Second Chapter today, and a few notes:

-I currently have through Chapter 12 written, with some of the upcoming chapters being quite a bit longer than the recent ones, including this one.

-A fair number of people are reading this for which I am incredibly grateful. It means a great deal. At risk of sounding very much like a YouTuber saying "Like and subscribe!" I really do want to know what you think. Please leave your thoughts in comments/reviews. It helps me.

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vox audita perit, litera scripta manet

HDT

I rowed diligently until my arms were fit to fall off. Still, I did not quit. I was taken by an animal spirit that morning, the injustice done to Anabel striking me with a mandate like never before. The wind cut cruelly at my face, my still-soft cheeks not accustomed to the unprotected winds that gale on the open water. A squall was coming, this much I was attuned to from my short stay on the channel, and my situation in the small rowboat was not going to improve any time soon as I rowed directly into the heart of it. I felt the cold first, the dramatic drop of the temperature that signified what was to come. It felt wonderful on my sweating body. I had stripped my shirt at this point, my hair whipping over my eyes, I looked every bit a madman. The dramatic winds came next, cutting at my already-reddened skin, the pain unlike any I had previously experienced. The rain was last and worst of all, as it made visibility limited in the extreme. I could see no further than the prow of my own, small craft, and could not hope to see anything of a red-headed thief in a skiff.

I was breaking the only rule that had been handed down with the loan of the rowboat. I'd felt at the time that the fisherman was more concerned about losing his boat than my drowning, but he was sure to be upset either way, and the two were by no means mutually exclusive. On and on it went, my upper body moving in an ingrained rhythm separate from my brain, the sheltered organ that makes all the decisions and leaves its outer companions to take the brunt of the abuse.

Although the storm did not let up, I was soon able to get a better line of vision. My eyes had adjusted to the screaming wind, the pelting raindrops, and the darkened sky. And lo and behold, I saw something else too. It wasn't much. The briefest flash of red. As much as the sudden squall had hurt me, it had not been my enemy, but my friend. The thief had been forced to reef his sail and ride out the winds. He was doing no more than floating about, trying not to keel over. Meanwhile, I was making slow, arduous process and there was nothing he could do about it.

As I gained on the thief, my presence eventually became known to him. It was not until I was within fifty fathoms or so that I saw the object in his hand. It was still pointed upwards, and he fired it twice in warning. What demon had gripped my soul? What lead me to continue on unabated? I am not a brave man, although stupidity is certainly within my purview, and I am inclined to think that the latter won out. Perhaps it was madness brought on by the lack of coffee I'd been able to drink that morning, but that seems a bit unlikely. What I can say with certainty is that the thief turned his shining pistol on me, aiming I know not how in the rocking boat, pelted by continuous sheets of rain. I remember the flash of the muzzle, white and spectacular, but not the sound of its shot. How it must have echoed off the bluffs! What a sound it must have made in the living room of my cottage, shaking the scarred floorboards, my wicker table…

Blackness engulfed me. Death seemed to have taken me before I was able to write anything of consequence, and all for Anabel, my matronly coffee angel in this most desolate of places.