Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Grimsby (c) 2011 Jeremy Gosnell

The Grimsby

(c) 2011 Jeremy Gosnell

The vast southern ocean rolled beneath the Grimsby. The gigantic whaling vessel was swaying as arctic waters lapped over the ship’s sides slapping the crew in the face. Pillars of ice swirled around reflecting the last glimmer of the day’s sunlight. Soon the bright Antarctic evening would fade to black and the twinkling stars above would illuminate the sea with shimmering star light. The word research was painted in bold black letters across the Grimsby’s side. The true name of the vessel was unknown to any but the crew, The Yushin Maru number two. The history of the ship was painted red, blood tarnishing the ship’s image. It was the whaling fleet’s harpoon craft. A scout boat would set out before the Yushin to find migrating whale pods and this leviathan of death would hunt the peaceful animals down.

An explosive tipped harpoon would strike the whale rupturing the large animal’s lungs and after much suffering the creature would die. The research indication allowed the Japanese whalers a quick escape from international law. In 1986 a global moratorium on whaling had been imposed and any member of the United Nations was forced to cease hunting any species of cetaceans. A loophole existed and the Japanese sought to exploit it. A small portion of whales could be killed yearly in the name of scientific research. Using the Japanese Cetacean Research Commission to masquerade as scientists the fishermen shipped the whales that were killed to fish markets and restaurants all over Japan.

Each member of the large whaling ship knew that they were involved in a precarious game of cat and mouse; a game that was essentially illegal. With no international force to impose the moratorium’s strict regulations, the Grimsby was free to hunt whales. As the cold Antarctic air turned black Captain Ayako Cho looked down at the ship’s sonar. He was searching for large biological contacts that would indicate a pod of Minke Whales. The sonar screen was blank; each beep reminded Cho that there were no whales on the horizon tonight. In reality Cho wanted a different profession. His father, Akio had been a whaler and Cho’s entire family was filled with former fishermen. It wasn’t a choice for the young Japanese man; it was a necessity and long nights on the Southern Ocean served as his rite of passage. He was a successful whaler and experienced seamen. Cho’s true love was art and as he watched the rolling sea before him he remembered when he first presented his father with one his paintings.

“Why are you wasting your time Ayako making paintings. Your life is on the sea. You cannot escape this truth” Cho’s father yelled.

The young child Ayako was ready to cry. He knew that doing so would bring disrespectful to his father.

“It is my passion father” the young man said.

“Your passion, you are my son and you are to become a fisherman as I have been my entire life Ayako. Running around making paintings is no way to support a family. The sea is where you will go.”

Ayako looked away knowing that he and his father would never come to an understanding. Instead of going to college Ayako took to the water, learning the ropes of whaling. He winced each time a harpoon would pierce a whale. Each time he would watch the mysterious creature thrash as blood poured from its blow hole and in agony it died. Ayako hated the profession. His father was a cruel and calculated man. Whaling had made him emotionless and unkind. Ayako feared that if he remained a whaler for any longer it would transform him into a wretch.

He feared for what it would do to his wife and young son back in Japan. He feared that he would become the same callous man that his father had. A man who lacked any emotion and was unable to connect with his children or wife; Ayako hated his father and feared that this violent life hunting throughout the sea would make his young family hate him. Looking down at the sonar blinking beneath his gaze Ayako drifted back to the moment. Spring would eventually end and the Minke Whales would leave their feeding grounds in the Southern Ocean. Ayako had to reach his quota and he knew that time was of the essence. Just as he closed his eyes preparing for a nap the sonar buzzed signaling a contact. He blinked, the contact was large. He was certain judging from its signature that it couldn’t be a single whale; it must have been an entire pod.

“Imagine that” the Japanese fisherman muttered to himself.

The contact was far too concentrated to be a pod of whales. It was something else. Ayako grabbed the vessel’s radio calling out to the crew.

“We are on top of a large contact. I am unsure of its origins but am confident it is neither a whale nor pod of whales. Please take harpoon position.”

Ayako watched out the bridge window as a harpoon gunner jumped behind the massive gun on the vessel’s bow.

“We are thirty meters from the object” Ayako yelled to the gunner.

“10 meters” the captain exclaimed.

Suddenly an enormous roar filled the air. The Southern Ocean beneath the Grimsby came to life in a dynamic display of lights. The roar was growing louder as the brightness beneath the ocean intensified. From deep within the frozen waters a gunship had emerged breaking through the icy surface with the blasting grind of powerful engines. The craft was roughly half the size of the large whaling ship with short wings that were propelled by swirling turbines. It was entirely black with no cockpit and an extremely smooth metallic exterior. Lights flashed over the gunship as two fifty caliber machine guns dropped from compartments on the vehicle’s underside.

“Is it American” the captain yelled out to the harpoon gunner.

“I don’t know” the gunner replied.

The gunner stepped away from the harpoon his hands in the air. As he dropped to his knees the captain could hear a prayer for mercy. The ship flew closer now overlooking the bridge. Ayako reached in his desk drawer brandishing a pistol. He stepped out onto the deck overlooking the Grimsby.

“What do you want” he asked the massive gunship.

A single shot fired from one of the cannons on the machine’s underside. Ayako’s head exploded blasting brain matter all over the deck. The weapon was nearly silent and the only sound that signaled the captain had been shot was the immense pressure burst of his splattered head.

The young fishermen fell to the deck still twitching as his nerves expired. The object circled the massive whaler seemingly inspecting the vessel. The crew watched, awestruck by the machine. The gunship increased its altitude appearing to leave the vessel alone; robbing them only of their captain. Suddenly from behind the craft swept in. Machine gun fire tore through the Grimsby’s hull; several of the ship’s crew members were torn to pieces; splattered across the deck. Screams erupted as blood stains coated the vessels walls and the whalers watched as their friends crawled, dragging the remains of their limbs behind.

The gunship swooped to the whaling ship’s other side. Quickly it began firing taking out the bridge and blasting the port side of the hull wide open. The remaining crew stumbled to get to higher ground as the ice cold Antarctic water poured in from all around.

The craft moved to the stern of the ship again erupting in flames as the large machine guns fired upon the remaining crew of the ship’s higher decks. Body parts and fluid flew across the bridge windows. The craft increased its altitude as a tiny rocket departed from its left wing. The Grimsby erupted in flames, keeling over to one side as it was consumed by the ice berg specked waters of Antarctica.

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