Metathesis - June 1996
The Pilgrims - naSti
(page 5/9)

The Pilgrims

Portsmouth harbour became smaller and smaller as the clouds clamped down on the sorry bunch who stood on the deck, silently watching England shrink into the sea. The jeering crowds on the quay had gone home, leaving that empty feeling which is half relief, half fear that the taunting faces might have been right, that they really didn't belong in that grey land yonder.

The haze receded, being replaced by wood smoke and the horrid smell of burning coal. Now that they were beyond the shoals, the wind picked up, filling the sails, sending the crew scrambling up into the rigging to unfold the large tanned sheets which pulled the vessel along. The people on the deck looked uncertainly at each other, under the gruff gaze of the captain, who openly ignored them, but still stared stonily at them whenever his duties allowed.

The ship heeled over under the mighty force of the wind, the ship's bell clanging sickly, the sound swept away before it could properly announce its presence. Sun rays reflected from the gracefully curving copper, torched the word 'Mayflower' into their retinas as the setting sun broke through, and settled between the grey black clouds and the chopped horizon. The vessel's bowsprit stabbed towards it, tracing errant semicircular motions as the waves buffeted the hull.

Ominously, the first raindrops started to fall, settling onto the black hats of the forlorn group, who huddled together against the cold wind. As the scattered drops became a torrential downpour, they turned their heads against it, letting it wash away the dirt, the grit and their sorrows, already feeling lighter as the make-up flowed down onto the lapels of their coarse woollen jackets. The leader of the group, outwardly relieved, rolled up his sleeve and let his fingers dance on the buttons which appeared on the box strapped to his arm.

The vessel lifted out of the water and disappeared into the clouds on a pillar of smoke, shedding rigging, ropes and canvas as it accelerated into the sky. As the thunderclap rolled away, only the disturbed cries of the seagulls were left behind...

[ Ed: Any of you know the track on the Jon and Vangellis album The Friends of Mr. Cairo called Mayflower? naSti had never heard of it, but there is a strong resemblance. As has been said before, there is nothing new under the sun, and this applies (unfortunately) to a lot of sf, in whichever locality it is set. ]

naSti