Hmm, I stink at intros, so I'll keep it brief. I'm not sure you would call it as much a short story as you would an "extreme" form of free-verse poetry, due to the very nature of the piece. I wrote it a couple months ago for my clan, but I figured that at least someone else out there can find meaning in this as well.
-- Please note that this is MY original work. If you intend to copy and paste even a part of this anywhere, please give credit to me, no matter where you post it. (In other words, please post the link your quote comes from, etc.). Thank you, and please enjoy.
So, here it is.
Braving the Storm
The waves crash over the side of the ship, pounding its starboard side, while the crew struggles against the ropes that keep the mast from steering them right into the vast, titanic thing forming at the bottom of the abyss that some of them saw below them, and that some of those fell into, never to see the light of day again…
The dark, black cold of the Abyss awaits us, the Captain says, if we do not pull our floating piece of wood out of the watery jaws of the earth… The mast will only hold for so long, before lightning strikes it, or the winds ruthlessly cut it down, so that Death has his satisfaction over us all.
The ship isn’t moving any faster, in spite of the best efforts of many of the crew. Here and there, leaders are made and others cast down, and some give up the fight, either clinging to a set of ropes in a last desperate hope that the jaws of the Abyss does not swallow them and their mates whole, to be forgotten forever by the pages of history.
Others man the oars, and row hard enough to please even whatever gods they deem to worship in their hour of darkness. They move without instruction, as the oar master has already been dashed against the wall. He is out, and either he will awake to a peaceful morning, or he will find himself in the halls of Valhalla by the time his gods cast the light of day back upon the earth… If they ever bother.
On deck, a deck swabber mans the wheel. He knows what the wheel does, and how to steer the ship… But he has no experience. He steers because the helmsmen are somewhere else on the ship… Are they there at all? Have they been tossed overboard in their struggle to turn the wheel either left or right?
The new driver of the ship braves the storm with doubt in his mind… Until only two facts, and two facts alone now exist in what is left of his world: He is here, and he is ready to walk hand in hand with his destiny into either the gaping jaws of Doom should he fail to save the ship, or back into Life’s warm embrace. The storm raging on around him, he mans the wheel with as much determination as his battered mind can force into his tattered hands. The wind howls at him, blinding him to all of the other woes that would scream at his ears…
The Captain is out on deck, calling out to his crew. He sees his first mate tossed into the sea, and he grieves, for it was not his first loss of this terrible night, and the worst is not yet over. He sees the deck of the ship itself, torn into pieces by the storm. He looks at what are left of the cannons, and he despairs. Many will not survive the night, of the few that yet remain.
A crewman bravely climbs up the mast; a rope has broken, and it needs to be fixed, after it was broken when another’s body fell, and broke both himself and the rope. He reaches the crow’s nest, only to be battered ever more harshly by the wind, and he is the sole witness to seeing Death itself open up in the form of the chasm he sees below him. He loses the extra length of rope, and realizes that there is only one hope: to simply hold on… and so he does. Like steel, his grip is. With an iron will, he holds on with a determination that even his gods would envy -- but in the same manner the storm batters him, wanting with equal force to send a defiant seaman to his Doom. He looks below, and sees only what remains of the once-proud crew of the Sea Star, struggling with power unknown with other members of the human species to save the ship… And he knows that he is alone in his small war against the storm. If he lets go of the rope, the rest of the rig will tear, as will the main mast of the ship.
In the cellar, five, perhaps six men sit, having drunk the whole supply of the ship’s alcohol, so that when their death comes, it will be painless. They have no hope, like the rest of the crew, only these have given up the fight before they are crushed by the Sea which they once shouted at the gods that they could conquer. One still plugs in a leak here and there, but he will slowly go too; he drank as much as the rest.
The forward mast of the ship breaks, and at long last, chaos and disorder reign over the ship, as yet another respected leader falls overboard, and is hurled silently into the Abyss, his screams entirely muted by the violent storm. The eye has passed by the crew an eternity ago; they will have no reprieve from the vast chasm near their ship, sitting below their small hull, nor from the storm above, both of which hammer away at the besieged boat with equal relentlessness.
The crewmen manning what is left of the rudders still bravely hangs on, with their only leader being the will to hold Death off another five, perhaps ten minutes before the last of them loses strength enough to aid whatever cursed soul is still manning the wheel on deck. The Captain is now helping two or three others with throwing countless things overboard to lighten the ship‘s payload -- or at least what is left of it... His grief for his falling ship is more intense than even the gods are incapable of feeling, but they still refuse to let up the storm.
The marines are aboard the deck, helping endlessly with manning the remaining masts and other torn parts of the ship. Most have already thrown their swords overboard in the knowledge that the sword of the gods would take them before their enemies‘… They, too, have lost hope. However, like their crew, their courage holds its own, in spite of the fact that Death walks hand in hand with each of them, because of the mere fact that they see others not yet willing to give up the ghost…
The helmsman has tired beyond belief, and his grip on the wheel is slackening… The night has grown old, and the storm still hammers the ship, as if the gods want the crew all to die after witnessing their terrible wrath. He lets go of the wheel, steering it with the current of the great hole in the sea, knowing that if the ship does not make it past, it never will make it anyway…
The main mast has also broken, and the brave crewman who had valiantly held the ropes together lies in a tangled heap upon the deck. He isn’t dead, just passed out. He will end when he and his Doom finally meet, be it when the ship hits the bottom of the sea, or in his old age… All the ship’s crew can do right now is pray that the oarsmen row hard enough, and that the new helmsman knows what he is doing… and that the Gods will bring the ending of the storm.
Dawn beings to break, and the ship nears the Abyss. The man at the helm has but one chance to steer it through, and he does not have the strength. He knows where the ship should go, but his iron grip finally begins to weaken… He refuses to give up his ghost, but it wants to go. His soul yearns for release, and his mind is almost broken. His body is now a wreck from fighting the gods themselves, yet two hands hold onto the wheel, and two feet are firmly planted onto the deck. He will finally weaken, before long…
Just as the ship is ready to clear the point of no return, strong hands seize the wheel. It is the Captain, wearing the same expression of iron found on the faces of the Gods throughout the fury of the storm. The helmsman falls, but the Captain knows what to do… he always does. The captain steers his precious Star deeper into the Abyss, knowing that he will take his ship out, or take it out faster.
The sunrise breaks the edge of the horizon, with every color imaginable breaking the gloom of the entire night. The ruined ship is illuminated, and only half its crew is left standing, with the rest tired, dead… or gone. The Sea Star breaks past the worst of the Abyss, and sails like a whale towards the far side of the Jaws of a watery hell, and the worst is over.
The storm finally abates, and the tattered ship with only two of its masts left drifts closer and closer to an island close by, its will having finally been broken in its newfound freedom… The gods have abated their fury, and have turned the crew of an unnoted ship into the most glorious thing on the Sea… Dawn breaks through, revealing not a ship, nor a crew of sailors, but instead a glorious product of the fury of the gods, and the determination of men to hold strong, even in their darkest hour. The Sea Star is indeed that… Even though she is mostly broken, she has not. The Star is now the star in the men’s hearts, the golden vessel that took them through the halls of Death and back so that they could see yet another storm pass through… and a glorious Dawn awaken after, to assure the hearts of the torn crew that their lives are yet worth living, even during the darkest of storms.
The Captain is weary, along with all of the crew, but they made it through the storm… because of their faith and courage alone. Those are above all what gives strength of the hand of men -- men who are ready to take up their own banner, and fight for a new future for themselves, whether it be for their lives… or simply a better tomorrow.
Composed by Cosmic Fury, July 4th 2012