Welcome to chapter 14 of Arena of Souls, my new, Doc Savage-style, pulp adventure. A new chapter every week! If you missed the previous chapters, you can start at the beginning here:
Arena of Souls
Chapter 14: The Triangle
“This old bucket doesn’t look like much, but she moves along nicely.” Alex gazed out at the choppy water of the Atlantic Ocean and smiled. It was a sunny day with calm seas and a gentle breeze. They’d had clear sailing so far, with no sign of pursuit.
“Looks can deceive.” Stone maintained a relaxed grip on the wheel as he piloted the craft on a South/Southeast course headed for the island.. The forty-foot fishing boat wasn’t much to look at, to be certain, but it was seaworthy and outfitted with a top-of-the line engine, plus a few surprises. “Besides, a fancier craft might draw attention. As it is, we look like yet another crew of fishermen trying to scrape a living.” He glanced at Alex. “On that note, it’s time for you to get out on deck and look busy. Moses is all alone out there.”
“You know I sunburn easily,” Alex grumbled.
“Next time I’ll bring you a bonnet to wear,” Trinity jibed.
Alex rolled his eyes before slipping out of the pilothouse and onto the deck, letting in a wave of damp salty air as he went.
“Where, exactly, did you find this ship?” Trinity ran a finger down the pitted glass pane in front of them and frowned.
“I’ve made a few friends over the years. This particular friend wouldn’t want me to say more than that.”
“Not even to me?” She stuck out her lower lip and batted her eyes at Stone. That particular trick hadn’t worked since high school and she knew it, yet she kept trying, perhaps for nostalgia’s sake.
“Certainly not to a reporter.” Stone ignored her annoyed exhalation.
Trinity folded her arms. “When we get home, we need to work on a few of your more annoying habits.”
“Such as the way you keep secrets from your girlfriend. It’s getting old.”
Stone managed a wry smile. Trinity would keep at him until she got what she wanted, but he planned to make her work for it.
“Don’t laugh at me, Brock Stone. I’ll…” She lapsed into sudden silence. “It got dark awfully quick, didn’t it?”
“I’ve seen quicker,” Stone lied. A bank of low-hanging storm clouds had rolled in faster than he would have thought possible. One moment they’d been sailing under blue skies, the next, clouds of gray. The dim light turned the sea a dark, imposing shade of blue, and and a strong wind whipped up whitecaps in their path. The rise and fall of the ship became more pronounced as they crested and descended each swell. “Funny things can happen at sea. It’s nothing to worry about.” No sense in upsetting Trinity with something that was beyond their control. He’d learned many things during his travels, but how to control the weather was not one of them.
Behind them, the door banged open and Moses stuck his head inside.
“Stone, you got to see this.”
“I know. The weather took a nasty turn, but we’ll be all right.”
“It ain’t that. They’s a ship following us.”
Stone snapped his head around. “Following us? Are you certain?”
Moses shrugged. “Sure seems like it. Come out of nowhere and veered in our direction.”
“John Kane and company?” Trinity asked.
“Could be. Moses, do you think you can handle this thing.”
Moses took the helm, while Stone grabbed a pair of binoculars and strode out onto the deck. He didn’t bother telling Trinity to remain inside the pilothouse. He knew she’d come anyway.
Alex leaned against the stern rail, seemingly oblivious to the fat raindrops that had begun to fall. He pointed a shaky finger at a shadow in the distance.
“It glowed red,” he whispered.
“What’s that?” Stone put the binoculars to his eyes and focused in on his target. It was a sailing ship, and an old one at that, with shredded sails and torn rigging, but he could tell no more at this distance.
Alex swallowed hard. “I think it’s the Flying Dutchman.”
Stone lowered the binoculars and gave Alex a quizzical look. “The legendary ghost pirate ship? Surely you don’t believe that.”
“It appeared at exactly the same time as the storm.” He swept his hand in an arc that took in the heavy cloud cover. “And as it turned to follow us, it glowed red. The legends say the same about the Dutchman.”
“Let me see those.” Trinity snatched the binoculars and took a look at the pursuing ship. “I don’t see any red lights,” she said, “but neither do I see any crew. How could it follow us if it’s unmanned?”
“It’s the Triangle,” Alex whispered. “You know the stories. All sorts of mad things happen here.”
Stone shook his head. “You’re an educated man. Don’t let your imagination run wild. It’s clearly a ship that was abandoned and left to drift, and it just happened to come into view as the storm was whipping up. The red glow was probably from a beam of sunlight refracted through a gap in the storm clouds.”
“And how did it manage to turn and pursue us?” Alex asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe that’s just the direction the wind and current is taking it.”
He received confirmation a moment later when Moses called out in alarm.
“Stone! I need you in here now!”
He rushed back inside the pilothouse to see Moses heaving at the wheel. The whine of the ship’s straining engines filled the small space.
“What is it?”
“Look up ahead.”
Stone’s eyes searched the sea before then and he gasped. They were being drawn slowly, inexorably, into a giant whirlpool.
“The engines ain’t strong enough to get us away,” Moses said. “Slow and sure like, it’s dragging us down.”
“Let me take the wheel.” Stone switched places with Moses. “I want you and Alex to raise the sails. I know they’re only there for show, but we’ve got a nice tail wind at the moment and we’ll need all the power we can get.”
“You think we can get away from it?” Moses asked.
“Not a chance.” Stone set his jaw. “We’re going into it.”