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At the End of the World: Chapter Eleven

       Last updated: Monday, May 25, 2020 19:15 EDT



August 6 (first entry)

    As we approached the entrance to Cumberland Bay, the captain jutted his bony chin to the north. “That further gap in the shoreline. That’s the mouth of Stromness Bay. Remember it.”

    I didn’t even need to hear his tone anymore to know that he was not going to tell me why I needed to remember it. Instead, I turned us half a point to port and made sure we didn’t need to adjust the rig too much. The foresail swelled slightly; Voyager pushed through the water more briskly.

    Almost everyone was on deck: captain’s orders. Most of them were gawking at the towering, snow-blanketed mountain ridge that seemed to fly up out of the water to north/starboard. As we followed that granite-toothed wall southward, I leaned forward over the wheel, craning my neck to get a look at the very top of it, if I could.

    The captain shifted in his seat. “Just over thirteen hundred feet at the highest.” He stared at the sails, particularly the tell-tales that fluttered along their edge. “We’ll reach the station in eight minutes. Up ahead, where the mountain sweeps away to starboard, follow its curve. The station is right there.” He reached up, threw the test switch for the boat horn; it glowed green.

    I glanced at it.  

    “You eager to toot the horn?” he asked.

    I shook my head. “No, sir. Just wondering.”


    “Why you intend to announce us ahead of time. If the station has been infected –“

    “Then that’s all the more reason to sound the horn. Infected or not, I want to see who — or what — comes out to greet us before we approach the dock too closely. And if they’re still uninfected, I want them to get a good look at us. That way, everyone is less likely to do anything stupid.”

    Which made good enough sense to me.

    Captain sounded the horn. One short blast, one long.

    A few flakes were starting to drift down when we made our long, slow starboard turn, speed dropping as we pulled into the lee of the mountain and I got my first glimpse of King Edward Point. It was larger than I’d imagined. The first building I saw was damn close to a hundred yards long, paralleling the water: the doors looked like it was a combination warehouse and operations site. It, and most of the others, were white with red roofs, all lined up along the edge of a small, flat spur that stuck out from the side of the mountain. It took some careful sailing to swing sharply again to starboard and come up alongside the deep-water mooring at the end of the short concrete pier on the far western side of the base.

    Three figures, wearing surprisingly light down jackets, were waiting for us, hands in their pockets.

    One of them stepped forward, looked up at the pilot house as the captain stepped out. “Took a chance coming here, you did, Alan.”

    “Alan” nodded. “Everywhere is chancy now, Larry.”

    The other nodded back. “True enough. Where was your last landfall?”


    The man on the shore scanned us kids. “That’s your crew?”

    “It is. They are fair enough hands. Now.”

    “Yanks, all?”

    “Every one.”

    The man shrugged. “Well, you might as well make fast and come in for a cuppa.”

    And that was our dramatic arrival at King Edward Point, or KEP, as the folks here call it.

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