Mariner: Chapter 4
Some said they could see hints of The Call in the distance, while others argued that nothing was there to see in the wisps of remaining fog. I occasionally caught sight of Ms. Julie on deck, looking out to sea as if seeking the same thing, but I never had the courage to ask whether she saw it or not. The sky provided nothing but clouds day and night, hiding our guiding stars from us, but the compass held steady. With little wind, we were limited to the STROKE of the oars below, but the manpower was dwindling and losing patience.
For days we drifted, pushed along when the oarsmen’s strength would allow it. The sails were lowered to catch what available wind there was, but the lack of sightings of our target turned many impatient at the situation. The calm waters put my mind at rest, personally, but the others began to act strangely. Some I caught staring out at the horizon rather than finishing their work, and more than a few squabbles were caused over menial things. The Captain and bosun attempted to break up the fights, but soon they were fed up.
I thought it was my imagination at first, but it was clear- the nights were drawing longer and longer. I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen the stars, and soon enough, most hours of the day, there was barely enough light to see the compass in one’s outstretched hand. Looking up, reaching out, passing through- it was as if it would never end. The first mate ordered the men to bring up lanterns from below and affix them about the deck in hopes of being able to cast just enough light to foresee anything coming.
The crew became more vocal- wondering if we had passed The Call, or that it wouldn’t show up while we were so close, or whether it was even real in the first place. Captain Fredrik quelled many of the naysayers by forcing those who wouldn’t cooperate to stay in their quarters or to help row from the lower decks. Did I have hope for something to happen? No, what stayed in my mind was the idea that poor Ms. Julie had paid so much for the expedition, only to find seemingly nothing. But my expectations of her mood were quickly canceled out upon seeing her face in the orange dim of the lantern light.
“How does someone as young as you find yourself with such skills on a ship?” She asked me, coming up the stairs toward me.
I shrugged and glanced at her out of the side of my vision. “I grew up on ships. My father was a fisherman.”
“Your father?” She perked up. “Is he here on the ship with us?”
“He’s… not with us anymore. He was lost as sea some time ago.”
“Oh. And your mother?”
“She died when I was very young.”
“I see. I’ve lost, too. It’s tough. But still… the sea doesn’t worry you… this journey… the dangers?”
“If there is one place where I am confident in my skills… it is upon a sailing ship.”
She pursed her lips. “Perfect, then. I can sense us approaching transition, very soon.”
“Approaching?” I asked, but received no response as she went away.
The words were lost to me as I allowed myself to rest later after the helm was taken over for me. But when I awoke, it was then I found the meaning of what she had said.
The dark clouds outside glowed red, dying everything in a sanguine glow. The waves had returned to crack the once glassy finish of the water, and the wind was once again filling the sails. The helm was under control, but the needle of my compass refused to find one spot to settle upon. Ms. Julie was at the bow, watching on.