Game of the Gods
Admiral Richards idly strolled the upper deck of the U.S.S. Guitarro. The ship had been stationed off the Japanese coast for three months now. He was beginning to miss his wife and daughter back in the states. Maybe it’s time to request a transfer state side, he thought as he ran his white-gloved hand instinctively under the railing. Satisfied that the fingertips remained clean, he prepared to return to his quarters. He was intercepted by Lieutenant Commander Collins.
“Sir, the radar is picking up Japanese naval movement just beyond those cliffs,” Collins indicated the steep cliffs about 4500 yards out.
“Have the men established radio contact?”
“Yes and no, sir. They have managed to isolate the ship’s transmitting frequency, but they aren’t getting any response.”
“I see,” Richards stared off towards the ridge. These situations were always difficult. If one is not careful an international incident could start because a destroyer’s transmission officer had too much wine at dinner and fell asleep on the job. “Tell the men to continue trying to establish contact. I will put in a call to the base in Yokohama to see if they have any military movements in the area we need to be aware of.”
The lieutenant had barely finished his departure salute when the first explosion sounded. The torpedo exploded about 1000 yards out, sending a pillar of water into the air that rained down on the admiral’s head. “Sound the alarms,” he demanded, wiping the water from his eyes. “Get the ship into attack position. I want all men on deck -- NOW!”
In minutes, alarms all over the ship were buzzing. Red warning lights flashed as another torpedo exploded -- only 500 yards out this time. They were getting closer. The admiral had visual on the ship now.
The Japanese destroy had moved from behind the cover of the cliffs, and was alight in full battle glory: flags raise; guns smoking.
“Red alert! Red alert!” the blow horn resonated across the deck. “All men on deck! Report to your stations immediately! Red alert!”
The admiral could feel the ship rock as the men clambered up onto the deck to man their battle stations. Collins had just returned when the third torpedo exploded. The ship rocked violently as the torpedo finally found its mark. “Damage report! I want a damage report immediately,” the admiral screamed over the din. But Collins was already scrambling back up the bridge.
Collins returned within moments to report that the damage was minimal. A small breach in the hull on the starboard side. The damage was above the water line and was already under control.
“Are the men in position?”
“Fire when ready.”
The lieutenant disappeared back into the bridge. And the blow horn sounded the order: “Fire.”
The ship bolted from the thrust of pressure as the torpedo was ejected. The admiral tracked its deadly path with his binoculars. It swept silently through the water. He saw the fire before he heard the explosion. “Direct hit,” he whispered to himself and smiled. That transfer would be guaranteed now.
The lieutenant returned as a roar rose up from the men. “Direct hit, sir. She’s sinking.” And as they watched, the flaming inferno that was once a vessel of death slowly disappeared beneath the waves.
* * * * *
The moon had just sunk below the cloud line when their game ended. A frown creased Buddha’s brow as he slammed his fist down hard on the table. “You sank my battleship!”
God just smiled. “What shall we play next?”
A.J. Huffman has published seven solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and the winner of the 2012 Promise of Light Haiku Contest. Her poetry, fiction, and haiku have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, Kritya, and Offerta Speciale, in which her work appeared in both English and Italian translation. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. www.kindofahurricanepress.com