Company for Lost Souls

“Turn us about. Beach us!”

The wind ripped my scream away.

The trawler breached another wave and the deck dropped away as the prow where I stood took another dive beneath the waves. I held tight as waters flooded over the ship – daring to hope that she’d rise once more. Up she came.

I could see the skipper in the wheelhouse gripping the wheel. He’d gotten me and crew through storms as bad as this before, but this was different. All around the ship hands from the deep gripped the sides, seeming to pull us down. Lost frickin souls come for some company.

“Turn us to the shore. Run us aground!” I screamed again.

I turned to my task – smashing at the hands with an iron bar. A few good blows and the hand would be snatched away – but more came. There was just time for a few blows before the ship crested the wave and we’d dive once more.

I glanced towards the shore.

“Shit, why isn’t he turning?”

I could see others in bright yellow oilskins striking at the hands. There were fewer of us now. Get too close and a hand would fix fast and have you over the side.

Two more swings at the nearest hands and I hurled the bar away.

We dived again. As we rose I turned towards the wheelhouse. Two or three stumbling strides then brace as down again she’d go.

Three or four more waves and I was at the wheelhouse crashing through the door. The skipper’s head snatched around – his eyes were wide and mouth gaping.

“Head for the sodd’in shore!”

He may have tried to speak but it was cut short by my single mutinous blow. I heaved the wheel around and the ship responded – the shore now lay ahead, but too late. Souls swarmed over the sides.

We dived one more time.

As the prow disappeared beneath the waves I caught sight of the grey almost opaque figure stood in the doorway.

I knew then she’d not rise again.

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