Over The Edge
Adventure Fiction Stories
A thin streak of lightning struck the night sky, temporarily and simultaneously casting the ship into daylight and blinding the occupants. Men scattered around, desperately attempting to work together to keep the boat afloat, whilst great, menacing waves pounded into the hull and rocked it back and forth, threatening to come overboard and drown the crew. One man, in danger of being thrown off, clung to the railings with his good arm, his other hanging limply at his side, a large cut travelling from his elbow to the wrist. He watched and wanted to help as people ran to and fro, but he knew that he would just slow them down, a dead weight upon an ark of fighters.
Another bolt of lightning flew across the sky, and the crash of thunder reverberated, followed by silence. Another surge of waves came down upon them and the ship lurched forward, throwing the men across the deck. The man with the wasted arm held on even tighter, searching for something more sturdy to grip onto in the dark. But nothing was there. For a few moments he felt nothing, and it almost seemed as though he was flying, floating on air. “Or maybe falling,” he thought. Before he could consider this, he was brought back to reality as his body hit the water, cold enveloping him, surging into his mouth and ears, the bitterness instantly reaching his skin.
He struggled to see where he was and reached his arms out in front of him, searching for something solid to hold onto, but the salt was in his eyes and within his wound, from which an immense stinging sensation emerged. He pushed the pain down. Immediately, he struggled against the waves, fighting to stay afloat, frantically scrabbling to find what was not there. He could feel as the strength left his body, the energy slowly escaping him. By now, the cold had searched and found every part of him: his face, his arms, his toes; each were beginning to shut down and his mind and body were failing him.
In the distance, he thought he glimpsed the flickering of a dim light. The boat perhaps? No, it didn’t seem right. It looked too far away. “Surely I haven’t drifted this far in such little time?” he thought to himself. He felt as if his eyes were playing tricks on him. Thoughts raced through his mind and he tried to think of something, anything, which he could do to save himself, but it was in vain. The hope of his crew mates rescuing him from the murky water was slowly beginning to diminish, and he knew that he had to accept what was about to happen. He thought of his family and companions back home, hoping that they were happy, and trying not to picture their distraught faces when they heard the news about their lost one.
On the ship, the rest of the crew continued to work towards survival. One of them, a skinny, pale young lad, about 17, had been watching the man with the injured arm as he clung on for life. Just as he was thinking about how he should get the first aid kit, a flash of lightning had slashed the sky and the man disappeared, right in front of him. Moments of confusion entailed, before realisation dawned on him that he had been dragged over the edge. He staggered to the railing and strained his eyes to see into the gloomy void that was the water. Nothing. Not a glimpse of a thrashing limb at the surface, nor a face searching for help. Nothing even vaguely resembling a human form.
He did not know who this man has been, he did not even know his name, but he was determined that he would not be forgotten. Right there, he vowed that he would personally tell his relations of what had happened. Tell them of the unknown man. It would be hard, but he deserved that at least. After all, only he had noticed his accidental death. As he was thinking about this and as the rain battered his face, he looked into the distance, and saw the dim light of dawn. In that moment, he knew that everything would be alright and that the storm would eventually go away and leave them alone, just like it always does.
For the first time, he was not afraid. No longer did he feel the cold, or his bones shiver. His eyes were free of salt, and his wound had ceased to pain him. Now, all he hoped was that the rest of the crew and his family would be safe. Safe from harm, safe from the agony he knew his death would cause them. He leaned back in the water and allowed it to hold him. He felt at peace. The clear, starry sky looking down on him was the last thing he saw, before he was dragged down beneath the surface and towards the earth, lost to the human world forever.
more by JESSICA BLUNDEN
photograph by Brandon Morgan