This is my latest story! It's the usual word challenge. I wrote it for the Uxbridge Writers' Circle meeting this month. Members chuckled at my use of a couple of the required words (shown in italics). Perhaps you will too!
And see below for the link to I'm Dashing's Race. He came second, which is a big improvement!
Against All Odds
The Atlantic waves, bearing their classic white horses, raced one after another head-on towards the yacht.
Claude’s face had turned green. Marcus could see him clearly when forks of lightning flashed and pointed their fingers down to the sea.
The rest of the crew were both too sick, too weak, to lend a hand. Marcus was the only one who wasn’t throwing up or retching.
Claude had sworn that he never, ever got seasick. He blamed the pineapple that they’d picked up before they left America. It looked yellow on the outside, so it must have been rotten, according to Claude. Marcus had had a slice and was fine, but he had cast-iron sea-legs. It would be impossible for Claude to admit that the ocean had finally got the better of him. Claude was a professional who would take any boat to just about any destination in the world on behalf of their extraordinarily rich owners. This yacht was owned by a Russian oligarch who had purchased it recently and wanted it delivered to Bristol.
Marcus didn’t have the time or inclination to feel any sympathy for the stinking rich Russian as the boat climbed up the largest wave he’d seen in his life, shuddered amongst the white horses, and plunged downwards into darkness. Even he grew nervous. He wondered if they were diving into the ocean’s depths as the salty power of the sea crashed onto the deck.
Anything that could move, moved. Anything that could be swept overboard was lost at sea. Marcus didn’t see the other two crew members after that dive. He now understood what the term ‘skeleton crew’ meant. It was only him and Claude. And it was as if his body had no weight or strength and his muscles had been consumed by a sea monster.
His lifejacket was hindering his movement and chafing his neck, but the safety harness attached to the lifeline—stretched from bow to stern—was even more restrictive. But he was still on board.
The sails had been reefed, and the yacht was being powered by its engine, but Marcus couldn’t hear its purr over the thundering roar of the surging ocean. He stumbled and fumbled his way to the wheel to help Claude maintain a course heading for the rollers. Claude was exhausted and collapsed when Marcus took the helm. He slid across the deck, and his harness strained as he was pushed against the boat’s railing. The wind and the boat’s lurches buffeted him as if he was a rag doll.
Marcus needed all his remaining strength to stop the wheel from spinning right and then left. If waves hit the yacht from the side, it would be turtled. He peered into the wet darkness. There was a light ahead. It looked like a flickering lantern, but it was gone after only a second.
His senses were numbed by the bombardment of stinging salty water, and flashes of lightning, as well as by claps of thunder and the roar of thirty-foot waves thrashing all around him. So, he could have imagined the light. Everything seemed distorted.
Despite the deafening noise, the creaks of the boat were now audible. The yacht showed signs of giving up, and Marcus’ stamina was fading.
Another light bounced in the darkness. He hadn’t imagined it after all, and it looked like a beacon, perhaps a lighthouse.
A tiny spark of hope quickened his pulse, but his wet gloves slipped on the wheel, and he lost his balance. He groaned as he hit the railing. But the roll of the boat tossed him back.
The light was moving closer. At least, he hoped it was. It kept disappearing and then popping up again.
Claude sat upright as if suddenly switched on and levered open a storage box. He must have seen the same light and by some miracle was able to activate two marine distress flares from his sitting position.
Marcus was thrown against the wheel by the boat’s sudden plunge down an enormous roller. Claude crawled over and hung onto the wheel, but the yacht was on a suicide mission, and he couldn’t maintain his grip. It seemed as if half the ocean crashed over the yacht. Both masts snapped in two almost at the same time, and the last thing Claude remembers is seeing the tops of the masts disappear in a flash of lightning.
Marcus and Claude were the lucky ones. Against all odds, the crew of a freighter saw the flares and two of them were authorized to deploy the ship’s rescue boat despite the appalling conditions. It was a last-minute desperate effort by the freighter’s crew members that led to Marcus and Claude being dragged from the sinking yacht. Neither was conscious, but they were alive.
The happiest memory Marcus has of the trip aboard the freighter to Felixstowe, England, is Claude’s smile and the dimples in his cheeks as he hugged a mug of steaming tomato soup. It felt so good to be alive.
But Marcus told Claude that he wouldn’t be helping his brother sail any more yachts on behalf of their filthy rich owners. He’d had enough of the ocean’s fury. He was going to buy a plot of land and grow vegetables.
But Claude didn’t believe him.
Copyright Vicky Earle 2022
I'm Dashing: Second!
You'll hear the announcer, Robert Geller, Woodbine Racetrack, say that they're going slowly.
Next time we think I'm Dashing will have his skates on!
PS I'm editing the 5th book in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series. And don't forget that Blue Heron Books has all four of my books on their shelves!
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