The swell of the sea had doubled in size in the last thirty minutes.
“Skipper, it’s no good. We won’t make it,” Taylor shouted above the thunder and the howling wind that surrounded them.
The captain threw back his right arm, which connected hard with Taylor’s face. Taylor staggered unsteadily on his feet and landed heavily against the door to the tiny bridge. “Get away from me, you imbecile. I give the orders around here, not you. You hear me?”
Taylor righted himself and surged forward, determined to make the captain change his mind. It would be foolish for them to try to enter the port in a storm like this. He watched out the starboard porthole at the waves continually bombarding the deck, and knew they wouldn’t have long before the sea welcomed them with open arms and sucked the life out of them. Thoughts of his wife, Sonia, and his three adorable children entered his mind and stayed there, as if mocking him for undertaking this perilous voyage, despite the huge risk involved. Unexpectedly, his family’s beautiful smiles and the shocking thought that he’d never see any of them again spurred him into action.
He scanned the wheelhouse for a possible weapon. He saw a metal bar in the corner and pounced on it. “Skipper, stand away from the helm.”
Captain Smythe, a man built like a heavy weight boxer, snarled at Taylor before his gaze drifted to the bar he was holding. “Think you can take me on, sonny? Fancy a bit of mutiny, do ya?”
“Our lives are in danger, Skipper. Surely you can see that?” Taylor watched as madness seemed to settle in his aggressor’s eyes.
“I see no such thing. It’s a storm, and a tiny one at that. I’ve been at sea longer than you’ve been out of nappies, lad. Now, let me bring this old girl and her cargo in. Have a day off from your foolishness for a change. Leave this job for a real man to handle.”
The captain’s undermining of him incensed Taylor. He gritted his teeth and his knuckles turned white around the bar he was holding. Smythe turned his attention back to fighting the helm. “You fucking idiot.” Taylor ran at him, screaming like a banshee with the bar high above his head. “I’ll be damned if I’ll stand by and let you kill us all.”
Smythe cried out in pain as the bar crashed against his skull, but he didn’t go down as Taylor had expected. “Ya bastard. Think you can take me on, do ya? You’re the fucking idiot around here if you think that.” Smythe’s iron-like hands connected with first the right and then the left side of Taylor’s face, leaving him dazed. The bar crashed to the floor, and stunned, Taylor held his head in his hands. He’d never been hit so hard by a man before, and he’d been in several fights over his thirty-odd years on Earth.
The boat swayed violently as both men stood their ground, eyeing each other with caution and contempt, but at the same time unaware of the screams coming from the hold below.
The captain beckoned to Taylor. “Come on, then, if you think you’re hard enough. Give me what you’ve got, you nancy boy, with your snooty redheaded wife and your two point four children.”
The captain’s intentional goading worked, and Taylor charged him with all his might. The captain’s chest puffed out and his fists clenched into tight balls. Taylor was clobbered around both ears before he got within a foot of Smythe, but he kept up his charge, despite being almost knocked senseless. Taylor bowed his head low and charged into the captain’s portly stomach. Smythe only laughed at his inept attempt to bring him down.
Taylor, his blood boiling with anger, stooped to the floor and retrieved the bar. He swung it like a golf club at the captain’s lower leg. With the boat being tossed in the high waves, the captain lost his balance and hollered as he went down. His head hit the side of the binnacle supporting the helm, and blood erupted from a wound above his right eye. Taylor tried to stop the wheel from spinning out of control, catching his hand several times in the spokes in the process. “Fuck!” he cried out as a bone snapped in his little finger.
The captain, who was lying on the floor, laughed.
Taylor glared at him, then turned his attention back to the helm, and, watching it intently, he waited for the opportune moment to come his way. Finally, he grabbed one of the spokes firmly with both hands while he anchored himself behind the wheel, his feet spread wide apart. Feeling calmer now that he appeared to have the vessel under control, he guided the ship out to sea and away from the port they had been heading towards.
“Turn this ship around. If you don’t, we’ll go under for sure,” the captain insisted.
“Shut your mouth. If I’d left things for you to sort out, we would have been smashed to pieces on the rocks by now.”
“It takes decades of experienced sailing to become a captain. You’ve got neither the balls nor the stamina, sonny, to bring this ship home safely.”
“We’ll see about that, old man.” Taylor focused fully on the task at hand and chose to ignore anything else the captain had to say. In the distance, he could hear the ghostly screams of their cargo riding on the howling wind. He gulped down the frustration building within him and steered the vessel through the tumultuous waves. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the captain struggle to his feet. But there was little Taylor could do about the captain’s impending attack. His back took the force of the captain’s strike. He gasped for breath as the air was driven from his lungs. Excruciating pain shot through his body.
“Take that, you bastard. I’m taking control of my ship. My ship, you hear me?” The captain ran to the wheel.
Taylor’s hand went in search of what was causing the pain in his back, and his heart sank when he discovered the six-inch blade embedded there. He crumpled to his knees as the blood started to drain from his body. The beautiful faces of his young family flashed before his eyes once again. He asked only one thing: “Why?”
The captain took his eye off the sea for a split second to glance at Taylor, and that was when disaster struck. The wheel spun out of Smythe’s hand, and the force sent him reeling across to the other side of the bridge. The whole boat lurched sideways and water flooded through the open bulkhead door as it flew open. With his life slipping away, Taylor didn’t have the strength to stop himself from being swept out the doorway and onto the deck.
Smythe did nothing to prevent his exit for, despite his hulking frame, the water dragged the captain through the doorway after Taylor. They both choked on the salt water as the mighty energy of the unforgiving, raging sea pulled their heads under the surface. Taylor watched his captain resurface three or four times, his body smashing against the taffrail a few times before being washed overboard and out to sea. Taylor finally succumbed to the sea’s beckoning call.
It wasn’t long before the ship, in her last death throes, finally sank.
The sea sighed with satisfaction at the devastation it had caused, yet no one was there to hear it. Even the ship’s valuable cargo had been silenced.