Thank you | Blueberry Muffin-sama

It was three hours before the captain came for me.

I don’t know why it took him so long. Could’ve been he was calming down the crew, could’ve been he just wanted my bruises to ache. If I had to gamble, I’d say it was a mix of both. Not that it really mattered at this point. I’d made my last gamble hours ago, and I’d lost.

The captain studied me when he came in, his grizzled face unreadable. He stared at me, and I stared right back. After a minute of this, he sighed. “They warned me not to be takin’ ye on, boy. Said ye were nothin’ but trouble. I told ‘em to shove it. Ye seemed like a good lad, if a bit headstrong. Saw a bit of meself in ye, I did, so I figured I’d give ye a chance. Maybe workin’ the skies would straighten ye out, the way it did me.” The old man’s eyes softened, showing not anger, but a mix of disappointment and sympathy. I was surprised.

“Why’d ye do it, lad? At least tell me that. We be chasin’ that whale for months. And when we finally do have her, ye let her go. Why?”

I debated telling him. The spiteful part of me wanted to keep my mouth shut. To glare and glower until the end. But a small, reasonable voice said there was no point. It wouldn’t change anything. And while the rest of the crew were assholes, the captain had been good to me. He was the one who chased them off when the beatings started.

“I felt sorry for her,” I murmured, “she was scared. She—” I stopped. It made perfect sense then, but it sounded stupid now. “She… asked me to help her. I could see it in her eye.”

The captain shook his head. “Lad, ye’ve been listenin’ to too many stories. The sky whales be only just that – sky whales. No magic, no wishes, no more brains to ‘em than anythin’ else. And either way, we’ll find her again. Her, or another like her. Ye’ve not made a difference.”

“I made a difference to her,” I said, hanging my head. “What now? You gonna’ give me back to the crew?”

“Nay,” the captain shook his head again, “I no be doin’ that. They be wantin’ to beat ye to death at the least, and drag ye along under the ship at the worst. I’ll be havin’ no part in it.”

I could sense the but. “But?”

The captain sighed. “But I be in a pinch now. Those men were countin’ on that whale to fill their pockets. Some of ‘em be havin’ families to feed, and they can’t be doin’ that with no whale to sell. If I give ye to ‘em, they’ll tear ye apart. But if I don’t, they’ll tear us both apart.”

I shifted in my chair. “So what are we gonna’ do?”

The captain drew his pistol. “Ye came at me, and I put one right between yer eyes.” Ah, so that was his plan. Quick death for me, no mutiny for him. Except for the dead me part, it was a win-win.

“It be yer only way out, lad. Come on, up. A man should die on his feet.”

I wanted to resist, to fight back. But once again, there was no point. I rose, staring the captain down. He pressed his pistol to the bridge of my nose.

“For what it be worth, lad, I am sorry.”

My jaw clenched. “I’m not.”

The hammer clicked back, his finger went to the trigger. And my world was consumed by a blinding white light.

 

Everything happened at once. The deck disappeared from under me, and I fell until wet sand broke my fall. A wave of salty water rushed over me, making me thrash in panic as I scrambled to my feet.

When my sight returned, I was on a beach, sun high overhead and waves lapping at my feet. The panic rose again. I was dead, I had to be.There was no other explanation. Then I heard it.

A long, deep whale call, coming not from the world, but from in my own head. It drew my attention to the horizon, where I saw the speck of the great beast flying away. I didn’t speak whale, but I knew what it said, and it made me smile as I started to cry.

‘You’re welcome.’

Art | Blueberry Muffin-sama

“So, whatcha’ workin’ on?”

My brother threw a suspicious look over his shoulder, as if he doubted the motives behind the question. That was fair. When your whole existence consists of an infinite abyss and one other person, you tend to get a little bored. And, in my case, aggravating that other person was often my main form of entertainment. But not today. Today, I was only curious.

“Relax, I’m not planning anything.” I threw up my hands defensively. “Seriously, you’ve been grumbling over your bench for the past few millennia. I just want to know what you’re doing.”

He eyed me a moment longer, then returned to his work with a grunt. “Nothing. Just some new carvings.” My curiosity piqued. I went to his side, and couldn’t help but gasp.

Lined up along the table were a series of intricately made bipedal carvings. He’d made the stockier ones to look like himself, and the more slender ones, apparently, to resemble me. I felt a touch of flattery. They came in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and every one was ornate down to the tiniest, most obscure details. They made my jaw drop.

“These are… beautiful,” I breathed. My brother only scoffed.

“They’re alright, at best.” He didn’t look up from his latest carving, brow creased as he focused on his whittling knife.

“What are you talking about? Look at them, they’re gorgeous! The craftsmanship, the attention to detail; these are the best you’ve made yet.”

“Look closer,” he grumbled. “They’ve got nothing but flaws.”

I picked up one of the slender ones, frowning as I turned it over in my hand. “This one looks fine to me. What’s wrong with it?”

“Take a good look at the head. I chipped too much off the top. No telling what that’ll do to her self-esteem.” He paused, pointing to one with his knife. “That one’s too big, that one has trust issues, and that one’s right arm won’t work.” He pointed to each in turn, disgust plain on his face. “No matter how hard I try, there’s always something wrong with them. They’re all garbage.”

My frown deepened, until a thought made me smile. I swept to the other side of his bench and leaned over, making sure I had his attention. I could tell he didn’t like my grin. “You just gave me an idea.”

His suspicious look returned, but he slowly set down his knife. “Go on.”

“You say these figures are garbage. I think they’re good, even with all their little flaws. So let’s play a game with them.” I gave a wave of the hand. The bench changed between us, forming a table with a checkered surface of black and white. The figures moved to either side, arranging themselves in matching rows of two. I smirked.

“We give them free will. Let them move and act and choose as they please. The catch is you and I will be giving them little nudges. You try to aggravate their flaws and make them break, while I poke at their strengths, and make them hold fast. If the faults lead them to destroy themselves, you win. But if they overcome them, and push through to the very end, I win.” I conjured myself a chair, and leaned back with folded arms. “What do you say? Sound like a good time?”

My brother scowled at me, then at the board. He stared for so long, I started to think he’d say no. Then he sighed, and shook his head. “Fine, whatever. We’ll play your little game. But only so I can prove you wrong.”

I laughed. “Those are the only stakes I wanted. Whoever wins gets to hold it over the other’s head forever. Now,” I smirked as I grabbed my first piece,

“let the games begin.”

Anniversary Competition 2017

The Writer’s Block server has been around since the 18th July 2016. To celebrate the first birthday of our server, our Admin fictionalpieces challenged the server to write a 2000 word story based on the theme of an anniversary with a cash prize up for grabs.

We had quite a mix of themes and genres, and not all of these stories were cheerful with a happy ending.

You can view the full archive of entries online here.

Secret Santa 2017

In the winter of 2017, Writer’s Block held their very first Secret Santa! Forty-four participants took part by choosing a genre, setting and interesting item/theme that would then form a writing prompt. These prompts were randomly and anonymously assigned to one another.

The forty-four stories which were created can be downloaded and read in this collection, alongside info-graphics of the genres and settings chosen. Some of the prompts were rather unusual and amusing, and the stories are a fun and interesting mix.

Return in winter 2018 for our next Secret Santa.

Download the collection as PDF, or view online.