Windhaven 11 – click here for the full page

Windhaven 11

I usually write about supernatural stuff or mystery/thrillers. Windhaven might have some thrills but no mystery and no vampires or trips to hell (see my other books.) It’s a survival adventure that could happen any day now. I’m not doing official chapters every post, just whenever. The numbers are to keep it all in order, for you and me. Comments and suggestions are always welcome as long as you know that I may or may not follow them.
To start Windhaven from the beginning go HERE.

What If?s

What If when a particular person was killed her soul would jump to the nearest person, the person who killed her. She wouldn’t have outright control of the new body, just varying levels of influence. Just enough make the killer step in front of a bus or jump off a roof. She’s been doing it for a long time, met some nasty people and some good people. She now picked the way the bad ones died, so she’d be close to a good person, who she might influence for good. But there’s one very bad killer, maybe he murdered a friend, and she searches for him, so he will kill her, and then she can punish him.  What If there was a detective on is trail, too? Or, on her trail?

What If a woman reports that her boyfriend is missing. An officer is sent to get information. It turns out that the boyfriend is a ghost. She says he comes and goes through a closet. The officer likes the woman, though he thinks she’s a bit nuts. He looks in the closet, nothing weird. He steps in – and finds himself in a netherworld of ghosts and spirits.

He’s freaked out, but intrigued. The officer’s brother died a year ago, but he always felt that the brother was still around, wanting to tell him something. So, on his own he does some research and reenters the closet, searching for the boyfriend, who in life had his own secrets, and his brother. The woman goes in with him and turns out not to be so nuts during their netherworld adventure.

 

Windhaven  11

Tons of cold water smashed him against the wheel then the roiling water plucked him up and tumbled him about like inside a salty, freezing clothes washer. His safety harness bit into his shoulders, yanking him back. Water buffeted him about, attempting to knock the air out of his lungs and drown him.

Somehow he held in the air. He wasn’t going to drown. He wasn’t going to die. He had something, someone to live for. As the water attempted one more time to yank him away from the boat, squeezing his last breath out, the water let him go.

He crashed down on the helm. A flash of pain bit his left wrist. His head smacked the edge of the cockpit. The full cockpit sloshed him about as he gasped for air.

“Ahhh,” he cried out, grasping for a solid handhold.

Windhaven slid out of control down the back of the freak wave. The reefed mainsail had split in half. The boom traveler had been ripped from the deck and swung widely, crashing into the two aft shrouds.

Noah struggled through dizziness to gain his feet. He held on with his one good hand as the next wave picked up the stern and threw it aside. With no guidance Windhaven broached, turning broadside to the wave. She rolled ninety degrees, the masthead touching the water as the wave broke over her. The cockpit filled as The cold, dark water flowed from the cockpit through the hole left by the torn loose traveler.

She righted herself in the trough between waves. Noah, knowing another broach would sink the boat, forced himself to take control of the helm. Wind caught the mast and torn sails. The boat made some headway. Noah threw the wheel over as the new wave tried to broach her. His actions reversed the broach though allowing the wave to break over the stern. Wheezing, coughing, freezing, in pain, Noah wrestled Windhaven from disaster.

Half filled with water Windhaven wallowed in the seaway, yet fought with Noah to maintain a steady course. Breathing easier, expecting help from below any second, Noah surveyed the damage.

The mast still stood, though the aft lower shrouds were loose due to the constant beat by the swinging boom. The whole traveler apparatus slammed into the deck with each swing, gouging the deck and cabin top. The stainless steel array over the stern that sprouted with all the radar, radio and satellite communications antennas had bent almost double, shattering much of the equipment.wrecked boat1

The mainsail was ripped horizontally from mast to leech. The headsail clew was ripped off, the rest tatters blowing forward by the forty, fifty knot winds.

Noah searched for Ricky and Ivan. There were no signs of them, they must have made it down below. Then why hadn’t he heard from any of the crew?

Windhaven shuddered as the boom swung against the rigging again. Once he had the helm in hand, to secure the boom was a top priority, not only for the rigging, but each time it whipped the traveler over the deck it opened the hole bigger and if anybody was incautious enough to exit the companionway without looking could easily have their head taken off.

Fighting through the dizziness and deep chill, he determined that the only way to secure the boom would be to get a line around the end and use a winch to hold it in place. Tangled lines were strewn about the cockpit. He picked out a suitable line, timed the waves then locked the wheel and staggered to a winch and quickly, with one hand, unwound the line and returned to the wheel in time to navigate another wave.

His left hand had no strength to it and hurt like hell, but after several tries he fashioned a fixed loop large enough to throw over the boom end.

“Hey. Anybody. Hey!”

The sun had set. All lights were out. Thirty to forty foot waves still crashed around him. Occasional thin breaks in the streaming clouds offered an occasional glimpse of moonlight. Noah attempted to get his breathing under control. “Hey!” No answer. He had never felt so alone.

Using his innate feel of the boat’s motion Noah attempted to loop the line around the end of the boom. On his fourth try he succeeded. Quickly he took the line he’d already run through a fixed block and whipped it around a winch. The effort took him away from the helm too long. Windhaven skipped sideways, knocking him down, but the boom was minimally secured.

Noah crawled back to the helm and spent five minutes planning his next move.

“Hello! Anyone?” Surely, someone must be conscious.

With another line Noah secured the boom with a second line to the opposite side of the boat. A few minutes later of shivering and pain he pushed through the water still filling the cockpit faster than it could drain and knelt by the open companion way hatch. Inside, no light, no movement except for three or four feet of water sloshing side to side with each roll of the boat.

“Hello!” Noah shouted, though his voice came out as a dry croak. “Is anybody there? Please, is anybody in there? Tommy, Ivan, Larry? Answer me.”

He heard no sounds from below except water splashing and the sound of debris knocking on the bulkheads. Tears formed in his eyes as fear and loss and loneliness settled over him like a black cloak.

Beside the helmsman’s seat there was a flip up plastic cover. Underneath was a socket for an eighteen inch handle that worked a manual bilge pump. He found the handle still secured. With his bad, probably broken, left hand he almost unconsciously kept Windhaven stern to the seas. With his right hand he worked the bilge pump. One full movement of the handle pumped out one gallon of water.

He kept asking himself why he continued to pump. One gallon out of hundreds or thousands of gallons. What difference would one, two, three… gallons make? No solid water was flowing in, but the spray from breaking waves and gusting winds and probably a leak or two or three from inside were replacing the gallon he removed. Why bother? Why put off the inevitable?

Because that would mean giving up, and years ago Noah had learned to never give up. He was one of the smartest in his high school class. Algebra baffled him. His father told him that if he wanted a car when graduated he had to get a B or better on his final exam. He wanted to give up, but he wanted the car. It was up to him. He studied, to little effect. He finally checked his pride and asked a girl in his class to tutor him. She made algebra make sense. He got a B+ on the exam, the car, and the girl. His writing career was built on hundreds of rejections. Jobs he wanted, the wife he wanted, the boat he wanted – persistence pays.

He wanted to live, he wanted that girl. So he pumped.

At first Noah thought about how to rig some sort of self steering. There were ways to use the wind direction on the sails to turn the wheel. He thought about Linda. He thought about books he wanted to write. He thought about his crewmates. Between, he thought about thirst, cold, hunger, exhaustion.

While he thought the night marched on. Imperceptibly, the clouds thinned, the wind slacked, the waves calmed, Windhaven wallowed less. Throughout, Noah pumped and steered.

The sun had not rising above the horizon when a the playful slap of an errant wave jolted Noah awake. His head hung under cover of his rain gear hood. His right hand, frozen and still, gripped, the pump handle. His left hand rested unmoving on a spoke of the wheel. His only movement the partial lifting of his eyelids and the slow roving of his eyes, his first real look at the destruction.

eyes 1

Then, his eyes opened slowly opened, fixing on movement in the damaged companionway. A face there, unidentifiable, pale, ragged.

Someone.

Alive.

Loneliness slipped off his shoulders like a heavy cloak.

 

Comment and suggestions are welcome – dcburtonjr@gmail.com

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