I'm jumping back into the writing pool with a prompt from Our Write Side and their Friday Flasher! Feel free to join in - just follow the link to their prompt and start writing!
The ship rolled hard to one side and Brian felt the safety rope yank on the harness that tethered him to the high metal tower that held the ship’s communication array. His flashlight barely penetrated the night, and numb fingers wanted to drop the tools and dive into the nominal warmth of his pockets.
He took a better grip on the wrench and wished, again, for the utility belt he’d carried nearly every day for twenty-two years. Everything he really needed had been suspended from loops on that belt, waiting patiently to be called into service, and it was in a duffel bag stuffed under the lid of the bench seat in his bunk.
“Bri…how’s it going?” The radio in his ear cracked to life, barely audible over the screams of the wind.
He fumbled to hit the reply button and nearly dropped the wrench.
“It’s getting there, Cap,” he shouted.
“Let us know.”
Brian could hear the tension buried in the experienced captain’s southern drawl; for a moment he was tossed back to the day three months earlier when he’d interviewed for the job on the big ship.
“Two decades as a TV repairman, huh? What made you want to sign on to a ship?” The captain had been smiling, but his eyes were sharp and considering.
“People don’t repair TV’s anymore. They toss ‘em and buy another one ‘cause the parts and labor cost more than a new one,” he’d shrugged as he said it. It’s not like everyone hadn’t seen it coming.
The captain nodded. “So why not just retire and spend some time at the beach?”
Another violent roll slammed him into the railing and back into the present.
“Yeah, Brian. Why didn’t you just retire and spend some time at the beach?” he muttered to himself.
Frustrated, frozen to the bone, and bruised, he slammed the back of the wrench into the rusted bolt. The other nine bolts had been tight, but they’d released after a couple of good yanks. This one, this last damn bolt, refused to budge.
Giving in to anger fueled by fear, he swung the wrench again and again and sent a stream of profanity into the storm with each hollow clang. Between one strike and the next the bolt turned imperceptibly. Brian froze with the wrench clenched in a fist high over his head. Moving fast in case it decided to freeze solid now that he’d broken it loose, he backed the bolt out enough to let him shove the communication array back into position.
He radioed the captain as he tightened the bolts to hold the array in place.
“We’re clear Cap, try it…”
The ship rolled and Brian’s world rolled with it, tipping him over the rail to swing out into empty space. The safety rope sang as it tightened, then snapped, catapulting him into the waiting darkness.
As the icy water closed over him, Brian thought of the other thing he’d stuffed under that seat.
His life jacket.
This post is my response to a from Our Write Side. for their Friday Flasher prompt. The challenge was to write a short story using four elements: under a seat for a place, a TV repairman for a character, a life jacket for an object, and night for the time. All of that in only 500 words! Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of the story, and feel free to follow the above link to the Friday Flasher prompt - other stories are linked in the comments.
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