Welcome to another short story effort by yours truly folks! This latest one is an addition to my growing list of InMon stories that have been a boon to me and a great outlet for my wandering mind.
For today’s thrilling tale, we have a shorter than normal (for me!) story with what I felt was a slightly heart-breaking twist, but I should let you find that for yourself. Accompanying this story is one of my favourite paintings, “The Raft of the Medusa” by French painter Théodore Géricault (1791–1824). It was painted to depict the aftermath of a very real shipwreck off the coast of Senegal and is a brilliant painting, albeit quite dark and almost… funereal.
If you want to check out other short fiction, click on the InMon link above and see who else put in a new story this week!
Drifting with future music
The raft bobbed gently with the rolling waves as sounded tiny splashes all around its edges. Lying prone in the centre of the crude craft he lay, listless as the vessel on which he rode.
What had he been thinking? This was a terrible idea. Perhaps he should have remained on that island, at least being able to live in some comfort and perhaps one day be rescued. Instead, here he was, adrift at sea, no way of knowing where he was, what direction the tides had carried him to or even how long he had been out here.
As the sun dipped lower toward it’s rest, he heaved a sigh – at least the constant heat battering him down would now pass and he would have some relief before the chill of night fully comes on. Grabbing on to the ropes that ran around the inflatable craft, he struggled to turn himself and move, but the deprivation and harsh conditions had worn him down.
Now on his side, he looked out across the vast expanse before him. It lay like a desert, with its life underground and as the waves moved in the waning light, it was as though the flow of time had changed and the dunes shifted constantly and speedily before his eyes. Slowly the golden surface darkened and turned to a deep, glimmering black as the moonlight began to assert it’s presence.
In the distance he thought he saw a break in the calm, even surface of his desert, this place where he now knew he would die. He squinted in the gentle light and saw that he was not mistaken, there was something disturbing the slowly rolling dunes. His mind started to race as best it’s near-addled state allowed as he tried to discern what he was seeing. As he looked on, he realised they were whales! Leviathans of this grand desert – the Shai-Hulud of this great waste. Before his thoughts got too far however, he heard a plaintive, melodious keening flow past him. It seemed to cast a net of calm over him tired mind. Soon he was surrounded by an orchestra unlike any he had ever heard before as the great beasts communed, dancing.
Without even realising it, he had pulled himself further onto his stomach so he could see better and soon he was simply lying in his boat, serene and entranced at the seemingly future-music, sounds both unintelligible and deeply profound for the listener. He had no comprehension of how long this continued and for the first time in days, maybe weeks, he didn’t care.
Time passed and slowly the distance between him and the magnificent behemoths widened – whether it was him being pushed further away or them swimming away from him, it did not matter.
As the last of the music faded from his periphery, he pulled himself onto his back once more and heaving a gentle sigh, he gazed out at the magnificent field of stars that lay spread out before him – unfettered and undimmed by the lights of a civilisation.
For the first time in who knew how long, his mind was at peace and almost rational and as his thoughts coalesced, they drifted to how he came to be here – he had been a shining star, a potential hero who would have been a face of the next space age. But his journey was cut short as a simple charter flight went awry and crashed far off course. Weeks passed and with no hope of rescue in sight, he has elected to act rather than wait, too much depended on him.
He found his eyes well up and struggle to produce tears and he realised as he gazed skyward that he was trying hard not to cry and had been for some time. It did not matter that he would not be rich or famous or a hero. It did not matter that he might die here alone. But it did matter that he had a wife back home who was carrying their child, that he would never see it born, that he would not be able to apologise to her for their last fight – that he would be late again.
13 Comments Add yours
Wow, that ending is powerful. Ultimately, it’s really the “little” things that mean the most.
Humbly appreciated 🙂
Powerful writing, truly one of the best pieces I’ve read all year. Well done!
I’m deeply honoured you think so, thank you kindly.
This really made my day! 🙂
what a wonderful story! 😀
Thank you for sharing that piece with the rest of us. The imagery and gentle tone are conveyed masterfully and effectively, well done! I found your site through a random search of “short stories” but I’m sure to find it next time with full intention.
Thanks so much Scott!
Wow, this story seems to have really been liked!
Appreciate you dropping by and taking a chance and glad you liked what you read. I post stories here fairly often so hopefully you’ll like my other stuff – old and new – even partway as much as you liked this one.
There is a lot that I liked about your story. You have some fabulous imagery and an engaging story line. I think that you could make it even stronger through a little more proofreading and some editing (there were a few typos and spots that were hard to follow).
I love the idea of a man floating in a raft at the whims and folly of the ocean currents and cursing himself for making such an ill advised decision to leave his island. I also love the sudden and chance meeting with the pod of whales singing their prehistoric songs that sounded at the same time oddly futuristic. The ending, however, feels a little tacked on to me and my feeling is that you need to find a way to connect his thoughts of his family to the rest of the story.
You might try something like having your character recall just how much passion his wife has for whales and how she had begged many times to go on whale tours but he had always promised to take her on one once he had made his fortune. The irony being of course that on the way to secure his fortune he crashed and is now a dot in a vast ocean on the edge of death listening to the song of whales that his wife would have reveled in.
I hope this helps!
You came! 😀 Kidding!
Thanks for dropping in and commenting like this, appreciate the thoughtful feedback.
Actually I agree with you about the ending and I might just incorporate your suggestions into it in some fashion once I work up a 2nd draft.
The reason it might feel a little tacked on is because (a) I was trying to cut it short so, my fault entirely there and (b) I was working with the “InMon” weekly prompts though I use them differently in that I write a story and try to incorporate the various prompts into the lines of the story as opposed to use them to inspire the story itself – different kind of self-challenge. 🙂 But your suggestion of his wife and his fortune I really liked.
Will also do more editorial once it’s reworked, I tend to not proof-read much on a first draft, it’s a personal glitch in my writing process.
I thought it was a great start. Just a little tweaking and it would be a lot more powerful!
Thanks, will work on it.