Race the Date #4


26 Hours | 300 Words | 1 Globetrotting Prompt



Please welcome our judge, This Is Infamous movie critic, John Shade Vick:



About Race the Date:

  • The challenge runs for 26 hours, from 0500 EST on Monday until 0700 EST on Tuesday.

  • Prompts are inspired by the different time zones.

  • Minimum word count is 100 words, maximum is 300 words.

  • Include your word count (mandatory) and Twitter handle (recommended).

  • Generally speaking, a winners blog will be posted by Wednesday evening (EST).

  • Race the Date awards an overall Winner and up to three Honorable Mentions.



Why 26 hours? Barring daylights savings time tomfoolery, the challenge is set to begin when UTC+14 (the first time zone to roll into any given day) begins a new day and ends when the last time zone, UTC-12, begins that same date.

This week’s globetrotting prompt is inspired by UTC+11:

Vanuatu, an island nation in UTC +11 is an archipelago of volcanic origin.


The Prompt: archipelago


Post your story in the comments below. The clock is ticking. Good writing and good luck!

29 thoughts on “Race the Date #4

  1. There was something innately beautiful about the Islands, how they were connected but apart. Daniel had mentioned that the effect was called archipelago. Esme closed her eyes as the mist of water brushed against her face as the boat dipped in the sea. The sun warmed the back of her neck and she sighed happily.

    This is what heaven feels like, she silently decided.

    Strong arms wrapped around her from behind, a lean body pressed against her. “I love you.” The whispered words made her smile.

    “I love you too.” She turned in his arms and glanced into her husband’s eyes. Husband, the word seemed so surreal. They had been married that morning, a simple ceremony with random witnesses. Her parents had planned out her original wedding to a tee, the newspapers had been called, the rights sold to photographers and magazines. It hadn’t been what she’d wanted. They’d wanted her to marry someone else. She brushed her lips against his, breathing in his scent. When he’d burst into her room, her wedding dress on, she’d been barely able to breathe. Tears had pooled and fallen down her cheeks as if they’d had a mind of them on. Esme had known that she needed to be strong, for both of them. Then he’d gotten down on one knee. Hope had swelled in her chest. They could make it work, the two of them. Her parents would hunt her down but it was much too late.

    They had each other and that was all that mattered.

    Word Count: 256

  2. Life abundant and full hummed along in the Mingan Archipelago. The Innu fished and gathering molluscs, fished salmon and hunted the seal as their people had in the arctic all those years ago. Agoolik the shaman had brought an abundance of sea food to the Innu, but now the strangers came with their white skin and strange ways not of the natural or supernatural worlds. They showed anger and disgust when Agoolik showed respect to the spirits who gave the food, by offering leftovers to them in the fire and wearing decorated clothing as well as placing the bones in trees, so dogs could not reach them. They howled with laughter when the hunters left gifts of tobacco for bears, lest they elude the hunters.

    The hunting grew hard and the gathering of foods difficult. The men wanted to chase the strange individuals away, calling them Matshishkapeu. The great mother A’akuluujjusi cautioned peace, they were not tricksters. The great father O’Brien with them, whom she chose to call Whitehead, spoke of the spirits and gods not so different from their own.

    The shaman, Agoolik prayed to the spirits and it came to him in a dream the strange people should fish and hunt with them. The abundance of the bounty harvested with them gave forth a thanksgiving to bring peace to both peoples acceptance of both cultures. They had Thanksgiving unrecorded in the strange white people’s history, but chanted in Innu history for evermore and so the Innu people thrived.

    250 words

  3. Nuts
    by A J Walker (300 words)

    The pair of us surveyed the breathtaking view from the edge of a spotless black sand beach. We were both awaken from our thoughts when a coconut fell with an ominous thud just a foot behind us. As one we edged forward on to the beach, away from more nutty danger.

    Herman looked at me. ‘You can see that this is the most recent of the islands, as it’s so much larger than the next one ,’ he pointed. ‘Behind it in the haze I think I can make out a couple of much smaller islands – the tail of the archipelago.’

    ‘It’s roasting hot here,’ I stated the obvious, ‘I think we need to find some shade.’

    ‘I agree,’ Herman said, ‘Somewhere away from falling coconuts.’

    He picked the one up that had attacked us moments earlier, ‘Waste not, want not,’ he said. Then he led the way into the island.

    It was slow progress away from the beach through ever thickening vegetation. I was unsure if Herman had any idea where we were heading other than inland, but I certainly didn’t. Eventually though we found ourselves at a grassy area on the edge of the trees, giving us shade and a priceless cooling wind.

    ‘I’m not sure what to say,’ I said.

    ‘Well, we’re on the largest island of a volcanic archipelago somewhere in the northern tropics,’ Herman said all matter of fact.

    I looked at him, incredulous.

    He took a look at the rock outcrop we were sat on, ‘Looks like basalt pillow lava to me.’

    ‘Forget the geology lesson mate,’ I said as I put my briefcase down then fanned myself with the Evening Standard, ‘Just tell me how the hell we got here!’

    ‘I would think the more pertinent question is how we get away,’ Herman said.


  4. Archipelago
    300 words

    Roddy’s screams steadily rip the atmosphere in the library to shreds. Mothers weep, and children glare.

    No. That’s wrong. Switch ‘mothers’ and ‘children’, except leave me right where I am. Mother. Weeping.

    “I-I forgot to bring last week’s books,” I explain, to the librarian, who is terrified by this alphabetical anomaly. (We are not easily filed.) “Now we can’t borrow any more.”

    Roddie stops screaming, and takes to rocking. I blow my nose, waiting for everyone to interpret this more classic portrait that Roddie is now painting of himself, rather than try and explain any further.

    Over the snot-filled folds of my tissue, I am confronted by the face of Another Mother. Smiling. At me.

    “Please, borrow one against our name,” she says pleasantly, though her smile flees for cover when Roddie begins screaming again.

    “That’s very kind,” I say- loudly- “but, you see, as that’s not the way we usually do it, it doesn’t…”

    “Look!” A. M.’s little girl exclaims. She marches tinily to stand with bold authority right beneath Roddie’s screams. “You can have this book about islands!”

    Roddie stops screaming. I am gobsmacked. He stares at the book’s cover. “Archipelago,” he mutters, taking the book from the girl’s solemn hands.

    The library relaxes, adopting a post fire-drill atmosphere while it rebuilds the normal one. I feel like Tom Hanks when he washed up, exhausted, on a beach.

    I sit down beside Roddie, who is still reading intently.

    “It’s a number of islands, often found in isolated waters near a main land mass,” Roddie pronounces.

    I wave gratefully to the mother and daughter as they leave.

    The librarian, meanwhile, has retreated to the safety of his desk.

    “Yup,” I say to Roddie, “that’s what it is.”

    I place a kiss in just the right place on his head.

  5. “We’ve been hiking through knee-deep sludge for the better part of the day, Len. From sunrise to afternoon monsoon. Other than a pending case of swamp rot, I’m not sure what we’ve got to show for it.”

    “I’ve got your whining.” Jason wasn’t my first choice for company at the moment, but he beat being alone with my raging thoughts.

    “Very funny.” He swore and stumbled in the sucking mud. “Shit, give me back my foot.”

    He gripped his knee with both hands and tugged, almost landing on his ass when the suction broke.

    “Go back, Jason. I didn’t ask you to come along.”

    Rain came down in thick sheets, knocking visibility to maybe twenty feet. I blinked away the water sneaking around the bill of my cap to blind me.

    “As much as I might love to let you wander off alone in theory—”

    Let me? There’s some territory far trickier than the mud, partner.”

    He clenched his jaw. “The reality is something out here is capable of ripping healthy humans to unidentifiable bits. You can at least pretend you appreciate the back up.”

    “I could.”

    He whistled low. “You are such a bitch lately.”

    “No. But I’m honest.” I stopped so hard he almost crashed into me. “Are you?”

    He jolted back.

    “Maybe you’d care to tell me what you really saw that night.”

    “Maybe you would. This works both ways. You’ve been bottled up tight since you woke up, not telling anyone what you saw out there.” He shook his head. “God knows, the shrink wouldn’t have let either of us back to work if we’d been honest.”

    “Might’ve gotten early retirement.”

    “Yeah, I thought the same.” He sighed. “In retrospect, island hopping and sipping margaritas in the Keys sounds mighty fine right now.”

    298 WIP-erific words

  6. Lapu Lapu stood over the body of the great conqueror Ferdinand Magellan. He was nothing but a man dying in the dirt, soon to become nothing but food for the fish in the ocean. The warrior pulled his poisoned arrow out of Magellan’s chest and watched the man heave his last breath as the poison finally stopped the man’s heart.

    These white colonizers would not take over Lapu Lapu’s archipelago, what the Spaniards were now calling Philippines. This was his home. His land. The land of his ancestors. He was the ruler of his people, not some pale man. He would fight them until his death, killing them until his people triumphed and the Spaniards were all driven back to their country.

    Lapu Lapu looked out onto the sea and saw the Spaniard’s many ships. He looked to his men on the beach resting from the battle. This would not be an easy battle he thought. These dead Spaniards on the beach were only a small fraction of the men on those ships. Some of the dead soldiers looked like him but dressed like the Spaniards. Already colonized. Already forgetting their own ancestors. Already forgetting their own people.

    The future was upon them. The ships would continue to come. Lapu Lapu couldn’t get the vision out of his mind that the lives of his people would never be the same.

    230 words

  7. When I was born, twenty seven years ago, my planet was known as Brenalia. Slap bang in the middle of the Scarla Star Cascade. I thought I lived in the most beautiful place in the universe. There’s nothing beautiful about it now. Not since Dramos came.

    We’re no longer the free men and women of Brenalia. We’re the native labour force of Mining Colony Fifteen. My lovely Scarla Cascade has gone, renamed by Dramos’ heathens. Now it’s the Dramos Archipelago.

    At least a hundred planets have fallen to Dramos and his insatiable greed. Mine was but one. Stretching out across the vastness of space, like a handful of jewels carelessly thrown onto black satin, the Archipelago represents Dramos’ need to control and consume and destroy. Our closest neighbour, a planet of peaceful farmers, was blown to atoms because they committed the sin of having nothing Dramos could use to fuel his shuttle fleet.

    Once Brenalia was a great and powerful planet. We traded with people from every corner of the known universe and a few from places nobody was stupid enough to ask about. I might be exaggerating here but I liked to think if there was an important centre to the universe, we weren’t far from it.

    But since Dramos came with his armies and weapons and immeasurable cruelty, we trade with nobody. Most days the bulk of Brenalia’s population don’t even see sunlight, we’re busy toiling underground for the rocks Dramos insists can be used to create shuttle fuel.

    Dramos has made one dramatic mistake. He thinks we’re too downtrodden to fight back. He’s wrong. We’ve got a Resistance all set up. It’s just a matter of waiting for the right moment to strike. We might be down, but we’re not quite out. At least not yet.

  8. It had been a long, hot, tedious sail from Venuatu. Now they were becalmed somewhere north east of the Kiribati archipelago. Well, not exactly somewhere, Jason, of course, knew precisely where. Pouring over the instruments he clapped his hands and looked at Gloria excitedly.

    “This is it! we’re here … This is precisely where the Equator and the International Date Line intersect! The exact center of the Earth, and in ten minutes, at exactly midnight it will be neither today nor tomorrow. How cool is that!”

    “Big deal, Jason.” Said Gloria, “What now?”

    Jason eyed her bikini-clad body hungrily.

    “Well you know …” His eyes moved away uneasily, “What we agreed. This is our special place … Where we conceive our firstborn. We talked about it and you said ok. It’d be romantic.”

    Of course that had been then, when Gloria had been in love with him. Anything had seemed possible. Swept off her feet by Jason’s bronzed good looks, expensive sailboat, a romantic and free ocean cruise, she’d been infatuated, had said much she now regretted.

    Several thousand miles of Jason’s company led her to radically re-assess Jason’s potential as Mr Right. He was obviously crazy for a start. But Gloria was not oblivious to the fact that Australia was far away, she was broke and still had to get home.

    “Ok Honey … Come make the Earth move for me.” She said, smiling provocatively, as she led him into the cabin.

    Afterwards, while Gloria smoked with short irritated gestures, Jason was back at the instruments.

    “Damn!” he said, “I mis-calculated. The Equator shifts, you know …”

    As she had suspected, the Earth hadn’t shifted for Gloria, not even a fraction. She swallowed her ‘morning after pill’ and decided.

    Next port, she’d definately jump ship.

    (300 words)

    – – – – –

    The wind’s brisk kiss drove most of the passengers into the ferry’s cabin. Strange thing was, it caressed me too but the cold wasn’t … cold.

    Val stood against the railing, body relaxed, eyes closed, that smug smile curving his dusky mouth. “You can stop grumbling now, Taryn. We won’t need to go ashore after all.”

    “What? I thought we came out here to convene with the ancients …”

    A ribbon of fog curled around his ankles, snaked across the deck, and seeped into the cabin.

    “They’ve given their blessing. We can proceed with Retribution Rites as soon as we return.”

    I’d had my fill of parlor tricks tonight. “How do I know that wasn’t part of you just now, scurrying off to feed inside while wasting my time out here?”

    Those cold blue eyes opened and focused on me. “Because you know what I look like when I dissipate. There’s nothing delicate about me in that form, is there?”

    No. Nothing. Damn him. But I still had some fight skulking around in my belly. “If you’re so powerful, why did we need to come out to the islands? Why couldn’t you just summon them? Or commune with them? Or whatever it is you do?”

    “We needed to give Sizemore time to come after us, discover that we weren’t where he expected us to be, and go cause trouble elsewhere.”

    I stared at my beautiful blue boots. “This was all part of your plan?”

    He tipped my chin up so that we were eye-to-eye again. “That’s why you disinterred me, isn’t it? To save your lovely little ass?”

    To be fair, mine wasn’t the only one that needed saving, but yes, I needed to know my ass was safe in his hands.

    292 words / @bullishink

  10. After so many days of blissfully floating in relative peace and quiet Daisy heard the familiar humming of an engine above her head. Lazily she lifted an arm to shield her slowly opening eyes from the glaring sun. They confirmed what she already knew – her idyllic honeymoon was coming to an end.

    With a slight sadness in her heart she watched as the plane glided in an effortless trajectory on its way to the last island in the archipelago. By the time their yacht reached the shore the plane would be ready and waiting to trace the line of islands all the way back to the mainland.

    Closing her eyes again she tuned back into the soothing sound of the ocean, once more mulling over how to begin this month’s article. This kind of once in a lifetime two week cruise along the islands on a private yacht would have ordinarily been well out of her budget.

    Writing a couple of thousand words for the privilege was a small price to pay for such luxury.

    Stretching her arms out wide, an imitation of the plane above, Daisy reached playfully for her faithful companion with a light touch.

    Her fingers slowly curled around the purple leather bound Kindle full of the complete works of Jane Austen. There was just time to lose herself at Pemberley before the magic had to end.

    Next time, she vowed, she really must find her own Mr Darcy to share one of these experiences with!

    @reravelling (252 words)

  11. Renovations

    “Are you sure this is a good idea?” Keto asked.

    “Not only is it a good idea, it’s my only option; just look at it!”

    Keto gazed upward through the rippling currents at the doomed isles. They did prevent her from admiring the lovely Helios as he rode his golden chariot across the sky, but that didn’t justify the destruction of an entire civilization. Besides, Poseidon harbored no secret desire to ogle his brother from afar; his motivation for eradicating the archipelago lay elsewhere.

    Keto frowned. “And you don’t think Zeus will be angry that you’ve obliterated an entire civilization just so you can use the rubble to erect a life-sized statue of yourself in the living room?”

    “Meh, easy come, easy go. I’ll just say they angered me by failing to conquer Athens or some such rubbish. Besides, in a few years nobody is even going to remember Atlantis existed.” Poseidon stroked his mossy beard and said, “Now, hold my drink and watch this.”

    165 words

    1. I can dig it! I’m always a sucker for the juxtaposition of gods acting like schlubs. It also raises interesting questions about how people utilize myths to both rationalize the tragic and aggrandize the banal.

  12. “You want to go Hawaii?” I asked, my eyebrows raised. What in the hell does an art student do in Hawaii? “And it’s going to cost us how much?”

    My daughter sighed. “I need a thousand dollars. The rest is paid for with scholarships.”

    “And what exactly are a bunch of art students doing in Hawaii?”

    “We’re studying the archipelago system down there. We’re going to draw some of the wildlife and stuff.”

    I pinched the bridge of my nose. Finances weren’t as tight as they had been a few years ago but I still can’t yank a grand out of my ass. On the other hand I didn’t want to let my daughter down. Decisions, decisions.

    “So you’re asking me for a grand so you can draw some islands you can see on a map?”

    The silence on the other end of the line was deafening. I even checked to see if she’d hung up. Finally, I heard her ragged intake of breath.

    “Fine. I’ll work extra hours and save up my tips. I’ll send pictures.”

    The phone clicked off and I sighed. Dad of the fucking year for making my daughter cry. I dialed her number but she didn’t answer.

    “Eliza, honey, I’m sorry. It’s just that a grand is a lot of money. If you want, I’ll see if your dad and I can split half the cost with you. Call me back. I love you.”

    I hung up and sighed. I was all for her art career but I didn’t think going to Hawaii to draw stuff was necessary. They can draw from maps and the internet, can’t they? It’s all the same. Right? Shaking my head, I put my phone down and rubbed my face. I’m not an artist, what the fuck do I know?

    300 words

  13. “Connected”
    Kristen Falso-Capaldi
    285 words

    On a frigid winter night on the east coast, the five insomniacs drifted from their beds to computer screens, tablets and phones. The news feed was spooky, quiet.

    They were five islands, an archipelago that dotted across miles of highway, bodies of water, tall buildings and farm land. They never should have known each other, but technology had changed the landscape forever.

    One was a boy, alone in his dorm at a university. He was lonely, exhausted and scared shitless. “I’m working on this paper and it’s killing me,” he typed.

    Another, a wife, spent her days folding laundry and watching talk shows that fueled her fears. “Read this article on immunization,” she typed, adding a link.

    Another woman had asked her lover to leave again that afternoon. She copied some lines from a song, “You live, you learn/You love, you learn/You cry, you learn…”

    A widower couldn’t look at his empty bed, so he ambled to the kitchen for a cup of tea. “Is anybody out there?” he typed.

    Finally, Tom Ford, a movie star, pretended to be a guy named Joe. He put ice in a glass and filled it with vodka. “Saw the new Tom Ford movie. It sucked,” he typed.

    Each scrolled and typed, typed and scrolled – not one of them noticing the words were floating into a void – till streaks of pink appeared over skylines, pastures, beaches and suburbs.

    In one house, a woman shivered at her keyboard. She pulled on a sweater, put on a pot of coffee and watched the day begin from her kitchen window.

    “How amazing that we can all be so connected,” she said to her empty house. “What a gift technology is.”


    Maybe it’s time I told you why you and your sister don’t look your mommy and I. You see, my darling, you two are from a far-off country across the ocean.

    Princesses? Not quite. You two are far more special.

    Do you know how some mommies get big before they have babies? Well, your mommy and I had tried, but that didn’t happen for us. So, because your mommy was sad, we took a trip. A trip to the far-off country.

    It was so pretty, but still, your mommy couldn’t smile. Nothing I tried could help.

    Finally, it was the last day. And that’s when we found you.

    You see, we were in the airplane and had just taken off. As we left the ground, your mommy pointed out the window and said, “Look, how beautiful.”

    And, for the first time in what seemed like years, she smiled.

    Beneath us, like a string of beads in the sky-blue sea, was a small cluster of emerald green islands. From so high above the world, the little islands looked small enough to pick up in my hand.

    So that’s what I did.

    I reached down from the sky, sieving the pale blue ocean through my fingers. And when I pulled my hand back, back up from the sea through the air and back into the plane, I held two gem-like isles still dripping in my hand.

    And when we landed, back here, your mother and I brought them home. And we gave them names. And they grew and grew, becoming more and more like people.

    Until now here we are.

    And that, my darling, is why you and I don’t look the same.

    It’s also why you can’t tell anyone else and why we have to keep moving.

    300 words/@GordonBWhite

  15. The Towers Are Alight and the Dwellers of the Deep Are Rising.

    Deep Seven was broadcasting a warning as scientists scurried to analyze the data. Built after a near-earth collision in 2014 the Deep Seven series was designed to provide better coverage and trajectory information on asteroids and comets in the quadrant.

    As Davis Anderson processed the data he realized that while they had gone all out on the probes— nothing had been done to develop a technology that could actually act on the data and provide a viable solution. After a quick conference call, he learned that that phase was still under development, and he could expect something within the next ten years.

    The only problem was, according to his calculations, the earth had just under two years until the asteroid impacted with the planet.

    His next reaction was quite logical: he got drunk.

    As everyone focused on the impending collision no one seemed to notice the geothermal changes that were taking place beneath them.

    Perhaps it was the alcohol talking, but Davis noticed and since there was nothing he could do about the asteroid, he went to work studying the phenomenon.

    He charted the planet’s reaction to the asteroid’s approach. He knew that the gravitational effects were not enough to affect this sort of change, but the data said otherwise.

    Charts, graphs and spreadsheets gave way complex calculations and when science failed him, Davis expanded his research into metaphysics and mysticism.

    It wasn’t until the ring of fire burst forth and the long dormant and not so dormant volcanoes of the archipelagos lit up the night sky that he understood.

    From the far depths of the ocean came the Leviathan. Some say it was a turtle, others an elephant. Whichever it was, it became clear: the earth could take care of herself.

    293 words (not including the title)

  16. Diamonds On the Subway
    @vb holmes
    299 words

    The girl sitting opposite me on the subway is staring at my left hand.

    I look down at my ring finger which is encircled by a veritable archipelago of diamonds: a two-and-a-half carat center stone with three graduated small ones on either side.

    I am transfixed by the beauty of the reflected light which emanates from the brilliant-cut gems. I rotate my hand back and forth to maximize the esthetic response I derive from the visual stimulus.

    “Excuse me,” the words interrupt my contemplation. “Your ring is beautiful.” The girl has risen from her seat and stands over me.

    I thrust my hand into my pocket as I admit to the foolhardiness of my actions. I am alone. On a New York subway. Wearing a $30,000 piece of jewelry.

    I glance around for a transit patrolman. There are no uniformed riders.

    “May I see it up close? It looks like the one my aunt wears.”

    “Show it to her, lady.” The man seated next to me touches my arm as he speaks. “I like pretty things. I want to see it, too

    I turn the diamonds toward my palm and clench my fist. Nearby passengers are flicking surreptitious glances my way.

    As my first flush of fear edges toward terror, the train slows and I head to the exit.

    “Please tell me where you got that ring,” the girl pleads.

    The door opens. I slip the ring off my finger and press it into her hand.

    “Here,” I say. “I’m sorry I took it. Please don’t call the police. Just return it to your aunt.”

    As I step off the car, she cries out, “Stop! I don’t want your ring. It’s a great looking knockoff, but all I want is the name of the store where you bought it.”

  17. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched the panel’s glow flicker across her face and asked myself for the zillionth time what I thought I was doing.

    “Now what?” She toyed with the ElectroMag shackle that still circled her wrist like a bangle.



    “You.” I swiveled to her, noting the clumsily cropped hair clinging in sweaty chevrons to her cheekbones, the sooty smudge on her forehead and bloody scrape on her chin. “I thought you wanted outta here.”

    For a moment I thought she’d smile, but the haughty mask returned. “What did he offer you?”

    So, she thought I was just another thug. I turned back to the controls and set the ERB gate coordinates. “I don’t know. How much you think you’re worth?” With a roguish smile, I slipped out of the seat and stalked down the aisle to run final checks before the jump.

    She scrambled after me. “Do you know who I am?”

    I turned just as she caught up with me, bouncing her off my chest in the low grav of the passageway. My arm slipped around her waist before she landed on her ass. There was no mistaking those lips or the slightly slanted eyes. “President Charnovik’s pup, I presume?”

    Indignant, she took a swipe at me. I caught her hand, pinning it behind her. Pressed against me, her lips were close enough to finally steal that kiss. She tilted her head obligingly.

    The jump clarion startled both of us.

    “We’re jumping?” she asked.

    “Buckle in.”

    “Where to?”

    “Archipelago Constellation.”

    “But that’s outside the Confederacy.”

    “Unless you’d rather go back to Daddy?”

    She just stared for a moment, afraid to take the offer. Then she strapped herself into the co-pilot’s chair. I really hoped I knew what I was doing.

    299 words

  18. Race the Date is now closed. Thank you all for writing and making week four a success. For those who celebrate, I wish you a wonderful, safe Thanksgiving. Stay tuned for the winners post and I’ll hope to see you all next week!

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