by Michael Seese
Something old, something new for this week's Flash! Friday. Here is the photo.
And our conflict had to involve man vs. nature. Seeing the picture reminded me of something I wrote for Indies Unlimited last March. I tightened it up a bit. So here is the refurbished "Beached."
The police struggled to restrain the grind of onlookers. Oblivious to the din, Dr. Newton’s attention and energy remained focused on the immobile black mass before him.
"Damn it! That’s the third this month. Why do they do it? Why do they beach themselves? Pity. She’s a beautiful specimen," he said as he ran an appreciative hand along the smooth skin.
"How can you tell it's a female?" asked Simone, his assistant.
"When you’ve been doing this for as long as I have, you sense it."
"What if it continues to happen?"
"Worst case, widespread extinction."
"There must be—"
"Shhh!” he hissed. "I feel something!" He placed a sensor against the leviathan, and listened. "She’s still alive!"
An audible buzz surged through the crowd.
"She’s severely dehydrated." Newton called to the crowd. "Everyone! We need your help!"
Without a word, the throng lined up beside the imperiled creature. Taking turns, each plugged a finger into her lubrication port, and delivered a small quantity of oil. Newton checked her levels, then rebooted her.
Propellers churning the sand, she began lurching toward the water. With a titanic splash, she entered the surf.
As she sailed out to sea, a metallic cheer arose from the crowd.
When I first saw the photo and began contemplating, I had an idea of a story told by a sailor whose crazy captain implores them to pull a ship across the desert, because it's a shortcut. I wanted to have the sailor speak in a unique voice, for example, referring to the captain as cap'n. But that just made me think of Cap'n Crunch cereal, which ruined it.
Then I came up with the opening line "I stand in the fury," and the rest flowed. Below is "Fury."
I stand in the fury.
Arms outstretched, I curse Mother Nature, slathering her with every epithet in my vocabulary. She responds with a haughty huff, hoping it will send me scurrying. I refuse to yield.
I am Ahab! "Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me."
She changes tactics. Needles of sleet sting my face. I do not flinch.
I am Lear! "Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!"
The sane have long since sought safety. I seek a fight. My defiance only deepens her spite, and fortifies her resolve. She wraps an icy fist around the brine and hurls her watery vengeance at me. She fills the air with a banshee's wail. Roaring rumbles pummel my chest. Blue bolts of electricity turn the sand around me to glass. The battle leaves us both spent. But I am still here.
The clouds retreat. The rains cease. She has ceded.
And I have lost.
I have lost because I could not convince her to take me, as she took my family in a cataclysmic clash of harbor and homestead.
In the end, I am Martin Luther. "Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying."
Please share your thoughts on either.