I wrote "Captain's Mistake" for the first science fiction and fantasy writing workshop Jeffrey A. Carver and Craig Shaw Gardner hold every year in Boston. Go UltimateSF! This was--and is still--the ice-breaking exercise for the class, writing a short piece about a character with some kind of superpower.
Here's KJ's story Surface Tension for the same exercise. I will post more links as others post their stories.
Lieutenant Thedford's fingers slipped along the quarterdeck rail, the rain drumming on his shoulders, pasting his collar to the back of his neck. He fought the urge to turn around, to look at the candle's glow coming through the panes of the captain's cabin and the thing—her—behind them. He heard her singing, long sorrow-notes, like something sharp sliding slow through the storm and wind. A sound at home in so much water.
He bit down hard, and pushed his face into the storm, releasing his clenched teeth to shout, "Soundings, Mr. Rawlings!"
The wind whipped the words away, rain running into his mouth. He ducked his head and squinted against a gust, one hand holding his hat, no sign of the longboat in the roil of black water pounding the starboard gun ports, no sign of anything beyond a stone's throw.
Thedford let his gaze drift along the swells under him, and then shoved half his body over the rail, snapping brass buttons onto the deck.
"Where are my damned soundings!"
His fingers were white on the oak, his voice thin, and his words were swallowed by the wind and rain.
The deck lurched and he took the rail harder in both hands. The hum of the wind in the lines made him look up, rainwater rolling off his face. A foremast spar had already caught Captain Evans, and he didn't want another coming down on him.
Thedford scanned the dark for the longboat and his shallows gang, and failed to notice Livesey shouting past him until the midshipman grabbed his shoulder and leaned into his ear.
"We're before it, sir! She's going into the cliffs if we don't claw off."
Thedford stuck his nose up indignantly. "Cliffs? We're a league off the cape!" He shoved Livesey away. It was shallows on the approach he'd been worried about—enough to send out Rawlings to measure the depth. "What bloody cliffs?"
A bright bar of lightning flashed and Thedford's gaze darted up, chasing it across the sky.
He saw them ahead, towers of pointed stone, looming over the topgallants, shorter lumps of jagged ship killers breaking surf at their feet.
"Holy god." The next half second felt like an hour passing, stalling for air, blinking, and clearing his eyes before he got the orders passed his teeth. "Lee anchor, Mr. Livesey, and bring her head into the wind!"
The midshipman jumped the stairs, running fore, shouting orders to the bosuns and mates. "Drop anchor. When she falls to lee, cut us free." He waved madly at the loose mainsail, his screaming going high to compete with the wind.
Shadows and men huddling around the fore lines, a muddy wash of human motion in the darkness at the bow.
Thedford felt her—the sea—take Delphi's hastily dropped offering.
The anchor hooked an outcrop ten fathoms under her, and the Delphi, a beamy frigate with thirty guns, lunged into a deep trough, her bow pinned down, a pivot in the raging sea. Her stern swung up a steep slope of water. The deck tilted and Thedford, leaning back to keep his feet, found his chin level with the quarterdeck railing, looking over his shoes along the waist of the ship, the forecastle hidden in a tangle of lines and debris and storm darkness.
Half of Delphi's cloth was on the deck or in the water, her foremast stripped of yards when the top came crashing down, taking the three spars with it, down onto Captain Evans and half the fore mates.
Thedford's eyes lifted to the dim shapes of men scrambling aloft to work the mainsail and topsail, smears of motion and ghostly blocks of gray loose against the black sky.
"Rotten fucking voyage," he grumbled.
One of the cook's boys climbed the stair, saluting comically, his voice squeaky as a bird's against the storm's roar. "Lieutenant Thedford, sir! Mr. Livesey sent me. The longboat's lost. Took water off the starboard quarter. The sea took all hands but one. Mr. Livesey has pulled Mr. Rawlings aboard."
Thedford glared down at the little scoundrel, his stomach climbing into his throat as Delphi's stern dropped into the trough with the bow. "With my bloody soundings I hope to god." They wouldn't do him a bit of good, but it was the only thing he could think to say.
The boy fled, nodding vigorously.
Thedford looked up at another figure fighting the stairs, and puffed out his cheeks at one more nail in his coffin. The surgeon, a thumb-streak of blood across his forehead, climbed to the quarter one handed, something sharp and metallic in the other, catching another shred of lightning with a glint of red.
Thedford frowned at his approach and made an effort to put the surgeon off. "Whole night's gone to hell, Michael. The captain. The thing in the captain's cabin. Abysmal time for news."
"Better now than spoil a finer moment, sir."
Thedford sighed. "Dead?"
"Four, including the chaplain. Billy's lost his leg." He paused. "Captain's dead, sir." He pointed midships with the bone saw, blood and rain drooling off the teeth. "The foresail spar caught him crosswise the pelvis, split him near in half."
Thedford had the presence to pull off his hat and let the rain run through his thinning hair, off his nose and chin.
He nodded at the surgeon and jammed it back on his head as Livesey and—what was left of his soundings gang—Rawlings, salt-soaked to his bones, came up the stairs.
"Apologies, sir." Rawlings half bowed.
"She's gone. Granite, like rutting Satan's teeth, sir, come out of the waves in front of me. Another right behind me, right through the boards. Caught Harry Weel under the chin and took his head off."
The Delphi rocked savagely and Rawlings choked off his report, grabbing madly for the rails.
Timber squealed. The hull shuddered, shaking men from the rigging, and Lieutenant Thedford found himself skidding on his chest, face first across the quarter for the portside.
A shaft of stone fired out of the depths, drove through the sea's surface at an angle, catching Delphi midway through the upper deck between the main and fore. An ugly splintery wound opened in the ship's side above the waterline.
Thedford crawled to his feet on the opposite side of the deck, his face bone white, brows arched and angry as if his orders hadn't been carried out. "Get us away, Mr. Livesey!"
The midshipman jumped into action, then stopped at the stair, and gave Thedford a mutinous look. "I think it'd be wise to let her go, sir."
The lieutenant fixed his hat, face stiff with rage. "Are you mad? She's still sound. I told you to get us away from these rocks. Deeper water's all she needs. I've timber and carpenters."
Livesey stared back with a look that made it clear that he'd always considered the lieutenant a bit slow. "Not the Delphi, sir, but her. Captain's mistake." He pointed at the candle's shuddery glow from the captain's cabin. "Never should've hauled her aboard. She don't belong above the waves. Nothing but trouble—sea-trouble, if you know what I mean, sir—since we brought her into the air. It's time to put her over the side, time to send her home."