Nets and Knives

Before I can react, a hole opens on the underside of the ship. There’s a scraping sound, and a thin metal claw unfurls and drops a net over me. I’m trapped. I scream and thrash, but it only seems to dig the grooves of the net deeper into my skin. Even as the metal claw retracts and I am drawn into the belly of the ship, I can hear the gasps of the mermaids still cowering on the coral fields. None of them reached out to help me. They wouldn’t dare to.

This sort of sailboat print design hasn’t been seen in centuries, but everybody knows the legend of the giant squid. This ship belongs to the humans who almost single-handedly brought us to extinction. And I have just been captured by them. When the hatch slides closed beneath me, I am plunged into darkness. I start gasping for breath. I’ve never been above the surface before, so this is the first time I’ve ever breathed ordinary oxygen. Suddenly, rough hands draw me upright and a tube is shoved over my face. Fresh water floods my lungs. Now that my most immediate problem is taken care of, I gather the courage to look up.

Around me stand five humans, all with identical looks of shock on their faces. They each wear coats with the same giant squid design that is painted on their boat wrap vinyl. I’m not sure what to do. I can’t move my arms because of the nets that surround them. My fins won’t work without water. Instead, I simply stare at the humans, hoping that the expression on my face appears braver than I feel. One of them has some sort of timber and metal contraption that I’ve seen littered on the marine floor before. A knife? They reach out and use it to saw the net off my body. With my arms freed, I growl and rub at the welts on my skin. One of them smiles sadly and apologises to me. Then, I am shoved into a chair.

Future of Boats

Rylee wouldn’t cry today. Cole had been gone from her life too long for that, and the body they were sending out to sea wasn’t even his true one – merely a copy. There was a sadness in her heart, but also a relief there too. Maybe now she could truly move on.

“Do it,” Rylee told Maphira.

Her sister released the boat latch, then stood back with Rylee and Vai. Maphira wrapped her arm around Rylee’s neck, pulling her close and kissing her forehead. They stood together and watched as the aluminium box began to sink into the water of Port Phillip Bay.

“So, this is it,” Rylee said. “This is the end.”

“Care to say a few words before we head back to the bait boards for the wake?”

Rylee nodded. “A day hasn’t gone by that I didn’t think of Cole, since he left my life. He was a strange guy, obsessed with utes and their toolboxes, but he also had a kind heart that made him so easy to love. He has been, and will continue to be, missed dearly.”

With that said, the three of them headed for the bait boards, where Vai and Maphira had set up a platter of egg sandwiches, party pies and fairy bread. They ate for a time, completely silent, simply taking in the sunlight that shined down on them.

Finally, Rylee decided to break the silence. “So, I assume it’s back to the marine welding shop. Close to Melbourne, there’s plenty of demand for boat welding, so you must be quite busy, Mai.”

“Yeah, seems like it. I think people are a bit sick of mechanics these days, so a lot more people are travelling on boats. Great for business, not so great for my life being peaceful and quiet.”

Vai smirked. “Maybe the next crazy group to take over the world will be a bunch of marine welders. We better watch out, Rylee – Maphira might end up being their leader or something.”

Maphira laughed. “If I start an evil group to take over the world, you two will be my first recruits.”

Sailing The Seas

The next thing I need to do in order to prepare mine and my wife’s boat for our trip up the coast is to get the snapper racks checked over. If we need new snapper racks then I want to know now because I don’t want any of them breaking and then my wife and I are unable to feed ourselves when out in the middle of nowhere. I think I might purchase new stainless steel snapper racks from Melbourne before we leave just so I know for sure that my wife and I will be able to catch fish. My wife and I are much better fishers than we used to be (thankfully). We wouldn’t have been able to travel by ourselves in a boat for weeks on end if that wasn’t the case. 

I’m really looking forward to seeing where our travels will take us. We have a destination in mind, likely somewhere on the Queensland coast that is a happy medium between a beach holiday and a rainforest holiday. Doesn’t that sound incredible? We’re about to be living the dream without a care in the world and I am so looking forward to spending every moment with my beautiful wife. She is my world and even after all these years I am more in love with her than ever. I am so thankful that I get to spend every day with her doing what we love together. Sailing the high seas might not sound appealing for most people, but it’s the best thing that could ever happen to me.

I’m glad I got a professional boat catch installation performed on our boat last week. As I said in my last blog post, I don’t want my wife and I to drift away when we’re supposed to be in a harbour somewhere. I want to wake up every morning and know exactly where we are.

Catch and Caught

“What is this nonsense?”

Both Lorcan and the blonde boy immediately stilled at the furious roar that came from the sand. Lorcan awkwardly released the boy’s neck and they stood up, brushing themselves off. On the shore stood Gunnar and the other vikings, looking as fierce as he supposed they would when charging into battle. Lorcan even spotted Valdemar off to the side, twiddling his thumbs and frowning in disappointment.

In half a dozen short strides, Gunnar had crossed to the boat and swung himself up onto it. He grabbed Lorcan and the other boy by the scruffs of their neck and hauled them into the water, dragging them mercilessly through the current while muttering about “reckless boys besmirching the highest quality marine stainless steel fabrication Melbourne has ever seen.” With a heavy sigh, Gunnar threw Lorcan to the floor. He hit the ground hard, bits of shell prickling his skin and sand flying down his throat. When Lorcan rolled upright, Gunnar was standing over him, silhouetted by the sun. His face was cast in deep shadow, but even Lorcan noticed the unmistakably tense set of his posture. He certainly cut an imposing figure.

“After all that discussion we just had about how difficult it was to find a quality boat catch installation specialist,” Gunnar began. “We thought that you boys were responsible enough to be left on the sand for half an hour without resorting to mayhem. Clearly,” he said, looking directly at Valdemar, “we were wrong.”

Lorcan hated seeing Valdemar so disappointed. The man had given him a chance, plucked him from the ranks of lowly foot soldiers after seeing his potential. Surely if Lorcan explained himself, the others would understand.

“Sir,” he started.

Gunnar cut him off. “I don’t want to hear any excuses. You two, up now!”

Lorcan launched to his feet, sending sand flying across the beach.

Climbing the Boat

The blonde boy had hooked his fingers into the rope and was hauling himself onto the boat. Lorcan watched with barely concealed jealousy. He doubted he could follow either as swiftly or gracefully, yet he knew he couldn’t simply stand and watch as the boy tore up months of the vikings’ hard work. These boats were an example of the best marine fabrication Melbourne had to offer, completed by one of the greatest steel fabricators of all time. That same man had been lost in the previous battle. There was no way for his genius to be replicated if the blonde boy somehow destroyed the fleet.

Lorcan took another step forward. To his left, Erik flung his arm out, stopping Lorcan in his tracks. “What are you doing?” Erik asked sharply.

Lorcan opened his mouth in indignation. “We have to do something!”

Erik shook his head. “They told us not to touch the boats.”

Had Erik been hit in the head with a ram’s horn? All Lorcan wanted to do was stop the blond boy from tampering with the boats. How could the others not see that? With a flash of strength Lorcan didn’t know he possessed, he shoved Erik aside and sprinted to the shoreline. Even the sand seemed to be trying to stop Lorcan in his tracks, sucking at his boots and dragging him backwards. But Lorcan was determined. The boat catch installation was almost in his grasp, and if he simply locked it, then the boy would not have the chance to cut himself free from the docks. 

“Hey!” Lorcan shouted. 

The boy swung his head around, blonde hair whipping across his face in the wind. He grinned, tugging firmly on a rope, and it fell free from the mast, coiling onto the hull like a snake. “Come to join the fun?” The boy asked, laughing.

The wind roared in Lorcan’s ears. He steeled himself, filling his voice with more courage than he felt. “I’ve come to stop you.”