Flash Fiction: A Ship in Darkness

“A Ship in Darkness” by Robin Wyatt Dunn

I record the ship’s message, known only to me. It has no words; it is a ship made of wood in dark ocean without light. Broken, sinking, dying.

Like me. I understand its message.

It is a tomb.

It’s so quiet.

So exquisite and beautiful.

What else could be my life, now, but this?

I am its natural message. The last resident of an experiment that did not achieve its desired result, indeed, it did not achieve any result.

All are now fled. Only me, and the last floating wreckage.

A dead love affair. A ruined nation. A presage of dawn, seen, but only in the mind, light within the mind’s eye, brighter than any made by sun . . .

What were we experimenting with? What weren’t we experimenting with? Time. Authority. Emotion. Apocalypse. Human response to apocalypse. Mind-reading. Mental control. Degrees of sanity, and its sharing. Degrees of insanity. Correlations between the DSM 4 and our own sea-bound habits, methods of calculating our sexual frustrations, our food-related habits as the storerooms were methodically exhausted of food, our increasingly stubborn refusal to contact the mainland . . .

My own mind control ray . . .

Well a mind control ray is not so unique. We all developed one out here. It’s nothing so dramatic. All chess-players know of it. All teenage girls. It’s just that it can be toyed with, and there’s no point to doing so, really . . . like growing a 40 foot cock: what are you going to do with it?

Elephantiasis of the mental gonads.

Still, I say it was a success. Because of what I see now: beauty.

Why is destruction so beautiful? Chaos is a kind of order, yes. Violence a kind of love. All romance is at least in part a story of war, if only a war within.

And so the destruction of our ship, my livelihood, my relationship, my career and now my body is at the deepest level a love affair, of one mammal, and one ocean, and one decrepit boat, a boat glowing with meaning . . .

The shades of black, moonless, rise over me like demons, like executioners.

Ocean water seasalt, the potion fills my mouth and nose.

I spit it out, grinning.

My name is Orlando. But the name means nothing. It is my body that has meaning. Cold and afraid, delirious. Some final sanctuary of land, of land-flesh. Land flesh which is only sea-flesh, temporarily contained.

The last fire has sputtered out. I am alone in the rich ash, on the last floating deck.

There isn’t even a radio. In the distance I can see a helicopter, coming this way . . .

I must dive so they do not see me. But in a moment.

You see, I am healed. How is destruction healing? How is murder healing? It shouldn’t be but it is so. Nature forgives us so much . . . forgives us anything . . . everything . . .

The sea is my religion.

I am to be eaten by sharks.


Robin Wyatt Dunn was born in Wyoming during the Carter Administration. He lives in Los Angeles. His vital statistics, as well as a list of his books and publications, can be found at http://www.robindunn.com.

His most recent novel, Fighting Down Into the Kingdom of Dreams, is available in print and e-book formats.

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