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Birds of Passage

Birds of Passage

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Published by David Calvert
Young Jamie Lewis, a boy with a haunted past, is drawn to a mysterious boat, where bizarre events take place and the secret of his past is uncovered.
Young Jamie Lewis, a boy with a haunted past, is drawn to a mysterious boat, where bizarre events take place and the secret of his past is uncovered.

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Published by: David Calvert on Aug 19, 2010
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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09/10/2011

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BIRDS OF PASSAGEByDavid CalvertThe
Cormorant 
was an enduring mystery
 
to the folk of Stanelaw, in northeast England. For more than twenty years the derelict fishing trawler had sat on common ground, miles from thenearest port or harbour 
 
or, for that matter, the sea. Time and neglect had taken their toll on theageing
 
craft, its sun bleached timbers and buttressed hull starkly contrasting
 
the lushness of itssurroundings. Its keeper, ‘Mad Pedi’, was also something of a mystery to the village children andthe subject of much speculation as to whether it was she who was seen roaming its deck in thedead of night or some frightening phantom laying in wait for those foolhardy enough to enter itsdomain. Whatever the truth, none dared visit the site after sunset.
 
But Tommy Brice, unlike his young peers, was not so intimidated by the old woman. Hismost recent run-in with her had resulted in a serious loss of face for the fourteen-year-old,making him more determined to circumvent her on-going vigil. To that end, he had come up witha ‘cunning plan'.An impenetrable fog had rendered his torchlight almost ineffectual as he stumbled throughthe early morning
 
 brume with his classmate
 
Sarah Elliot and his new-found friend, Jamie Lewis,in tow. Sarah, who had been happy enough to go along with his scheme, was now entertainingserious misgivings. That she had snuck from her bed at such an ungodly hour and had risked thewrath of her parents was bad enough, but now it appeared they had bypassed the boat altogether and were hopelessly lost in a peasouper.Jamie pulled up short; his cry echoing through the early morning stillness, as out of thegrey shroud the forbidding sight of the boat’s mouldering hull loomed suddenly into view.Perched against it was the self-same ladder ‘Mad Pedi’ had confiscated from Tommy and Sarahthe previous day. It seemed that the crude grappling iron Tommy had so painstakingly fashionedwas no longer required.Sarah was nonplussed. “How’d that get there?”“Who cares?” Tommy replied, tossing aside the iron and beginning his eager ascent.Jamie hesitated. The ladder’s appearance had unsettled him almost as much as when he hadfirst clapped eyes on the wreck, moments earlier. An unreasonable fear gripped him. He wantedto turn and run. But what horrors, if any, could possibly await him here that he had not alreadyseen elsewhere.
 
The hurricane lamp Sarah had stolen from her father’s shed sputtered into life illuminatingthe musty interior of the wheelhouse. Even by torchlight its denudation had already been madeapparent. Only the wooden helm remained, overlaid by the same thick matting of dust andcobwebs that were prevalent throughout. Long since disconnected from the rudder, it spun freely beneath Tommy’s eager hands and whatever thoughts of exploration they had entertained werequickly overtaken by the free range of their imaginations.Their self-appointed leader took to his role as the infamous pirate, Blackbeard, with gustoand he
 
was snarling orders to his motley crew of cutthroats when a distant, mournful drone brought their seafaring adventure to an untimely end. They listened, pricking up their ears at theslightest sound.“What was that, Tommy?” whispered Sarah.“A foghorn!” Jamie replied.Tommy laughed. “Don’t be daft. There aren’t any around here.”“Well it does smell like the seaside in here!” the youngster then announced, picking up thegrowing
 
scent of ozone-enriched air.
 
Sarah sniffed the dank atmosphere.
 
“He’s right, Tommy!”
 
She
 
was spooked and clung tohim as though her very life depended on it. “I wanna go home. Let’s go home.” she whimpered.“It’s too late for that.” warned Jamie.
 
Both followed his wide eyed gaze and, horror stricken, they watched as the sudden appearance of a spectral-like image of the wheelhouse began phasing in and out with its physical surroundings. Timeworn
 
timbers, seeminglytransformed to new, groaned in sympathy as it began to pitch back and forth, the forceful illusion

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