Charted Water by Nick Wisseman is a very short story that will take longer to read than a first look would indicate. This story is all about time as the reader will immediately see by segment hearings. To assign a category, segments in italics are more about ships and crew. It is about their attempts, to include the two captains, to deal with a monster which has a very real presence that physically blocks the movement of ships. Items in non-italic type refer to either the dialogue between two ship captains; Martin, a French sea captain, or a monologue from Ryan, an English sea captain.
Readers don’t know the historical period. Actions take place in a time of sailing ships and at a time when there were probably hostilities between French and English navies. In this story, hostilities dissolve as crews try to work together to survive. The captains cooperate outwardly but never actually agree on anything. As far as the present incident time of the story, the tale is presented from the end to the beginning. We see Ryan in the present finishing the story. The next segment (italics) goes back forty-one days where we see two ships and the developing presence of a monster beginning slightly beneath the sea but growing. The next segment describes Ryan’s activity one hour before followed by a ship segment occurring thirty-seven days prior. These alternative segments continue until there is no more need to tell the ship’s story; only the story of the two captains matter further.
This time-shifting is one thing that makes the story interesting. Another point is the reconciliation of points, beliefs, and actions of two formerly disparate, inimical groups, the English and the French. Which group handled the developing relationship better?
Finally, there are two interesting points at the end. They will not be spelled out. The reader can supply an ending that is horrible or an alternative ending that is less horrible. Still horrible, but no language that will offend anyone.
This very short story is followed by an author invitation to his website. Readers who enjoyed this short story should follow the link. It has many further links to the author’s other works as well as to authors Nick Wisseman likes.