Another figure silently padded back down the hall from Nate’s door, unheard by either Nate or the now sleeping Kim. Melanie opened her door and quietly reentered her cabin. Her mind was reeling. She had not really known Kim prior to the day before. She had suspected that she might not adhere to the values of everyone else on the mission with her nose ring and snobby elitist attitude. She had never guessed she was such a slut to jump in the sack with a guy that was old enough to be her father that she hardly knew. At the same time, Mel also had to admit that if it were not for Kim she would not have made it yesterday. Kim had been the one who called the shots during their escape. Mel probably would have wandered right into the rioters by herself.
Sleeping was pointless, so Melanie pulled on her shorts and decided to go up and see about running on the deck. It was balmy on deck with a low hazy cloud cover hanging over the tropical sea. Mel first walked around the perimeter of the deck along the railing. She saw no one other than herself about. She paused at the back railing and looked back towards the island (she thought). She couldn’t see any sign of it in the hazy night. She thought she saw a fishing boat or something a mile or so back but she disregarded it.
After her walk, she stretched, pulled off her tee shirt to reveal a sports bra and began jogging around the deck. She was sweating profusely within minutes in the high humidity. She kept her pace slow on the unfamiliar surface. Within minutes she had soaked through the white cotton bra. Her cheeks were flushed and her breathing deep as she rounded the bend at the rear of the ship. She glanced out and saw that the fishing boat was more near than she had thought, just a few hundred yards. She thought it strange that a fishing boat was fast enough to overtake the freighter. She rounded the aft deck and continued running.
On the cutter trailing the cargo ship, Massoud motioned to one of his subordinates to ready the boarding gear. The figure running on the deck went unseen by the would-be attackers in the dark. This was the toughest part, boarding a larger vessel while moving at eighteen knots. Massoud knew that they had remained in the larger vessel's radar blind spot. Allah praise his loyal informants. The business of funding the Jihad had become increasingly difficult in the decade after the attacks in New York. It was regrettable but unavoidable that the mujahadeen now had to resort to piracy and drug smuggling to further their ambitions.
It would take well into the night to sort the cargo on the ship and determine what was of value. Massoud had only this cutter to haul off his loot so he would have to leave much of it on board when he sank the ship. Acquiring the cutter during the revolution had been a brilliant stroke by his superiors. The revolution was going as planned, but the opportunity to loot the cargo of rich Asian infidels was enough to make even the hardened Massoud Al Hadeem smile.
On her next lap Mel stopped short of entering the light when she saw the approaching ship. She crouched in the shadows, her chest heaving, as she watched the boat approach to within a few hundred feet. It was a military boat and there were armed men crowding the bow railing.
Mel knew nothing about ships and had no idea where the crew might be. Nate had been on the ship before them, he might know what to do. And Kim was a lot better at these things then she was. Silently she retreated towards the stairs leading to their cabins.
Nate’s eyes flashed open as the door to his cabin was thrown open. He had just dozed off and had not replaced the chair. Standing in the hall light was a bra clad breathless Melanie. This cannot be possible, he thought.
“Guys!” Mel whispered loudly. “Guys, wake up. There is a boat load of soldiers about to do something outside” Her voice was unsteady as she continued, “they all have hoods or something and all their lights were off.”
Nate popped up immediately, and began to dress. Kim came to more slowly. Instead of sandals Nate put on the boots he normally wore. After pulling on a darker colored safari shirt he removed something from the bottom of his bag and tucked it under his belt.
While he dressed he pumped Mel for details, how many men, how close, what kind of weapons, etc. Neither of the girls was dressed for anything other then lounging or screwing around. . . he paused as he watched Kim finish dressing. No time for that now.
“Is it the coast guard or something?” Kim asked.
“Unfortunately it sounds like pirates.” He replied.
Mel looked at him as if he were speaking another tongue and said, “They still have pirates? It’s the 21st century, I thought crooks just hacked banks and stuff.”
“Look, you two go to your room and get your things, NOW. I don’t need to tell you the fate two pretty Yankee girls would face in the hands of these guys. Be ready to move, and wear your shoes.” Nate moved out the door and towards the stairs
As he reached the top of the deck, he heard the first gunfire. He moved quickly back to the girls room. Holding a finger to lips he urged them to move. Through barely cracked door he saw several of the Malaysian officers heading topside. Once they were past he led the girls aft towards the galley where he had picked up the food earlier. Hearing commotion from that direction he opened the nearest door and pushed the girls in.
“Son of a bitch, I knew they had a shower on this floor somewhere.” He muttered. They were in a small bath with a few stalls and a shower. On the far side of the room was another door. Upon opening it he saw some kind of water filter and water heater set up, along with cleaning supplies. He moved the girls behind the big filters and turned out the light. The room was lit by the small safety light over the door.
“How did you know where I was?” Kim asked Mel. She was still in a state of shock from being awakened nude from a man’s bed. A real grown man, not some doofus kid in the library closet. And now this, pirates, cool.
“I saw you go in there and I heard you guys before I went to run.” Mel replied.
“You listened at the door? What the hell for.” Kim’s voice rose.
“It wasn’t like you guys were quiet, tramp.” Mel retorted.
“Fuck you bi-“
“Stow it guys!” Nate smacked both of them on top of their heads.
The three of them heard the door to the bathroom open, followed by the sound of stall door being kicked open. Nate made a snap decision. He stood Mel up and told her take her shirt off and not move. He covered the distance from the filters to the door in three strides. He removed an old world war two-era revolver from his waistband and unfolded a knife with his left hand. He then heard two sounds that made his blood run cold.
The first was a voice coming over a radio checking on the pirates’ status. That voice was speaking Arabic with a Saudi accent.
The second thing he heard was the sound of the handle turning on the door to their hiding place. He clenched tightly and glared at Mel not to move.
Abdul Rhamani was a relatively new recruit to the militia. Previously, he had been an Iranian graduate student. He had yet to be sent to camp and was not terribly savvy. As he opened the door and flicked on the light he was holding his rifle by the barrel with his left hand. The first thing he saw was a white whore standing with only her bra on.
Though Abdul despised all Christian infidels, her beauty nonetheless struck him. He paused silently and stared for a split second. It cost him his life.
Unseen, Nate drove the barrel of the gun into the pirate’s teeth and threw him to the floor with a hip toss. Pausing instantly to check behind him for any accomplices, Nate hammered the heel of his palm into Abduls forehead, dashing his head against the steel floor.
In the movies people get knocked unconscious all the time. In real life it’s nearly impossible to really hit someone and knock them out. Abdul groaned and rolled to his side clutching his head. Nate had a dilemma. If he let the fucker live, he would have to tie him up and hide him somewhere, and then hope he didn’t have to face him again later. On the flip side, if he killed him in cold blood in front of the girls they would probably not respond very well. Plus if his amigos found him slain they would be none to happy if they caught him. Nate then remembered the Arabic voices on the radio. There would be no surrender for the three of them. He placed the tip of his knife below and behind Abduls right ear and drove it up and in. He then turned and faced the two fear striken girls.
“Listen, these guy are Arabs. If they are here with guns then it means they are terrorists. They cannot be negotiated with and they won’t let us live. Mel, you did great, I’m sorry it had to go down like that but it was him or us. Now, I need both of you to listen closely. No arguing, no fucking around, our lives are at stake. You will listen to me at all times and do exactly what I say. If you do, then we will survive, clear?” Nate leveled a blank professional gaze at each of them in turn. They nodded warily, their eyes flicking back to the still twitching body on the floor.
“Enjoy martyrdom asshole.” He drew a deep breath and sighed, back in the saddle again. Nate placed his boot on Abduls neck and wrenched his knife free.
Nate had bought the ancient pistol from a cabby when the riots started, he had figured to throw it overboard once they got close to Malaysia. He was glad to have it now. He picked up the rifle. It was some expensive German deal that he was unfamiliar with. As he racked the bolt and looked for the safety, the radio at Abduls belt squawked. It was number two waiting for number nine to check in. He could not place the accent this time. Nate clipped the radio on his belt and dragged Abdul around behind the filters. Number nine wasn’t your lucky number today, Nate thought evilly. He searched the body for extra ammo and any other toys, no grenades unfortunately. He motioned to the girls to follow and stay quiet.
They made their way towards the rear of the ship simply because the front had been where all the sailors had been headed when the shooting started. Once they had reached the galley Mel pointed to a ladder leading up into the ceiling, Nate nodded at her. The radio started again, emphatically. Nate figured they would come looking soon so he gambled. He reached over and turned on a fan over the stove and held the radio close to it.
In text book Arabic, Nate mumbled into the radio in what he hoped sounded something like the dearly departed Abdul. “This is nine, hold a minute, I am next to machinery, I’ll be a minute more.”
“What? Come again nine?” The voice of two replied.
“Mmmmumbmmumm, gmmagmm a minute” Nate replied even more garbled and closer to the fan. He switched the fan off and motioned Mel up the ladder into the dark.
Number two made some comment to the effect of hurry up. Nate was over it; he followed Kim up the ladder.
“It is some sort of storage closet or something,” Mel declared.
It was some sort of pantry or kitchen closet above the main cooking area. There wasn’t much in the way of food, mostly pans and utensils. Nate was able to pull the ladder up behind them. He found a piece of plywood that fit the opening and used it to cover the trapdoor. He then lit his LED flashlight and cupped the glow in his hands.
“Either one of you know any campfire stories?” He looked at the girls and winked.
“Yeah, one time there was this girl who’s dad wanted her to see the world, spread the word, and make friends. Instead she gets in a war, ends up on a boat with crazy people, and sees people die. Thanks dad, next time how bout Hawaii instead, ok?” Kim was regaining her composure and her bitter wit.
“Don’t forget the part about where her hot sidekick catches her banging some mystery dude then flashes the bad guys so he can kill them.” Mel added, getting into the spirit a little.
“He used to be a spy,” Kim piped up, “Like James Bond, only not as British, and without the tuxedo.”
“I have a tuxedo, just not right here. I need one to get all the girls,” Nate added.
“Cool, do you have one of those shoe phones?” Mel asked.
“I don’t think that was James Bond, what do you mean ‘girls,’” Kim asked with emphasis on the‘s’.
“Well, hell, it is a campfire story? Right? I mean here I am, international man of intrigue, trapped in a closet with two gorgeous girls while Arab terrorist are no doubt scouring the ship for us. A guy can dream can’t he?” Nate answered grinning like a wolf.
Both girls actually giggled. Un-fucking-believable he thought. As he was about to pile on a little more bullshit, the radio sounded again.
They were looking for Abdul now, they even used his name, Nate was not sure he liked that. Then a different man spoke with the authority of a leader. He instructed someone to begin setting up for departure, something about finishing with containers, and getting rid of garbage. Seconds later, Nate heard a barrage of machinegun fire that went on for several seconds, followed by a few scattered single shots.
“What did he say?” Both girls asked simultaneously.
“I think they just slaughtered the crew. I don’t think they intend on this ship ever making it to Malaysia.” Nate said in a measured tone. “We are going to need to get the hell off this boat, I believe. They are going to find the body soon and then they’ll know we are on the boat.” Nate did not really know what to do but his mind was rattling through plans.
“I am going to take a peek around. You two are to stay here, no matter what, I WILL be back. I need to figure out their plans and do a little scouting.” Nate looked at the two girls for a long moment. Then he handed the old .38 and his flashlight to Mel. “A last resort only, you understand? They cannot get in here without coming up that ladder so you could make it real hard on them. Let me give you one word of advice though. When they behead Christians, they do not do it with a ‘chop’. They saw your head off with a big knife and then send the videotape to your family. Save the last two for yourselves.” Nate was pretty sure he had their attention now.
He cracked open the trapdoor, peered down, and hustled down the ladder. He cast a parting glance at the girls. They were huddled together in the corner, shoulder-to-shoulder, eyes wide, holding hands. Damn, he thought, they are pretty hot. With that he was gone, closing the door above him.
“OK, scared shitless now.” Kim said as the room darkened. She clutched Mel’s hand tightly. “Look, I’m sorry about yelling at you earlier” She whispered.
“Yeah, me too. I should never have called you that. I was just a little stressed, and a little jealous.” Mel replied.
“Yeah, I mean he is kind of cute, and he had a bed, and I didn’t want to sleep alone. Besides, I have never done anything like that, and what better time to, you know, throw caution to the wind. It must be nice to lose your virginity to someone who knows what they’re doing and is not going to blab all over school the next day.” Melanie continued.
“Chica, I ain’t no virgin. I am kind of a ho, just not with school people. I decided two years ago that I wanted to know what it was all about so I read and studied and surfed until I was ready to try. Then I let some college guy I met at the hotel while I was on vacation with my parents do it. It sucked!” They both laughed at that.
Kim went on, “so of course I kept trying. Older guys, younger guys, girls, everything, I mean if read about it, I tried it. I am what happens when a kid gets her sex education off the internet. Finally though, I realized that most of the guys were just getting their kiddy porn fantasies off on me and didn’t care if I got anything out of it.” Kim paused, thinking back about the last two years.
“My god, what about your parents?” Mel asked incredulously.
“Hell they didn’t know anything. As long as I made good grades and they could parade me around as an example for the youth ministry, they pretty much ignored me. I am the ultimate trophy child, half ‘seventh heaven’, half ‘OC’. Are you really a virgin? You are so pretty and skinny you should have a million boyfriends.” Kim asked, changing subjects.
“You mean you have done it with girls?” Mel asked, very much not changing subjects.
“Yeah, but just girls our age. Usually I knew a lot more about sex and stuff. I kind of seduced them for my research. It was nice though, because they cared afterwards, and they wanted to make me feel good as much as I wanted to make them feel good.” Kim then added, “I mean it, are you really a virgin?”
“Yeah, I mean with sports, and cheer, and school; plus my parents are super strict about the church. I hardly ever even date, except for adult functions. Was it gross, doing it with girls?” Mel was feeling a little uncomfortable. This was the most frank discussion of sex she had ever had. She looked and fantasized like everybody else, but she had always kept her thoughts to herself. She thought back an hour earlier to seeing them both naked when she had burst into their room. She squeezed Kim’s hand even more tightly.
Kim sensed the change. Hell, they might both be dead in a few hours. “No, not at all, girls are soft and they smell nice and know how to be slow. I really like it, I’m not gay or anything, I like guys a lot, but men always have a mission you know? They want to go and go and get off. With a girl it is all about having a nice trip. Plus, girls are way better kissers.” Kim grinned and bounced her shoulder against Mel, tipping her slightly.
Mel’s breath caught in her throat when Kim’s other hand landed gently on her knee. Kim looked down at her. She was still smiling but more softly, her eyes smoldering. Was she serious, Mel thought, her heart raced and a battalion of butterflies were marched in her tummy. “Ah, I guess, if you say so, I wouldn’t know. I wouldn’t have anything to compare it t- mmf,” Mel stuttered to reply, which Kim promptly silenced with her lips.
Kim let go of Mel’s sweaty little hand and caressed her cheek. Her other hand crossed over Mel’s knees and cradled her hip. She came up to her knees holding Mel’s head in her hands while she heated up the kiss. Mel kissed back awkwardly but was stiff with her hands clenched in her lap. Kim trailed her left hand down Mel’s neck and shoulder and cupped her breast, her thumb seeking the nipple.
In spite of herself, Mel responded, she lightly placed her hands on either side of Kim’s waist. Kim then lifted her leg over and straddled Mel. She settled her weight into Mel’s lap and kissed her with abandon probing her mouth and biting at her lips. She fumbled up under the sports bra with her hand seeking the hard little pebble that she felt through the shirt. With her right hand she now guided Mel’s hand up her own shirt to her own little diamond hard nipples.
“Kim, I don’t know if I” Mel began between kisses.
“Shhh baby, I won’t hurt you or let anything bad happen to you. Just let me make you feel good. I promise I won’t let anything hurt you, please let it all go, I promise I’ll be good to you.” Kim slide down in Mel’s lap and guided them both to the floor while she spoke. She resumed kissing her mouth ears and neck as she eased her self to her hands and knees, looming over her lover. She began pulling Mel’s shirt and bra together over her head. Mel gave into Kim’s hands and words; she took hold of the shirt and pulled it up and over.
Kim stripped off her own shirt and was back on Mel instantly, their chest mashed together. She chewed her way from Mel’s neck to her chest to her nipple. She sealed it in her mouth and flicker her tongue rapidly up and down, a trick she had learned only hours earlier. Mel’s hands roved everywhere, never stopping for long. She lightly caresses her ribs and back, her breasts and hair. She ran both hands lightly down Kim’s side, which instantly elicited a squeal of muffled laughter from Kim.
“Oh my God that tickles you goof.” Kim sat up on Mel’s lap and pulled Mel to a seated position. Holding Mel head in her hands she smiled down at her with genuine affection.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to ti-“
“Shhh, its Ok, here, make it up to me like this.” Kim interrupted as she pulled Mel’s face to her chest. “Suck them hard and use your teeth, you won’t hurt me. They’re tiny, but they’re tough. Mmm-hmm, like that, harder, now the other one. Oh Melly, that’s so nice.”
Kim ran her fingers through Mel’s hair and pulled loose her ponytail. Then she eased Mel back to the floor again. Kim held Mel’s head against her chest with both hands while she supported her weight on her knees and the top of her head.
Mel had given in to everything. She was excited and confused. Her mind blank, she focused on the task at hand like a runner late in the race. Her own legs had fallen open at the knees and she pushed a hand into the waistband of her shorts and ground herself through her panties. She devoured Kim’s adorable little breasts. Her nipples tasted coppery in her mouth and were as hard as little bullets. Daringly, she cupped Kim lightly through her shorts. Kim was on fire as Mel traced little circles with her fingers.
As good as it felt, Kim was self-conscience about still being kind of nasty from her earlier romp with Nate. She slid down away from Mel’s hands to kiss her breasts again; she paused there briefly to latch back on to Mel's thick little nipple. With one hand supporting her weight, she used the other to unfasten Mel’s shorts. She pushed her hand alongside Mel’s busy hand, but instead worked her way inside Mel’s panties. She glided one finger along the slick crevice into the slippery entry of Mel’s pussy. Mel withdrew her hand and began tugging her shorts off to allow Kim more access.
Kim kissed her way down Melanie’s ribs and belly. She helped Mel kick off her shorts as she knelt between her open legs. Her tongue traced its way along the top edge of Mel’s white string panties. She planted a gentle kiss on Mel’s pubic bone as she pulled the panties to the side and pushed two slim fingers into her.
This was it. She was about to do it. ‘It’ was with another girl, which was very very weird, but this was it nonetheless. Her heart was racing, she was sweating, her whole body tingled with each breath of air Kim blew across her. When Kim’s tongue dipped into her it was like being shocked. She grasped a fist full of Kim’s hair with one hand while she bit down on her fist to keep from crying out with the other. Each flick of her tongue was more intense than the last.
Kim had settled down to work lying prone on top of Mel’s discarded shirt. She held the panties aside while she fingered Mel and danced her tongue in, out, and around all the yummy spots. She had always liked the workman like business of oral sex. They were both hot and sweaty and dirty and Kim reveled in it. She liked giving people pleasure and she especially like the control. She was feeding on Mel’s response, varying the intensity and pace depending on her breathing and movements. She had already decided she was not going to get off for her self; she was intent on Mel for as long as it took.
Unlike Mel, who was in a mindless ‘runners zone’, Kim’s mind was very active while she ate Mel out. She thought about the encounter with Nate and the two people whose lives she was now entwined with. While she knew the possibility of dying was very real, she could not help but be excited. She was eager to see what was next.
Thoughts of the outside world brought her back to reality. It was time to finish, she thought to herself after a few minutes. She plunged both fingers deep inside searching for the magic spot. She increased the pace and force with her tongue as she came up on her knees and elbows. Mel was musky and salty and Kim oved it. She was getting very hot inside and very much wished Nate was behind her right now. Mel opened her legs wider as Kim moaned and hummed into her opened slit.
Mel began to shake all over. She tossed her head from side to side. Pressing down with her feet she lifted her hips, which Kim promptly forced back down. Her hands alternated between clawing Kim’s shoulders and being clenched in her teeth. Finally, Mel could stand no more. She began to sob as her body was wracked by her orgasm. Kim continued relentlessly until Mel pulled her away by the hair. Mel laid flat on her back, her arms thrown wide, gasping for air as she recovered.
Kim crawled back up along side and lay beside her, cradling her. She placed little kisses all over Mel’s face and eyes. The two young girls gazed at each other, their freckled noses inches apart, literally sharing breaths.
“I never want this to end Kim. I never realized . . .” Mel didn’t finish.
“Shhh, don’t talk baby. Rest a minute; we need to get dressed though. Remember where we are.” Kim reminded her.
A few moments later they were dressed again. Kim sat against the wall with Mel sitting between her legs leaning back against her. They told each other their life stories, and chattered about girly things. They talked about Nate. Kim filled Mel in on what she knew about him. They talked about what was going to happen to them now too. Mel made Kim promise her a chance at Nate if they survived this. Kim agreed with a touch of resignation in her voice. She was afraid he would never come back, though she didn’t tell Mel.
About an hour later, there was a gentle tapping at the trap door.
“Guys, don’t shoot, it’s me.” Nate whispered
As Nate climbed into the pantry he immediately recognized the smell of sex. Mel was lounging in Kim’s arms holding the pistol loosely in her hand. In spite of the dire predicament he felt a definite twinge in his pants. Their hair was frizzy and their shirts were only partially buttoned. No time for this now he thought. They were completely relaxed with each other as they lounged against the wall. He realized they must be exhausted as well, it was well after midnight and they had all had a crazy day even before the night’s events.
“Well, are we doomed?” Kim asked?
“The ship is, they are not leaving any evidence. They have wired the hull to sink her after they leave. With all the commotion from the revolution no one will think twice about a missing freighter for a while. These are bad dudes, guys. They know we are here somewhere but they have about given up on finding me. I made a couple of them pay dearly for murdering the crew. We need to get moving, when they blow it, it will go down pretty fast.
They all climbed down the ladder, Nate in the lead. He had found a service corridor that carried them to the lower deck above the cargo hold. The ship was enormous, but ninety-five percent of it was uninhabited. The cargo area was filled with hundreds of truck containers secured below and on the foredeck. It was here that they came outside.
Nate could see up about forty feet to the crew area from where they hid. The ship was barely moving, with the cutter tied along side. Several men were lowering cargo netted bundles to the waiting cutter using a small crane on board. As they lowered what appeared to be the last bundle, one figure began shouting commands. Men grabbed their gear and shuffled down a rope ladder to the boat.
Massoud looked at his watch again. The sun would be up soon. It would not do for the cutter to be seen in the presence of the doomed ship. The loot, mostly high-end computer components, pharmaceuticals, and thousands of factory copies of movies and video games, was loaded. It was time to go.
“Move you pitiless lazy dogs, move! Ahmad, did you destroy the lifeboats? Jaheed, make sure that all of the containers are secure. We leave in five minutes!” Massoud badly wanted to find the bastard that had killed Omar and Rami, he could care less about the new guy whose body they had found below, but those two had been with him since the start. He had ordered all the lifeboats and the runabout destroyed so that the dog would drown with the boat. He had no time for vengeance today, only the mission.
Nate listened to the shouting. He had already known about the lifeboats but he had discovered a little secret he doubted anyone else knew about. He just hoped he had time.
“Stay here, I am going to give them a little going away present,” he told the girls.
He moved to the far side of the ship and climbed up to the same level Massoud was on. He had decided he was going to take out the leader. A guy entrusted to run an operation like this had to be a heavy hitter. Besides, he sounded like a prick. As he moved into position, Nate retrieved a flare gun he had swiped from the aft ‘MO’ rescue station while he was scouting. MO stood for man overboard. It was a kit that contained a survival suit, flare gun, marker buoy, and most importantly a small inflatable raft.
As the men finished their duties they began to descend the ladder one by one. Nate’s plan was to wait till they had all boarded and see if he could get a clean shot at Massoud once the boats were apart. Massoud did him one better. He was the last man on board the freighter. It was he that untied the two lines that secured the two ships. After the boats were separated, he shouldered a bag and approached the railing.
Nate’s first bullet took him in the ribs below the shoulder; the second went literally through his ears. Leave it to the Germans to make a fucking good rifle Nate thought. He quickly covered the distance to the railing where Massoud laid dead. He peered over the edge at the boat, now several feet away from the heaving freighter. He fired a single shot into the man shouting orders to come back alongside. As the man fell the others ducked for cover. In true Islamic jihadi style they then began randomly spraying bullets everywhere. Nate figured they wasted a few hundred rounds while he crawled aft to a better firing location. During a lull in the firing he peeked over and selected a new target. The bearded kid took a bullet to the hip and the barrage started again.
At this point, Nate fired a flare into the predawn sky. That got their attention. If someone saw them attacking the ship, the jig would be up. Nate knew they could not afford to be compromised. If word got out about pirates there would be Japanese and Thai destroyers hunting them relentlessly. A new voice began screaming orders and the cutter’s engines fired to life. Nate rolled to look again. The cutter was pulling away, veering off into the night. He watched for a minute as it disappeared into the darkness. They had maybe an hour until first light, but only minutes until first boom.
“Girls! Come here now, hurry!” He shouted to them. Time to pack. Picking up Massoud’s bag, Nate ran to the bridge deck. The girls came up moments later. Nate was searching for a GPS but there was only the shipboard unit, which had been shot up, along with the radio and phone. He found a compass and binoculars, as well as a better flare gun. On a whim, he grabbed two more items from the captain’s desk.
“Go below to the galley and grab all the food you can carry. Get the packaged or preserved stuff first. Grab some cups, bowls, and utensils, and a couple of good knives. Also go through the officer’s quarters and grab some blankets and clothes. Run by my room and get my bag while you’re at it. Move! We don’t have much time. When you’re done, come up on deck and I'll be at the back of the ship.” Nate shooed them out and went to the officer’s mess across the hall.
As he had remembered there was a bottled water cooler. He stuffed the loot from the bridge in Massoud’s bag and shouldered one of the five gallon bottles. He carried the entire load to the aft deck where the MO Kit was. Nate judged it was thirty feet to the water from the aft railing. He set the bag and bottle down and ran back for two more bottles of water. How was he going to get all of this shit to the water, in the boat, with the girls, before the ship blew up? He toted the two jugs to the MO Kit and went looking for some rope.
When he returned he had the rope ladder Massoud had intended to use to escape. The girls were waiting next to his pile of stuff.
“Why don’t we get in a life boat?” Kim asked?
“They busted the bottoms out of them to keep me on the boat. There is an inflatable raft in that box. You guys put these on.” He handed the girls life jackets from the kit.
The entire ship lurched as a sharp rumbling was heard from within, near the bow. The sound of the engines died. For an eerie moment there was no sound but the sea and the wind. Then the ship began groaning from within.
“Showtime” Nate muttered as he stuffed the food and extra gear in the survival suit. He used part of the throw line from the life buoy to tie the marker buoy to the suit. He then tied another life vest to the three bottles in a row. His own bag was water proof and would float on its own. The ship had stated to lean slightly to one side though Nate could not remember his port and starboard. He opened the life raft and set the box on the deck as directed and pulled the ripcord to inflate it.
“Shit that thing’s small, how are we going to fit?” Mel asked.
It was about six feet long and three feet wide with a nylon canopy over the entire top. Once inside an occupent could zip it up and be out of the sun and rain. It was flourescent red and had a strobe light on top that had started flashing. Nate unclipped the light and pocketed it, no need to advertise there whereabouts just yet.
“We’ll fit,” he assured her.
Nate then opened the rear gate. The stern was beginning to rise. Nate first threw the water then the food and gear over board. He heaved the raft over and watched it flutter down. As the morning dawned he took both the girls hands and stepped to the precipice. The stern was coming up fast; thirty feet had grown to forty.
“What do you mean you can’t swim? Hell the fall’ll probably kill ya!” Nate shouted in homage to Butch and Sundance.
“Huh?” Both girls asked simultaneously. They never got the chance to ask him what he meant as he pulled them over with him into the warm pacific. To the east the sun was rising but they could not see it through the rapidly gathering dark clouds.