Building a relationship with the reader…

There are no colours in the dark. Lots of forms, lots of shapes, an endless supply of vague outlines and suggestions, but no colour. I was desperate to see anything other than darkness by the second day, and by the sixth day I was ready give a limb to just see the outside of the container.

There really isn’t a lot to say in this sort of situation. I am in a shipping container, on a large ship, in the middle of the Pacific ocean. The most noticeable thing would have to be the smell. I’ve been at sea now for almost two weeks, inside what amounts to a steel box, and facilities are more than a bit limited. I have a large cooler that I am using as the toilet, and that’s it. Without windows I have been seasick on and off, and there really isn’t anywhere for that to go. The only saving grace being that I am essentially starved, so what I do sick up is in small amounts. I have managed to keep it to one corner happily, so that’s something.

I have wondered a lot since we left port when we would arrive, and what I will do when we get there. My best estimations say we should have been there a few days ago, but naval travel isn’t a precise thing I suspect, and I won’t begin to worry for another day or two.

It’s been quiet outside on deck. No noise from the crew for almost a full day now.
I count the waves to occupy myself. I always seem to lose count after I get into the thousands.

I come from a town in B.C. called Vernon. It’s a nice place, the weather in the summer is hot but comfortable, at least by American standards, and the scenery is actually quite amazing. The population is about 40,000 people on a good day, but it swells quite a bit during the summer festival season. It’s not as bad as it used to be when I was a kid though. The population was way

—–

Author’s note: So far I am finding that this story sucks pretty badly.

Where the hell is it supposed to go? Some guy from Vernon, either in the future or the past, is in a shipping container on a boat. If the stereotype holds he will eventually realize that the crew is either gone or dead, and he is trapped. Of course, as he tries to survive he will slowly go mad, and that will be it. The end of the story will be something about finding the journal he wrote in the products that were in the container with him, or some other equally easy finish.

Not interested.

So the question now remains what to do with it.

I have a guy, in a boat, in a box, shitting in a beer cooler.

The possibilities are endless.

Oh yeah, one other thing. I really don’t like writing in the first person, so I am going to switch to 3rd person for a while. Hang on.

—–

“Untie me you sadistic prick.”

She said it gently, which didn’t seem to make a lot of sense to him. He was expecting a lot more force, some firmness, or perhaps a bit of a pleading edge. Gentle just didn’t feel right. Especially with the name calling.

What was she up to?

“I would, but you’ll probably try to smash my skull with whatever you can find in the dark. I want to get out of this alive too.”

He felt around in the darkness to make sure she was where he thought. She had tried moving herself closer to him in an effort to kick him while he slept, but the noise she made was not too hard to hear, even over the noise of the ocean outside. After ten minutes of listening to her he crawled over in the dark and made sure she was well secured. He then tied a bit of rope to the containers securing bar and attached that to her ankle rope. She wasn’t going to be trying that trick again.

She was silent for a few minutes, then she tried again.

“This isn’t exactly how I expected the honeymoon to go.” she said.

You could hear the irony in her voice, even over her attempt to be soft and non-threatening. He wasn’t going to have it though. This all started when she had attacked him with the bat while he slept. The fact they ended up in a shipping container for the trouble they caused just made it that much more insane.

I hope the sailor she hurt is OK.

“You broke the man’s collar bone, probably his jaw too. Am I supposed to feel all sorry now and let you loose? They only put me in here because we’re together. I didn’t even do anything.”

“You have an exquisite ability to see your actions as though they were somehow immune from the judgement of others, but I suspect the Captain sees it differently. His daughter too.”

He had nothing to say in reply. He sat in the darkness and tried not to remember the look on his new wife’s face when she and the Captain walked in on them. The Captain got mad, but his wife simply looked hurt. She watched as the Captain dragged his humiliated daughter out of the storeroom. His wife said nothing. His apologies fell on deaf ears, and he found out why later.

They went to bed silently, and at about 3am she went after him with the bat. He was only alive because she was so noisy trying to get around in the stateroom in the pitching ship. That, and the fact he had screwed up so severely, and so soon, after getting married made him a nervous sleeper. He wasn’t so much asleep as waiting for the other shoe to drop.

He tried again to look around the container. Not enough light to even see his hand in front of his gace, let alone survey the surroundings. It must be getting close to dawn now though, and then enough light should seep in that I’ll be able to take a look around. Helen was being quiet. She must be cold.

—–

Author’s note: Better? We have a betrayal, an injury, a captive and even a sex element. Man, I might get dizzy if I keep this pace up. Of course, I realise that without a back story things feel a bit pasted together. It would have made Helen’s rage a bit easier to understand if we knew that she was a very prim and proper executive’s daughter, who was fully expecting that her marriage would be perfect from start to finish. The un-named husband who cheated on her on their honeymoon? Might help things more if we knew that he represented Helen’s attempt at taming a “dangerous looking” man. It might help things even more if you knew he was a habitual denizen of the pickup bars, trolling for girls of every age for addition to his long mental list of conquests.

Not enough time though. We are in the shipping container with our bad boy and his hog tied wife, and that’s what I have to work with. About all I can think of that would make this story better would be pirates.

Yeah … pirates.

—–

The moon was low in the sky, and the water was smooth. At 4am there was almost no light for him to navigate the little skiff across the water to the shipping container vessel. He was making his way partly by listening to the sound of the water as it crashed against the huge steel hull. Eventually, and with great skill, he arrived at the ship. Turning off the almost silent motor, he pulled a duffel bag out from under his seat. Looking up to check for anyone on board who might have managed to spot him, he unzipped the duffel and pulled out the bomb.

Vargas loved being a pirate.

Every day he could count on the respect, and fear, of not only his shipmates, but of everyone he met in his town on the mainland. He provided the town with more than 90% of it’s wealth. That made you a person to respect. A person who you went out of your way to please.

He liked the fear best though.

Men looked at him with eyes averted. Women wanted to be near him. His father was proud that his son had twelve children in the village, and each one was working on his ship with him, helping him to bring wealth and prosperity to the town.

He was sitting at the front of the skiff as it gently pitched against the steel wall it was resting against. The shipping containers seemed to loom miles above him as he worked quietly alongside the ship. First he welded a small steel platform about two feet above the water line. Nothing fancy, just some solid spot welds to keep it in place. Then came the batteries, which were secured to the plate with rope. Finally he attached the device he was most proud of.

Being a pirate is not easy. Since his early childhood Vargas watched men pile onto crude boats to attack the merchant ships and pleasure craft that made their way through their waters. The goals were simple; to steal whatever wealth the could plunder.

The problem was attrition. Specifically of pirates.

Navel crews aren’t stupid. When they see a ship approaching they make sure to know who it is, especially around here. If the ships approaching didn’t respond in a manner that satisfied the captain of the target ship it wasn’t unusual for a few very large guns to be pointing your way when you got close enough to be identified. The crude ships the pirates used were no match for the big guns, and it wasn’t unusual for an entire crew to be slaughtered on the high seas as they tried to get close enough to begin shooting their own weapons.

They learned quickly and adapted. Faster attacks, faster ships, bigger guns with longer ranges. It all helped, but pirates still faced a lot of danger whenever they went to sea. Vargas was the most respected man in his region because he changed that.

The device Vargas was working on was a bomb, but not just any bomb. His genius was to make the bomb something that could work for him during negotiations, as opposed to the kind that ended them very suddenly. How it worked was actually quite simple.

The car battery supplied power to a small electro-magnet which held a steel rod elevated above a contact plate. When the power eventually died the steel rod fell, the circuit closed, and the bomb made everything near it much smaller. It allowed Vargas to contact the ship, explain their position, and negotiate. All from far, far away. He simply became the liaison who explained to them what they would need to do in order to secure the bombs safe removal before the battery died.

There were other features which made the device difficult to remove of course, and he was always careful to weld another steel box around the bomb assembly so those on the ship could not in an way get to it easily. Even if they did somehow get to the device, his options were legion.

The bomb was attached to the ship with magnets as well, and if they were pried off they would close a separate circuit and the bomb went off. Then there was the cell phone. One call and the bomb went off. Then there was the fact the entire device was painted with a polyester resin, which made it very much waterproof, and more importantly very much tamper proof.

Vargas was very proud of his bombs.

The sun was starting to colour the sky orange and red, and anyone who bothered to look over the side would probably be able to see him. Vargas knew that was unlikely though, as the crews of working ships don’t tend to spend their time leaning over the rails watching the wake. There was always work to do, and they needed their pay.

Quietly and efficiently Vargas finished welding the last steel plate around his device, and then leaning down he carefully stowed the gear. Stretching his back, he was ready for the game to begin. He started the small motor and began the slow job of navigating his small craft back to his pirate vessel, The Vargas.

—–

Author’s note: Perfect? No way. Better? I think so. Now we have a pirate, a couple in a box pooping in a beer cooler, one of them is tied up, and a bomb. I keep this up and a plot might actually develop. I wonder what the Captain of the shipping vessel thinks of all this?

—–

The Captain looked intently out the window of the bridge at nothing, a blank look on his face. He was holding a ship to shore phone to his ear and getting angrier by the second. As he listened he thought to himself that he wasn’t going to give in to the demands of the speaker, but even as he thought it he knew he was just stalling. He would have to give in because this was Vargas.

Vargas the Greek.

The fact he was a black, Somali born pirate seemed to make his name even more threatening, as if he had done something to earn the ill fitting title. All the Captain knew was that the pirate was hundreds of kilometers from his usual haunts, and that he had a reputation for being a very clinical businessman. He knew of at least two ships that were lost, and had heard rumours of at least two others. Most Captains simply negotiated a settlement and left, happy to be alive.

He turned from the phone and addressed his bridge crew.

“That was Vargas. For those of you who don’t know, Vargas is pretty much the worst person we could have gotten a call from today. He informed me that somewhere on this vessel is a bomb. It’s placed in such a manner that it will sink the ship if it is detonated, and that it is running on a car battery. Once that battery drains it will detonate, unless Vargas sends a man over to disable it. He informs me we have somewhere in the range on 72 hours. He advised against pushing the time limit because the battery is a notoriously unreliable timer, and that to be safe we should be ready to comply fully well within 36 hours. I will contact New York for advise, but at this point I want everyone to assume that we will be complying with his demands, and to keep your eyes open for anything that might be a bomb. If you find anything, whatever you do don’t touch it. He’s a bastard and a murderer, and it’s sure to be booby trapped six ways to Sunday.”

The crew on the bridge knew he was finished talking to them because he simply turned his back on them. The Captain was already waiting for the New York office to pick up.

He was using the secure satellite phone, and as he waited for the connection he wondered how Vargas knew the number.

—–

Helen was exhausted. She had been tied up to keep her under control almost eight hours ago, and at this point her anger was more at the fact she was being restrained, and less that her husband was screwing with the Captains daughter on their honeymoon. What sort of Captain brings his daughter on a voyage like this anyway, she thought.

Her hands were numb, and she decided that unless the bonds were loosened she might actually suffer injuries worse than a bit of chafing.

“Honey, it’s been a long time. I am exhausted and in pain. Do we have to keep doing this?”

No response.

Jordan?

“Jordon! Wake up! The rope is hurting and I need you to loosen it just a bit so I can get the feeling back in my hands.”

Still no response.

She tried to remember if the door of the container was opened last night. She had managed to get some sleep, not much, but enough to make her worry that it might have been. She would have heard it though, wouldn’t she? If only because of the fear of having to deal with the Captain of this ship, and his injured crew member. She did remember hearing loud noises, but those were from inside the container, the sounds of Jordan banging around the cargo, probably trying to find something to steal. He had knocked a few crates over, and she had been afraid they were going to fall on her.

Jordan?

—–

Author’s note: Now things are looking good! Pirates. Bombs. Tied up girl in a big steel box with possibly dead and/or injured cell mate. A Captain who is too occupied with pirates to remember the couple he put in his makeshift “brig”.

Outstanding.

I think now is the time to start having a bit of fun with it, don’t you?

Cut and paste … 😉

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