After a time—how long Mariah did not know

Tempest Tossed

4

The winds grew stronger and both ships were pounded by the now turbulent sea. The wave battered them and shoved them against each other with a sickening crunch. Mariah fought to keep her footing. Roderick was there to steady her, his fingers lingering a moment. Then he took a step back.

The winds wailed and frothing waters flooded the Fairweather’s deck. The sails flapped as lines snapped and the rigging groaned under the onslaught. The larger pirate ship fared far worse. The wind and waves seemed to be dragging its onto its side as a great whirlpool took shape around them both. The Fairweather was pulled in, but remained on the edge as the seas roiled. The helm was spinning freely and everyone was struggling not to get swept overboard. They were at the mercy of this unnatural storm.

After a time—how long Mariah did not know—she felt someone touch her. Over the keening roar of the storm she could barely make out what Roderick was saying. Mariah strained, trying to catch a glimpse of Atalia but the water stung her eyes terribly. For some minutes she just clung to the rail. Roderick was not far away straining hold on too. Up and down the ship pitched as it was hurled around the whirlpool in the midst of the tempest. All thoughts but one were ripped away: survive.

Debris was crashing down around her. She looked up just as a large piece of rigging came right at her. She had no time to react. It struck her hard, tossing her into the air as it swung out away from the ship. She screamed but her voice was lost in the storm. Seconds later, she flew free and hit the water. The impact stunned Mariah and she slipped beneath the waves. Her body rolled and plunged into the depths as the storm continued above her. She tried to claw her way to the surface but the current was too strong and she was weakening by the moment. Her heart was thundering with panic even as her lungs burned with need to breathe.

Suddenly she broke the surface, gasping for breathe while she tried to get her bearings. She could see nothing in the darkened seas. She tread water just trying to stay above the water, but she was soon struggling. Mariah realized it wouldn’t be long now before she slipped away.

A bolt of lightning lit up the sky above her, revealing a dark shape towering over her. It took Mariah a moment to realize it was a ship. The thunder rumbled above her and another flash showed her it was the Fairweather. She extended her arm.

“Help! I’m here!” Her throat was hoarse from salt water. She couldn’t tell if her voice carried. Her strength was failing, her head throbbing and mind buzzing.

“Mariah!”

It was Roderick’s voice, Mariah realized. The next moment, she slipped below the water again, and sank into the deep where the darkness and close closed in around her.

Produced by: Eugenio Zorrilla.

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