Saturday, September 3, 2016

Vignettes by Me, on Themes Picked Randomly: Day Three

Theme 199: The Vessel

Captain Cage-de Ratte strode the length of his quarters on the U.S.S. Eagleclaw, a mighty Baltimore-class cruiser, alternately casting his eyes on the chop of the stormy night sea rolling past his porthole and then on the model sailing ship he had just completed atop his tidy desk. The roar of the four mammoth steam turbines reached his ears merely as a low hum. Updecks on the bridge, beeping and pinging instruments kept his crew alerted to all threats for miles in every direction. The instruments both plotted the ship’s course and laid it in with scarcely any human interference. Captain Cage-de Ratte huffed and muttered, gesturing to the model frigate, “In your day, men tasted the salt air, gazed at the horizon from atop the masts, to know what to do. Now we just do the bidding of blips and beeps!”

Aboard the H.M.S. Nonesuch, a weather-besieged three-masted frigate, Captain Heartstrings crashed down into his cramped chair in his cramped cabin, lit by sputtering lamp-flame, for the first time in three days. His livery was soaked through, his cowhide boots sloshed, and his teeth chattered. He had gone hoarse screaming over the bitter winds. Not half an hour prior, he had seen vindictive sprays tear two of his crewmen from middecks and toss them out to the churning void, never to return. The Captain’s belly groaned, unsatisfied with the meager allotment of stale grain he and his crew had been consigned to since the meat preserves had become infested. His eyes turned to the illustration on the cover of a French novel that lay on his desk: it was of a mechanical ship many times the size of the largest galleon, made all of silver, that was charging unperturbed through a roiling night storm. “Aye, that’d be the way to be!” Captain Heartstrings muttered between coughs. 

Explanatory Postscript: When I say “picked randomly,” I mean picked from a Master List that I’ve compiled of 999 themes intended to serve as creative writing prompts (from the following sources: 501 Writing Prompts; 25 Creative Writing Prompts; Examples of Themes; List of Themes; 365 Creative Writing Prompts; 100 Themes Challenge Writing Prompts; List of Journal Ideas; and Top 10 Types of Story Themes). To pick a theme at random, I roll three ten-sided dice (the first for the hundreds place digit, the second for the tens, and the third for the singles) and find the theme under the number I have rolled. If I hit a theme I have already written on, I roll again. If I ever roll 000, I make up a theme. The Master List is a secret, so don’t ask for it.

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