Here are the rest of the flash fiction entries in the order received:
The Loch Ness Monster by raedvdr
We rode out to the loch in your dad’s silver merc; you drove. Giggling, laughing, we stripped on the water’s edge letting our clothes fall together. Our eyes stealing shy glimpses of smooth skin. We swam out into the loch, out to the deep water; backstroke, breaststroke, crawl, the icy water like a dead lover’s caress.
In the full moon’s light, your hair and skin glowed like silver, like you were a ghost or a spirit.
You swam towards me and treading water, you kissed me. Your lips tasted of salt water and lip balm.
In the depths, something stirred.
Untitled by chris ludke.
My boyfriend hooked a mermaid.
He asked me if I wanted to go fishing and I told him not to go because we were under a tornado warning. The sky looked ominous but he insisted the fish would be biting so I went along and sat in the back of the van to work on a watercolor while he fished from the beach. I was just glad he didn’t take the boat out.
I heard him yell, “I got something big!” The rod was bending. It was too heavy for the line. Then a head popped up from under the water and screamed so loud it sounded amplified! I ran out and cut the line. We saw a big fin flip and go under.
At first he was mad at me for releasing it. He said no one would believe him. Then it started pouring and we got drenched before we made it back to the van. We drove over to the other side of the bay and stopped in our favorite cafe. They heard the scream from over there but still didn’t believe us.
Feeding Time by Jen Goldie
“Why is the skiff not on the water and anchored?” She demanded
This was their usual activity every morning at the cottage. Each summer a wonderful getaway. Coffee and breakfast first, a packed lunch, then a full day on the water, swimming and fishing.
Fishing was excellent on this lake. It’d been in her family for what she said was eons! Everyone laughed when she said it. But her research said it was an ancient lake. Prehistorical in fact.
Answering, her brother defended himself. “I anchored the skiff yesterday when we returned.”
“Just as you say! Are you sure someone else hasn’t used it?”
“There’s no one else on the island! Are you joking?”
“I wish I was.”
When they’d arrived this summer, she’d heard a rumour but dismissed it. The rumour told of an old inhabitant in the water resurfacing and spotted on occasion. Crazy rumours! She’d thought.
Her brother took a closer look at the skiff. “There’s a huge jagged hole in the bottom!”
“What? Are you serious? We should get to the bottom of this! I won’t stand for this!”
What they didn’t know was that evening while sleeping, a jumbo squid grabbed it with it’s long tentacles, struggled with it and tossed it onto the shore.
“I guess that’s it for fishing for now, but we can swim at least.”
That’s the last time they went swimming. Humboldt aggression, feeding time. Their bodies never found. A mystery to this day.
Wanna go fishing? Maybe a swim?
A Journey’s End by ikwords.
The pouring rain mixed with Salma’s sweat, soaking her hair, which was pulled back in a tight braid, and streaming down her face. Salma pulled the Fisherman’s Knot taut and wiped her forehead. On the other side of the sailboat, Leo suddenly pointed in the direction they were headed and yelled over the roaring thunder and the rain violently smacking the ocean surrounding them, “Look! An island!”
Salma dropped the rope and stumbled to the front, slipping several times. She squinted through the storm and, sure enough, far in the distance, a tiny island was visible. Salma gasped and promptly started laughing and crying at the same time. She and Leo embraced, cheering and whooping and jumping, causing the boat to rock back and forth.
Later, the two of them were drifting closer to the island. “Past the shore is all vegetation!” Salma exclaimed. “There’ll be food and water!”
“The island is uncharted,” Leo said, studying a small spot on a large map closely. “I think we’re the first to discover it!”
“That’s great news! What will we name it?”
They continued to discuss fun-but-unrealistic things they would do with their new island. When they were only about thirty feet from the shore, Leo looked a ways along the coast and said, “What is that?”
“What is what?” Salma asked, looking in the same direction.
Their boat slid into the soft sand, and they stepped out. Salma collapsed onto the sand and let out a shrill laugh, overflowing with relief. “Hang on,” Leo said. “I’m going to go see what that is. It looks like…” he trailed off and started walking quickly toward it.
Salma got up and followed slowly, taking in the beautiful island. A short walk later, they were close to the thing, and Leo called, “Salma! It’s a boat!”
Salma turned. “What? But I thought we were the first people here.”
“Oh, well. At least we’re here!” Salma turned toward the water and let the breeze run across her hair.
She heard Leo mumble something, but she didn’t pay attention. Salma couldn’t describe in words how happy she was to get off the boat for the first time in weeks. She was about to tell Leo just that when he screamed her name. “Salma!”
Salma whirled around only to see a faint rustle of leaves in the thick vegetation in front of her. Leo was gone.
She turned her head slightly and opened her mouth to say something, then shut it. “…Leo?”
Salma took a step forward, toward the rustle, then another, and another. She watched the sand sink from her weight and seep between her toes. It was a nice feeling. “Leo!” she called.
Salma was only a few paces away from where the rustle had been. “Leo!” she yelled as loud as she could. “Don’t scare me!” Salma looked up to see if he was crouched in a tree, ready to jump at her, and in that moment she felt something cold grab her bare ankle and she shrieked as she was dragged into the bushes. Selma Morales and Leo Lawrence were never seen or heard from after their journey’s end.
Empty Spaces Series ^N3 by Just Another Writer
Jorge sat in the rowing boat surrounded by fish, flopping, and jumping trying to escape – their silver scales glistening in the sunlight. His thick woollen jumper hung off his skeletal frame and his stomach ached with pangs of hunger. The water gently lapped at the starboard bow as he lay back and tried to sleep.
As the sun reached its zenith, a woman slowly shuffled up to the boat and nestled a bag into his fishing net. She leaned over the edge of the boat, being careful not to disturb the now sleeping Jorge and listened intently. Her form cast a shadow, which set the fish off again, jumping, and twisting mid-air with renewed vigour.
Satisfied that he was breathing, she shuffled off, wrapping her shawl close around her. Despite the heat of the day, the warmth had departed her bones many years ago. She’d left the bag, knowing that Jorge would wake and see it before the sun cast its rays upon it.
As the water receded, Jorge slowly awoke and wiped the sun baked sweat out of the corners of his eyes and lips. He pulled himself up by holding on to the bench seat and spied the bag resting on the net. Slowly he climbed out of the boat and walked over to it, kicking bits of gravel in frustration as he went.
He opened the bag and found some stale bread, cheese, the usual, that could be spared. He carefully began unpacking the contents and laid it on the dusty ground. Under a small lettuce, to his surprise, lay a chocolate bar, wrapped up in bright colourful plastic. Jorge bellowed with laughter, so hard that he bent over in pain – the hunger pangs returning in force.
Leaving the food behind he strode to the side of the boat with the chocolate bar, unwrapped it, throwing its contents on the floor and picked up a flapping fish with his other hand. ‘Is this what you want? This is what you’re for isn’t it, you replicating bastards’ he cried as he shoved the wrapper into the mouth of the fish, its jaws working quickly to devour the plastic.
He threw the fish back in the boat and stared out at the sea, the calm waters rippled with the movement of the fish nipping at the surface. Jorge turned back to the stale food, which was all they could spare, and a tear ran down his cheek. His feet crunched on circuit boards and aluminium fish scales, as he walked away from the boat, devoid of fish, and into the empty sea.
Boat Rides By Dolos by obbverse
The black clouds rolled away in a magical way,
The high roiling waves subsided to a sullen grey,
Borne on them, a slow moving small empty boat,
But no, not empty, brimful of water, yet still afloat.
One waxen hand clung hard to the boats white side,
One last death grip, clinging fast tho’ hope had died,
When from above came the last low grumbling of thunder;
Only then the hand loosed its hold and a wave swept it under.
Ah, but was it the whims of tide or Poseidon’s hand
That left the plucky boat beached high yon dry land?
And by what strange mischance had that precious oar
Serendipitously washed up and been tossed up to shore?
Down to the sands young Jason came,
A youth still, keen to make himself a name,
Though no sailor, he be thick and strong of limb,
It seemed the Gods above had smiled down on him!
From wherever man journeys, wherever we wend
Chronos keeps counting, and all journeys must end,
So beware, young mortal, where Charon’s skiff awaits-
There’s no free ride when you’re in these dire straights.
Untitled by PatBunny.
Summer stared at the scene in front of her, not daring to venture out of the safety of her house. Her arms hung by her side, twitching with impatience, her feet shuffling in anticipation, wanting to walk forward but stuck behind in fear. She could only watch.
Her friends continued to tug the boats out into the water, chattering excitedly, beckoning Summer with their arms. There was whooping and hollering when the last boat made it into the water. “Come on Summer!” one of them screamed. Summer shook her head, emphasizing her no by continuing long after they had looked away.
She watched them get into the boats, sturdy, but old, worn away, but still functioning. And then they pushed away from the shore, leaving Summer behind, standing on the steps of her lake house, with a sinking feeling in her stomach.
A few hours later, she saw the boats wash up onto shore.
The One That Got Away by Monacular Spectacular.
The harbour-master had predicted thunderstorms but Jack cast out anyway, ignoring his pleas.
“You’ll die out there! It’s not what you think! That place is…”
The last sentiment had been lost on the wind for he was already too far out.
The sea buffered the small rowboat Jack had commandeered, continuously, but he carried on stubbornly. Taking each wave to the bow, like a punch to the gut.
Jack’s destination; a small uninhabited island had been visible from the pier before he set off. Now it was obscured by a deep fog and the rain beating down.
Still Jack rowed, no compass to guide him and barely able to rely on his own two eyes in these harsh seafaring conditions.
Rumor and legend had been enough to galvanise him, converting his mourning to intense purpose.
The words of a woman came back to him now. His mother? Sister?
“You think we don’t want to see him?! He’s gone Jack, accept it!”
Who was she?
Maybe he was making a mistake, but it was too late now and using everything his father taught him, he’d reach his destination or greet the man in the afterlife.
The sky was a murky grey and getting blacker with each passing minute.
The storm began to worsen, the oars felt heavy in Jack’s hands and had blistered his palms fiercely.
Suddenly a bolt of lightning and the sound of thunder startled him. He released the oars bringing his hands to his face in fear before realising what he’d done.
It was too late. The sea had swallowed the oars up hungrily and with the storm showing no signs of abating, Jack despaired a moment.
Adrift on an unforgiving sea in the middle of a storm, Jack thought of the harbour-master’s warning.
“You”ll die… It’s not what you…”
Jack looked up briefly from his misery and saw a slim hope. The fog had dispersed and partially revealed the shore of the island. Probably half a mile a way or not much more.
His father had praised him as a young boy:
“You swim better than any fish I ever caught.”
And when Jack had humbly countered
“I’d rather be like the ones that got away.” His father had just smiled.
Would he get away now?
Jack pitched himself into the water and felt it’s punishing iciness. Shrugging it off with gritted teeth, he pumped arms forward and propelled himself along with violent kicks.
A couple of times he went under, perhaps for too long but when he fell gasping on the shore, he knew he’d made it.
Picking himself up and coughing lungfuls of water he surveyed the area, when he spotted something further down the shore.
A rowboat, not unlike his own had run aground. Had it been swept here by the storm? Had his death-defying swim been made redundant?
No on closer inspection, this boat had been here for some time, chipped paint and barnacles adorned the hull.
Had someone else come here for the same silly superstition? Stranded themselves here and died pointlessly?
“I’ll soon find out” Jack thought.
Jack headed inland in search of his true destination at the centre of the island.
He traversed overgrown thickets and felled trees from the storm with ease, making good time when he approached a clearing.
“Strange…” He thought how he’d recovered so quickly and made it here almost without thinking.
The clearing adhered to the legend. He felt the heady atmosphere, the deliberate spacing between the trees and the odd markings carved into several of them.
Jack was considering one that resembled a serpent when he noticed he was not alone.
He could not get the word out before the image of his father standing before him raised a finger to its lips, hushing him.
“You shouldn’t have come.” The vision sighed.
“I swam Dad!” Jack exclaimed, tears forming in his eyes.
“I lost my boat but it’s like you said, I can swim better than any fish you ever caught! Remember?!”
The vision smiled but looked pained, its own eyes filling up now.
“No! I did better than that! I was like the others, the ones that got away, don’t you see I-?!”
All of a sudden the vision was gone and in its place was the rowboat and the shore, except now it was restored. It resembled closely the boat Jack had began his journey in.
Jack took a seat in the centre of the boat silently and looked out to sea for a long time.
His head sagged, more breathless now than when he had swam, he whispered:
“He got away…”
I Kiss the Untouched Time by Matt P.
Dad used to tell me that heroes and warriors are dauntless, men are. That was when I was a little boy. Boys try to act tough even when all they want to cry and faint by seeing blood. Men are the real tough. Me- I am stuck in being in-between.
They tell me to veil my smile to invisibility to keep me from melding breakable strings. My brothers tell me that men must cloak their weakness, to harbor it in a rayless abyss where no scrutiny can pierce. No tear works.
But why does he cry? Zeus- why does he cry?
Look at the clouds in slurred lines of graphite and charcoal. The sky cast low- weighed down by the stentorian stomping of the ruler of gods. And fury-laced lightning were hurled to the terrains. Who knows one day he’d split it in two. Stinging liquid arrows charge to my skin in a cold pitfall of lamentation. Maybe Hera is also sick, is why.
And don’t you hate it too when your anger rush down in tears? But if a god cries, maybe boys and men can too. You know, cradle masculinity in streams of tears.
Down here where I scull in a rowboat, is an equally-ballistic sea god trashing waves my way. Waves that crash and take.
But neither of the gods is who I seek. Beyond the earth to the Western end is the gateway to who I seek, to the realm of death.
The resonating skies and racking seas came to hiatus. Now calm yet not settling. When the storm dies, it is supposed to take the good things and leave us shredded pieces of ourselves. It carves hollow happiness to the sun that paints ancient silver lining in clouds. But when storms die, I wait in another’s threshold. See if it will lay more destruction in my already fragmented soul.
But nothing, just the sinister silence of its aftermath. One that would make you succumb to your inner self as it crawls on your skin. Eerie than the sky’s rancorous rage. Regardless, one hell is better than the other. Right?
As the light slumbers down the horizon and dark bleeds, the sight of an infernal Acheron emerges. To his boat, the ferryman awaits. When I reach him, I grabbed a rope and laced it to my neck in a knot.
I come to trade.
“Take me instead.” I tossed the other end of the rope to him.
Not her. Not her whose velvet skin they cut and bruise with needles. Not her whose midnight hair they shave, and smile they stole. She once shined as the moonlight and caress my face taking the sadness coiled to unshed storms. It’s hard to see them shove medicine down her throat. So I journey here. Maybe I can trade death if not stop it. Maybe I can bring back my mom to how she used to look.
“I am no time to tell, to keep and take,” Charon said. “Life is a bittersweet taste of the in-between whilst acceptance is the aftertaste and death is the residue. Only frightened is he who never got a taste and not want a taste in fear of losing. Foolish too.”
There’s nothing I can do? But I tried to carry the strength of a man. And I can’t stop it! I can’t stop it- a mantra splitting my mind to a maze, I crawl but can’t escape. I close my eyes and fell in the murky depth of nothing.