After 1682 (Free Write Friday)

Well it’s time to leap into another prompt from Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday

You find yourself in the lower level of an old ship. A calendar on the wall says  1682. There is a small window, and the view is nothing but open sea and a setting sun. There is a staircase and you can see daylight at the top…

After a few interruptions to the weekend, I finally got to the prompt here Monday in the PM, South-West Pacific time. Hope it reads okay, kind of two for the price of one.


After 1682

The emotion, motion to the ocean falls non-existent to this calendar day. All we can do is sleep below decks, day after day when not on watch as the sun here in the doldrums splits the timbers to the deck above. The waters to the Equator is no place for we people on a ship with dead sails, here waiting as another sun to set its dry tears of bright beneath the flat horizon, paints no escape.  From this crude opening for a window at each days end for sixty days, the same painting blinds us with hope a new morning will arrive with fresh winds to alleviate our boredom.

One midshipman, a young lad has put together a crude calendar for the crew, made from blank chart parchment, and nailed to the hull. He even went a far as to render phases the moon transitions through each month for this year, 1682, at least it kept the lad busy for a time. Now he and another midshipman turn their hands about making copies to the commander’s charts. Almost time to take watch again. Many a man to the crew will again take refuge topside, or on the gun deck, with all the gun ports open.

Have to admit, even though there is no wind while we drift in these cursed waters, the gun deck does generate a breeze way, a false wind so to speak, making for a good place to sleep once a watch is over. Best be making up the stairs now for there sound the bells. Looking up, the day’s final light, a good time to be climbing back on deck, and with the master up tonight, he’ll be charting more stars in the heavens. The sounds of feet shuffle through the decks, while stairs creak and groan under the shifting weights as the watch changes.

Theatre patrons in the township of Ogmore, and the village Styx gather in the foyer to a towering structure, the Oak Inn Players Theatre, milling around, mixing in conversation and laughter. A peculiar structure comprising in nature, two intersecting circles reaching a height equivalent to five stories. Although the theatre only seat an audience in the first three, the remaining two house an unusual apparatus in which few patrons know about, in fact none of them do. Down below, two subterranean levels exist, one to house the theatre sets, and the usual inn supplies. The other, well only two people have access to its contents, and other than for them, this level to the theatre does not exist to anyone else.

A strange light sails through the heavens this night, the master says it be a comet, a ship of the night and is a sure sign good trade winds will follow, although some of the crew speak as if it is a bad omen to our impending doom to roam the dole-drums forever.

“Fog rolling in off the starboard bow!” cracked the call in the still night air. The watch is half over, and now we come to be adrift in a thick fog, making at only half a knot each quarter to the watch. The stars so bright tonight, and ship of the night have been vanquished from sight, while the air has warmed again, and the entire crew become restless. In an instant a call began to ring out, suddenly a ball of light streaked towards us to engulf the entire ship passing through its every timber sail, mast, beam, and us.

Three hours have passed at the Oak Inn Players Theatre, patrons begin to empty out through the gaping foyer into open street night air, laughing and conversing even more. Some pay homage to the inn keep by sharing a drink or two, while others stroll, or take to horse and cart to find their home in either Ogmore, the surrounds, and the village Styx.

The evening fog has begun to roll in, soon it’ll be difficult for the patrons to find their way home, with those from the village Styx having the most distance to cover, and a low bridge across a ford to make in good time a leisurely stroll along the southern bank of the  Styx River. Soon a group of six patrons, two mature couples, and two young women in their 20s riding home on a cart, near the village Styx as a bow, masts, and tattered torn sails emerge from within the river’s hanging fog. Loud groans bellow as the ship, a 17th century frigate, beaches upon the river sand and fallen trees at Wharf’s bend on a falling tide.

A couple of screams echo from the patrons’ cart, “By and by, stop Albert, stop.” Albert brings the cart to a complete standstill . “Jessica, and Vera, stay here with your aunts.” ” Albert, do we still have the old dock rope under the cart?”

“Well I think so Harry.”

“Get to then old chap, I’ll grab the running line from under the board, some people need rescuing.”

Before too long more carts, and carriages arrive, Jessica and Vera make a dash for the frigate, “girls, girls!,” Harry races after the pair with the running line in hand.

“What’ s going on Albert?”

“A ship just beached, it came out of the fog, and if it were not for the full moon tonight, we would nigh of believed.”

Fast shouts another, “All able body men, lantern, and ropes, down to Wharf’s Bend!”

Then with out a second thought, “Enough standing around gents!” Rachael, one of the girls’ aunts, takes the reins to Butternut and Pumpkin, wielding then at speed down towards the bend.

“Rachael, slow down, please.”

“We only live once Elenore, we’ll be there before you can say Cobb & Co.”

“Oh please, you only ever worked for them a few times, stop bringing it up.”

“I do it just to annoy you, elder sister.”

“Everyone follow Rachael, she know the shortcut to the bend!” shouts Albert.

Arrival, Rachael and Elenore cut in front Jessica and Vera, preventing them from bowling over the vertical bank to the bend. “Stop right there young ladies, take a look at yourselves, evening dress ripped, and torn. I don’t think Aunt Elenore has any chane at mending those pair. Hello dear Harry, you’ve lost some pace to old age.”

“Still younger and faster than you, Rachael. Now lets see what this ship holds.” All turning, some bad weather has beaten the life from her decks, only silence greets the small gathering. Silence, and the sounds to tell stories in the night, those which dwell in emptiness to the moon shadows. The ship a frigate, her timbers, and hull, dry, aged, and cracked, for she’s an antique , a sea going vessel from the 17th century. For today is the sixth day of April 1863…



8 responses to “After 1682 (Free Write Friday)

  1. You’ve a rich imagination, Sean! And the writing style suits the narrative quite well. I like the unexpected twist in the end. This old ship had sailed for two centuries (Wow!), its crew never saw land and whatever little hoped they had left abandoned them at some point.

    I bet the small gathering was suprised at their finding.

    • Yes, they have arrived off balance, and to be greeted by no one on arrival, there is sure to be many questions, but more will soon arrive from the road above.

      Thank you, Uzoma, a bit experimental for me in the style it’s been written in, 1682 from a character narrator, and 1863 an unknown third person narrator making for time parallel stories, with a mystery at a drifting convergent point linking the pair.


    • Mmm, have been rewriting five short stories over the last month, and completely reworking three of them.

      Thanks, Kellie! Also have been getting my head around writing better third person narratives, and experimenting with writing first person narratives that don’t come across in a narrow view structure, by avoiding personal self pronouns.

      Why am I not writing novels, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s getting close, hence now maybe time to put a few pots on the stove to see how well it is possible to cook the contents. There’s plenty of it around now!

      Cheers, Kellie, and thank you..

    • Thanks, Sky. I grew up seeing little of the sea, so it tends to overflow in the imagination between the fiction, and the real, plus a little family history helps in the exploration.


  2. “We only live once Elenore”…
    Your writing is flawless… And it runs like a river.. The idea of time and changes is really worthwhile here as it draws a story by itself…
    I enjoyed the descriptions and I think the characters are”alive” in the sense that they show us a particularly perspective towards the facts… You should take it to the next level and write a novel or something… Keep it up with the good writing Sean.
    Best regards, Aquileana 😛

    • Thanks, Aquileana. Still, there’s enough errors in the piece for me to fix before expanding upon the intent, and timeline. Have been working of late in determining better description, and reasoning for why something exists in the state it represents. Having characters find their natural way has been a learning process, a little research, and much observation & participation. Have been reworking five short tales of late. Cheers, Sean

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