Rocky Surroundings – a short story

Rocky+Surroundings+-+a+short+story

Graham Edmonson

A spray of ocean water rolled over the ship’s edge and hit Arthur square in the face. He didn’t mind. In the past weeks, he had come to know that when you’re living in a small ship with fifteen other people you can’t get mad about the small stuff. Anyways, sailors get wet, that’s just how it is. Arthur was attempting to raise the sails, the problem was not his strength, he was a fit young man, but it was his first time aboard a ship. After two weeks, however, he finally knew how to do everything. Some could say a sailor had to know the ship like the back of his hand, but, for the more experienced sailors on board, between their hand and the ship, the ship they knew better. And now they had taken it on themselves to teach it to Arthur. The sail raised, Arthur made his way over to the mess cabin for breakfast. Inside the mess, he got his daily helpings of brick-like bread and gravy. He scowled, the one thing he never got used to was the food. Sylvester came and sat down beside him. Sylvester and Arthur had become fast friends, being the only two on the ship younger than eighteen. Arthur was only sixteen and Sylvester was permitted to come at seventeen because his father was on the team. For both of them, it was their first trip at sea. 

“Hey, just heard from my father we should be getting there in a few days,” Sylvester said.

“Good, no matter where we are, it’s got to have better food than this,” Arthur said.

“That’s true, and we are going to be trekking through the jungle. That’s got to be fun, right? Unless there’s bugs, there’s going to be bugs,” Sylvester was definitely athletic for his age and more of a man than most at seventeen, but itching drove him crazy.

“Yeah, there’s going to be bugs. Come on, let’s go do something else, I can’t even chew through this stuff.”

They left the mess and headed onto the main deck and began heading towards the common quarters down below. 

Mr. Colt, the land navigator for the mission, approached them. “Hey Sylvester, tell your father we need him in the captain’s quarters, last minute mission check.”

“Alright,” Syl responded.

Being the cartographer and somewhat of a scientist, onboard and one of the high class members of the expedition, Mr. Bell’s living quarters were above deck. They opened the door; Mr. Bell was bent over a map of the area they were to be in. 

“Hello Father, they need you in the Captain’s cabin for a rundown. What exactly are we planning to accomplish on this trip?”

“Well, son, we are to be in South America where there is a section of jungle we have been sent to explore, hence, the requirement of my services. Right now, we are somewhere in the Pacific. We hope to be on land in three days’ time.” Mr. Bell picked up his chest of mapping equipment, “Well, I am off to the captain’s cabin. Get ready for the jungle boys,” Mr. Bell warned us. Arthur felt uneasy.

Arthur and Sylvester descended below decks for a few hours of free time until they were needed up on top. The bunks down below were greatly uncomfortable but they laid down anyway. 

There were, of course, other sailors down in the bunks, “Hey, Syl, next time you see him, tell your daddy to give us our fair share of food too, eh? Some of you people gettin’ a little too selfish with the rations,” said a sailor called Richard. Richard had always been mean to the boys. He hated that they only got to go because of their rich fathers. 

“Relax, you know we all get the same stuff.”

“Hey, it ain’t just me, right boys?” Some of the other men down below decks murmured in agreement.

“Just shut up about it, you know we’re gonna be off this ship in a few days anyway.” 

“Hey, just figured I’d mention it real quick for the crew, we were considerin’ doing somethin’ ‘bout it ourselves if ya know what I mean. Figured we’d give you a chance to fix it first.” After this, they were all silent.

Arthur was then extremely uncomfortable down below the decks with them so he was glad when they were all called up to main deck for an announcement from the captain. They all gathered on deck.

“As many of you probably know by now, we are fast approaching our destination. This is a crucial point in our journey and once we make ground we must proceed with the utmost speed while maintaining caution. Most of you were hired for this expedition specifically and will be coming into the jungle with us. Those who are not, we thank you for your assistance. In order to arrive quicker according to the suggestion of Mr. Bell, I have decided that we will be taking a shortcut. This new route places us near a few islands with potentially dangerous rocky surroundings, and an extra few of you will need to remain on deck past usual hours. That is all.” 

The group of sailors parted.

 

When night fell Arthur and Syl went back down to their bunks, even though they were still uncomfortable with the fact that the men down there had something against them. They retreated to a couple of bunks in the corner and layed down. When Arthur awoke, it was to a mass amount of yelling and crashing about. He sat up quickly, discombobulated by sleep. Around him, the other sailors were jumping out of their bunks quickly to see what was going on. A massive crash sounded above. “What was that?” a voice yelled. Another instant and Arthur was on his feet. A quick glance revealed that Sylvester had already gone above deck. Arthur rushed along with a stream of sailors in that same direction. Upon his ascent, he was greeted by a massive blast of wind that nearly took him off of his feet. Heavy rain fell and the deck was so wet that he could hardly stay standing. On all sides of him, Arthur saw people rushing in no organized order. He sprinted to one side of the ship. “WHAT IS HAPPENING” he yelled. 

“WE’VE HIT THE ROCKS,” a voice yelled near him.

 Just then the side he was on gradually began to lift itself up in the air. Arthur fell and slid halfway to the other side of the deck.

 “EVERYONE OVER HERE,” a voice shouted from the side lifting into the air. Immediately, all of the people on board rushed to that side. Arthur rushed to join them and under all of the weight that side of the ship slowly lowered itself again. Another huge crash. Arthur was knocked off of his feet once more. Arthur got back up on his feet and rushed over to see what had happened. Through the dark, he could just barely make out the shapes of massive and sharp rocks. He turned to his left and there was Sylvester. He felt his arm being grabbed; he twisted around and there was Richard. Over the crash of waves and rocks all around them, Arthur could barely make out the sailor say, “You all ain’t done us no good. Making us go on this death trip, taking all the food, and steerin’ us at the rocks. If this ship goes down it was all yer fault.” With this, he began to try and haul Arthur over the side of the ship.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!” Arthur screamed at him, frantically fighting back against Richard but to no avail.

All he heard was “Yer goin’ overboard boy.”

To be continued…