David hauled on the soaked rope. The sailboat on the other end thudded into the damp dock. He tied what he hoped was the right kind of knot on to the cleat. Once secure, he let the frayed end droop over the edge where a rising surf tugged the strands underwater.
From beneath his raincoat’s mustard colored hood, David surveyed his work. The rest of the line of boats had been moored, even though the water level by now nearly submerged the dock to which they were tied. The floating buoys bobbed vigorously in the open water. Pelting rain pounding on his head, creating a echo within his hood and a shattered appearance to the bay. The frothy peaks of the usually placid surface whacked into the dock and sprayed his already dripping face.
Thunder rumbled overhead, vibrating the soaked planks. Counting, he discovered, was beside the point. A flash of lightening struck even before the drum roll finished passing through the clouds.
Down the beach the rumbling continued and another shattering snap tore through the air.
He rose from his chilled crouch and sought out the source of the call through the pelting sheets. The sunny raincoat sparkled on the wet sad, arms waving as if a canary hoping to take flight.
“Get inside,” he shouted but the wind blew in his face, casting his concern out into open water.
He hunched his broad shoulders and plodded in his flapping flip flops. Droplets flung against his bare calves and he shuddered, wishing, not for the first time, that he had managed to find more than a raincoat to sling over his swim trunks and tee shirt. Against his chest, his whistle thudded, adding what would no doubt be a nice welt to commemorate the hurricane.
Sand squished under his rubber soles and threatened to suck the flimsy shoes off of his feet as he hurried toward the fluttering canary.
“Sarah,” he said, gaining close enough to make out the camper’s face, “you need to get inside.”
“But the tent. There’s a tree on the tent!”
David’s large hands landed on the young girl’s shoulders. She felt as frail as a bird. Her lips, colored like a bruise, trembled like the rest of her and redoubled as a gust shrouded them in another wall of water and wind.
“What are you talking about?”
She grabbed onto him, needing both hands to circle his forearm and tugged with all her might. Her concern more than her effort had him at a trot.
Sarah guided him across the beach. They both flinched as another round of thunder and lightning blasted over head. They neared the row of pine and scrawny oaks separating the shore from the water and the smell of smoke added its own encouragement to their pace.
She pointed her twig like arm by way of explanation.
The weight of a split oak crumpled the tent, condensing the dome into a plastic stack of playing cards and a struggling blob.
Her wide eyes flew to his face as a curse ripped through his lips.
“Sorry,” David said, giving her an apologetic tap on her head. It might have seemed more genuine if he had actually meant it or if he hadn’t had to shout over the downpour. “Where are the other counselors?”
“I don’t know. Becky’s inside though with Timmy and the rest.”
David managed to stop the second curse from pouring out. He thought he could hear screams from inside and worried cries. It might have been the wind and slapping waves but he didn’t care.
“I want you to go over there, by the trunk and stay put ok?” Sarah nodded vigorously but her grip remained latched onto his arm.
“What are you going to do?”
David’s mind raced with the same question. He put on a reassuring grin and pried her fingers free. “I’m going to get help. You have to go first alright? Tell them I’m coming.”
Sarah nodded again and transferred her clutching hands to her rain coat. She scampered to the trunk, cowering in the angle the bark made with the muddy ground.
David wheeled around, searching for an answer in the rain. Up the slope to his right huddled other brightly colored tents and then sturdier cabins, to his left, churning water and thrashing sailboats, canoes and kayaks. His usual post on the story high white stand sat hunched and dejected while the storage hut tucked into the edge of the beach cowered in the drooping arms of soaked branches.
Behind him, the cries and Sarah’s shouts of encouragement spurred him on. Nearly bent in two, he raced over to the storage hut. The keys dangled from the same rope around his neck as his whistle and his chilled fingers struggled with the icy metal the lock. The arching bolt sprung free and he yanked the door open.
Emergency floats, ropes, life rings and an assortment of crates toting cherry crosses stared back at him. Flinging open the white boxes, he dripped onto gauze and rolls of bandages. Heavy drops thudded onto the hygienic plastic wrappers containing tweezers and scissors.
He cursed at the puny scissors. He tucked a smaller kit under his arm even as he sought a better solution. The axe on the back wall caught his attention. It wasn’t much deadlier than the rejected scissors, he thought, but it would have to do.
He tore the axe out of its stand and ran back into the storm.
Sarah hopped aside as he neared, her eyes drawn to the sharp and deadly curve.
“Take this,” he said, thrusting the kit at her. She pulled it close to her chest and took a few more steps down the trunk.
“David? It’s getting hard to breath in here…”
His hands tightened around the axe handle at the strain in her voice. A few tentative whimpers from the campers with her were muffled by the tent.
“I’m going to get you out ok?”
“Just poke at the tent, show me where you are.” David locked onto the jabs on the pine green plastic. “Get everyone together ok? I’m going to chop the trunk and roll it off of you.”
“Al…Alright.” Mounds moved under the tent. The rain filled pools that had collected slopped down the sides.
“It’s going to be ok,” he heard her murmur.
David squared himself to the trunk, raised the axe above his head and hoped she was right.