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|Hi guys.Just thought i'd flesh out the origins of an earlier story i wrote. Its the first part of a prequel to Diver Muscle. Hope U like it..|
|August 22nd 1973. The ageing freighter Hephaiston cut through the calm azure waters of the Altantic with its cargo hold heaving with steel,iron ore and drilling components for ocean borne drilling platforms,bound for an industrial port in Miami,Florida, having left Lisbon,Portugal over three weeks earlier.
Hephaistion was at the point some 500 miles off the eastern seaboard of the United States,passing through an area known as the Sargasso sea, perhaps just a week out from Miami. Its captain,Theo Atriedes was a short fat balding greek merchant seaman,just as ageing and decrepid as the ship he commanded.The Hephaistion was owned by the powerful shipping tycoon, Aristotle Onassis.Theo considered himself close to retirement,if the cancer he had and hid from his Russian crew of 36 men,did'nt kill him first!.At 62 years old,he had spent most of his adult life at sea,and he guessed that when he eventually retired,Onassis would retire the great old freighter too,and decommission it to the scrap heap.He stood at the helm of his vessel, gazing out at the vast smooth crystaline waters intermitantly patched with murky green patches of sargasso seaweed,musing that he and his ship would probably end up dying together after their long years of loyal service to merchant shipping. Time was marching on fast for Theo,and it pained him that he could not enjoy the pleasures of his First Officer, Dimitri Zhukov, a strikingly handsome young man of 26 years and whose physique was toned to muscular perfection by the rigors of working on a freighter.Like his illness,Theo had kept his homosexuality to himself,but he struggled with the fantasies that tormented him of Dimitri...
Suddenly,he was rudely awakened from his thoughts by the bridges portside door being roughly thrown open and his bosun, Yuri, a short but powerfully built man in his mid thirties,come running in.
There was a look of bewilderment upon his rugged face.Eyes wide and mouth agape. "Captain,there is something that you must see..quick!" he spoke in heavily accented English.
"What is it?" replied Theo,his brows furrowing in curiosity.
A few other crewmen gathered behind Yuri as the bosun beckoned for Theo to follow.
Theo huffed and carried his portly weight to follow behind the anxious crewman out the door.
He did not have to go far though to see what had alarmed his men so,the guys pointing up to the sky to direct his attention. A ball of blazing reddish-orange light perhaps the size of a football, hovered and fritted several feet above the whirring radar dish atop the bridge. Even Theo's heavily jowelled jaw sagged a bit at the sight of this mysterious glowing ball seemingly suspended on an invisible cord.He had heard of many a tale of seafarers witnessing a phenomenon such as what he and his crew were payed witness to now.
It could'nt have been? Theo tried to rationalise what he and over 15 of his men were seeing.
Ball lightning?.. No, there was'nt a darkened storm cloud in the clear blue sky to create a weather phenomenon like this?.
"Captain....captain". Theo was too in awe to hear Dimitri call his name behind him at first,but eventually tore his gaze away from the St.Elmo's Fire to turn to his first officer,who for a few moments was caught up in the gaze at the ball of light,mouth open aghast.
"What is it Dimitri?"
Dimitri did not respond at first,mimicking Theo's own reaction to the ball of light moments before.
"Dimitri,what the hell is it?"
The first officer shook his head clear and replied.
"The compass and the barometers are going haywire Captain. Something is not quite right"
Theo swaggered back to the bridge,shooeing Dimitri ahead of him into the room.
Standing at the wheel,he cast a gaze into the compass and seeing the arrow whizzing around frenetically from its bearings. "What in the blue devils is going on?" he said puzzled and tapping at the compass to see what was causing the thing to go mad.
Theo glanced down at his wristwatch and noticed the seconds hand was going backwards and not forwards>
"Captain..!" One of the crewmen was trying to draw his attention.
"Captain..look out the window"
Theo peered out the large glassed windows...at mists that had suddenly seemed to blow up from nowhere and shroud the Hephaistion in their thin spooky veil.
Some of the crewmen began to mutter in Russian, but even in a different language,Theo could easily tell their fears.
Dimitri moved to the windows and leaned against the glass..
"I think i can see something ahead..Its a ship!"
"Quick,all hands dead stop!" Theo bellowed out to his crew and into the intercom to the rest below decks in the engine room.
Hephaistion slowed to a stop and everyone filed out of the bridge and from other parts of the ship to see a vague shape of a ship begin to emerge fromthe mysterious mists.
Theo glanced above the bridge but he could no longer see the St Elmo's Fire blazing above it.
Dimitri's keen eyes began to see the ship ahead of them in finer detail now.
It was an old ship,smaller than the Hephaistion,with vast unfurled sails and long ropes draping impressive masts,with a thick wooden hull and a figuredhead taking shape strutting out of its ornately carved stern.
Both Dimitri and Theo knew what kind of ship this was..It was a Galleon,very like what olden days Pirates sailed in centuries before. And as the freighter drew near, it did indeed look that old!
"Hello..!" shouted Theo to anyone he might of thought to be on board the vessel.
No response, so he shouted out again.. Still no reply.
He could literally hear the creaking of the wooden deck and a gentle tinkering of a bell as his freighter drew close. It soon dawned on him that this 'galleon' they had just encountered,was seemingly abandoned of any sign of life and floating aimlessly across the sea, very much like a ghost ship.
Then he began to make out the name of the ship along the side of the old ship,becoming clearer from the mists.
"No..it can't be...thats impossible!"
'..........THE MARIE CELESTE........!'
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