General Wolf and Sergeant Wilcox is now available on Amazon.com!
General Wolf and Sergeant Wilcox is now available on Amazon.com!
Here’s the latest: Jamie Miller has created a wonderful cover for the first Scott Tales book “General Wolf and Sergeant Wilcox.” Scott and I are thrilled with the results of her fine work.
What do you think? Please let us know.
I didn’t really know my good friend Jeff very well back in our middle school days. It was years later in high school that we would become buddies and he would share some of his stories of mischievous adventure from those days. I did know of him though in Middle School and witnessed some of his antics from afar. It was hard to avoid seeing Jeff getting in trouble since he got in hot water most of the time back then. Jeff recalled for me something he did in 7th grade at Daniel K. Reading-Fleming Middle School, which was known to everyone affectionately as “DKR”. Although I did not witness this incident he told me about, it was so profound, that Jeff should have been immortalized by a plaque or something, that is if someone had had the wherewithal to do so. For this act I’m about to describe to you, it must be noted that this is part of DKR legend. Honestly, there probably is some kind of mounted plaque or statue commemorating what he did. Here is the story Jeff told me about his infamous “Power” which was corroborated by many other witnesses.
The clocks at DKR were all on some kind of synchronized timer system. It was an old system but a consistent timing mechanism we all relied upon for ending classes and moving on to the next class period. At the end of every class, the clocks all let out a clear RRRRRINNGG. However, at exactly 1:50pm and only during the last class of the day, all of the clocks gave off an inexplicable muffled mmm-uuu-vvvuuzzz. This sound had no official status or meaning. It just simply happened. The buzz was one of those mundane repetitive occurrences which we all knew was probably due to some kind of technical issue, but no one cared enough to fix. At 1:50pm every day, the clocks would all buzz for about five seconds and everyone just took this for granted. However, Jeff was bored as he often was during those years at DKR. One day, Jeff noticed the “buzz” and decided to make it something more than it was. No one knows the exact day it happened that school year, but the clock buzzed as usual at 1;50pm and with dramatically raised hands in a spasmodic manner towards the clock, Jeff simply uttered in a whisper…”P-O-W-E-R!”. His friends around him laughed and some of the kids in the class who noticed what he did also chuckled or else rolled their eyes in disdain. Whether it was amusement or disapproval, that was Jeff’s inspiration for a repeat. The next day, Jeff did it again, raising his hands dramatically at the clock at 1:50pm and said, “Power!”. Mr. Bygott, the hapless principle then at DKR, was teaching Jeff’s class. He had already dealt Jeff several detentions that year and was in no mood to tolerate any more of Jeff’s antics. By perhaps the third or fourth time that Jeff did “Power”, the class had become noticeably distracted. Some classmates were doing a whispered countdown…”5 minutes to Power!… 1 minute to Power!… 30 seconds!”. Mr. Bygott had had enough and warned Jeff to stop the disruption. After all, it was 1:50pm and there was still twenty minutes left in the class. Jeff of course disregarded Mr. Bygott’s threat and did it anyway. For the rest of that year, Jeff would do “Power” and Mr. Bygott would give him detention. Jeff would set a record that year for the most detentions in one school year (another DKR legendary achievement). Jeff’s record would be eclipsed the very next year however by classmate Scott Collister who was determined to get a detention every day. Collister very nearly accomplished that feat, but regardless would surpass Jeff’s total detentions by perhaps one or two to claim a new record. It is doubtful to this day if anyone has reached the detention heights of what Jeff and Scott achieved.
Anyway, we fast forward to the last day of 7th grade that year. Jeff had amassed many detention sessions by then with Mr. Bygott due to Power and other issues. On this final day of school, Mr. Bygott unwittingly immortalized Jeff’s disruptive act, transforming it from an annoying antic to institutional history. In front of the whole class, Mr. Bygott warned Jeff that if he “did Power” one more time, that he would be given two weeks of detention at the beginning of next year. By actually stating Jeff’s act as “Power”, Mr. Bygott had unintentionally transformed Power in to a fixture of DKR lore. Jeff realized this. Up until the final seconds before 1:50pm, Jeff had actually made up his mind not to do Power that day. He was tired of detentions and certainly didn’t want to start off 8th grade once again in Mr. Bygott’s office. However, as the final seconds arrived before the clock struck that momentous time, Jeff felt everyone’s eyes upon him. Because of Mr. Bygott’s threat to Jeff including detention for anyone that encouraged him, there was no final countdown from anyone. Nonetheless for Jeff, this moment had come down to either enduring more detention or confronting the massive weight of peer disappointment. At that final second of decision, Jeff felt a pang of impending unbearable regret. The universe would somehow be diminished for sure if he didn’t do Power this last time on this last day of school. But Jeff decided too that if he was to suffer detention for this, he should really “go for it” and make this particular fit of power memorable. When the clock struck 1:50pm and the famous buzz began, Jeff hesitated for just a split second and then screamed at the top of his lungs…”P-O-W-E-RRRRRRR!!!!”. As Jeff kept screaming this over and over, he bolted up and ran about the room, knocking over chairs and finally falling to the floor, all the while never taking his eyes off the infamous clock with hands upraised and yelling that one word that described his momentary hysteria. The class of course was in total pandemonium and cheers. Then, the buzzing stopped and the moment of Power had finally ended…. and oh yes, Mr. Bygott slapped Jeff with two weeks of detention for the beginning of the Fall in 8th grade.
As an epilogue, it is important to note that though Jeff reported for detention that first day of school that Fall, Mr. Bygott out of disgust or perhaps mental exhaustion, told Jeff not to come back for any more detentions. The Power was simply too much for the principle of Daniel K. Reading Middle School. Legends can do that perhaps.
Sixty four days ago, I heard a strange circus-like theme emanating from my wife’s iPhone. She continued to focus unblinkingly at the tiny screen. Curious, I looked over her shoulder and spied what was absorbing her attention. At first glance, my immediate impression was that this was a silly game of solitary checkers where you click on the colored objects and get them to disappear. My wife told me it was a game called “Candy Crush” and that I should leave her alone. I reprimanded her for engaging in such a ridiculous distraction and walked away dismayed at her insistence for solitude. Two hours later, I was logged in to my Facebook page and saw a Candy Crush link. For reasons mysterious and utterly beyond my comprehension at the time, I clicked on that link. The candied cartoon countdown began as I witnessed the loading of the game. After that, I began to play. Unbeknownst to me at that moment, the entire course of my life had just been altered.
The goals of the Candy Crush game are simply to eliminate the candy, clear away some icing blocks underneath and acquire the required amount of points. Naturally, I had no idea how to achieve any of this. In the beginning though, I crushed Candy Crush. If the colors looked nice, I clicked on them and was delighted in my blissful ignorance when the candy disintegrated. It seemed like anything I clicked on blew up. I knew at least that combusting candy was a good thing. Sometimes, the very first click I made vaporized nearly the whole screen of candies and a manic banner then displayed proclaiming my brilliant success and upward movement to the next level. When I somehow activated the coveted power ball, which I called the “rainbow jimmy ball”, and it destroyed everything on the screen, I was awestruck by my dazzling ability to advance through this game. I was passing through the multiple levels like a Candy Crush prodigy.
However, it was at level twelve that I discovered my extraordinary skills apparently had ordinary limits. At that twelfth level, my luck seemed to have run out. Eventually, I found out that the game only gives you so many tries or “lives”. Once you try too many times to crush that candy, the game displays a sad-faced heart cartoon notifying you that you must wait for thirty minutes before your life is restored and you can resume the game. To my dismay, I realized that I was being punished by Candy Crush for my failure to conquer the candy! However, there are options to obtain more lives by either purchasing them or requesting a life via emails to my Facebook friends. Being the cheapskate that I am, I opted for the latter request option. It was this choice which began my descent in to the dark regions of Candy Crush known as “obsessive privilege”. Candy Crush designers have devised a diabolical process where the player is given enough mesmerizing success in the game to begin believing that they deserve as many free attempts to continue succeeding as they want. Once they have you in this emotional state of privileged expectation, your addiction has been established! To facilitate the development of my budding obsession to play, I tapped the ingenious Candy Crush feature which enabled me to instantly request dozens of my Facebook designated friends to participate in Candy Crush and send me a life unit…whether they played Candy Crush or not.
For those of my friends who were already playing the game, they were as addicted as I had become and thus wanted a CC life too. Our exchange of life units was steady and faithful. As for those who knew nothing about my Candy Crush experience but were receiving my requests anyway, I was unintentionally disturbing the peace. My requests flooded their Facebook message queues relentlessly. At a supposedly joyful Thanksgiving gathering, a number of my friends informed me that our friendship was about to be terminated if they received anymore Candy Crush life unit requests from me. I was stunned. My Thanksgiving post-dinner discussion had become a Candy Crush intervention. Sobered by the adverse impact of my obsession upon my friends, I decided with much pain to delete the game from my iPhone and I then issued a Facebook confession of my addiction to those still connected to me as friends.
I could say at this point that all was better in my life now, but such a statement would not be true. In reality, my withdrawal from Candy Crush addiction leaves me hallucinating at times of dancing clowns and icing melting before my eyes. Every once in a while, someone else… a fellow addict perhaps, cruelly sends me a request for a CC life. I don’t reply though. I pretend the request is unimportant or pathetic to me and delete it. Still, a lingering sadness stays with me every time that happens. A part of Candy Crush still captures my heart. Regretfully, my wife remains a flaming Candy Crushaholic. Perhaps I’ll arrange an intervention for her when the time is right. In the meantime, I’ll be okay I suppose. I’m getting my life back… and besides, I’ve still got Plants versus Zombies. I’ll never let anyone take that away from me! Never!
Chapter 1 – The Darkness Follows
Crager remembered a happier time for himself and his clan. He recalled a season of warmth and peace when there was no menace. The cave was a home for his people. The rocky enclosure had been a welcome shelter but with the arriving darkness, it had become instead a death trap. Their beloved river had long provided food and water, but was now claimed by the horror that stalked its banks. Too many of Crager’s people had died a horrible death.
Food had become scarce for the clan once the monster came. It was eventually unsafe to venture outside of their barricaded cave day or night. Each time someone went out to scavenge for food, a life was lost in the same terrible way. First, there was the mindless inhuman bellow of the monster. There then followed a prolonged guttural scream, a brief silence, and then the grotesque crunching of bones. As food supplies dwindled, the clan began to ration what was left. The children particularly were suffering. Crager’s wife, Danara, had refused to eat so that their son and daughter could have her portion. It was not enough. As the clan gradually withered, Crager could no longer stand to see his people slowly die. Someone had to take the ominous risk and find food. Crager’s family would have tried to stop him, so he gathered up his weapons and hunting gear and quietly slipped away at night. He fully expected that the creature would attack him as soon as he emerged from the protective barricade, but there was only the silent black of the night.
Amazed and relieved, Crager made his way steadily all night and in to the day north to the black mountains. Just beyond the mountain’s highest regions, Crager would find abundant food. This gave him hope to press forward. He needed encouragement. His legs and feet ached relentlessly from the brutal climb up through the rocky pass. He felt like a tiny ant crawling across an impossible field of enormous boulders. Just as it seemed that he had gotten beyond danger, he heard a distant bellowing roar that took his breath away. Far below in the base of the valley, he could see a massive dark shape lumbering steadily up the trail in his direction. Crager was still a day ahead of his stalker, but this gave him no comfort. He rushed up the pass with renewed fear and vigor. Crossing two streams and then taking the steeper north pass trail, Crager felt confident that he would lose the thing that pursued him. Short of his goal to get to the mountain top region, Crager collapsed in exhaustion, lying down to rest in a crevasse off the trail. In the morning, he would make the final leg of the journey and begin his hunting.
It was night when Crager was awakened by the hideous stench of rotting flesh. The complete darkness of the mountains concealed something just a few feet from his hiding place. An enormous shadow cast itself over the opening. Steady hoarse breathing from the shadow brought the sickening smell nearer. Crager heard air being sucked in to massive nostrils just above him. Hot stale blood and saliva dripped down on to his face. He was hopelessly trapped. There was a sudden moment of absolute silence and then came the mindless deafening roar. He had been found.
A product of Schweppe Fiction Incorporated, USA, US PAT OFFICE, 2012
The characters and events depicted in this story are strictly fictitious. Any similarity to ACTUAL PERSONS, living, dead, or who happen to be turning 50 years old, is all purely coincidental and cannot be attributed to any deliberate or other such malicious intent. Attempting to successfully compare the fictitious characters in this story to real persons is pure folly and about as likely to succeed in proving as winning the freakin Powerball tomorrow! Should the reader reach such unfortunate negative conclusions or worse, their legal options will be severely limited. Any other intended punitive efforts may include perhaps a brief rude prank call or slashed tires. However, such hopelessly useless retaliations represent merely a petty ineffective expression of said subject’s outrage and will have no impact on the author whatsoever.
-Disclaimer copyright per Sheister, Chisler, and Sheister Law Partners, Esquire LLC, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, 2012
Once upon a time…long ago in a mountainous green misty fisher cat infested forest far far away, there was a house occupied by just one woman. Her name was Gwenda and she kept her home in such perfect appearance and cleanliness that few dared to venture inside it for fear of making it dirty. Day after day, Gwenda toiled to sweep carpets, vacuum drapes, wipe counters, wash windows, reorganize her refrigerator, wipe down the cabinets, mop the kitchen floor, and dust anything that didn’t move. Even though she allowed animals to roam the house, Gwenda somehow managed to keep the décor in perfect cleanliness. Her dogs and cats were forced to live on the back deck or slunk in dark corners as to minimize their polluting nature which she loathed. Gwenda had a husband and two children, but they lived in another house several miles away because they could not stay clean enough to satisfy Gwenda’s demands. Sometimes her husband, Neil, would visit the house in spite of her protest (…he was a very stubborn man who drove fast recreational vehicles).
Gwenda’s zeal to purge all filth frightened her friends and the villagers of EnosFallmus as well. Sadly, her obsession was to the point that no one visited her anymore. Since neighbors’ homes were not nearly so clean, Gwenda refused to visit them. Thus, she lived a lonely life of collecting high price kitchen appliances, smoking cigars, and sewing smocking patterns of cleaning tools on alpaca sweaters. The good news with her lonely existence was that Gwenda baked the most fabulous breakfast scones ever made and was able to stay in contact with people from a distance as they came from near and far to eat her famous baked goods. Still, she was lonely and carried a desperate secret in her heart. As much as Gwenda wanted everything to be clean, she longed even more so to be free of the drudgery of working so hard to achieve such purity of her surroundings. One day, in a fit of bitter frustration while experimenting with hairspray on one of her cats to keep their dander down, Gwenda tripped and fell. The can of hairspray upon striking the floor, exploded, leaving her cat’s shed fur permanently glued on the wood floor. The mishap also destroyed the bottom edge of her new white drapes which had perfectly symmetrical patterns of two blue hoover vacuum cleaners. Oh, how she had worked so hard and for so long on those drapes! Gwenda’s exasperation spewed as dramatically as the hairspray had.
She cried out, “Uuuggh! Woe is me! Trapped in this abysmal daily drudgery. Oh how I WISH…Yes! If I had just one wish… I would wish for everything to be perfectly clean…FOREVER!!!”
Quite suddenly, a strange man appeared before her. He was about her height, mustached, caucasion, and wearing a multicolored lama hat with long bushy tassels. Although this strange man was somewhat overweight, he wore his extra body fat well in tasteful fashionable winter clothing.
Gwenda was completely startled, but managed to speak, “Who… Who.. are you?”
The lama-hatted man replied with a sly smile, “I am the Wizard of Bakersmarsh! I have heard your laments and have come to grant you any single wish you like!”
Gwenda said, “But how is this possible? What are you? Why me?”
The Wizard replied, “I am an enchanted creature of this region who has magical powers to grant wishes to anyone I so desire. The delicious scones you bake have impressed me for many these years. I heard your cry for help just now and determined that I would grant you a wish. You need now only to wish it!”
Gwenda said, “Oh wonderful Wizard of Bakersmarsh! The most precious wish of my life is to….”
But the Wizard interrupted with an enchanted disclaimer, “BE CAREFUL my child with what you wish for! I am a literal wizard who must grant the wish according to what words are used by the wisher. I can do nothing more and nothing less! Now.. What is it that you wish for?”
Gwenda paused for a moment, gathered her thoughts and uttered her wish, “I wish oh great wizard that everything be clean forever!!”
The Wizard of Bakersmarsh half-closed one eye, scratched his chin in deep concentration and then uttered the following incantation…
“World of constant pestilence, dirt, and debris… With perfect cleanliness you are now free!”
A brilliant flash of light engulfed Gwenda and all around her. Covering her eyes from the intense luminescence, Gwenda felt a kind of tingling run up and down her spine and then… She found herself once more in the hallway of her home. The Wizard of Bakersmarsh was nowhere to be seen. The hairspray can on the floor was upright and intact. There was no hairspray mess, loose hair or stain on the draperies. In the far corner of the hallway sat the cat shivering. Gwenda shuddered. There was not one single hair on the cat’s body! Bootsy was completely naked! As Gwenda touched the drapes to see if any stain were on them, she felt the same tingling she had before when the Wizard did his enchantment. In fact, everything that Gwenda touched tingled. She realized that this was some kind of automatic cleaning magic. Although Bootsy’s hairlessness disturbed her, Gwenda suddenly felt exhilaration as she realized that nothing would ever be dirty again! Floors gleamed, cabinets shined and there was not so much as a single smudge on anything she could see.
Suddenly, the entire house shook and began leaning to one side. Gwenda screamed and gripped the nearby stair railing. The lurching movement stopped and Gwenda frantically ran outside to investigate. She looked in horror as the entire house sat precariously on just a couple large boulders and piles of rock underneath it. A vast chasm surrounded the house with a bare rocky outcropping in the backyard instead of a wooded hill. As far as her eye could see, there was nothing but rocky hills and boulders. Forests and fields were non-existent anymore. All the dirt and soil was gone!
Gwenda panicked, “Oh no! I wished for everything to be “clean”. The Wizard’s enchantment has removed all dirt from the world!”
Gwenda wasn’t feeling well at this point and rushed to the bathroom but there was NO toilet there. In fact, there was no tub or sink either! Why have washing receptacles if there was no dirt to wash off? The wish the Wizard had granted her was indeed complete and comprehensive!
Gwenda realized now that she had made a horrible mistake and cried out, “Please! Pleeeease great Wizard of Bakersmarsh! Take this terrible wish away and make everything as it was! I beg of you! I’ll do anything… ANYTHING to have all the dirt back as it was!”
All Gwenda could hear was the wind rustling over the barren rockscape. The air was crisp and empty of all smells. Gwenda wept all night. She could feel the magical tingling sensation of her dirty tears dry up and dissipate on her cheeks. How Gwenda longed for her world to be normal again. The seemingly endless cleanly night gave way to a spotless dawn with still no answer from the Wizard. Then, Gwenda smelled something stale and spoiled in the air. Nothing had changed, yet these ugly aromas wafted all around her. From a few miles away, a great dark wall formed and moved towards Gwenda’s house. At first it was too far away for Gwenda to understand what it was, but then the strange apparition drew nearer.
Gwenda leapt for joy, “Yes! Yes! It’s dirt! It’s a giant storm of dirt coming this way! Oh great Wizard… Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
The whirling wall of filth engulfed Gwenda’s home, filling every nook and cranny with dust, insects, grime and all other manner of dirtiness. In the midst of this great swirl, Gwenda ran outside and danced all about the yard in joyous bliss. In the aftermath of the storm, Gwenda found her home once more planted solidly on soil. Bootsy had her fur back and the can of hairspray lay ruptured with messy contents all over the floor. The nearby drapes were ruined. The toilet was back as well as the tub and sink. Upon seeing all of this, Gwenda wept with joy and laid down on the soot that now covered one of her favorite rugs. As she happily wallowed amidst the welcome filth, the Wizard appeared once more before her.
The Wizard said, “Greetings again my child! I have reversed your wish and restored what had been. I ask only one thing of you…”
“What’s that?” said a blissful Gwenda.
“That you supply me forever with your best most scrumptious scones!” he declared.
Gwenda replied, “Oh great Wizard of Bakersmarsh… I shall do so for your gracious gesture, but I ask only one more thing of you before you go…”
“What’s that?” said the Wizard puzzling.
“Can you please pick up that damn messy can of hairspray and throw it out for me?”
The Wizard did as she asked.
Gwenda lived happily ever afterwards… that is, after the Wizard picked up the messy hairspray can for her…
Two weeks later, Gwenda’s husband Neil and daughters Enid and Retisha all moved back in and helped her keep up with all the daily scone deliveries she had to make to the Wizard of Bakersmarsh. The scones baking kept Gwenda so busy that she never got a chance to relapse in to her cleaning obsession again. Smart Wizard!
Something is wrong, but I don’t know what it is. I feel as if a violent storm or some other calamity is imminent. The sea gulls seem to share my apprehension. Hundreds of them have suddenly begun flying out to sea since this morning. I have never seen gulls do that before. Our ship, the U.S.S. Wateree, reached the harbor of Arica Chile yesterday. The Wateree launched in 1863, just a few short years ago. Boasting a flat bottom hull made entirely of iron, she is one of the newest warship innovations of the Navy.
The people of Arica take little notice of our ship though. The city is distracted as usual with Chilean vendors selling their fresh fish and shimmering jewelry in the crowded streets. Our cargo for the American base is already unloaded. Commander Billings has ordered most of the crew back on board to get ready for our return to San Francisco. It’s five o’clock and almost time for dinner at last!
What’s this? My friend, Midshipman Dawson, is launching a dinghy.
“Ahoy Dawson! Where are you going? Who authorized your use of that?” I chide.
Dawson replies, “It’s nothing for you to worry about Cavanaugh! We’re picking up some extra supplies in town. We’ll be back in an hour. Don’t worry your self.”
“Oh, I see. You just want another excuse to go back in to town and purchase that dress for your lovely wife. Well, maybe I’ll just tell the Commander what you’re up to and..”
I suddenly hear a strange low GRRRUMMMMM. The ship’s deck begins to vibrate beneath my feet. Every crewman on board has stopped. Dawson has ceased his efforts as well.
“What is it?” he calls up to me.
“Not..NOT SURE!” I shout.
The deep GGRUMMM has quickly become a continuous groaning in the air like a thousand large rocks rolling down a hillside all around me. My eyes pan towards the city. A CRRASSHH resounds against the ship. RIIIP! BOOM!
“Look! The warehouse!” exclaims Dawson.
The three-story building directly in front of our ship crumbles to the ground. The Wateree is just far enough away to miss the debris as it smashes on to the dock.
“It’s a..a..quake. The crew!” Dawson points.
I see five of our men on a nearby dinghy struggling to row to our starboard side. The water has suddenly become like a mad boiling soup with sailor-high waves frothing in every direction.
“Quickly, Dawson,” I yell, “Get back on board.”
“Not without them,” he says.
Dawson braves the insane churning water in his dinghy like a man bouncing about on a trampoline. He manages to grab a line from the other boat.
“Dawson, we’ll bring you and the others up on board,” I say.
“Hurry! The water is pulling us out!” another sailor cries.
Indeed, the water in the harbor is flowing out to sea as if some great drain has opened somewhere and is swallowing it up. CRRAACK! CRRRASSH! The shaking ground knocks the whole pier next to the Wateree into the harbor. CLAANNG! BAANNG! Two heavy iron moorings on shore barely miss smashing Dawson’s boat as they tumble off the collapsing dock. Dawson and the others frantically climb aboard. Water has receded so much now from the harbor that we can actually see the bottom. I look further out. In amazement, I spot large fish flopping about the freshly bared mud.
The water has receded out to sea beyond sight. Several other ships anchored in the harbor with bowed keels have toppled over on to their sides. In contrast, the Wateree’s flat bottom has enabled it to rest upright on the harbor bottom.
It is 5:30, but the darkening sky makes the late afternoon seem like late evening. The ocean has begun to surge back in to the harbor and tosses the fallen ships all about. The Wateree is drifting aimlessly with no way to control itself in the turbulence. Then, something more ominous grabs our attention. Dawson points out to sea.
“Look! What is that?”
“A distant white ridge of surf is breaking out beyond the harbor. I can hear it now,” I say.
Only minutes later, the distant churn has become a tumultuous roar. The whole ocean is rising up at the head of the harbor into a towering wall of brown water. It’s racing straight towards us.
“Get below! Get below! Secure the hatches! Run! RUN!” I scream.
The monstrous surge thunders towards us like a thousand locomotives. As the wave crashes down over the Wateree, I close the hatch and hold on to a steel railing with all my strength. The ship abruptly lurches and groans under the tremendous force seizing it. Will the Wateree rip apart?
Panic grips me, “I don’t want to die, Please help.. AAAHHH!”
The ship rolls over completely and the porthole next to me goes dark. The Wateree is under water! Several impossibly long minutes pass and then, like a runaway elevator, the ship starts to rise. Light breaks in from the porthole. We are on the surface again! I know I should try to go up on deck to help save the ship, but the Wateree is still being tossed wildly about. I’m terrified.
I say to my self, “Come on Cavanaugh. Get out there. Keep your wits about you. You’ve got to help the crew.”
I finally muster some courage and open the hatch. Cold salty water splashes my face. To my relief, I see Dawson and other crewmen already running about the deck. I’m dazed but call out to my friend.
“Dawson! I’ll check the aft for damage.”
“Hurry Cavanaugh. Look for people too and take a gaff hook with you,” he responds.
I’m puzzled at first by his instruction. Then, I look down at the turbulent waters and understand. The great wave is carrying us over the city of Arica itself! The Wateree is floating by the tops of church steeples, houses and other buildings. People are clinging to debris and floundering in the water. I see a little girl holding on to part of a roof. The Wateree is drifting swiftly past her. I only have a moment to save her.
“Hold on Miss! Grab this. I’ll pull you in,” I yell.
It is past seven o’clock. Darkness has fallen over the Wateree. The crew has rescued dozens of people who, like the girl I saved earlier, are all huddled and shivering with blankets. The Wateree is aground in a sandy ravine. We are several hundred yards inland from the harbor.
What an astounding tale I will have to share with my friends and family! I suddenly realize too how incredible it is that I’m even alive to tell of this.
The great Arica Chile quake, one of the ten most powerful earthquakes in history, occurred on August 13, 1868 at approximately 5:05pm. The quake registered a Richter scale magnitude of 8.5. Several tsunamis generated by the quake struck the harbor. The second wave, which carried the U.S.S. Wateree inland, was estimated to be over ninety feet tall. The stability of the Wateree’s unique flat bottom design is likely the reason why it was the only ship of three anchored in the harbor at that time to survive the disaster. The Wateree never sailed again and was sold for scrap metal several years later. The city of Arica was completely destroyed by this disaster which claimed more than 25,000 lives. A monument stands on the north shore of Arica today as a memorial of the disaster and a tribute to the brave crewmen of the U.S.S. Wateree.