A Short Story on the Website of
the Red Dirt Writers Society

by Gordon Eskridge (Jan 2011)

         Here I am Sergeant Ezra Lee, in 1775 more than twenty feet under water in a wooden submarine called the ďTurtleĒ because it looks like two turtles with their bellyís glued together. I am hot and wiping sweat off my forehead with the back of my shirt sleeve. I have only fifteen minutes of air left to attach the underwater mine, set the timer, and get out of here. The air is beginning to smell like my sweaty socks and I have been unable to screw this attachment to the H.M.S. Eagle. The hull of this ship has been covered with harder copper than we had thought.

††††††† Well one more try, twist, twist, push, twist, the screw just wonít go in. I have got to get out of here, the air is getting worse. I set the timer and turn loose the mine. There is enough black powder to blow up three ships and me if I donít hustle. The timer is set: now to pull on the mineís release line. My black smith muscles are quivering with the strain, as I pull and tug, ah! there, there now it has finally released. The mine is slowly floating upwards and soon one of the watch crew onboard the ship above might see it.

††††††† I am turning this tub around using the rudder and the screw propeller. I wish I had three hands to do it with. Faster and faster I turn the propellerís hand crank in front of me to get this ship moving at its maximum speed, three miles per hour. The tide that helped me get here is now moving me away from the shore. It was suppose to have turned by now and help me back to shore well! Itís not!

††††††† The harder I try; I just donít seem to get anywhere. I wish that I could anchor here and wait it out, but time wonít let me so I must try harder. Hay! What do you know? The tide has turned. Now with a little luck I will make it back to shore before that mine explodes.

††††††† The air is now really bad and I am getting dizzy so I must go up. I hope that I am far enough away from the ship so the English wonít see me. I stop turning the forward propeller and reach for the handle overhead and turn it round and round with my right hand and pump the water ballast out with my left hand. It is not empting fast enough, so I quit turning the propeller and grab the other pump with my strong right hand. Soon the depth gauge with its Fox Fire pointer glowing in the dark shows me it is not far to the surface, where I crack the hatch and a small wave splashes over the top, it is cold, but the fresh air is great.

††††††† Back on shore with David Bushnell the submarineís inventor we watch silently as the mine explodes harmlessly.

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