The Navigator

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
I attempt to write a short story. Steampunk and Sea Monsters within.

Submitted: April 13, 2010

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Submitted: April 13, 2010

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The Navigator
 
 
“Navigator?”
 
The young, meek-faced man did not stir. The dark seas had rocked him to a sound sleep, and the thrumming of the HMS Bosch's huge engines sung him a dark lullaby.
 
"Navigator Fenwick!"
 
The Captain's thunderous, mechanically-enhanced voice shook Arthus Fenwick to consciousness. He leapt from the floor and with unnatural haste and proceeded to make himself look busy. Punching in numbers on the difference engine, Fenwick attempted to look innocent, but the grizzled old captain saw through his facade and scorned him with a sharp cane-strike.
 
“Boy, I've been captaining this vessel before you could walk! I know when I've got a slacker on my crew! Now get back to your station and keep us on course!" he barked.
 
With that, the Captain tromped self-righteously down the corridor into the bowels of the Bosch, leaving Arthus alone with the rumble of the engines and the clicking dials of his difference engine. He first manned his post as ordered by the captain, but his mind soon wandered to distant places. There's such a grand world out there, so much to see! He thought to himself. I joined the crew of this old crate to see it, not be kept away from it, manning some machine!
 
Arthus let out a frustrated sigh as he glanced down at his chart. Course, two-seven-five degrees he thought as his hands mechanically plugged the numbers into the vast difference engine that kept the Bosch on course. He grew more and more frustrated with each passing minute of tedium, and his angst was only compounded by the occasional gust of salt-air from the open trapdoor to the deck above. If he craned his neck the right way, which he often did, he could glance up and out of the cramped machine bay and see the clouds hanging above the sea: his thoughts would fly from his head, over the deck of the Bosch, and into the endless sky, soaring home on the sea breeze. Looking now, he saw a swirling grey mass of rain and chaos. The thunder and rain pouring in from the deck above signaled the Bosch’s presence within a powerful storm. Waves shook the tiny whaler’s hull.  The Captain had been tirelessly pursuing his quarry, a gargantuan blue whale, for almost two weeks. Though many had questioned it before on numerous occasions, the majority of the crew was beginning to question his sanity. Suspicious whispers below decks, though often mere rumors, carried much weight of potentially mutinous sailors.
 
“The Captain’s mad.” Arthus muttered to himself as a particularly violent swell struck the Bosch starboard and caused the ship to buck like an ill-tempered horse. “This storm will be the death of us all!”
“You best get ready, lad,” said a rasping, unseen voice. “The cap’n thinks he saw something.”
Arthus glanced to see a ragged, sea-worn man standing hunched in the corridor to the machine bay. He’d noticed him before, but never bothered to speak with him: he certainly didn’t look like the affable type. His head was covered in greasy mop of grey wires and his hands were covered with numerous scars.
“I will sir.” said Arthus nervously.
“That’s a good lad. Now keep to work, lest I come back here and make ye work.”
The man strode off down the corridor through a haze of steam. Arthus was certain he heard a malicious laugh utter from the darkness, but he wasn’t certain. He felt a chill spread up his spine. This sailor was….different. He looked on the surface like a typical, uneducated sea-dog, but there was a sort of unnatural, arrogant, commanding tone in his voice. Arthus tried to thrust his threat from his mind, but it remained there, tormenting him. A crack of thunder boomed outside just as he heard another order from the brass speaking-tube. It was clearly the captain’s voice giving it, and his words had a determined, mad tone to them.
“Take us two degrees to the west, Navigator!”
Arthus, heeding the voice’s commands, plugged in the coordinates on his difference engine. Just as he finished typing in the numbers, though, a clamor from above rose mightily and fast. Cries of “We’ve spotted it!” and “We’ve got him now!” crashed through the air as surely as the omnipotent lightning that wracked the night sky above.
“All hands to action stations! We’ve found him boys, let’s bring him in!” shouted the Captain triumphantly through the brass tube.
Arthus, of course, being the navigator, was already at his action station.
However, he wasn’t going to stay there for long.
Letting his curiosity get the better of him, he strode away from the difference engine, across the machine bay, and up the trapdoor stairs. Pulling himself up onto the deck, he found himself surrounded by motion and chaos. Men ran to and fro, carrying harpoons, rope, and lamps. Shouted orders boomed through the air. The Captain, not noticing his young navigator clearly away from his post, stood at the bow of the Bosch, manning the harpoon gun. The gunner stood aside, letting the deranged old man claim his prize with his own hand.
“There he is, the bastard!” the Captain said, seeing a grey shape move through the water. He snatched a harpoon from the deck and loaded it into the steam-powered harpoon gun. As he took aim, the mysterious sailor that Arthus had seen in the machine bay stepped up to the Captain. In a soft, ominous voice that he could barely hear, he spoke to the Captain.
“I wouldn’t shoot that beast if I were ye, Cap’n.”
“Quiet, Hacksworth, I’m trying to concentrate!”
“It’ll be the end of ye, Cap’n…” Hacksworth warned.
The Captain, ignoring the wishes of the sailor, took aim and fired at the beast. The harpoon whistled through the tumultuous air and struck the beast dead in the side. It submerged with eerie rapidity. The tow cable gave a sudden yank, and the Bosch lurched in the water, pitching dangerously forward.
“Release the cable, release the cable!” the crew cried, Hacksworth, pushing the captain aside, released the cable from the harpoon gun.
With an angry roar, the captain thrust his mechanically augmented fist through the air directly into Hacksworth’s jaw, breaking it with a sickening snap. He fell with a strangled cry. Arthus stood in utter shock.
“Now, if any of you worthless vermin ever stand up to me again, I’ll do the same to ya!” the Captain shouted at his crew whilst pointing at the fallen Hacksworth. “We’re going to chase that whale to the ends of the earth! I’m going to catch it if it’ll be the death of me!”
As the Captain’s angry words washed over the deck, a huge, ominous groan echoed from the depths. From the swirling sea rose a monstrosity the likes of which Arthus had never seen. It was the size of a battleship, and its slimy appendages stretched out for hundreds of meters. It had a gaping, fanged maw, and a single, terrible fiery eye that protruded from the center of its body. With an unearthly, tortured roar, it snatched the Captain from the deck and cast him into its mouth: swallowing him whole. Glancing down with its horrible eye, the beast raised a massive tentacle and struck the Bosch directly amidships: cleaving it in half like a guillotine. Arthus was thrown into the air, and his world became a swirl of darkness and seawater. He grabbed madly at the air as he fell, and he remembered no more.
----
Hours later, Arthus awoke to a blood-red dawn over the sea. Somehow, someway, he had managed to stay afloat. The piece of shattered deck he had grasped had been his saving grace. The ruins of the Bosch were everywhere, and he could see no crew left alive in the water save for himself.
“Oh, thank God, thank God!” he said to himself.
Gazing off at the horizon through the sea of floating wreckage, he saw a magnificent blue whale surface. It paused briefly, and then it submerged again, leaving Arthus alone on the desolate sea.


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