Flash! Friday # 13

This contest is now closed to entries, but always open to comments/feedback!. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to drown (or save) the diver (or woman) in such awe-inspiring fashion. The decision by judge Kinza Carpenter Shores will be posted tomorrow (Saturday).

Welcome to Flash! Friday Round 13, O Ye Marvelous Writers of Spectacular Tales! (Here are the rules if you need ’em.) Today’s judgification is provided by artistic SVW member Kinza Carpenter Shores (great to have you back, Kinza!).

Let’s get right to today’s contest:

Word limit: 200 – 300 word story based on the photo prompt.

* How: Post your story here in the comments. Include your word count and Twitter handle if you’ve got one.

* New Deadline: 11:59pm ET tonight

Winners: will post tomorrow (Saturday) morning

Prize: A blazing e-trophy badge, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview feature next Wednesday, and WORLDWIDE AMAZEMENT AND WONDER (or as close as we can take ya to it). NOTE: Non-winning stories remain eligible for inclusion in Monday’s Flash Points. 

* Follow @FlashFridayFic on Twitter for the latest news/announcements/dragon scale cleaning tips (note: if you were a dragon, you’d be totally cracking up at that last bit).  And now for your prompt:

Toni Frissell underwater

WRITE, glorious dragons, WRITE!

27 thoughts on “Flash! Friday # 13

  1. Changing Tides

    She had scarcely entered the seas, leaving behind the curious two-legged beings that so amused her, when she saw the ominous suited form approach. Though she supposed she should have expected such, it still discomfited her.

    As a daughter of the Royal House, she accepted her whereabouts and well-being were matters of some import, yet she hardly saw the necessity of her father having sent out a guard in full combat regalia and armed with a power lance. While, at the tender age of 435, she had not reached the age of maturity, she was hardly a helpless child to be so singled out for looking after.

    She knew there would be consequences for returning late from her visit Topside, but, in her defense, time passed differently in the peculiar world of the Dirtlings and she could not be reasonably expected to follow an exact timetable. Their world was so very different than her home and she so treasured her opportunities to flee the protocols and ceremonies and endless intrigues of the court for some dalliance amongst those flawed, lesser creatures.

    Calming her demeanor and adopting the stoic face of indifference her governess had demanded she learn. She waited, feigning disinterest, for the retainer to close the distance between them and offer her the ritual greeting of the servitor to one of noble lineage. She could scarcely have been more surprised when the man’s weapon pulsed to life, currents of raw power disturbing the natural state of the waters.

    Her sense reeled as she noticed the insignia of his armor was not that of her father but of his long-standing rival Telemicus. Clearly there had been a most unfortunate change in the power structure during her absence. Swimming for the surface, she mentally prepared herself for a life in exile.

    300 words @klingorengi


  2. Pirate Jane looked fiercely upon her captors. Her arch nemesis, Captain Doran, returned her stare and grinned maliciously.
    “We meet again, Madam Jane.”
    He lowered himself into a condescending bow, taking off his cap in mock respect.
    “So it seems.”
    Jane wanted so badly to tear him apart limb from limb for taking over her ship. She struggled against the rope that held her hands behind her back.
    He raised himself and, as he did so, pulled his sword from its scabbard at his side.
    “It’s time for you to walk the plank, dear lady.”
    He pressed the sword into her back and watched with amusement as she tensed.
    Jane shuffled her feet on the board underneath her, until her toes reached the edge.
    Captain Doran laughed heartily and gave one final push with his sword.
    She fell to the waters beneath, and he smiled at the sound of the loud splash as she made contact.
    He turned to look at the men standing before him. They looked at him, expectant for their next orders. He ran his hand over the beautiful wood of his captive ship.
    “Raise anchor. We are going to look for that treasure.”
    “Aye-aye, Captain!” Their voices rang out in unison.
    His eyes sparkled at the thought that he had finally bested his enemy.

    Jane easily untied the bonds holding her and swam to the surface. She smiled at the thought that he had fallen so easily to her trap. The ship he sailed was merely a decoy to send him in the wrong direction.
    She raised her hand in mock salute to the ship moving away from her.
    “Until next time, Captain.”
    Then she began to make her way to the second ship waiting for her. Hidden away on the other side of Paradise Island.

    300 words @bookwormattack


  3. Tom’s wife was a bitch. Demanding and relentless. Always in the gym, working out. Always on a whacky new diet. Always having sex with anything male, including me. But he couldn’t leave her. She had the money, the house, the cars. She had everything. When he had enough, we came up with a plan.

    We hired a pro. He told us about the boardwalk across the marina. How the water under it was twenty feet or more deep in places. He’d fix the boards in a section, so they’d be perfectly safe, until he pushed one button. Then, she’d fall through, and he’d be down there, waiting. It would seem like an accident. And Tom would be free from her.

    We happily paid him to set it all up.

    On Tom’s anniversary, we took our wives to dinner at the restaurant on the far side of that walkway. We made sure they had lots to drink. Tom and I laughed at times. We had to lie about what was funny. We were looking forward to her demise.

    As we walked back across the walkway, I gave the signal, and when she stepped on those boards, they fell through, and down she went. She didn’t come back up. We saw nothing but bubbles.

    I called 911 to get emergency services out. We put on a good show, wailing, and crying. The divers couldn’t find anything. They let us go home.

    I drove Tom home that night. We never expected her to be waiting for us. She shot Tom in the head, and me in my manhood…

    Sigh. The best laid plans of mice and men…

    283 Words


  4. Eloise disliked the constraints of the time she found herself in, almost as much as the heavy, corseted skirts and laced-up boots she’d been bound into, and when the opportunity had arisen to rid herself of these constrictions she took it. She slipped out of her skirt with the same ease she slipped the knife into his chest.
    The look of incredulity upon his cruel, angular features had been worth every last minute that she remained staring into his dying face.
    She wiped the blade’s crimson stain on her discarded skirt and slipped the knife into her belt, before fingering the sumptuous strings of black pearls at her neck, the only possession that truly belonged to her.
    She was out on the pier in a matter of moments. The moon’s rays danced like teardrops on the black ocean as she jumped. A siren rang out up at the house, its warning piercing the silent night air, and she knew his guards had rallied. Her underskirt clung to her legs as she sank into the murky depths. Behind her bubbles effervesced through the gloom, but even his aquatic guards held no fear, not this time.
    She flung her head back, brought her hand to the heavy necklace and tore it away from her neck. She threaded pearls through her fingers until she found the right one, and then she squeezed.
    One flash and the ocean glittered, and she swam like an eel through the portal, hoping to emerge in a slightly more equitable time…

    (253 Words)


  5. “What’s going to happen, mummy?”

    The crowd sat frozen like mannequins, white-knuckled hands gripping armrests. Hundreds of them. Dressed in their finest.

    It had been entirely too long.

    The music swelled, swelled again, rose ever higher and higher, until the orchestra reached the end of its score and fell silent. The conductor dropped his hands to his sides, the players lowered their instruments, bows brushing strings.

    The conductor dared not turn to see the horrified faces in the audience, his countenance would surely send them into a panic. So he stayed perfectly still, hidden in plain sight.

    No one breathed.

    “Mummy?” Alicia took hold of her mother’s arm.

    Somewhere a single, gasping sob. Hands rose to cover mouths.

    “Someone do something!” yelled a man.

    His shout broke the crowd open, snapped its stupor, and everyone in the theatre commenced crying out and wailing. “Someone! Do something! For the love of God!”

    Arms flailing in the air, men and women fainting. The room grew hotter with breath and fear until the air stuck to Alicia’s face.

    It was too late.

    Alicia stood from her velvet seat. She could see the stage glow, in-between bodies. She stepped downward, soon she could see the box, lit ghostly blue from above, a metal frame with glass sides, filled with water.

    She reached the edge of the stage just as Helen the Magnificent emerged from the iron suit, a vision in white chiffon, floating effortlessly to the surface.

    Helen took a look down at the suit and blew it an underwater kiss before climbing out and blowing kisses to the audience. Horrified screams transformed to shouts of “Bravo!” and cries of disbelief. People applauded until their hands hurt.

    The audience, having screamed themselves hoarse for her rescue, now clamored for tickets to her next show.

    300 words (!!)


  6. Deep Blue Sea

    “DB Two to DB Four, do you copy?”

    “Copy, DB Two. What’s up?”

    “Get your camera over here, Bennie. You’ve gotta see this.”

    I grumbled to myself as I turned slowly, trying to find Mike. The diving suits we had to wear were cumbersome and awkward, and did not make for easy swimming. This was not what I had had in mind when I’d signed on with Diego Sanchez and the Oceania Project. I had indicated that I was a photographer who specialized in color and asked to be put on Coral Rescue or Carribbean Surf.

    Instead, Sanchez had given me the designation DB Four and stuck me as the photographer in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, on the subset of the Oceania Project codenamed DBS: Deep Blue Sea.

    At last, I managed to get around to see Mike’s light. “All right, what’s–” I began, then stopped.

    I was stunned.

    I finally started snapping pictures as I cried over the radio, “DB Four to Deep Blue Base. Do you copy, DBB?”

    “Copy, DB Four.” Pete’s voice crackled into my helmet. “What’ve you got?”

    “Sending you the pictures now.”

    There was a long pause. Finally, Pete’s voice came over the line again. “DB Two, DB Three, get that girl!

    “What, you mean Bennie?” DB Three, otherwise known as Joe, sounded confused.

    Over here, idiot!” Mike shouted.

    I watched, fascinated, as Mike and Joe (at least, I assumed it was Mike and Joe–the suits made it somewhat academic) swam awkwardly towards the dark-haired girl dressed all in white, poised as though she were a flamenco dancer. I couldn’t believe it.

    This was what the Oceania Project was really all about.

    Deep Blue Sea had achieved our objective.

    We had found Atlantis.

    300 words (not including title)


  7. Lights, Camera, Action

    Why she had agreed to be in movie, Maureen would never know. It had seemed the right thing to do at the time; work was scarce and she wasn’t as young as used to be. She wasn’t fond of water, but she needed money, so she signed on the dotted line. Now, as they attempted to film the underwater scene for what had to be the fiftieth time, she was over it. It was the last scene before the film was complete. She was cold and so drenched from being submerged over and over again in the deep dark depths, she didn’t think she’d ever dry out.

    She drew in a breath of air, as Simon called out “Okay, let’s roll. Action!”

    Maureen dropped below the surface again, determined to do everything in her power to make this the last take. She glanced back over her right shoulder at the menacing figure moving toward her, harpoon in hand. She opened her mouth and screamed silently, bubbles rushing to the surface. The underwater camera guy gave her a thumbs up. Thank God it was over. She started to rise to the surface, and found herself unable to do so. Frowning, she glanced back.

    The diver grinned at her devilishly, his hand clamped around her ankle. Her lungs were starting to ache, and she frowned at him, motioning frantically. He shook his head, and pulled her further from the air she so desperately craved. She turned her head, looking for help, but the cameraman continued to film, ignoring her. Blackness crept in around the edges of her vision, and then…nothingness.

    When the film was released, everyone marveled at the stunning performance given by Maureen O’Toole. “What a shame it was her last film,” critics were heard to say. The director just smiled.

    300 words {without title}



    Rebekah stared at the shimmering water of the pool, an untouched drink held lightly in her hand. For some reason she was reminded of the large fish tank in their living room, complete with bubbling treasure chest and ancient diver.

    Waves of conversation crested over her, pulling at her. This was why she hated these parties – so many people talking about so little. She pulled her gaze from the water and glanced around for her husband, finding him a short distance away engaged in an animated discussion with one the partners of his firm. Hope for a quick exit dimmed, and her eyes were drawn back to the enticement of the water.

    “Oh my God, Becky!”

    The squeal and hated contraction of her name gave her just enough warning to brace herself before she was enveloped in an exuberant hug and clouds of perfume.

    “Hello Aimee.” Her smile was gracious – it wouldn’t do to offend the trophy wife of the man who would decide her husband’s future. The voices around her rose and fell, drowning the peace of the night, pressing in on her.

    The younger woman wound her arm through Rebekah’s and leaned in close. “Can you believe what Carstair’s wife wore tonight? I can’t understand how someone with…”

    Her calm smile still in place, Rebekah slid her arm free and stepped to the edge of the pool. With one more step she was slipping into the warm embrace of the water, feeling it swirl the silk of her clothes around her.

    Blessed silence enveloped her, cradling her as she closed her eyes, the cries of alarm from above blocked by the rush of water as she let herself slide deeper.

    The unconditional welcome of the water made her wonder if she should learn to swim someday.

    300 words


  9. She twirled on the oak floor, gliding effortlessly over the polished wood as of nothing as simple as gravity or friction could ever affect her. Satin and lace glowed in the candlelight, leaving trails of white fire in the eyes of all those who watched.

    Through a crack in the floor it came. At first, just a tiny rivulet, and then a stream, and then a torrent, the water covered the aged oak and began to rise.

    She tripped, the current catching her unawares, and then tripped again, but the dance did not stop. The water reached her knees. And then her hips. She slowed, and darkness crept in as the candles were doused by the flood.

    But the dance did not stop.

    She fought on through the rising water, roiling and frothing as it enveloped her. She ached now, her chest pounding as she tried to force her body to live without air. She fell more often now, her feet numbed and unsure.

    But the dance did not stop.

    In the darkness she could not see the beast. Never more than a shadow on the brightest day, it crept into the safest of places, the warmest of hearths, the gentlest of embraces, the most endless of loves, and it always took its prize.

    She felt its teeth sink into her calf, biting, ripping, tearing at the flesh. The pain took her, and for a time she was beyond telling. When she came to, she knew the beast for what it was, and in that knowing, she brought it to a stalemate. Its jaws did not unclench, but it would not have its prize. Not yet.

    And the dance did not stop.

    282 words


  10. What on earth is he doing down there? Josephine wondered when she spotted the suited man, and then she saw he was headed in her direction. She sighed.

    She knew she’d been down here for a while, but she loved it so; it was peaceful and she needed the meditation time these days what with all the racket that went on up above.

    Yes, maybe jumping in with all her clothes on hadn’t been the best idea, but it got so chilly down here sometimes. Why did he have to send the man out to fetch her?

    Josephine watched his approach, clumsy in his suit. He finally got close enough to tug on her foot, and she resisted the urge to kick him in the head – the last time she’d done that it’d sent him reeling and almost killed the poor man.

    But instead of waiting for her to acknowledge him, he yanked a second time, causing her to almost swallow water trying to recover.

    She flipped round and shook her fist at him. She wasn’t going to have any of that! She might be adapted to life underwater, but it didn’t mean she could never drown!

    But then he shocked her further by moving up and grabbing her arm, which thanks to his weighted feet resulted in pulling her down with him.

    Josephine didn’t that that at all!

    Using her whole leg she swiped across his head dislodging the helmet, and he fumbled for it, letting go of her so she could rise back up.

    But when she looked back she didn’t see the butler as expected, she saw her son, and knew, as she watched him flail for the air pipe, that despite his uncanny resemblance to her, he hadn’t inherited her gills!

    295 Words


  11. It is impatience that drives Lorelei over the ship’s railing and into the water. She does not spare a thought for the silk on her back or the jewels at her throat. What lies beneath the sea is of far greater value.

    For weeks, her divers have been scouring the ocean floor, sifting sand and silt, overturning rock and rubble while Lorelei paced the decks, her ears straining for the cries that meant they had found their prize. Today she finally heard them, and as she sinks deeper beneath the waves, she hears too the voice of the old king.

    “Daughter,” he said, clutching her hand so tightly it hurt, “it is upon your shoulders that the fate of our people rests.”

    Lorelei closed her eyes against the sight of the ragged cliffs upon which their city had once stood, and nodded. “I will not fail.”

    Below her, the water churns. Sand swarms around her, and she cannot see, but she does not panic. She must not. The prophecy has come true, and now she must play her part, so she tucks her knees to her chest, pitches her body forward and dives. Moments later, a pair of gloved hands catch her and guide her to the find that only she can touch.


    “I was foolish to think I could defy the gods,” says the old king as he clasps his daughter to him. “But you have redeemed me, and you have saved our people.”

    Lorelei releases herself from his embrace and holds out the stone. “The gods entrusted this to our care,” she says, “as we entrusted our lives to theirs.” Gently, she lays the stone in its cradle. Around her the city resounds with the clangs and rasps of reconstruction.

    293 words


  12. Mermaid Magic

    With a growing sense of urgency I clicked my fingers and started floating upwards towards the beckoning sunlight. Glancing behind me I could see the diver was still following but at a much slower pace, lumbering forward in his heavy suit.

    He’d briefly seen what he thought might be a fishy tail, glittery scales caught in the light from his torch but I’d managed to throw a handful of sand in his face to obscure his view just long enough to transform into an elegant woman and escape his clutches at least for now.

    I was well aware our situation was still perilous.

    Bubbles rose from his helmet as he looked around bemused. It was almost a comical moment to see him try to rub his eyes in disbelief. He thought he’d finally found his prize catch. The culmination of many years of exploration and there I was before him at last – a mermaid!

    Only now he was confronted with a damsel in distress.

    I looked so helpless in this form as if I’d fallen in the water and needed rescuing.

    He followed me further into the murky depths. We were almost there, beyond the point of no return.
    I turned and smiled serenely at him before I opened my mouth and wailed my siren song.

    He would never rise to see the sun again.

    228 words including title


  13. The Mermaids of Cypress Gardens

    We were billed as “The Mermaids of Cypress Gardens,” and we put on quite the show for the tourists. They came from the other side of the world or from right down the road to see us, and we never disappointed.

    We swam in a beautiful lagoon, before the glass walls of an underwater auditorium. Six shows a day, and sometimes the applause was so loud, we could feel the vibration through the water. We swam for the sheer joy of it, and no one had to feed us fish to get us to perform. A bargain really.

    The water was always warm and clear, and we manipulated light and shadow to thrill all who watched. We wanted to give the illusion that we never needed air, that we were, indeed, creatures of that lagoon, that we didn’t need the diver lurking in the shadow with an air hose.

    We knew the truth, though. The diver, his air hose—just another illusion. We didn’t need the air because we really were the Mermaids of Cypress Gardens, and we lived to swim, and we lived the illusion of air-breathers because being a myth had its advantages.

    The audiences didn’t go all at once. Five shows a day, then four, then three. People wanted to see killer whales dance; they wanted to swim with the dolphins. Orcas and dolphins were real, and mythical mermaids just didn’t draw a crowd anymore. When the lights went out in the auditorium for the last time, we waited for the next show. The water was still warm and clear, but now there were only shadows.

    The day came, and we gave our final performance to the empty auditorium, dispensed with illusion altogether. The Mermaids of Cypress Gardens went home.

    294 words (sans title)


  14. They came from the deserts, hundreds, maybe thousands, bursting from underneath the sand. From any part of the world that was desolate, dry, and barren. They destroyed and burned cities, towns, forests, reducing them to ash quicker than anyone would think possible.

    Relatively few people died in the flames. Most of us were eaten. We are apparently their favorite food. People tried to fight back, but it was useless. Bullets and grenades did nothing but annoy them and draw their attention. Missiles fired from planes would sometimes slow them down, but they were agile enough, especially while flying, that a direct hit was rare.

    Those that survived the initial onslaught took to the seas, which they seemed to avoid. Ships, boats, rafts thrown together, anything that would float. We left land behind, along with all our hopes and dreams, and huddled together on the water. How long could we survive on the ocean? Would they disappear under the sands of their newly made deserts before we perished?

    Except somebody on one of the naval vessels decided to see what their big guns could do.

    Now they are flying toward us, already spewing their acid flames. Most of us dive into the water in a desperate attempt to escape the fire, only some of us make it. Several that do are dragged down into the depths; my light weight clothing is a blessing. A small one, but I’ll take anything I can get. Can I hold my breath and stay under until the dragons are finished? I see someone in diving gear nearby, watching me. I wonder if he’ll help me if my breath gives out before the flames.

    And what if I do survive this latest attack? What will I find when my head breaks the surface of the waves?

    300 words


  15. The water called to her so much that it was all she ached to touch it. Her skin felt dry and tight. The only relief that she could feel is taking a long swim. Her skin breathed more when she was in the liquid. She felt so much safer.

    Felicia stretched as she slowly dipped one foot into the water. She glanced around, furtive, and slipped her other foot in. She wasn’t supposed to be outside on her own. They told her that she was special, that she needed to be taken care of. They treated her like she would break like delicate china.

    Felicia was stronger than they thought. She acted frail because it meant that she would be left alone. She could sneak out.

    Her head turned, hearing voices as they called her name and cursed. She looked back to the darkness of the water. It was a siren song that kept calling until all she could dream about was water. It was the water that she wanted to be safe away from all the others. Away from the cares of a world that she didn’t have any connection too. Felicia had never belonged in this world, the world of earth and buildings and hard land. It was so unyeielding. The water was fluid. It had its own dangers but it was something that she wasn’t afraid of.

    She heard the voices call again and let go of the steps, sliding down until she was completely submerged. She turned her head to glance down at the bottom and couldn’t see anything there. But she wasn’t afraid. She felt more comfortable and more alive than she had in years. Let them worry on their own behalf. She didn’t care for their world anymore. She was in her world now.

    300 words


  16. ~~Diver Down~~

    Courtney saw herself, lithe and beautiful, dressed in silk. The drapery of her sleeves and the harem pants she wore floated about her magically. Without any alarm, she recognized that she was floating in the sea, the water clear as air around her.

    As her fingertips touched the surface of the water, something stirred behind her. She looked down, twisting so she could see. A deep sea diver, bubbles rising from his helmet, stood behind her incongruously holding a gigantic ballista bolt. The bubbles shimmered upward; her hand broke the surface. Courtney woke.

    “Courtney?” The aide leaned over her. “You were talking in your sleep, honey. What were you dreaming about?”

    “Get my brother on the phone! Please!” The aide looked at the frail body but saw the strength of the spirit encased within it. She picked up the phone and hit a speed dial key. As soon as she heard the ringing begin, she nestled the phone beside Courtney’s ear.

    “Hello, Fergusson Dive and Salvage Service.”

    “Jeff! Jeffrey, don’t dive today!”

    “Courtney? Sorry, this is Drew. Jeff’s already out. He’s going to clean some of the debris off the scales of that bronze dragon before they lift it.”

    Courtney’s voice rose. “Get him out of there, Drew!”

    “Why? What’s going on?”

    “I don’t know!” Courtney tried to control her panic. “I just know it’s dangerous!”

    “Courtney?” Drew’s puzzlement came through the phone speaker.

    “Please, I’ll explain later. Just call out to the boat. Get him out of the water!” Courtney wished she could fidget. It seemed a lifetime before Drew came back on.

    “I don’t know how you knew, but some idiot shot him with a spear gun. He’s okay, Courtney. He’s okay.”

    Courtney let out her breath. She would never again complain that all she had were dreams.

    300 words copyright © 2013 Beth E Peterson


  17. No Rules

    Strange things happen all over the planet, but nowhere more than in the ocean between Bermuda, Miami, and San Juan. That area is known as the Devil’s Triangle for a reason. Strange things happen there. It’s the most unstable area on the planet as far as physics go.

    Everything bends. . . from currents, to wind, and occasionally even time itself becomes fluid.

    Leanna Rosalina Roberts leapt from her brother’s ship. Tired of being known as the dreaded Captain Roberts sister, she wanted to escape. She knew someone would dive in after her, but for these few moments, she was free. Much blood had been spilled in her family.

    Captain Roberts was a notorious commander in the Spanish Navy. Why he had dragged her along to the new world, she did not know, but she didn’t want to be here anymore. She wanted to be away from her brother, from his ship, and from her situation, by any means.

    Scott Lucardi was a diver studying the migration habits of the parrot fish, and he was bored. He was working via a grant provided by the University of Miami, and the fish weren’t necessarily boring him, but they weren’t helping, either.

    He was in the process of returning to the surface when he saw a woman in white. She looked mystified, like she didn’t know where she was.

    Scott came out of the water, and he pulled her into his boat. He asked her, “Where did you come from?”

    Astonished at his boat, she didn’t say anything for a few seconds. Then, she muttered, “No me importa. Siempre y cuando no estoy allí, estoy donde quiero estar.”

    While some horrific things have occurred in the Devil’s Triangle, once in a while, something good happens.

    300 words


  18. “Get Raised”

    Water is an amazing conductor, heavy and filled with life, every molecule shoving against the other, unable to separate and detangle, forced to bring other molecules together.

    And perfect for bringing together the magic needed for the most terrifying spells.

    The more water you have, the more power. And just as water is a conductor, so are we. And I’m one the best kinds. It’s why they called me today.

    It’s why they always called me.

    I wore the chiffon for lightness, to release me from the heaviness of reality. Naked wouldn’t do—not simply because of the crowd of bystanders, but because my skin’s weight would keep me tethered. The chiffon is a sign to the energy waiting that I am ready to take it in.

    I wore the beads, however, to keep my anchored. They were my tethers to the Here. It is so easy to float away into the There, to drift in the electric current and drown in starlight. It’s like snorting a line of the cosmos.

    There was also the possibility that I would literally drown, of course.

    For a request so enormous, I needed an ocean. But on a high as potent as the one that was coming, tethers or not, I could forget I needed air and breathe water, as if a fish. The water filling my longs would feel like the brush of God’s knuckles down my throat, even as it snuffed out my life.

    But that’s what the diver was for. In case I forgot that even I could die, in the right circumstances.

    The spell was simple, if colossal in size.

    And I was nearly lost. But I did raise Atlantis.



  19. Water enveloped Esmerelda. It caressed her thighs, her arms, her face, entered her like a lover. She understood why David wanted to be buried in the ocean, though she wondered what vision he held of himself that compelled him to do so in a concrete-filled antique dive suit. She imagined he wanted to be an actor, hidden behind a mask, to the very end.

    The noise of the fish eating coral crackled in her ears and a burning rose blossomed in her lungs. Instead of kicking up to the surface, Esmerelda raised her arms overhead to push herself down further. She needed just a few moments more with David before starting her life anew. She wanted a few more wisps of time in that underwater sanctuary, far from the explanations that would be demanded of her in the coming days.

    She often had imagined escaping her marriage. She loved David desperately and his death had unmoored her. It also had freed her from the pain of an unrequited love. Their deep friendship, cultivated over years of proximity and shared secrets, was a balm, but it never made up for the romance she had been promised.

    Esmerelda had been so under David’s spell initially that she failed to notice that Jorge was more than a business manager, more than a close friend. By the time Esmerelda learned the truth, she had grown accustomed to the wealth, something she could never have imagined as a little girl. And she was irretrievably in love with her husband. So, she agreed to keep his secret. Until now.

    Two days ago, David shot Jorge for telling the truth. In remorse, he shot himself, but not before he asked Esmerelda to tell the world the truth after he was gone. She considered whether to resurface.

    299 words


  20. Jack screamed a scream that no one could hear. The taut tether line jerked and sent his body crashing into the face of the underwater cliff. Cold water poured in through the tears in his suit and the crack in his helmet. He yanked furiously on the tether line, but found only slack. Before his eyes, a length of tether drifted towards the bottom of the ocean like a slithering snake. Above him, his crew pulled on a line that was no longer attached to anyone.

    Jack flailed and tried to swim, but he kept sinking. The cold water stung his eyes and numbed his body. He grasped around his suit looking to release the weights, but he could not find them. Darkness even darker than the black ocean started to descend upon him as he drifted towards the bottom. He saw images of his wife and his children, his parents and his friends. They were fading fast. The strength faded from his hands and he gave up on the weights. He saw the light in the distance and with what little consciousness remained he said a prayer and tried to steer towards the light. The light enveloped him and he felt the warm embrace of his maker take him towards the sky.

    “He’s awake.”

    Jack blinked from the harshness of the white room and groaned when he saw Jimmy’s ugly mug. “They’ll let anyone in this place, won’t they?”

    “He’s still got it,” Jimmy laughed. “God, I’m glad you’re alright. When the tether snapped, we thought you were gone. How the hell did you make it to the surface?”

    Jack’s thoughts were scrambled, but he remembered the light in the depths. “I…I think I had help.”

    287 words


  21. Juno glared at the apparition and cursed the bulky helmet that limited his view. But that bulky helmet was all that protected him from the radioactive waters of the cooling tank.

    They couldn’t see it from the surface, even though “she” hovered and swayed just below that point. She only showed herself to the divers, the elite who performed the necessary maintenance in the deadly depths.

    Juno entered the tank, and there she was. He signaled, and the crew above water signaled they saw nothing. He walked directly under her, then tried something new. He took a pole and reached up to touch her.

    The image blinked. She thrashed, then in slow motion she reverse-fell out of the tank. The team on the surface continued to peer down, seeing nothing, but Juno fired his emergency thruster, launching himself out of the pool. He still saw her…teetering on the edge, then she seemed to catch her balance. She walked backwards, like a film in reverse, until she reached the far door.

    As soon as the door closed, it opened again, and all heads turning in that direction. “And this is the tank?” a woman asked, followed directly by one of the veeps from corporate. All eyes were riveted on her, and not a single one of them spoke as she walked calmly towards the edge of the tank and peered in.”

    Juno struggled to get his helmet off, but it was too late. “No!” he yelled into his comm, broadcasting the word over the room’s speakers. The word startled the woman, and she teetered on the edge, her face almost comically surprised as she fell into the tank with a splash.

    And disappeared.

    282… Like a boss, 2 minutes to deadline… @USNessie


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