The Mighty Viking

Conquering those things we must, one story at a time

Not Quite Forgotten

Warm August air blows across my skin.  It blows its portents, and news, and I listen to it with all my senses.

But tonight, it blows not so much with news, but with memories.

Gather round, and I’ll tell you a tale of long ago, of a night almost completely unlike this one.

Almost.  But not quite.

The sun was so far past the horizon as to have been forgotten.  It had been weeks since I’d seen it anyway, sequestered as I was with my crew-mates beneath the sea, silently looking for trouble.

We had found it, of course.  And as submariners do, we had teased it, toyed with it, tempted it and Fate alongside.  Trouble did not like our kind.  And there was nothing that could make us happier.

The necessities of the boat eventually demanded, though, that we sail for open water, and under cover of darkness do the things we must to continue our mission.  And so it was on that night, so unlike the one here tonight, a silent steel hull broke the surface of the water, black against the black water of the Sea, and seven men in dark gear climbed out of a hatch, onto the deck, and back into the natural world.

Our eyes, already carefully acclimated to the darkness, still struggled to see.  In that first tenuous moment, other senses rushed in to fill the demand for information.  That was the moment I felt the hot sea breeze, the only evidence of the sun’s passage hours before. It blew across us like a riderless horse, a shell of a memory of the day.

As if timed for theatrical effect, a giant billow of a cloud drew aside to slowly expose a half-moon.  The moon’s delicate glow revealed more secrets than it exposed, shining only brightly enough to orient us in an edgeless Sea of eternal swells, out until we could see no more.  No horizon, no land, nothing but waves, and broken clouds, and a narrow ray of moonlight illuminating the black metal sail against which we  edged our way around to the aft deck.

The boat moved through the water soundlessly.  The steel hull demanded an accompanying thrum of an engine, the song of machinery, the bustle of a ship’s crew.  But there was none.  The ship was built for silence, and the men bred to stillness, to defend its silence.  With no shore to crash upon, the wavelets slid wordlessly into the inky black East.

With our work done, we returned to the faint red glow of the open hatch, and one by one slipped below into that foreign realm to which we had become native.  I gulped one last draught of this night, of a world so big as to render this small sphere of humanity silent and insignificant. The secrecy of that night’s work remains sacred even tonight, decades later.  Only this one thing, this one memory of a hot breeze on a summer’s night remains to bear witness 

I left the night sky to its own, pulling away like a departing lover.  And I left that hot, breezy August night behind, turning again towards the sounds of trouble.

It would be from the lengthening shadows of post-equinox northern latitudes that I would draw my next breath of fresh air.  Forgotten was the squandering laze of equatorial summer.

But… not quite forgotten.  

Not tonight.  

That hot air will never be forgotten.

 

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One Response to “Not Quite Forgotten”

  1. Frank Dunn says:

    Been there, done that – a few times – no tee shirt. You didn’t mention the slimey deck or the sea snakes. Nevertheless, thanks for the memories!

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