Copyright© 2003 by Katzmarek
Sex Story: Chapter 1 - The time, March 1918, the place, the middle of the North sea. Sitting becalmed in the middle of a fogbank Eliza Simpson, just 18, doesn't know who might drop by.
Eliza could not sleep. Huddled under the covers in her bunk she watched the oil lamp slowly swaying with the movement of the ship and listened to the creaking and groaning of the timbers.
For 2 days they had remained becalmed in the North Sea and she was beginning to wonder if the fog would ever lift and the breeze return.
She decided to go up on deck again. She was bored and wanted some human contact. The old Norwegian master, Mr. Sondquist was sure to be up there, rocking back and forth in the chair in the wheelhouse, and she enjoyed his conversation.
Dressing herself in her padded jacket and fur hat, she hauled on her sheepskin-lined boots and climbed the companionway.
Grey, everything was grey, and still and frankly creepy. She looked up at the mainmast to the spread of canvass hanging limp, waiting for the wind. The riding light glowed like a little spark above her head, dangling from the invisible top of the mast.
Making her way in the eerie atmosphere she carefully crept her way aft towards the darker grey shape of the wheelhouse. There was few crew about, no doubt they were below in the small mess playing cards and smoking their pipes like they always seemed to be doing.
"Good morning Mr. Sondquist. How are you this morning?" She said to the old man.
"Hello, Eliza, you are up early," he replied in his thick accent. "I'm afraid there's nothing exciting out here at the moment. Perhaps towards noon there may be a nor'wester coming but, then again, this could go on for days yet."
"Aren't you afraid that another ship might not see us here?" she asked him.
"Not really," he answered, " we have our lights up, we have the fog-bell here." As if to prove the point he jerked the rope above his head to be answered by the deep gong of the bell.
The throb of the bell died slowly away. Mr. Sondquist went on,
" Steamers must use their sirens, every ten minutes in these conditions. We would hear them miles away."
"Oh. Mr. Sondquist, what is that sound? Can you hear it?" Eliza asked, staring northeast.
Motorman 'Kimi' Kasemann was trying to keep warm. He sat huddled in his thick greatcoat and fur hat with a woolen scarf wrapped around his neck. 'Emil' and 'Fritz' were both stopped and there was nothing to do but try and stave off hypothermia. The only sound was the faint clanking of the other motors, throttled down, and the occasional padding-by of other crewmembers on the catwalk outside the tiny aft-messroom.
"Kasemann?" a head appeared through the aluminium door. Kimi made to stand but was shooed by the Chief.
"Sit down. Have you got some coffee brewed?" The Chief enquired.
"Yes Chief," he answered, "in the pot."
"Good! I'm freezing. Keeping warm?"
"Just! What's happening?"
"Little! We have descended to try and fix our position. Everything's closed down, as you can hear. I don't think the Fregatten-Kapitan has the faintest idea where we are." The Chief sat down.
"At least we must still be over water, its like chowder out there," the Chief went on.
"Chief?" Kimi asked, "we are not still venting are we?"
"Some, but we are still well ballasted. We are heavy but I think we'll be ok. They have been chipping ice off the breeches in case we have to climb in a hurry. Some poor fellow went up top and said the ice up there isn't too bad."
Moments later they felt a jolt, followed by a vibration which slowly dissipated.
"Fuck!" said the Chief, "What the hell was that?"
"It feels like we've hit something, Chief," Kimi said.
"We must be on the deck, hell!" Just then the bells rang.
"Alarm!" the Chief, shouted, "We've gone down."
Some 5 minutes before, on the topsail schooner 'Stavanger' Mr. Sondquist listened to the clanking sound with growing concern.
"It's coming nearer," he told Eliza.
"What is it, a steamship?" she asked him.
"None I've ever heard. Sounds more like an aeroplane, a big one, more than one engine."
Looking towards the direction of the sound, they both saw the fog darken into a huge round shape.
"Look!" Mr. Sondquist shouted, "its coming straight at us."
Fregatten-Kapitan Karl-Heinz von Dalwig zu Leichtenfels saw the masthead light and shouted to the helm.
"Hard port! There's something in front of us."
Creeping forward in a dead slow he new it would be many minutes before the huge, 700 feet long L 68 would begin to turn.
"Alarm! We are too low, let go emergency ballast!"
"Unterleutnant Wolfgang Lander grabbed the telephone and cranked the handle.
"Alarm, alarm! Let go ballast. We are crashing!" he shouted into the handset.
Minutes ticked by while the Control Car crew watched the swinging light in front of them.
"Kapitan!" Lander reported, "The mechanisms are frozen on the forward emergency breeches. Shall I let go aft?"
"Shit!" the Kapitan cursed, "Yes, dump the stern breeches, 6 through 9 amidships, we might get enough lift to drift over it. Hold 10 to 14 or we'll stand on our nose, quick!"
Lander conveyed the orders.
The Chief and Kimi made their way along the catwalk. Far off they could hear cries of,
"Stop the motors, stop the motors, we're down."
They were below 'zelle 15' when they heard the rumble of the ballast being dropped. Shouts continued far off, near one of the amidships motors, 'Dora'.
The catwalk began to slant down in front of them. Overhead they heard the groaning of the superstructure as the whole ship began to tilt towards the nose. Turning to Kimi, the Chief said,
"She's down by the head, the stern's rising."
"I know, Chief. We'd better be careful we don't loose our grip. We may be vertical in a minute."
"I don't think so. Only the amidships breeches have been released. Smell that?"
"No. What Chief?"
"Exactly, we would be smelling gas if any of the cells had been damaged."
"Right Chief," replied the Motorman, "so what do you think is happening?"
On the Stavanger, Mr. Sondquist was pulling frantically on the fog-bell's rope as he and Eliza watched the vast grey shape descend on the ship. The huge nose now dwarfed the schooner and the hull of the thing stretched back into the mist.
"She's going to hit, she's going to hit," the old man repeated as he rang the bell. Eliza shrunk down in fear, as the phantom monster seemed about to crush them into little pieces.
"Eliza, hold onto the rail," Mr. Sondquist went on.
Some of the crew came clattering up on deck to investigate the noise. The Master barked at them in Norwegian. As realisation dawned on them they scattered for handholds as the shape bore down.
The nose of the monster came in over the mainmast and it was obvious that's where it was going to hit.
"Clear the mainmast, get clear of the mainmast," yelled the Master in both English and Norwegian.
"Watch those stays and braces, Eliza. If they snap they'll take off an arm, or a leg."
"Is it going to hit us?" Eliza asked.
"Yes, lie down on the deck, here hold this rope, put it around you, so," the master showed her.
Eliza had her eyes shut when there came snapping and crashing sounds. She could hear screams and cries all around her and felt the schooner's deck begin to tilt. She could hear gear crashing to the deck and warning yells, some in English,
"Look out! It's falling... we're going under... abandon ship... it's on top of us..."
But she did as Mr. Sondquist told her and clutched the rope tightly about her.
Even as she heard the sea crash over the side, she did not let go.
Suddenly the pandemonium ceased. Eliza opened her eyes to a scene of devastation on the deck of the schooner. The crew and passengers began to pick themselves up from their refuges and stare around them, and up.
Eliza looked up too and stared in horror. Somehow the Stavanger had been spun around 90 degrees and the monster now hovered along its length. Right above her head she saw a car, suspended below the huge grey beast. In front of it, the mast of the schooner disappeared inside the monster having torn a rent extending half the schooners length. In front of the ragged hole was painted a large black Balkan Cross.
"See that, it's German," came Mr. Sondquist's voice beside her. "Are you alright?" he asked.
"Yes, I think so, what is it?" she asked.
"An airship," came the Skipper's reply, " a German naval Zeppelin. Of all the ocean to be in we have to choose the same place," he said ruefully.
Heads appeared out of the car above them, shouting in German. Mr. Sondquist replied in English, not speaking the airship crew's language.
"Get that thing off us," he shouted waving his arms. Eliza thought they were so low they could jump down on the Stavanger's deck.
On the L68 Lander looked down on the figures below. They didn't appear to be able to hear him or, as was more likely, understand.
"Who are you?" he asked again, " what ship are you?"
All he received in reply was much shouting in a language he couldn't understand.
Above them the Forward Watch Officer descended the ladder into the Car.
"Stresemann?" acknowledged the Fregatten-Kapitan, " what's the damage forward?"
"Their mast is jammed in our keel, Kapitan."
"Why didn't it snap off?" asked the Commander.
"It's steel! It's bent into the cross work, stuck fast. I have sent some men for hacksaws."
"Good," replied the Captain, "get them to hurry up, I don't fancy hanging around here for too long."
"That's not all, sir," Stresemann continued, "the gaffe of that vessel..."
"It punched through the hull and is lodged under 'zelle 3', about a metre underneath. It missed the forward breeches by centremetres. The point is..."
"Well, it's working up and down in the swell. It is very close to puncturing the gas cell."
"Thank god we have no wind," said the Captain, " get it cut off Leutnant, quickly!"
After Stresemann climbed back up into the hull of the airship, the radioman, in his little cubicle at the rear of the Control Car called to the Captain,
"Sir! They're using their radio!"
On the Stavanger, some organisation was beginning to return. Pieces of broken rigging were being heaved over the side, the injured were being gathered up and people were given something to do, no matter how trivial. The Marconi man, Ormson was told by the Skipper to send out a distress signal. He found the radio shack, beneath the mainmast, was intact and the radio in working order. However he yelled to Mr. Sondquist,
"The aerial's down Skipper, it's only hanging from the foremast stay. The signal will be weak."
"Send our position anyway, there might be a nearby vessel."
Ormson worked the treadle-powered magneto and began to send,
"Mayday... S V Stavanger... 0' 34"W... 57' 03"N..."
In the Control Car above the schooner there was a sudden burst of activity. Radioman Forster frantically searched through the ship registers, Lander called for the chart and spread it over the fold up aluminium table.
"We're about 250kms east of Aberdeen Scotland, Captain," the young Navigator said. Also responding to the Morse signal from the ship below, Forster finally announced,
"Stavanger... Oslo Norway... topsail schooner of 408 gross tons... 30 metres long... built Oslo 1907..."
"Ok, thank you Radio," interrupted the Captain.
"Get them to stop signaling, Leutnant, we'll have the English all over us," ordered von Leichtenfels.
"Sir, I'm trying, they don't understand. Perhaps we should mount the Parabellum? A quick burst over their heads may send them the message."
"No I will try something else first. Who among the crew speaks English, do you know?"
"Um yes... I know a fellow... a Motorman... Kasemann I think... spent his childhood there... English mother I understand..." Lander pondered.
"Good! Get him here."
Kimi and the Chief were just working their way past the amidships motors when the phone rang at 'Dora's' engineer station.
"Chief!" the amidships motorman said from the phone. The Chief answered and called out,
"Kasemann! The boss wants you in the car, better hurry."
Kimi scampered down the hull towards the Control car.
Leutnant Lander explained to Kimi what he had to say when the Motorman arrived at the front car. Leaning out of the window he called,
"Stavanger... please turn off your radio."
From the deck he clearly heard,
"When you get your bloody airship off my vessel."
"Please, perhaps we can help each other. But you must turn off your radio," Kimi re-iterated, conscious of the impatient Lander behind him.
"Help, how?" came the reply.
Lander said to the Captain,
"Sir, this is futile. Let me get a couple of gunners down here and..."
"Leutnant!" the Captain stopped him,
" We do not know if they are armed. I remind you that we have crew working above them in the hull trying to free us. They would be vulnerable to shots through the hull.
Furthermore, we are at point blank range if they started shooting back at us and we have half-a-million cubic metres of highly inflammable Hydrogen gas above our heads. For the last time, Lander, I DO NOT WANT A FUCKING GUN BATTLE, DO YOU HEAR ME," the normally reticent aristocrat roared.
"He's English," Eliza told the Old Norwegian, "I know a Home Counties accent anywhere, what's he on a German airship for?"
"Perhaps he's prisoner," Mr. Sondquist ventured, " or a traitor." He called up at the figure above once more,
"What do you have in mind?"
"Have you an acetylene torch?"
"No. What would you want us to do with it anyhow, blow us all up?"
"Hydrogen rises, sir. In any case we are not leaking any gas, yet," the man above replied.
"Well don't start," said Mr. Sondquist, "say, can you come down here, I'm getting hoarse from shouting."
"I night be able to, I will check with my Captain."
"Well, if he's a prisoner, they must trust him very well," the schooner's master told Eliza. "Which leaves the alternative?"
"Pity," said Eliza, " he sounds so nice."
"My goodness girl!" No wonder your father told me to watch you!" Said the master laughing.
On L68, Forster was calling out his report to the Captain,
"They have stopped transmitting... I hear no answer yet... Naval traffic from Skapa Flow and Rosyth I think... Loch Ewe perhaps... nothing near... They could be keeping silent of course."
"They just gave their position, they never mentioned us. A vessel would ask them for their status, and to restate their position, that is if they heard them, of course."
"Of course Lander," said the Captain, icily.
"Kasemann," von Leichtenfels said, "go down there in the observation car. We will lower you over the water, ask them to send a boat for you. I want you to secure their radio, I don't care how. See if they are armed too, take a pistol. But above all, establish a rapport with them. We want their co-operation. "
Then to Lander,
"Lower him a telephone so we can keep in touch."
"Hedwigsdotter, put a boat over the side," called the Stavanger's skipper, "they're sending a man down with a telephone to save our tonsils. See that! They are lowering him in that little car, quick man, or he'll land in the water."
Kimi could see the little rowboat put out from the stern of the schooner. He lay prone in the tiny observation car as it swung on the end of the unwinding cable. The water looked freezing and he hoped the winch-man had a good view of the surface of the sea. He did not want a ducking. He wound the handle on the car's telephone and called up instructions,
"50 metres... good... slow... slow."
He opened the hatch on the top of the car and got to his knees. He figured he wanted the chance to jump if it hit the water.
The little boat drew nearer. A boatman was waving at him with a boat hook and calling something in Norwegian. Although the weather was calm and still the little car nevertheless swayed dizzily. Kimi caught the boat hook after a number of attempts and hooked it to the side of the hatchway. The boat drew along side and he jumped in.
Kimi looked up at the airship, it seemed to cover the sky above. He was pulled over the stern of the schooner by the powerful arms of a couple of crewman. In front of him stood a man in his fifties with a matted grey beard.
"Sondquist," the man said, "I am the skipper. How do you suggest you get that thing off my ship?"
"Motorman Kasemann, sir, pleased to meet you."
Kimi told them that the Control Car was going to lower a telephone.
They had a problem freeing his mast from the airship. It was stuck fast and under strain. If they sawed through it inside the airship's hull it would snap free in such a way it may tear a gas cell.
"You must cut through below our hull and we do the same above. Maybe the energy will be less when it comes free," Kimi told the older man.
Eliza peered uncertainly out of the wheelhouse door. As the two men came level she coughed, extravagantly. Mr. Sondquist paused,
"You have a cold Eliza?" he said smiling.
"No... I," she stumbled.
"Madam," the young man at the skipper's side said, bowing stiffly from the waist,
"His name's Kasemann," said the skipper, "Kasemann? Meet Eliza Simpson. She is taking passage with us."
"English?" said the Motorman, "pleased to meet you."
Eliza flushed, speechless. This young man was without a doubt the handsomest man she had ever met.