No. 439

The engines had quit sometime around midnight. The boat had drifted much closer to the shore since then.


Charlie stood watch at the bow while the others tried to complete the repairs. “There’s not much time,” he called down the open hatch. “We need to start thinking about Plan B.”

“If we run aground, we run aground,” replied a voice from below. “This ship is too expensive to abandon.”

“Yes, sir,” said Charlie, eyeing the dangerous rocks that lined the beach. Not only that, the island they were approaching was far from any established sea lanes. If “Salamander” wrecked here, it would be a long time before anybody found the survivors.

Out of the corner of his eye, Charlie spotted movement on the deck. He turned his attention from the rocks to the new activity.

What he saw frightened him severely.

“Hi, Charlie,” said another Charlie.

It was a straight-copy, right down to the miss-matched socks Charlie had thrown on when the engine alarm had sounded.

He regarded his doppelganger with great suspicion. “What is this?” he asked the apparition.

“I’m you, obviously,” said Other Charlie, casually. “Your mission here will be successful. But first, you’ll have to leave ‘Salamander’.” He nodded at the island. “Before we hit the beach.”

“What about them?” asked Charlie, pointing at the hatch. “The Captain has already ordered us to stay.”

Other Charlie shrugged. “They’ll live. Well, most of them, anyway.”

“How do you know?”

“I already told you,” said Other Charlie, now with an edge to his voice. “Your mission was successful. Come on. We need to get moving.”