'The Submariners,' by Nathan Engel

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Nathan Engel’s The Submariners’ careening jubilation of plot is reminiscent of one of Jeffrey Ford’s single-sentence stories in Witpunk. It crashes along recklessly giving us a glimpse of a world that may or may not be our own (while I’m tempted to say that it could not possibly be our own, I’m much, much too cynical for that). Dive! Dive! Dive! As always, please send your submissions to flashfiction@sacurrent.com. Stories of approximately 500 words should be sent as an attachment (.doc or .rtf) and included in the body of the email. You are welcome to send a (very) short bio, which I will be happy to include after the story. Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns. Have a lovely winter break and thanks to everyone for making the SA Current Flash Fiction blog what it is. This is a unique and excellent San Antonio literary niche. Help make it even better in 2012 by spreading the word. (I know there's one more Friday left and I hope to have it filled but there's no time like the present to wrap things up.)

In the meantime: enjoy (and comment).

Lyle Rosdahl

The Submariners by Nathan Engel

A corpse comes in from the cold blue sea. The crew seems stunned at first, and instead of following the established protocol for discovery of a lost cause just gazes intently at the estranged body floating in the anterior chamber, its blue frozen grinning face and mangled limbs, all clad in a suit of empty gold. Johnston remarks that he seems a fine fellow to smoke a cigar with to quiet laughs from the crew. Ives adds that he would look just dashing in a suit and bowler, a southern gentleman of the highest caliber, and the laughter grows, incrementally. So it is for those men who spend their days alone, milling about in the left thumb of God. As their nuclear submersible plunges deeper into the depths towards the core of the Earth, the four-man crew debates what to name their newfound comrade. Charleston, Pemberton, Caesar are all presented, argued in a calm and reasonable manner discarded efficiently and without remorse. At approximately 1400, a coffee break is taken, as is tradition. As it should be, for the men who keep God's thumb firm against the pulse of Eternity. At 1615 the first whispers are heard. Brief murmurs, unintelligible in scope, echo about the tiny cabin, unacknowledged by any but heard by all. It is when Jones' silver fork plunges into Leroy's eye that the men first notice that something has gone suddenly and profoundly amiss. After the rest of the crew forces a formal apology from Jones' quaking lungs, they rationally and humanely clothe him in his Sunday best, traditionally worn only for regular broadcasts back to the mainland. Johnston, a Catholic, murmurs a mournful and regretful prayer for Jones' soul as he dutifully draws exactly forty crosses across the mutineer's chest using his index finger, interrupted only by brief interjections along the lines of see you in Valhalla and sorry it had to be this way old chum. Ives takes detailed minutes of the happening, and keeps his farewell short, as a professional should. Tragically, Leroy has collapsed on the cabin deck from the loss of blood. The three waking submariners laugh briefly, sharing old tales of their landfaring days, but eventually, it is time to provide Jones with his fate. They send him out into the depths, bearing gifts for the Leviathan. --- Lyle Rosdahl, a writer living in San Antonio, edits the flash fiction blog & best of in print for the Current. He created, facilitates and participates in Postcard Fiction Collaborative, a monthly flash fiction response to a photo. You can see more of his work, including photos, paintings and writing, at lylerosdahl.com. Send your flash to flashfiction@sacurrent.com.

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