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Spring Contest (Prose) - Water

 
 
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  #1  
Old 02-01-2013, 11:41 PM
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Default Spring Contest (Prose) - Water


Another season, another theme, and for Spring the theme is ‘Water’. Make what you will of the fluid medium, good luck to all.

Entries:

Members are allowed one entry in the Prose contest. (You are welcome to enter our poetry contest as well.) Prose entries should be submitted as posts to this thread. The competition is open to all members of Writer’s Beat, including staff.

Members are requested to refrain from commenting on entries in this posting thread. Please use the Winter Contest Comments thread instead. That thread will remain open throughout the posting period and afterwards, and members are encouraged to let entrants know what they thought of their entries.

Word Limits:

Prose: 2000 Words

Edits:

Once an entry has been submitted, it cannot be altered. Any work that is edited after it has been entered will be disqualified. If you feel you need to make a small alteration (a misplaced comma, a spelling error), contact a member of staff. If we feel your request is reasonable, we will make the correction on your behalf.

Close Date:

22nd March 2013, 12 midnight GMT

Judging:

Winners will be selected by means of a public vote, so you, the members of Writer’s Beat, will choose the winners.

After the closing date, a voting thread will be posted. Voting will commence on the 23rd of March and close on the 30th of March 2013, 12 midnight GMT.

* * *

Recognition:

The winning entries will be considered for publication in Writer's Beat Quarterly, subject to the approval of the editors. To increase your chances of getting published (whether you win or not), make sure your document is as error-free as possible!
Also, the member (or tying members) with the most votes will get to suggest the next contest theme!

* * *

If you have any questions about the contest, contact a staff member and we will happily answer them for you. Now sharpen your pencils, fill up your inkwells and get writing. Good Luck!

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  #2  
Old 02-04-2013, 01:15 PM
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Default Water Contest Entry

FLOOD

I watched the river in flood from my front porch. Normally you would want a river view out the rear of the house, so you could impress a girl or potential buyer. But the way the road and bluff was lid out, it had to be out the front.


My name is Burtis Magee. Ever since grade school they’ve called me Bird. I never liked it that much, but the more I corrected them, the more they did it. It was my first lesson the in contrariness of humans. You tell them not to do something, and they will blow to pieces in they can’t do it. So I gave up and just answer to Bird.


I’m not a small boned man, but my facial bones have a certain structural delicateness, so maybe Bird is a tribute to that rather than a corruption of my name.


I’m thirty-three now. I’ve lived here above the Platte River all my life, with short forays out to go to college and the Navy. My folks owned the house and when they died I just stayed on.



The nearest town is Milton, fifteen miles away. It is named for a pioneer, they claim. But I always question things like that that do not have good provenance. You can claim anything. It could have just as easily been named for a drifter, an ax murder that came through, chopped some people, and moved on to the lush serial killer pastures of Idaho.


This is one of the few places along the Platte where you can watch the river in flood without being washed away. It has always been joked about this river that it’s a mile wide and an inch deep but that is an exaggeration. It is hardly ever just an inch deep, and to claim it is a mile wide, you have to include the many strips of sandy land between the braided streams. An accurate description would be a half to two feet deep and an aggregate mile wide, with perhaps one third of that mile given to water and the rest to land. But that doesn’t have the snap of the original saying.


The reason I can watch the river from here is that the house is on one of the few pieces of high ground. Most of Nebraska is as flat as a barroom pool table, sloping gently up to the Front Range and down to the Missouri River on the East.


That’s why no towns are built along the river. When it rains damn near anywhere, and when the snow melts in the spring, it floods and for a few days or weeks it is as impressive as any river you would want. It was flooding now, and I watched trees from Colorado or somewhere go tumbling by.


I told Hack Jackson one time that I expected to see a Woolly Mammoth go by but he didn’t say anything. He has a very limited knowledge of extinct fauna and after thinking for a time, he said, “What’s a Wool Mammoth?”


I know that if you have to explain a joke it loses all it’s funny. But he would not let it go. What would have passed as an urbane and scientific quip in academic circles clanked on the ground here like a horseshoe.


“It’s an elephant from the Ice Age. Maybe frozen into a glacier.”


“No, there ain’t any glaciers up there to wash one out of. Maybe you saw a buffalo from one of those rich guys ranches.”


The reason I thought of him is I saw his mail truck coming along the road. I am the only house along this bluff, and he makes a loop out of the county post office to bring my mail every afternoon.


I try to spend a little time every day with him. He does not get much human contact, and his unawareness of sarcasm and subtlety makes most people that know him avoid him by ducking back in their house when he delivers the mail or zipping into a side door when they see him coming toward them on the street.


I have seen a nun duck into a titty bar because that was the closest establishment to get away from him. I would have liked to be inside when she saw where she was and the patrons noted her presence. They must have thought the wrath of god was coming. But I was too far away to get there and running would be undignified.


He pulled up and got out slow. He is past seventy and has some hip trouble. He came up the steps with a small sheaf of mail. “Ahoy, Bird, Damn good flood this year.”


Hack knew I went in the Navy. Some book he had read years ago on sailing said sailors used salty language like ‘Ahoy’, so he liberally spiced his conversations with me with mariner’s terms. He would holler, ‘Ready About’, when he got up to leave.


“I haven’t seen any buffaloes.”


“Shit, Bird, they take care of those things too much to let one wash away. They are worth a ton of money. They make burgers and stuff out of them. My daughter in Omaha had a buffalo steak. Said it sucked, no fat.”


“Some people like that low fat. Healthy.”


“Prepare to Jibe! I like taste. Why did you leave the Navy and come back here?”


“My enlistment was up. I signed on for four years and when it was over, I left.”


“Did you have problems with your superior officers? Was that why?”


“No, my four years was up and I left.”


“I’ve never liked authority either. Me and you are alike on that. I would have probably busted one of them and been locked up if it had been me.”


“I didn’t have any problem with authority. I left because my hitch was over.”


“You were smart of get out before you killed one of them. You know they put you in Leavenworth and shoot you.”


I changed tacks. “Hack, do you have the paper there?”


He looked through my mail. “Yeah, here it is. All the Potter County news that fits. Looks like you got some ads and shit. And a letter from back East.”


He handed me the paper and started making surges like he was getting ready to stand up.


“Hack, you want some coffee or tea or whisky?”


“How about some coffee with whisky in it. Damp out today.”


The rain was pouring down it sheets, so he was correct. It was damp. I went in and brought him a mug that was half whisky. He liked to drink.


“I got to run, those folks downstream of you will be wanting their mail.”


“Come back when you can stay longer.”


“Ready About!” he shouted and walked out into the rain.


When he was halfway to his truck, he turned and came back. He was cleverly holding his hand over the mug.


“Don’t worry about wanting to kill that officer. You can’t help the way you are. Stay dry. Hard Alee!”


I watched him drive away and turned back to the water. He was a strange old man.
  #3  
Old 02-08-2013, 08:50 AM
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Default

Day four on Mars.
I’m headed to Oxia Palus, if you’re interested. I know the coordinates by heart, of course. 1.200023802— I won’t go on, but you get the point. It’s what I do - follow coordinates, dig a little, bag some rubble and move on. Why? One word: water.
For some reason, it’s really bugging them, whether or not there's water on this planet. And get this: they live on a planet that’s two thirds water! Not enough, apparently. No, let’s send Curiosity to Mars, it’ll only cost $2.5bn. Maybe they’ll luck out and I’ll discover an ice sculpture*— a frosty column of interstellar hieroglyphs.
My tires are already ruined. But don’t worry about me, I’ll just keep trundling across the most merciless terrain this side of Andromeda. Hey is that wa— no, it’s just another rock. Better file it anyway. I could do with an acronym to save me time: JAR (just another rock). My report would read: JARJARJARJARJARJARJARJARJARJAR. And so on. It would be hilarious.
Hang on a second, someone’s changing the coordinates. Turn left, then tu— arggh, got my wheels wet.
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  #4  
Old 02-13-2013, 09:00 AM
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Default Repent . . . .

The old willow, its silver fingers stretching over and into the calm water of the lake, hid her from view. She was there; he could smell the sweet vanilla perfume she always wore, and hear the shuffling of her feet as she traced back and forth between the edge of the lake and the group of trees that lined its east side.

The slow, constant rain, seeped into the collar of his coat, flattened his hair, crept down his unshaven cheeks. Damn rain – how much longer should he wait? His brain raced, snapshots of her smiling, teasing, the softness of her easing itself into his arms, the taste . . . he couldn’t, wouldn’t let sweet memories dissuade him.

She emerged from behind the ancient trees, clutching at her flimsy summer dress, her hair sodden, lying heavy on her shoulders. She looked lost, stick-thin in the silk printed dress he’d seen so many times before – he’d felt the silk soft between his fingers as he’d unzipped and lifted it over her head, as he’d tossed it aside before he’d caressed her silken skin.

Now . . . now . . . .

His feet flew over the soaked grass. He reached the old oak, hung against its huge trunk as he listened. He guessed she was still sheltering, could see the willow stems swaying, could hear the crackle of broken leaves as she moved back and forth. His mouth dried, his chest filled with the steady pumping of his heart. He pounced.

He felt the silken skin, the slender throat, looked into her eyes so familiar but now filled with terror as they searched his face. Her hands clawed at his face. The knife, heavy in his hand, moved up, sunk deep, drew blood, a crimson splatter that caught his face,

Silent, with his eyes bright in the darkness, he held back the threatening ache, the old recognisable feeling that snaked his body - too late . . . .
  #5  
Old 02-14-2013, 04:53 PM
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Default Who Will Win?

Fire and Water, a constant battle between the elements.
Who will win?
Water putting out a fire, a fire drying out that soaked pair of gloves you laid on your stove, the water that is necessary to your very survival, the fire that keeps you from freezing to death...
Who will win?
Is it even a battle? Or is it, perhaps, like to brothers mock-fighting in the living room? Like two wild mustang colts, trying out their tactics before they make a go at taking over a herd of gorgeous mares? Is it, maybe, not a battle, but two best friends who josh each other for the fun of it?
Perhaps it is not like two brothers, but two gods: zealous to overpower the other, they will fight and destroy whatever it takes. A forest fire killing trees and woodland animals, a flash flood destroying everything in its path. A rainstorm that washes out bridges, an erupting volcano that could level entire cities.
But maybe these ‘gods’ aren’t vengeful. Maybe they are helpful, and we humans will only look at the bad sides of things. A forest fire clears out the undergrowth, allowing new trees to grow. A flash flood or a rainstorm that mixes up soil, allowing crops to grow better. The ashes from a volcano is some of the most fertile earth known to man.
However, these might also be wrong. Perhaps these warring elements are like a balance, a scale: without water fire would be desolate; without fire water would be bleak and wasteful.
Or maybe, just maybe, these elements are locked in eternal battle, a fundamental battle. Because without this battle, life as we know it would cease to exist.
Who will win?
  #6  
Old 02-27-2013, 04:59 AM
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Default Under The Bridge, By Elyzabeth

Under the Bridge



Luigi and June had been married for two years now; but it was hard for them to find a place to stay, them being homeless and all.

They were kind of “snow birds” people who travel from one place to another, to get into the best place to live for the season. Rich people did it all the time, summers in New York City, and winters in Florida or on the Costa del Sol. Amy and Joe spent the summers in Oregon, or Washington, and the winters in Tucson Arizona as did many other homeless people.

Luigi was very tall and ungainly looking guy, like the parts of him didn’t quite fit together properly. He also had a scraggly beard and was a little bit short of a full deck in the brain department, but that didn’t matter, to his wife, because he loved her madly, and was totally devoted to her. He was also extremely jealous, which caused many fights between them, but he had a more serious problem that even June didn’t know about. Luigi was a killer.

Even though Luigi thought that June was a radiantly beautiful Goddess that every man wished to ravish, the reality is that she had acne on her face, stringy hair and dull brown eyes which did not make her out to be the Goddess he thought she was.

When Luigi and June arrived in Tucson, they knew just what to do to get their welfare checks food, bedding and medical coverage which was especially important for June, as she had epilepsy

Her seizures were pretty well controlled now, but once every few weeks , she would have an “episode “ and it scared the hell out of Luigi, it always looked like she was dying, and he felt so frightened and helpless that he sometimes cried when it happened.

A they had tried a few times to find a place to live in Tucson, but most of the homeless places were either for men or women, and they didn’t want to be separated and the few places for families gave priority to couples with children, so Luigi and June had to rough it, as usual.

It was always exciting to arrive in Tucson. it was such a pretty place , flowers everywhere, purple mountains and the most exquisitely beautiful azure blues skies in the world, usually.

Arizona has many months of total and complete dryness, with temperatures getting up to 114 in the shade, but people being people, they just get used to it, and everyone learns the first rule of Tucson quickly, find the shade.

Tucson also has that most rare and unexpected event in the United States, Tucson, has Monsoons.

When homeless people arrive, they mostly all know each other, so it’s was like a big homecoming every August.
On their first night, Luigi and June joined a few people on the outskirts of town at a campsite had been set up by Oklahoma Sam and Charlie Boy, who both had kind of anonymous looking homeless faces, grubby, lost, and often drunk.

Dean Kant was there as well, he was a strange one, he had lived in the desert, all by himself for 25 years, and just recently, due to a mandatory meeting with a social worker, been told that he was depressed. Interesting thing was that since he was always by himself, he figured that everyone felt the same as he did. He would now become eligible for a small single apartment in the near future as well as anti-depressants. A new day had dawned for this reclusive dessert dweller, and he was going to grab it with both hands.

Luigi did not like Dean one bit, he could see by the way he was looking at June that he wanted her, and it made Luigi very angry..

***

On the second day, Luigi and June found the perfect place to set up housekeeping. Under the bridge of a dry “wash “that was within walking distance to town.
They went to charity shops to start getting the things they would need to live in their new “home.”
They were even able to get one place to deliver a bed, table, chair and bench for them to under the bridge, by slipping the driver some money, and by lying to the manager about where the stuff was going to be delivered to.

Life was going to be good to them now. June decided they would call their new home: “Ranchero Rainbow”. She collected bedding, and even curtains which she hung over the side of the small bridge. They had two lanterns and a cooker that worked with a can of lit sterno.

She was also collecting a nice assortment of pretty dresses, jeans and blouses, as their begging business was going pretty well these days, what with both of them out begging at different locations in the city.

June was begging at her usual place, in front of the Library when Dean Kant came up to her and said hello.
Even though he was a kind of plain looking fellow, with a large Adams apple, she found something about him attractive. All of those years in the desert alone made him very mysterious because she could never imagine anyone she had ever known being able to do such a thing

Seven blocks away Luigi had taken a break from his begging, and was sitting in the park absent mindedly whittling at some wood … It looked like it was going to be a man, a man with a large Adams apple.

When Charlie Boy passed by Dean and June, he waved to them, they waved back.

Charlie loved a good drama and was drunk, so when he saw Luigi sitting in the park he walked over and told him that Dean was with June at the library, and that he had seen them kiss.

Luigi almost turned purple, but he did not move, he just started to whittle again as Charlie Boy went off in search of something else to drink.

***

When it started to rain, many people came out of their homes all across Tucson to hold their arms up in a greeting the rain and to let the rain soak them. It was a Tucson ritual that probably went back to the very first people who ever lived there, once again they been saved from the unrelenting desert sun, and everything would bloom again.

Luigi ran to the Library to get June who was inside the door, the moment she saw Luigi, she cried out to him:
“Our things… all of our things Luigi we need to save our things “

Before he could say a word,she started to run in the direction of their home, he followed , both running fast, big fat puddles starting, cars going by splashing them, they ran for blocks , stopped for a few seconds to catch their breath then running, running again…. she could see the curtains now.

There was a small brook, rapidly rising...she ran to get the box of dresses …

..the water was like a steel clamp on her ankle it pulled her into the water, Luigi ran up and tried to grab her hand, but the water was pulling her away quickly, he tried to grab her and fell forward he was grabbed into the water as well.. as her head bobbed up and down in the water,

screaming. people saw her and started yelling for help, there was nothing to stop June from being carried away with the rapids.
. Luigi was was , yelling, desperately trying to grab anything ,but there was nothing to grab… they went faster and faster, June could see a fire truck, but there was no way they could reach her now, the water was too wide and fast she went on head bobbing in and out of the water, hyper-speed ,she was crying feeling a seizure coming on….Luigi found some roots to hold on to ..barely.. rapids were strong, he prayed to God to Mary Mother of God .. hail Mary mother… Of God….shit shit SHIT HELP ME!!!!

June saw another fire engine, police cars, heard a cranking noise a whirling noise and looked up a helicopter, god a helicopter… someone was coming down from the helicopter …
as June was going faster, the helicopter tried to get ahead of her into position to grab her, as a man was hanging from the rope
..reaching out ...
he got her hand, it slipped out.
and the helicopter went to get ahead of her again the crowds on the bank were cheering them on,


this time he grabbed her hand and used the other hand to get her elbow…
it was difficult, but he managed to get a harness around her, she was being winched up...

The crowd started shouting, and hugging each other…
Everybody was screaming with relief that they had been saved

Luigi was still holding onto the roots which were becoming smaller and smaller, when they got him up into the chopper as well.

***

Televisions everywhere showed videos of their rescue

“The miraculous rescue of a women and a man who were swept away in the monsoon rapids of Tucson…
they were carried and pounded by the raging waters for well over two miles and lived to tell about it, what an incredible story”

People everywhere were discussing how sad it was that a young couple had to live under a bridge like some animals, public opinion was running high.

Old Pueblo Family Services, offered Luigi and June an apartment of their own.

The front page of the local Newspaper showed a photograph of them holding a house key together with big smiles on their faces. They were happy to have finally found a real home to call their own and she was going to name it Ranchero Rainbow.

***

Funny thing about Dean Kant though, nobody saw hide nor hair of him again, ever.

Last edited by Tau; 02-27-2013 at 09:28 PM..
  #7  
Old 03-05-2013, 01:28 PM
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Default Trouble with my water... A noxious tale

No! I don't live on a flood plain. No! I don't live near a river, I emphatically told the insurance man at the other end of the phone. I was one of the lucky ones who had no fear of water falling from the sky, and this was reflected in a reasonable annual home insurance premium.

But when I received the formal documents there was one little question I needed to rethink. Is there ever any flooding outside your property?

` I phoned back the insurance man and asked him what was meant by 'flooding'. At first he stammered. Then he was silent - flummoxed – lost for words. My hand went straight to my mouth to stifle a giggle. It was only polite to conceal my immense glee and mirth at so easily unhinging the insurance industry. He asked me to hang on. I sat waiting, thinking back.

Living in glorious Lakeland, with a steep hillside behind my home, I was used to rainwater speeding down my sloping path towards my back door. It had always disappeared around a strategically placed soak-away. For more than fifteen years there had been no problem, no worrying build up of water and no flooding. But things changed recently.

It was one of those cloudbursts I normally ignored. But this time it was different. When I looked outside, a big puddle was swishing about in the narrow well behind my back door. I watched with horror as the level got higher, creeping up the wall, almost over the doorstep and into my kitchen. There was the usual wavy stream rushing down my path but this time the water was trapped. When I looked carefully, I could see why. The soak-away was unable to absorb the torrent; but what made it worse this time was a gap in the fence had been blocked. This opening, right over the soak-away, served as a bolt-hole for water that could not be absorbed into the ground.

I couldn't believe it. There was a strategically placed breeze block, impeding the flow of water from my patio to my neighbour's yard, where it normally flowed harmlessly away to a main drain. The pool of water, now resembling a minor tributary, was stuck, and it was heading for my kitchen!

I hurried to my neighbours to ask them to remove the breeze block. I explained the seriousness of the situation: that water was almost over my doorstep. My kitchen was about to flood. If they removed the breeze block the danger would be over.

There was no hesitation. Faced with such a dire situation the off-comers, with their own set of skewed values, refused point blank. They explained how their tiny foreign-looking long-haired dog would get wet and muddy if they allowed the water through to their garden. I explained the choice. Either the dog gets muddy paws or my kitchen floods. There was no competition. So much for good neighbours! Were these really the same people who declared, only weeks earlier, how important it was for us country folk to look after one other? I implored them to come and look for themselves but they really didn't feel like stepping outside in such bad weather.

I called the fire service, hoping they could pump away the water, but careful to explain it was not a matter of life or death. When an officer arrived, he kicked away the breeze block in disgust and the water dissipated. My neighbours came out into their yard, shouting their legal rights. They had checked with a solicitor. They had a legal right to let my kitchen flood. Fancy that!

So, there I was, hanging on the telephone, waiting for the insurance man to come back with a considered definition of the term 'flooding'.`

'A build up of water,' he said. I sighed. I would have to confess that, yes, there could be a build up of water on my property on cloudburst days; and whether my kitchen flooded would now entirely upon the lifespan of a tiny, shaggy dog. He said he had written notes on my form but, to my relief, there was no additional premium to pay.
As I put the phone down I wondered how many flood victims in Great Britain owed their miserable plight to the hygiene of a tiny four-legged creature; or perhaps to a neighbour with 'legal rights.' I wondered about the morality of muddy paws taking precedence over flooded kitchens and, finally, I wondered whether it was time to look in the estate agent's for a less watery abode.
  #8  
Old 03-08-2013, 12:03 PM
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Default Sea dragons

It was just after midnight. A full moon now illuminated the restless Mediterranean. Down inside the Argo, half the crew pumped water while the other half rowed. They could not surface because the water was coming in as fast as they were pumping it out. There was no talk. Only the huffing of the oarsmen. The groaning of the oars. And the squeaking of the bilge levers. There wasn’t a man aboard who wasn’t drenched in sweat. Especially Leonardo.

Had the men known what an astronaut was, they would have assumed Leonardo was one. He was dressed in his diving suit. He stood there stiffly as Luca cinched his belts and tightened the breathing hose coming out the top of his head. Luca secured a canvas tool bag onto Leonardo’s shoulder. Peering through his helmet portal, Leonardo could tell Luca was worried. Leonardo was going outside the ship to repair the leak.

Luca held a thumbs up. Leonardo nodded. Doing so, he could feel the weight of the headpiece. And the restriction caused by the breathing hose. He took a step. The suit was cumbersome, but he’d expected as much. It wasn’t designed for walking on solid ground. It was meant for movement underwater.

Leonardo descended through a hatchway in the rowing deck taking with him thirty feet of breathing hose connected to a hand-powered air pump. Once he and the hose were below the rowing deck, Luca handed him three wooden boards. Then the hatch had to be sealed. Leonardo was on his own.

He moved in pitch blackness on his hands and knees. He felt for the hull hatch. It was positioned in such a way that, when the bilge chamber was filled, it could be opened without letting more water into the ship. He jerked it open. He could see the dim glow of moonlit water underneath the ship. And a few curious fish slipping by. He listened to his own strained breathing. Pulling air into his lungs. Pushing it back out. Praying he was getting at least some fresh air, and not simply inhaling and exhaling the same dead atmosphere he knew would eventually kill him.

Leonardo floated past the port holes. He could see the men crowded around the little windows watching him in astonishment. Using his one free hand, he pulled himself along the length of the hull and found the damage. Had the Corsair cannonball punctured the hull completely, the hole would have been the size of his fist. But it only fractured the wood. Enough to cause the leak. Which, given enough time, would eventually sink the Argo.

Leonardo held two of the wooden boards between his knees. He placed the third over the breach. He took a nail from his tool bag. He pulled out a hammer. He accidentally dropped the nail into the sea. Several small fish chased it to oblivion. He found another. With great difficulty, he managed to secure the first board. Then the second. And third. It was a crude patch job, to be sure. And certainly not water tight. But he knew once the ship resurfaced, and the bilge room emptied, the men could finish sealing the damaged area with pitch.

He’d done what he could for now. He returned the hammer to his tool bag, and began to pull himself back to the hull hatch. A great dark shadow swam past the corner of his eye. He whipped his head around. It was gone. A whale? But it moved so fast! A shiver shot through his body as if he’d been struck by lightning. As if Satan himself had come to pay him a visit. No, couldn’t be the devil. Demons don’t like water. This phantom was home here. It soared past him again. It was massive. And swift. Leonardo felt himself shaking now. Nothing in his life had ever frightened him so. His fingers fumbled across the hull. He couldn’t get a hold of the moist wood. He pulled himself along his breathing hose.

Then it hit the ship. Like an asteroid smashing the planet. The Argo jolted so badly, Leonardo was certain it would shatter into pieces. What is it?

He’d heard of the drago di mare or sea dragon. Sailors spoke of them in hushed tones in the back rooms of taverns. But few had ever actually seen one. Though their myths abounded, the monsters usually struck a ship with such savage violence, the unfortunate vessel quickly sank in a maelstrom of foam, sailors’ blood, and bubbles. The only vessels that had seen, yet escaped their assaults were those that had witnessed the demise of a sister ship. And that from a great distance.

Could this be a dreaded drago di mare? BAROOM! It struck again. Right next to Leonardo. The impact rocketed his body twenty feet away from the ship allowing him to get a look at the creature. Heaven help us. So it is.

The dragon was as long as the Argo. Besides its titanic head, it was more like a serpent than a dragon, he thought. It had no limbs. Only a gargantuan, eel-shaped body. He caught a glimpse of its numerous teeth—each one curved and pointed as a Berber’s cutlass. Its scales were impenetrable armor plates. CARUNNGGE! It rammed the Argo’s hull again. Full force with the crown of its skull. Leonardo was whipped about by his breathing hose. He caught another fleeting glimpse—this time of the crew members inside the ship. They were looking out the underwater portholes, terror on their faces.

Next thing he knew, he was staring into the beast’s gaping mouth. It came right at him, ready to swallow him in a single bite. Leonardo twisted his body with all his might, barely dodging those huge, gnashing teeth. The dragon’s wake flung him in a loop. He was sure the breathing hose would tear away from the ship. But it held. Somehow it held. For now.

Leonardo’s world became surreal. It was some kind of nightmare. The strength and ferocity of the monster was simply too unnatural. The assault went on. The dragon seemed to have lost its mind. It battered the Argo, over and over. It tore chunks of wood from the hull and bulwarks. It came at him again, not caring what it devoured. Its need to destroy seemed insatiable. And for what reason besides madness? How could mere mortals defend against this horror? Leonardo had so carefully planned the ship’s defenses. But he hadn’t prepared for this. There’d been so many other details to consider.

He had to do something.

Inside the Argo, the men were in a panic. They felt helpless as Leonardo. They screamed and prayed. The thunderous jolts knocked them off their feet again and again. Luca tried to get them to keep their heads, but it was hopeless. There wasn’t a man on board who hadn’t heard the legends of sea dragons. Not a man aboard knew of a sailor who had ever survived their wrath. They figured they were done for. Even the giant, Anton. Scared as a toddler.

Leonardo knew if he didn’t take action soon, all would be lost. He and his crew would simply never been seen again. And not a soul in the world would ever know their fate. The dragon came at him. He twisted and curled like a worm on a hook. A tooth, the size of his arm, caught his thigh. Ripped his diving suit. And left a gash in his flesh. He didn’t feel any pain. But he saw his own blood ripple in the water around him. No time to worry about a little blood. He swam for the Argo. He could see splinters of wood breaking away from the hull where the behemoth had struck. He kicked his feet. So hard to move in this suit.

He reached for a long, pointy sliver. He pulled it with both hands, but it held fast. The creature bellowed. An ugly, bubbly roar. Leonardo twisted his head. It was rocketing straight toward him again. He yanked on the sliver. It wouldn’t break free. The beast roared. Leonardo could already feel its huge fangs plunging into his back. He imagined himself being swallowed into the dragon’s gullet. Sliding down and down into its glutinous bowels. And ending up in a swamp of acid that would slowly turn him into nothing more than stinking muck.

He conjured a strength from deep inside. The splinter came free. He twisted around. Just in time to spear the serpent in its upper lip. It made a squeal so loud, Leonardo thought his head would burst. Had he only made it angrier?
It recoiled. And retreated back into the deep.

How Leonardo made it back into the ship, he didn’t know. He must have been in an altered state of consciousness. The next thing he knew, Luca was pulling the helmet off his head. He gasped for air, and saw the men gathered around him. Huddling in the candlelight.

“Are we still submerged?” he asked.
“Yes. You’re bleeding!” Luca examined his leg.
“I’m fine. I’m fine. Help me out of this thing.” Luca and a few other men unstrapped Leonardo from the diving suit. He was still shaking. He wasn’t sure if it was from the cold. Or from the terror that still gripped his soul. He figured it was a combination of both. At any rate, he felt humbled. And grateful he was still alive.
“What’s the damage? Any more leaks?”
“Somehow we’re still intact. As far as I can tell anyway.” Luca looked at Anton for confirmation. The big Frenchman nodded, his face still wrought with apprehension.

Little did Leonardo know that Caterina, disguised as Gito Formadello, was watching him from the corner of her eye. Feeling as much terror as he was. And as much relief. She saw the blood running down his thigh, and the terrible, gaping wound. She found a man’s shirt hanging from a hook. And hurried to him.

“Sire. You need to stop the blood.” She dropped to her knee. Kept her head down while she quickly wrapped the wound.
“Thank you, boy,” said Leonardo. She scurried away, back into the shadows before he could say more to her.
“Luca,” said Leonardo. “Do we know our location?”
“I would estimate we are roughly twenty nautical miles from the port of Genoa.”
“Anton, we must head there with haste. We’ll repair the ship. And re-supply with food and water.”
“Oui, captain.”

But the words were no sooner out of his mouth when the Argo shook again. As if butted by ten bull elephants. The men were thrown off their feet. They crashed into the walls, and fell into the vomitous water that sloshed around the floor.

Leonardo lunged toward a port hole. He looked out into the murk. What he saw, coming toward them in the dim moonlit waters, caused his heart to drop. Not only had the dragon returned, but it was accompanied by its mate.
At once, Leonardo knew there was only one way out of this.

“Surface! To the surface! Hurry!”
Thunder rumbled the hull. The men were shaken yet again. Leonardo regained his equilibrium. He lurched toward a bilge pump and went at it with everything he had.
“Help him pump,” shouted Luca.

Men jumped on the other two pumps. Up and down they moved with adrenaline-fueled desperation. BAROOM! KABLAM! CARRUNNCH! The monsters were relentless.

The assaults came from both sides of the ship now. The men were thrown from one side of the hull to the other. The candles fell, extinguished, leaving the hold in total darkness.
  #9  
Old 03-17-2013, 01:55 AM
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Water Baby


“Why are we doing this?”

Natasha looks aghast at April before replying, “What do you mean? We love this.”

“Nat there’s a big difference taking a pedalo out on a calm lake and this.” She stops pedalling briefly. “Look at my hair!”

Nat rolls her eyes, trust her little sister to ruin the tranquillity of the turquoise sea. April's long blonde hair should have been pulled back, but thinking it made her face look fat she fought the suggestion. Any sensible person would have plaited their hair like Nat had but April still concerned herself with other people’s opinion. Nat cared about her appearance too but she put practically ahead of fashion.

“Enjoy the sun, breathe in the fresh sea air.” Nat demonstrates, turning her face up to the sun and closing her eyes as she breathes in deeply through her nostrils. “It's intoxicating and we are getting our cardio done.” Giving her sister a serious look, Nat says, “Stop moaning ok?”

April huffs, “No I won't!”

“Surfers to our left, swimmers to our right and we look amazing! What else could we ask for?”

Flinging her arms in the air, Nat's butterfly ring gets caught in April’s flyaway hair, leaving her hand trapped. Apologising as she tries gently to untangle herself, April continues to moans. Giving up on the gentle approach they decide to try force. One hard yank from both sides later and they’re tumbling into the sea. Nat surfaces laughing and splashes April with her freed hand.

“Lighten up sis, we're on holiday,” Nat says, as April clambers back up on the pedalo looking pissed. “Guys like a girl who can laugh at herself.”

“Sorry but I don't like having foul tastes in my mouth!” April states, furrowing her brow like a sulky teenager, which she is.

“That's not true, you love semen,” Nat replies curtly.

April pushes Nat back off the pedalo as she screams, “Bitch!”

“April, shh,” Nat says, seeing a surfer paddling over.

“That was quite a tumble, are you alright?”

“Yes thanks.” Nat removes soaked tendrils of light blonde hair off her face and looks gratefully at the sandy haired American in his wetsuit. “Nice board.”

“You surf?” he asks, as she leans forward to stroke the well-worn surfboard, and flash some cleavage.

“I can, not many waves in London though.”

“Perhaps you can catch some while you're here.”

“Maybe tomorrow,” she says, smiling up into his aquamarine eyes.

“I'm not coming to the beach tomorrow. I'll have to put a treatment on my hair as it is,” April states displeased.

Nat sees him stare between them looking deterred. “Fine April you can lounge by the pool all by yourself,” she says, not looking at her.

“You staying at The Rosette? I'll be at the bar at nine if you want to discuss hiring a board.”

“Okay.” She pats his thigh gently, looking beyond him. “Off you go, catch those waves.” He looks back, smiles and waves as he paddles further into the sea. Nat smiles smugly as she boards the now turned around pedalo. “And that's how you score a guy on the first day of your hols.”

Returning the pedalo and collecting their beach bags April stomps off towards the showers, Nat follows desperate to make amends. Matters are not helped by the guys they pass wolf whistling at Nat, not April. Younger and prettier, April has the looks but Nat possesses the confidence that men love. The foulness of April’s mood only approves when a tanned man approaches her at the showers.

“Tiene el pelo dorado muy hermoso señorita.”

Nat didn't think it was April's hair that had attracted the gentleman, more the heaving bosom on display as April arches her back washing her hair. Recognising the look in her sibling's eyes and gormless expression, Nat quickly steps up and places a protective arm around her. The man looks about five years older than herself, way too old to be showing an interest in April.

“Gracias señor, pero mi hermana no está disponible.”

“Bien mi disculpa.”

Shaking her sister's hold off, April gives Nat a murderous look as the gentleman turns to leave. “Excuse me, what did she say?”

“Oh, English. I should have guessed, a rose such as yourself. She thanked me for compliment and said you were unavailable.”

“She is mistaken.” April takes him by the arm and steers him away from Nat. “You must forgive her, she's overbearing at times.”

“She only protecting you, I understand.”

A million unpleasant images float into Nat’s mind, without thinking she steps forward and pulls April back. “April what do you think you're doing? You're leaving me?”

Roughly, April breaks Nat’s hold and pushes her back a step. “You don't need a nursemaid and neither do I. I'm eighteen not eight. Besides you want to spend tomorrow with your surfer, abandoning me.”

Nat stares agape as she watches April link arms with the señor and then walk towards the boardwalk. Never had April spoken so coldly towards her sister before. Gobsmacked it takes Nat a minute to realise she needs her phone. Rummaging in her turquoise beach bag, she locates it and speed dials April. It goes straight to voicemail.

“I'm going to text every thirty minutes and if you don't reply I'll get the police involved. Understood?”

Feeling marginally better, Nat settles down by the showers to read and sunbathe in between texting April who replies each time saying she's fine. Lying on her flat belly reading a horror Nat almost misses her surfer as he uses the showers. Deciding chapter ten is a suitable place to stop, she begins topping up her sun cream. Soon a shadow casts over her and an American throat is cleared. She turns and looks up at him, trying not to squint too much.

“You're reddening on your shoulders.”

Nodding slowly she maintains eye contact as she picks up the bottle of sun cream and offers it to him. “Do you mind?”

“Not at all.” He's on his knees behind her applying the cream before she has a chance to turn back around.

“I bet you do this a lot.”

“Perhaps, but I don't usually take this much care,” he says by her ear.

Nat chuckles. “Do girls usually fall for that?”

“More than you'd like to believe, April's sister.”

“Very funny,” she says, taking the bottle from him. “Natasha or Nat, your choice.”

“Erik,” he says grabbing her hand lightly and shaking it. “Look Natasha, I have to run but I really hope to see you at the bar tonight.”

“Okay and if you're lucky.” She opens her book before smiling sweetly up at him. “Bye.”

She knows he’s going to be lucky, which means she has less than an hour before she has to leave the beach. She speed reads and reaches chapter thirteen before packing up and abandoning the beach and sea for The Rosette. Upon returning to her room Nat discovers that April has returned to change her clothes sometime before herself. Food, bath, outfit selection, make-up and tracking her sister down takes roughly three hours before she leaves her room with a bounce in her step. April has continued replying to her texts and informed her that Ben and herself would be at the bar around the same time as Erik and Nat.

A glass of water in hand leant casually against the bar wearing a thin white dress, her hair curled and falling to her shoulders, Nat waits for Erik to find her. He emits a low whistle as he approaches. She knows she looks good with her blue and turquoise accessorises that complement the similar coloured streaks in her hair. Nat admires the way Erik’s jeans hang on his hips, flashing a hint of washboard abs where his white shirt doesn’t quite reach them. A small thick gold hoop in his left ear gives him more rugged charm. Nat feels herself blush under his scrutiny.

“You look exquisite,” he says, kissing her offered hand.

“Thank you. You don't look too bad yourself.”

Kissing both of his cheeks, she checks the bar patrons out. Weight lifted from her shoulders spotting April looking happy with Ben, Nat allows Erik to steer her to a secluded table where they can enjoy getting to know each other. Nat refuses Erik’s offer of an alcoholic drink preferring to keep a clear head as a round of twenty questions starts. It isn’t too long before she forgets to glance over to April’s table to check things are alright and Ben isn’t overstepping any boundaries.

“What do you like about it?”

“It's purifying and forever changing. It calms me, envelops me and makes me feel safe.” Nat giggles, picking up her glass. “I feel silly now.”

“Don't. I totally get what you're saying. It has a life of its own and I use that life to surf.”

She stares appreciatively at Erik. “Exactly.”

“Appreciation over water, that's got to be the weirdest thing to bond over.”

“April!” Nat jumps up, flinging her arms around her sister. “I'm so sorry I didn't mean what I said.”

“I know, you're forgiven.” April removes Nat's arms. “Thought I'd pop over to tell you I'm heading to our room. Alone.”

“Okay. I'll be back soon unless you want me to come with you?” Nat says, wondering if April needs to confide something.

“No, everything is good, we can talk in the morning.” April kisses Nat's cheek, smiles and nods in Erik's direction before leaving.

Erik gets up and gazes down at Nat. “Feel like taking a stroll?”

“That sounds nice. The stars can stare down at us.”

The night air is still and not too cool as they wander around The Rosette premises hand in hand. Nat feels she has found more than a holiday romance with Erik, they seem to connect on a level she never realised existed. Eventually they end up near the block they are both staying in, the swimming pool just beyond.

“It looks calm and untainted, unlike daylight hours when you can barely get a toe in through the crowds.”

“Virgin,” Erik agrees.

“How about we take its virginity?” Nat says cheekily, letting go of his hand and taking a running jump into the pool’s still waters.

Helping her out of the pool he pulls her to his chest and kisses her. “You're a real water baby, aren't you?" He kisses her again. "You can get dry at mine, top floor.”

She returns his kiss, pressing herself further into him. “Great idea but I want a midnight paddle, with you.”

“I promise to have you back in this pool by midnight Cinderella,” he whispers, wrapping his arms tightly around her.

Sipping champagne in a terry towel robe stood in Erik's room, lust overcomes Nat and soon they are caressing each other hungrily. He seems to anticipate every thrust she makes and complements it. To Nat it’s like a firework display from start to finish. She cannot believe that they only met this morning. On the balcony she admires the unobstructed view of the stars. Engrossed in the view she doesn't see or feel Erik approach from behind. Slipping an arm around her waist and another around her neck, armed with a glass of champagne, Nat is in heaven until the unexpected happens.

“I always fulfil promises,” he whispers hoarsely, looking at his sports watch and seeing 23:59.

Chucking the drugged empty glass over the balcony Erik tightens his hold around her neck. Nat flails around, her survival instinct kicking in automatically. She shouldn't have been so weary about Ben it appears as the stars dim in front of her. Amazement and despair barely have enough time to register in her fog filled mind before unconsciousness overtakes her. Lifting her limp naked body, Erik propels her over the balcony down to the pool before calling Ben.

The End
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  #10  
Old 03-18-2013, 07:20 AM
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The Wellspring

The root of all evil is, perhaps, the tongue. Reverberate verses tempting the senses and desires of men. What beauty it sprouts, what longing it wills. Her eyes cast shadows of desire, the notion of love. The tear-drawing nature of the depth of her gaze solely resting on him; it is perfect.

“I woke up this morning and thought of you,” she said, but now it was night and she looked across the room at him. They were friends - the worm at the root of loneliness - and from their friendship grew in plenty, a florid tempest, a burning tree. I’m in awe, I’m ecstatic. I’m in love with them. I watched them bicker and a play, until he said goodnight to us and floated through the empty hallway, up the stairs and into bed.

“I only sleep in my socks when I’m uncomfortable,” I told her. The room was frigid; the heat hadn’t been turned on for days. Before I closed my eyes I slid my arm underneath her neck and ran my other hand down her side to the pelvic curve, just above her thigh and pulled her backside in close. I took my socks off with my toes. She and I fell asleep fully clothed on cushions puzzle-pieced together on the floor.
...

The wellspring where thought originates, sprouts perceptions sometimes skewed by the weathered mind. “What am I afraid of?” I ask myself. In dreams, I walk with a weathering heart that knows forgiveness, so to forgive only takes time. I walk through a shadowed valley at midnight along a stream, with two strong legs, at war; eye to eye with my calling. Watching the particular effect of the wet tree branches encircling the only orb of light in the wood, an hour has passed away again. I watch the fog of the morning burn away for a hundred years. I recall an ancient window, whose glass thickened at its bottom. I remembered my early childhood. I asked myself again, “What am I afraid of?”
...

I reached for the sun the next morning but it was taking a vacation. Instead, rain washed into the gutter so I rested, waited and watched her sleep. I can see my breath in the room and blankets are arbitrarily cast over our bodies. Speaking would ruin the morning afterglow and its aphrodisiacal effect, so I kissed her face. To know what a woman is thinking is impossible, lest we dwell on it as men and when her breathing slowed and became shallow, I stowed away my hands into her shirt. When does a restless soul wander, languid along the borderline of desire and fortune? In a time of neither abandoned dreams or sun-dried memories. In the moments where opportunities present themselves and it is in our favor to act upon them.
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