For two days, Atlantis ran before the wind. Trevor had set her rudders so that she was tracking ten degrees to starboard of the wind’s path, to maintain her southeast heading.
The winds gradually built, and the seas with them. Atlantis’s speed increased, until she was averaging seven knots.
Trevor took his noon sightings, calculating his position as six hundred miles southeast of Reunion. The swells were increasing, just a hint of what was to come, and Trevor looked up at his netting sail. It was frail, and would only get worse. He knew it could never survive the storms ahead, so Trevor’s intent had been to take it down after it had speeded his approach to the roaring forties.
Now though, he scratched at his deaf ear, dreading the trip up the mast, and reconsidering. ‘I could just leave it up... if it shreds, so what?’ he thought, but then shook his head. ‘I might need it for more speed in light winds, and it’s gonna get cold. It’s the closest thing to a blanket that I have aboard, so I have to save it.’
Trevor climbed up his knotted rope, ascending to the spreader high above Atlantis’s deck. He found the climb easier with his healed muscles, but when he reached the spreader and clambered onto it, the motion of the mast as Atlantis pitched in the long swells, plus his damaged inner ear, forced him to hang on tight as a wave of vertigo hit.
Trembling, breaking into a cold sweat, Trevor clenched his eyes shut and held on, and the dizziness eased.
Wanting the job over with, Trevor shimmied to the end of the spreader as soon as he could, and released the one support of his netting sail, letting the wire fall free. He backed up to the mast, turned around, and inched out onto the tip of the port spreader, where he released the remaining line, watching as the netting sail fell forward of the wooden sail, catching mostly on the deck but with some of it trailing into the water.
Trevor scrambled down his knotted rope to the salon roof. Looking forward, the wall of wood filled his vision, blocking his way forward. He could get around it at the sides, but it was a risk; if he fell, his life would depend on him reaching his improvised trailing safety line, and the line holding.
Opting for a slower but safer route, Trevor went inside and walked through the galley to the starboard forward cabin. He climbed through the access hatch into the forward storage compartment, flipped open the translucent hatch, and then hauled himself straight up and through, emerging on his forward deck.
Trevor gathered up the netting sail, rolling it into a roll so it would fit through the skylight, and stuffed it through. He hauled it aft into Joel’s cabin, where he could use it as a blanket in the cold weather ahead.
Returning to the forward deck, Trevor glanced up the mast, at his improvised Victor flag and radar reflector. The radar reflector – just a bent and crumpled steel cabinet lid – was in no danger, but Trevor knew that the hand towel and cloth strip flag he’d made would never survive what was coming. Reluctantly, he hauled it down and stowed it in Joel’s cabin, intending to raise it again if he survived the Southern Ocean.
Without her netting sail, Atlantis had slowed to three knots, but the wind was growing steadily stronger, and she was soon making four.
Trevor had one remaining small task to do before he reached the Roaring Forties; he needed a barometer. With one, he could have at least some advance warning of an approaching storm. Fortunately, a barometer is very simple to make.
On Atlantis, as with most yachts, the fresh water lines are mostly clear flexible plastic, so Trevor dropped into the port bilge. He found a suitable length – an eight-foot line that had once served his bar tap – and freed it.
Treading with great care and holding on tight to the aft stair rail with one hand, Trevor filled two empty hot dog cans with salt water.
Back in the galley, Trevor folded the clear water line in the middle, and stuck both ends in one of the cans of salt water, spilling a little. He squeezed the line a few times, forcing a little air out. When he let go, a few inches of water was drawn up into the line. Using a scrap of wire, he tied the double water line to the wall, attaching it to a pipe stub where his sink had once been. It was a simple thing, just a doubled over length of clear pipe standing in a can, but it would detect changes in air pressure. Any increase in barometric pressure would force water from the can into the line, raising the water level within the line. A drop in pressure would likewise decrease the level. Trevor had no way to calibrate it, but he didn’t really need to; it would tell him when the pressure was rising or falling, and how fast. A fast drop would indicate a severe storm, driven by an intense low-pressure cell.
Trevor marked the level of the water in the pipe with a scrap of tape, and his barometer was complete.
Returning to the salon, Trevor glanced around, trying to think of what else he could do to prepare, but nothing came to mind. Crippled though she was, Atlantis was as ready as he could make her for what lay ahead.
Trevor maintained his daily routine of timing the sunrises and sunsets, taking noon readings, and pumping out the bilges. He counted how many strokes of the pump it took, making note of them, and noticed an expected but troubling trend; the leaks, especially in the starboard hull, were increasing. It wasn’t too much so far – just an increase of a couple of gallons per day – but it reminded Trevor that time was running out.
The reason for the leaks, as Trevor suspected, was that he’d missed some bullet damage. In one instance, the Kevlar cloth in the hull fiberglass had partially closed off the hole, but the increasing seas were forcing more water through. It was nothing Trevor’s pumping couldn’t handle, but if the marine tape on enough of the other holes failed, there was no way he could keep up, and Atlantis would take on water. If she did she would not sink, but she would settle deeper in the water, the extra weight and drag slowing her to the point where she’d make virtually no headway, thus dooming Trevor.
The Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties are so named because of a band of eastbound winds that circle the globe at those latitudes, blowing uninterrupted for thousands of miles. It is the home of near-constant gales and frequent furious storms.
The route Trevor planned was to let the strong eastbound winds in the Roaring Forties push him eastward. In the weeks prior to the pirate attack, he’d spent many hours studying the seasonal wind patterns in the southern Indian Ocean, so Trevor knew the basics of what to expect. Therefore, the present winds, which were driving him southeast, were no surprise; he knew the wind in the upper bands of the Roaring Forties was deflected a bit to the south, and normally would average due east once he neared the heart of the Roaring Forties, at around forty-five degrees south. That, at least, was his hope.
It’s strange out here. I don’t know how to cope. I’m alone, with nothing to do except read a few paperbacks, make a few sketches, and work to keep Atlantis afloat. I haven’t heard the sound of another human voice in weeks. Every day is the same, and it feels like I’ve been out here forever.
I’m afraid. I know what’s coming and that I may not survive. The truth is I just don’t know. No one has ever tried what I’m trying to do, not with this kind of a rig, in a crippled boat, in the Southern Ocean. Or, if they have, they didn’t live to tell about it.
I want to live, there’s so much I haven’t done.
With every passing day, the winds and swells increased, the air gradually losing its warmth. By October 16th the wind had risen to twenty knots, driving Atlantis before it on long, massive swells, giving her an average speed of ten knots. That, Trevor knew, meant she was covering two hundred and forty nautical miles per day – two hundred and seventy-six statute miles. Trevor, the wind blowing in his hair, stood in the cockpit, looking out at the roughening sea. He smiled as he did the mental math: if conditions held as they were, he could reach Cape Leeuwin on the southwestern coast of Australia in just over two weeks. He knew that was overly optimistic because the winds would almost certainly weaken once he began to go northeast, but it gave him hope.
That hope lasted well into the afternoon, until Trevor checked his barometer, seeing that the pressure had fallen. ‘Storm coming,’ he thought, glancing warily at the western sky, where a thin, high layer of cirrus clouds partially obscured the sun.
Confirmation came a few hours later, near sunset, when the wind began to shift, until it was coming from a little west of north. Trevor adjusted the rudders, steering fifteen degrees to port – left – of the wind track, trying to keep Atlantis from being pushed too far south, but she was still heading south-southeast.
The wind change was due to a low-pressure system approaching from the west. One of the characteristics of the Southern Hemisphere is that weather systems rotate in the opposite direction than they do in the Northern Hemisphere, so the low was rotating clockwise, bending the winds ahead of it towards the south.
Shortly before sunset, the temperature began to drop, and Trevor began to shiver during a trip to the cockpit, forcing him to return inside and pull on one of the old T-shirts he’d found in the rag boxes. For a few moments, its touch felt odd against his skin; it was the first time he’s worn a shirt in over a month, since his last breakfast on the Thaddeus, at the rendezvous prior to the transit past Somalia. The memory of the sumptuous meals he’d devoured aboard the Thaddeus made Trevor’s stomach growl, as he sat down to open yet another can of hot dogs, whose taste he was growing to despise.
Trevor picked up his screwdriver, noticing how battered the plastic handle was becoming from the pounding it was taking to open cans. He didn’t want to destroy it; using an improvised one on screws would take a lot more work. So, he set it down, and instead used a strip of steel that had once been part of his dishwasher frame. Holding it at an angle and striking the end squarely with a two-by-four, Trevor watched in surprise as the corner of the metal strip punched into the can, and a few more blows freed half the lid, allowing him to pry it open sooner than if he’d used the screwdriver.
After his meal, Trevor returned to the cockpit and studied the sea. The wind was increasing steadily, and by Trevor’s estimate had reached twenty-five knots, accompanied by frequent whitecaps and some spray from astern.
Returning inside, Trevor found that his barometer had fallen a little more, and Trevor stared at it in the fading light, wondering what to do. It was cold in the cockpit, and there was little he could accomplish at the helm. As long as the conditions didn’t worsen, he felt safe remaining inside and making frequent trips to the cockpit.
Well into the night, Trevor awoke in the darkness, feeling Atlantis rolling from side to side. He dashed out into the cockpit, shivering in the blustery wind, looking out at the windswept seas. The wind – and some of the waves – were from the north, but long, powerful swells were coming out of the west. It was what sailors call a confused sea, and Atlantis was riding roughly in the turbulent waters.
Looking at the passing foam-speckled water in the starlight, Trevor estimated Atlantis’s speed as twelve knots in the building wind.
There was nothing Trevor could do, so he returned to Joel’s cabin, sleeping fitfully, waking often to make trips to the cockpit. During the night, Atlantis passed forty degrees south longitude, entering the Roaring Forties, and still she raced south, driven by the winds.
The new day dawned sullen and gray, the wind blowing south at near gale force, Atlantis surging through the choppy water as the first spots of wind-driven rain lashed her. Trevor could only guess at her position; the overcast robbed him of his timing of the sunrise, and would likewise deny him his noon sightings and the stars at night. He watched the improvised compass, swinging wildly in the rough seas, making it almost useless. His navigation was now little more than guesswork.
It was cold – the temperature had dropped into the fifties outside, and in the salon it was now in the mid-sixties. Trevor had become acclimatized to the tropics, so for him it seemed even colder. However, the lure of being able to wash off in fresh water beckoned, so Trevor grabbed some soap, stripped off his shorts and T-shirt, and dashed out onto the cockpit, into the driving rain that was blowing in from aft. Teeth chattering, Trevor washed his hair, and then soaped up, letting the driving rain rinse him off. He rinsed out Joel’s tattered shorts, wrung them out, and stumbled back inside, shivering. After hanging up the shorts to dry under one of the salon windows, Trevor toweled off, and then dashed for Joel’s cabin, where he burrowed into his netting sail, pulling it around him, trying to get warm.
After a few minutes, Trevor’s shivering diminished, and he drifted off to sleep.
Aboard the pirate trawler Algol, there was blood.
The fight had been short but brutal, and Ali, wincing in pain, cursed his foul luck. He had followed through on his plan to determine who amongst his crew might have sabotaged the engines. He’d had ample time; it had taken the mechanic nearly two weeks to cobble one engine back together and get it running.
While he waited, Ali watched and listened. His suspicions had focused on two men, who of his crew seemed the happiest that they were heading for the Seychelles. It wasn’t much to go on, but Ali was certain that one or more of his men had been responsible for the sabotage. He’d quizzed the mechanic often, and there was no room for doubt; the damage had been deliberate. Therefore, he had reasoned, it had to be those two, who had seemed so delighted with the prospect of the Seychelles.
The engine, lubricated with cooking oil, had run poorly, but it had sufficed to bring the Algol within two hundred miles of the Seychelles before seizing. It was close enough; the southeast trades were blowing, and Algol was close to upwind of the islands. The crew had strung Trevor’s mainsail between two forward net davits, allowing the Algol to proceed, aided by wind and current, at two knots towards her destination. Ali had waited, asking questions and biding his time, until he had felt that he could wait no more: he had a score to settle.
Late at night, Ali had taken his second in command aside, and quietly instructed him as to what must be done, and why. The man had been reluctant, but had followed orders, joining Ali, gun at the ready, on his mission of revenge, intending to separate his two suspects from the rest and force them overboard.
What Ali had not counted on was the mechanic’s talkativeness. The crew feared Ali, and the mechanic’s news of Ali’s suspicions had put them in fear of their lives. Only Ali had access to the gun locker, but knives they had aplenty. Ali and his second in command had burst into the crew quarters, AK-47s at the ready, only to learn that in close quarters, a knife could be just as deadly.
The crew had rushed them, and two bursts of gunfire had lit the darkness. Ali had felt the burning cold of a knife in his gut. The second in command had been fortunate; he had died in the melee.
Ali and three of the crew survived, though one of them had taken two bullets in the leg. Ali, clutching at his wound, had been hauled out onto the stern deck.
The two remaining able-bodied men carried their dead shipmates to the stern, setting them down next to their captain.
The two survivors had been told of Ali’s contact in the Seychelles and the money that had been offered – they’d been promised a small cut prior to the attack on Atlantis.
One of the crewmen went forward, retrieving Ali’s satellite phone from his cabin, and after some fumbling on the unfamiliar device, made a call to a stored number.
Five minutes later, he returned to the stern, and gave his crewmate a nod of his head and a mirthless smile. “They’ll trade us the money for proof from the yacht,” he said.
No further words needed to be spoken; Ali knew what they would do, and in his agony, he was left to contemplate the fate he was helpless to avoid.
The two crewmen went below and returned with the last bloody corpse, and instead of laying it on the deck, dumped it over the stern, where it landed in the sea with a sickening splash.
Taking their time, the two crewmen sent their other dead shipmates to follow, and then turned their attention to Ali.
Grabbing his arms and hauling him to his feet, they slammed him back against the railing.
Wincing in agony, Ali gasped, “No, I am your captain, you cannot–”
A hard punch in Ali’s bleeding gut doubled him over in exquisite agony, ending his protests in a cry of anguished pain.
Remembering one of Ali’s greatest fears, the other crewmen leaned close to Ali and said softly, “The sharks need feeding.”
In spite of his agony, Ali heard the words. Gasping in abject fear, Ali made a weak attempt to twist free, but the strong, calloused hands of the crewmen would not be denied, and Ali felt every touch, every bump, as he was shoved up onto the railing, and then with a final, brutal shove, sent toppling over backwards, into the waiting sea.
Ali felt the splash of the warm waters enclosing him, his heart pounding in his ears. Weakly, in wretched agony as the salt water seared at his gaping wound, Ali surfaced. Through a red haze of pain, he looked at the Algol, watching her moving slowly away.
The two crewmen watched as Ali’s head receded into the dawn-lit sea, and then turned their attention to cleaning the boat, trying to remove the signs of violence.
Ali struggled to stay afloat, alone save for the nearby corpses. He was weak from the loss of blood, writhing in agony from his wound. Ali knew that he had no hope, and said a quick prayer that his end would be merciful.
Ali struggled on as the Algol vanished forever from his sight. Wracked by excruciating pain, Ali waited for the end.
A sudden movement caught his eye as one of the corpses, just a dozen yards away, moved. Ali looked, panic rising, at the corpse bobbing in the placid sea. For long moments, it was motionless, and then with a sudden splash, it disappeared beneath the surface.
Ali whimpered in fear, because he knew.
An occasional roiling of the water, and a spreading cloud of blood, was the only sign of the horror occurring below, as the powerful jaws of an oceanic whitetip shark began shredding the corpse.
The oceanic whitetip has always been the special bane of mariners, especially fishermen. It is a deep-water shark, usually slow moving. An opportunistic predator and scavenger, it often follows slow-moving vessels, preying on the fish they attract. Two had been trailing Algol, and two more had been attracted by the sounds of feeding, and then the scent of blood.
Ali felt something bump against his leg, feeling its rough skin as it scraped against his clothing. In terror, Ali looked around, spotting a blunt fin a dozen feet away. He began shrieking in terror, even before the first shark struck, its massive jaws locking onto Ali’s arm and shaking him like a rag, turning his arm into a bloody mangled pulp before tearing it entirely off.
In abject terror and excruciating pain, mortally wounded, his lungs filling with water, Ali remained conscious long enough to feel the shark slam into his midriff, crushing his abdomen between rows of razor-sharp teeth. The shark began shaking Ali, its razor teeth eviscerating him, as another whitetip joined the frenzy, tearing the still-conscious Ali to shreds, as he died in the manner he feared above all others.
Officer Mike Gonzalez was in a foul mood. Trevor’s package had arrived, though so late that he’d begun to assume it had never been sent. Gonzalez had watched as the forensics tech had opened it and carefully examined the contents. The rock matched one that Gonzalez had retrieved from Dirk’s front yard, and that fact made Gonzalez highly suspicious. All the clues he’d been given ostensibly pointed squarely at Dirk and Jim; the triggering phone call, the rock, the matching serial numbers, Jim’s interception of Atlantis... It was all there, unless one looked deeper. “I’m surprised they didn’t put a damn bow on it,” Gonzalez muttered, to the puzzlement of the forensics tech.
Henry Wesson walked slowly, stopping to take pictures of the marina every few yards, just like the tourist he was pretending to be – blending in was one of the first skills a private investigator learned. Casually, he looked towards Dirk’s chandlery, and then further up the boardwalk. He suppressed a smile; the two men he was observing stood out like a sore thumb: police officers in plain clothes, pretending to fish. They were there, Henry was sure, to keep an eye on the chandlery, in case Dirk or Jim made an appearance. This presented Henry with both a problem, and an opportunity.
He needed to examine the chandlery, and he’d already made note of a shiny new security camera on an adjacent building, which was pointing directly at the chandlery’s rear door. That, plus the two police officers, closed off Henry’s easy routes of access.
There were a number of simple ways to deal with such clumsy surveillance, and Henry had picked an easy one: defeat the security camera. With his reconnaissance completed, Henry walked back to his car, which was parked a block away.
The sunny, half-empty parking lot behind the row of stores was Henry’s destination. He drove in slowly and parked near the chandlery’s back door, beyond the edge of the camera’s field of view.
Henry flipped down his passenger seat sun visor and clipped on a crude homemade device he’d found useful many times in the past: a length of copper pipe with three laser pointers securely attached. After glancing around again, Henry lowered the passenger window. He looked through the copper pipe, using it as a sight to aim it and the lasers at the camera, thirty feet away.
A few careful turns of an adjustment screw on the visor’s hinge – one of several modifications Henry had made to his car – locked the alignment. He set the small digital timer for twenty seconds with a thirty-second delay, and then carefully exited and locked his car.
The three points of laser light – red, green, and blue – hit the camera’s lens with a blaze of white light, dazzling the camera in the same way reflected sunlight would. The sudden whiting-out of the grayscale monitor was noticed at the police station, but it cleared as suddenly as it had begun, showing nothing but the chandlery’s rear door, which Henry had just locked behind him.
Henry pulled on a pair of protective gloves and used Dirk’s code to deactivate the alarm. For the next half hour, Henry examined the chandlery, paying special attention to the cabinet where the satellite phones were stored.
When he was finished with his research, Henry crept toward the front windows, his eyes riveted on the two police officers, who were still pretending to fish. Surveillance duty is mainly boring, and Henry knew they’d be watching for someone approaching, not looking at the windows, or at least not often. Judging it safe to do so, Henry hung the ‘Closed for Inventory’ sign that Dirk had made, and dashed for the back door.
After resetting the alarm, Henry walked out the back door. Careful to keep his face obscured, he locked the door, waved at the camera, and walked away. He was already driving away before the two police officers – alerted via radio – came racing around the building, looking for a man on foot. Henry watched them in his rear-view mirror, smiling. He knew his theatrical exit hadn’t been strictly necessary, but he’d enjoyed it nonetheless.
Henry pulled over and waited for five minutes, and then he phoned Officer Gonzalez’s cell.
Henry smiled as he heard the expected road noise in the background. “Hello. I think you and I need to talk, officer, but I’ll only speak to you. If you’re alone in that car, I’ll do so now, but I’d suggest that you let no one in your leaky department know of this, at least until you’ve heard what I have to say.”
“Who is this?” Officer Gonzalez asked.
“You’ll find out soon, but for now, I’ll just say I’m the guy who’s the reason you’re heading for Dirk Carlson’s chandlery. I hung a sign in the window and waved at your camera on my way out.”
After several seconds, Gonzalez replied, “I’m alone, and you’ve got my interest. What do you want?”
“I’d like you to join me for lunch, officer. I can assure you that I have broken no laws, so what I would like is that we sit down and have a talk, one on one, and you pick the place. I think that what I have to say will interest you greatly,” Henry said.
Officer Gonzalez hesitated. It could be a trap of some kind, but he’d been invited to pick the place. “There’s a gas station with a Subway sandwich place, where A1A comes off the bridge and joins Route 1. I can be there in five minutes.”
“I’ll be there,” Henry replied. It was only a block away.
When Officer Gonzalez pulled into the gas station in the patrol car he was using, he spotted a short, bespectacled man standing in the parking lot, who gave him a friendly wave.
Gonzalez parked, and Henry met him as he got out, handing him a business card. “Henry Wesson, private investigator, and I need to inform you that I’m armed, and I do have a current concealed carry permit.”
Officer Gonzalez nodded once. “Where do you want to talk?”
Henry smiled and shrugged. “Here suits me, so your call.”
“I’m sure you’ve got a reason why you were in that chandlery? Who is your client?”
Henry smiled, nodding towards the sandwich shop, and turning to walk towards it. “Let me buy us some lunch and I’ll tell you what I can. I’m working for Frank Tittle, who has been retained by Jim Ainsworth and Dirk Carlson. Therefore, attorney-client privilege applies to me. I have written permission from Dirk Carlson to enter the chandlery, which is not marked as a crime scene. You might however suggest to your stakeout crew that it’s better to use bait while pretending to be fishermen: it took me about ten seconds to spot them. You’re also using a brand new camera, which stands out like a sore thumb. I dazzled it with a laser so I wouldn’t be spotted going in, and there’s no law against that, as long as I did not damage the camera. I placed the sign and let the camera see me on the way out to get your attention.”
As they entered the sandwich shop, Gonzalez said, “Fine, you’ve got my attention, mind telling me why, and why me in particular?”
The conversation paused while they placed their order. A couple of minutes later, sandwiches and sodas in hand, they returned to the parking lot, and Henry replied, “Jim Ainsworth told me about a leak in your department so I need to talk to you alone, in case there is a connection. My clients were framed, officer, and could not have done what they are accused of. What I’d like to do is work with you and share some information. I know you’ve already examined the chandlery, but you may have missed a few things, due to not having the information I possess. For example, did you check for signs of lock-picking?”
“Your clients are fugitives from justice. They need to turn themselves in, at once,” Officer Gonzalez said, and then took a bite of his sandwich before adding, “That had to be said, and so does this; I can’t disclose case details to you. However, I advise that any contact you and I have remain unofficial and off the record. I’m aware of... some things you alluded to.”
“I’d have preferred that we exchange information, but... I’ll share some of what I have. The lock – it’s a cylinder lock – on the cabinet where the satellite phones are kept has two pins with scratches on the face, indicative of a rake-pick being used. I suspect you’ll find similar on one of the entry doors,” Henry said, watching Gonzalez’s face closely.
“I can’t comment on what our investigation turned up,” Gonzalez replied. He’d found that clue himself, along with similar marks on the back door.
Henry angled his head slightly, trying to read Gonzalez’s expression. He couldn’t, so he decided to raise the stakes and play a hunch. “I have a signed power of attorney for the utilities and alarm company. Funny thing about that model of monitored alarm; it logs the codes used and reports them during the overnight diagnostic call. Would you like to come with me and see what those logs have to say? Such as... which codes were used, and what kind they were.”
Gonzalez studied his sandwich for a few moments, and then said softly, “I take it you’ve already done so. Mr. Wesson... I’d suggest leaving that avenue alone for now, and not making any noise about it. I’m aware that you’ll have to tell your clients and their attorney, but it would be... better for everyone if they kept this to themselves for now.”
Henry’s eyes narrowed. “So you know, and if you know that, why the hell are you–”
Gonzalez raised his hand. “Don’t make assumptions, Mr. Wesson. Listen carefully: I am trying to catch a killer, who I believe has also tried to kill Dirk’s son, Trevor. I need more information, and I believe your clients may hold the key, whether they know it or not. At the moment, nothing I have exonerates them, it merely raises questions.”
Henry read between the lines. “If they go to trial, that’s enough... it would raise reasonable doubt.”
Gonzalez gave Henry a cold stare. “Let me be clear. While I might be of the opinion that someone else is behind the Bellevue murder and the attempt on Trevor Carlson, that in no way means I believe it applies to the murder of Rachel Carlson. It is looking clearer by the day that one of your clients is guilty there.”
Henry was of the opinion that half a loaf was better than none, so he replied carefully, “That tells me you’re interested in seeing at least one of my clients convicted, but only of things he actually did. Believe it or not, that’s just fine by me, because it means we have a common goal regarding the bombing and the Bellevue case, which I believe are strongly connected.”
“As do I,” Gonzalez said, and then turned away, willing to say no more. “Thanks for lunch, and I’ll be seeing you,” Gonzalez added, ending the meeting.
Over the next four days, the seas worsened, becoming ever more erratic as the winds, bending around the slow-moving low, hurled Atlantis southwards. Navigating mainly by dead reckoning due to the overcast skies, Trevor guessed his latitude to be near thirty-eight south, and Atlantis was making good speed in the stiff winds, racing ever further south. Trevor’s guess was only a little off; shortly after sunset, Atlantis passed forty degrees south, surging into the Roaring Forties, six hundred and forty miles northwest of the Kerguelen Islands.
Trevor did not sleep well that night, due to the confused seas pummeling Atlantis. A building swell from the west, along with a shorter swell from the north, caused occasional overlaps, and every so often the surging sea would pound under Atlantis’s wing – the part of her hull that ran between her hulls, and housed the salon – making her ring like a drum.
It wasn’t merely the noise that bothered Trevor; heavy wave impacts on the wing – also known as the bridgedeck – were a structural weak point on any catamaran; too much could lead to structural failure.
Dawn came, grey and cold, the wind biting, carrying a light but steady rain.
Trevor sat in the salon, wearing all three of his scrapped T-shirts with a towel draped around his shoulders, trying to ward off the chill. The temperature in the salon had dropped overnight, and was now in the upper fifties.
A few fast pushups helped Trevor warm up, and then he checked his compass, dismayed to see that he was still heading south. He’d already set Atlantis’s rudders to track a little to the left of his course, but that gave him about fifteen degrees. Any more, and he’d found that Atlantis required his constant presence at the helm, which the cold wind precluded. Even at fifteen degrees off the wind, Atlantis was riding unevenly; she would speed up, increase the turn, and then slow and fall off downwind as the wind load on her wooden sail changed.
Trevor stared out at the churning sea, growing ever more concerned. He had expected the winds to change and begin driving him east, and he was already as far south as he planned to venture.
All that day the unrelenting wind roared, pushing Atlantis ever further south.
Please let me know what you think; good, bad, or indifferent.
Please give me feedback, and please don’t be shy if you want to criticize! The feedback thread for this story is in my Forum. Please stop by and say "Hi!"
Many thanks to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions.
Special thanks to Graeme, for beta-reading and advice.
Thanks also to Talonrider and MikeL for beta reading.
A big Thank You to RedA for Beta reading and advice, and to Bondwriter for final Zeta-reading and advice. A huge "Thank you!" to Orion, for the compass design and other help! Any remaining errors are mine alone.