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Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 52-(August 17th-24th) Stories----Topic: reality DONE!!!!!

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

DAY DREAMING - 1272 words


We had won the toss and Jones and Fairbrother were striding to the crease, and if I leaned out of the window far enough I could just see Butcher, their massive fast bowler limbering up.
“What are you doing, boy?” Oh no, it was the Headmaster, ‘Reality’ Hughes was his nickname. Where on earth had he sprung from?
“Day dreaming, as usual, Perkins?” He tapped his cane against his leg, pondering whether or not he ought to use it.
“No Sir, eh - I mean, yes sir. Sorry Sir.” I went back to writing the lines: ‘I must concentrate in every class,’ ‘I must concentrate in every class’, ‘I must con…’ I could hear the thud of bat against ball. Someone shouted ‘Four!’ and this was followed by muffled applause. I was stuck here writing lines and my friends were playing cricket. It simply wasn’t fair.
“You can’t go through life day dreaming, boy.” He said ‘boy’ with a curious nasal drawl, as if the boy he was addressing was somehow beneath his dignity. In fact, he made us all feel we were beneath his dignity, and that he was doing us an immense favour by deigning to talk to us.
“What you need boy, is a dose of reality” and he slammed the cane on the desk, inches from my hand, to emphasise the point.
“Yes, a dose of reality would do all you boys good” he said “Preferably the reality of war.” Apparently as a young man he’d served in Burma as an intelligence officer on Slim’s staff and it was rumoured that he’d been decorated for bravery. This was one of his stock sayings and why we called him ‘Reality’.

Ten years later

I’d found out that I’d been promoted to Mate as soon as the agent had come aboard. The Skipper confirmed it, and had congratulated me on this sudden promotion. He also warned me about my new skipper, Captain MacLean. “He doesn’t suffer fools gladly,” ‘Dutch’ Belk had said. “I sailed with him on the Trochista when I was Second Mate, and he can be a bit of a b*****d when he wants to be. It’s MacLean’s last trip, he’s due to retire in six months. He’ll be worse than usual, he can’t fancy the thought of being stuck ashore with Mrs MacLean for the rest of his life. She’ll be his captain then.”

The steward helped me pack and half an hour later I signed the articles as Chief Officer of the SS Hametia. Of course, there’d been no proper hand-over, the previous Mate had been taken to hospital with suspected appendicitis. MacLean had simply handed me the loading plan and told me that we were bound for Nha Trang with a mixed cargo of white oils. It was just after six bells on the 4 to 8 watch and the Third Mate and his apprentice were chatting to the pump man outside the pump room. I grabbed a spare overall and a pair of gloves and went over to introduce myself. “Ballast is almost out, Sir. They say they’re ready to load the Avgas as soon as we give them the signal.” The Third Mate was clearly in control of the situation and no time was being lost. It was clearly a slick operation, the Hametia had been on the Singapore – Nha Trang run for the past six months and always with the same cargo, a mixture of Avgas and Gasoil. Eight hours later we cast off fully loaded and were soon on our way and heading out into the South China Sea.

After a series of routine trips to Vietnam, always loading at Singapore and discharging at Nha Trang we suddenly got orders for Saigon with a cargo of Avgas. All went well until we were navigating up the Mekong Delta with watches doubled and fire hoses rigged and spread along the decks. We had been warned of the possibility of local fishing boats hijacked by Viet Cong frogmen might try to mine the ship under the cover of darkness. In the event it was a stray shell that surprised us at dawn, a stray shell from a South Vietnamese artillery unit who were training nearby, or so we were led to believe. Later it was claimed by the US authorities that we had been attacked by a Viet Cong special forces unit who had managed to manhandle an old French field gun down to the water’s edge and send a lucky shell through our bridge. Whoever was responsible, the effect of the shell was devastating, it narrowly missed MacLean, the Pilot, the Third Mate and the lookout but took the wheelman’s head clean off.

MacLean was the first to react, ordering the Third Mate to the wheel and under the advice of the Pilot, the ship began zigzagging up the channel and only resumed a straight course after about ten minutes when it was clear that no further shells were forthcoming. A little later a US Marine helicopter lowered a doctor and a medical team onto the foc’sle and the body of the wheelman was taken away.

So this was the reality of war, one shell and one death – it could have been so much worse and it was only much later that we realised that we had been extremely lucky, a direct hit on the hull and the ship could easily have exploded. MacLean retired when we returned to Singapore and Mrs MacLean was waiting to take him prisoner on the dockside. They took an extended holiday before returning to the UK. We later learnt that the American government had given him some sort of medal for his coolness under fire. For just one shell, that seemed to the rest of the crew rather excessive.

On our very next trip to Nha Trang under a new captain the reality of war impacted on us again. This time we had just started discharging at a buoy mooring when a limpet mine that had been attached to the hull exploded blowing a twelve-foot square hole in the engine room. Although there was a heavy inrush of water, there were no casualties. Gradually she settled by the stern but remained clear of the bottom. Eventually, with the help of the USS Current, a US Navy salvage ship, she was patched up, pumped dry and able to discharge her cargo. We took her back to Singapore under our own steam and into dry-dock for permanent repair. I was flown home for some much-needed leave after having supervised the dry-docking.

A week later I bumped into my former headmaster, then recently retired, in the library reading room. I was revising for Extra-Master’s Certificate and he was reading the copy of ‘Sea Breezes’ that contained an account of both incidents involving the SS Hametia. My name was mentioned in connection with the mine incident as having ensured all watertight doors were closed after the mine exploded, thus helping her to stay afloat. It was no more than any other Chief Officer would have done.

“Well boy, I see you’ve had a dose of reality at last. I bet you weren’t daydreaming that day.” He smiled broadly and I forgave his rudeness instantly. Once a teacher, always a teacher – he simply couldn’t help himself, and over a cup of coffee later, it transpired that he made quite strenuous efforts to keep up with the activities of a number of his former pupils, especially those prone to daydreaming. He even admitted to having been a bit of a day-dreamer himself before joining the army in 1942.

message 2: by Jan (new)

Jan (auntyjan) | 196 comments An excellent story!

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks, Jan - it is very loosely based on the joint experiences of an old friend of mine and the guy who was my 'best man' forty years ago.

message 4: by Esther (new)

Esther (essie7198) wow! thats awesome!

message 5: by Esther (new)

Esther (essie7198) DARN IT!! i keep getting like 20 words off from 300.... darn it..... *adding more stuff...* fixed it... somehow this came more onto a wish topic, but it says the words reality at least twice...

Title: Maybe You Can....
Word count: 320

”Because in reality, they are his godparents. Fairy godparents-” I remembered that show so well. I used to love it, but now I think it’s stupid. Like some magical little fairies grant your every wish. Real believable. In reality, if you’re family’s broke and you don’t have money, you can’t wish for a million dollars. If you’re out on the streets, you can’t wish for a big house. You can’t wish that your parents never abandoned you. But what I thought was funny, was that they can’t wish for love. Now THAT part is true. And guess what I just did? Just five seconds ago? I threw a penny, my only penny, into a wishing well and wished for all that. Like that’s going to happen, yeah right. I sat down on the ledge of the well. I sighed, leaning against one of the beams that held the roof of the well up. I’m so stupid sometimes. I could have bought a piece of candy for my little sister. But noooo, i had to try my luck on a wishing well. None of it is going to come true, especially not the love part. I sighed again, closing my eyes.
“Excuse me, Miss?” I looked up and opened my eyes, it was a boy, around 19, my age.
He smiled a little. “You seem a little sad.”
And the next thing I knew, I was pouring everything out to him. How we lost our home, how my parents abandoned me and my little sister. The only thing I didn’t tell him was the last wish I made. When I finished he smiled and put his arms around my shoulders.
“C’mon, why don’t I buy your little sister an ice cream?” I looked up at him in disbelief
“Yup.” He beamed.
“I think she would love that.” I smiled back. Maybe you can wish for love....

message 6: by Esther (new)

Esther (essie7198) ya... i still watch it cuz im 12, Mr. Crocker? ya, he's ttly like snape

message 7: by Esther (new)

Esther (essie7198) ... only more insane

message 8: by Hanzleberry (new)

Hanzleberry (doughboyissweet) | 1065 comments Whoa... I must not have any imagination. I didn't get it.

message 9: by Jan (new)

Jan (auntyjan) | 196 comments THE ROAD TRIP 460 words

It was dark. Very dark. The kind of dark you get on a country road far away from the cities when the moon and the stars are obscured by heavy cloud. Jack had his whole family with him in the car...wife, four children. He was also towing a long caravan behind the car, so he was hoping to find a good place to stop for the night.

There are roadside stops where you can have a picnic in the day, or even camp at night, but he was keen to get to the next major town and find a caravan park.

In the darkness, he noticed a vague shape up ahead on the side of the road. It was an older-style car, a rounded, old-fashioned shape, possibly dark blue, as it didn't reflect much in his headlights. Probably abandoned.

But as soon as he had passed the vehicle, its lights came on and it pulled out onto the road behind him. He began to feel a little uneasy.

"Mummy I'm cold," said his youngest daughter to his wife.

"Could we pull over at the next rest area and get her cardigan out of the caravan?"

"Right-oh," he said. This would achieve two things:allow his wife to go into the caravan and find the cardigan, and also let that other vehicle go past and further away down the road.

A few minutes later, he indicated and pulled over into a rest area on the opposite side of the road. But the dark blue car followed him. He felt increased anxiety about this, a kind of sixth sense, warning him that something was wrong. Why would they pull in behind him like that? He drove right on through the rest area and back onto the road again.

"But what about my cardigan?" asked the nine-year-old."I'm really cold."

"You'll have to wait." The slight snappiness in his voice reflected his unease.

The year was 1967 and Australia was generally a pretty safe place back then. It was my family that were travelling. We were heading north to find a warmer place to live. When you live in the Southern Hemisphere you travel north to get further away from the South Pole and the cold winds it sends to southern regions of Australia.

By this stage of our journey, we were in Queensland, a pretty warm place during the day, but it was August, the last month of the Australian winter, and nights could still be pretty cold. It was my sister who was complaining about the cold. She couldn't understand why Dad wouldn't stop. I guess he felt a lot of responsibility for the safety of our family.

So we drove on until we reached Townsville, and somewhere in the town or was it sooner, the shadowy car stopped following us. We found a caravan park and at last were able to settle down to sleep, with all the warm clothes we might need.

The following morning we had just finished breakfast when we heard some sombre news on the radio. The grim reality was that an elderly couple had been found dead in their caravan at a rest area south of Townsville. The police suspected foul play and were asking for anyone with information to come forward.

My Dad finished his cup of tea. We all went in to town together. First stop ...the police station. We will never know whether the vehicle we saw was connected with the crime. But the reality is that my Dad followed his intuition to protect his family from danger.

message 10: by Esther (new)

Esther (essie7198) yey

message 11: by Esther (new)

Esther (essie7198) haha, thanks, i luvv it ;D

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