Short Stories

Hold Her Under

Another FuriousFiction entry, this time for October 2020. The prompt and specifics for this are listed below:

  • Your story must include someone/something being caught.
  • Your story must include the following words (plurals allowed): OBJECT, WOUND, BAND, ELABORATE.
  • Your story’s final two words must be THE MOON (can be part of a larger sentence).

It was her monthly bleed that gave her away. Though she had worked hard to keep it hidden, eighteen months into the journey her internal calendar glitched and she woke in a pool of blood. The captain was alerted, and when she was stripped to search for wounds, her secret was revealed.

No women allowed on board. It was bad luck, so the superstitions said. 

Never mind that her hard work had prevented a capsize during that big storm the previous week. Or the rogue wave the month before. The whirlpools and shallow reefs and pirates. A thousand and one hazards that she had helped them avoid. She was one of the most valuable members of the crew — though when asked to elaborate on why that may be the case she was unable to.

She had an affinity with the water. That was all.

When they dragged her to the edge of the ship, naked and shaking and crying, she had tried to object. To plead. To beg for her life. They talked over and around her, these men she had called brother. Joking that her bleed would bring the sharks. That maybe if she floated they would count her as one of them and drag her back on board. Or consider her a witch and hold her under.

They bound her wrists and ankles with ropes laced with salt, heavy and swollen with sea water. Tossed her over the side of the ship. As she sank, the ropes seemed to fuse into an unbreakable band fixing her limbs together. And icy water filled her lungs. And fear faded to be replaced with the bright spark of fury, even as her breathing slowed to a stop.

She became the water. The waves. The sky stretching above the ocean.

Her screams, the lashing wind, whipping the white frothed waves to vicious stabbing points. Her tears, the salt that crusted every available surface, a thousand tiny blades ready to slice into unprotected flesh. Her fury, the unrelenting sun beating down, burning all in its path. 

Circling the seas, ships drew her ire. Her approach brought storms. Heavy clouds so dark they were almost black, blocking out the sky. Waves surged, tipped and tumbled ships like a mouse caught between the paws of a vindictive cat.

Sometimes she smashed these ships against the rocks. Crushed them to splinters and dragged them hungrily into the dark deep with her.

But sometimes, when the ship was firmly in her grasp, she would let it slide free and quieten the storm so they could pass. Those who had done no harm, had thrown no innocent to the ocean below. 

Because she did not swim alone. The other women who had been thrown overboard to appease some foolish superstition swam with her. Whispered their pain and fear to her, the one with the strength to avenge them.

And when the ocean was still and quiet, they floated together, pulled by the inexorable force of the moon.

Short Stories

No Signal

This was a short story prompt with one of my dear friends for the week of 19/09/2020. We picked a random setting, genre, and object that needed to be included.

  • Setting: The Open Road
  • Object: Phone
  • Genre: Horror

No signal. 

Chuck sighed and continued to trudge down the road. Slipping his mobile phone—still at 83% battery by some miracle—-back into his pocket. Blisters stinging on his heels and toes. His shoes were warm and wet, full of blood. Every muscle in his body felt stretched and weak. With each step his head pulsed in waves of agony. Overhead, the sun beat down mercilessly, a cruel spotlight in a sky so clear and pale it was almost white. 

The crash was far behind him. If he squinted, he could just make out the black smoke through the shimmering haze drifting off the hot tarmac. 

Mirage that was called.

Like an oasis in the desert. The promise of water. If he ran towards it it would evaporate into nothing, only for another pool to shimmer into life in the distance. It surrounded him. Taunted him.

He licked his lip. Dry and chapped. Tasting salt and copper. When he wiped his face, blood smeared on his hand. Was that from his nose? His mouth? Or had it already been there? He couldn’t remember.

How long had he been walking? An hour? Two? Enough for the blisters on his feet to have formed and burst, enough for the blood dripping from the cut on his forehead to dry and begin to flake. 

Another glance over his shoulder. Squinting. The crash was still there. Black smoke streaking up in the still air. He pulled his phone from his pocket and checked again. 

No signal.

He thought about the crash as he slipped the mobile back into his pocket. No other car. No fluffy bunny sitting on the tarmac forcing him to serve. He’d simply lost control of the vehicle. Close to one hundred and eighty kilometres per hour and the wheels had just lost traction. Brakes screeching uselessly as the whole car slipped one way. He flinched, remembering the thud as wheel left tarmac. The disorientation as the car had tilted. Time had slowed to a crawl. The world outside a blur as they’d rolled once, twice, three times, finally settling on the suddenly concave roof.

Chuck didn’t know how he’d pulled himself free.

One minute he’d been inside the car, dangling from the seatbelt that cut deep into his gut, the next he was outside with the blazing sun already burning on his face and smoke stinging his eyes and the choked sound of Liam’s screams ringing in his ears. 

That had stopped at least.

He was almost certain.

Slapping his hands over his ears, he took a few shambling running steps before the vicious spark of pain through his whole body forced him back to a slow crawl. Gasping at the hot, dry air. Stinging tears squeezed from his eyes. Using his fingertip, he hoovered up every drop, sucked them into his parched mouth. Couldn’t waste any liquid. 

“I’m sorry, Liam,” he said in a croaky little voice. Directing the plea to the empty, white sky, to the black streak of smoke behind him, to the (hopefully) silent body of his best friend. “Forgive me…”

He couldn’t dwell on it. No time for that. Had to keep pushing on. Had to get out of here. Just follow the road. One foot in front of the other. He’d find help eventually. 

Knuckling sweat out of his eyes. Sparing the briefest rueful glance up to the sky. When would the sun go down? It seemed to have barely shifted in the hours he’d been walking down this empty stretch of highway. Just like the crash never seemed to get further away. Like the mirage never stopped shimmering just ahead.

Not knowing what else to do, he pulled his phone out of his pocket and squinted down at the somehow perfectly intact screen. Still 83% battery, good. It wasn’t draining as fast as it usually did. His eyes flitted to the top left corner, to the single exclamation mark.

No signal.

Chuck sighed and continued to trudge down the road.