In my last entry we left things at the height of chaos. It was also all-new material, which was very pleasant to get to write after having repeated the same story beats over and over. In today’s work I’m looking to spend some more time in the chaos, and then Oscar and Harry will retreat to more familiar waters.
Here is the outline for this segment.
- Swamped in the cross-current, drastic maneuvers to turn head-on into the waves
- Trying to retreat from the eddies Oscar gets stuck at the crest of a wave. He pulses the engine up and down, holding the boat in place until Oscar pushes him through from behind
Without further ado, let’s get to it.
Swirling in the Eddies)
For a moment all was chaos. Howling wind, icy spray, and ominous creaking. Oscar couldn’t make sense of anything that was going on. But then, slowly, things settled down enough for him to realize that Harry had done it. They two boats were pulling out of the small whirlpool.
Not that that made things much better. All around the water seemed to be going three different directions at once. The swirling around the edge of the cape intermingled with the union of two different tides. Forces collided in foamy spray, leaving troughs that sucked anything nearby deep below the surface. Whirlpools opened and closed every minute. Miniature streams ran counter to each other in larger rivers.
This was why Oscar had sought to plow through with the full speed of their engines behind them. Their best chance had been to just muscle their way through before any of the counterforces had a chance to slow them down. Now, though, getting across would mean starting from a standstill, with no momentum whatsoever. It was impossible.
“It’s no use!” Oscar cried after a minute of trying to get both boats in proper alignment and pushing forward together. “Not with your engine running so low anyway.”
“I know, Oscar. I’m sorry!”
Oscar tapped his hand furiously on the helm, calling on every ounce of his experience to come with another plan.
“We’ve got to head back,” he decided. “Head back into the waves. Move against the tide like we were before. We’ll figure out what next after we make it that far.”
“Can we even get back out of here, though?”
“It’s either out or down,” Oscar steeled his brow, and without further discussion turned his vessel back the way they had come. His eyes roved over the competing forces before him. With expert instincts and lightning-quick reflexes he shifted from one current to another and back again.
He followed one stream down to where it crossed the whirlpool. Swirled around to the other side and exited into the wake of two crashing tides. Turned the boat sideways and let it slip halfway down the slope, then gunned the engines just before hitting the breakers and rolled off to the side. It was a mortally dangerous dance, yet Oscar found his way through, even while towing along a flat-footed partner.
“I see the way out,” Oscar announced. “Just need to break through the fringe.”
So saying he accelerated forward, timing his approach to coincide with a lull between the rising and falling of the waves. Just before they broke out of the eddies there remained a cusp of white water.
“Hold steady!” he commanded as the foam broke across the prow. His windshield became an obscurity of a million droplets, and he had to steer by feelings and instinct alone. Then, all at once, they broke through, back in the trough between two mountainous waves.
“To starboard! To starboard!” he called. Very quickly now they needed to get turned towards the oncoming wave and build up momentum to clear its crest. Oscar cranked his wheel to the right, but Harry’s boat was sluggish with all the water down its hold. Oscar felt his boat lose considerable speed in trying to tug Harry’s around, and then they were already climbing the next wave.
“Full throttle, Harry, full throttle!” Oscar cried out, pushing his own acceleration to the maximum.
Oscar’s boat spun its propellers valiantly, but it grew slower and slower as it crawled up the slope of the wave, and the slower it went the more the prow tried to follow the path of least resistance, falling off to either one side or the other. Oscar spun the wheel back-and-forth and applied the throttle in controlled bursts, trying to counter the boat’s shying and keep it pointed forward. But he wasn’t even advancing so much as just holding still in place. The wave’s crown broke over the front of the boat, but rather than bursting through Oscar felt himself starting to roll backward with the water!
Then came a sudden blow from behind and the sound of crunching! Oscar’s boat had slowed down faster than Harry could turn out of the way, and Harry had rear-ended him!
“Harry!” Oscar shouted angrily, but then he felt the push. Harry’s engines had come back to life, and he still had some inertia, even against the slope of the wave! It gave Oscar the push he needed, and he was able to steer his way through the top of the wave! Together the two boats rushed down the backside of the wave and returned to their proper speed.
And there we are. Oscar and Harry are back into familiar waters and so are we. We’ve returned to the description of Harry pushing Oscar through the wave that we had before. Next week we’ll finish with that scene, move into a bit of moody introspection, and that will be the first major segment of the second act completed. Come back in a week to see how that goes!