SeeFarer Captain Connor elbowed his first mate out of the way. He grappled the handles of the scope and pressed his last living eye onto the glass. He stroked his brown mustache and let out a long puff from his oak pipe. His eyes danced in the light from the scope. A sea of stars flooded his pupils. They twinkled, dangling in space, taunting. Captain Connor signaled the go, and the ship took off. Below, some poor wretches sweat and toiled and heaved to. The vessel pushed off, cutting through the void as if it were a ball shot from a pistol. Connor turned to his instruments in front of him. He gauged his bearings and double, triple checked the map. Occasionally he glanced into the scope to orient himself, but most often his attention pored over maps of the stars. His first mate offered a hand, but Connor pushed it away. The first mate, scowling, took a plush seat behind the Captain. Just as he sat, the ship rocked and shivered. A bell rang, lights flickered, and men rushed to and fro. Captain Connor bellowed orders left and right, some to batten the hatches, others to man the guns, and many to put out the fires. Sparks flew across the hull. Connor shoved his first mate out of the steering console, and, beard smoldering, thrust him off the deck to the levels below. Connor grabbed the scope and steered the ship. The sight angled around to the bow, revealing a maze of massive rocks ahead. Connor deftly steered around each one, shouting for the engine men to slow them down. The vessel stooped to a crawl, and, as the rocks passed them, the sailors doused the remaining fires. The first mate appeared, badge and hat askew, uniform crusted with smoke and slashed in several places. The Captain pointed one finger toward his quarters, and the first mate, head hanging, entered, the Captain close behind. The ranting and raving could be heard by many outside the
door, but none acknowledged it as the two men produced themselves. The Captain grasped the scope again, and gestured for his mate to take control again. He sat gingerly at the steering console, hair on end. A service man brought him a large tankard of ale, and the first mate downed it in five gulps. Captain Connor raised a grizzled hand, and the first mate followed his motions. The Captain raised the halt, and the mate stopped the ship. Then the Captain pointed down. The first mate shoved the ship into action, and they sank, ever faster, into the black hole.