Flashes in the clouds showed the swells in the ink sky, the rain unrelenting. The spotter adjusted the various lenses on his goggles. During the next flash he saw the merchant ship again.
“Ship to starboard!”
The Captain stood erect, looking straight out beyond the ship’s ever-pitching prow. He was brown and brawny and clad in blue pilot-cloth. The last lost prize had cost the faulted crewman to be cast to the sharkish sea. He inhaled the salt breath of the sea and called to the helmsman.
“Mister Hawkins, Eight degrees to Starboard. Increase speed by 5 knots.” The telegraph rang out for the engine room to increase speed.
The ship rolled with the last wave. The engines hissed and thrummed and she turned to her new course.
The torrential rain beat down upon the ship as she steamed through the white caps.
The waves hammered against the bow.
The wild winds blew as they continued the pursuit.
“There is something straight ahead!” Cried the spotter.
“Aloft there! What d’ye see?”
“I don’t know Captain; I just saw a glimpse of it.”
The ship lurched as it was struck broadside.
Was it yet another Navy ship sent to sink them?
It did not feel like cannon shot.
“Spotter where is the other ship?”
“There is none Sir!”
Waves beat against the steep sides, the boarding boats could not be lowered.
The storm-tossed merchant ship they pursued, was listing, the prize might be lost.
The ill at ease crewman reported to the gray-headed, ungodly old man.
“Captain, Mister Blake reports the water in the Bilge is at four feet and rising. The steam pump cannot keep up. ”
The ship was stuck and lurched again.
“Have the Boarding crew man the hand pump.”
They lost sight of the merchant ship.
“Where is the ship?” Soon through the murk they saw her, only the uppermost bow was out of water and then it disappeared in the depths.
The crew tried hard to bale out the pouring water.
The prize lost, the Captain searched the sea to find the cause of the blows to his ship.
In the next flash the answered was revealed.
Bearing down upon them was a wall of white flesh, groves of spears planted in its flanks.
“Ahab’s Bane.” The Captain cursed.
He ran across the pitching deck to the storage chest.
The leviathan smote the ship’s starboard bow and ship reeled.
The Captain seized the harpoon and turned.
The whale dived beneath the ship, and ran along its keel.
The sound of the engine faltered and ceased.
The white gliding ghost reappeared for another blow.
The disabled boat laid nearly level with the waves. The harpoon tip was poised ready to unleash his fury. The ship groaned upon impact and the harpoon bit deep.
Through the long dark hours the squall unrelented, a sole survivor clung to one of the capsized boarding boats. The Captain, his hatred growing with each passing minute, remained, alone in a vast unforgiving sea.
((Previously posted on the NING))