Cross My Heart and Hope to Write


Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Hole at the Bottom of the Sea

Today we have an excerpt from a short story I finished not too long ago. I actually began writing it back in 11th grade, but left it alone for a few years before coming back to finish it. The end result is pretty much what I had intended to write. It is entitles "A Hole at the Bottom of the Sea", taking inspiration from the old children's sing-song, albeit with a different interpretation. It tells the story of a sailing ship lost at sea after escaping a harbor city gripped by a pandemic plague in search of new settlement. The crew has found themselves adrift in an unnaturally calm stretch of water where neither their compasses nor the stars in the sky can be relied upon to guide them. As hysteria begins to grip them, revelations of their fellow crewmen begin to tare them asunder.

"A Hole at the Bottom of the Sea" by The Sven-Bo! excerpt: 
After a few moments of hesitation, marked by foreboding and careful consideration of what should be done, I stepped forward into the violent corona the man had created around himself. He turned speedily toward me in resistance, pointing the gun directly at my person. I gasped, but it was muffled beneath my beard. The rest of the men hushed and awaited my response. I could not show weakness; I had to conquer this boy.
“Scud,” I beckoned with a gentle voice. “That is your name, isn’t it?”
“It was,” he replied erratically, the gun vibrating in his nervous hand. “I’m not quite sure it will be after tonight,” he warned.
“Scud, give me the pistol,” I requested. “I don’t want to see anyone else die tonight.” 
“Why should you care?” he argued.  
“Because I am the Captain and it is my responsibility to care for my crew.”
“Don’t lie to me! I’m sick of lies! This ship is built of lies! It’s manned by liars!” I watched the veins on his forehead and neck come alive as he stamped childishly upon the floor, his hair flung in his clammy face. “I want to go home,” he wept, tears welling in his eyes.
“I know, Scud. We all do. But we can’t if we’re all dead!”
“Maybe we can,” he objected. “Maybe we already are.”
I retracted a bit, giving him room to calm down.
“I had a family, you know,” he deviated. “I had a mother and a father. They loved me. They… they died.” He repeated the words back to himself in a whisper, as if ensuring they were true. I watched as the heavy weapon in his hand fell limp, loosening ever so slightly as to allow his arm to sulk, though still dangerously suspended. I saw one of the men behind him gesture that he was going to pounce, but I gestured back to him to retreat, lest he cause another death.      
“I had a family too,” I responded. “I had a wife and a son.” Pronouncing their names caused me to fall into a muse, spurred on by Scud’s caustic emotions and my own nostalgic reflection. My strength in authority folded as I gave into the very same sentiments that had conquered the weak-willed Scud.
“You liar!” he screamed.
“I had a family too, Scud. We all did.” My voice had risen slightly, so I eased it back into a quieter tone. “None of this is our fault.” I tried to comfort him.    
“I didn’t want to be here,” he admitted, weeping further as his face bunched up into a dirty frown. 
“Neither did I,” I solemnly agreed, half conscious of what I was saying, too focused on the images flashing through my mind.
Scud abandoned his sorrow immediately after I pronounced the words. He looked at me fiercely, his eyes prying in confusion, as if the words that had left my mouth were somehow deceitful. He stared at me for several moments while I tried to uncover what the source of his glare was, awakening from my reckless trance. He seemed to have discovered something, though I was unsure exactly of what.
The pistol in his hand suddenly sprang back up in excitement. His muscles tensed as his arm straightened, the barrel of the flintlock aimed squarely at my chest as the entire scene had once again given in to anarchy.
“Who are you?” Scud ordered in a monstrous voice. “Who are you, Sir? Tell me!”
“I…” I stuttered, my arms flailing wildly as the rest of the men pleaded with the man to desist. “I am Octavius Celeste, Captain of the Ex Nahilo. I have manned this vessel for thirty years.” All the while as I spoke, Scud continued to demand who I was.
Before I could finish, he grabbed me about the collar and swiftly drew me near, thrusting the jittering gun into my left nostril. The last of my confidence and clout succumbed to fear of my own demise, my heart beating with a furry incalculable.
“Oh, God!” I exclaimed, my eyes meeting his as I watched rage enrapture his brow. “I was impressed upon her!” I clamored.  
Once the words had escaped my lips a mounting silence began to fill the deck as each man, those who begged and the one holding the gun to my face, began to listen intently. I myself was doused in horror; I had admitted a fathomless wrong. I could feel the eyes of the company fall upon me in shock. I continued as not to disappoint, for I feared it would only damage the circumstances further, admitting the truth in its entirety, while the pistol remained tightly pressed to my wrinkled nose.      

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