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Live A Little

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posted on Aug, 25 2005 @ 01:20 AM
A while ago somebody brought up the idea of writing stories that started at the end and worked backwards. It seems like it'd be a bit of a challenge, so I'm trying it. Don't be shocked if what little plot there is should break down at some point, because I never organize my writing ahead of time. My stuff just writes itself.
The idea I've got basically just follows a young man from being an innocent, bored highschool graduate who wants to get out and "live a little" to being a sonar operator in the US Navy who experiments with assorted vices, and in the course of "living a little" ends up being killed.

Chapter 1: All good things must come to an end.

It only took a few seconds for me to give up on looking around. There was nothing but darkness to see, and the lights were not coming back on. I turned to my fine-tuned ears to be my eyes, but I did not train them on the compartment around me. I kept my headphones on. Perhaps I'd hear the call of some strange creature no man had seen before.

What must be out there, in the dark and cold? Were they large or small? Might teeth like saw blades or fangs like daggers bristle in strange, enlongated jaws, waiting for some unsuspecting fool to come inquiring as to the bioluminescent glow of the eyes? Or were they but amorphous blobs, complex integrated communities of simple, single-celled organisms, still evolving in the unseen abyss?
I could but wonder, but I had no need to fear. I might hear them, but never would I see them. Soon the walls around me would buckle, then break. Maybe they'd strike me dead, or maybe I'd live to cower from them and wait in the dark as the cold sea rushed in around me. Maybe we'd be on the bottom by then, or maybe we'd tumble into some trench and fall farther still. Or maybe there was no buttom. Maybe my corpse would freefall forever, unless it was eaten and kept at some level by whatever scavenger had made use of me.

I didn't really care. I'd been all business just ten minutes ago. I'd done my job well. I told the chief there was something out there, but I was pretty green. He didn't trust me, and when he took the headset he'd heard nothing. I glanced back to where the chief lay dead behind me, but my sight could not pierce the gloom. We got the last shot in- and we had the truer aim. I'd listened with sick satisfaction as the other sub broke up. They might have never known they'd lost. Lucky them. The last laugh was theirs.

If my mind was determined to wander though, I thought perhaps I ought to reflect on happier times before my time was up. So I did.

"Damnit Hobbes, I'm trying to save you from yourself but you just don't like money do you! Where did you get the pot-odds for that call?"

I rolled my eyes at my would be teacher. Petersen thought he was god's gift to poker, but I was only setting him up for a lesson. I still had twelve dollars. More than enough to play a few more hands and take him when the cards were right.

"Um, well... I thought you were supposed to semi-bluff sometimes so that people can't tell what you've got all the time."
"Not like that fool! You should have folded after the turn card, you lost a dollar more than you had to."
I paused and looked around the room.
"Why do I need a dollar in a tin can 500 feet under water off the coast of the arsehole of the world?"

He didn't answer. He was happy to take rake in my money, one 50 cent raise at a time. When our patrol was over and we headed for the Australia I might have missed it, but only if my plan failed.

He dealt again, I had a pair of threes. I called the blind, Petersen raised, Vargas raised, the other guy called. I couldn't believe I'd forgotten his name for the third time. Arriving at a new unit always sucked like that. I liked what I saw- lots of high cards out there. If I caught trips one of them would be my sucker for sure.

Petersen turned the first three community cards. The flop was just what I wanted, 3, 6, 8, each a different suit. Almost no chance of a flush or straight, and probably nobody running a higher three of a kind than my 3s.

Vargas bet and Whatshisname called. I looked at Petersen and thought on it for a second before I called. Petersen raised to feel me out. The other two called. If I called the cat was out of the bag- unless they really thought I was a moron. I raised, maybe they'd think I was trying to bluff my way out of the next round of the big raises after the turn. Petersen raised again, thats it- he had to have aces if he was pulling this with the other two still in. They both folded- I gave the final raise and he called it. He turned the next card- if he caught a thrid ace I was sunk. But he didn't, It was another 8. The full house didn't help me really. He didn't need an ace anymore, an ace or an 8 would leave him with a better full house than mine. I checked then called his bet. You're not supposed to do that, but I forgot. I got lucky- the last card was no help to either of us, but now I couldn't bet without letting him know i'd one. I check raised to squeeze an extra 50 cents out of him. It worked. $8.50- not bad for one hand. I'd have to change tactics now and go conservative for a while before I could go back to bluffing, but with a few more plays like that I'd be OK.

By the time Petersen had to go to his station I was up 39 bucks, plus some naked pictures of Whathisname's ex-girlfriend. His name turned out to be Franklin. My first assignment, just six months into my Navy career, practically my first time really away from home, and I was already gambling for nude pics of other guy's women. Shame you can't write home about that sort of thing. I sure was proud.

[edit on 25-8-2005 by The Vagabond]

posted on Aug, 25 2005 @ 09:50 AM
Wow, this story was excellent. At the start (which was the end) I could really picture this hapless guy sitting in a doomed steel coffin. You described the claustrophobia to perfection. I love the way you talked about the cold and the water and the unknown element of the deep ocean. It was almost like a metaphor for death, which the character would be facing all too soon. Brilliant. The image of this poor guy sitting at his post, knowing full well that he is going to die and just listening to the sounds of the ocean through his headphones was extremely vivid and masterfully crafted.

The fact that I play a lot of poker kind of made me biased towards the second part
. Your character had consistency and genuine personality, which is oft-times hard to establish, especially in two diametrically opposed scenes such as these. I was really beginning to enjoy looking at the world from this guy's head. You know, until he died.

On that note, I hereby demand that you write another paragraph that either:

a) brings the guy's thoughts back to the moment before his death to give me some closure.
b) tell us what happened in the middle of this story. What events led up to the catastrophe and the battle with the other sub?

This story is too well written and you are too nice of a person to leave us hanging like this. Now write writing monkey!!!

[edit on 25/8/05 by Jeremiah25]

posted on Aug, 25 2005 @ 03:07 PM
There actually is more coming. I'm actually planning to continue moving backwards, ending (starting) with him sitting around haplessly talking to a friend about how sick he is of his boring little "boy scout" life and how he wants to get out and really get something out life, and maybe break a few of the rules just to see what it's like. I may round it out though by bringing and end to his introspection and detailing his death, possibly with some allusion to what brought about the battle.

Edit to add: thanks for the glowing review by the way. It's always nice to be well recieved. I've picked up a few typos I wish I could correct, but I guess that's what I get for not double-checking the first time around. I have two very annoying tendencies for typo which really interrupt the flow of a story- sometimes I inexplicably type a hominem for the word I meant to use, and sometimes when I backspace to rephrase I miss a word, and end up with a pair of synonyms right next to eachother. Bah. Anyway, thanks

[edit on 25-8-2005 by The Vagabond]

posted on Dec, 4 2005 @ 06:06 AM
Hollywood says that your life flashes before your eyes before you die. Whole movies, taking 2 hours to tell 3 months worth of events, can be set in the last 5 minutes of a man's life. Hollywood had always told me that; that's how I knew it was a load of crap. It really sucks to realize that you're wrong about something when you're waiting to die.

The hull creaked a bit. Perhaps my life wouldn't flash before my eyes- just one lousy poker game. But then there was silence. I still had time to think. It occurred to me that I should probably think about my mom, or about Heidi; I'd promised that when I got out I'd be able to make enough money for us to get married. You're supposed to think about your girl when you know you'll never see her again. I knew I probably wouldn't miss her anymore when the sea finally came in to take me; I missed her with all my heart while I still could.

But then I thought about work instead.

"Hey man, I hear you scored pics of Franklin's girl. He wouldn't even let me see 'em!'
"She dropped him. Did it on the phone, during libo in Manila."
"Guess that's God's way of telling him it's OK to talk to the bar girls. Can I see 'em?"
"What's wrong with you man- the his woman dropped him for some dumbass jarhead. I'm throwin' em over when we get to Sydney."
"You're turning back into that lame-ass bumpkin that I met San Diego, bro. That aint a girl in your pocket; it's a picture of some skin. You don't gotta respect it, you don't gotta protect it, you just gotta let me fuel my imagination."
"Whatever... here."
I handed the picture over with a sick feeling in my stomach. It's one thing to act like one of the guys- it's another thing to actually long for the girl who just ripped your shipmate's heart out. Not even to mention her side of things; I could never look at Heidi that way. Then again she'd never do that to me. Maybe Franklin's girl did deserve it.

Dang, why can't I focus on Heidi? Why am I thinking about the beginning of my watch? My conscience didn't persist though. My life wasn't done flashing before my eyes.

The chief came over right as I handed the picture to Davis.
"You about to start pulling your cord on my time new guy?"
"No-Chief." I replied smartly.
"Then gimme that- you wouldn't know what to do with those things anyway. Matter of fact I bet you couldn't even lift those; when was your last pft?"
"I'm mighty small, but I'm small and mighty Chief."
"Whatever, I'm off getting off this boat when we get home. Nothing but a bunch of friggin midgets around here- What the hell is this, Michael Jackson's harem?"
I choked back the laughter until the chief had turned away. Besides wanting to kill everyone around him, he was actually OK I thought. Of course that was before he got us all killed.
Then I heard it. It was faint- really faint. It sounded like a voice. Probably the other sub's 1MC- or whatever you call the PA on a foreign tin-can.
Come to think of it... who the hell had we been fighting with?

It didn't really matter. Nothing mattered. I couldn't even make Heidi matter. The compartment was getting cold. It shouldn't have been so fast. Then I shifted and felt the water at my feet. It must be coming in slow. No wonder we hadn't crushed. The hull was breached- maybe the other compartments hadn't sealed. The water inside would even out the pressure from the outside. But that meant I'd have to drown eventually. I should have joined the Air Force.

I thought about the darkness outside again, and about the bright sky, thousands of feet above- endless space. Just as cold, just as mysterious. From my flooding prison there really would be no difference between the two. Makes you wonder... who decides which was is up, if the above and below are the same? It really sucks realizing you're wrong about something when you're about to die.

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