View Full Version : Lost at sea - 700 words

October 20th, 2016, 02:54 PM
Just sort of spontaneously wrote this. Not entirely sure where I am going with it yet but I have the idea to expand it to a short story. Any feedback is greatly appreciated! Jam

Thereís a peacefulness as the world seems to resort back to its previous state. The waves lap calmly against the metal sheeting that I lie on top of.

There are no clouds. Nothing but blue surrounds me for miles, the sea and sky merging into one. The sun beats down on me, burning my skin. I am

helpless against its superior power. The wreckage lies still, the bodies gently bob up and down in the water. Everything is calm and time is free to ebb

along at its own pace. I think Iíve been here for an hour at most, but it could have been half a day. Time jumps around when no one is watching.

Silence fills the empty space, encompassing everything. The few screams of those trapped have stopped, those that I couldnít reach. The sea is

silent and empty. No cargo ships sail along the horizon in this part of the ocean. And thereís no wind. After the chaos caused in the last fifteen

minutes before we crashed, the fear and panic tearing through the cabin, the silence doesnít feel right. Itís as if I want the chaos to return. To hear

the screams, those voices of my human counterparts that I knew for less than two hours. But all I really want is for someone just to talk to me.

But no one does.

I think Iíve found Mum. Floating away, perhaps thirty feet to my right. Curled black hair. A red knee length dress and sandals. A vodka bottle floats

next to her. I can only see her back but I know itís her. A child can always recognise their Mother. I havenít seen Sarah though. She was just five

years old. School swimming lessons started at six. No one made it out alive. No one but myself. Perhaps itís fate. I donít believe in fate, or destiny. But

here I am, a survivor. Cast away among the wreckage of the remains of the plane. With no one to talk to. No one to comfort or to be comforted by.

Itís a lonely place to be.

Iím sat upon the left wing. I hauled myself up onto the metal structure after struggling in the water for a few minutes. My clothes, still attached to my

body, are only slightly soggy now. The tropical sun dries them quickly. The 70 foot long wing is now just 20 feet in length. The rest of its remains

surround us. I didnít notice that I had broken my leg for a while. It was only after the ringing in my ears had stopped that I had heard the desperate

pleas for help from my fellow passengers that I realised. When we crashed part of the cabin had broken off and crumpled, sealing the passengers

inside. A body, just the arm and leg visible, was stuck in the crumpled end. There was no movement. But it didnít matter. I knew that the person was

dead. There were people alive inside though. Their arms scraped against broken plastic of the windows as they pleaded for help. With no help from

outside and both exits blocked, the water seeped in.

I tried to stand up but my leg refused to move. I wanted to help them, to try to stop them from drowning. But my leg refused to bend or to help to

push my body up from the metal. I looked down to see the crooked angle that it made just below my knee. The shock of the crash had numbed the

pain at first. That pain was re-emerging. I couldnít move as small needles pierced their way up my left leg. Several times, I tried to stand up. Each

time I failed. And each time the pain got worse. All the while the water flooded into the cabin not five metres from me. I had to help. I was their only

chance. I tried one last time to stand. At first I succeeded, hobbling on one leg. Yet as I shifted the weight onto my crippled limb the pain soared

upwards in a blaze of fury. I lost my footing and fell.

When I awoke the cabin wasnít there.

October 23rd, 2016, 02:05 PM
" time is free to ebb"? mmm,
how about drift? And in the context of your story, how about play tricks on the mind?

"It's a lonely place..." How about "i'm lonely" or something more stark even?

You're sat upon the left wing of what? ( model type, 707 or whatever would suffice.)

Go with it Jam and good luck.

October 24th, 2016, 08:52 PM
I actually really enjoyed this. It feels incomplete, which I think you already know, but other than that, I dig the emotional middle and the way things kind of drift in to the story. It's a slow build for such a traumatic experience, and I think it's true to form for what a person in that position would be going through. There's not too much flowy, frilly dialogue. It's all stripped down to the nuts and bolts, like a mind that's just got nothing left. Very stark...like the character's prospects.

I do have a couple of notes, though. There's a weird thing going on with the timeline here. There's the crash, then there's the numbness, then he notices his leg is askew, then he passes out, now he's drifting. I would either cut the numbness or make it carry all the way through to the time when he blacks out. That seems more logical, like he can't understand why he can't use his leg, then he notices. It's not the pain that makes him pass out, it's the fact that he can't feel it that does. Seems more real and likely to me, anyways.

The other thing is to be really careful with including details. The vodka bottle, for instance. In a medium like flash fiction, every word counts. If you go and throw in something that doesn't really matter, you end up with a line that hangs and sticks with the reader that can't be resolved. That still bugs me about this story. Also, the sister and the family in general either needs more or less mention here to make it seem more shocking or more numbing. Pick one way and go berserk.

October 26th, 2016, 10:30 PM
Hi both, thanks for the comments first of all.

dither - drift is a better word. It obviously suits the situation better, thanks. I hadn't given thought to the model of the plane really, the kid is only twelve-ish so would he know the model unless he was really into planes?

thepancreas11 - the idea is very much to keep it stripped back as I felt he wouldn't notice many minor details so close after the crash. So the idea of keeping the numbness all the way would work well. Also I think that I'll remove the vodka bottle like you suggested. Initially I was going to add a scene later on when the kid is thinking about his mum and sister. His mum was going to be an alcoholic. However, to save words I think that I will leave that detail out for now.

I'll go beserk,


October 27th, 2016, 03:30 AM
"When I awoke the cabin wasn’t there." - Perhaps you should strike this and continue from the last paragraph. It was going well.

October 28th, 2016, 04:36 AM
Interesting stuff. Reminds me a little of Beckett for some reason. Was this meant to have a poetic vibe with it?

Thanks for sharing!

November 2nd, 2016, 08:58 PM
yeah it does feel incomplete but it was average though nothing too interesting I think you could spice it up a little with the dialogue and narrative.

November 4th, 2016, 09:26 PM
Thanks for the comments! :)

Ghouls - Its the start of the next paragraph I suppose but I haven't gotten any further yet so whether it stays or not will depend on what I decide to do next I suppose.

danielstj - Thanks for the comparison, although I'm not quite at his level (yet, one day, I hope) ;-) Its not meant to be poetic really but I suppose that the effect is not unwanted.

CrimsonAngel223 - Yeah its very incomplete. For the moment he is just a lone character so I don't anticipate much dialogue. However I have thought of an idea where he starts to hallucinate (due to loneliness, dehydration and insomnia) and imagines being accompanied by a much older and younger version of himself. so possibly dialogue will come into the fray. Although that idea may sound ridiculous or not ever come to fruition. Who knows!

Thanks again,

January 6th, 2017, 08:49 AM
Hi Jam,

I read it straight through no re-reads just one stumble. You are blessed with flow, which is either intuitive or a lifetime's struggle (trust me). Flow is achieved by a balance of good sentence construction and pace, this piece has it.

The early narration is excellent in conveying the numbness to brain and body of the trauma.

I agree about the vodka bottle, use it or lose it.

You refer to feet in one instance and meters in another.

I'm fine with the lack of technical explanations. The boy(?), whose narration it is, would call the left wing the port wing if he was interested in planes.

The stumble. You start a para in present tense and then narrate in past tense, which is fine if the switch is flagged as a device which by and large you achieve. It even adds to the confusion of the child's new emerging reality. But there's a conflict. Firstly, this 'flagged' tense change is muffled. I would prefer, 'When I had hauled myself...' it promotes the device.

Iím sat upon the left wing. I hauled myself up onto the metal structure after struggling in the water for a few minutes...

is followed at the end of the para by:

When I awoke the cabin wasnít there.

This doesn't agree with (present tense) 'I'm sat on the wing.'

But these are small things. Good work.

Pincher Martin in short trousers.

January 6th, 2017, 12:59 PM
Hello, Jamboree... I really enjoyed reading your story. There was a noticeable disconnect from the trauma to the survivor, as if the survivor was viewing the event from a distance... that rang so authentic to me... I have been in a traumatic situation, and this is exactly how I felt, as if the event had little to do with me, and everything moved in slow motion... I noticed insignificant details, and completely overlooked the true horror around me. I have heard it said that this is a survival mechanism ... to prevent one from either going insane or just shutting down... anyway, speaking as a reader, this was very good, and I would have absolutely read on...

January 6th, 2017, 03:31 PM
Hi all,

Thanks for the comments :-)

Qwertyman - Not so sure about Pincher Martin. I have a long way to catch up to Golding's level, although one can dream of reaching such lofty heights one day. I know very much what you mean about the stumble and I get why it doesn't. I had a few more lines on the end of this piece but scraped them before I posted on here leaving just that line from the paragraph. It may not have worked fully then but I understand why it doesn't work now. Although I want it to have a similar impact so I may have to think long and hard over that one. If only my other works flowed so well...

Firemajic - I'm glad that I managed to capture the boy's shock quite so well, although I hope that you have recovered from your terrible ordeal. I felt that having the initial action and drama of the crash would overshadow how he comes to terms with the magnitude of the event. Slowly going from replaying the crash in his mind, to thinking of his family, his injury and being unable to help the trapped people and later (once I get around to writing it) coming to terms and coping with being alone. I felt that would be a better way of going about telling the story.

Jam :-)

January 7th, 2017, 11:12 PM
This would be great if you worked it into a short story....I enjoy your style

January 8th, 2017, 12:35 AM
I must begin by appologising Jam. I came across this piece of your writing when you first shared it on here, I was supposed to give you some critique however I had a very long shift at work that day and it completly slipped my mind.

I really enjoyed your story the first time round and again on this reading. A really good job, there were some errors however by now I am sure they will have already been mentioned.

January 8th, 2017, 11:23 PM
Here's a few sentences that sound strange to me.

"The waves lap calmly against the metal sheeting that I lie on top of." How about: I lay sprawled on the metal sheeting as waves lap against it.
"The wreckage lies still, the bodies gently bob up and down in the water" Maybe: The bodies gently bob up and down in the wreckage.
"To hear the screams, those voices of my human counterparts that I knew for less than two hours" Maybe: To hear the screams of strangers.
"My clothes, still attached to my body, are only slightly soggy now" It's clear that his clothes are still on so: My clothes are only slightly soggy now.
"A body, just the arm and leg visible, was stuck in the crumpled end." How about: I saw an arm and a leg poking through the wreckage.

You write with an unhinged, passionate voice that I adore. Keep it up!

January 13th, 2017, 04:39 PM
Gomer_Ashby - Give me time and I'll get there. As mentioned before I'm not entirely sure where to take this yet but once its complete I'll post a finished piece.

H.Brown - No need to apologise at all my friend! Work and real life can get the better of us often. Do not apologise for what you cannot control.

Burkholder - I suppose the unhinged voice comes from those sort of phrases that are perhaps not the way someone on the outside would describe the scene but perhaps more from somehow who is actually in the scene would describe it. Especially if they are in a lot of shock from the accident. I do get your point about his clothes still being on, that would obviously be assumed. To be edited when I complete the story.

Thanks for the comments all!

Jam :-)

January 15th, 2017, 08:27 PM
You captured the scene well; I could see the sky and the water and feel the heat of the sun and empathize with the boy as he experienced the trauma of his situation.

I wondered, though, if the wing of a plane would float, especially after the cabin disappeared beneath the water. It might be worth looking into.

At first I thought "I'm sat on the left wing" was awkward but then I noticed you are in the UK and I'm guessing it's just new to me here in the U.S.

The sentence "It was only after the ringing in my ears had stopped that I had heard the desperate pleas for help from my fellow passengers that I realized." was confusing to me. There are too many events for one sentence: 'ringing in my ears,' 'pleas for help' and 'realizing that the leg is broken' and the verb tenses are a bit cumbersome.

"I couldnít move as small needles pierced their way up my left leg" A broken leg feels more like a sledgehammer blasting it to pieces than small needles.

All in all, it was a compelling beginning and I hope you continue with it. I look forward to reading the story as it unfolds.

January 17th, 2017, 07:34 PM
I was sort of going on the assumption that somehow the wing split into a piece which allowed it to float. I'll have a look into it though, I imagine some part must float given the right conditions.

As in using the word wing for a plane?

Yeah looking back that sentence is rather long as well considering the rest of the text around it. I've noted it to have a look at thanks :-)

I've never broken my leg so I kinda guessed. I was going for more of a complex fracture than a simple break, due to the nature of the crash he was in. But perhaps some extra time spent thinking about what the pain would feel like would be good.

Thanks for the comments,

Jam :-)

January 18th, 2017, 06:45 PM
It's the "I'm sat on" that is unusual. Over here (or at least where I live!) it conjures images of someone being sat upon.

January 19th, 2017, 05:25 PM
Ah okay, never realised that it read that way for you. I'll keep it for now but will try to reword it slightly if I think of a better way.

January 25th, 2017, 07:20 PM
Cool story. One thing that gets at me though is that through all the pain and trauma his first thought and terror is being alone? Odd way to write a character but it worked in a sense. Interested to read a conclusion.

January 25th, 2017, 09:43 PM
I thought the piece was interesting, one of the more interesting things I've read so far on the forums, so thumbs up for that.

In the interest of offering some critique though...

Just curious, but wondering if you've ever spent time at sea? I ask, because having spent a fair bit at sea I found it to be profoundly vast - beyond description. It was bizarre. When you can't see anything, and you stand alone on a ship in the middle of the night, with no lights, nothing - it is quite surreal and a frightening prospect to imagine yourself stranded with no help.

I know that he's numb - and taking in small, insignficant details - but I feel like given the wreckage is centred around the scene of a vast, and eerily calm ocean, there could have been more reference to it, to help me build the mental picture.

Noah Hawley does it well in Before the Fall.

That's just me being critical though!

I like where this is going. I like your use of frank and matter of fact language and find these contrast well against the more pretty descriptors.


January 28th, 2017, 11:49 AM
Got sucked into that, very poetic and reminds me of the style of published writers. Wow

February 3rd, 2017, 06:26 PM
Very interesting read. I liked the style that it was written. It felt incomplete and that I want to know more about what happens after the crash. Strangely I'm not interested in how the crash happened, more about what happened next, which is great and what I think you wanted the reader to feel.

February 11th, 2017, 04:49 AM
I liked it. Made me think of the crash in "Lost". Maybe be a little more descriptive about the plane itself. How big, etc.

February 13th, 2017, 09:26 AM
Hi, I enjoyed reading this. You have clearly put a bit of consideration into what the scene may be like.
However, would a twelve year old boy have the knowledge that 'No cargo ships sail along the horizon in this part of the ocean.'?
Is it perhaps not more realistic that he would be hoping to sight some ships, but nothing has passed yet? Small detail, I know.

Also 'my human counterparts' is clunky. I agree with Burkholder's suggested change.

Stick with it though, good luck.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Eric Romano
February 14th, 2017, 11:39 AM
It certainly has a poetic vibe to it and the way you end it with "when I awoke, the cabin wasn't there" leaves me wondering if it was all a dream (just my thought, I could be completely wrong.) You can turn it into a really good short story as it seems like a good draft.

February 18th, 2017, 10:40 PM
I liked this piece and, keeping in mind that you aren't( or weren't) sure were you're going with it, i think it could be a good start for a longer story.
Here are some observations:

The first line, or first two sentences were good and they draw the reader in. The story is believable and i imagine the aftermath of a crash would be more or less like that.
However, the character is confusing. When you say " a child knows its mother," and your refer to the child's five year old sibling, i automatically assume it ia a child but the elaborate descriptions of the weather and memories made it clear that this was't a child. That bugged me till the end.
There were some words that seemed superfluous and detracted a tiny bit from the story. An example is "lap calmly". When the sea laps, i already know it's calm. "Helpless against a superior power" was another one.
Finally, i would think that the whole poetic, reflective nature of the present action would lend itself to longer sentences. The short sentences make it feel like it's missing some adrenaline.
All in all, i enjoyed it.