Life has been hectic for lack of a better word. I haven't been able to polish this story as much as I'd like but I'm going to post it anyways. I apologize for the wait to all my readers, it won't happen again.
The mast was the first thing to go, torn from the deck by a wall of water. Taking three men along with it into the watery abyss that roiled around the doomed ship.
His body crushed under a large box of cargo, a man's scream pierced the night. A scream that would end shortly as it petered off into a choked gurgle, the unfortunate soul drowning, as his lungs filled with blood.
Warning bells clamored to be heard over the screams of terrified men.
Overriding the clamor was the roar of the ocean's hungry maw, ready to swallow the shipping freighter Mirabelle and her crew whole.
They say that hindsight is twenty-twenty, and right now it was telling David that joining a shipping company, even if his family desperately needed money, when his four year old niece can swim better then him wasn't the best idea, especially during hurricane season.
David was just glad that he hadn't been on the mast at the time the storm hit. Not that holding onto a railing in gale force winds was much better, all things considered. Would it be easier to just let go? To allow the ocean's roaring maw one more victim.
David's morbid line of thought was abruptly interrupted as a man flew by, tossed like a rag doll against the steel walls of the ship by a sudden wave. The body landed motionless on the floor, blank eyes staring accusingly at David.
Staring in sick fascination, David realized that the man was familiar to him, Tom, a kind and experienced sailor who had taken him under his wing. David's first friend from this damn boat was lying dead in front of him, and all he could do was stare.
Stare as the few friends he had made during his brief time working onboard the Mirabelle died.
Stare as his death rushed toward him. Smelling of salt and howling like a rabid wolf at the moon.
Tom's dead. What chance did he have? What could he possibly do? As another man's scream pierced the stormy night the answer to his question made itself apparent, survive, he could survive.
A lull in the storm pushed David into action. He would not die here! With that in mind and his will redoubled he began pulling himself towards the crew quarters.
"Here, take it."
A shocked silence followed the unexpected request. "I-I can't. You need the money."
With a well practiced chuckle, David shook his head. "No Mom, you need the money far more then me. I'm staying at Tom's anyway it's not a problem."
"But David, I can't just take your hard earned money!"
"I'm taken care of Mom! It's fine!" Grinning with practiced ease he played his trump card. "Just consider it the beginning of my repayment for all the years of work you put into raising me."
As David hauled himself through the door a glance back, back at the chaos outside, was all it took to confirm what he feared. Lightning eliminated all shadows and illuminated the water for a split second, but it was long enough. There were sharks in the water.
He reached his room as a particularly large wave struck the ship causing him to nearly loose his footing as the ship rocked precariously. The ship righting itself was accompanied by the ominous sound of something shifting. With growing dread he cast his eyes toward the noise and saw the cart they used to transport cargo speeding down the hallway. Desperately shoving the stubborn door, he got almost no response from the rusty old piece of garbage. The blood drained from his face as he came to the realization that there was something blocking it.
Releasing an angry roar, he threw himself against the door and stumbled into the wrecked room that was once his. A quick glance over his shoulder showed him that the trunk that he stored his clothes in had been jostled out of place and had blocked the door sometime during the storm.
Groaning and rubbing a now thoroughly bruised shoulder, David stood slowly and surveyed his room. After locating and throwing on a life jacket, while trying to ignore the sound of the cart as it crashed into the wall further down the hallway, David saw the mirror.
There was a crack running down the middle of it, but the reflection was clear enough. Steel blue eyes stared out from beneath mid length brown, dirty blond as mother had insisted, hair that barely covered the tips of his ears.
His brief self analysis complete, he cast one last cursory glance around his trashed room and spotted his father's binoculars. A moment of deliberation was all it took; he grabbed them as well and headed towards the deck. Dad always claimed that they were lucky, and well at this point a little luck couldn't possibly hurt.
Stumbling onto the deck, David had an unfortunate surprise. He could see one of the lifeboats capsized and floating in the water barely in view. Ignoring the conspicuous shapes that were floating alongside the boat, he made his way towards the nearest lifeboat.
An ominous rumbling ended his hopes of escape via lifeboat. With a defeated sigh he turned and met the wave head on.
"Lucky binoculars my ass."
"Please don't do this!"
"We need the money."
"I don't want to lose you, not after your father died!"
"Mom, calm down. All I need to do is help move cargo onto a boat; sit around for a couple weeks; unload cargo from the boat. Rinse wash and repeat. It's easy money."
"David please! Think about your sister. Why can't you just take a job in the city?"
"Deb and the baby are fine, and this pays better then any job in the city Mom. Anyways we need the money, even if you're too stubborn to admit it."
"Please! Your family needs you!"
"No I'm going. End of discussion! I'll see you when we get back. I'll have my pay to give you."
Some air would be nice.
David broke the surface gasping for air. Despite his total disorientation his life vest had done its job, and he found he could breathe again.
To his surprise he was surrounded by debris, and bathed in sunlight. How long had he been out?
Vision still blotchy David looked around for anything to help him stay afloat. While the vest was helpful, waves were still somewhat problematic. He found a, in all honesty, quite conveniently placed, slab of wood; from the look of it a lifeboat was broken sometime during the storm. He pulled himself partially up onto the soaked piece of debris. The last thing he saw before he lost consciousness for the second time were his father's binoculars clenched in his left hand.
David could tell from the first time he had seen him; he would hate that man more then anyone he had ever seen before.
He was wearing a uniform, the same type that he had seen his Dad wearing. But his face was so different from Dad. His face was hard and unmoving as if chiseled from stone, his eyes were hard, cold, disinterested in the agony he was causing this small family. He had given Mom a flag and told her that he was keeping Dad. That wasn't fair! Why would Mom trade a flag for Dad! But wait Mom was crying! Why would she trade a flag for dad and then cry about it? Unless… that man took Dad!
With a battle cry four year old David flew at the man that had taken Dad.
"Give me my Dad back!" Small fists flying with all the meager force they could muster trying something, anything to hurt the man that had taken his Dad, to hurt him as much as he was hurting. With about as much effort as one uses to brush away a fly, the man spun David around and pushed him gently towards his heavily pregnant mother who picked him up.
"I-I'm sorry. David loved his father very much. We heard the war was over and rejoiced that h-he'd be coming home."
"It's understandable ma'am." And with that the man and his unfeeling eyes turned and left.
Putting David down his mother knelt slowly to his level. "Love, you know the heroes that Daddy told you about in the stories?" David nodded slowly. "Your father was a hero David, and sometimes David, heroes die."
David had awoken several times since the storm. Every time he had he saw nothing but blue. Blue sky, blue ocean, even the lifeboat shard was blue.
Awakening again he cast his eyes around. Blue sky? Check. Blue ocean? Check. Blue shard of debris? Check. Large grey ominous lighthouse? Check. Wait what?
Looking behind himself David found that his shard of helpfulness had taken him to a lighthouse. That meant people! Giving his makeshift life raft an affectionate pat he smiled to himself.
"Good boat shard of helpfulness." David muttered groggily. "I appreciate it."
Still bleary from his near death experience David failed to notice the chills running down his back as he looked at the ominous lighthouse, his subconscious warning him that it led not towards salvation, but damnation.