Chapter Ten Part Six - Shipwrecked

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“Please...” Annalise clambered out onto the deck. Only Verity and Johnny were out in the open air. Everyone else was down below in various states of rest. “Please... tell me that spluttering, juddering, bloody awful noise wasn't us running aground.”

“It wasn't us running aground,” said Johnny, peering out into the moonlit night ahead of the craft. “You'll notice though, 'Lise, that the engines aren't firing.”

Shit! We're out of fuel?”

“At a guess, yeah.”

“How far off Sark are we?”

“An hour, hour and a half.”

“Right, we've got to search and we've got to search quickly, before we drift off course,” she barked, heading towards the aft. “We need to find some bloody fuel!”

Ten minutes' searching produced nothing by way of a spare cannister of fuel and twenty minutes after that the result was the same. Half an hour spent going through every single nook, cranny and hidey-hole the river cruiser had to offer, and they were still no better off.

“Can we steer without the engines?” Helen asked. “I mean the rudder doesn't need fuel, does it?”

“No but without the engine all the rudder will do is slow us down as we're dragged along by the current, which probably isn't a bad thing,” Annalise replied. “We could always rig up some kind of sail, but for that to be a successful course of action we'd actually need to know what we're doing and I'll put money on Joan being the only one able to do that.”

A few moments later that fact was proven because as she asked everyone on board, Annalise quickly came to realise that there was not a sailor amongst them.

“Can we at least work out where this current is going to take us?”

“Well we needed to be heading south-west,” said Harry. “But without any power the current is taking is dead south, pretty much.”

“That means we're heading where, France?”

“Probably, but look at the map Joan left for us.” Annalise did as Harry instructed, and followed the tip of his finger. “There's a whole mess of rocks and islets about what, forty-odd miles south of Jersey, that look as though the effect the currents a fair bit. I reckon that without fuel, we're gonna' run aground somewhere... there.”

To demonstrate the uncertainty he circled an area on the map larger than the island of Jersey itself with his finger.

“What's there? Anything?”

Both questions were answered with nothing but a shrug and the shaking of Harry's head before he said, “I genuinely have no idea, but I guess we're going to find out soon enough. 'Course, we could pass them straight by and end up in Normandy.”

***

Annalise tried to sleep but she was unable to do so. It was much the same for everyone else, as far as she could tell. Johnny and Harry were up on deck, more to serve as an early warning system than anything else, for there was certainly nothing they could do to steer the vessel.

She had no idea for how long she had been trying to sleep, but a cry of, “land-ho!” shot her up from her slouched position on the corner of the bench seat below deck and she scampered up the steps as quickly as her aching body would permit.

“Where?” she asked, her body contorting as she attempted to stretch every single muscle contained within at once.

“There!” She followed Johnny's gaze but it was not until everyone else was out on deck that she spotted what definitely appeared to be a rocky outcrop of some sort rising up out of the haze created by the early morning Sun.

“It's tiny,” she said. “Definitely not Sark.”

“No, and I don't think it's Jersey, either. I think we're too far south.”

“Is it the rocks and islets you were talking about?”

“That's my best guess,” Harry replied with a helpless shrug. “The Minquiers, according to the map.”

“Let's hope they're not as uninhabited as the map suggests,” said Helen, quietly.

“Agreed,” said Annalise with a nod, and a little over an hour later they found out.

It had not felt to anyone as though the cruiser was travelling particularly quickly and yet one moment they appeared to be miles away and the next, the Minquiers were rushing towards them at breakneck speed.

The boat bounced off submerged rocks both left and right as the current dragged her along and on several occasions the keel scraped along a hidden shelf. Every now and again it felt as though that was it, that the current was not going to be able to drag them any further and then it took hold once again, its power freeing the cruiser from each temporary resting place.

“We're taking on water!”

“A lot of it, too!”

Shit!” Annalise cried out, and then when she thought that all hope was lost that they were going to be stranded in the middle of nowhere with nothing but rocks and ocean all around, she caught sight of an outcrop much larger than any that had already bumped or scraped their craft, and the current appeared to be taking them straight towards it.

“Get everything from below deck that we can carry,” she shouted. “Something tells me we're going to have to get our arses off this boat pretty quickly!”

***

Annalise and Verity watched the river cruiser go down. It did not take long for it to do so, of course. There were rocks a few feet below the surface so even though she had sunk, the river cruiser was not fully submerged.

Not for the first time in the past twenty-four hours the two women were thoroughly soaked to the skin, as was everyone else in their party. Most had, in fact, stripped down to whatever underwear they were wearing. The Sun beat down hotly and there was not even the slightest breeze. With that in mind they could be forgiven for thinking they were in some tropical paradise, rather than standing along a pontoon on the southern-most part of the British Isles.

According to the map they were something like sixty miles south of Sark, and it was not as though they could make a quick telephone call and say, “hey, we're all right but we ran into a spot of bother, don't suppose you fancy coming to pick us up?”

They were well and truly stranded, and closer to the mainland of France than they were to their friends.

That said, they had shelter. Even though they were yet to explore what at first glance appeared to be a tiny island, there were a few cottages that could be seen even from their position upon the pontoon. There were also two boats moored at the pontoon, though there was only a single oar between them. Rowing to Sark would be a challenge even with the correct equipment, so that was most definitely not an option.

“What do you say, 'Lise?” said Verity. They had been staring out at the partially submerged craft for the better part of an hour and everyone else had already left them to it, and headed towards what they were already referring to as 'The Village.' “We gonna' get settled in?”

“Yeah, we should,” she replied, retrieving the last dry packet of cigarettes that she had from the cup of her bra. She took one out and lit it with the lighter pulled from the other cup. “Could always be worse, right? I mean, at least there's no Zeds here.”

-FIN-

-Season Two coming to a Wattpad near you, January/February 2015-

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