JACOB INSTALLMENT #17

Chapter Eight

“Don’t you think it’s time to radio an SOS?”  Green water came over the bows every time the ship plunged into a trough.  Some of it remained every time that happened, leaking aboard through the numerous cracks and holes in the ancient vessel.  The troughs were getting deeper and the walls that surrounded them steeper.  All of Jacob’s strength was focused on remaining in a standing position as he grabbed various objects for support.  Even the captain was on the bridge, peering outward toward the chaotic sea with a worried expression on his face.

Sam didn’t respond immediately to Jacob’s suggestion.  With a grimace he finally turned to Jacob.  “Can’t,” he said.

“Why not?”  This time Jacob’s question came out as a plea.

“Radio probably doesn’t work,” Sam replied.  Jacob knew the radio worked; just yesterday he’d overheard voices in the radio shack as he passed by.  The real problem with using the radio, Jacob surmised, was that if the ship didn’t sink under them, its cargo would incriminate them.  He wondered what made their anonymity more valuable than their lives.  Just then the ship smacked into a trough and an ominous shudder ran through the vessel as it twisted into the beginning of a broach and tilted alarmingly.  A mountain of green water cascaded over the bridge, ripping off some appurtenances.  As the vessel struggled to right itself, the radio mast appeared in front of them, hanging down over the bridge.  The next wave took it away.  One of these was the radio antenna.  Even if they had wanted to, now they wouldn’t be able to communicate with the outside world.

An apparition appeared in the side port.  It was Frank with a pot of coffee.  He was struggling to open the door.  Jacob moved toward him to help, but before he could reach the door the ship was engulfed by an enormous wave.  Jacob waited anxiously for the water to subside, but when it did his terrifying fear was realized.  The port was now empty.  Jacob struggled to the door and opened it, but Frank was gone.  Sam, who had watched the event, shrugged his shoulders.  “Get down to the galley and bring up another pot of coffee,” he said offhandedly.  “And while you’re down there, have Charlie spell the guy down in the engine room.”

Jacob angrily complied with the order, choosing his timing carefully to avoid the same situation that had ended Frank’s life.  When he reached the galley he gave the bad news to Charlie, who went reluctantly, with an eerie sense of impending doom, down into the bowels of the struggling ship.  Jacob waited for Sid to arrive in the galley.  His bedraggled companion looked like he was about to drop from exhaustion.  He staggered over the sink and puked until nothing more came up.  Then he slid down to the deck and leaned back against the stove, hugging his belly.  Saying nothing more, Jacob picked up a coffeepot and left, heading back to the bridge.

The captain had left to return to his bunk.  As the interminable afternoon wore on, their situation became ever more desperate.  Creaking noises became louder and the shuddering more pronounced, signaling the onset of serious, ship-threatening metal fatigue.

Late in the dark, sunless afternoon the vibration of the deck from the engine suddenly stopped.  Shortly after that an apparition appeared once more in the side port.  This time it was Sid, whose ghastly features registered extreme anxiety.  Jacob opened the door and shut it tight against the screeching wind just as another wave crested level with the bridge.  “What’s wrong?” Jacob asked.

“We’re shipping water.  We’re going to sink.  I tried to get to the ladder down to the engine room, Jacob,” he wailed, “but it was too late.  The engine room’s flooded.  Water’s rising up the ladder.  Charlie’s gone, Jacob.”

Without a word Sam darted for the side port, scrambling outside and leaving the door open to the tempest that surrounded them.  They attempted to wake up the captain, who sat up and belched, saturating the room with alcohol fumes.  As he wobbled to a standing position, Jacob and Sid ran outside to follow Sam, who was struggling to free the single lifeboat from its davits.  He slipped and with a scream that was overwhelmed by the bellowing wind he fell headfirst onto the deck.  Before Jacob or Sid could reach him a wave washed him out to sea, where they quickly lost sight of him.  The ship was dipping noticeably lower into the water, the waves higher to their perspective.  Jacob and Sid struggled together with the davit release lines.  As success approached, Jacob signaled to Sid to stop, tied the line off again, and headed back to the bridge.  The captain flung himself outside before Jacob reached the door and, oddly, continued on a straight line directly into the next wave.  Jacob rushed back and the two finished untying the lines and dropped the boat into the water.  They rappelled down the lines and, once in the boat, pushed off from the now-derelict and rapidly-sinking ship.  The little boat bobbed like a toy in the huge waves.  It was all either man could do just to remain aboard.  When the boat crested a wave they could see the ship.  Each time it was visibly lower in the water until, eventually they crested a wave and saw nothing but water.  The ship was gone, and along with it, they were certain, were the weapons intended for Israel’s enemies.  But they were alone, terrified, nauseous and without food or water.

After an eternity of misery they came to a semblance of cognition, where Jacob led them in a prayer that they might continue to be of service to their Lord Jesus Christ.  Another seeming eternity ensued, after which the raging wind began to moderate.  A long time after that the violence of the waves had noticeably lessened.  Another day following that daylight appeared for the first time, and they were able to survey their craft.  It had weathered the storm admirably, but the crew of the ship obviously hadn’t taken thought that its use might sometime be necessary, for there was neither water nor food aboard.  As the sea continued to calm their nausea vanished, to be replaced by a painful thirst that occupied their every thought.

That afternoon a large cargo carrier appeared on the horizon.  It seemed to be headed for them, and as time went on it approached so closely that they were convinced that someone aboard the vessel had sighted them.  It passed so near that its wake rocked the boat.  But it never slowed down, much less stopped.  It just kept on going, despite their arm—waving and shouting, completely ignoring them.  Eventually it vanished into the distance.

“Might as well pass the time constructively,” Jacob said to Sid.  “Maybe God will be more inclined to help us out if we plan ahead on what we’re going to do if we get to Israel.”

“Well, I have a question.  It’s about something Earl said about Genesis being a Gospel of Jesus.  I’ve been thinking about that.  I never really thought of Genesis – especially the first part – being anything but a myth.  I mean, nobody really thinks that the Flood was anything more than a local thing that got hyped up totally out of proportion.  Do they?  Anyone with brains?”

“You ever read Homer’s Iliad?”

“Of course.  But maybe now’s not the time to go into that,” Sid said, looking out at the vast ocean.  “We’re kind of vulnerable at the present time.”

Jacob laughed.  “What would you say if I told you that his epic actually happened?  That what he wrote was an eye-witness account of an actual event?”

“But that’s absurd,” he replied.  Jacob noticed that the thought had ramped his fear up to a new level.

“Not so.  He was describing a battle between errant planets, and his descriptions were too vivid and detailed to have been conjured up in his mind.  And there’s corroboration elsewhere in the Bible.  Joshua’s long day, for example, and the strange scene in the wilderness where the Israelites started worshiping a golden calf.  Why would they, all of a sudden, worship a calf?  And why do the people of India still worship a cow?  And why is a dragon such a big deal in China?  All these things were the shapes that the atmospheres of the clashing planets assumed as they interacted gravitationally and probably electromagnetically as well.  Joshua’s long day, as a matter of fact, was duplicated by a long night in the Americas halfway around the world.

“Say what?”  Sid responded.  “Next you’re going to bring up that crackpot Velikovsky.  Remember him?  He said the same thing, until he got trounced by his scientific betters.”

“I was going to bring up Velikovsky.  He was attacked all right, but not by his betters.  Carl Sagan was a fool.  He embarrassed himself by spouting out quasi-scientific nonsense that was refuted by his real betters.  Sagan and the others were nothing but schoolyard bullies.  Their refutations were entirely void of substance.  They simply out-shouted their opponent.  If Velikovsky was such a crackpot, why did his very detailed predictions, which were scoffed at by the scientific community at the time, turn out to be real and to the profound surprise of his scientific adversaries?  The Van Allen Radiation Belt was a big surprise.  And, of course, the temperature of Venus, which Sagan attempted to dismiss after the fact and his own surprise about it, on the basis of the Greenhouse Effect, which was demonstrated to be false.  And much more recently, the discovery that Mars had suffered a terrible collision, losing its water, most of its atmosphere, and half of its surface.  All these things, while being radically inconsistent with the science of the day, are entirely consistent with Velikovsky’s thesis.  Sorry, but you lose that argument.”

“Enough, Jacob.  I’m really not in the mood to be talking about catastrophes.  Not here and now.  Maybe later.”  He stared moodily out to the surrounding water.

“Besides,” Sid added much later in another attempt to discredit Jacob’s view of the reality of catastrophes, “Joshua’s long day and the other catastrophes you were talking about were from a much later time than Noah’s Flood.  They didn’t have anything to do with Noah.”

“Wrong again,” Jacob countered.  The Great Flood catastrophe was the beginning shot of a series of planetary disasters that stretched all the way from that event to the shifting of the sun ten degrees as Isaiah had spoken to King Hezekiah.  What first happened was the destruction by a comet of the canopy of ice that surrounded the earth.  The mayhem that accompanied the gravitational interaction with the comet also broke up the fountains of the deep.  The Flood wasn’t just a rainy day, or even forty rainy days.  It was an immense catastrophe that involved huge tsunamis, screeching superhurricanes and boiling earth.  During that time the Grand Canyon was carved out of the surrounding mountains, perhaps over the span of a single week.  The entire planet became a stinking cesspool of decaying bodies and vegetation.

“Then the comet continued on through the solar system, threatening other planets and, most importantly, periodically threatening the earth,” Jacob went on.  “Its erratic orbit may have taken it around the sun about once a year or so, but it continued to threaten our planet every time it approached us.  Over a period of fifty or so of our own yearly revolutions, it would approach ever closer until it almost touched us, and then retreat until the next fifty-year cycle.  On one of these cycles its closest approach coincided with the Exodus event, contributing, Velikovsky was convinced, to the parting of the Red Sea.  Joshua’s long day took place on the next cycle.  After that the earth seemed to have a temporary respite from this comet, but then it got entangled with mars in the eighth century B.C., opening a new period of planetary disturbances that were observed by Isaiah and Homer.  And then. . .”

“Just stop, will you?  Do you have to go on and on about it?  Leave me alone.”  Sid turned his back on Jacob and continued to stare out to sea.  Eventually he turned back to face his companion.  “I have to be honest with you, Jacob.”

“What now?” Jacob responded harshly.

“Just that in case we don’t get rescued, I don’t want you to have the false impression throughout eternity that I like you.”  He turned away from Jacob.  They both sat bleakly staring out to sea, each set of eyes occupying opposite hemispheres.

[to be continued]

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