Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A Close Call


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Harlen Jacobs found himself in a predicament. He was adrift in the waters of Micronesia. Ten miles North of the Marshall Islands. There were many populated atoll's in Micronesia, but the one he was heading for looked deserted.

The day started with a slight morning breeze. By mid-morning it was gone. His boat was equipped with a small engine and he used it periodically to keep within the prevailing current as he headed toward his destination.

All was well until late afternoon when his engine decided to go as dead as the morning breeze. Harlen retrieved his toolbox and went to work on the engine checking the wiring for shorts, cleaning the spark plugs, filters, fuel lines and making minor adjustments wherever possible. Nothing he did seemed to work.

The sun was getting low and the tide was getting high. In the distance he could see a sandy shore as well as a smattering of hazardous jagged rocks. That didn't bode well for him or his boat, The Antebellum.

Harlen wasn't having much luck with the engine. The rocks were getting closer. Soon the waves would pull him toward danger.

His boat was equipped with halogen lights. In a few minutes he would need them.

Once the sun had set he stopped working long enough to turn them on. He strained to see past their reach, but was useless. They didn't shine out far enough. He could only hear the waves in the distance as they beat against the rocks.

He recalled a clearing between the rocks and hoped he was drifting toward it. If he was lucky, he would skirt the danger zone and make it to the beach unscathed. But that was a big if.

He was running out of time.

Not finding a problem with the engine itself, he started troubleshooting the fuel lines and valves leading to the engine. Maybe something was clogging them.

Another few minutes and he'd be hitting the rocks. He switched the fuel valve to the spare tank. He tried to start the engine. No go.

In a last ditch effort he disconnected the line from the valve and shoved it directly into the tank. He tried to start the engine again. It sputtered, then died. He was getting dangerously close to the rocks. He tried to start the engine again. It sputtered again, then took off.

Harlen focused the light toward the bow. The rocks were directly ahead. There was no room to turn around so Harlen headed for the shore. He quickly maneuvered to the starboard side of the closest rocks and skirted them but the boat glanced off a rock on the port side. A narrow passage opened up ahead and Harlen steered for shore.

The following morning he checked the Antebellum for damages. She had a few scratches and a broken keel but she was still seaworthy. He could slowly limp her into port to get the needed repairs while he enjoyed his stay on the Marshall Islands.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.