The Mermaid’s Return

The banshee howl of the wind in the rigging was now beginning to be rhythmically punctuated by the drumming of the storm-swell surf upon the rocky shore.  Oh, if only our good ship, Mermaid could live up to her name, and carry us safely seaward.  But such was a forlorn hope as there was a sudden explosive crack as the foretop snapped, showering the deck with splinters.

Captain Higgins called the order to abandon ship, and before the words had fully left him, a titanic wave swept him from the deck and from our view.

“You heard the cap’in,” Rogers, the first mate bellowed.

The two remaining boats were lowered, and every soul remaining on the ‘maid scrambled to save themselves.

I was tossed from the gig into the icy waves, to be almost immediately dashed upon an up-crop of jagged rock.  Though winded, I managed to scramble upwards above the hissing spray.  I was battered but alive, but not so my lovely ‘maid.  With saddened heart, I watched her prow pitch heaven-ward as if to offer her spirit.  Then slowly at first, and then more rapidly, she slid backwards under the waves to rejoin her fellow mer-folk.

 

Padre

 

Daily Writing Prompt

The Watch-keeper

Sea, Sailing Vessel, Ocean, Sunset, Sky, Dusk

Image by cocoparisienne from Pixabay

 

Take yourself aloft – your watch to keep

As we plough our way across the deep

Keep a weather eye – for anything ill

What’s that lad?  It means keep your eye peel’d

With luck – port we’ll make by morn

Driving hard away from yesterday’s storm

 

Padre

 

Peel/Peeled with d’Verse

Ship Shape

 

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All was well in the wheelhouse, the wheel oiled, and the bright work shining with a golden sheen. In fact the entire vessel was “Ship shape and in Bristol Fashion.”

David Miller looked at his vessel with a sense of pride.  He was in command.  He would take this glorious craft into the great waters beyond.  Oh, the adventures he was ready for.

His inspection complete he returned to the bridge, and looked over the controls.

“Dorothy,” he called out to his wife. “Do you remember where the boat rental guy said the starter was?”

 

Padre

 

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #36

The Landsman

Beach, Changing Room, Sea, Dare, Companions, Nostalgic

Image by cocoparisienne from Pixabay 

William Browne was a Northamptonshire, the son of a prominent grocer.  His father arranged a good education for him at the Oundle School where he excelled in mathematics and languages.  His father had William’s whole life planned out for him, and he was slated to enter a career in banking at the end of his education.  Maybe even ‘the City,” awaited him.

 

Though good with numbers, William despised them however.  He longed for a life of adventure.  Westward Ho! and Moby Dick intrigued him, he knew in his heart that his life should be one linked to the sea.  As a Midlands boy, however, he knew nothing more of it than what he had read in books.

 

One evening when he was sixteen, and on the eve of his beginning his apprenticeship at the banking house, he quietly packed a few belongs and headed for King’s Lynn.   He travelled the dark road to Peterborough and arranged a room with some of his meagre funds in order the sleep till late afternoon.   He again travelled through the night, and repeated the practice again in Wisbech.  On the third morning he arrived on the outskirts of Lynn and made his way to the docks.

 

He was tired and footsore but approached the first ship he say at the docks.

 

“Do you have need of a hand?” he inquired.

 

The master looked him up and down, taking in his relatively expensive attire.  “Have you ever been to sea?” the man asked.

 

“No, but I am eager,” William replied.

 

“I have no place for a landsman on the Raven,” the master said.  “Try the Sea Horse.”

 

William made his way down the docks to the small two-masted vessel.

 

“Do you need any hands?” he called up to the men on deck.

 

A leather-faced man came down the gangway to join him.

 

“Have you any experience?” the captain asked.

 

“No, but I learn fast, and I’m strong.”

 

“What’s your name, Lad?” the mariner asked.

 

“Will Br – Black,” the young would be banker replied.

 

The captain nodded knowingly and then said, “Welcome to the Sea Horse.”

 

The vessel set sail that same afternoon for Memel on the Baltic Coast with a cargo of wool.

 

Landsman Black did indeed learn quickly, though his duties were largely swabbing decks, and fetching sails, ropes, and other items for others.

 

The passage was swift, as the sea conditions were adventitious that June in 1871.

 

On their arrival in Memel the load of wool was quickly put ashore, and replaced with several chests of amber, as well as a half hold’s worth of Baltic timber.

 

It was the last day of the month when the Sea Horse left her moorings homeward bound.

 

The sea was a little choppy, but didn’t seem to give the experienced sailors the slightest worry.  Will however did not like the sensation or the feeling of sick it was giving him.

 

“Don’t worry, Lad,” the captain said to him as he passed him.  “We are making a straight course to Malmö to complete our load.  You will be at anchor soon enough.”

 

The course did indeed take them directly towards Bornholm, and avoided the longer route along the coast.  But the weather continued to become less favourable through the day.  Many of the crew looked confused at the sky from time to time, as the weather seemed to come from nowhere.   The contrary winds also slowed the vessel’s progress.

 

Just before dusk, the sky and sea let loose their full fury.  The ship almost seemed to being pushed backwards towards the port from which it had sailed.  Waves broke over the bow, and just after dark the foremast snapped taking two seamen to their deaths.

 

Another man clung to the railings, and will ran to try to pull him back on board.  Just as he grabbed the man’s wrists, another piece of the shattered mast gave way and struck Will on the back of the head.

 

He was knocked unconscious and entered into a kind of a dream-world.  The dream was vivid, and despite the storm raging around his stricken body, he was at total piece.

 

In his dream, he was in a sort of a ballroom.  The walls were a shimmering shades of blues and greens.  Waltz music seemed to flow over him, though he could not see any musicians, nor were there any dancers on the floor.  Then a beautiful woman approached him.  Her complexion was the shade of workman’s tea, and her long hair sable and in tightly coiled curls.  She was dressed in a fabulous dress of red silk adorned with pearls.   Her thick, full lips gave him a welcoming smile as she gave him a curtsy.  What stuck him most about his exotic beauty, however, was here aqua-marine eyes.

 

He bowed in response to her curtsy.  She again smiled and reached out to take his hand.  He placed his other hand onto the small of her back and the two began to dance.  The danced for what seemed to be hours, all the while he stayed transfixed on those exquisite eyes.  The music continued, without break, and the shimmering walls made him feel energised as if by magic.

 

Suddenly he began to feel fatigued, however.  The raven haired woman gave him another curtsy, and Will suddenly felt the entire world go dark.

 

Will awoke lying in the sand, with a gentle surf breaking upon the beach.  Near him was a wheeled changing salon bearing the word – ‘Umkleide.’  His head ached and he had no idea where he was.  Trying to orient himself he glanced out to sea.  There for just an instant he thought he caught a glimpse of the aqua-marine eyed maiden peering above the waves.  He blinked, and looked again just to see a set of large red-silken flukes disappearing into the sea.

 

He forced himself to his feet, and stared out to sea for several minutes, but saw no more than waves and sea birds.  He reached back rubbing the walnut sized whelp behind his head, then turned inland and catching sight of a milestone, headed for “Danzig 3 km.”

 

Padre

 

This piece began its life as an attempt to meet the 50 Word Thursday challenge.  It took a life of its own however, and is well in excess of the 250 words.  I hope that it will be a pleasurable read however.

 

 

The Storm-Bringer

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

“Someone is angry–very angry,” the old mariner said as he scanned the approaching squall line.

The mass of towering black cloud was beginning to fill the horizon, and the seabirds, in their flocks, were heading landward to escape the growing menace.

“Someone?” the young deck hand questioned.

“Aye, the Storm-Bringer,” the old man replied reflectively.

“Isn’t that just a myth?” the younger man queried.

“No, my boy.  He’s real enough, though I ain’t seen the likes of him in thirty years, ever since he claimed the Aurora.”

The black clouds loomed larger, and flashes of lightening could be seen crossing the storm’s angry face.

“Aurora?” the hand asked.

“Aurora, now there was a handsome ship,” the old sailor reflected. “Sturdy built with good lines and trim.  But she were no match for ‘the Bringer’.”

“Surely, it’s just a storm, like any other,” the young man said optimistically looking back at the darkening sky.  His face betrayed another emotion, however.

“Believe what you like, Lad.  It will be what it will be,” the old man said as he withdrew a photo of his wife and gave it a kiss.

Just as he was returning it to its waterproof container, an aged life boat seemed to be thrust out of the mass of raging clouds.

The boat was weather worn, and devoid of life; yet it bore a lighted lantern seemingly untouched by time.  On its salt sprayed timbers it bore the faded word “AURORA.”

Padre

The Haunted Wordsmith Prompts

Prompt A (elemental challenge): threatening

Prompt B (sentence starter): “Someone is angry–very angry.”

Prompt C (photo): Above

What Lies Below?

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“This stretch of water is deceptive, Lads,” the First Mate warned.  “It may look all calm and blue, and we are close to land, but don’t let that lull ye into thinkin’ we are not in danger.”

O’Reilly piped in, “Excuse me sir, but what are we afear’n?”

“There is a mysterious beast that spawns in yonder caves,” the old salt explained.  The body of a squid and the head of a piranha, they say.  If ye are caught off guard it will pull ye under and devour ye before ye even realise that ye is in the water.”

Several of the crew began to murmur and most every eye was cast towards the shoreline, and the approaching caves.

“Shouldn’t we pull farther off shore?” the helmsman questioned.

“Just so ye can be in deeper for them to do their dirty work?” the First Mate taunted.  “Keep an eye, Lads, and I will see what the Cap’n has to say.”  With that he entered the Captain’s cabin.

“So how did it go Gregory?” the Captain asked.

“Well Cap’n, I think we will have them all a lookin’ landward for awhile, so we should be able to pass the Mermaid’s island without the lads jump’n ship for it.”

“Good work, Gregory.  Keep their attention landwards till be get past Yellow Harbour.”

“Aye, aye that Cap’n,” the First Mate replied.

Image by Sebastian Ganso from Pixabay

 

Padre

Elemental Writing Challenge April 16: Mysterious

Marooned

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It was our darkest hour. It sounds so cliche now, but we really had given up hope.  Our ship had been holed beneath the waterline, and try as they may the crew could not stem the flow.  At last Captain Barns gave the order to abandon ship.

Most of the lads had made it to the boats, but then the Spanish started to shoot at these too.  In the end only our boat pulled away sufficiently to avoid the fire, but in doing so we had navigated away from land.

For three days with little water and no food we drifted until at last we could see land.  A small island, and one with trees.  We had hope and even we officers (Midshipman Tolbert and myself) pulled at the oars.  We made land, and there were coconuts to quench our thirst.

Unfortunately with only coconut we soon developed diarrhea.   It was a dark hour indeed when Boatswain Reed perished from such deprivation.    Which one of us would be next?

Then there on the horizon – a sail.  Whether Spanish or French, at this point did not matter and we waved and set alight all the palm we could.  The frigate turned to meet our signal.  Oh what joy to see the crosses of the union flag upon her gaff.  We were saved.

Padre

Story Starter Challenge April 4: “It was our darkest hour.”

When Monsters We Seek

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Loch Ness Visitor Centre 1987

I have snorkeled along reefs of the Pacific –

I have swam in the cold waters – Atlantic –

While some views there where beautiful – dramatic –

Never did a true monster I see.

 

Reefs teamed with life in bright blues, reds, and coral –

With the fact that they were fabulous, I cannot quarrel –

But even the sharks, which were frightening to see –

Really as monsters – they failed to be.

 

Underwater is a world of surprises –

But one truth that I finally arrived with –

When it comes to the risks to the ocean –

The threatening monsters are we.

 

Padre

I am a lover of the sea, and while I am by no means a “tree huger,” I do lament our impact on the sea.  We damage reefs, over fish, and create “islands” of plastic.  While we have moved past Melville’s world of whaling, we have found new ways to exploit the worlds waters.   It was this in mind that I approached Maria Antonia’s prompt.

 

OFMARIAANTONIA photo challenge:  Under Water