Selfless Plight

It was a cold day on the deck. Weren’t they all? A small line of light from a shy sun was shining over the distant horizon. It was enough to make the surroundings visible, but not significant enough to grant the icy water any real form or meaning.

The captain was holding on to the railing, his skin almost frozen solid on the grey metal. He didn’t mind. Chilling air was sundering his senses, but it only made him feel more alive. His beard was now white with ice, despite the usual ebony it represented. He took his clammy hands off the railing only to raise his binoculars and look into the distance. There was nothing there, but cold dark clouds over a glacial dark blue expanse of ocean, with deathly fog in-between. It was silent, despite the larger-than-average waves ramming the solid metal hull from the portside.  Every molecule of water sprayed on the captain’s face stung like a 100 needles. He didn’t mind.

What little light the arctic morning offered was beginning to wane.  Daylight was almost unheard of this far in the northern hemisphere at this time of year. Constant cover of darkness made it easier for the crew to maneuver the submarine unnoticed, and striking from the shadows would also strike fear in the enemy hearts. A torpedo strike is excruciating, making you feel the sound not just through your ears, but through your whole body; add to that the fact that you are most likely trying to keep awake, and that’s one hell of a wakeup call.

The silence was ominous. Something was about to happen, but the captain just couldn’t put his finger on it. The hydrophone didn’t show anything up, except sea life, even that little and far between. He knew he was placed conveniently on an important supply route, so enemy ships were bound to appear at one time or another. The only question left standing was when.

He wanted to turn back and go down the ladder into the usually uninviting floating metal coffin. He wanted to lie down and rest his weary muscles from the intensity of having been vigilant for 48 hours straight. He turned and stopped. The silence was broken by a whirring sound that seemed to come ever closer – an engine, a plane engine… multiple plane engines. The captain stood for half a moment, then bolted into the hatch leading to the conning tower with surprising agility and precision, and quickly closed the hatch down over him. All deck crew was conveniently eating downstairs.

The order came quickly and perhaps decisively. The submariners took the ship underwater, crash diving under the waves, perhaps quick enough to not be seen by the overhead scouts. There was not much way to know, just to lie in wait while perhaps they would circle overhead, waiting to see some more of the underwater prowler.

The captain knew that he was too far from any airbase for a plane to reach without reaching bingo fuel. A carrier was near – he was close to his objective then. He was going for broke here, so he went full speed ahead bearing where the planes came from. There was a big chance that he was going nowhere in particular, yet the captain was adamant about going that way.

After about an hour, the captain decided it was time to take a peek, so he took the ship to periscope depth and looked around. No planes – he wasn’t noticed then… perhaps. Maybe they just ran out of fuel and went back to the carrier. He kept the engine’s pace up as he was nervously moving his leg up and down while looking through the glass filled tube that allowed him to see outside the confines of the underwater tin can.

He heard a voice from down the ladder. He was right; there were warships galore right in front of the submarine. He was in the dark side, the enemy convoy silhouette showing clearly against the still foggy dark night. He had the advantage, despite the enemy numbers. He would just need to get close enough to pack a salvo into the HMS Plight, the aircraft carrier he was bound to sink, hopefully enough to take it and those cursed bombers to a watery grave.

The submarine was slowly submerging to periscope depth, the long tube only slightly breaking the now calm waters. It seemed like an eternity as the submarine slowly crept closer and closer to the convoy, passing through the middle point of two small but fearsome looking destroyers. The captain knows how a depth charge feels like, and it’s by no means something he would rather feel again. The engines were running slow, moving the submarine along almost just by the means of the currents underneath. If creeping close to the convoy felt like an eternity, each moment between the lines of the unaware crewmen felt like another eternity each by itself.

The Plight was coming ever closer, silently. The captain could see people milling about the grand aircraft carrier, some of them looking sad, others happy; some of them looking calmly into the waves, others ever vigilant… but not vigilant enough, as the slim periscope escaped their view.

It was all calm until a nearby cruiser’s crewman yelled: “U-BOAT!” and kept pointing towards the captain’s eye. He started sweating as one by one, ships had their men report to their battle stations, and set floodlights on the still slim but now obvious periscope; his chest started to thump in the rhythm of the active sonar seeking the hidden metal beast he laid within…

Full speed ahead the submarine now steamed, all lights trained on the wake it left behind the periscope and the tiny eye on the tiny tube. Cruisers started firing their cannons in the water while two destroyers were closing in at ramming speed.

‘Surface the boat!’, he said, ‘Blow all ballast!’ The crew looked at him as if at a madman. They thought the captain would get them killed. They weren’t far from the truth. The submarine jerked a bit and it was on the surface, with full diesel power making it reach maximum speed. The hull vibrated violently from the enemy shots, and sometimes the captain would lose his balance slightly. He had his mission embedded into his head; there was no turning back.

The order was given to fire the back torpedo. It didn’t hit any of the two destroyer pursuers, but it did slow them down slightly. He got in firing range, a point where a salvo would ensure a minimum of three hits if none of the torpedoes were duds. He gave the order.

All torpedoes were clean impacts. One of them just barely hit the bow. The carrier was careening to a side, planes falling off of it along with the people running for their lives towards… water, really. Death was inevitable for the crewmen, as the glacial water would freeze their hearts in an instant, but the while it would take until the Plight went down was too much for one certain captain to watch.

Several of his fellow crewmen were dead or dying, and the submarine had more cannon holes in it than he would like to dive with. He did it anyway. He never surfaced again.

No voice version at the moment. I had no time for it. May add it later.

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2 thoughts on “Selfless Plight

  1. We want voice version!
    We want voice version!
    We want voice veeeersiiooon ! ;;) :*

    Like

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