The seas were strangely quiet as dawn came. Amber-gray with an oily sheen that spoke of endless terrors in the night that had just been.
Dina had wrapped the colonel’s right arm and given him one of Henry’s precious opiates, then fixed the old aviator a cup of sweet tea on the propane stove. “How long will food keep with no power?” she asked Henry – who was then on his way to the engine room.
“Don’t open the doors unless you have to. Keeps the cold inside,” he said as he worked his way into the confined space under the cockpit and got to work. Rolf joined him under there, and they emerged two hours later and went straight to the cockpit. One punch of the starter and the pristine diesel rumbled back to life, the batteries began charging and the refrigerator cooling again. Rolf and Henry ‘high-fived’ and Clyde barked twice…
Next, Henry rigged up his old bosun’s chair and went over safety procedures with both Rolf and the aviator, who both helped run Henry up the mast. After a few premature triumphs, Henry felt satisfied with the repairs and they rolled out the main and set the large staysail, everyone smiling as Bandits’ speed jumped from six knots under power alone to almost nine knots with the added lift from the sails.
Then Henry went to work on the radios.
And when the BBC World Service came on at the top of the hour he smiled inside. Because listening to the BBC does that to old people.
“The world seems to have stepped back from the brink,” a heartened voice began, “yet with reports of five cities now silent it is time for us all to step back from the abyss and conduct a reckoning…”
Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Gone.
Moscow and St Petersburg. Gone.
And north of Miami, where a single very small warhead detonated over a former president’s residence – and which had already begun reconstituting a freshly energized conspiracy theory machine to rise to its former glory.
Word was slipping out that China had threatened Russia after Moscow went dark, that the Chinese leader had stated quite clearly that as they, the Russians, had started this madness, China would not sit idly by and let the Russians take down the species.
There had been a hideous price paid during these hours of madness, the commentator said, yet now it was time to move on. To reconstruct. To heal.
And Time Bandits left the afterglow in her wake, sailing now for Le Havre – just as the strangest hurricane in human history took aim at the northwest coast of France.
© 2020 adrian leverkühn | abw | this is a work of fiction, pure and simple; the next chapter will drop as circumstances allow.