FUTURE CAPTAIN

BY Janet Cloud

 

 

The water swirled about the submarine making it buck with each wave that washed against the hull. Murky and dark was the water, causing the Captain of the submarine to wonder what could possibly cause the bottom to stir up so much sediment.

As if in response, a giant tentacle arose from the depths to wrap itself around the entire hull of the sub. The tentacle squeezed the hull and pulled the boat this way and that and finally pulled it below the surface of the waves.

Down, down went the sub. The heart of every man inside her was clinched with fear. There was absolutely no way to control the boat or control the descent into the depths of the ocean.

The Captain and his first officer conferred quickly over the problem of the giant tentacle and what it could possibly belong to. Another rough shake went through the boat tossing everyone off their feet. There were several minor injuries but the crew remained at their stations alert to any opening to help their Captain and their Ship.

The Captain gave the order to charge up the battle generators and send an electric charge through the hull. If that didnít shake this thing loose, nothing would. As the order was carried out, the tentacle released the submarine, which quickly started to head for the surface. The Captain gave the order for the helm to level her off and bring her about 180 degrees.

Whatever had hold of them decided it could find an easier lunch than one that fought back and hurt. The giant sea creature headed off in the other direction, already setting its sights on another meal.

The submarine was headed for port and some well-deserved rest for both the crew and officers. The crew was daydreaming of various ways to spend shore leave when there was an explosion on the port side of the ship.

 

"Depth charges in the water!" shouted the Captain, "take her down 500 feet, right full rudder, rig for silent running."

Hoping against hope that they could elude those seeking to sink this proud submarine, the Captain used every trick and maneuver he knew to save his ship and crew. Being the youngest Captain in the submarine service never bothered Lee Crane. He was the best and even the Admiral who had chosen him to be Skipper knew it. Only he could bring his boat home safely. Depth charge after depth charge exploded in the water surrounding the submarine.

The Captain stopped the engines letting the boat settle on the bottom of the ocean floor. Another depth charge exploded, but this time it was not as near as the previous ones. The destroyer that had been following pinged away with active sonar, but there was no trace of the sub. The Captain of the destroyer knew his quarry was here but he just could not find them. He would continue to search for the next few hours but to no avail. Finally, the destroyer headed away from the site of the sub.

After several minutes more to be sure the destroyer was leaving, the Captain gave orders to start engines and resume headings for home. The submarine was now able---.

 

"Lee Crane," shouted his mother. "Just look at the mess youíve made in here. Thereís water all over the floor at least an inch deep. And look at you, in here an hour or more, the water is ice cold and you still havenít taken your bath." The soap that had been the depth charges was a slimy, soft shape floating in the corner of the tub.

Looking very chagrined but unrepentant, Lee smiled up at his mother. "But Mom," he said, "I was just playing with my new submarine and destroyer that you got me for my birthday." Proudly he looked at his mother and added, "Iím going to be the best Captain ever when I grow up. Iím going to have the worlds best submarine, too."

"Oh, Lee, you have such big dreams for such a little boy. Youíre only nine now and you will probably change your mind a hundred times," replied his mom.

"Not me," replied Lee. "I know exactly what I want to be when I grow up."

A little while later, Helen Crane smiled wistfully as she tucked her very tired little boy into bed. In his arms was his prize toy submarine. Who knows? She thought. With his determination he just might be the best Captain of the best submarine in the whole world .

She turned and walked away from the bed, pausing in the doorway to turn out the light. She looked back at the sleeping boy and shook her head indulgently. Boys and boats, she thought. They just seem to go together .

 

THE END

(for now)