The Three Tecs
by Brian Taylor.
The sea wasn't rough but it did have a little swell on it and the boat wallowed a little as it progressed. It was too much for Choo. He was sea-sick, all over the cabin floor. "Oh no," said Nick, "that's really given the game away. If anyone comes down here they can't miss it - the smell if nothing else."
At that very moment, as if on cue, the man with the limp opened the cabin door, stepped into the cabin and straight into the sick. He went flying. "Who's been sick down here?" he screamed. At that point Choo threw up a second time - all over Limp Along.The game was up.
"Guys! We have stowaways, those pesky kids."
"Lock them in the cabin while we decide what to do with them," someone replied.
Choo, Fancy and Nick left their hiding places. There was no point hiding any more. Nick stepped over the contents of Choo's stomach and put his ear to the door in the hope of hearing something. The continual 'put-put' of the engine made it difficult to catch everything. Nevertheless, he got a good idea of the men's plans. "As far as I can make out," he reported, "their plan is to take the computers to the Isle of Wight … Yarmouth perhaps. Could that be right?"
"Yes; been there," said Fancy.
"They're going to transfer the computers to a boat for France. Get their money then they're going to sail across to Lymington and leave us locked up here, on-board. They'll then take the train to London where they'll split-up. One of them wants to ring the Coastguard from London and tell them where we are, but the others aren't so sure. They're going to Manchester, Gateshead and somewhere I couldn't make out."
"Then we have to have a plan of our own," said Choo.
"Yes," said Fancy, "We need to get off this boat and tell the police."
Nick suggested using Morse code? "I learned at Scouts how to flash SOS with a torch. It's dark now and we could flash the cabin lights."
"And how do we do that again?" asked Fancy.
"Dit, dit, dit, dah, dah, dah, dit, dit, dit." replied Choo.
"Or, three short flashes followed by three long ones followed by three short." said Nick.
As Nick knew what he was doing, he got the job. He had done it for five minutes until one of the men saw the reflections of the flashing light in the water.
There was a knocking on the cabin door. "If you don't want to be tied up, stop what you're doing now."
As time went on the atmosphere in the cabin was becoming more and more unbearable. The heat, together with the smell of sick and diesel was making them all feel ill.
Eventually, Fancy broke the silence. "I wonder if these portholes open? We could do with some fresh air."
As it happened, she was able to open one of the portholes on the port side of the boat. She put her head out of the window and gratefully drew in deep breaths of fresh-air. As she did so, she thought she recognised where they were. She turned back to look at the boys. "Looks to me like we're not far of Bournemouth. I recognise the pier. And I'd say that we're only three or four hundred yards off shore. I reckon I could swim for it."
"It'd be too dangerous," said Nick.
"But you know what a good, strong swimmer I am. The sea is fairly calm, the town lights will help keep me keep on course, and we know that the beaches are good round here. What alternative do we have?"
As they sat discussing the idea, a man they didn't recognise came down into the cabin with three cans of Coca Cola. "What are you three plotting?" he asked.
"Nothing," they said in unison.
"We were just saying our parents will know we're missing by now and police will be looking for us." said Fancy.
The man laughed. "We'll be far away before any cops find us."
With that, he turned on his heels and returned to the deck. When he'd gone the friends tried to think of a better plan. "Hurry up." said Fancy, "Otherwise we'll be well past Bournemouth."
The boys couldn't come up with a better plan and reluctantly agreed that Fancy should swim for the shore.
"But do take care." said Choo.
"Before you go, I'd like to say Proverbs 16:3, 'Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.' Lord, please be with Fancy. Please keep her safe and help her to reach shore safely. Amen."
Fancy gave Nick and Choo a hug each. "Thanks!" she said, "Now, put the light out then I'll strip down to my underwear before getting into the water."
When she was ready, Fancy said, "Okay boys, I'm going. Lots of noise now."
As the boys banged about and shouted, Fancy squeezed through the porthole and slipped into the water. Once she had her bearings she set off swimming under water as far as she could. Unfortunately Nick and Choo did too good a job and one of the men came to put a stop to it all. He switched the light back on and noticed immediately that there were only two youngsters there and the porthole was open.
‘"he girl's gone," he shouted, "Turn back and look for her. If she makes it to shore we're gonners."
The boys were aware of the boat turning around. They stared through the porthole into the darkness and, from time-to-time, saw the beam of a torch sweeping around the boat. They could also tell from the raised voices above them that the crooks weren't too happy. All the time Nick and Choo prayed quietly, "Lord, don't let them find her."
The men gave up the search after about five minutes and continued along the coast. The boys, still worried whether Fancy would make it, continued to pray.
To be continued ...
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