Contest #154 shortlist ⭐️

Old Fishermen Never Die

Submitted into Contest #154 in response to: Write a story featuring an element of time-travel or anachronism.... view prompt

66 comments

Fantasy Adventure Historical Fiction

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

Cold salt water laps the beach, baptizing the goose tongue and goldenrod with spray. It stings my hands in places that have met with sharp rock and lobster claws: a good clean sting like ointment. The motorboat I moor onshore sputters to life. I am soaked with sea and fog before I have even reached the Pemaquid, tied further out so as not to run its keel aground. The lobster traps clank as I push past them to the engine. I wince at the high-pitched squeal, a testament to its manufacture date. The orange rubber overalls transform me into a beacon in the hour just before dawn. 


Then I see the blue light. 


The engine stalls. My eyes dart between the arms of the temperature gauge and the RPM, spinning independently of anything the small fishing boat does or, indeed, has ever been capable of doing. I’ve seen the blue light a handful of times, but not this close. Never this close. It pulses softly across the surface of the water, as if bioluminescent plankton are on holiday off the coast of Bristol. A tinge of lighter, greyer blue floats in the fog. The fine hairs creep along my neck and scalp as my fingers fumble with the radio. “Matt,” I hiss into the tube. “Matt, it’s the light. It’s back– the blue light–” 


But my voice is greeted only by static. The Pemaquid’s antenna bobs as sudden waves beat against her sides like airplane turbulence. A ship has entered, hidden somewhere in the harbor. 


I scour my mind to recall whether there have been any scheduled arrivals, any clearances for a ship big enough to tilt the deck so that I stumble forward, lobster traps crashing around my head. Swearing, I support myself against the bulkhead, more angry now than spooked. What chowderhead from Town Hall decided to keep its fishermen in the dark like this?


A shadow thickens against the fog. I have time only to duck into the shelter before the prow of a wooden ship emerges directly ahead of me, piercing the horizon like a swordfish. The ship groans and blinds me with rays of blue light splayed between wooden sides, originating somewhere within the vessel’s heart. The Pemaquid sloshes in its wake. I screw my eyes against the light, gritting my teeth to see the name painted on the stern. “ANGEL GABRIEL” is splashed in bloody letters on the side of a triple-masted sailboat. 


Great. Another tourist attraction. Just what New Harbor needs.


The light dims and the silhouette of a full beard appears far above me. In the first rosy fingers of sunrise, I can just discern two glittering eyes like pinpricks before the man gives a shout and disappears again. “Hey!” I yell back. “Help me out here, will you?” There is silence. I thump my hand on the side of the shelter in frustration.


Suddenly a rowboat splashes around the hull of the Angel Gabriel, approaching the Pemaquid. There are two passengers, but only one rows. The other faces away from me, straight-backed and motionless. They are both wearing costumes. I paste a smile over my grimace and wave.


“What’s up, fellas?” I use a Barney-the-purple-dinosaur voice, instead of the Batman voice I want to use.


The rowboat scratches the Pemaquid’s paint and the two men board, still without speaking. The rower is dressed like an old-fashioned Chinese farmer, complete with rice-picker hat and long queue. His garments are torn and stained, covered in burns. The other is pale and cropped beneath a blunt, peaked cap. He wears a brass-buttoned coat in much better repair than his companion’s with two swords, a broadsword and a saber, sheathed at his sides. I can feel my smile in my temples.


“Now I don’t mean to be rude, but I like to know who my guests are before I invite them onto my boat,” I protest, forcing a chuckle.


“Fai Yu Ming, your worship,” the rower murmurs. Before I can stop him, he kneels and touches his forehead to the platform, still swimming in sea water. “I serve my captain honorably on the Angel Gabriel.”


“Nice to meet you, uh, Yu Ming.” I cannot tell whether the name and accent are part of the act. I notice that the “captain” seems significantly younger than I am. Not quite old enough to pay his own health insurance, I guess, but too old to dress up as a pirate with dignity. Of that much I am positive. 


I take off my glove and shake his hand. “Daniel Curtis. And yourself?”


I feel his grip turn to steel. His eyes bore into mine. “Is that so,” he says in a low voice. His face is oddly expressionless. “Daniel Curtis. Well, Daniel Curtis, I suppose you should know that my name is Dixey Bull.” 


Courtesy quickly turns to annoyance. “Yeah, I figured,” I mutter, jabbing my thumb toward the name of the ship. “Hey, listen, there must’ve been some sort of mix-up because we don’t know anything about your venue here. You’re gonna want to get a special permit with the county and the local administration before you put up any kind of entertainment or attraction. Especially on this scale. Looks cool and all,” I offer, my last attempt at civility.


I hope the men will leave my boat, maybe even apologize. But instead, the self-styled Dixey Bull curls his lip into a sneer, glancing up and down my rubber overalls. “Daniel Curtis, I believe you are confused.”


“Get off my boat. Get off now or I’ll call the police.”


Dixey Bull laughs, catching me off guard. “And where are we, Daniel Curtis? What police will come for you?”


“What d’you mean, where are we? We’re in New Harbor, town of Bristol,” I say angrily. “You’re the one with the whole Dixey Bull thing going on and that godawful British accent. I swear, my little brother Matt’s a Maine State Trooper. I can call him up right now.”


“Can you really? Show me.”


I remember the static from earlier and flush. Still, I try the radio again. No response. I realize that I am stranded on a boat with a stranger carrying a sword. A plastic sword, I tell myself. It’s starting to feel awfully real. 


Dixey Bull laughs a quiet little laugh like dry leaves skittering over pavement. “Daniel Curtis. I have been waiting for you.”


“Alrighty, Dixey Bull,” I say, turning on him and acting braver than I am. “You tell me where we are. If we’re not in New Harbor, then where?”


“Have you not guessed? We are floating only a few hundred fathoms from the shores of Pemaquid.”


“You’re wrong,” I say mechanically. “Bristol hasn’t been called Pemaquid for hundreds of years.”


“You are beginning to understand.” The corners of his cold cruel snarl twitched. “It is nearly morning. The fog is lifting. Look, and you will see I speak the truth.”


“Hold on,” I stall. “You might be the real-deal Dixey Bull but I tell you I’m the wrong Daniel Curtis. I catch lobsters in a 1975 Robert Rich, not cod in whatever the hell little rowboats they had in the seventeenth century. I’ve never held a sword in my life, and more important I have no interest in asking you to a duel.” 


“But you must have heard the ballad.” Hell. My whole life, and maybe some time before that, too. You have to wonder what my parents thought, naming me after the one hero of Bristol. 


“Well, sure. It’s a common enough song.” The red dawn hangs like a blood orange behind the Angel Gabriel. A chill spreads in my bones and I shiver.


The captain nods at the farmer. “Dixey Bull was a pirate bold, He swept our coast in search of gold,” Fai Yu Ming intones. “He flaunted his flag and shot his lead, Which kept the people out of bed.”


But Daniel Curtis, a fisherman, Feared not the flag from which they ran,” I add impatiently. “But that’s just a legend. Daniel Curtis didn’t really kill Dixey Bull. The ballad’s not even too well-written.”


“Because Daniel Curtis has not yet killed Dixey Bull, you claim he did not,” the young captain says. He hasn’t taken his eyes off me the entire time. “Daniel Curtis, you are a fool if you cannot understand that while times change, time… time does not. It is the eternal present, Curtis. That is the secret. It is the truth that has set me free.”


The absurdity of his words and of my situation finally offends me. “You’re crazy. I can’t believe I’m giving you the time of day. Take your little advertising stunt somewhere else before you’re arrested by harbor patrol.”


Look,” he whispers.


I turn, and gasp. There are still wisps of fog straggling from the surface of the water, but in the pale rays of sun I can see the shoreline fairly well. New Harbor is gone. In its place are a few wharves, the moorings of wooden rowboats, and trees– so many more trees. Women in petticoats and linen caps stand with men in breeches and coats. In the distance rises the thin smoke trail of a chimney. I study the Angel Gabriel more closely. The blue light still branches along the wood like lightning. I notice there are black crab-like bugs swarming over the hull. Trilobites, I realize with horror. I sink to my knees in disbelief.


“The last time a trilobite roamed this earth was the Paleozoic Era,” Dixey Bull says, amused. “And Fai Yu Ming? I captured him from the Pearl River during the Second Opium War.”


I lick my lips. “Alright,” I croak. “I believe you. You’re Dixey Bull. I believe you can time travel, or whatever it is. But please, take me home. I’m from Bristol, not Pemaquid, and I’ve got nothing against you. What do you want from me?”


“I want you to fight.” He tosses me the hilt-end of the saber, which I drop.


“I refuse to fight,” I yell. “What are we fighting over?”


“The village’s gold,” he says strangely. “Blood or your gold is what I want.”


“I won’t! I can’t! Take the gold and leave the villagers alone!” 


“Can it be you still don’t understand?” Dixey Bull roars, seeming to grow taller than his slight build. “There is no gold. There was never any gold. I am going to kill you, Daniel Curtis, because you have saved Pemaquid and you have saved her gold. I am going to kill you because you are going to kill me.”


Our boats have drifted nearer the rocks and sands of Pemaquid. For the first time, I can hear the people on shore. They are shouting, screaming themselves hoarse, red in the face. “He our gold is going to save,” they chant, apparently oblivious to my motor boat and orange rubbers. Dixey Bull unsheathes his broadsword and levels it at my throat.


“You are their only champion. Fight me, or I swear,” he says, eyes flashing, “I will destroy each board, brick, and human being I see until time forgets there ever was a Pemaquid.”


My hands shake as I lift the saber. The hilt-guard slides easily to my fist. The pink-and-blue streaked sky reflects in the curved blade, smudged by salty sea. He’s right; I don’t understand. But as impossible as it seems, somehow Bristol– Pemaquid– is in real danger. I am Daniel Curtis, the champion. “If he kills me they’re his by right, If I kill him we win the fight,” I whisper. Somehow, I don’t feel ridiculous at all. I stagger to my feet, breathing heavily.


“And so we begin.” Dixey Bull touches the end of my saber with the broadsword.


“Can’t we fight on shore?” My boots slip on the platform and I struggle to avoid the lobster traps.


“We will end on Beaver Isle,” he says. He pushes the blade upward, as if to test my strength, then drops it and cuts my forearm straight across.


I feel heat before I feel any pain. The dark drops spatter and blossom like red algae at our feet. I blink at them for a moment, but don’t have time to process before Dixey Bull lunges again, this time at my face. I step back impulsively and shield myself with the flat of the saber, obstructing his blow. He pushes back. Steel grinds against steel, creating sparks that bounce off my overalls and land with a sizzle on the deck. Dixey Bull gnashes his short yellow teeth. 


“Defense, defense, all defense,” he hisses. “You will die like a slave at my feet.” I sneak a look at Yu Ming, huddled in the shelter. His complexion is ashen, eyes dull.


Without warning, Dixey Bull pulls back the blade and slices at my thigh. This time I am too quick for him, leaping backward onto the traps and out of his reach. The position is awkward, but my head is now a foot or two above his. I sweep low and swift, leaving a gash in the back of his neck. He shudders a little but stands his ground.


The chanting continues. “Curtis fought for cause that’s right, Bull, because he liked to fight.” 


The current knocks both the rowboat and the Pemaquid against the shrubby rocks of Beaver Isle, projecting slightly from the mainland. I jump over the side and onto the island. I roll to my feet and dance away from Dixey Bull almost in fear, although I’m too afraid even to feel that. Then I see the rivers streaming under his collar, staining the whole of his shirt and coat a dirty brown. He turns on me, eyes yellow with rage. 


My new strategy is to run.


Dixey Bull hunts after me. The island is not much bigger than a backyard, just big enough to scamper from conifer to conifer, avoiding direct confrontation.


“Coward,” Dixey Bull rasps. “Even now do I threaten you, even now?”


“I don’t want to kill you,” I call from the shade of a pine. “You’re hurt worse than I am.”


“Coward,” he repeats stupidly. He lurches toward me. “Fight… fight me, Curtis…”


I take pity on his sorry state and emerge. “Is there anyone on board who can dress wounds? A barber?” I try to remember whether barbers were also surgeons in the 1600s, or if surgeons were also barbers. “Come here, I’ll help–”


Dixey Bull sheds the drunken reel and pounces, ripping a hole in my overalls that reaches to my ribs. I wince and fall sideways, floundering on a steep decline leading to the sea.


He stands over me, dripping water and blood onto my head. “Here ends the lobster fisherman,” he says grimly, lifting his broadsword above his head. My mind races. As Dixey’s sword was falling down, Curtis sprang up from the ground– but I can’t. My blood has congealed in my veins. I brace for the final blow.


Instead, I hear a nasty squelching sound coupled with a low moan, a sound that reminds me of a wolf dying in the last nature documentary I watched. I peek upward through the crook in my elbow. Dixey Bull’s face is pasty white, and clammy with sweat. He clutches high up on his left side as his fingers turn scarlet. His mouth moves wordlessly and the yellow sun reflects in his eyes, staring without sight. He fumbles forward, groping with the sword in his left hand as though he sees an apparition in the east. “Daniel Curtis,” he pants. “Can you see it? Can you see the blue light?” He keels over. His bloody chest falls close to mine. “The eternal present,” he chokes, hot breath rankling in my nose. “E– e–” He mouths the word “eternity” before resting his head at its final angle. His eyes go smooth and glassy.


Yu Ming stands above us. He holds a jade dagger in his left hand and does not speak, simply watches as I close Dixey Bull’s eyes and jaw. I can’t tell where the blood on my palms came from. The three of us sit in silence for several minutes. There are cheers from the shore, and more chanting. “That’s how Curtis won the day, And killed his man in Bristol Bay.”


“It’s funny, but I don’t remember a whole lot about the Chinese farmer in the ballad,” I joke. It tastes bad and Yu Ming doesn’t seem to listen. He casts down the dagger and sits beside me, covering his face with his hands.


The harbor is calm like Dixey Bull’s eyes. It looks like it usually does, except with fewer pleasure boats. Only the rowboat, the Pemaquid, and the Angel Gabriel still float like untethered islands in a lonely sea. I look at the Chinese man’s shoulders. How many years has he been away from Hong Kong? If the pirate was right, it doesn’t matter– it might as well have been a thousand years. Does he have a wife, I wonder, one that he loves? A younger brother with a family he treats like his own?


“Pearl River, did he say?”


Yu Ming looks up.


“Come on, Fai Yu Ming.” I rise unsteadily. Sharp pains stab once more at my side. I hope there is a barber onboard. “I’ll take you home.”


Dixey Bull said this was the end of the lobster fisherman. I figure he was right.


July 16, 2022 02:06

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66 comments

Katy Borobia
02:36 Jul 16, 2022

This is my first attempt at fantasy since middle school, although up until that point it was my main genre for both reading and writing (I went through those dime-a-dozen fairy stories like candy). I enjoy fantasy that's grounded in very specific locales as well as slightly surreal, so I went with New England and time-traveling/ever-present pirate. Dixey Bull is known as the first pirate of New England, pre-dating the Golden Age of Piracy by about 20 years. The ballad I used came from "Minstrelsy of Maine: Folk-Songs and Ballads of the Woods...

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Tommy Goround
04:13 Jul 21, 2022

I dearly appreciate author notes like the ones above. Thank you.

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Katy Borobia
04:45 Jul 21, 2022

I love to read them, so I always make sure to write one.

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Cody Olson
20:15 Jul 19, 2022

You did a wonderful job building the suspense and the vivid description at the beginning really brought me into the scene. My favorite part of your style in this story is the subtle distinctions between Dixey and Daniel in regards to the time period. Descriptions like "Not quite old enough to pay his own health insurance" and Dixey's crass confidence/superiority built a real dynamic! Great work Katy!

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Katy Borobia
02:19 Jul 20, 2022

Thank you Cody! I've been working on descriptions for a while, so I'm glad you liked my first paragraph. And thank you for commenting on the Daniel/Dixey characterization as well! :)

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Cindy Calder
19:34 Jul 21, 2022

Oh, wow - i cannot even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this story! It's wonderful. Initially, because the first paragraph was so vividly descriptive, I was immediately reminded of Daniel Fogelberg's song "The Reach" and could hear it echoing in my mind as I continued to read. Needless to say, I was delighted to learn that the story was indeed set along the coast of Maine. And then, the storyline grew by leaps and bounds, igniting my curiosity until I could not wait to see how it all ended. Perfection. Yes, this story is simply perfection.

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Katy Borobia
22:23 Jul 21, 2022

Cindy - you are too kind. Thank you for the high praise, and I'm especially glad that the descriptions were evocative for you!

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Zoë Page
11:41 Jul 21, 2022

A beautiful story. I liked how it all fitted together, with Daniel originally being named after the hero, but in reality, he is the hero. The descriptions at the beginning were almost like art, personally satisfying to read. Good job!

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Katy Borobia
22:22 Jul 21, 2022

Thank you for your lovely comment, Zoë!

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Zoë Page
15:12 Jul 22, 2022

Congratulations on being shortlisted, Katy! Well deserved :)

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Daniel Sentinal
09:23 Jul 21, 2022

I really enjoyed that! You achieved a good balance between action and characterization. Not being a conventional story it kept me intrigued till the end, and I feel I would like to know more of this world and how our hero was transported into the past. I wish there was more!

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Katy Borobia
22:21 Jul 21, 2022

Thank you for the high praise, Daniel! There's certainly a big wide world to explore with this story, perhaps starting with the Pearl River, 1858 ;)

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Kelsey H
09:14 Jul 21, 2022

This was a such a wonderfully written story, the characters and their interactions was so enjoyable and I love how we go through the emotions with Daniel as he ranges from annoyance to confusion to fear, trying to work out what is going on. Especially loved him thinking the pirate ship was some kind of tourist attraction at first. I think you hit the right mix between him being in a state of disbelief at first to accepting the reality so the story can keep moving forward. I loved Daniel's perspective on the pirate Dixey too, especially his t...

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Katy Borobia
22:19 Jul 21, 2022

Thank you so, so much for your comment, Kelsey! Your stories are always excellent and enjoyable, so this means a lot to me. I was nervous to write a story with more action than I normally include, so it's great to hear your positive feedback :)

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Cindy Strube
05:00 Jul 21, 2022

Fanciful, fun, and fabulous! You do a great job of scene-setting in your stories, and this one has a great shift. All of a sudden, we’re not really when we thought we were. Time travel stories draw me because they usually have a historical aspect mixed with surrealism. I enjoyed your use of the ballad (even if it’s “not even too well-written”!) I wasn’t familiar with it, but your story spurred me to look it up. Very well done!

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Katy Borobia
17:47 Jul 21, 2022

Thank you so very much, Cindy! Good for you for looking up Dixey Bull. I don't want to insult my source, but let's just say I don't want people thinking I wrote the ballad ;)

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Cindy Strube
18:29 Jul 21, 2022

Ha! Don’t blame you. Happy that you gleaned something good from it!

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Kathleen Shapona
04:45 Jul 21, 2022

Hi Katy, absolutely loved your description of your scene, I felt like I was right there and very much enjoyed the story. I love time travel and it is my favorite genre to read as well as write about. Great story!

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Katy Borobia
17:44 Jul 21, 2022

Thank you for the compliments and for taking the time to comment, Kathleen!

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Tommy Goround
04:12 Jul 21, 2022

clapping.

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Betty Gilgoff
03:07 Jul 21, 2022

I love it Katy. What an interesting retelling of history. So possible and probable. Nicely done. Great descriptions of the characters, each coming so clearly from their own time periods.

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Katy Borobia
17:43 Jul 21, 2022

Thank you for the lovely comment, Betty! I am so glad to hear that it held your suspension of disbelief.

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Graham Kinross
12:27 Jul 20, 2022

chowderhead Is an insult I now have to use someday. That’s going in the memory bank. Sucks for him that he can’t go back to his time. Had Dixey Bull found a way to time travel using a mental state that denies linear time? That was interesting. I like that Fai Yu Ming actually defeated the pirate. The song was cool.

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Katy Borobia
17:40 Jul 21, 2022

Thank you so much for the read and comment! I thought "chowderhead" was a good New English insult :)

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Graham Kinross
20:44 Jul 21, 2022

Definitely urban dictionary worthy. Sounds like something from SpongeBob SquarePants.

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Suma Jayachandar
05:24 Jul 20, 2022

Katy, The descriptions are exquisite and dialogue is taut. Though I'm not familiar with the lore, I absolutely enjoyed the ride! And oh, yes the writing is sharp as a sword. Brilliant! Thanks for sharing.

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Katy Borobia
17:39 Jul 21, 2022

Thank you for the lovely comment, Suma! You are a wonderful writer, yourself.

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Ren B
01:16 Jul 20, 2022

Wow Katy, beautiful writing! Loved the descriptions, very vivid, and the time-travel element of the story. The climax was also great, excellent job!

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Katy Borobia
02:19 Jul 20, 2022

Thank you for your comment! I'm never sure how I feel about climaxes, so it means a lot that you enjoyed it!

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17:34 Jul 19, 2022

Katy this was beautiful! Your introduction of the characters was probably my favorite part. I love the sort of "sass" between Dixey and Curtis when they first meet. Dixey's determination to have the fight was almost fanatical, and it made me wonder a biiiiit about his sanity (in a fun theorizing way) Your power of description seems to effortless (which means you probably worked really hard on it) and I applaud that. You paid attention to all the senses so I really did feel like I was seeing and hearing and EXPERIECING this piece. Well done!

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Tommy Goround
04:21 Jul 21, 2022

I like comparing Hannah and Katy stories. Hannah got me with the color poetesque story a few weeks ago. Katy starts with deep thoughts on the locations. And then BOOM, you both are at plot and character. Hannah put me on a Jewish adventure a week (or so ago) and I'm like "where's she going..where's she going." And then Katy is burying surreal elements in the peripheral, "Angel Gabriel" boats , etc. Even if the professor is wrong "_All_ stories derive from Greek Tragedies and the Bible..." Even if that statement is wrong, you both use ou...

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12:01 Jul 21, 2022

Hey Tommy :) I'm so glad that you've enjoyed my stories! I love delving into areas of faith (and the Bible) but sometimes I worry that no one will enjoy reading them, so this message has reaffirmed me! Thank you for your encouragement! <3

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Katy Borobia
17:35 Jul 21, 2022

Thank you for your kind words! As you may be able to tell if you know that Flannery O’Connor is my favorite author, I love to have Christian imagery in my stories, though I don't want to have self-conscious "messaging." Probably where PureFlix diverges from Hannah and (hopefully) myself...

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Katy Borobia
02:17 Jul 20, 2022

Oh my goodness, thank you for the lovely compliments. Especially on appealing to the senses and creating an experience for the reader! That means a lot to me. Thanks again!

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14:29 Jul 22, 2022

Katy! CONGRATS! This was so so deserved! You did an amazing job with this! ❤️

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Riel Rosehill
09:05 Jul 19, 2022

I loved the feel of this story, and I though the premise was insanely creative. You have definitely got that surreal, otherwordly/paranormal feel to it that I just adore. I really enjoyed how you used the ballad as well, it definitely added to the story. So Curtis wasn't named after that hero after all - he was that hero - but also named after... himself... in the future. I must not think about which came first - as Dixey said, time ain't lineral! Well done with this - I'm gonna go as far to say it's my favourite story of yours!

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Katy Borobia
02:16 Jul 20, 2022

Oh wow, thank you so much for the high praise Riel!! "Surreal" is my ideal kind of fantasy, so that means a lot to hear. I was suddenly inspired by the premise, so I'm glad to hear it worked for you. I guess I've always wanted to inhabit this sort of world myself :) thanks again!

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Riel Rosehill
15:15 Jul 22, 2022

Congrats Katy!! I hope we'll see more of this style of story from you 🤩

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Ba Eubank
22:57 Jul 18, 2022

Enthralling story. I like how you pointed out legends (ballad) aren't always true.

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Katy Borobia
01:48 Jul 19, 2022

Thank you so much for commenting! I enjoyed your story this week, too.

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Caroline Smith
20:48 Jul 18, 2022

Very intriguing combination of fantasy and historical fiction! I also liked the idea that the history we're told or that's sealed in books/songs isn't always the way things really went down (eg, Yu Ming saving the day even though he isn't mentioned in the ballad), and that maybe destiny is really just the right combination of circumstances. Great job!

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Katy Borobia
22:26 Jul 18, 2022

Thank you for the lovely comment, Caroline! I had a lot of fun trying the historical/fantasy mash-up this week.

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Chandler Wilson
13:55 Jul 18, 2022

Beautiful prose and great job telling the story of a legend. The descriptions were truly wonderful. At one point I got confused who was who, but a little research cleared it up. Great ending. Thanks for sharing.

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Katy Borobia
01:49 Jul 19, 2022

Thank you for the lovely comment! I am never sure about endings, so I'm glad to get so much good feedback about this one.

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Jon Casper
17:32 Jul 17, 2022

Wonderful descriptions, engaging dialogue, and an awesome concept. I love the framework of destiny foretold by a ballad. Exquisite opening paragraph. And what a perfect ending! Just masterful storytelling. Bravo!

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Katy Borobia
01:45 Jul 18, 2022

I am so so pleased to hear that you liked the beginning and end - I think that those parts usually make or break a story. The concept was kind of experimental, but one I was excited to try, so I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thank you so much for the lovely comment.

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Michał Przywara
19:15 Jul 16, 2022

I wasn't at all familiar with this history/legend, so when Daniel recognized the name "Dixey Bull" as though it had some deeper meaning, I figured I was missing something. A quick diversion to Wikipedia sorted things out. I like how this story ties into the legend, and due to the fun nature of how messed up time travel is, I must assume that this Daniel Curtis is indeed the same one as the original. So he only exists because he went back in time as an adult to forge the legend he would be named after in the future. Well, that's just how I c...

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Katy Borobia
01:43 Jul 18, 2022

As always, thank you for the lovely comment. I'm honored that you were interested enough in the story to search up Dixey Bull! I deliberately left the identity of the original Daniel Curtis ambiguous, but I was hoping for the effect that they are in one way or another the same person :) thank you for your compliments on the story, and I'm fond of the characters myself. I hope there's more to the story, too.

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Michał Przywara
20:59 Jul 22, 2022

Congratulations on the shortlist :)

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