I woke in blackness, the Sea Cutter tossing every which way, while the bell rang with a mad clatter. Lightening flashed and thunder roared. I’d left Wayland alone to sail the storm!
I dashed up the companionway, forgetting to tie the line about me, just as a vicious wave broke over the Sea Cutter.
“Nat!” Wayland let go of the tiller and leaped toward me.
A freezing giant hand slapped my body off the boat, knocking my air out. It crashed me down into the roiling water, twisting and turning me as if it were a cat playing with a mouse. Fireworks exploded in my lungs.
I kicked and clawed at the wave, but it sank me head over heels. The fireworks turned to cannon shot. In another moment I’d breathe water.
A line rasped across my side and I grabbed it.
I flew yards in the air, the Sea Cutter yanking me out of the wave. I drew in a breath like a bellows. The line thrashed down into the trough of a wave, then flung me in the air again, the furious giant snapping his whip to flick me off.
I held on, my hands burning, my shoulders aching, the ocean plowing into my face, the rain pouring over me. Lightning flashed, and I caught a glimpse of the Sea Cutter.
“Wayland! Wayland!” I screamed.
He couldn’t hear me above the roaring waves and wind. I pulled myself forward on the whipping line inch by inch, until one wave finally bruised me into the Sea Cutter’s side.
“Wayland!” No answer. He wasn’t pointing the Sea Cutter’s bow into the waves. She broached aimlessly, the waves hitting her at dangerous angles.
One banged me against the side of the boat so hard that for a moment all was a spinning darkness. Another smack like that would knock the line from my grasp.
I pulled myself upward, crying “Ah!” at the top of my lungs, and with a last effort tumbled over the gunwale just as a bolt of lightning made everything brighter than day.
The tiller thrashed from side to side.
Wayland was gone.