Eighty Days


None of the survivors was a sailor, so the compass and sextant were  useless to them. The featureless horizon of winking sea, the unremitting glare, the boredom. They were talked out after the second day, aware that further conversation might lead to severe disagreement, or worse. Despite the makeshift awning, their skin burned purple in the intense sun.

The boat, though small for four men, was well-provisioned. Thirty gallons of water, cases of hard rations, fishing line, signal mirrors, flares. Besides, they were in the shipping lanes. How long could it be, really?

One of the men kept meticulous track of the days by notching the gunwale each morning . He spaced each cut about a half an inch apart, but as the days wore on he saw that he might well run out of room before they were rescued.



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