Happy Friday! I rarely do blog posts on Friday, but it’s my turn up at bat over at Story Empire with a Friday Fiction Prompt. I could hardly ask others to play along and not take a shot at it myself. So, here goes…from the cloud below choose a single word to use as a creative writing primer. You can even use your own selection. The only rule is that the word must begin with “sub.”
If you decide to give the challenge a whirl (and I hope you do), please link back to the Story Empire post in the comments so we can see your creative genius at work. In the meantime, here’s my attempt to be creative and step away from urban legends for a change. I chose the word submarine:
Dinosaur Waltz by Mae Clair
Captain Wade Sloan studied the map on the plotting table. Running at flank was risky with such an old submarine, but the Raleigh had held together through worse. After two weeks of flirting with the boundary line of enemy waters, the crew was wound tight. They’d been on high alert from day one, but had done their part admirably, serving as a diversion for the Seeker-Class subs christened in 2112.
The last of her kind still in service for the NorthWestCoalition, the Raleigh was scheduled to be retired when they returned to port. He’d could either adapt to the NWC’s Seeker technology or retire, too.
“Skipper.” Seaman Dyer’s voice broke through his reverie. “Sir, I’m picking up the signature of another sub, closing fast.”
“Type and distance.”
“Attack class, Sir. Not one of ours. “Bearing zero-five-zero, six thousand yards.”
An old tub, like the Raleigh. “Helmsman. Hard left rudder, ten degrees port.”
“Sir, she’s locked on us.” Dyer bent over the sonar station. “Flooding her tubes.”
Two dinosaurs, giving it one last whirl.
Sloan wrenched the mic from the periscope stand. “Engineering, port ahead two-thirds. Missile room, flood torpedo tubes one and four.” He focused on Dyer. “Range.”
“Forty-five hundred yards, Sir. Still closing.” A pause as Dyer adjusted a dial. “Enemy torpedo in the water, locked on.”
“Helmsman, down plane, hard to starboard.” Sloan clicked the mic again. “Missile room, prepare to fire.”
A second later the reply bounced back. “Ready to fire, Sir.”
Sloan leaned across Dyer and activated the aft camera.
“Tracking, Sir.” Dyer was intent on the sound in his headset. “Twenty-five hundred yards to enemy torpedo.”
“Stand by,” Sloan said into the mic.
“Twelve hundred yards,” Dyer announced.
Sloan clicked the mic. “Missile room, fire one.”
“Fire one.” The nearly insubstantial concussion of the release vibrated through the decking.
“Homing.” Dyer licked his lips, counted off seconds: “Locked, Sir.”
Sloan raised the mic. “All hands brace for impact.” The Raleigh shuddered, rocked hard to the side, but held course.
“Torpedo destroyed.” Dyer’s voice rebounded above a cacophony of warning claxons. “Enemy sub altering course to zero-nine-five. She’s turning tail, Skipper.”
Sloan called the adjustment to the planesman. “Stay with her.” Sparks danced overhead. He caught a flash-fire eruption from the corner of his eye, but O’Malley was already on it. “Missile room, stand by number four torpedo.”
“Engine room, back flank.”
“Aye, Sir. back flank.”
The boat settled, evening out on a smoother plane. Emergency lighting kicked in, followed quickly by the main systems. Sloan caught the reek of ozone as O’Malley turned a fire extinguisher on the small outbreak of flame. “Damage control, report.”
“Minimal circuitry damage, Sir. She’s watertight.”
“Range to target is fourteen hundred yards, Skipper.” Dyer flashed a grin. “She doesn’t have our speed.”
The hunter had become the hunted. Sloan spoke into the microphone. “Missile room, fire number four.”
“Firing number four.”
“All hands brace for shockwave.”
The backlash from the explosion was merciless, sending Sloan sprawling. A boat destroyed, lives loss. Could it be anything less than savage? He pulled himself upright only to be sent tumbling again by the brutal rocking of the boat. The control room plunged into darkness.
In another few moments the Raleigh reestablished trim. The lighting flickered sluggishly then surged to full power.
Sloan hauled himself to his feet. “Damage control report.”
Problems were minimal and the group in the control room relaxed. A few back-slaps were exchanged as seaman resettled at their stations. Another day and they’d be in the clear, safely back in port.
Sloan returned to the plotting table to focus on their course. After ten minutes, Dyer spoke again.
There was something in his voice that made several heads swivel in his direction. Sloan crossed to the sonar station and stood staring down at the screen.
“I think that sub we destroyed was a suicide, Sir.” Dyer’s face had gone pale, the color of chalk. He swallowed hard and motioned to the mass of blips on the sonar screen. “All Seeker-Class. The signatures don’t match ours.”
Sloan’s mouth was dry. “Enemy?”
“Aye, Sir. The explosion of that other sub told them exactly where to find us. I guess she was a diversion, too.”
The old dinosaur. “And a damn good one.”