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Out at Sea - 650 words (1 Viewer)


WF Veterans
I missed the LM challenge for this particular prompt, but my wife and I have been holding our own flash fiction challenges using old LM prompts from this site. I liked one of the stories I wrote too much to keep it to myself, so if anyone is interested, here it is.

Out at Sea
by Jared Brayshaw

I've lost track of how long I've been out here. It can't be days, since I would have been able to remember them. It can't be weeks, because the hunger pangs would surely feel stronger than they are now. It can't be months, because I would be dead. However long it's been, it's been too long.

They say you overcome your fears by facing them, but even with all the time that's passed, I'm still terrified of this accursed ocean. I've always hated open water, ever since the first time seaweed brushed my leg while swimming in a lake. Even in such a harmless locale, there's no sense of depth and no telling what lies below. And in the ocean...

The most alien of Earth's creatures live in the ocean's depths, miles beneath the surface. Anglers, gulper eels, viperfish, and worse rule that domain, and only this raft separates me from them. Were I to fall in, nothing would keep me from sinking to the ocean floor miles below. Every minute of every day, I suffer the horrors of a tightrope walker afraid of heights.

I long for any respite from this volatile, unstable rubber craft, but as deep as the ocean is, its depth pales in comparison to the distance I likely am from solid ground. The ocean's deepest point is seven miles from the surface. Its most remote point is 1,600 miles from land. Even so, if I was there, I'm sure it would at least be warmer than wherever I am.

If the air temperature wasn't proof by itself, the appearance of icebergs some time ago leaves no doubt how cold it is here. I've been drifting south since the crash, and on this side of the equator, south isn't a warm paradise. It's the end of the earth - the most frigid, remote, desolate land on the planet.

Still, it's land.

It's the land my expedition was heading to before the plane went down. Of the four scientists on board, I was the only one who survived. I managed to collect warm clothing and inflate the life raft before the plane answered the call of the deep. Beyond that, my supplies are meager.

I knew to hoard any water I could find. The food crates sank before they could be salvaged, as did any lights, flares, or other signaling devices. The radios were past the floating body of a colleague - I knew I would regret leaving them behind, but at the time, it couldn't be helped.

Is this a hallucination? A trick of the twilight? In the fading light, a pale unbroken edge has begun to appear. If it's another iceberg, it's far larger than the others. If it's something more...

I feel a cautious excitement building, and I hesitate to chase it away. Is it foolish to hope for rescue? Is it foolish to think others will find me, should I ever reach the coast? Will they even know I'm alive, or where to look for me?

The questions vanish as my raft strikes the shore. Its rear sways with the current, but the front is secure. I force my exhausted body out of the raft, and as I tumble onto solid ground, the ocean steals the craft away. It tosses and buffets it, boasting its unrelenting power as it carries the spot of yellow out of sight. I don't care.

I roll onto my back, feeling the frigid winds burn my exposed face. I'm tired, hungry, and cold, yet I still feel an overwhelming relief. This is the first land I've felt since leaving the airport. True, it's a desolate expanse of ice, and I can feel its cold, hard surface sapping what little strength remains in my body. This land, this thing I wished for every moment of every day I was at sea, will probably be my death.

Still, it's land.


Senior Member
Good work. I do like how you paint a picture of the narrator's fears, and gradually revealinformation in how he ended up in this mess. You also manage to build up the hopelessness of the narrator's plight as the story progresses, to the point where finding land still won't save him.


Senior Member
Agreed, I was hoping he found a ship but went to another type of hell.
Im not sure which I would prefer, depths of the ocean or hungry polar bears.. Ocean!

Great read!


Senior Member
I could feel the hopelessness and relief at the same time. I really enjoyed it. You really brought the emotion of the person to the surface. Keep up the great writing.


Senior Member
Wow, this was very vivid to me.

I like your pictorial language and the tension that built up fast.

In my opinion, it was too short, though. When the narrator told me about the land (or was it?) he was approaching, I immediately began to imagine scenarios of him finding a scientific base!
Thanks for the great read.



Senior Member
Draws you in, captures the futility of his survival. I enjoyed it. I can't even think of anything to constructively criticize -- it ends with just the right length and is quite well-written overall.


Senior Member
I kept thinking is it written down or is he thinking out loud while in the prediciment
I actually agree with this. Would it work better to have a consistent narrative, either as a present-tense narration or as a journal entry? Also 'Of the four scientists on board, I was the only one who survived.' seems an abruptly sober explanation.


Senior Member
I feel like this story was well written, and that the descriptions are on point. I'm impressed with the detailing to be honest.


Senior Member
I kept thinking is it written down or is he thinking out loud while in the prediciment

I agree with this too.

It was an interesting read, but I didnt feel like i was there in the situation... i guess similar to what i agree with.

But, a nice read...


I enjoyed the overall atmosphere of the story. Very interesting presentation of the 'fear of the unknown'. At first the fear is directed at the unknowns of physical reality, but later shifts towards the uncertain future of the character himself.


Senior Member
I see in this story something different than others: At the beginning was fear, then it ate itself a bite after a bite and the story ends with a hope: "Still, it's the land"
Being on an almost sure isolated cold land doesn't bring anything negative to the hero, but a renewed hope to find some getout from his situation. It is interesting, as in such bad situations, people eiter deoteriate, giving all the power above themselves to the fear and pessimity, either become tired of the fear and begin to strugle again. Here you showed the second case slowly developing, giving us a message: "it's not the end till the end".

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