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An Unfortunate Event · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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The submarine blew to smithereens, the contact mine bursting the U-boat’s hull in an instant, breaching all bulkheads to the ravaging green tide that pulverizes the life out of the crew before any could begin to drown, the final man to die a fifteen-year-old seaman in the torpedo room with his eyes wide and pants darkening and scream lost against the killing roar, his hands scrabbling for any hope as the hull collapses around him, the whirling storm of shrapnel stealing his loving face in a riptide of gore spume as the sea crushes his soul into eternity.

In dawn’s low bloom, at the south of the Tor Bay, she finds his remains on the beach.

She arrives there at the start of her days to walk the shoreline before work, a small, sharp-edged woman, someone for whom nonsense had taken leave years ago. The tide is her sole companion. Usually.

Her quick, pointed strides along the sand change direction and grow faster as she sees his body. Rushing to his side, she sees the ripped aftermath where his face used to be. The nausea that roils through her has nothing to do with sundered meat. The only thing she can muster to the sight, words heard only by the waves, is, “Another one gone.”

She kneels, touches his head without hesitation, fingers going through his hair to his scalp. Warm palm on ice white.

This moment in sunrise the final time a mother would touch him.

On the hand touching him, there is a paler band of skin around her ring finger. Tombstone to a marriage lost in the aftermath of her apocalypse. Both of her sons dead (dear Christ, how her relationship with that word had changed) since August 23, 1914.

No tears. They come to her every day now. But not here. Drying her hand on her dress, she rises and walks, heading for the village in Churston, where someone with a telephone will contact the old men who will take his corpse away for burial.

The war ends three weeks later.

In the dusk of Armistice Day, she sits on the beach alone. Her heart is brimming with a love that has nowhere to go. The tears running down her face serve as fundamental testament.

Her two boys love on, only in memory. She chooses to carry, however imperfectly, a third.

Someone has to.
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#1 · 1
· · >>Baal Bunny
This is a tragical piece, and I like it, but it stumbles in several ways. First of all, that run-on, first sentence which forms the whole first part. Now don’t get me wrong: I don’t dislike long sentences – in fact, I love very much Lovecraft's prose, for example – but here, we are not dealing with a description of a bucolic landscape or some sort of fantastical scenery. This is hard, smashing reality, so to speak, and while I can assume you did this to show us how rushed the events were, it’s still difficult to read, all the more that it comprises two different parts. The first is the objective description of what happens to the whole submarine, and the second is focussed on the dying seaman.

Also, were there submarines during WWI?

The second part is poignant, but the details you give do not quite tally with the first. You describe a complete smashing of the submarine, ripping to pieces all bodies and equipment inside. We emerge from this description thinking nothing is left but shreds of flesh. Yet, the woman finds whole pieces of body. I’m not 100% positive about this, but few were the dead submariners whose corpses were actually found. In any case, finding entire limbs or body parts after such an event seems implausible at best. I think you'd rather have the boy be part of the crew of a "standard" warship torpedoed some place offshore.

Also a light editing pass to clean up all the remaining typos would be nice (as in: "Her two boys lOve on" instead of "live on").

Finally, thanks for reminding us that war is heinous and appalling. It is quite commonplace, but some general truths need to be repeated ad libitum.
#2 · 1
I'll agree:

With >>Monokeras about the opening bit. I personally find that short, punchy sentences with really evocative verbs work better when trying to convey a scene where all kinds of action is happening at once. Give the readers the individual moments and let them put them all together into the bigger picture instead of throwing all these words out at once.

Other than that, though, a really nice piece. I had to wonder why just this one body washes up when the submarine was likely full of sailors, but, well, every story's allowed one giant coincidence, right?

#3 · 1
That first sentence rambles on so long that it loses all focus. That's not the kind of first impression you want to make. It also can't decide which tense to use. And the very first thing tell me the submarine was obliterated, when in fact it wasn't, or the boy wouldn't have died the way he did. I'm just getting lots of mixed messages. Submarines are designed to tolerate some damage, being able to seal off any given area with watertight doors, so for everyone aboard to have died almost instantaneously, that would have to be one huge explosive. Seems like overkill.

Oh, it's over already? I'm left with a lot of questions. I really like the sentiment at the end, but her "another one gone" near the beginning could really use some link to why she decided she needed to adopt this boy as if her own. She's seen a good number of them by her own admission, so what was special about this particular one? What about him spoke to her so much that she decided to afford him an extra honor? It's also just left as a vague thing that carried a third son. What does that mean to her? The point of the story is to get me to feel what this woman feels, so spend some word count on how he (and her true sons) occupies her thoughts. What kinds of things does she imagine about him? What does she do to honor him? Basically, you're asking the reader to take a blunt "she cared about him" and become invested in it. It takes a little more than that.

The structure here is good, and the way you've decided to describe the situation is effective. Give it a little more to bring alive the emotions she's feeling so I can identify with her rather than being left to invent them on my own.