First, there was a ship.
The steel-hulled cargo steamer Khan Hao was identified as a non-responsive vessel four nautical miles off the coast of California on the morning of August 12th. After repeated hailing attempts and numerous helicopter fly-overs, the ship ran aground – burying its prow deep into the sandy beaches of North Iron Bay, a sleepy fishing community bolstered by a huge natural bay and easy highway access – in the early afternoon.
With tow-cables securely in place, a small force was sent aboard the abandoned ship to ascertain the damage and start answering questions.
Where was the crew?
Why was there no shipping manifest?
Why was there only one shipping container on the main deck?
Who or what pulled the doors off said container?
Why had the lifeboats been dispatched?
An additional mystery plagued the first-responders and the harbor master at Iron Bay – the ship Khan Hao simply did not exist. Based on certain onboard technology, it was clear that the ship had either been built or retrofitted within the last 40 years. However, no record of the ship’s manufacture, launch or rechristening existed. The only evidence was the stenciled lettering of the name along the sides of the ship – and the physical presence of the football-field length behemoth that had slammed into the center of the bay not four hours ago.
The first responders also noticed other oddities like the dog and cat that seemed to be living on the Khan Hao. They were not hungry … just lonely. And the ship’s sick bay was littered with bloody bandages and clearly-used surgical tools … but there were no patients.
Of course, the abandoned ship running aground is the central event, but your story doesn’t need to focus on it … it just needs to be related somehow. Having said that, if you want to discuss what might have led to the missing crew, feel free to do so.
What say you?
Total Volume: 334 pages, 80,183 words
Steve Metcalf - INK (19,395)
Robert S. Miller - A Ship Run Aground (16,917)
J.C. Skala - The Blanchard Boy (25,619)
Alicia Copeland - Damnatio Memoriae (8,289)
Steve Metcalf - The Coronado Reef (7,350)