image steamship in tropical seas

Historical Fiction

A Brittle Sea Book Extract

Another boom from the shore and this time the shell hit the water only feet away from the ship’s stern.

“Helm! Move it! Give us all the speed you can. Get us out to sea and use your best judgement. Don’t sink my ship, laddie.”

“Aye, sir,” the helmsman said with a wry smile, “I’ll do my best.”

Blackmore stepped out of the bridge and looked astern to see the water beginning to churn and his ship slowly, painfully edge away. Another boom from the shore and this time Blackmore feared the worst. “Clear away from the stern,” he managed to shout to his crew when the shell hit his ship. The stern exploded into a mass of flying steel, smoke, and belching flames from the high-explosive shell. Blackmore instinctively ducked into the bridge until the deadly shower of steel had ceased.

As the smoke cleared Blackmore left the bridge and ran astern, down steps three at a time, running toward the gaping hole that was the stern of The Lady Jane. A crewmember, or what was left of him, lay crumpled before him, his mangled head crushed by a capstan as the blast had hit him and shot him back, until his body was stopped by the immovable capstan.

“I think that’s Carlson,” David James said as he ran up to Blackmore’s side.

Blackmore was ashamed he hadn’t recognised the seaman’s red bandana that he always wore around his neck. “Get the doctor up here… just in case,” Blackmore said, then walked toward the stern to assess the damage.

David James managed to reach the steps up to the bridge when the next boom came. He turned and looked at Blackmore, just as Blackmore turned to look at him and then the shell hit the side of The Lady Jane and the fiery explosion blasted both men off their feet.

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Copyright © Tom Kane 2020


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