Intro to a novel, finding a ghost ship off the coast of England
|The water lapped gently on the shore as the small kayak swung around the sand spit. The day was dying, the sun sinking toward the horizon and the gulls hawking their final insults to the world. Julie Chalmers sat back in the stiff kayak seat and sighed as the gentle evening breeze ruffled her shoulder length hair. Swinging closer to the craggy shoreline beyond the spit, the kayak rocked as the evening tide surged past. Chalmers was enjoying her last week of leave from her job as the Instructor of inter-coastal warfare from the Royal Navy’s Surface Warfare School. She was taking her last week of leave to visit some prime kayaking waters off the coast of Downderry near Plymouth.
Now she frowned thoughtfully toward the west. A hazy shape was visible between her and the horizon, backlit as the sun sank beyond it. She had been moving west for several hours, and she knew that this shape had not been there minutes before. She angled out towards the indistinct form, wondering how far away it was; the shape was no more that a fuzzy form that teased the edges of her vision. It appeared to have a slight northward drift. “Tidal drift,” she thought, revising the range down to no more than a mile. As she approached the object she realized that the sun was outlining the shape, which would otherwise be invisible even at this range. Within three hundred yards the form of a vessel began to take shape. The sun was almost completely below the horizon, and she was approaching the vessel in its shadow. With growing fascination she noted the vessels strange shape, about 250 metres long, and possessing a lean predatory shape, the vessel was undeniably a warship. Rocking gently as she neared the beam of the large ship, she noted the sharply planed angles and plastic look of the superstructure. A stealth ship, and not just to radar but also to visual searches, she noted. The skin of the ship dappled in step with the waves behind it, like looking through a thick glass pane, she thought, and frowned. What was a highly advanced warship, without an ensign or any other marking, doing less than two miles off the coast of England?
“Ahoy there” She called, answered only by the slapping waves on the kayak. She noticed a line dangling off the stern and angled towards it. As she came closer more disturbing details became evident. A hatch on the port side just forward of the helipad caught her eye, flush with the bulkhead the hatch was wedged open with something that, from the water was impossible to make out. She drew alongside the stern and snagged the line with her paddle, fastening it to the bow hook on the kayak. The water was calm enough that she felt confident in crouching forward on the kayak and grabbing the line. Clambering up the side, she felt fortunate that the freeboard over the helipad was only a bit over two metres. With a final heave she pulled herself over the side and stopped in shock as she gazed at the helipad, at death.