They instinctively gathered in the cockpit, all eyes focused beyond the clouds, their attention commanded by the deep, pulsing waves of low frequency energy.
Kinetic eddies of chartreuse and magenta coursed through the upper atmosphere, yet just now Henry felt as though he could reach out and touch each and every one of them – just as they moved out of reach. More curious still was the sky full of otherworldly sound – which seemed to ebb and flow depending on the color of the wave passing overhead. Magenta waves were deepest but not as boisterously loud as the lighter colored pulses, yet soon enough they could hear a kind of muted static crackling under the other modulations.
Then everyone’s hair began to stand on end…
“Dina! The breakers! Flip everything to ‘Off’ on the main panel!” Henry cried as he killed the diesel and then shut down the electronics at the helm. “Mike…help Rolf with the main and genoa. Rolf…remember…main first after I get the bow pointed into the wind!”
Henry noted their position before he killed the plotter then looked aft to note features still visible on the shoreline before he turned into the wind; the huge mainsail rolled out of the mast moments later and Henry fell off the wind to port while Rolf and Anton turned to roll out the genoa. Time Bandits quickly picked up speed while Henry eyed his earlier repairs to the mast and shrouds, hoping things would hold together for just a few more days, then he fell a little more off the wind and reveled at the feeling of the ship biting into the wind, heeling and leaning into each new gust as she powered through the waves. Rolf smiled too, and they nodded knowingly to each other, both then smiling at this simple bond between them.
Then Henry grinned and shook his head – at the sight of everyone’s hair now pointing skyward – then he reached over to steady himself against a wave and a powerful spark of static electricity arced off a stanchion and zapped a fingertip. “Shit!” he cried, then he looked at the tip of his index finger and saw a deep brown burn there. “Try not to touch anything metal,” he shouted just as Anton came into the cockpit. Of course, Anton touched the dodger frame and cried out when a two inch long arc caught a fingertip, but at least, Henry thought, he managed to stay onboard.
“Genry? Some seems very strange. Like the sicker you get the sicker the planet gets. Tell me this is just imagination.”
Taggart smiled. “Yup, imagination would do it, Anton. There are a lot of people out there who are sick and dying, let alone these are physical, and not metaphysical events.”
“Da. That sounds correct, yet even so…”
“Yet even so, Anton, humans have always looked to the supernatural to explain away things they don’t understand, and sadly that may be the most human characteristic there is.”
“But if this was true, if your illness is tied to what is happening now,” Mike said, joining the conversation, “what would that lead you to believe?”
Henry shook his head. “No clue. Delusion. Schizophrenia…you name it.”
“Or when you die,” Anton continued, “earth dies too.”
“And you know what?” Henry sighed, grinning now as he looked away. “That would mean this is all a dream. That you’re all just characters in my dream…”
“Why not my dream?” Mike asked. “Or Anton’s or Rolf’s?”
“You’re wandering down a blind alley, guys. There are no solutions where you’re headed.”
“Why must be a solution?” Anton sighed.
“Because when you are faced with problems and you can’t bring yourself to look for solutions you’ll find yourself wandering around the land of madness, my friend, and you don’t want to get lost in there.”
“What about God?” Mike asked.
Henry shrugged again. “There are lots of people who still believe fire chases away evil spirits. So what? Let them. If someone embraces madness, that doesn’t mean you need to, as well.”
Then little slivered arcs of static electricity began pouring out Henry’s fingertips, and he held out his hand and looked at the display. Mike held out both his hands a second later, and both were surrounded by glowing balls of static electricity…
Out of the clear blue sky lightning cracked and slammed into the sea – about fifty meters off theft side of the boat…
“We’ve got to find a ground!” Mike cried as the static hum increased in strength.
Henry put his hand on the VHF radio head and the arcs disappeared from his fingertips, so he leaned over and touched Mike – and the glowing balls disappeared –
“Case in point. The radio is wired into a copper ground plane,” Henry said, smiling.” That, or we’re a bunch of evil sorcerers.”
“Da,” Anton added, “I get it. So, what is going on with sky?”
“Probably a big CME, a coronal mass ejection, that’s also screwing with the magnetic pole.”
“You mean the sun?”
“Maybe sun cause hot storms?”
“Maybe. One thing I do know…without GPS we’re going to have to sail along the shore. Too much traffic in the channel and I’m not sure I want to pull out the sextant.”
“Too many clouds for that,” Mike sighed.
“Okay, so let’s pull out the paper charts and start a DR plot. Mike?”
“Can do. Rolf? Wanna give me a hand?”
Henry looked at this exchange, feeling a whiff of nostalgia and maybe a little ‘changing of the guard,’ too, yet he was happy to see Mike taking over the role of father-leader now.
Henry sighed when he realized it was already the end of October. Seven weeks to Christmas, he realized, and to the end of the road. The Others out searching for Britt and Eva – and Pinky – while Dina and Rolf were obviously now a part of the experiment, too. But was that Pinky’s doing, or was this some new scheme The Others were hatching. What could it be? A diversion? What was he missing?
Dina came up the companionway with Clyde, who hobbled over and hopped into his lap, Clyde’s chin resting on Henry’s shoulder, the pup’s paws on either side of his neck. Henry held the old boy while he steered, and for the first time in weeks all felt right with his little world.
© 2020 adrian leverkühn | abw | this is a work of fiction, pure and simple; the next element will drop soon.