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"Snubmarine" is a short story written by Frank Ballast about life, viewed through the prism of service on a submarine.



Quietly. “Ten degrees down bubble.”


And the quiet report. “Ten degrees down bubble, aye-aye.”


Metal groans and greasy men wince. Shhhh.


They will the boat into an unnatural sulk. Shhhh.


Two healthy splashes plunge through the silence and pierce the hull.

“Even the planes,” whispers the Lieutenant.

The barrels sink through the murky Atlantic. Murky not with plankton. Not with life. Murky with death. Gasoline and oil. The lifeblood of another vessel that has been dealt with, for which now these greasy men are being dealt.

The metal bends with agony. The boat cries. The explosions break the men’s vows of silence as they rush to make things right again. Their girl is going to die.

“Turbines ahead full!” comes the order. Silence is useless when you are a bullseye.

“Ahead full, aye-aye,” the response.

“Fish in the tubes.”


“Captain…ballast pump is broken. We’re filling up.”

“Chief? What’s the story?”

“Thirty-five degrees down bubble…” He looks back to his gauge, “and dropping.”


Life in a can was always described as 90 days of sheer boredom pierced by moments of undiluted terror. Something akin to trekking across the desert to fuck a hooker.

“Rescind. Put the fish to stern.”

“Even us out, cap?”


“We’re planing out. But I can’t get our nose up.”

“No need to breathe underwater.” Such laconic statements are issued to seamen. They wear them as they slowly learn to wear the ship.

You can order ants through the mail for your farm. They come in a small tube. A straw. A cage. A prison. And as their release becomes their enslavement, the prison becomes a haven.