Each month we select the best 15-minute Writers’ Dash submission made through our blog comment system or through our submission page. This a timed challenge and is more demanding than it appears. The writer has to organise thoughts, ideas and words into a presentable package in a mere 15 minutes. There is rarely time to edit.
The winner for both January and February is Merry Chase, with a short story and a collection of (un)romantic limericks.
Wind shrieked through the rigging. It bore rain sheeting into Hank’s back chilling his bones. He braced his bare feet all the firmer against the mast and shoved back against the wind, balancing against the elements, and hauled hard the sheet fist over fist.
Barely visible between streaking veils of rain Hank’s glance caught the glint of Commander J Poppin, in full armor as always, the fool, and as always leaving his command to commandeer someone else’s. Nothing but cargo until they were landed in port, he could stay below commanding his men to empty their vomit buckets now and then but instead he chose to don ridiculous gear and strut about the ship as if a troop carrier had any interest at all in the troops it carried. True to form he was on the quarterdeck now and in the captain’s face.
“If I were Captain James,” thought Hank and left the thought unfinished, crabwise inching on his ass along the crossbeam to grasp another sheet and haul.
The next he chanced a glance, Hank saw Commander Poppin trying to use his useless helm to bail a lifeboat where it lay lashed. Hank grinned. Maybe Captain James had given the commander this useless task to gain a little peace amid the storm’s madness.
Another sheet firm and fast. Another crabwise scoot. Another bracing of feet against the wind that slammed his back. Another glance. From the foredeck far below more men swarmed aloft, ordered to sheet in the sails before the tempest tore them loose. Below their rising heads, the captain’s bellows were soundless round mouthings drowned by the wind’s high wail.
Then in an eerie moment of utter silence the captain’s roar came loud and clear as on a pond becalmed—“Grab hold the Commander!”
In the second it took for the wind to shift clear ‘round, Hank saw Commander Poppin sail like a handkerchief on a breeze, up off the deck and overboard. The next moment, the same wind slammed ‘round into Hank’s chest and took him flying – not falling but flying, down to the quarterdeck.
Captain James’ hands took hold of his and fixed them to the tiller. “Mind the helm!” he howled. Hank, still dazed from his flight, could only think of Poppin’s helm whirling away like a discus port while Poppin himself went starboard. A slam of the Captain’s broad hand against his, the rough wood under his fingers –
Helm, yes, helm. Hank braced his feet again, wide against the deck now, and tried to hold her steady as Captain James moved toward a hopeless rescue attempt.
© Merry Chase, January 2014
See more of Merry’s work on her blog.
My Funny Valentine, in Seven Putrid Limericks
‘Tis the day for romantic devotion.
Necromantic is my ex-love’s notion,
wishing for what is lost
enough to pay the cost
of overdue praise: heady potion!
It’s a daring attempt, necromancy:
a charm to revive my dead fancy.
A dance with the dead
may go to my head
but a swim with piranhas, less chancy.
‘Tis a day for romantic delusion
and one compliment creates confusion
where once there were none
but what is the fun
of receiving regrets in profusion?
Now the ex-love has dug up the grave
hoping he’ll find some ashes to save.
What a late Valentine.
Dug up memories? Be mine.
Not a ghost of a chance that I’ll cave.
Still, there’s something about the mooncalf
that may be worth more than a laugh.
I could share with new suitors
via dating computers
the endorsement of his epitaph.
“Here lies one I once took to wive
and gladly our love I’d revive.
She’s kind, smart and caring,
creative and daring
and in more lively hands she may thrive.”
‘Tis a day for romantic decision.
It’s my choice to decline his incision.
His post-mortem inspection
of long-dead affection
brings on only a horror-show frisson.
© Merry Chase, February 2014
See more of Merry’s work on her blog.