Just another writer/reader
Favourite book: Jane Eyre
Favourite songs (right now): Hallelujah, 9 Crimes
Favourite animals: Killer Whales (although I prefer to call them Orcas)

Message to Readers

Hello, I'd really appreciate if you could help me decide what to cut from this piece (as you can see the word count exceeds 1000). Thanks!

Victims of the fog - Draft 1

September 12, 2020

Three boats in the water. One; his Majesty’s finest, two and three; small, wooden rowing boats filled with men eager to do their duty. This mission would either be an adventure, a failure, or their last one. The men knew this as they pulled away from their mother ship, and the crew on board the ship knew it as well, when they saw the small, wooden rowing boats disappear into fog. A, soon as they were out of sight, the men standing to wave them off one by one left the scene to return to their previous engagements. However, two men lingered, a Midshipman and a Lieutenant. Keeping their eyes fixed on the rocky sea in front of them, listening to the crashing of the waves, and thinking of the fate that may befall those boats.
“What are they like, pirates?”, asked the midshipman in a curious tone, both frightened and intrigued, but also with a hint of wonderment.
“I’m not really one to say,” the lieutenant glanced at the man beside him, the man who looked much like a boy. “I’ve only met them once, but that time we were the largest ship, and caught the pirates off guard. But even so, they were ruthless. I lost many a friend that day.”
“Oh,” he uttered, gravely. Then, they both focused on the ocean. The choppy water. Waves going up and down, up and down, enough to make one dizzy, unless you’re accustomed to it.
“You know, it may well be nothing. We cannot be certain in this fog,” whispered the lieutenant, looking down on the midshipman.
“Nothing?”, he demanded, “It cannot be nothing. If you saw it, sir, it must be true. I’m just worried about the men… there’s no way to know what situation they’ll be rowing into…”
“They’re just a scouting party. They’ll probably be back before we know it, bearing good news,” he answered, to reassure himself just as much as his companion. But however much he wished, he could not believe it. He knew what he saw, and was rendered unable to deny it. Somewhere, in this prison of thick, grey fog is a ship, not unlike theirs. A ship, that could be their doom.
“I’m scared, sir,” revealed the Midshipman, in a frank tone. The lieutenant scoffed, and the man beside him expected a punch, or a slap, or some great foul words. But what he got was of a different origin.
“Aren’t we all?”, remarked his companion. He sighed, and then continued, “There is no point in standing here, they won’t get back quicker because we’re waiting. Do you have any work to do?”
“Uh, yes, sir,” taken aback by the sudden change of subject.
“Right, off you go,” the lieutenant smiled as the midshipman hurried away. But when his companion was gone, the expression on his face changed drastically. His back slouched, and he steadied himself on a barrel. For a moment, in the darkness of the fog, he looked so very old, a man weighed by past mistakes and regrets. The things he could’ve done. Maybe he could’ve changed the ultimate outcome. The lieutenant gazed at the ocean, the rocky sea, the choppy water. Waves, going up and down, up and down.

The work continued as usual, and soon the working men forgot the boats in the fog. There was simply too much in need of doing. So when a sudden noise beckoned them all to the water, they did not know what to expect. It was like something was repeatedly hitting the hull, far far below. It was not loud, but consistent. And what they saw was a sight of horror. There, in the sea, floated a body. Facing down, breathing the liquid with lungs so unfit for this task, was someone they recognized. His golden shoulder length hair, although wet, gave him away. It was Mr Hale, the one in charge of the scouting party. The men, so baffled by this sight, were at a loss. They stared as he was brought against the hull, and then back again, by the crashing of the waves. They listened to the rhythmic thump, thump, thump, of a body hitting wood. More people joined them, but it was not until the lieutenant and his midshipman companion from before came that anyone did anything about it. 
“Well get him out of there!”, yelled the lieutenant. The men, quite lost in some imaginary world of their own making, took some time until they came to. 
“Right!”, said someone in the crowd, “Get us some ropes!”
And then, the rescue attempt began. No one had any idea of long Hale had been in the sea, or if there was any chance that he could live. For all they knew, they were bringing a body up from the water just to give it back with a prayer. In spite of this, they toiled. Within some time, the body was brought safely on deck, and then down, to the infirmary where the naval surgeon was waiting. 

That night, everyone was on their toes. With no idea as to what had happened, and no longer any hope of recovering the boats, the atmosphere was tense. The fog still surrounded them, and the men that had been stationed as lookouts saw nothing. Everyone was waiting for news from the surgeon, but they got none that night. No, it was the day after that everything happened. Around four o’clock, one of the loblolly boys knocked on the door to the captain’s cabin, to deliver the news. Mr Hale had awoken. After that, all hell broke loose. The captain rushed to hear Mr Hale’s testimony of the previous day. And it was not as they had hoped. 
“They got us,” whispered Mr Hale, petrified. “By God they got us…”, he trailed off, and looked up at the ceiling above him. “The pirates...They know we’re here. They’re twice as big as us”; he laughed, a mad laugh. “We’ll die, like the rest of them…”

Then, the fog started to clear. All morning, the fog went further and further back, until finally, they were no longer alone. They could see her in the distance, a ship, hoisting the Jolly Roger. And then the cannons were fired. Dozens of shots, fire, reload, fire, reload. One man lost his foot here, one man lost his life there. And all the while the crew was thinking: why? Must we die? But their thoughts were nothing compared to one person’s, one boy’s. A young midshipman, lost in the chaos and only just now seeing a man lying midst the bodies on deck.
Someone he recognized. Dodging the people, but not the cannonballs for the cannon balls were so very unpredictable, and if he was meant to die he was meant to die. But he didn’t want to die alone, and neither did he wish that fate on anyone else. So, he ran, and in some time he reached his companion. Just as he was about to scream for help, the lieutenant put a finger to his own lips. He motioned with his hand to the hole in his stomach. He was done for.
“Are you scared?”, he asked the boy. The midshipman, with tears in his eyes, nodded.
“Don’t be”, whispered the lieutenant, “You did good. You’ll be fine”, he smiled.
“The battle’s not even finished. And you-”
“I’m going somewhere else. Somewhere better. You’ll get there too, one day. You did good.”
“I’m sorry.” 
“Don’t be,” those were the last words of Lieutenant Evans. After he said them, he looked up at the sky, to catch the sun one last time, and then he never saw anything again. In the midst of the only battle the boy had ever been in, he was alone. He got to work, and let his hands do what they were meant to do, even though his mind was numb. He could no longer hear the crashing of the waves, or see them going up and down, up and down. There was only one thing left. Fire, reload, fire, reload.


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  • September 12, 2020 - 9:07am (Now Viewing)

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