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Difficult choice of prompts on Bekindrewrite’s Inspration Monday, this week. I was stuck between; Countdown, To be protected or escape from pretend. My first attempt was pretty ordinary, and, as they say, the story had no legs. But I’m happier with this one …

Escape from Pretend

Captain J stood in the middle of the operations room, his hands clasped behind his back, the tightness of the grip not revealed in the calmness of his visage. Navigator and chief engineer studied the dials and adjusted valves, steam hissed and wood panels creaked and complained about the increasing pressure.

The submersible, Pretend, was falling into the abyss, slowly, fathom by fathom. The redesigned ballast tanks were not large enough to bring the vessel back to the surface. The crew had jettisoned everything that was not fixed to the hull; all that was left was the crew.

“Lower ranks to split into teams and make their way to the escape modules, fore and aft.” Captain J stroked his grey moustache into shape with the back of his hand. “All other ranks to man the turnlocks and valve-gear.”

Each module would take twenty men. The mahogany shell was strapped tight with brass bands. The watertight doors screwed shut with six large hex-bolts. After the ratings were confirmed secure, the engineers retired behind the bulkhead.

Once the modules had cleared the oiled, leather seals they rose rapidly. From this depth it would be five minutes before they broke the surface. In a few seconds the Pretend’s descent levelled off.

Captain J ordered the engines to be stopped; everyone left aboard listened. From the stern came the hissing of steam through the recycling condensers, from everywhere else the creaking of wood against wood as the boards squeezed tighter.

‘Captain?’
‘Yes, Number One.’
‘How long …?

* * * * *

Inspired by Bekindrewrite’s Inspiration Monday for 16 April

(c) 2012, K Patrick Moody

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