Today I’m looking to finish the first major segment of the middle act. This segment has been quite a bit longer than I’d anticipated. If the second and third are of equal size, then this story will grow by quite a bit. Whether that’s a good thing or not I’ll have to decide later on. For now, I’m just glad to be about to reach a milestone.
Here is the outline that I came up with previously for today’s this work.
- Mournful introspection
- Oscar regrets having not quit before James’ death
It’s worth noting that last week I had the two sailors planning to move up the tide, then turn around and use its force to pierce through the eddies. I actually want them to come to that determination in today’s work instead, so I’ve changed that part in last week’s post and will reintroduce it here. Now let’s get to it.
A Moment of Regret)
“Alright Harry, that was lucky,” Oscar pulled the mic back to his mouth and wiped the nervous sweat from his brow. “But you keep your distance from now on, you hear?”
There didn’t seem to be any response, but then Oscar realized he still had the button on the radio locked down. He released it just in time to hear the last of Harry’s reply.
“–and I’m sorry.”
“I don’t want your ‘sorry,’ Harry,” he shot back. “Just competence.”
Oscar knew he wasn’t being fair, and he let go of the radio and tried to soothe his frazzled nerves. They had successfully made it back into the waves, and that was well and good, but he needed a cool head if he was going to figure out what their next step should be.
As far as he could see it, there were two options. The first was that they could push against the waves and hope to make enough headway to get past the eddies. That would allow them to make a relatively peaceful turn around the cape, and then head back towards shore. The other option would be to move just a little way up the waves, then turn around and use the push of the tide to build up extra speed, hopefully enough to try and force their way through the eddies.
The first option would require much more fuel and time in the heart of the storm, neither of which Oscar was sure they could spare. But, of course, the second option required facing the raging froth again, and Oscar did not think he dared to do that.
“We’re going to keep riding up the waves, Harry,” Oscar said into the mic. “We’ll try and get far enough to cross the cape beyond the eddies.”
“Okay. Any special instructions for that?”
“No,” Oscar released the mic and muttered to himself, “let’s just have a moment of quiet for now.”
Rapid twitches crept up and down his arms, making the wheel jitter back-and-forth. Fortunately, the boat was moving so sluggishly with all the water collecting down in the hold that Harry wouldn’t see any of the nervous shudders.
“What am I doing here?” Oscar asked himself. “I can’t do this! I don’t have it in me anymore.”
“I don’t think you have a choice anymore,” another side of him replied.
If at all possible, his weathered face grew even more wrinkly, and his eyes shone with unshed tears.
“I should have quit after James died.”
“No,” his other side returned. “You should have quit before you lost your son.”
Oscar bowed his face before the storm and mingled the saltwater from his eyes with the tears of the sea.
“I’m sorry, James,” he mourned. “I should have known I needed to quit the sea before it was too late. I’m sorry I ever entrusted you to him.”
But Oscar hadn’t left the sea then, nor had he left it today. Here he was, still pressing deeper into the heart of it all. And as terrible as the storm had seemed when he first pierced its ranks, now he was nearly upon its nexus, and its true strength was only just becoming manifest.
This isn’t a very long moment of quiet introspection, but I think I’m content with it. Even outside of Oscar’s mournful conversation with himself I’ve been calming things down for a few paragraphs, and it will take a few more before things really ramp up again.
I’ve technically also started on the material I meant for the next segment, and before I quit for the day, I’m going to push it a little further. I’m going to write some new material to describe how the storm is increasing and how the waves are deepening around the two sailors.
Lightning bristled so constantly and on every side that the air tingled continually with a charge, giving the men a painful shock any time they shifted their touch. The wind rose from forbidding moan to deafening roar and chilled the men as if they didn’t have on their heavy coats. All the waves heaved upward like the entire sea was trying to vomit itself into the air. The waves became so large that the trawlers could not scale them entirely, and the boats began punching through the top of them, becoming entirely submerged for a moment before bursting through at the other side.
“Oscar!” Harry’s voice sounded faint and far away, even though he was screaming into the radio. “How much longer can we keep doing this?!”
Oscar did not respond, only winced as he saw the wall of water rush to fill his entire field of view, then burst across his prow and against his windshield. He braced himself in case the glass broke, but once again the window held firm, though fresh gallons heaped themselves through every crack in the floor to the hold below. After what seemed like an eternity the boat burst through the wall of water, swung downward, and streaked along the back of the wave.
We’ve made some very good progress here. We’ve finished a whole third of this middle act and made a good start on the next. I’m excited next week to delve still further. See you then.