Six o' clock News

Six o' clock News

A Story by C.J. Corcoran
"

Eachtra a tharla! Slight adventure-ish story, centered around the sea. -Only the skeleton at the moment, plan to add some bits to beef it out !

"

Bright twinkles began to pierce through the night. They joined the glimmering moon to illuminate the earth. These stars promised relief from the turmoil which plagued this arctic January night, promised relief to those they shone upon.

            “Bring her bough into the wind! And stay peeled for sight of the glare!” Through the howling gale and relentless crash of the tide against the Stags, Harry Sheridan’s rasp could be heard. It had been thirty minutes since their last sighting. Harry swore aloud as the rib took a sudden dive through the crest of a wave, drenching the two men in a fresh coating of salt-water. Little could be seen through the spray, and though the torrential rains had abated, so too was the tide beginning to retreat. Once the hour turned, the currents were to drastically increase, leaving little hope of recovering the fisherman, or his rescuer.

            One..two..three..four..five.. Once more Charlie raised from the turbulent waters to give the life-saving breath. Her muscles were taut and heavy from the exertion, yet she continued with the surging tide. Each minute passed slower than the last, with her senses consumed only by the the rolling sea, the feint, gasping breaths of one Jack Hanlon, and the thunderous roar as the waves pummeled the sides of narrow channel. Before them lay a collection of jagged rocks, known as the Stags.  At low tide, the sheer scale of the Stags inspired awe in its onlookers. Where some may see it as one of the world’s marvels - a combination of rock types originating from the North American plate during the ice-age " now it loomed as a seemingly unreachable place of solace. So too, did the world in which they had lived, merely hours before.

           

            Charlie sighed with relief as she let her load crash onto sand. Just 15 minutes had been spent gathering firewood from the small, sheltered beaches on the eastern side of the island. Many fishing boats had become subject to the unpredictable waters surrounding Carrowmore Island. Uninhabited now, it sheltered the local fishermen in times of need, or those who were lucky enough to inherit one of the original houses that were grouped around the pier.

Despite many part replacements, and applications of WD40, the hinges still creaked when Charlie shoved open the door. Though its close location to the sea protected it from past winters harsh icy conditions, the handle and hinges were still encrusted with salt. The feint aroma of turf, gas and charred leftovers from this morning’s meal danced on the icy air.

            Harry and Ryan entered just as Charlie was setting the old copper kettle onto little gas camping stove, left in the house from the previous years’ visit. As Ryan busied himself retrieving mugs and tea-bags from the air-tight storage boxes, Harry settled himself in his adopted seat by the fire-side. Wrinkles defined his face, whether smiling or frowning. Nearing his sixtieth, he was forty years Charlie’s senior. The man she knew to sit before her now was alike only in appearance to the man who directed her first Search and Recovery mission just over a year ago. His features were sharp, his wit sharper. Yet, similar to his son Ryan, the hardened exterior often revealed the jovial character beneath.

            Glowing hues of orange danced around the stone walls and earthy floor. Quiet contentment settled over the group, appetites sated at last. A low hum of static joined the crackling fire as Harry tuned the little battery-operated radio for the evening’s news. The sun was fast sinking through the sky, but through the single pane window, Charlie could just about make out the orange buoy to which their RIB "‘Deirdre’- was tied. Placed a few hundred meters out from the pier, they could avoid the hourly wakening throughout the night to accommodate the moving tide, while still being safe from any threatening conditions thanks to the island’s natural harbour. The weather forecast that morning promised clear skies but a wind speed of 6 to 8 knots, picking up as the night goes on " no match for this enduring berth.

Charlie’s thoughts drifted back to that day’s outing; a forty minute exploration of the shallow outcrop that ran along the leeward side of the island. Despite the season and cool temperatures, a plethora of crab, lobster, scallop, nudibranch  -or sea slugs-, and ‘dead man’s fingers’ still inhabited the outcrop just 25 odd meters below the surface.

Sinking back into the worn camping chair, she clutched her usual after-dinner caffeine fix tightly, embracing the extra source of warmth. Even though her newly acquired dry suit held to its name, it took time for the chill of the days’ exertions to finally abate.

As the last bars of Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” faded out, Charlie silently praised Ryan’s decision to decline the proposed night-dive that evening. Few things could entice her to return to five degree conditions that evening!

“This is the six o’ clock news. It has been reported that treacherous weather conditions along the North and North-West of the country have resulted in the deaths of 3 fishermen, whose boat capsized just west of Gull Island, Donegal today. The storm is expected to hit the western seaboard tonight, with gusts of up to 100km. The Irish Coastguard has expressed...”

Harry stretched and grasped the VHF radio in lieu of the FM one, now muted at his feet.

 

            For a second time that day, Charlie found herself perched on the pontoon of the RIB. Once more she donned the sopping neoprene accessories that protected her from the bitter elements. In sight, was the perch from which a fisherman, believed to be a Jack Hanlon, was reported to have fallen from. High spring tides at this time of year attracted the best of anglers, but also those with a complete disregard for their own safety. Although many people held the belief of James Joyce, that it is Better (to) pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age” even Charlie had to admit there is a thin line between passion and stupidity.

            As Ryan put the RIB out of gear, Charlie prepared for the plunge. Given her youth, the arrangement was more than unsavoury, but the close quarters of the search provided no alternative.

Once in the water, “okay” signals were exchanged, but Charlie and the others were then separated. Despite the slack tide, the narrow channel had a strong current running through it toward the Stags.

Shallow gullies ran along the edges of the channel, and here Charlie found the body of the fisherman " unmoving.  Dread formed a pit in her stomach, fearing the worst. Evidently he has been washed into this split in the rocks by a powerful swell. As she inched closer, feint gasps and groans could be heard emanating from his mangled body.

             She rose with the swell, fining methodically with the surge of the tide. Progress was slow; she was hampered not only by the weight of another being, but the day’s exertion had also begun to take its toll. Each slow and ragged breath meant one less until some form of sanctuary was reached.

            1..2..3..4..5.. “Keep it steady”. Harry’s last words reverberated around her head. Left hand clutched around the torch illuminating their path, the right - hooked under Jack’s right arm and chin, and they surged steadily onward. The waters began to quicken as they neared the Stags " Charlie was careful to keep to the leeward side of the Stags, for fear of facing the raging open waters.

            The ‘Deirdre’ now rose and fell on the changing tide. Crackling voices over the VHF signaled the oncoming Coastguard rib, with its red port and green starboard lights shining brightly. It surged through into the channel, cutting cleanly through the waves; intend on its course toward the single shaft of light that was before them.

            Family, friends and co-workers of the pensioner milled around St. Aiden’s Church on the first day of February. A blanket of peace and tranquility now lay over all those who gathered in mourning. The coffin was raised, and passed along the pews in which Harry, Ryan and Charlie stood. As the simple box encasing Jack Hanlon’s body passed through the heavy oak doors of the church, a slow melody drifted down from the choir on the gallery.

            “...castin’ out my sweet line,

            with abandonment and love,

            no ceiling bearing down on me,

            save the starry sky above...”

© 2012 C.J. Corcoran


Author's Note

C.J. Corcoran
Essay done for school; thoughts? additions? have extra bits to add in, but thought I'd make a start with this!

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Added on November 15, 2012
Last Updated on November 15, 2012

Author

C.J. Corcoran
C.J. Corcoran

Ireland



About
Will probably be mainly uploading essays done for school etc., so any and all feedback is much appreciated on my work (: Most of which I write is inspired by my own experiences, yet those are, I fi.. more..

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