Concept Art Writing Prompt: A Funeral on the Ocean Floor

Illustration for article titled Concept Art Writing Prompt: A Funeral on the Ocean Floor

In this week's Concept Art Writing Prompt, we ask you to write about a rather unusual burial at sea. What kind of stories can you spin about this underwater funeral?

Illustration for article titled Concept Art Writing Prompt: A Funeral on the Ocean Floor

This image, by Vitaliy Shushko (via The Art of Animation) is itself inspired by a moment from Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Feel free to use Verne as your jumping-off point, or invent something entirely different—and post your story in the comments.

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Lauren Davis

Etta watched as her uncle put his palm up to the glass. Outside, the city's pallbearers, each outfitted in an ancient dive suit, lowered his wife's coffin into her grave. The Occasion Room went silent as the weighted box sank, disappearing before its freshly planted headstone. Etta paused for just a moment before turning back to her friends.

"It's a waste of resources," Cecily said as she sipped her kush and soda. "Cemeteries are probably the most useless holdover from surface life."

Paul shrugged. "It's just for the Catholics. Anyway, I like the idea of being outdoors."

"But you're not outdoors!" A few drops of her cocktail spilled over the rim as Cecily threw her arms wide. "You spend your whole life in one tube," she waved around the Occasion Room, "and then eternity in another. You really want to go outside, you throw yourself out the water lock and let the fish eat you."

Jude poked Cecily in the ribcage. "You'd probably like that, if we all became fish food."

She swatted his hand away. "No, I think we should go into the composter and keep our materials inside."

"What about you, Etta?" Paul asked. "You going to be buried at sea?"

Etta blushed as all eyes turned on her. She had put the crucifix away back before her eighteenth birthday, but she couldn't seem to shake the scent of baptismal water. She grasped for a necklace that wasn't there. "No…no," she said. "I want to go in the composter. It's the right thing to do."

Etta felt a hand on her shoulder and turned around. Her uncle stood behind her, his usually pink face gone scarlet with tears. "Etta, love," he said, wiping a finger around the base of one eye, "walk me back to my quarters. It's time for a nip and a prayer in your aunt's memory."

Etta's shoulders folded as she watched her friends out of the corner of her eye. "We were going to take a sub to Baseside tonight."

Her uncle patted her on the back. "Of course," he said. "Life is for the young."

Cecily stared after him as he trudged out of the room. "Should you be going with him?"

Etta shook her head. "It's okay. It's just traditional. He'll probably skip the prayer, go straight to the nip."

"Whisky, right?" Jude asked. "I hear it's amazing."

Cecily rolled her eyes. "Does all of your cultural knowledge come from old stereotypes?"

"Nope," he grinned, "some of it comes from dirty jokes."

Cecily opened her mouth to offer some fresh scolding, but was interrupted by an alarm blaring through the Occasion Room. Eyes went wide. "Is that the water lock?" Paul shouted over the noise.

Etta dropped her glass and ran for the nearest water lock. The pallbearers were grouped around, one furiously pounding on the override. Pelton Grace, his helmet removed, held out his hands to stop Etta. "He rushed past us, Et. He'd spun the lock before any of us knew what was going on."

No one went to Baseside that night. Etta spent the city's dark hours awake in bed, picturing her uncle's body floating among the hungry fishes.