I have been a bad, bad writer. I allowed myself to get sucked into the Minesweeper vortex, first by saying, “just one game” before I start, and then by saying, “well, that one didn’t count.”

You can see where this is going.

 So I uninstalled the damn thing. I have a lot of projects I want to start, and an addiction to clearing mines from a little screen was not going to help. So I got rid of Minesweeper, all the solitaires, cleaned up both my computer desktop and my actual real-life desktop, and now I’m ready to begin.

Housekeeping has always been a mental first step between projects anyway. Usually when I finish a short story I clean off my desk, putting all the music back and either recycling all the paper used for drafts or critique comments from my group or turning it over to be reused. I usually have to listen to new music anyway when I start a project, although I have a few stand-bys that help get me going. (It’s amazing what George Thorogood can do to jump-start my writing. Once “Rocking the Night Away” hits, it’s like, “away we go!)

Anyway, I’m convinced that the creator of Minesweeper and computer solitaire was a failed writer who had it in for the rest of us.


Alan Kellogg · November 9, 2008 at 12:50 am

Set Up: An old merchant ship. The wood is rotted, the keel cracked and kept together only by a pair of rusting braces. The thing is lucky to reach 5 knots with a following wind, a strong current, and some blatant cheating by the first mate.

The crew consists of the master, the first mate, bosun’s mate, and a pair of crewmen who qualify as able-bodied seamen because nobody back at fleet has the time to bother with updating their records. Two thirds of the spells on the vessel are either non-standard, illegal, or impromptou. The rest are either incorrectly applied or meant for another purpose. The ship’s cook is a ghoul in the Lily Munster mold (The Munsters).

The crew’s job is to clean up stray flotsam and jetsam and the occasional eldritch corpse. Until one day something different shows up on the ship’s ‘fish finder’

What do you think you could do with this premise?

Patrice Sarath · November 9, 2008 at 3:46 pm

Well I see a couple of options. One is to totally Mary Sue it and be the thing on the fish finder, save the day, marry the master, etc etc.

But my first thought was — this is like a bizarro-world Star Trek episode with Scott Bakula as the captain, Scotty as the first mate, and the cook is played by Neelix.

True story — remember the episode when Neelix has to be disguised as a Ferengi for one reason or another?

And at the point of his reveal, my first thought was–

Wow! They really made Neelix look like a Ferengi!

My second thought was um, oh yeah.

Alan Kellogg · November 9, 2008 at 8:03 pm

I was thinking more along the lines of something malevolent; and in the afternoon as I napped (recovering from a wrenched neck) the opening came to me . . .

The Sunfish was old at eighty. Should’ve been broken up as scrap—or shredded as mulch more appropriately—sixty years ago. Wood was bad, keel was broken and patched. When she reached 5 knots it was a miracle. She had a crew of five, plus a ghoul who was more in the way of ship’s gear than anything else.

At the moment, as the sun westered behind ribbons of high, reddening cloud, Seaman Mabs was up in the rigging singing the sails up. Having the best voice in the crew, that was his job. Seaman Jines was at the helm, following the hand signals made by Captain Creg as he watched the scene on the fish finder; which was some three years past scrapping itself.

First Mate Jakeson and Bosun’s Mate Magilly waited besides the bow and stern anchors, ready for the signal. Since it would be dark by the time they got to their destination, they would drop anchor, secure the Sunfish, set a marker on their quarry, have another steaming bowl of goulash, and get a good nights sleep while Berry—their ghoul and cook—kept watch.

The thing on the scope looked like a chest. A marble chest with 3 drawers and an attached mirror. At the moment the mirror was displaying some sort of entertainment, in between obviously bad attempts at selling something or other. Didn’t look like any technology Creg was aware of. Unless he had missed some advances in crystal fabrication in his four years commanding this ship. Wouldn’t surprise him.

He heard a scent of black as a thread rippled across the chest. Just a thread, not a thread of anything, just a thread. He stripped to his skin, cast a few cleansings on himself and his clothes, then turned to his helmsman and said, “I think we just died.”

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