by James McCarthy
An explosion rocked the trawler from stem to stern, and threw Pat O’Malley forward on to the spokes of the steering wheel. His chest took the brunt of it. He couldn’t be sure but he thought he heard a scream before he landed on the floor with a thump. He couldn’t breathe properly because of the pain in his chest. As this eased he looked around for Tarja; she was sitting on the wheelhouse floor behind him sobbing. Propelled off the bench she must have hit the floor hard.
‘Are you all right?’ he asked, while checking his ribs for fractures. They were sore to touch but none had broken.
‘I’m OK. Did we hit something?’ She was now sitting up and rubbing her right shoulder.
His guess now was that he had let the engine overheat, and that it had blown up. Would he ever get it right? He should have stopped the engine ages ago when it first started overheating; but he didn’t want to worry Tarja. If anything happened to her, his decision to take her onboard would haunt him for the rest of his life. Water was getting in somewhere; it was a foot deep on the cabin floor. His uncle the skipper and the deckhand Coleman, held securely in their bunks by the guard rail, had their eyes open….