Prompt: "Story on a ship: past, present, future."
Time limit: 10 minutes (which I stretched to 15 because I cheated)
Story: THE TRANSPARENT CAT
On the second day of our journey my husband noticed the transparent cat. It was washing itself in the shadow of a deck-chair. The occupant of the deck-chair, a corpulent man of American proportions, sucked loudly at the dregs of a pina colada and completely failed to notice our stares.
"Excuse me," said my husband to the deck-chair. "Do you see a cat by the wall behind you? Just underneath that pipe?"
The deck chair failed to reply, its occupant having planted a magazine over his face. My husband pressed no further, for he is a polite man. But he did clutch my arm a little bit when he said, "Jane, is it just me, but is the cat currently sitting in the lap of a transparent man?"
"Wearing a top hat and waistcoat?" I said to his round saucer eyes; then, "Goodness, yes. Do you think perhaps we have had too much to drink?"
"Too much tea? Never. In fact, I think we should have some more. Maybe this is a dream."
On the way down to the passengers' lounge we passed by two transparent sisters with big feathery hats, several transparent sailors wearing coal smudges and old-fashioned high buttoned trousers, a bored child in a sailor suit, and a lot of chaos. Comfortingly three-dimensional people were bawling out the staff and having hysterics all over the place, and several had -- as we gathered from all the screaming -- barricaded themselves into their cabins, only to find a ghost or some sort actually inside the room with them. We couldn't reach the lounge, so we gave up and went back on the deck, where the Edwardian gentleman and his cat had been joined by a grand dame whose hat was bigger than everyone else's.
My husband, who considering the circumstances showed commendable calmness of mind, watched the white tail of foam ploughing in the wake of the engines and said, musing: "Well, we wanted an adventure. I think we've got one."
"I think it's fantastic," I said happily. "I wouldn't have expected anything less of the Titanic."
(no, I didn't paint this. I found the image on Google.)
Other ideas thrown up for the prompt, some of which I didn't use:
1. Dr Who fanfic (SO obvious. Ship = Tardis. Travels in time as WELL as space! But I've only watched two episodes of the whole thing so I didn't dare.)
2. Dilettante time travellers who go backwards into history to warn of an impending maritime apocalypse (or something)
3. A swords-and-sorcery fantasy in which a ship is 'attacked' by deep sea creatures long thought extinct.
4. A voyage on Titanic II -- the one that is currently in the process of being built -- that turns out to be haunted by the ghosts of victims from the original Titanic shipwreck.
Credit for this last idea DEFINITELY goes to my friends, and you can tell which one I chose for the story! We were really too busy eating and grousing to write more than one, though. The others had pretty awesome tales as well, and now there is talk of setting up a special LJ writer's collective for our group, so that we can inspire each other to write more without going to the trouble of meeting for dinner. But I'm not sure it would fly because we're all so busy.
I was going to do some painting today as well but I got distracted by Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha The Movie Second A's. Even though the art was so much better than in the series, it didn't have as much emotional impact because they rushed the plot too much. *Spoiler alert* It began mostly with a lot of random cutting between Hayate, Nanoha and Fate's very sudden and rather artificial reunion (no pathos because no buildup!), and then some random TSAB scenes -- neatly mashing flashy levitation magic, slice-of-life, and space opera into one confused ten-minute sequence before the Wolkenritter utterly destroy our suddenly fragile heroes without so much as breaking a sweat, leaving me feeling meh about the whole affair. Come on, Seven Arcs, you can do better -- Movie the First was excellent. Even its aeriel dogfights were better. The characters had matured into much more professional warriors over the intervening summer, so it makes no sense for the light show to have been less spectacular. I'm not criticising the animation -- there's nothing to criticise, it's amazing -- but their treatment of the mood. Where is the straining? Where is the muscle coil before the strike? The Wolkenritter and the Book of Darkness also have much more reason and inclination to completely crush Fate and Nanoha than Nanoha and Fate wanted to crush each other earlier in the timeline, but there was no brutality of the kind characterising the desperate battles that ended with Nanoha nearly killing Fate with that Starlight Breaker. Probably, once again, because there wasn't enough screentime, and they had to rush through everything in favour of the pretty fighting, but if they had the production values to speed UP the fighting so that the mages flew more fiercely and clashed harder while having more epic power-ups... probably production time had been a factor as well? Things would have been much better if they had skipped the fanservicey dual transformation sequence in favour of better plot or timekeeping. <_< Give me back the Nanoha of solid steel who could single-handedly destroy a city-wide barrier while impaled through the chest.
Also not pleased at how Lindy Harlaown never managed to display her combat skill. You put a badass starship captain with Admiral rank into a three-on-one situation like that, show her dodging ONE croquet ball, and then when the little girls she's adopted burst in to take on the enemy she just disappears?! At least have her do something awesome, like engage the rather frightening support member of the Wolkenritter or collapse the jamming barrier that four TSAB mages had been failing to break while she was being cornered inside. Not to mention when she has a grudge of her own to work out... those were the people who had helped to kill her husband! They'd even made a plot point of it, and to leave it unfinished...NOT pleased.
Also: Nanoha and Fate suddenly being able to use their upgraded devices to full capacity in battle the moment they come out of the R&D office? Ridiculous. Good grief, their unfamiliarity with their new weapons could have been a great excuse for why they were merely evenly-matched with the Wolkenritter in the middle and then suddenly able to do combat with a magical weapon of mass destruction that's swallowed thousands of more experienced mages and their own pre-upgrade spells. The production office must not have paid their writers enough.
Oh well. The second bit was better done. I won't complain too much. A bit of the dialogue in Fate's dream was a little too fast-paced, but otherwise it was pitch-perfect. I especially liked how she acknowledged her dead family when she was preparing to break out of it: "I'm glad to have met you!" And Fate and Nanoha's teamwork, which had been rather neglected in the series, was magnificent. I'm pleased that they had cut out the Lieze twins, who were an overused trope anyway. And the separated Automated Defense Programme was much more threatening here than the rather silly opera-singing sea-creature being curb-stomped in Episode 11 back when. All in all I think it might be worth watching for a fan... but I don't feel so dreadfully in need for a sequel at the end as I felt with Movie the First. Good, this means that I can get back to work!