The Landsman

Beach, Changing Room, Sea, Dare, Companions, Nostalgic

Image by cocoparisienne from Pixabay 

William Browne was a Northamptonshire, the son of a prominent grocer.  His father arranged a good education for him at the Oundle School where he excelled in mathematics and languages.  His father had William’s whole life planned out for him, and he was slated to enter a career in banking at the end of his education.  Maybe even ‘the City,” awaited him.


Though good with numbers, William despised them however.  He longed for a life of adventure.  Westward Ho! and Moby Dick intrigued him, he knew in his heart that his life should be one linked to the sea.  As a Midlands boy, however, he knew nothing more of it than what he had read in books.


One evening when he was sixteen, and on the eve of his beginning his apprenticeship at the banking house, he quietly packed a few belongs and headed for King’s Lynn.   He travelled the dark road to Peterborough and arranged a room with some of his meagre funds in order the sleep till late afternoon.   He again travelled through the night, and repeated the practice again in Wisbech.  On the third morning he arrived on the outskirts of Lynn and made his way to the docks.


He was tired and footsore but approached the first ship he say at the docks.


“Do you have need of a hand?” he inquired.


The master looked him up and down, taking in his relatively expensive attire.  “Have you ever been to sea?” the man asked.


“No, but I am eager,” William replied.


“I have no place for a landsman on the Raven,” the master said.  “Try the Sea Horse.”


William made his way down the docks to the small two-masted vessel.


“Do you need any hands?” he called up to the men on deck.


A leather-faced man came down the gangway to join him.


“Have you any experience?” the captain asked.


“No, but I learn fast, and I’m strong.”


“What’s your name, Lad?” the mariner asked.


“Will Br – Black,” the young would be banker replied.


The captain nodded knowingly and then said, “Welcome to the Sea Horse.”


The vessel set sail that same afternoon for Memel on the Baltic Coast with a cargo of wool.


Landsman Black did indeed learn quickly, though his duties were largely swabbing decks, and fetching sails, ropes, and other items for others.


The passage was swift, as the sea conditions were adventitious that June in 1871.


On their arrival in Memel the load of wool was quickly put ashore, and replaced with several chests of amber, as well as a half hold’s worth of Baltic timber.


It was the last day of the month when the Sea Horse left her moorings homeward bound.


The sea was a little choppy, but didn’t seem to give the experienced sailors the slightest worry.  Will however did not like the sensation or the feeling of sick it was giving him.


“Don’t worry, Lad,” the captain said to him as he passed him.  “We are making a straight course to Malmö to complete our load.  You will be at anchor soon enough.”


The course did indeed take them directly towards Bornholm, and avoided the longer route along the coast.  But the weather continued to become less favourable through the day.  Many of the crew looked confused at the sky from time to time, as the weather seemed to come from nowhere.   The contrary winds also slowed the vessel’s progress.


Just before dusk, the sky and sea let loose their full fury.  The ship almost seemed to being pushed backwards towards the port from which it had sailed.  Waves broke over the bow, and just after dark the foremast snapped taking two seamen to their deaths.


Another man clung to the railings, and will ran to try to pull him back on board.  Just as he grabbed the man’s wrists, another piece of the shattered mast gave way and struck Will on the back of the head.


He was knocked unconscious and entered into a kind of a dream-world.  The dream was vivid, and despite the storm raging around his stricken body, he was at total piece.


In his dream, he was in a sort of a ballroom.  The walls were a shimmering shades of blues and greens.  Waltz music seemed to flow over him, though he could not see any musicians, nor were there any dancers on the floor.  Then a beautiful woman approached him.  Her complexion was the shade of workman’s tea, and her long hair sable and in tightly coiled curls.  She was dressed in a fabulous dress of red silk adorned with pearls.   Her thick, full lips gave him a welcoming smile as she gave him a curtsy.  What stuck him most about his exotic beauty, however, was here aqua-marine eyes.


He bowed in response to her curtsy.  She again smiled and reached out to take his hand.  He placed his other hand onto the small of her back and the two began to dance.  The danced for what seemed to be hours, all the while he stayed transfixed on those exquisite eyes.  The music continued, without break, and the shimmering walls made him feel energised as if by magic.


Suddenly he began to feel fatigued, however.  The raven haired woman gave him another curtsy, and Will suddenly felt the entire world go dark.


Will awoke lying in the sand, with a gentle surf breaking upon the beach.  Near him was a wheeled changing salon bearing the word – ‘Umkleide.’  His head ached and he had no idea where he was.  Trying to orient himself he glanced out to sea.  There for just an instant he thought he caught a glimpse of the aqua-marine eyed maiden peering above the waves.  He blinked, and looked again just to see a set of large red-silken flukes disappearing into the sea.


He forced himself to his feet, and stared out to sea for several minutes, but saw no more than waves and sea birds.  He reached back rubbing the walnut sized whelp behind his head, then turned inland and catching sight of a milestone, headed for “Danzig 3 km.”




This piece began its life as an attempt to meet the 50 Word Thursday challenge.  It took a life of its own however, and is well in excess of the 250 words.  I hope that it will be a pleasurable read however.




Reading, Men, Newspaper, Sitting, Pipe, Smoking, Yellow


Family gatherings were always tense and bit awkward for Heidi and Don.  It seemed it had always been that way.

They had met in ’68 when Don was stationed in Ramstein with the Air Force.  Heidi worked at a little bakery not far from the main gate and he was smitten with her from the moment he first entered the shop to buy a pastry.

Heidi’s sparkling blue eyes and soft braided brown hair captivated him, but better still she was fun to talk to.  Her English was good, and she had a dark sense of humor which appealed to him.

After several weeks and dozens of pastries he worked up the courage to ask her out.  They went to the cinema and  a drink afterwards.  It was a perfect date for the young Airman.

The relationship bloomed.  Eight months later Don handed in the paperwork to his commanding officer so that he could take a German bride.

The wedding was going to be there in Germany and it took a lot of preparation to get his mom and dad over, but in the end they arrived two days before the ceremony.

Don introduced Heidi to his parents and his mother, Dotti made a tremendous fuss over her soon to be daughter-in-law.  Even the usually hard to please dad was taken with the pretty, sweet girl.

Then came the wedding dinner. Introductions were made of both families and all seemed cordial enough.  The meal was good, and everyone seemed happy.  Then the two fathers had a few moments to chat alone.

For those observing the conversation, there seemed to be a transformation.  What started as smiles, soon turned to sternness, and then to disgust on both parts.

From that time on the pair would never speak again.  Oh, the wedding went ahead and Don and Heidi would have a wonderful life together and bring up three beautiful children.

But at family gatherings their fathers would sit, often together, but without a single word being uttered.  It was the way it was for the former Sergeant Tom Miller, 82nd Airborne  and Oberleutnant Karl Becker of the Panzers.


Tale Weaver # 224 – Estrangement



Library, Sky, Birds, Mystical, Clouds

Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay

Suzie excused herself from the dinner table and quietly made her way to the loo.  As soon as she closed the bathroom door a strange sensation came over her.  She suddenly found herself in an unfamiliar landscape sitting on a boulder overlooking a broad valley, with a sparkling ribbon of a river meandering through it.

Large eagles soared above her and the towers of a cold grey castle could just be made out in the distance.

Suddenly the eagles made deliberate flight to the eastwards, and a huge shadow passed over her from the west.  She looked up to see the form of a sapphire hued dragon descending into a meadow to her left.

Though she hadn’t noticed the meadow at first, her attention being drawn to the valley, it now was clearly the point of her focus, along with the beautiful blue beast which now was settling next to a clear pond for a drink.  Shimmering dragonflies darted around the noble creatures brow as it drank, and . . .

There was suddenly a startling rap upon the door.

“Did you fall in?” Gary asked through the woodwork.

“No, I’m okay,” she replied, closing her book and hiding it back under the stacked towels again.


Haunted Wordsmith

Prompt A (setting challenge): bathroom/washroom

Prompt B (sentence starter): “Did you fall in?”

Prompt C (photo): Above






Regal 4 had seemed the perfect place for a new beginning.  It was in the Goldilocks Zone and was only 2.2 % larger than Earth, and the air composition was in the “Class AA” category.   The Lafayette Mining and Terraforming Corporation had paid handsomely for the rights to developed it.

The initial phases had been promising.  No life beyond the most basic of micro-organisms had been found, and these were well within the United Nations Committee for Space Exploitation guidelines for “neutalisation.”

The “Micro-Burst” and “Flora-Burst” had gone off with out a hitch, and within 20 years Earth vegetation was thriving, and it was time for the introduction of selected fauna and for human colonisation.

The CEO, John H(onest) Lafayette IV, stood impatiently in front of the gathered scientists and engineers.  “So explain it to me again, in terms I can understand,” he demanded.

“Well Sir, it’s the gravity.  Things grow there alright, but every building we construct starts to show signs of structural deterioration at a really accelerated rate,” the chief architect explained.

“Is that what happened to my house?” Honest John asked.

“Yes Sir, but we have worked out a way to use old Mars Colony designs.”

“Those ugly things!” Lafayette scoffed.

“No Sir, we can use a facade cladding in a polymer to keep the Tutor mansion images we advertised,” one of the engineers assured him.

“Good, good,” the CEO said half to himself.

“Unfortunately Sir, we still haven’t discovered a ‘fix’ for golf ball trajectories yet.

“Now, that is so annoying,” Lafayette said sourly.




Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo #writephoto:  photo above

The Haunted Wordsmith:

Prompt A (genre challenge): Terraforming (shaping a new Earth — Sci-Fi)

Prompt B (Story Starter): “That is so annoying.”

Athens: An Adventure


It seemed a simple enough request: an economy class ticket to Athens, Greece.  I was on my way to an archaeology seminar, at which I was going to be presenting a paper on the problems of post-Victorian spoil in the corrupting of sites.  

With my bags packed and ticket in hand, I arrived at Gatwick and was surprised that I was expected to fill in a United States visa form.  I rolled my eyes and thought “Sounds like Trump’s America, needing to file if you will be within 24,000 miles of US territory,” but filled it in I did.

I put my carry-on in the overhead storage and settled into my seat.  I must have dozed through the rest of the pre-flight.  Later as I woke I was surprised at the number of southern drawls I could hear from my fellow passengers.  

“I can’t wait to get to Athens,” one explained to a neighbour. “I haven’t been home for years.”

Shortly afterwards the pilot announced that we were beginning our descent.  He then announced that the temperature in Athens, Georgia was a mild 72 degrees.

When I “de-planed,” I insisted on seeing someone at customer services.  I was told I would first need to clear customs, and the desk would be on the left after leaving immigration.

I tried to explain that I wasn’t staying, but to no avail.

I followed the crowd to the customs hall and the agent asked to check my bag.  She opened the bag, and then pushed a button.  Suddenly five more agents arrived.

“Sir, what are these?” the first asked.

“They are Medieval glass beads in the one plastic bag, and Victorian beads in the other. They are examples from my research,” I began to explain as they brought a German Shepard to sniff the bags of brightly coloured, pill sized beads.  Fortunately the dog was not phased by the contents.

I finally got to the service desk, and after some apologies I was given a ticket back to London, it being too late to make the Athens conference.

As part of the apology I was give a $20 voucher to be used in duty-free.  I quickly went into the DF concourse and grabbed a “real American hot dog” for only $19.95.  Being late for my flight I swiftly put this and my nickles change into my carry-on.

After boarding, we were delayed by severe thunderstorms, but eventually took off.    The plane soon reentered the stormy weather, and we were pummeled by a series of lightening strikes.  One of the engines caught alight and we made a controlled but unplanned descent into the ocean in the Devil’s Triangle.

The plane came down in surprisingly calm water off the coast of a small island.  There were a few bumps and bruises, but everyone survived.

On the island was a series of WW2 metal huts, a large campfire pit (which was strewn with charred Pepsi cans and carbonised marshmallows), and several kayaks. We had places to stay – a win, and some might try to seek rescue by taking a kayak to a bigger island we could see on the horizon, but no one felt intrepid enough to give it a go.

Two days later we were surprised by the sound of a ship coming into the lagoon near the campsite.  Sixty-four Bahamian Boy Scouts and their leaders had just arrived to use the camp.  We were rescued. I quickly gabbed two Pepsi cans and a handful of marshmallows.

As soon as I returned to England I began my most important academic work: “The problems of modern leisure rubbish on the preservation of WW2 historical sites.”


Haunted Wordsmith’s Fibbing Friday

  1. You wanted to book a trip to Athens, but the agent misunderstood you…where did they send you?
  2. What will customs agents find in your luggage?
  3. What do you sneak aboard the flight, and what do you sneak it in?
  4. The plane crashes — everyone survives — where did you crash?
  5. What are three things you find at your crash site?
  6. Survivors see a rescue opportunity but don’t take it…why?
  7. What are you finally rescued by?
  8. What is the first thing you do when you get back home?
  9. The airline offers you money, but you turn it down…what do you get instead?
  10. You decide that a cruise is safer, where do you go?
  11. You get marooned on a deserted island but find huts and scientific equipment made out of coconuts…what happened to Gilligan and the Skipper?
  12. A fishing boat rescues you, but you have to pay Poseidon for safe passage…what do you pay?
  13. He rejects your fare and throws you across the world…you land safely, but where do you end up?
  14. How does your story end?

The Arrival


Image result for pb2y coronado

The word was out, there was going to be a special delivery to Sandy Bay straight from New York and in time for Christmas.

The Nutts Corner tower had reported that the PB2Y was only about twenty minutes out, and servicemen gathered by the lakeside to eagerly await the “special delivery” Coronado.   All had hopes of the great things to come.

As the seaplane completed its moorings, several of the appointed ground crew rushed to process the cargo, and the treats therein.

“Smitty, what is it?” Petty Officer Hendricks shouted from the pier.

Seaman Smith stood in the hatchway, and with an exasperated expression said, “Typewriters.”

(106 words)



What Pegman Saw: Rams Island

The Wait

Early Winter by Serge Grechanyuk

The Snow Line they used to call it.  It was a border of sorts between the ice fields and glaciers above, and the timber lands below.  Henri had stood there in the same place ten years before when the Ice Hordes had struck downwards in search of food. The Woods Men had met them of course; and after nearly three days of battle the border had not moved.  Ten thousand brave men of the forest had perished, and an equal number from the heights.  And for what?  Okay, the timber lands had been preserved, and the ice dwellers retreated back to the mountain strongholds, but was holding them back really that important?

Henri remembered how Andre, his captain, had rushed forwards to intercept one of the fur-clad invaders before he could swing his large axe at the then young Henri.  “How could I have just stood there like that?”  Henri questioned as he once again began too berate himself.  He saw the mountain men swarming down pass, and he had just froze.  He didn’t raise his sword, or even take the shield off his back.  Andre saved him, and then was immediately cut down by two other members of the horde.  That was the last that Henri could remember of  it.  When he came to himself again, he was lying among the dead and wounded.  The battle had ended, and he was unscathed except for a walnut sized whelp on his head.

But now, ten years on the weather was again as it had been a decade before.  Harsh winds and early snow had ruined crops, and hindered hunting in the mountains.  Would they come again?  Would the men of the forest be able to once again resist them?  Was he up to the challenge?  All this was weighing on his mind, as he glanced back at rows of young forest men, to which he was now the captain.





Here the battle began…and here it ended. Years have passed, time and weather eating away at the memorial banners and even the metal on the blades that were once wielded in protection of these lands. Wielded by honorable men that once fought beside him. Years have passed, but in his mind, the battle goes on. How he managed to survive when so many of his brothers fell, is a bitter miracle he’s still trying to understand. He gazes into the distance, up into the snowy hills from where the enemy once crashed down upon them like a raging torrent. The landscape is quiet once again, but will it remain so? And for how long?

The Lagoon



“I think this will a good place to try it,”  Carla said.

“It looks tranquil enough, but are you sure that no one will see us?” Debbie questioned.

“Just look around,” Carla responded. “We are the only ones around.”

“I just feel so self-conscientious about it.  It’s just embarrassing.  I will just die if someone sees me.  What if someone took a picture on their phone?” Debbie said, “I would literally die!”

Carla gave her a “whatever” shrug and began to undress near the waterside.  She then bent over and pulled Wonder Woman and Super Girl costumes from her rucksack.  “Are we going to rehearse or what?”


Thursday photo prompt: Tranquil




Something in the Wind: A Roseman Tale

rosemen cover

Binman and Fuller were standing guard outside Moorland’s house.  The spectators  had dispersed for the day, and as a stiff breeze had been whipping down the street, they decided that it might be more prudent to carry on their watch from the relative sanctuary of the portico.

While members of the Specials had spent several days coming and going; and some Firsts had stood watch in the portico itself during the day, none seem to have caught sight of the flaw in the otherwise perfect unicorn-shaped topiary.   This didn’t necessarily mean that Binman was any more observant than the other Rosemen, but rather that he was in the right place at the right time.

In a rather ironic act of fate, a copy of that morning’s news sheet bearing the head line: “Rosies’ Clueless,” sailed in on the wind and caught in the shrubbery’s irregular gap.

Constable Andy Binman went over to free the flapping piece of newsprint.  As he stepped up onto the masonry that surrounded the raised bed, he noticed that the stone was loose under his foot.   Closer examination revealed that an envelope had been crammed into the joint of the inner stonework.

“Senior Constable Fuller,” Andy called back towards the enclosed doorway. “I think I found something.”

Fuller, though reluctant to step back into the wind, went to see what the rookie was going on about.

“What do you have, Binman?” he said impatiently, wanting to get back into the shelter.

“Look, there is something stuck in the rocks,” the young watchman said, pointing to the overstuffed piece of stationery.

“Run down the Ninth and tell “Scribbles” what you found,” Fuller instructed him.

“But, the First Precinct house is just down the street,” Andy began to object.

“Don’t waste your time with those show-cops.  Just do what I said. Understand?”

“Yes, Senior Constable,” Binman replied and headed of at some pace towards the Alleys.

In the morning, Sergeant “Scribbles” Schribner led Chief Superintendent Montoya to the house where Inspector Lysander Cruikshank of  “The Lasts” was already holding up an evidence bag containing the envelope and two of the missing stones before a crowd of journalists.

“Chalk one up for the Ninth Precinct,” he said proudly as Sir Orlando arrived.



Secret Keeper #178

(5) Words: | ROCK | JOINT | INNER | SIGHT | SAIL |


Image result for napoleonic russian soldiers

source: Pinterest

Milana rushed into the small farmhouse and exclaimed, “Von Langell’s Russians are coming,” as she quickly closed the door.

Her two twin brothers, Markus and Maksim quickly exited through the opposite door, and clambered into some empty barrels in the rear of the barn.

As a mounted man in military uniform approached the farmstead, at the head of about a dozen infantrymen, Milana carefully placed the lids on the barrels.  She gave the barrels a hasty inspection, then satisfied with what she saw, went out to greet the arrival of the Czar’s “recruiting party.”

(94 words)




During the Napoleonic Wars, the Russian military “recruitment” system was intensified in Livonia, Estonia, and Courland.   The Russian authorities not only increased military conscription, but established a militia throughout the Baltic provinces.  These units were made up of local peasants who were under the command of the German-speaking Baltic Manorial nobility.

What Pegman Saw Prompt: Estonia