clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Tuesday Thoughts 11/15: An Empty Horizon

why write about football when you could just not.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 12 Miami at Georgia Tech Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

2 days since the wreck

It’s a miracle anyone is alive, and those that are almost wish they weren’t. The crew was once forty strong but only twelve found themselves washed ashore on foreign lands, gasping for air. Exactly which foreign lands no one knew; the navigation equipment had been lost in the wreck and the flora and fauna of their new prison was unfamiliar to the men. At first they were just happy to be on terra firma again, safe from a watery grave for the time being. A freshwater stream was quickly found, and there seemed to be ample sources of food about - berries and caught critters mostly.

The captain had been among those lost to the sea so the men thought it best to elect someone to take the mantle. A vote was soon convened with different colored pebbles acting as the ballots. It was the quartermaster who came away as the new leader of these haggard, lost men. His first act was to move camp further inland, away from the exposed shores. Winter was bearing down and the biting wind was brutal. The men spent two days digging a hole and hauling a mostly-intact lifeboat to the site to be used as a makeshift roof. It was by no means warm but it provided cover from the wind for themselves as well as for the fires they needed to stave off hypothermia.

6 days since the wreck

With food and shelter taken care of for the present, the crew turned their eyes towards what to do about their imprisonment. Conversation quickly turned to argument between two main groups. One faction wanted to attempt an escape by lashing together a raft and paddling north - the only direction they knew for certain would lead to humanity. The other faction wanted to build up the camp and do what they could to survive the oncoming winter waiting for rescue; it was previously agreed that a ship would be sent for them should they not make their next scheduled port of call for more than a month. That meant they could expect a rescue mission to be launched in October and arrive as early as mid-November.

Eventually the group in favor of attempting escape was talked down - the sea conditions were dangerous and there wasn’t enough food to take with them. Anger over the decision still lingered as the shelter was fortified with dirt and detritus. Talk was limited and solely focused on any tasks at hand. The men may not have been friends when this hapless voyage started but now they found themselves constantly at odds.

11 days since the wreck

The weariness of the situation has begun to consume the survivors. Tensions between the fractured groups flare and several men begin secretly stockpiling their own food away from the communal stores. Trust was eroding and the quartermaster’s position as leader seems to be in name only. He tries to be confident for the sake of the men but privately he’s consumed by fear. Only a few of the men earnestly believe they’ll see their native lands again.

15 days since the wreck

The cook succumbs to the cold. He was buried facing west, towards the cold setting sun.

27 days since the wreck

Four men are confined to the lifeboat shelter with hypothermia, barely able to lift their arms on account of the cold and hunger. Even those who can walk freely struggle to move for long; at a 500 daily calorie ration there’s just not enough energy to go around. The water that used to lap the shore has frozen over several yards out and the sun’s warmth is all but gone. The men use what little daylight they have to forage for food in the hopes of storing enough to last the long winter ahead. Boiled snow and ice have become the main sources of freshwater.

31 days since the wreck

Three men commit mutiny and build their own camp a hundred yards downshore from the rest. They begin work on the raft they think will deliver them from this existence.

32 days since the wreck

The three stubborn men walk their raft out on the ice and push it out to sea. Within minutes it capsizes and throws the men overboard; only two resurface from under the floes. The others watching drag them ashore and as close to the fires as they deem safe. Neither man can speak or move.

34 days since the wreck

One of the men who went overboard doesn’t wake up from his slumber. He’s buried next to the cook.

50 days since the wreck

The anniversary goes by without awareness or celebration. Everyone is worried about whether the rescue ship will be able to find them in time. The crew’s health continues to deteriorate along with its spirit.

Every day the men who are able to walk go down to the shore to watch for sails. The horizon remains empty.