Monday, July 19, 2010

The Last Voyage of the Rebecca (FFF #36)

It's Friday Flash Fiction time again. This time the polls broke and mass hysteria ensued.  Writers were allowed to choose whatever sentence(s) they wanted to use.  I, naturally, used my own.

The Last Voyage of the Rebecca

In the distance I saw all kinds of birds circling over something, but I couldn't tell what from where I was. I turned my boat around and started rowing in that direction.

I'd never seen the water as clear and blue as it was that day. I could see all the way down to the sandy white bottom and all the fish that lived there. It was a big difference from the night before.

We left port from Wilson City about five days ago on the Rebecca. She was a salvage ship chartered out of The Bahamas. The deeper parts of the Atlantic are filled with old shipwrecks. Find a ship first and you could set up your own mint. That's what we were doing.

The captain got wind of a wreck southeast of Bermuda. Some old ship, maybe even one of the fabled lost ships of the Spanish Armada. My mouth watered at the thought of a hold full of Spanish doubloons.

We were on our way back to port when the storm hit. The sky was black and the wind sounded like a wounded animal. I am convinced that the ship floated on its side at one point. The captain and first mate tried all they could to keep the ship afloat. Chances of survival in a life raft in the middle of the Atlantic are slim to none, but it's better than staying on a sinking ship. Adams tossed bucket after bucket of water overboard, but he couldn't keep up. I took off alone.

The birds took flight as I approached and they circled over my head - squawking. I knew then what Tippi Hedren must have felt like.

There was something under the water. A large shape; dark against the white sandy bottom. I grabbed my mask, one of the few pieces of equipment I was able to save, and held it under the water. The shape looked to be the wreck of the Rebecca. It was eerie. The calm ocean, the birds, and no debris floating in the water.

I took my shirt off, put the mask on, and dove in. I swam and I swam and I swam. The water was deeper than it looked. I surfaced and drew in a lungful of fresh sea air. Without the proper diving equipment, I doubted I could reach her. I took a couple deep breaths and dove again.

It wasn't a Spanish ship we found, but a French one. None of us were experts, but it looked like a wreck from the 1700's. The hold was full of rusted rifles and crates that had long ago become homes to sea creatures. We did, however, find some tarnished jewelry and an unbroken crate of glass bottles with wax seals.

The deck of the Rebecca was almost in reach and it felt like my lungs were on fire. My hand brushed against something and I realized it was a mooring hook. I grabbed hold of it and started bashing it against the nearest porthole. The glass held and I banged harder and harder. I was almost out of air and my vision grew blurry. I swung the hook once more and the porthole cracked. I had to stop.

I burst through the surface of the water, gasping and coughing; taking in much needed oxygen. I pulled myself into the life raft and ripped off the mask. Blood trickled from my nose and I wiped it on my shirt. I laid there, resting; letting the hot sun dry the saltwater on my skin.

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't dive again until the next day. But these weren't normal circumstances. I put the mask on, grabbed the mooring hook, and dove back in.

I swung at the porthole with all my might. I jabbed it with the blunt end of the hook. I hung onto the deck and kicked it with my heel. Finally, it gave way. I thrust the moor inside and hooked the first thing I touched and clawed my way back to the surface.

Blood was now pouring from my nose. I put a finger under it and leaned forward until the bleeding stopped. I was thankful there were no sharks in the water. I was as good as dead anyway, but I knew it would be suicide to go back down.

Opening the bag I grabbed, I had to laugh. It was just my luck. It wasn't any of our supplies. It wasn't any of the jewelry we found. It had two of the sealed bottles we salvaged. I tore off the wax seal, popped the cork, and drank a toast to my lost friends with the finest champagne I ever tasted.


Welles here again. I had this idea, so I proposed the sentence. Over the weekend, I read this article and got the idea of a different ending to the tale.


MRMacrum said...

And now your comment about not even thinking of corpses makes sense. You had a sea tale in mind. But as it turned out, a corpse is what you ended up with. Different birds, same result.

Fine job all around.

Sue H said...

I saw that artical too Welles - gave me a sense of deja vu until I read your postscript comment.

As MRM said, you managed to end up with a corpse (of sorts) - mind you, what a way to go!

Cormac Brown said...

Outstanding, especially-

"I knew then what Tippi Hedren must have felt like."

Randal Graves said...

Well, drink and be merry at any rate, for tomorrow we may die in the ocean. Good stuff.

WellesFan said...

Sue - with a sea story already in mind, how could I NOT incorporate that element?

Cormac - That line just popped in my head. A wisecrack and a reference to my second favorite director. I just couldn't help myself.

MRM & Randal - I raise my mug of grog in thanks.

Flannery Alden said...

A very colorful tale and well-spun.

I was confused by this line: " I am convinced that the ship floated on its at one point." It's back?

I like the way it ended in particular.

WellesFan said...

On its side. Floated on its side. *sigh* That's what I get for rewording sentences 3 minutes before posting my stories. Thanks for the catch.

chad rohrbacher said...

It was simple, beautiful, and filled with tension. Nice

Nicole E. Hirschi aka CJT said...

Well written! I wasn't sure what to expect, but this turned out great.

I apologize for not getting here sooner, but am still glad I did.

WellesFan said...

Chad and Nicole - thanks. I like to try something different now and then.