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The Coffee Shop => Writing Games & Challenges => Topic started by: Xerika on January 26, 2009, 11:45:14 AM

Title: Vote Now - Challenge 48
Post by: Xerika on January 26, 2009, 11:45:14 AM
Vote now for your favourite entry in Writing Challenge 48.

As a quick reminder for anyone who needs it, the theme for this challenge was anything to do with water.

You'll notice that one of the entries is a poem, but since I didn't specify that all submissions had to be prose I've unilaterally decided to include it.

Each person has one vote only.

Voting will close at 23.59 GMT on Tuesday 3rd February.
Title: Re: Vote Soon - Challenge 48
Post by: Xerika on January 26, 2009, 12:19:42 PM
Waiting At The Beach

Sand. The same color as the cold coffee and milk in my half-filled cup. I toss it into the sea and watch the tan swirls twist and curl away in the small ripples of the current. This time of year is too cold, the air too clammy and moist, as it saturates each breath I take with the tangy taste of salt. It leaves a gritty sensation on my face. A biting wind tugs at the hair hanging from under my cap, the long blond and silver strands, as if daring me to move. I ignore the slight push and pull of it around me while I stand at the water line, watching the waves break hastily on the wet-packed sand. Funny how the cold water never seems to bother my bare feet. 

You said you were going to meet me here. Late afternoon, just after five, near the long pier where the bored people come to fish, where the old ones come to sit. Built a quarter of a mile north of the hotel, its planks jut out far from the shore. You said a lot of things that day before you left. Summer gold was still in your hair, your lips rich and soft, your skin olive brown from the hot sun. I watched until you could no longer be seen as you walked away from the seawall and slowly disappeared past the old bait shop that always smells of old fish and the sour sweat of its owner.

So, of course I came. Again. Even though the bay is beige today and the sky is suspended in a frozen motion of heavy dark grey clouds, like some aeronautic race waiting for the pistol to go off. Maybe God forgot his stop watch. Let the rain fall, it doesn’t matter much to me anymore. I’m dressed for it in worn  jeans and a nylon parka. Seen through my shades, the weather looks even more foul than had been predicted. You promised you would come. So, of course, I will wait.

The sun sets around seven. It’s red rays thrusts their way through the bottom of the clouds just above the horizon where the choppy water of the ocean smoothes itself out. A perfect splash of color on the backside of a black and white and grey end of a day. Gulls gather above, in their different clusters, preparing to move inland. Their shrill cries, in random discords of what could be sorrow, fill the air in a lazy billow of twilight.

I wonder who they are waiting for?  Do they cry for someone, or for each other, or simply for nothing at all? I can’t help myself from believing that they perform their aerobatic dance for no good reason other than in the forlorn hope that they too will be seen by someone. Be noticed by them. Will be tossed a scrap of bread, like a bit of attention so badly needed for the nourishment of the soul. Here at this beach, where the wet sand is cold, where no one bothers to show. Even though they said they would. Where I wait. Still.

Title: Re: Vote Soon - Challenge 48
Post by: Xerika on January 26, 2009, 12:23:28 PM
Liquid Hell

The gale is howling from the south
the tide is brimming high as well
If Dante himself were here tonight
it might inspire another Hell.
But now no tortured soul would burn
all wretched sinful damned must swim
as the Poet's pen described the knell 
of the Devil's Bell in a liquid Hell.

Across the desert water –Sirens call
and Man’s re-enactment from Paradise to Fall
unfolds to mock his plight-again, again
ad nauseum, for this is the Devil’s night.
The sinful innocent—as such there be
mercifully will sink in this awful sea
whereas those who have defiled the will of God
are forever lashed by wave and thunder rod.

Then Dante’s scheme at last would be complete
and every erring soul obliged to meet
a fate designed to fit each special sin
as time—unending—commences to begin.
But God –the paradigm of divine good
shall not turn a dismissive face to Man
will forgive him and Satan as well
and drain the seas to quench the fires of Hell
Title: Re: Vote Soon - Challenge 48
Post by: Xerika on January 26, 2009, 12:26:13 PM
The Show

Sam Connerly could not help the boyhood giddiness that now seeped into his mood. He had dived this site now for the past three years but this was the first time that Nasa had mounted an expedition on such a grand scale.

As he steered his "scooter" downward towards the cave's small entrance, he thought back to the day he and his wife discovered the it. Icy depression snatched at his soul brought on by the memory of his lost love, but he held it at bay and honored her memory by recalling the excitement they both had felt upon that first dive.

He glanced over his shoulder as to make sure the other five men were still close behind. Sam was so excited he had to slow his pace several times this morning as the expedition got under way. He was so used to doing these dives with just himself and Julie, never before had he had to worry about extra men, camera equipment and gear.  The snail's pace they moved at was excruciating. And it gave Sam too much time to think about Julie's death.

The party finally hovered over the cave entrance ready to enter. Sam signaled the others and carefully piloted his DPV (Diver Propelled Vehicle) through the tiny opening. There was scarcely room to fit through and he knew if he were to damage the "scooter" they would not be able to make it to their destination, the chamber at the furthest end of the cave. Not to mention the healthy cut to his paycheck should he break the Nasa owned piece of equipment.

After a few heart stopping moments he was finally through into the vast chamber that lay beyond. As the other men carefully navigated the opening he wandered a few feet away and allowed himself a moment to enjoy what his wife used to call "the show."

Daylight from above refracted into shimmering curtains of blues and greens as it filtered into the chamber from several small openings above. The silhouettes of countless jagged stalactites jutted sharply downward looking like angry black pointy teeth motioning them downward into the maw of inky darkness below. 

Sam could not help a shiver as an unexpected fear ran down his spine. Everything appeared normal but there was a nagging feeling tugging at his soul that something was out of place.

Moments later the whole party was through the entrance and they entered the wonderland that was Sam and Julie's proud discovery. Their destination was an hour and a half swim through several chambers, both small and expansive, to a modest chamber the Connerly couple had dubbed THE ABYSS. No light from above had ever touched it's walls. Here was their destination, and the discovery that ended up costing Julie her life.

Sam got the same eery feeling as they slowly passed into the ABBYS. He signaled the camera man to begin recording and the extra lights of the camera seems to comfort Sam for a few moments.

Within the chamber fresh water from the mainland jungles flowed over saltwater that had penetrated the cave's limestone walls. Because the saltwater was heavier it sunk to the chamber floor, while the lighter fresh water ran over the top creating two distinct layers. Wisps of white cloud like formations floated elegantly suspended halfway from the floor to the ceiling. This is what is known to cave divers as the halocline, the boundary between fresh and salt water.

The diver and camera lights refracted differently within the two layers playing tricks on the men's eyes. It gave the illusion the upper half of the cave was dry.

A pain struck Sam's heart as the vision of his wife pulling off her mask ran through his mind. She was an experienced cave diver and knew that this phenomenon was just an optical illusion, why had she done it?

A tap on the shoulder caused him to jump. Sam pointed toward the center of the cave where he and his wife had discovered the never before seen life form. It was a form of algae that had managed to evolved within the halocline despite the lack of light from above. The fact this organism could evolve justifies Nasa spending millions of taxpayer dollars to fund a probe to Europa, Jupiter's fourth largest moon. There existed a vast extra terrestrial ocean and was believed to be the best possibility to find alien life. Here on Earth, in the ABYSS, was evidence it's evolution was possible.

Sam moved aside and let the cameraman move towards the center of the cave. His heart was heavy with the memory of his wife when suddenly over the sound of diver regulators and the mechanical whirl of the "scooters" a voice came to his ears.

"Sam," his late wife's voice melted the icy fingers gripping his heart,  "you have come back to me."

'This is impossible,' his mind tried to rationalize. His was a scientific mind and did not believe in the only explanation for what he was hearing. The possibility of ghosts.

"Welcome to the show my dear!"

The next few moments of Sam's life were to be his last. Chaos reigned around him and wilding swinging lights flashed off the walls around him as his mask was torn from his face and his lungs filled with frigid water. He would soon rejoin his beloved for death came quickly.


A week later Nasa recovered the body of Sam and two other divers. The two missing divers where abouts were unknown . Upon viewing the film footage it could never be determined what had went wrong. After inspecting the cave thoroughly no trace of the life form the Connerlys had discovered was found. Scientific espionage was cited as the cause for the incident.


Two divers slowly reached the waters edge. One looked over to the other and reluctantly pulled the mask from his face. He drew in a timid breath as his wide eyes scanned the scene with wonderment.

The other diver, upon observing the actions of the first, gingerly followed suite, taking in the twilight jungle scenery with a child's eye. The diver pulled off on of his gloves and then held his bare hand up before his face and turned it over studying both sides.

"What manner of creature is this?" He asked his fellow diver while touching his bare fingers to his wet cheek.

"I do not know," the other responded with an expressionless stare then turned to face his companion, "but I do know one thing about it. It sure doesn't breath in water."

Title: Re: Vote Soon - Challenge 48
Post by: Xerika on January 26, 2009, 12:30:32 PM
The Big Drip

I've been laying here for what seems like hours trying to get to sleep without any luck because my dear husband, the would be handyman, claimed he had fixed the facet in the bathtub.
Did he fix it? Nooo.
It is still driping, singing in it's out of step tune . . . drip. . . drip . . . drip . drip . . . drip . . .drip . drip . Plop.
How can any normal person be expected to sleep through that?

It all started about two weeks ago when I mentioned to my dear husband that the facet was dripping.
“Don't worry about it. I'll take care of it.”

Three days later it was still leaking and the drip seemed to be accelerating. I reminded him that it needed fixing.
“I told you I would fix it. Don't have time right now, but I'll do it.”
He was busy trimming his toe nails.

“Honey, why don't you run over to Home Depot and get whatever you need to fix the drip. It's beginning to wear on my nerves.” I said. After all, it was Saturday and he was off work for the whole weekend.
“Can't today Hon. I promised some friends that I'd go fishing with them.” He said as he walked out the door carrying a tackle box plus his rod and reel; none of which had been out of the closet for at least two years before today.

Sunday I kept my mouth shut. Actually it wasn't all that hard to do since I had a splitting headache due to lack of sleep which was due to laying in bed listening to the infernal drip.

Monday morning as he was leaving for work I reminded him in the sweetest voice I could muster that he needed to stop and pick up the supplies he would need on his way home.
“Supplies? Supplies for what?. He asked without giving me time to answer before he shut the door in my face.

Before going to bed that night I took a towel and wrapped one end of it around the facet, letting the other end rest next to the drain. I hoped the towel would soak up the dripping water and allow it to seep into the drain soundlessly. And it did.
Well, it did long enough for me to get to sleep anyway.

All too soon I awoke to the amplified sound of water dripping onto an already saturated towel. Investigating, I found the towel had worked loose from the facet and was now a soggy puddle covering the drain hole.
I snatched some cotton balls from the medicine cabinet and stuffed them in my ears as I headed back to bed.
Have you ever tried to shut off an irritating sound with cotton balls? I hadn't before that night. But from that one trial, I can tell you it doesn't work. At least, it didn't for me.

Tuesday morning as dear hubby took his seat at the breakfast table I slapped a piece of dry toast on a paper towel in front of him along with a cup of coffee.
“Where's my bacon and eggs?” he asked.
“Don't worry. I'll fix them. Not right now though, I'm busy.”
“Busy? You're just standing there drinking your coffee and looking out the window.”
“I promised myself,” I said, glancing at him over my shoulder, “that today I was going to call a plummer to fix the leaky facet. I'm busy thinking about which one to call.”
“You'll do no such thing. Those guys charge $75.00 just to drive out here. That's on top of whatever they can figure out to pad the bill.” He took a sip of his coffee which set off some sputtering and spiting. “What the hell did you do to the coffee? It's strong enough to get up and walk out the door by itself.”
“I haven't been sleeping well. I need it strong so I can stay awake long enough to get the kids off to school.” I said.
“I'll get what I need today and fix the facet this evening. Will that make you happy? He asked as he slammed his cup into the saucer splashing coffee over the table top, and stalked out.
I heard the front door slam shut, then called the kids to breakfast. I wiped the table off, got out some bowls, milk and dry cereal. Thankfully that they rarely cared  what I placed in front of them as long as it was some eatable version of food.

Once I got the kids off to school I decided to lay down on the couch for a short nap. Promising myself later what I would decide what to do about the drip. Right then, I wasn't able to think more than one step ahead.

I heard the kids when they came home from school, but I barely had time to register the fact before I was fast asleep again. The next thing I knew, my dear sweet husband was shaking me awake.
“Where's dinner? Have you been sleeping all day?”
I turned my face back into the couch, seeking oblivion.
“Get up and fix us some dinner Sweetheart. The kids and I are hungry.”
“Have you fixed the facet yet? I asked.
“Facet. Is that all you can talk about. We're hungry.” he said, grabbing my shoulders in both hands.
“If you haven't fixed the facet, you can fix your own dinner. Or order out unless you think it might cost too much.” Twisting out of his grip, I once again turned my face into the couch.

I slept on there on into the evening and through the night. It was the best sleep I had enjoy in ages. The next morning I had the usual breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and not so strong coffee waiting on the table with my husband entered the kitchen.

“This is more like it Hon.” he said, pulling his chair out. “Have you finally got enough sleep?
I busied my self at the sink, pretending I didn't hear him. I don't think he even noticed I failed to answer him.
“Gotta run now. See you later.” he said as he vanished toward the front door and out.

“Kids. Time to eat your breakfast and get to school.” I called out. While they ate, I went upstairs to check the drip. It was still there.

After the kids were out the door, I pulled out the yellow pages, turned to Plummer, closed my eyes and picked one at random, Gave them a call and arranged for someone to show up two hours later.
Then I set about rearranging things. I pulled all of my sweet, thoughtful husband's clothes from the closed in our bedroom and moved them into the empty closet in the mother-in-law room just off the kitchen area. I transferred all his socks, shorts and everything else belonging to him into the same room, putting them away all nice and neat. Last but not least, I added his fishing gear to one corner of his 'new' closet.

When the plummer showed  up, it took less than thirty minutes for him to get the drip fixed.
“I need you to do something else while you're here if you have time.” I said.
“What's that ma'am?” he asked.
“Come downstairs and I'll show you.” I said, leading him down.
“I need you to fix the facets in this bathtub and the lavatory.”
“I don't see anything wrong. What is it you want me to do?”
“I want both of them to drip. I want them to drip just as bad as the one upstairs did before you  fixed it.”
“Are you sure? You actually want them to drip? The look on his face told me he thought I was either nuts or that he had heard wrong.
“Yes, I'm sure. The person who will be sleeping in here seems to sleep better with a drippy facet. I want to make sure he's comfortable.”

I wonder how well he will sleep with two drippy facets?
Title: Re: Vote Soon - Challenge 48
Post by: Xerika on January 26, 2009, 12:33:36 PM
Entry removed at request of author.
Title: Re: Vote Now - Challenge 48
Post by: Xerika on February 03, 2009, 07:07:55 PM
No more bets votes please, ladies and gentlemen.

The poll is now closed.