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Friday, May 25, 2012

In the Rope Dines a Hypothesis

Another writing challenge from, from the sadistic mind of Chuck Wendig.
Good thing all his followers are masochists.
Okay, this time 'round we were challenged to write a story using a random sentence generator, using said sentence as the first or last sentence in our story (1,000 words or less).
I chose to do both the first and last sentence using the random sentence generator. Below is the unholy offspring.
Damn you, Chuck!

An atomic poison rattles underneath the sea thrust. The stern thrusters whine as Captain Florence watches helplessly from the bridge of the cruise ship Aladdin III. In all his twenty years as Captain, he could never have imagined a crisis such as this. The sea roils like a lobster pot some two hundred knots ahead. Captain Florence is completely unaware that an Iranian underwater nuclear bomb test has just occurred mere moments ago. He doesn’t have any idea what has taken place, yet his instincts tell him that it will be catastrophic to his boat. All hands have been made aware of the situation; at least the little that he and his crew know at the moment.
     All he can do is watch. Watch the sea foam boil, blasts of steam regurgitating up from the ocean floor. Even with their thrusters on full, he’s quite aware that due to the ships momentum, they will soon be in the thick of it. The Captain tries again in vain to reach the US mainland via the ship-to-shore system. All electronic devices are either completely down or completely unreliable. He resorts to his pocket compass to give himself at least some reassurance that this might somehow be survivable.
     A report comes over the intercom system, now the only way for the crew to relay information.
“Captain. Jeff Conroy. We’ve got a problem. Er, another problem. Definitely a code red,” reports the Able Seaman.
“This better be good, Conroy, you weren’t authorized to use the system.”
“Uh, yeah. People are dropping like flies. Mostly those on the outside deck.”
“Which deck!”
“Uh, all of them?”
“Conroy, get me the Safety Officer.”
There is no answer.
The Captain reacts quickly, he shuts down the air conditioning system. He feels the absence of the moving air. The high afternoon sun begins heating the interior of the bridge almost instantaneously. Florence second guesses himself for sending his ship’s crew to their cabins for safety. Rather than protecting them, he feels he’s doomed them to their deaths. But who is he fooling, he thinks. If something in the air is killing all those on deck, it will soon seep into the entire ship. This is it. The end. Captain Florence turns on the first level intercom. He hears the moans and screams. He turns off the first and then turns on the second. He can make out the pleas of a dying child, coughs and guttural choking. Another level, then another. He turns all the intercoms on; a flood of human despair racking his psyche. It makes him physically ill. Captain Florence grieves aloud for his wife and two sons, whom he’ll never see again. He reaches for a white nylon rope, left behind by the Quarter Master or perhaps the Motorman.
“Forgive me.”
In the rope dines a hypothesis.


  1. Dang, I probably shouldn't have read this right before bed. Your final images of the captain inundated with the terrible cacophony of a dying boat and then seeing the rope are pretty haunting. Tragic horror and no monsters needed. Good job.

    1. Thank you. Sometimes these short ones just fall out of my head complete.

  2. AnonymousJune 01, 2012

    Nice story in between those two bookends. I like the way it just keeps getting worse and worse - until there seems to only be one decision left.

    1. Thank you for commenting. I'm now on my way to check out your blog.