A Writing Prompt Response: Deep Dinner

View the writing prompt from io9 here.

“Oh Horatio! How could you say such a thing?” Canzilla demanded around a mouthful of ghostly turkey leg. She leaned forward and pounded her elbow against the table in a very unlady-like manner.

“Quite easily,” Horatio said, lowering his teacup. “Vanessa’s ego is easily as large as her hair is tall.” Vanessa did not rise to the bait and remained prone in a fainted position on her chair, though she had put her feet up on the other chair. It was more restful that way.

“We must all get along,” Margarette said, managing to appear severe without looking at the three of them. She especially did not want to notice Vanessa’s dramatics. Instead she looked at Cavanaugh, hoping his even temperament would prevail.

She was disappointed.

Cavanaugh stood and stabbed at Horatio with his own piece of ghostly turkey to emphasize his words. “You should apologize at once, Horatio!”

“I don’t see the point,” Horatio said. The stiff shoulders of his coat moved up and down as he shrugged. The silver buttons on his lapel glinted eerily when he moved.

“The point,” Canzilla seethed, “is that if we are to be down here for the rest of eternity–”

“And who’s fault is that?” Horatio looked pointedly at Vanessa’s fainted form.

“–it’s best that we forget the past and move on!”

“I believe that is exactly our problem,” said Margaret. Her dark green dress blended in with the algea that covered the deck of the ship and the fallen mast behind her. Her ghostly form shifted, and she turned to focus her attention on their conversation, rolling her eyes in annoyance.

“What is?” Cavanuah asked. “I’d say we have a pretty good spread here.” He reached for a silvery tureen of ghostly gravy, grabbed it, and poured it over his phantasmal mashed potatoes.

“No, I think she means the fact that we are dead,” Horatio said, “and haven’t left this ship since it sank.”

“And where exactly are we going to go?” asked Canzilla. Her dining mates fell silent for a moment.

“Heaven?” Horatio asked.

“Oh, jeeze–”

“Not possible.”

“I’m sure you remember what happened, Horatio, since you were there,” said Margarette. “I know it was a couple hundred years ago, but it was the last thing we did. We are most likely not going to see the pearly gates any time soon.”

“Well…then,” Horatio shrugged, “how about the…other place.”

They all fell silent once again. Then Cavanaugh asked, “It really can’t be worse than this? Can it?”

“What, you mean eternally eating the same meal? Eternally attending the same dinner party with the same people? Eternally seeing nothing but the dullest fish and the occassional squid?” Canzilla shook her head. “Maybe we are already in Hell. I doubt it’s supposed to be entertaining.”

“Didn’t Father Marcus say that Hell was fire, not water?” Horatio asked.

“So you would rather burn than drown?” Canzilla asked.

“It would be something different, at least,” muttered Horatio.

“Oh my God!” said Cavanaugh.

“I doubt praying is going to change anything,” said Margarette.

Cavanaugh stood and pointed his turkey over the starboard bow of the ship. “No, um, there’s a–”

The other diners looked to see the strangest fish they had ever seen. It was large for a fish at this depth and had many spiny protrusions sticking from its body. It had a large bulbous head made of a clear material, which revealed the inner workings of its brain.

“Oh my,” said Margarette. “Is there a person inside of it’s head?”

“Why yes,” said Horatio. “Yes, I believe there is.”

“If I wasn’t seeing this as the spirit of a dead person, I would be extremely terrified,” said Canzilla.

Vannessa stirred and awakened. “What is it?” she muttered, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. Her faint had turned into a nap.

“A fish of some sort,” said Horatio.

“No,” said Vanessa, her voice becoming excited as she studied the strange fish. She sat up in her chair. “It’s like one of those sketches by that artist, oh whatsisname. You know, like the flying contraption, except under the sea.”

“Oh Vanessa,” said Margarette, “da Vinci was using his imagination. This is probably just another torture sent by the Devil. Something for us to get excited about, and then when it leaves, we will have to go back to our dull deaths which will be all the duller for it’s momentary visit.”

Vanessa smiled at all of them. “No, don’t you see?” She stood and looked at the strange creature. “This means that the world has continued. The horrible things we did in the past didn’t change anything. They didn’t matter at all. People kept on living and learning.”

“You’re just trying to make yourself feel better,” said Horatio. “People never learn.”

Shaking her head, Vanessa took a step towards the submersible. “You’re wrong,” she said simply. And then she was gone. Her ghostly form had twinkled out in the blink of an eye.

“There goes another one,” said Canzilla, shaking her head.

“Don’t you ever wonder where they go?” Horatio asked his fellow diners.

“All I know,” said Cavanaugh, “is more food for us.”

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