Prologue to Gadabout by Derek Osborne

Roberto Mosquera, a stout little man who had grown up in the rough seas surrounding Coruña, paced back and forth across the bridge of the Argentina Star. They had left San Juan that morning, bound for Trinidad and then Buenos Aires, but now the big ship had altered course, heading straight into the open arms of a hurricane. They had known it was coming; the company had ships all over the globe, but better to be at sea and clear of the land than to attempt to ride it out in port. Waves they could handle; storm tides and steel piers were another matter entirely.

Roberto was Chief Engineer; the ship his bastard daughter born of a cold shipyard and group of men bent on moving commerce. He watched the collection of color monitors filling the console beneath the huge, plexi-glass windows. For nine hundred feet the ship ran ahead, six containers deep on deck. She was rolling now, but no more than six or seven degrees through the arc. He had already flooded the ballast, already ordered a course to wind. The gain on the both radars was all the way up, the night pitch black, the rain so heavy at times he could not see the mast head light.

“Put on your headset,” he snapped in Portuguese at the man now monitoring the radio.

They had picked up a distress call from a yacht in their vicinity.

“If you can’t take it, turn down the volume. I want the log to read that we monitored them.”

They had picked up the Mayday an hour ago. At first, the voice had been calm and professional. The Argentina Star had responded with her own position and situation. If Roberto tried to turn the ship they could flounder.

“Why didn’t they just get a hotel and let the boat go?” he said to the operator.

The radioman, new to the ship but knowing the ropes, pursed his lips and stayed silent.

“This one has monsters,” Roberto added, straining to see the bow through the storm.

The door to the day cabin opened and the Captain stepped out. The little room was meant to be nothing more than a berth and a head for those on watch.

“Our motion is changing,” he said, running his hands back through a thick head of greasy gray hair. “It’s coming.”

He scanned the console and looked at the solid black windows.

“Who is on?” he asked his Chief Engineer, indicating the radio.

“A yacht,” Roberto said.

The two men looked at each other.

“Have you made the log entries?” the Captain asked.

Roberto shook his head. They listened to the rain pelting the 19 mm Lexan windows like gun shots. They listened to the wind screaming hysterical bursts of eternity just outside the steel doors.

“I’ll make them,” the Captain said. “It won’t be long.”

With that, he turned and went back to bed.

Copyright 2009

Author's Bio: This is the prologue to my new novel “Gadabout”. Not “The Perfect Storm”, but more the perfect paradise attacked by the Perfect Storm’s mommy. Move over, Gloucester Men, da’ Carribee gonna make you t’ink twice.