Music: Garnet Rogers Final Trawl; Stan Rogers Northwest Passage; Joanna Newsom Colleen; Ani Difranco Swim; Elysian Fields Mermaid; Tim Buckley Song to a Siren; Eliza Carthy Rows of Angels; Veda Hille Sleepers; Judith Owen Poseidon; The Watersons Greenland Whale Fishery; A Fine Frenzy The Minnow and the Trout; Waterson Carthy The Forsaken Mermaid; Rachel's The Sea and The Bells; Kendra Smith Bold Marauder.
Curve Against the Sky PROLOGUE
"CARLILSE CULLEN!" I howled at no one in particular. "I swear by all that is holy, if I ever get off this motherfucking boat alive, I will never listen to you again!"
I white-knuckled the rope alongside the wheelhouse as the trawler pitched, and the salt water made my eyes sting and squint. As one gigantic wave after another crashed over the deck, I could just make out Jasper's yellow storm gear as he and Emmett struggled with the outrigger. The skipper had sent us into this water slide from Hell to raise the trawls and swing in the booms, lest the extra drag pull us down aft and turn us turtle in the freezing swell.
As the boat lurched on a sickening angle, I tried to avoid looking at the wall of water not thirty feet port as I let go the rope and hydroplaned across the deck, slamming into the winch. All the air punched out of my lungs on impact, leaving me wheezing and gaping like the flatfish brought up in a typical haul. A backwards gust whipped around the towing blocks, tearing off my hat; I had a quick glimpse of it whirling over the deck before I was blinded by another pummeling wave.
As smoke billowed from the winches, screaming as they wound in the nets against the sucking sea, I pulled myself along hand over hand until I reached the men struggling to ship the outrigger. As I got to them, Jasper grabbed my arm and pointed, yelling above the gale, "The trawl is snagged on the ramp!" and with a jerk, he pulled me aft. I sensed Emmett's immense shadow behind us as we slipped and flailed past Peter and James, who were hanging from the boom like oilskinned monkeys, scrambling to hold it.
The sea was a gray, churning beast bucking us like a tiny bullrider in a vast ocean rodeo. The wind was so cold and the spray so thick, I already had ice in my hair. The driving rain sluiced sideways, dumping down my neck, forcing a yelp out of me as the frigid water ran down inside my overalls.
As we yanked desperately at the unyielding net that threatened to pull us all into the roiling water, I looked in amazement as Jasper wrestled up under his slicker and drew out a filleting knife, which he proceeded to clasp in his teeth like some sort of storm gear-clad Tarzan. I heard Emmett yell, "Whitlock, no!" as Jasper flung himself on top of the net, crawling over it like Dracula scaling a tower wall in an old horror film, before tangling his arm in the footrope and leaning precariously out over the stern.
As waves bashed us and the boat groaned in protest, I was sure we'd lost him headfirst into the surge, when his head popped into view and he shouted, "It's free!" He clambered back along the net as Emmett and I grabbed the headlines, pulling with all our spent might.
Just as I thought I couldn't hold on, my frozen fingers slipping along the rope—even through my sodden gloves, I was certain I'd need stitches—I heard Emmett bellow with his effort, and with a massive heave of popping muscle and exhausted bone, we hauled the trawl up the ramp and fell on top of it.
As I lay, soaked through and gasping, I was aware of an eerie moment of calm. Into it, I heard Jasper pant, "Shit, I lost my best knife."
Then Emmett cried, "There's someone in the net!"