“Oscar!” Harry’s voice broke through the howling wind, his hand pointed fearfully ahead. Oscar turned around just in time to see his vessel sliding up the ramp of the next wave!
Oscar muttered a deluge of insults to himself for being such a distracted fool as he turned on the spot and sprinted towards the wheelhouse. Too late, though. The wave burst across the prow of his boat just then, and he had to grab the nearest line for dear life. The torrent knocked his feet out from under him, endless gallons of water poured into his face, and all the world became confusion! All he could do was hold fast to his line and hope that he would come through at the other end.
Did he even still hold the line? Had it even been properly secured to the boat? Oscar couldn’t say. The sensations coursing across his body were so numerous that he couldn’t say whether he was on deck or in the ocean or holding water or holding air. But he clamped his fingers in place anyway, there was nothing else he could do, and finally the flood abated and he still stood upon his deck.
But he was standing nearly sideways! For without his guidance the boat had been pushed to the side by the wave, and now was careening to starboard, likely to capsize at any moment!
“NO!” Oscar shouted, fumbling hand-over-hand along the rope, trying to make his way to the wheelhouse. If he didn’t make it there before the next wave hit he would be left hanging upside down in the water, his boat suspended over him for a roof!
Suddenly there came a great creaking sound and the entire boat was yanked back to port, forcibly drawn onto its hull. Oscar looked to the edge of the boat and found himself facing the Broken Wing. Harry had quickly moved to the Last Horizon’s side, using their tether to pull the boat back into its place. Oscar gave a grunt for his thanks, then dashed to the wheelhouse and took hold of helm and throttle.
“Are you alright there?” Harry’s voice called nervously over the radio.
“Yeah, I’m here–” Oscar said dismissively. “I was–I just had–I’m alright now.”
So this is a new wrinkle that I’ve added to my story. Harry is no longer just a buffoon who messes everything up. Here I have him actually saving Oscar. I added this because I wanted to create more of a sense that these men are partners. Begrudging partners, to be sure, but partners nonetheless. And though Oscar has primarily been seeing saving Harry, as with any relationship, sometimes the roles reverse.
At this point I think I’ve added enough new material to round out the second act and I will transition to the third. So I’ll set the two seamen back towards port, and to the climax of their story.
“Harry, let’s get out of here,” Oscar decided, anxious to change the topic.
“We’re going to turn around?”
“We’re just taking too much of a beating. So yes, let’s hold through this last wave, and then turn back.”
The two vessels made their way through the next wave and then began the arduous process of turning around. They were so waterlogged now that what usually would have been a simple maneuver had become a herculean labor.
“It’s too slow” Harry shouted over the wave. “We’re going to get hit broadside by the next wave!”
“Turn back slightly!”
The two men barely got their boats swiveled back to enough of an angle to slice up the wave diagonally.
“Now keep up the other way!”
By the time the next wave reached them they nearly had their backs fully to it. Close enough to perpendicular that they were lifted and rushed forward, making their way back towards the coastline.
“Now keep your eyes open wide!” Oscar shouted into the mic as he leaned forward to stare intently through his own window. “If you so much as wonder whether you’ve seen the cape, call it out! And keep a steady pull to port!”
Oscar settled his boat at a twenty degree angle from the onslaught of the waves. He pumped the throttle forward during the low point after each wave, then cut power to better feel the movements of the boat as it lifted into the air. He reached up and turned off the overhead light and covered the blinking LED on the radio, casting himself into complete darkness so that he could see more clearly through the storm outside.
Would they even be able to see the cape? Quite possibly not. There was no moon and no stars, and the storm-mist around them was so black that there may not be any way to tell it from rock face. All they knew for sure was that they weren’t yet around the cape, for if they were they would be able to see the beacon from the lighthouse. So long as there was no light, they were still in danger.
One dark minute slid by, and then another. Then another three. And each one of them felt like a greater pronouncement of doom upon the lost sailors. How many minutes could they spare before they would already be upon a stone-hard reckoning?
“Further to port!” Oscar commanded.
I’ve decided I want to enhance this final segment by having the men trying to balance between two forms of annihilation. On the one hand, the shallower their angle, the longer its going to take to get around the side of the cape, and the greater their risk of being slammed into the cliffs. On the other hand, the greater their angle the more they will be abused by the oncoming waves, and run the risk of sinking their vessels.
And I intend to ratchet the tension between those two for all that that they’re worth before delivering the cutting revelation at the end. Come back next week as I keep driving for that climatic finale!