Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Icarus to Ground Control: Father Why

2011 07 05

39 20 N
046 02 W


An annoying brrrrp, brrrrp, brrrrp draws me from daydream, if that is what you call the state of half sleep that hoods the inactive mind sitting alone in the dark on the devil's watch. The AIS has detected a freighter, it tells me, of the name Alem Kaleem.

In the confusion of sudden wakefulness my eyes tell me the vessel name is "Alarm Kaleem". Adrenalin flows: "Alarm" rings clear enough in my mind triggering the proper autonomous response. Milliseconds later the fastest drug manufactury on the planet has formulated, fabricated and injected me with a full dose of stimulant leaving me full awake and realizing my error.

It takes the Alem Kaleem twenty five minutes to pass us harmlessly about three miles off. It is visible only for the final four miles of its approach. The AIS is a dream system.

During the passing of our two ships I attempt communication with the vessel. Its pilot is asian and apologetically inept at English. Why I wonder to myself as I cannot even place which language is native to my anonymous friend. Be it Malay, or Korean or whatever they speak in Philippines my lack is far the greater.

Sitting alone at the conn, pitch black surrounds me, no wind blows. Poor Meredith, our trusty steed, drifts, confused by the signals she receives from the ceaseless switching to and fro of wind so light as to be invisible to all but massive sheets of finest silk. Wind so light even the bits of yarn tied to our shrouds will not twitch an indication of its direction or strength. It has none.

A quick navigation fix confirms that we are drifting backwards to our intended course. We are powerless to avert our course, to improve our lot, to go where we bloody well choose on this vast unoccupied salt water prison to which we have consigned ourselves.

Our motion retrograde is consequence of our having been absorbed by the amoeba like blob of high pressure which grows every second enlarging its already excessive bulk consuming degree after degree of longitude. On the last wefax the centre of this low extends from 15 degrees West longitude to 60 degrees West longitude and has obliterated everything from 30 degrees North to 42 degrees North.

We find ourselves powerless to intervene.

Initially we fled from the battlefield at full speed refugees from an atmospheric battle in which we have no interest. We are but collateral damage in the games of the Gods.

Due North we ran, using precious diesel to do it. Our grail the blessed Forty Degrees Latitude. There we would find safety, there our sails could breath, there, we were assured we would find freedom.

Log entries tell the story: at three hour intervals over the past twelve hours: 1027, 1028, 1029, 1030, each entry a click as the blade of the guillotine is ratcheted ever upwards over our heads.

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