{Denise gracefully hosts Six Sentence Stories, where writers unleash their magic under one simple rule: in no more or no less than 6 sentences.
This week’s prompt word is : LEAD }


Clang,clang,clang… Alex kept pounding at the metal beams overhead, wrench taped tightly to his hand as a failsafe to exhaustion and despair, counting every second, every breath of oxygen.

Clang-clang-clang– looking around him, bathed in the red emergency light, he could see the faces of his 23 comrades, all in the fleeting safety of the Compartment IX of their nuclear submarine;  two explosions from the fore torpedo hold within seconds shifted a successful training exercise to all hell breaking loose, leaving those alive stranded at the bottom of the sea…107 meters (350 ft) of water above them measuring the distance between salvation and doom.

Clang, clang, clang… “If only the submarine was upright!’ Nikolai tried to humor the deadly situation they were in and he was right since she was 154 meters (508 ft) long; they all laughed silently in the way only  submariners can.

Alex could not feel his hand anymore but he kept pounding three dots, three dashes, three dots SO– – – S… ; six hours had gone by and they thought their prayers were answered as they heard the metallic noise from the rescue vessel trying to attach to the escape hatch of Compartment IX…never made it and afterwards complete, dark, crushing silence.

Midshipman Victor had to be kept at place with force from the rest of the crew as he frantically tried to open the hatch and swim to the surface; although Alex knew it was a loosing bet, with their hopes sunk on the seabed as their submarine, he could not deny feeling an inch from doing the exact same desperate act.

Still, lead his men he must…under the woefulness of the clang-sound crying Save Our Ship, Alex started to whisper their last seafarers’ hymn1:

Eternal Father, strong to save,

Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,

Who bid’st the mighty ocean deep

Its own appointed limits keep;

O hear us when we cry to Thee,

For those in peril on the sea.”


1: The seafarers’ hymn by William Whiting, a British writer from Winchester, England. The hymn has a long tradition in civilian maritime contexts as well, being regularly invoked by ship’s chaplains and sung during services on ocean crossings.

“Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bid’st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea.

O Christ, Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walkedst on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
O hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea.

Most Holy Spirit, Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
O hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power,
Our brethren shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe’er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.”



Spira / Nick © January 2023


About Spira

” The eternal part of our being is conscious of the timeless essence of life & is aware that the past is nothing but a memento of the present and tomorrow a dream of the now. The very thing meditating & singing from within, remains always inside the boundaries of the primordial instant that scattered the stars into the cosmos.” Kh.Gibran

37 responses »

  1. Well, that was a bit deep, Nick (quite literally!).
    I’m claustrophobic, so could imagine how the crew was feeling in the compartment… very intense. I was hoping their rescuers would come back, but then, after listening to the poem in the video, I realised that wasn’t the case…
    I’m still hopeful of a rescue, though… these six sentences can lead off into a million and one different ways.
    Deep, but I enjoyed reading it all the same! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • I would still be hopeful, Tom, as I have witnessed the intensity and dedication of at sea rescue efforts.
      But, alas, no happy ending here…
      As this story is based on the accident of the nuclear submarine Kursk at Barents Sea on August 12, 2000.
      And the rescue operation was a complete FUBAR; for political reasons apparently.
      When Norwegian divers opened the escape hatch days later, Compartment 9 was flooded.

      Thank you, Tom.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Nick,
    BRAVO! Powerful and filled with the terror and tension of the submariner’s circumstance. The words drive home the incredible courage it takes to risk the domain of the Deep. I prefer to think that help finally arrived, even as the words of the seafarer’s hymn were sung in hearts and minds.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Dora.
      I was hoping I could do justice to the submariners service, let alone this particular accident.
      As my story is based on the accident of the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk on August 12, 2000 ( hence the exact numbers I have used), I am afraid that all 118 members of the crew were killed.
      I also prefer to think that somehow, something gave those 24 souls solace during their final moments.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “Clang, clang, clang” emphasizes the desperation echoing in each successive sentence. I can only imagine (inadequately) the panic they experienced. Special are the men and women who work aboard submarines. No thank you!
    Pressure filled Six, Nick.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, Denise…special they are ( no wonder why one year of submarine service counts as two).

      I still remember, like it was yesterday, the first time I entered a submarine. I was about 8 years old and my father was at the Submarines Command at the time.
      Even docked at the base, upon entering you find yourself in a completely different world…I remember the packed space- every inch served a purpose.
      And the smell…of fuel residue, machinery and something new to me, I could not identify.
      Of course, they lowered the periscope for me and the captain picked me up in his arms to look through it…

      As I mentioned in previous comments, this story is based on the events of the accident of the nuclear submarine Kursk. And the rescue operation was nothing sort of a political power play, as the surviving submariners were waiting to be rescued…
      …I cannot imagine the magnitude of despair and darkness unto them upon realizing that the rescue vessel was unable to connect properly to their escape hatch, creating the necessary vacuum in order to evacuate them safely…

      Thank you, Denise.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you,Nicole; I tried to convey as much as I could in six sentences of the submariners life and death.
      The clang, clang repetition is based on the actual effort of the surviving crew members to send an echo located SOS signal to the vessels nearby.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Even if someone is not intimidated by tight, closed spaces it is difficult, to say the least.
      Having said that, if you find an opportunity to board one ( during a national holiday etc) I would encourage you to do so, Frank; just to get a glimpse of that world.
      Thank you, Frank.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This one really got me in the feels, Nick – not just for the unspeakably tragic events unfolding aboard that submarine but for the beloved hymn which I have sung many times and always brings me to tears. When we write something that leaves our readers shaking their heads in a myriad of feelings, we know our job was well done. Your story is without a doubt a job well done and I salute you and the brave men aboard that sub. There have been many movies made about warships and submarines; if you have never seen The Hunley, I encourage you to find it online and watch it some night while sipping your wine in the dark. It will move you as your story has moved me. Most well done, my friend! 💫

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nancy, I wish my story was fictional but, alas, it isn’t; it is based on the accident of the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk, on August 12, 2000 at Barents Sea.

      As you have probably noticed, I am partial to the sea and the Navy; and the events unfolding after the explosion at the submarine (which was registered as 3.5 on the Richter scale) were tragic.
      As they were infuriating due to the time wasted on rescue efforts because of political chess played.

      I can only pray that the brave submariners found some solace during their last moments in a similar hymn as the one I used in my story…

      I wil most definitely watch The Hunley( I have read accounts about that historic incident )- thank you for pointing it out for me. And as I was Imdb-ing that one, I found that there is a 2018 movie based on the Kursk accident called The Command. So, I am in for some deep viewing….

      Grazie, cara mia.


  5. Damn!*

    While I am completely at home on the open ocean, (having spent time on fishing trawlers), this form of ‘being on the water’ is totally another order of (stress) magnitude.

    I toured a couple of submarines in my time. One was a WWII boat in Fall River Massachusetts.
    … I foreshadow my comment: no-fricken-way.

    My thoughts while walking through it, steel inches away everywhere prompted the thought: “ok I might have been able to keep a lid on the claustrophobia, but being in a war, people were actively trying to kill them!”

    I did, years later, tour the USS Nautilus in Connecticut, spacious by comparison.
    Interesting view of the subjective state of your protagonist.
    Some people run from the abyss and some of us stare back.
    Fun Six!

    *compliment on story structure, narrative dynamics and ‘no-fricken-way’ setting

    Liked by 1 person

    • Another order of stress magnitude, indeed!

      Dude! How the hell did you manage to enter a submarine? You are what, 5’11?
      USS Nautilus! First & Finest! The first submarine to complete a submerged voyage of the North Pole!
      I guess that even if modern submarines are quite more spacious, the inescapable volume of water between them and surface is no minor factor to psychologically negate.
      As you said, Some people run from the abyss and some stare back.

      Thanks, Clark.


    • I am pleased that this story connected in such a manner.
      What a magnificent Cathedral that is! You are so lucky to be able to bath your soul in the light and the harmonic resonance of such a place.
      Thank you, Keith.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Then my written words, simple as they are, fulfilled their purpose.

      (From what I am reading you are a veteran Sixarian; should have guessed it from your Six this week!
      Nice to meet you. I am Nick.)
      Thank you, Dyanne.


  6. Wow. Tight, even, intense pressure in this Six, brings home the feelings inside the submarine. I wondered if this was an excerpt from a previous & polished longer work.
    I can’t add anything more from others’ comments. You drew as all in so completely!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ” …if this was an excerpt from a previous & polished longer work” What a compliment to conclude and wave this post goodbye as it sails towards the shores of future past.
      Thank you, Liz.

      Liked by 1 person

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