Chapter 4

Written by: Joe Labrum

Bishop lost contact with Sherwin when lightning hit the antenna mast during the storm. The feeling of vulnerability gnawed at him. The only damage turned out to be burnt coaxial cable and an unsalvageable surge protector unit.

Swinging in the boatswain’s chair one hundred and fifty feet above the shimmering water Rankin squinted into the blazing sun as he threaded the cable connector onto the copper stud protruding from the base of the dish.

“Try it now," he called down to Bishop on his walkie-talkie.

Bishop finished connecting the new surge protector, and then hurried to the transceiver. His right hand stabbed at the toggle, flipping it to the on position.

“Nothing but static, what’s the alignment like?” Bishop snapped into the mouthpiece.

“The transponder is supposed to seek the satellite and position itself. Try hitting the re-set.” Rankin yelled into his. “Have you done it yet?” He followed a moment later, “I don’t see any movement.”

Rankin raised himself to reach the tracking motor housing. He grabbed a screwdriver from his tool-belt, spun the screws of the cover plate out, and removed it. The smell of burning insulation stung his nose. He felt the heat that still radiated from the smoldering armature and jerked his hand back

“Bishop… you still there."

“Yeah, what is it? Did you find something?”

“The tracking motor is burned out. See if you can find one in the locker while I come down."

The maintenance locker was no more than a large closet at the opposite side of the communication room. Bishop pushed the steel door open and hurried into a twelve by eight foot room with heavy metal shelving lining three walls from floor to ceiling. A narrower shelving unit ran up the center like an island. An odor that seemed out of place grabbed his attention. He crept between shelves loaded with neatly stacked parts. The knot in his stomach distracted him from everything but his immediate danger. Suddenly it hit him like the bolt of lightning that crippled his communication; it was sweat, soiled clothing. It took all of his training and mission discipline to keep from flying out of there, but he had to investigate.

At the end of the room, around the corner, Bishop saw the lower shelf cleared off and a sleeping bag rolled out. Food wrappers littered the floor. It appeared the assassin could still be around. 

He got back to the task of finding the motor. Climbing, he caught sight of the unit on the top self and grabbed it. He leaped to the floor and ran for the door just as he heard it clank shut and the latch drop into place.

Rankin stood with both feet on the deck, his butt in the seat of the boatswain’s chair leaning against the line. He looked anxiously at the door waiting for Bishop to appear with the replacement motor. He called again into his walkie-talkie, “Bishop, where are you… Is there a problem?”

Joe Labrum (USA)




'Swinging in the boatswain's chair..... is a great sentence. I know where Rankin is, what he sees, what he feels, what he's doing and with what. A great example of condensed information that tightens the story and creates pace. Joe has written a chapter that lets the reader see through his minds eye. I think we now have a competition between the Freedom Writers and the Minters. Nice work Joe.
I do like another writers way of progressing this story. Good job Joe.