The Enchanted Freighter

6 Dec

Glek, desperate for work in his field of sea navigation, disregarded all the warning rumors he had picked up in court about the container carrier named the Demid. As soon as he met the ship’s commander, Captain Onois, his apprehensions about joining the crew vanished in a flash.

The top officer of the giant vessel was surprisingly small and short, unlike what Glek’s past experiences working as an assistant pilot on Brack Sea shipping lines. But the voice and the facial expressions of the diminutive Onois soon revealed the authoritative power of the skipper of the ferro-ceramic hauler of bulky, heavy metal machinery and equipment to overseas destinations.

The interview of the young Glek occurred in a small tavern near the docks on a bayside harbor. The job applicant found the little captain affable but not too informative about his prospective duties aboard the freight vessel.

“I command a comparatively small crew, considering the volume of cargo that we carry,” said Onois in a warm, high-pitched tone. “Through efficient planning and modernized organization, I have managed to get a lot of work done with a limited number of hands on board.

“You shall see for yourself, because I have just decided that you will meet my needs, my son.

“Welcome to the crew of the Demid. I am certain you will find the work satisfying and interesting for you.” Onois gave a brilliant, radiant smile. “If you are packed up, you can return to my ship with me at once. We will be leaving port with all our cargo stored aboard first thing in the morning, with the break of early dawn.”

A deckhand in fatigues showed Glek to the cubby that he would be sleeping in. Within minutes a tall, slim man in a dark blue uniform entered the room with notice or warning and spoke in a loud, sharp voice to the newest crew member.

“I am Sxan, Chief Pilot of the Demid,” he announced. “You shall be serving under me, so I intend to show you what your duties are on our vessel. We will make a tour together around the piloting bridge, and then I plan to show you the hold and what we are now carrying.”

Glek accompanied his immediate superior to the navigation and control compartment, discovering that the Captain stood there looking out at the sea through the wide, nearly invisible viewing and observation window.

“All of our mapping and reckoning happens electronically in our several calculation frames up here behind this bridge section,” explained Sxan to the new employee.

The pair then took the central corridor into the cargo hold, which covered a colossal three-dimensional space that made up the bulk of the Demid.

Sxan pointed out heavy machines made of ferro-ceramics, nano-titanium, stainless chromium, and isomeric materials. “It is the main task of our Storage Master to supervise the placement and recording of every item, whether large or small, loaded onto our ship. It is a difficult, complex that only a capable, experienced accountant can carry out.

“I shall take you to the office of the Storage Master and introduce you to Mrink. He is a wizard in keeping track of all our freight.”

Mrink proved to be a large, athletic-looking man with snow-white hair and lemony eyes. Upon being introduced, he told hold of the hand of Glek and gave it an energetic shaking.

“I am so glad that we now have you on the crew,” grinned the Storage Master. “There was a noticeable slackness up in navigation after the assistant to Sxan passed away so suddenly. That vacuum will now be filled by you,” said Mrink, looking directly into the eyes of the neophyte.

Glek could feel an intangible, invisible pressure in the stare that Mrink now applied to him.

“We must go on and proceed to the end of the Demid,” said Sxan with half a laugh, leading the way for Glek to follow.

The Head Navigator explained what he would be doing to Glek when the two of them returned to the nearly empty bridge, where only two other crew members were busying observing magnetic return waves echoing back from the sea surface on all sides of the vessel.

“The final item on your schedule today, Glek, in an orientation session with the Captain himself. He should be coming in here soon. The meeting with him is set for the map room just behind the bridge.”

Both men, hearing a door swing open, turned and watched as Onois walked onto the bridge from the central corridor.

The Captain motioned to Glek with his right hand. “Come with me and I shall give you the introductory instructions I make to all our crew members.”

Glek, full of curiosity, followed the officer into the room holding maps and digital monitors. Onois pointed to a chair behind a small table, signaling the other to sit down there. Then he moved close beside where Glek sat looking at him.

“I want you to relax while I speak. You must absorb my meaning and follow what I say. The instructions I give are going to become a part of your future thoughts and guide your behavior and feelings without exception. Do you understand me, Glek?”

The latter, his eyes and mind focused, nodded that he did.

Onois smiled, for he had succeeded in hypnotizing the mind of the young recruit. He proceeded to teach him what to expect.

“From now on, you need only two hours of sleep and rest. The rest of the day and night, you will be carrying on your assigned duties under the Navigation Chief. All your attention will become centered upon doing your job. Only to eat or relieve yourself can you stop working. Do your understand these instructions?”

Glek nodded that he comprehended what he was being mesmerized to become, a subject under a complete spell similar to what those on the sea called ship enchantment. He had heard old legends about the condition. Now he was within the power sphere of a skipper who used exactly that hypnotic capability in running a vessel.

As he became familiar with his tasks and responsibilities on the bridge and in the map room, Glek recognized and remembered what had happened to him. He had accepted his duty to do as told by officers superior to him. Every order given him by the pilot, Sxan, the new man aboard fulfilled fully and gladly.

Days followed each other as the Demid plowed across the Brack Sea from port to port. Old cargos were delivered and new ones taken on. The comparatively tiny crew was able to carry out all the work of an ordinary, normal ship crew. They worked with only the smallest possible time away from their jobs.

Glek became accustomed to his assigned routine as nearly a human robot. His life turned into a zombie-life cycle. His daily work came to feel like a dream to him.

Great storms were rare on the sea waters, but they could strike out of the blue. A colossal hurricane arose in the path being taken by the Demid.

The sky had an ominous darkening to it. The wind increased in ferocity and velocity by the second. Torrents of unending rain struck the Demid.

Captain Onois took a position on the bridge alongside the Chief Navigator and his assistant, Glek. “We must shut off our hydrocarbon fuel and let the engines rest till this storm finishes on its own.

“We will float on the sea surface until all of this is over,” he told his hypnotized subordinates.

While the Captain and Sxan gazed out through the wide silex window, Glek went about his duties at the magnetic position monitor at the rear of the bridge, sitting at a small observation desk of zinc alloy.

All of a sudden, the ship started to spin in a circular pattern. It was caught in a spiraling chasm of water, an overpowering whirlpool of motion. Everyone on the bridge felt this in their bones and body parts.

A sense of being in the middle of chaos took hold of the mind of Glek.

What is happening? he wondered. How is this emergency going to end?

The Demid started to shake with vibrations as it whirled and spun.

Captain Onois, standing next to the bridge’s forward window, started to lose his balance. This condition disoriented and confused him, throwing him against the silex surface of the window that looked out into the roaring sea.

Glex watched helplessly as the commander of the vessel crashed into the window, bouncing off of it and then striking it once again with his head.

Onois fell back, striking the plasteen floor of the ship’s bridge, first with the top of his head. It was a direct, very strong collision.

Glex and Sxan looked as if paralyzed at the Captain’s unmoving body.

It was clear that the commander was now unconscious. His mind must have blanked out, considered Glex, hearing a sudden clicking sound in his own ears.

He was unable to identify the noise to anything in particular.

All at once, it seemed to him that some unseen voice was telling him what he had to do.

The ship was spinning as if in an inescapable maelstrom and immediate action was called for if they were to survive the storm and its whirlpool.

Glek quickly moved to the control and communication panel that the Captain often took possession of. He pressed the button that connected with the cargo office in the hold.

Navigator Onois watched him as if paralyzed or in a trance.

“Mrink! Mrink! Can you hear me down there?”

“Yes, your words are coming in clearly. What is happening to us? Why is the Demid spinning and whirling like this?”

“I am conveying to you a direct order. It must be obeyed without any question or hesitation. Only you are now able to save us from death at the bottom.

“You must open all the doors and openings and allow the cargo we carry escape into the surrounding sea. We have to empty out our hold. All the machines and materials must be abandoned. The ship must suffer a radical loss of weight so that it can return up to the surface of the sea.

“Do you understand what I am telling you? Everything down below must flow out into the water, to sink on its own. Only that can save the lives of the crew.

“You have to take action at once, within the very next minute or so.”

Glek became silent, waiting for the officer in charge of the cargo hold to complete the command given him.

“What is going on?” suddenly asked Sxan. “Why did you give such an order? The Captain lies there and does not move at all. He does not appear to be breathing.”

Glek turned and eyed the pilot. “Captain Onois is now dead and gone. I heard a clicking noise that signaled the end of the spells that he cast over all of us on his crew.

“We are now completely free of his hypnotic sway and must think for ourselves. I decided on my own initiative that we have to lighten up the vessel in order to find safety from the storm’s whirlpool maelstrom. There is no other way of escape for any of us.”

Both Glek and Sxan now felt the ship beginning to rise upward.

They were going to be safe again on the sea, both of them realized.

The storm had moved on, away from the Demid.

Turning, spinning, and whirling came to a sudden finish.

Glek smiled as if at himself.

Captain Onois was gone for good, along with his mesmeric power.

But quick thought and decisive action by the youngest and newest crew man had managed to bring the ship back from certain death below the sea.

We must never again allow any captain to cast spells over his crew, vowed Glek. It is too dangerous to attempt to apply out on the sea.

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