If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Lion and I #9

Hello and happy Sunday,

Today I hit 10,000 words on The Lion and I, with a total of 11,160 words so far.  I am one-tenth of a way to a full-fledged novel.  Wouldn't that be special.
I had fun writing this part this morning.
Hope you enjoy reading it.

When I came to I was piled up in the back corner of the stern. I had made it out of the cargo hold just as the ship rolled over on its top. My arm had been entangled in a mooring line and the thick rope had kept me from separating from the main body of the boat. Luckily for me the boat was not top heavy and once it went over it must have rolled back upright. The entire thing had done a complete three hundred and sixty-degree turn.

The waves bashed at my body, it was difficult to get a breath of air with the water constantly pouring over me. The boat would spin every time it would dip into one of the troughs made by the towering waves. In one direction, I would be doused with waves, then the boat would spin and the wind and the rain would gnaw at my face.  There was no middle ground.  I reached up to protect my eyes from the driving, spike-like, rain drops and when my hand touched my face it came away bloody. I must have bashed my head when the ship rolled. I couldn't believe that I hadn't been washed overboard and drowned. I wasn't sure if I could consider myself lucky or not.

The wave that had rolled the boat over had also done some considerable damage to the upper portion of the ship. The Cargo hold, with its flimsy, fiberglass panels, had taken the brunt of the wave and the soft aluminum under structure had bent from the force of thousands of gallons of water smashing into it. It creaked and moaned whenever a big gale blew. I knew it wouldn’t be long and the entire structure would rip apart. Even though I had never been on the ocean in a boat before I had the idea that maybe the top being ripped off, along with the sides might give me a fighting chance at survival. The walls of the cargo hold acted like a giant sail. The wind beat upon it relentlessly and drove it mercilessly through the water. Crashing headlong into waves one second and then sideways through a deep trough the next. It was only a matter of time before the boat rolled over again and this time it might be for good.

For the time being, I was helpless. I laid there, entwined in the lifesaving rope and prayed. Lightning bolts ripped through the night sky and in those brief seconds of light I could see my ultimate demise. Events of my life flashed through my mind, mimicking the lightning bolts. Thunder boomed overhead and the waves continued to roll over the hapless boat. This was the end, I was almost sure of it.

I looked up into the pitch black darkness as a monstrous bolt of lightning tore the sky apart with white-hot electricity and I cried out.

“I'm sorry!”
“I should have never done those things, I'm sorry for who I am, for who I was.”
“I'm sorry Mary, I love you.”

Tears washed down my face and even in the storm you could see the sadness trace its way down my cheeks. Bits of light flashed and illuminated the sorrow.  I had never in my life felt so much remorse.   Death would have been a relief.
Once again, across the sky, a horizontal bolt of lightning flashed from one end of the sky to the other. It was so bright I held up my hand to block the light but not before I noticed the sixty foot wave that was about to crash down upon the stricken vessel.

“Goodbye,” I choked out into the night, where no one but God could hear me.

The wave reached the boat and at first it seemed as if we might ride up and over it but halfway up the boat turned over and rolled down the wave. Over and over it turned as the wave continued folded in on it.  Now completely under water and still rolling the boat began to tear apart.
The bridge was the first part to be torn away. I struggled to maintain my grip on the rope. The boat was still rolling over underwater and as it rolled upright the lightning flashed and I could see, through the turbulent water, the bridge being snatched away from the main body of the boat.
So easily, like popping the head from a dandelion. In one instant, it was ripped away like it was never there in the first place. I thought he saw a glimpse of the captain swirling through the water as the bridge was swept away, but I wasn't sure.

The next thing, to go, were the fiberglass panels that made up the sidewalls of the cargo hold. One by one they were ripped off the aluminum framing and pulled into the deep.
I watched as the heavy wooden crate repeatedly slammed into the framing as the boat rolled. It was like an animal fighting to free itself from a cage. One of the aluminum uprights broke free and the crate tumbled out of its confines and rolled away in the waves. Don and Juan’s lifeless bodies, crushed by the crate, must have been washed out before, as I saw no trace of them anywhere.

I couldn't breathe, the boat had been under for too long. I had to get out, get untangled from the rope, which had saved my life just moments ago but now seemed to want to claim it. I wrestled with the heavy rope. Pulling my arms free, I reached down and tried to untangle it from my feet. It was pulled tight around my shoes. I couldn't get it off. It had cinched tight on the leather and would not let go. My vision began to blur and little black specks danced before my eyes. I panicked, I was about to black out. With one last desperate attempt, I reached down, untied my shoes, and wrenched my feet free from the binding rope and leather footwear. With a giant push, I headed towards the lightning bolts.

Breaking the surface, I pulled in a breath of air like no other. It was possibly the best breath of air I had ever taken in my life. My lungs were burning and I sucked greedily at the air around me, coughing as I inhaled splashed of seawater. I was alive, at least for now.

I treaded water for the longest time. Every time the lightning flashed I would get a glimpse of my surroundings.  I couldn't see the boat anywhere. I needed something to hang on to, I couldn't tread water forever. It was already getting difficult to keep my head above water with the waves trying to force it down every ten seconds. I searched, desperately looking for anything. Another bolt of lightning shot through the night and that's when I saw it. The large wooden crate that had been in the cargo hold. It was some sixty yards ahead of me-I started to swim for it.

The ocean was merciless as I tried, in vain, to make it to the crate. My body would ride high up on the waves and in one moment I would be looking down at the crate, some 20 feet below me and on the next wave, the crate would be twenty feet above me. I couldn't seem to make the distance any shorter. When the next wave lifted me up, another flash lit up the sky and just as the light was fading, I noticed another piece of wreckage much closer to me. I gave up on the crate and headed towards the other piece. When I reached it I was surprised at what it was. It appeared to be the top of the crate that I had, just moments ago, been trying to catch. I drug my body half way up on the piece of wood, my heart skipped a beat as it began to sink from my weight. I stopped halfway on to it, my waist and legs, still in the water and my arms stretched out before me so my fingers would just reach the top edge.. This would have to do. It would hold me for now.
I held fast to the top of the crate and watched, through flashes of lightning, while the rest of the crate drifted off into the night.

Throughout the night, the wind and the rain beat down on me as I clung to life astride that piece of wooden crating. The storm raged for another 10 hours before the wind began to let up and the rain ceased. The seas were still rough, with waves cresting upwards of fifteen feet, but I had held on. My fingers ached from the effort of clinging to the wood, shards of wood had embedded under my fingernails and the pain was intense but I had not let go. Far off in the distance, the horizon lightened as the sun began to awaken.


  1. I feel terrified. I have a fear of deep water so this scared me to no end. Great description of the storm itself.

    1. Thanks for reading Barb! I cringe at the thought of being there. It makes it so realistic when I can put myself there and feel the desperation and fear.

  2. What Barb said. I can't swim, so I both love and hate the description of that awful storm.

    Also, 1/10th of the way to a novel? That is severely pessimistic, good sir. A novel is considered full length at 60,000 words, so you're even 1/6th of the way, if you so choose.

    1. Thanks for the optimism. Not sure I could fit it in 60,000. But nice to know anyways

  3. This will be a two part comment - Mom first… "Tell him I like it, it's really good."
    She is enjoying the "ride" I think the description of his struggle gripped her - she sat with bated breath!

    Okay… me…
    I am so happy you decided to give us more… what a descriptive piece of writing… very gripping, intense.
    I could feel myself holding my breath, as I was reading it out loud to mother I was gasping for air.

    As the Beer Boys said 60,00 words is considered full length… you are seriously on your way!

    Also, I really enjoyed the colour scheme - so much easier to read! Thanks.


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