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IX

     Thom sat in the wheelhouse. The ship sat in the sea. Both sat motionless on a windless ocean. The sails hung limp as they clung to the masts. The salty brine of the Atlantic lapped against the hull. “What the hell is going on?” he thought to himself.

     The great stillness stirred Captain Kincade from a hazy alcohol induced dream state in his quarters. “Why aren’t we moving?” the words slurred from his mouth. Otherwise proud and upright consonants slouching as they huddled around vowels on their way out the door. He dragged himself from the mattress and staggered out onto the deck.

     “Thom! What the hell is going on out here? Why isn’t this ship moving?”

     “Beats me Captain. The wind just stopped.”

     “The wind doesn’t just fucking stop Thom! The wind blows and we go with it! That’s how this works. What we don’t do is just sit in the middle of the goddamn ocean like a lame duck.” Kincade had made his way into the wheelhouse at this point. He instigated a halfhearted and meaningless inspection of the equipment there. Thom watched silently as he ruffled through the charts and jostled the wheel while squinting up into the rigging. “Go get Bucky.” Kincade ordered.

     Thom pounded on Bucky’s door as loudly as he could. There was no need to be concerned with it interrupting Heng’s sleep. A bleary eyed Bucky opened the door in just his underwear.

     “Kincade needs you topside immediately. We’ve stopped moving.”

     “Stopped moving?” Bucky grumbled.

     “Yeah. No wind. Put on some pants and meet me up there.” Thom headed back up the ladder with Bucky close behind still in his underwear.

     “I don’t need pants. It’s nothing nobody has seen before.”

     The three men stood dumbfounded on the deck of the motionless vessel. The air was heavy around them. The crisp, refreshing ocean breeze had been replaced with a shroud of dampness that clung to their skin. Sweat beads formed on their foreheads. Never had any group of men sustained such a strong display of looks of consternation as these three did.

     “Maybe it’s an omen.” Bucky spoke up. Kincade didn’t offer any response aside from a grunt and a shrug. “I told you I had a bad feeling about this one Kincade.”

     “Everyone back to their quarters. I’ll sort this out.” The Captain replied. Thom and Bucky didn’t respond. They stood there as motionless as the ship. “You heard me. Get your asses back below decks.”

     “What are you going to do?” Bucky challenged.

     “I’ll make you go below decks is what I’ll do.” Kincade answered.

     “Not about us about the wind.” Bucky gestured wildly toward the skies.

     “I’ll have to think of something.”

     “There’s nothing you can think of for this!”

     “We could use the engine.”

     “That pathetic little thing won’t get us anywhere. Besides, we need the fuel to run the generator.”

     “We don’t need lights, we need to get moving!” Kincade roared.

     “Well of course you don’t need lights. You’ve got the only cabin with windows!”

      “It’s my fucking ship!” Kincade and Bucky were right in each other’s faces now. Thom shrank back a few steps. Their argument continued to grow in both volume and intensity. Thom didn’t try breaking it up out of fear that he would get sucked in.

     “You’re just a pathetic washed up old drunk Leonard! I’ve stood up for you and made all the excuses over the years but it’s clear to me now. We aren’t going to make it through this one, not with you at the helm.” Bucky frothed as the indictment came forth.

     “You take that back you son of a bitch! You take it back now or you can get the fuck off of my ship right here in the middle of the stew.” Kincade gestured to the waters just over the deck rail.

     “I’m not taking it back. Not anymore.”

     “Goddammit Bucky! I said take it back.”

     “Go to hell Leonard.” At that response Kincade lunged toward Bucky and took a swing. He was too slow and Bucky managed to sidestep the blow. They squared off faced eachother again. Both mean had their fists raised. Thom couldn’t take anymore of it.

     “Come on you two! Stop this. You’re friends for Christ’s sake!”

     “Shut up boy!” They responded in unison. Kincade cocked his arm back for another wild swing. Just as he lunged forward to strike Bucky a giant gust of wind blew in out of nowhere and sent the ship lurching forward through the waters. With no one at the wheel she banked hard to the right and sent all three of the men on deck tumbling toward the edge.

     They slammed into the deck rail but luckily didn’t break through. They did find themselves tangled up in it and hanging on to keep from falling into the ocean. Kincade and Bucky continued shouting at one another. Thom mustered all of his strength and pulled himself up onto the slope of the deck. Carefully he worked his way to the wheelhouse and wrestled control of the ship back from the wind and the sea.

     Bucky and Kincade pried themselves off of the deck. Their fighting had ceased, neither man spoke a word to the other. Bucky brushed himself off and made his way back down to his cabin. Kincade stormed into the galley where he immediately took full force to the task of crawling inside of a bottle. He would later recount the event in his captain’s log.

CAPTAINS LOG – 12079
I awoke to the ship lying still in the waters. Initially I believed the boy to be at fault but upon inspection of the wheelhouse I discovered that he was not at fault in the matter. The wind had gone from our sails, literally. Not even a breeze blew as we sat there on the ocean. I sent the boy to fetch Bucky so that we might utilize a meeting of the minds but that superstitious son of a bitch only suggested that the wind left us as a warning. He’s dogged me about this voyage from the get go. He’s scrutinized every detail always looking for a reason for us to turn tail and run. He won’t have his way though, we are finishing this job. The payout is enormous. We could retire with this money if everyone plays their cards right. Not the boy though, he won’t get as big a cut due to his short tenure and even if he did, he’s still far too young to retire on the sum.

During the disagreement between Bucky and myself he started a fist fight and as we were just about to come to blows the damnedest thing happened. A large gust of wind pushed the ship forward and caused it to bank hard to the starboard side, sending all three of us nearly overboard. The boy managed to pull himself up and take control of the ship. I suppose he’s worth his salt after all.

     After Thom’s shift he was greeted by Dresden who was full of questions. The gust of wind that nearly sent him overboard along with Bucky and Kincade had also thrown her from the bunk. Thom explained that the wind had died down before suddenly kicking up and catching them off guard.

     “The wind just stopped?” she asked.

    “Yeah. Still as could be. Not even so much as a breeze.”

     “That’s odd. Is that supposed to happen?”

     “I don’t know. I don’t think so. I’ve never been on a transatlantic crossing before but Captain Kincade sure seemed surprised by it.”

     “The weather does strange things.”

     “Especially in these times.”

     “What other times do you know?” Dresden challenged him.

     “I don’t know. You know what I mean though. Global warming and all that. We’re destroying the planet. Maybe the wind stopping is related to that.”

     “Maybe that’s just what wind does.”

     “I don’t know. It felt eerie. Like an omen or something. DId you feel anything? A premonition? You’re a psychic.”

     “I’m not any more psychic than you are. I read palms for money in New Orleans so I can pay back an impossible debt to a kind old woman that took me in. I don’t get an inside scoop from god.”

     “Then how did you know about me, and about this trip?”

     “Look at yourself Thom. You look like a drifter. You come into the store carrying around that guitar, smelling like you need a bath. It wasn’t hard to ascertain that you’re some kind of traveling musician type.”

     “Wow, you really had me suckered in.”

     “I’m sorry.”

     “It’s okay. We’re here now. I’m as adrift as I’ve ever been. On some crazy ship captained by a psychotic drunk in the middle of a dying ocean on a dying planet.”

     “The planet isn’t going anywhere.”

     “Maybe not but we are. We’re doomed Dresden.” Thom laughed.

     “I don’t know why you keep saying that.”

     “Because I’ve been out in the world and I’ve meet people and I can see what’s happening. I’m just as psychic as you are.”

     “That may be true but I wish you weren’t so hopeless about it.”

     “Hopeless? Have you watched the news, have you taken a look around. Our only hope at this point is to build some sort of a spaceship and find another planet to ruin before this one swallows us whole.”

    “Now you’re overstating things.”

    “No, you’re just in denial about how bad things are.”

     “I didn’t say that things aren’t bad, but I’m not saying that they are hopeless either. You give up too easily. That’s what you’re problem is. Every time you come face to face with something you don’t like your natural inclination is to run. We can’t build a spaceship and launch off into the stars in search of a new planet. We have to take care of the one we’re on. This is our spaceship, it’s a big round rock zooming around the sun and it’s our job to take care of it and it will take care of us.”

     “It was still really creepy when the wind just stopped.”

     “I’m sure it was, now come to bed.”