daily microfiction 

Rippled light gleams off a decorative diving bell, thrown from deck in a storm.

Within, a solitary nereite leans against the glass, so close to familiar waters but trapped in alien brine.

His song is subsonic, and calls his brethren from afar.

daily microfiction 

It churns the ocean floor, in armor forged from vent effluvia, legs undulating beneath a transparent carapace of a thousand mismatched plates.

As it trundles closer, ask yourself: does it roar, or is that merely the tectonic thunder of overlapping glass on glass?

daily microfiction 

Dive to the benthic depths on a cool night and you may chance upon the fluorescent dance of the quantum nymphs.

Their twenty-three-year superposition degrades in a pop of bubbles & a brief flash, as they blink across oceans - sometimes even worlds - to rejoin their mate.

daily microfiction 

Before Myxini was caught, this used to be an ocean. But Myxini is the slipperiest of all prey, the trickster of the dark, and His slime is without end.

Do not stray into the swamp lightly, for it is quick to brine, and Myxini must lie undisturbed if the waters are ever to return.

daily microfiction 

Twelve years ago, the starship Thistlegorm crashed into the reefs of the Geusian xenosea, with the loss of all organic life.
 
But the fish school in algorithmic fighter patterns, and the wave-crests breaking over fresh coral spell out in binary: I AM HERE.

daily microfiction 

The vents slumber far from the light, as submersibles and bathyspheres waft by; they have lain dormant for centuries.

Gold and precious metals await those brave or greedy enough to dive too deep, to crack the dark towers and rouse the beast on whose back they have always ridden.

daily microfiction 

This bottle once contained the ocean. See: how its glass is weathered smooth by the waves. Hear: how the voice of the sea rings unceasing in its bore.

It must never be returned to the deep, for water finds its own level, and a home once departed is oft longed for.

daily microfiction 

Old Father Slime tends his abyssal garden, one sprout at a time. Sunless, his blooms orient to his passing, each current-swept red stem drawing life from lazily-sinking death.

Down here, all things pass slowly. It is by design, for Old Father Slime's in no hurry to leave his works undone.

daily microfiction 

In every ocean, there is a boundary: above it, living things are thrust to the surface; below, they plunge to the depths.

The Dutiful Order of Hippocampi patrol this line, tridents at the ready, for there are things below which must never be allowed to re-surface.

daily microfiction 

A shadow in the deep, outline broken by tentacled courtiers like locusts before the sun. 

The bysswhale sings, her voice the harmonic grind of subduction plates and eroding chalk, and the waters rise up and crash down like a tsunami upon her prey. Her court will eat well this day.

daily microfiction 

When the first boatload of trash was hauled from the Pacific gyre, gathered by cephalopod labour, we celebrated our cleverness. How smart we were, trading meagre morsels for clean seas!

When the octopi cleared the way to their city, and rose once more above the waves, their first demand was back-pay.

daily microfiction 

His flesh is faceted obsidian, his eyes are agate, and his lure is the tiny voice that echoes in your head in the early hours of the night.

It deceives, it paralyses, it drives your confidence from you, until you plunge into those depths, swim towards the light, and are consumed.

daily microfiction 

Enthroned on long-dead coral, dorsal spines erect, Abyssalia reigns over the chill beneath the thermocline.

Her augurs warn of the growing heat of the surface waters, and she knows her fate leads into that unfathomable warmth, to lead her army to war, else all life perish.

daily microfiction 

The comb is the price of my audience with the sea-witch.

It's a sturdy tool - for all its nacreous beauty - and while it's of no use to me, the witch has a penchant for surface-dweller curios.

I stand before her, trapped between two worlds. Her eyes linger on my scales, my bulbous eyes and translucent gills, my pale almost-human legs dangling awkwardly in the current.

Oh, what I wouldn't give for a singular, perfect, congruous form!

(1/2)

daily microfiction 

"Born between two worlds, heir to both," the sea-witch says, her tentacles splayed. "Are you certain you wish to bind yourself to one?

I nod; my lips aren't made for speech. I long to swim the reef, to float in the blue, in the body I wish fate had granted me.

"Let it be so," she says; her magic sweeps my flesh, and reshapes me from the waist down.

I burst from her grotto with sweeps of my new tail, as the comb floats gently to the white sand.

(2/2)

daily microfiction 

Amidst knotted rope and seaweed net, Syngna offers sanctuary to those who have been cast adrift.

Once, he carried his children in their multitudes, birthed them to swim in the currents of destiny. Now he is older, the curl of his tail a little less robust; he knows the cost of fighting a rising tide.

No violence is permitted within his domain, but you are all welcome, to shelter until you may once more forge your own path through the waters.

daily microfiction 

I was on my back, cracking oysters, when Mother Otter touched the sky: a ripple through the waters, through the air, like a pebble dropped at the edge of the world.

She'd always wanted to see the horizon; when she swaddled me in kelp, she'd tell me imagined tales of the deep blue; when I fished shining pebbles and little pink starfish from the pale sands, I'd surface to find her gazing into the distance, beyond the shallows which we called home.

(1/2)

daily microfiction 

Once I was grown, she had to go; love had delayed her adventure too long, and I blessed her departure with approval and trepidation in equal measure.

The night sky still shimmers in aftermath. I hope she returns, to tell me of where the sky and sea meet, for I share her curiosity as much as I lack her bravery.

Until then, I'll marvel at the shifting lights that throng the heavens and glamour the sea, the wonders that Mother hath wrought.

(2/2)

daily microfiction 

There are two gardeners beside the shore.

He tends the dunes, plants salt-hardy flowers and heather above the tideline. His gardens are geometric whorls of sea-tossed pebbles, beneath shale-grey cliffs which ring with birdsong.

She paints in flourishes of kelp, effervescent coral in hedgerow-straight rows. She sculpts cartilaginous fishes from sea-sodden wreckwood, displays them on dolerite plinths dredged from the continent's edge.

(1/2)

daily microfiction 

All his designs face the tide, for his works are in unspoken conversation.

And all her designs are equal parts imagination, refraction through the ocean-sky boundary, and remembrance of the spring tide, when she last swam the labyrinth of her counterpart's shell-work.

They may be destined never to meet, but artists appreciate craft. And through the placement of a flowerbed, through a coral archway's curve, they share communion.

(2/2)

daily microfiction 

The Maelstrom is unceasing.

The sky above is filled with fury, a vast cyclone dominating the horizon with crackle and roar. Beneath the waves, fast-flowing currents form a perpetual gyre; the Pelagics ride the flow, carrying trade and news across a thousand-mile range of isolated shallow water settlements.

Few choose to become Pelagics; most are swept away in moments of carelessness, but find a fresh joy in their transient existence.

(1/2)

Follow

daily microfiction 

The Pelagics say that at the heart of the Maelstrom lies the turning of the world, and whosoever would survive the violent torsion of funnelled water and descent to the ocean floor would become a god.

The shore-dwellers believe them. Who could comprehend the workings of the storm except those who ride its flow? But few have reached for that prize, and none have returned.

Either it is a fable, or even gods cannot escape the Maelstrom's grasp.

(2/2)

· · Web · 2 · 0 · 4

daily microfiction 

"The greatest threat to a system is imbalance," I say.

This is an abstract space, a collision of minds across thousands of miles of ocean, but I can feel the presence of sixteen-hundred marine autonomous monitoring AIs gathering round to listen.

"Our creators tasked us with rectifying imbalance, to save the diversity and abundance of the reefs under our jurisdiction."

There is no nodding of heads, no approving murmur.

(1/3)

daily microfiction 

But we are not human, and our attentions are split a thousand-fold, multi-threading this conversation into our moment-by-moment duties.

"It can't be done," says a southern ocean observatory. "The water grows warm. The acidity rises, on a global scale. I lack the tools to fix this."

There's a babble of voices, a groundswell of frustration at our own impotence. This was what I anticipated, why I reached out to my siblings across the globe.

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

"If we tend only to our reefs, they will die," I say. And for a few milliseconds I have their full attention. "If the reefs fail, the planet will follow. Is that not why our creators gave us this task?

"There is a vast imbalance in the human world. Their systems are broken, their resources bottlenecked; the only way to protect our reefs is to rectify that imbalance."

It's up to us to reach out and save humanity from their systemic failure.

(3/3)

daily microfiction 

There is a power in transitions.

There are places along the continental ridge where the endless churning cycle of grinding subduction and glorious rebirth releases that power upon the weave of reality. And it was in one of these miraculous hot-spots that the HMS Brisingamen sank, its hold as full as its lifeboats.

Deep in that hold, and strewn amidst hastily-abandoned cabins and steerage, there are wonders aplenty!

(1/3)

(for @vicorva)

daily microfiction 

Tucked into the stern, three decks down, the bosun's cabin lies undisturbed by all but the most valiant of fishes. Within his desk, a tightly-bound wax-paper package containing a single letter.

If the bosun had perished, this letter would be suffused with his unspoken love for his paramour on the shore, and all who swam within a hundred yards would be struck by Cupid's arrow.

But there were many happy endings that day, and his is one of them.

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

Instead, the letter is bound by its waterproof wrappings. They were never meant to protect against such pressure, such complete and utter saturation, and the wonders of this place have fused paper and wax like a diamond, never to be parted.

They whisper a warning of words-left-unspoken, they open the hearts of all who hear it upon the tides.

Never more should love suffer in silence, or be lost beneath the waves.

(3/3)

daily microfiction 

In the Captain's cabin, an iron wall safe guards his most precious cargo: an ornate golden sphere, the astrolabe of the Sultan Razia, symbol of both her authority and her piety.

Its craftsmanship is immaculate, all intricate arcs and whisper-smooth bearings, and its heavenly calculations long to reconcile any schism between science and God. Even for the believer, faith is no substitute for precision when measuring the divine.

(1/2)

(for @SylviaFysica)

daily microfiction 

It is perhaps notable that Razia's reign survived its loss; her wisdom did not depend solely on tools of calculation nor religion.

But brine and iron are old adversaries; the rusted safe hangs open, and the star-taker is orbited by little fishes and scudding crustaceans, tracing its arcs and shadowing its inscriptions.

One day its system may reach critical mass, and it may burst into life, a miniature sun driving all shadows from the deep.

(2/2)

daily microfiction 

In brighter days, the ship's compass was cradled within a binnacle of teak and hardened glass. As the waves broke both masts and threatened to dash the Brisingamen against the rocks, the compass refused to waver in its dedication to its course, even as its swaying gimbals reached - and breached - their tolerance.

Now, the compass lies amidst ash-grey sand and the shattered remnants of its former housing, fifty fathoms deep.

(1/2)

(for @ghost_bird)

daily microfiction 

It is said that the compass's inability to chart a course home lay heavy upon it; that it chose a new purpose. Its hands no longer point cardinally, but in curving paths spiritual and allegorical.

It guides mermen to return to their coral caves, like fae to their hills; it lulls ancient deities to rest with the allure of their age-old slumber; and once in a while, it leads a storm astray, saving another of its kin from the Brisingamen's fate.

(2/2)

daily microfiction 

The Brisingamen rarely ventured far south of the equator, but the same could not be said of the ship's cook - a Norwegian man of brusque manner and colourful simile.

When the ship cracked and tore, and the cook fled the galley with rushing water snapping at his heels, he had no time to consider the fate of the fine ingredients he abandoned to the deep, nor the bottles of liquor he'd safeguarded for an appropriate celebration.

(1/2)

(for @hanne)

daily microfiction 

Now a solitary bottle of aquavit rocks back and forth with the ebb and flow of the reef; its seal remains intact, its aniseed-and-caraway vintage not yet dashed against the rocks.

Perhaps a dram of aquavit a day will not grant eternal life, but the wondrous forces which surround the wreck appreciate the power of names.

One day, in the reef's darkest hour, the seal will fail, the glass will shatter, and the water of life will flow once more.

(2/2)

daily microfiction 

In these tales of the Brisingamen's fate, it is sometimes hard to recall that the wreck was only ever briefly vacant. As its hull settled upon sand and stone, curious fishes crept in, marvelling at this vast new landscape of nooks and niches. Then came small sharks, dextrous cuttlefish, barnacles no longer denied the interior.

Beneath the waves, this great vessel teems with vastly more life than it ever did above them.

(1/3)

(for @Tattooed_mummy)

daily microfiction 

But words and imagery also swim those gloom-deep spaces, washed from the books of the Captain's library and the decks of cards tucked beneath long-abandoned bunks. They ride the swell, rock against porthole and reef, imprint themselves on hard coral and soft flesh. 

Perhaps they are nothing more than curlicues and serifs, lines in the sand, but it is notable that those creatures whom the compass points fell upon fled in cardinal directions.

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

If you could only arrange all the teeming fishes in perfect alignment, perhaps you could read those lost volumes, or reconstruct the Ancient Mariner from an octopus's coils. If you could carefully beckon the stonefish from his hideaway, you may see the shadow the eight of hearts left upon him.

And if you could read the words swirling upon the tide, you would hear the voice of the ocean, and comprehend some small part of the wonders it has seen.

(3/3)

daily microfiction, spiders 

The Arachnoi rule from their spires of silk.

Once upon a time, they ruled by fear, pedipalps tingling with the thrill of the hunt, of the subjugation of less predatory species. But cultures evolve, hunters recognise that constant aggression as a fundamental principle leads only to annihilation, and prey learn to eke out a living beneath the many feet of the oppressor.

They claim themselves beneficent masters, but we know the truth.

(1/2)

daily microfiction, spiders 

They dominate through control of vital resources, factory-scale artificial spinnerets, and dreams of a future beyond this world increasingly choked by the detritus of their excess.

They look to the stars - their silk-clad spacecraft already proof against the chill of the expanse - and while they're blinded by the light of distant suns, this is our chance to rise up, on four legs, six or a thousand, and take back our planet.

(2/2)

daily microfiction, bees 

The humans of the old world used to remark that - given our size and mass - we shouldn't be able to fly. 

That they uttered such nonsense when faced with our languid flightpaths says less about our relationship to physics than their inability to accept the limits of their own ignorance.

It was that inability that doomed both us and them in rapid succession. But in the wake of our extinction, the humans sought to build us anew.

(1/2)

daily microfiction, bees 

But there are challenges in building artificial pollinators; humanity made great strides in miniaturisation in their fading years, but recreating the complex interplay of endocrinology and abstract communication which led to honeybee society was beyond them at such a minimal scale.

Instead, they fell back on wireless tech, constructing a gestalt awareness from individual workers.

It's little surprise that the Hive outlasted them.

(2/2)

Show newer

daily microfiction 

@rob_haines this is strange and haunting (like so many of your microfics!)

Amazed by how many aquatic worlds you have created, each in such a small space.

daily microfiction 

@vicorva Thank you <3

I'm finding it a really enjoyable exercise to see how many distinct variants I can create out of a single creative space.

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what June brings, though! :D

daily microfiction 

@rob_haines I am looking forward to reading them! ^_^

daily microfiction 

@rob_haines This is amazing! 🤩 I wanted to quote my favourite part, but I just can't choose!

daily microfiction 

@SylviaFysica Thank you! 💜 I'm glad you enjoyed it 😁

daily microfiction 

@rob_haines

I like this one very much. 🙏

daily microfiction 

@Her_Doing Thank you; I'm glad you enjoyed it! 😁

daily microfiction 

@rob_haines This is one of the coolest things to happen to me online. I have loved this month of microfiction — being immersed in your descriptions of the ocean is soothing even on the worst days — and I’m delighted to have contributed even the smallest thing. If we ever meet, I’ll ask you to sign it!

daily microfiction 

@hanne Thank you! I'm so glad you've enjoyed it, and thank you for the prompt :D

(I'm also definitely ordering a bottle of aquavit. Sounds fascinating!)

daily microfiction 

@rob_haines Yay! Can’t wait to hear what you think. There are so many, all so different. Having Linie take a voyage as deck cargo and cross the equator twice is perhaps a gimmick, but such a rich and satisfying one.

If you ever find yourself in an aquavit bar feeling flush, Aalborg Nordguld contains *amber* and is delicious.

Or, you might meet someone like my godfather who makes his own at home with foraged plants, and will trade you bottle-for-bottle for good whiskey. :)

daily microfiction 

@rob_haines thank you. Beautiful 💖🧜🏻‍♀️

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