 19th century Indian Ocean – lots of dialect and ships pidgin English – different take on seafaring in the imperial era by bringing Asians centre-stage. (Not the easiest of reads due to use of dialect, but atmospheric …)

          • March 22, 2018 at 4:00 am

            BTW, Ken, I’m wearing a black dress as I write that comment!
            (An image you may want to retain or discard …)
            For solidarity, of course …

          • March 22, 2018 at 5:39 am

            Hey Andy,
            I didn’t mean to sound defensive. And I know I did. An early draft of my comment had the line, ‘I know you’re joking, but…’ After much consideration, I wasn’t sure you were, and deleted the phrase. And there was merit to your observation. Not so much that I’d written the ending wrong, as much as not realizing the implied assumptions and implications of the character’s actions at the end. (I just assumed that Captains are irresistible.) I was fortunately vague about many things in the story (accidentally.) Luke’s current age, the age of the captain, the size of the boat, the location of the harbor. What kind of engine they had.
            But your point is valid and useful, and the last line is worth agonizing over. It’s kind of like a rheostat, with the ability to modify the essence of the story that precedes it. No?
            I had a hell of a time keeping this under 1200 words. I saw both instructions. The 1500 in the email, and the 1200 on the site. Naturally went with the instructions on the site. Never saw the go ahead to go over 1200. Ran out of time anyway. So I guess it wouldn’t have mattered.

            I appreciate your feeble attempts at hatred. Very sweet. Like the little black dress you ain’t wearing.

          • March 22, 2018 at 6:41 am

            @Ken “Hey Andy,
            I didn’t mean to sound…”

            Nah, I don’t think you did. I might have been joking. I’m always joking and always serious. Sometimes I don’t know.

            I think the ending is, actually, authentic for the time.
            My question, if I remember correctly, is about how we read this. Back to text as dialogue between the writer and reader. A reader from an earlier era, or viewpoint, might take this one way, as a romantic moment. And someone caught up in the current moment, or in the child protection services, might take it another way.

            But if you are writing about an earlier time, you have to be in the spirit of that time, I think, even though writing for a modern audience. There’s a necessary tension.

    • March 21, 2018 at 3:26 pm

      Wow, a beautiful and exciting story with a really unexpected twist at the end. I was hoping we’d see one of your stories, and you just made it in a photo finish. This one gets my vote. Hope Carrie dosen’t disqualify you because of that “glass” prompt thing that had many people confused.

      • March 22, 2018 at 1:26 am

        Thanks Mike,
        High praise.
        I hope Carrie doesn’t disqualify me for anything!
        Except maybe four hours of listening to her favorite music. No, two hours. (Yeah, I read your shirt, Carrie.)

  • March 21, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    Allllrighty folks!

    TIME IS UP!!

    The voting link is: You got 24 hours to vote!

    Remember for your story to count, you must vote, you can only vote once and you cannot vote for yourself.

    Good luck!!

    • March 21, 2018 at 3:40 pm

      It says we can’t start voting until Thursday, which is tomorrow (March 22). Tell me that’s a mistake and we can start voting now.

      • March 21, 2018 at 4:54 pm

        Yes, Mike, vote now. I’m not sure if you misread it, but voting is OVER on Thursday. So hit the link Carrie sent and vote for all the stories, make sure you vote for all categories for your story to count.

        • March 22, 2018 at 1:18 am

          It actually says Voting starts Thursday morning at 9:00am PDT / 12:00pm EST / 10:30pm IST / 5:00pm WET/GMT/ 4:00am AEDT (Friday) and ends the same time on Wednesday / 4:00am AEDT (Friday).

          • March 22, 2018 at 5:47 am

            Look again at the top of this page. I copied it here for you.

            Voting starts Wednesday morning at 9:00am PDT / 12:00pm EST / 10:30pm IST / 5:00pm WET/GMT/ 4:00am AEDT (Thursday) and ends the same time on Thursday / 4:00am AEDT (Friday).

            You may vote only once.
            You cannot vote for yourself.

          • March 22, 2018 at 7:21 am

            Mike’s talking about the voting page, I can’t believe in 2+ years no one has caught that! Either Alice or I must’ve grabbed the verbiage from a very old post when we started the site and never caught it going forward.

            I’m assuming because everyone reads the regular post and no one has read the voting page verbiage!

            Thanks Mike, I corrected it.

          • March 22, 2018 at 7:27 am

            My bad. So, it goes all the way back to the beginning? Wow. Sorry Mike, I was correcting something that you were seeing differently from a different source. I knew you couldn’t have made it up, but looked and looked and thought you were transposing or something. Mea Culpa.

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