The Saint Chronicles, Part 1
Perfect Bound Softcover
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“Every man is a man in trouble,” and Drew Saint, Peter Simons, and Jim Major are not exception. Hundreds of miles out to sea in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic, stories begin to change, facts begin to blur and emerge, and tempers begin to flare.

What they thought would be a difficult but fairly routine mission becomes twisted with lies and perils, as the three unsuspecting friends find themselves deliberately drawn into a complex, high seas, high stakes historical take of betrayal, revenge, greed, and murder.

Violently, he banged repeatedly on the spokes in the center of the wheel. The concussion of the blows, seemingly in slow motion under the pressure of the deep, rung out for miles in the desolate silence, and brought the milk chocolate colored debris raining down from above, enveloping the laborer in a fog of fury.

But in this contest, it would be the unyielding who would ultimately win out over the unwilling, forcing the years of decay to release its grasp millimeters at a time until the sea grease coaxed the wheel to spin freely. The door sprung away from its frame only a few inches and stopped, exposing a band of midnight through the suspended sediment from the hall beyond, which was terrifying and yet somehow inviting as well. They knew exactly where they were now, and they knew where they were going. Suddenly it wasn’t as cold anymore, and the sting of the frigid brine had become a memory.

Putting the hammer back into its hangar on his belt, he raised his left finless foot, and planted it against the door jam, pulling the door open with both hands as hard as he could through the water’s thickness, then quickly got behind it to push it all the way open and up against the outer bulkhead to expose the internal hallway. Everyone paused simply to look in with amazement because now, after all the work, all the planning, all the fear and questions, and all the praying for luck, their moment had finally come.

Three streams of light pierced the velvet of that darkness, and the lead diver quietly clipped a carbineer attached to a reel of white nylon braided string to the railing outside, then stepped back, motioning the others to proceed into the open hallway. Like three thieves in the night, they crept in. But these were thieves with entitlement. The leader followed them in, walking backwards while paying out string off of a red reel in his hand. After all, if anything went wrong, lights were to fail, they were to get turned around or panic set in, there was an equipment failure, miscalculation or injury, that string would be the only way they could get back out. They knew they could follow it to safety, and they also knew that their lives were only as safe as the length of that string, so like a religion they would never abandon it.

Their journey was like walking on the moon. With each step, the dust, decay and debris on the floor fled from under their feet, creating a dust cloud in the water like a dry stampede. As they struggled among the exposed pipes, broken beams and parts laying everywhere, the lead diver casually passed a gloved index finger along a short section of the wall to create a thin muddy line in the water from the crumbling debris. With this he would once again demonstrate to himself and the others how the Clemency was coming apart before their very eyes. She was critically fragile now, and ultimately she would be reduced to nothing more than this loose debris on the sea floor, and would blow silently away with the tides. But right now she was a miserable danger to them in this state. She was less than herself, and as with all things wounded she was more unpredictable, she was unstable, and she could strike at any moment.

The key here was to avoid the catastrophic silt-out. Darkness can be overcome, but blindness cannot. If they rushed down that hallway to their destiny now, they would disturb the decades of decay that was slowly consuming the Clemency. They would kick it up, spin it, blend it into the water around them, and ultimately spread it around the room like impenetrable black soot. No light would be able to cut it. With visibility reduced to inches, there would become no difference between up and down, right or left, then vertigo, loss of precious moments of air, and ultimately death. Watching the direction of your bubbles to see which way was up, dropping a weighted object to see which way was down, and all the other little tricks they taught you in diving school to help you avoid vertigo and disorientation would do you no good if you couldn’t see. There just wasn’t enough air available to have to work out complex problems. That little string might be able to help during moments like this, but only if you could find it, and never exceeded it.

But they were so experienced, and now they were so close. They tip toed their way carefully down the hallway, deeper and deeper into the core, staring at the wheel of the door that they just knew was blocking their future. That single wheel represented the culmination of all their work. It was the answer to all their questions; the repayment of all their debts; their new lives awaited them just beyond that wheel; that wheel was their future. But their arrival had not been ignored by the Clemency. She had marked their trail, so that now they were standing almost knee deep in the mist of decay, their footprints marked perfectly in the mud of the rust. When that hammer was unsheathed from it’s hangar, and raised to strike that wheel, smiles came to the eyes of those divers who, in that instant forgot the cold, forgot the darkness, forgot the depth, and forgot the danger. They would forget the razors edge.

They would never see the first tiny shards of iron creep over the threshold of the open doorway from the outside. They would never see the creeping masses increase, like ants onto freshly cut fruit. They would never see the flow grow to a steady stream several feet high like muddy water flowing down a stream. After all, they were about to receive their reward. Ultimately they would awaken from their sweetest dreams to a blasting blizzard of sludge through the one door that brought them here, their only way out. Unfortunately for them, the tides of their fortune had changed.

The silt, iron, rust, and dirt overtook them from behind like an angry bear. It stood up upon them and filled the open doorway to the outside, compacting to advance into this newly found void. By the time they realized they couldn’t see each other anymore it was to late. One diver did manage to turn toward the door and make a futile attempt to scramble against the torrent before the rest tried to follow. No fins, no chance. Then Clemency shuttered. She shuttered in a broadening cadence that culminated with the sound of complaining hinges and a bang that would explode in their ears, and seal off forever the remaining light they were all now desperately running toward. Death down here would be an isolated and hopeless affair. Terror down here is silent.
Charles G. “Thumper” Turner, III is an avid SCUBA diver, boater, offshore fisherman, commercial pilot and outdoorsman. He has worked on Capitol Hill, served as a federal contractor, owned several businesses, and now concentrates on writing. He writes almost exclusively from his personal passions and experience to add realism to his work, and enjoys living quietly with his family on a farm in Virginia’s Hunt County.

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