Friday, July 1, 2016

Legend of the Moon is on 50% discount!

Get your copy now! My book, Legend of the Moon, is on sale all throughout the month of July 2016. Just us the coupon code SSW50 when you checkout to avail of the discount. Go to: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/425317 to get your copy.

You can also browse through other books on Smashwords' catalog: https://www.smashwords.com/books/category/1/newest/1

Don't miss this opportunity!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Working on the new book

I've downloaded the whole story of The Silent Sub. I'm going to convert it into an ebook and publish it soon. There will have to be a lot of changes though and not just in spelling or grammar. The story will have to be modified somewhat. I'm also going to depart from my usual practice of deleting the blog version when the ebook is published. I did that with my other stories and my blog looks like it's been neglected.

In addition to writing, I've been working part-time at my old place of work. Many of my friends tell me that it must be like old times, coming to work everyday. In some ways, yes, and in some ways, no. What's the difference?

When I was an employee, I could bring my cellphone into the factory. As long as we don't use them in the production areas, this was allowed. Now, however, I have to leave my phone at the guardhouse and pick it up when I go home.

I also have to wear my ID while I'm inside the factory. I never liked having anything hanging from my neck because it sometimes gets in the way. Fortunately, I don't have to work on any machines that may snag the ID and pull me down toward something deadly. The biggest inconvenience is when I brush my teeth. The ID swings into the path of my spit. I have to insert it into my shirt to prevent that.

The better difference from before I retired and today is that I'm working on one thing at a time. Back when I was an employee, I had to juggle several activities, some of which I wasn't fond of.

Many of the things that haven't changed don't involve me, however. It's the environment inside. I'm talking about things like having to come up with a budget and seeing it get used by someone else; requests that take months to resolve; and people's seeming acceptance of the situation they're in but still unhappy. I'm not exposed to these anymore but my friends are. I made the decision to get out but they don't have that option, unfortunately.

Friday, May 27, 2016

THOUGHTS ON "THE SILENT SUB"

It was a story that had germinated in my mind for years. What if the Germans had successfully built a nuclear submarine back in World War II?

For submarines, staying underwater is safer than being on the surface, especially during war. For the German U-boats, the depths provided them with cover for attack as well as escape. So what advantage would a nuclear submarine have had for them? A submarine that doesn't need to surface or can at least stay underwater for long periods of time. Couple that with a silent propulsion engine and silent torpedoes and you have a weapon that would devastate the Allied merchant fleet as well as the American and British Navies.

I began writing the story in November 1, 2015 and finished May 19, 2016. It should have taken that long though. The gap between the last chapter and the previous one was five months. One reason was I had no idea how to end the story. My original ending was very different but I decided I didn't like it. The second was time (but that's not an excuse, I know). The result is an ending that was too abrupt.

If I ever decide to publish this story (as a free ebook), I'll need to make some changes. I'm not sure if a saboteur mouse would sit well with the readers. :-)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

THE SILENT SUB CHAPTER 20 - FIRE

U-1215

"Tubes 1, 4, 5, and 6 are ready for launch, Captain," Schneider informed his commanding officer. Werner turned to his sonar crew.

"Sonar?"

"The two destroyer escorts are still searching, Captain, using ASDIC. Still no sound from the carrier." Werner nodded his head and looked at Schneider.

"Launch torpedoes."

Schneider gave the order to fire the weapons. Werner fought the urge to move to the non-working periscope. It was a much favored tool by submarine commanders and he could not imagine being able to perform his job satisfactorily without it.

Four torpedoes left their tubes and sped their way toward their assigned bearings, not directly at the circling destroyer escorts but away to the sides.

The two destroyer escorts were 8000 meters away. All four torpedoes were set to go active at the same distance. They would then turn toward the their targets and converge on them from all sides. The chances for hitting both vessels were high.


USS BUZZARDS BAY

"We're ready to restart the engines, Admiral."

Admiral Brown thought hard. This u-boat was a new type and had both silent engines and silent torpedoes; that much he had deduced. Keeping the carrier shut down was probably keeping her alive. The u-boat was probably having trouble finding her and he thought it was a good idea to continue being invisible. Buzzards Bay's survival, however, hinged on the two remaining destroyer escort 's finding the elusive submarine. It had turned into a pitch black night and it would be difficult for the sub to see them. If the two destroyer escorts are sunk or damaged though, Buzzards Bay would not last very long, whether they were moving or not. He shook his head.

"Keep them off for now, Captain. We stay invisible."

Captain Bennet nodded giving orders for the engineering crew to stand by. He also ordered a complete black out of the ship, no external lights, no work lights outside the ship, all outside hatches closed. 

"Captain?"

Bennet turned back to Admiral Brown. "Yes, sir?"

"Call the two destroyers."


USS JAMES SMITH

Lt. Commander Denning looked at his XO incredulously.

"He said WHAT?"

"Those are exactly his words, Skipper." The XO himself couldn't believe what he'd heard either but his was not to reason why. "He also said, now."

Denning nodded, not liking it but orders were orders.

"Do it."

On USS John Johnson, the same order was being given.


U-1215

"Torpedoes should be going active in three minutes, Captain." Schneider reported. 
His captain nodded almost imperceptibly. He'd been watching the clock as well.

Silent torpedoes! When we get back, I'll tell the admiral what I think about his silent torpedoes! He thought. No way to track them, no way to find out where they are. All we're doing is guessing!

His peripheral hearing picked up someone cursing and he turned toward the sound. Johann Merk was hurrying toward him.

"Captain! We've lost them!"


USS BUZZARDS BAY

"Do you think it's working?" Captain Bennet asked.

"Is there a way of knowing?" Admiral Brown answered.

"Only as long as there's no explosion from a torpedo," Bennet said.

Admiral Brown looked out over the sea toward the two destroyer-escorts, lying dead in the water, their engines shut down, making no noise whatsoever. It was too dark to see them but, occasionally, they'd occlude the light from stars near the horizon so he at least knew the direction they were from him.

"We can't hear them, they can't hear us."

"They might use their periscope."

"They could but it will be difficult for them to see and our radar will pick them up. Hell, they might even surface."

The radar had emergency battery power, which enabled them to use them when the ship was shutdown. The batteries wouldn't last long, however, so they switched them on at fifteen minute intervals, each ship alternating every five minutes. They only made five sweeps before shutting them down again but it couldn't be helped.



U-1215

All sound from the enemy vessels had disappeared. Being silent worked for the enemy as well as for U-1215.

"Sonar, what was the last bearing to the vessels?" Werner asked.

"Last bearing was 168 and 174 degrees for each destroyer escort, Captain. Distance was approximately 7600 meters."

Everyone was unhappy, more so because their captain was unhappy. Their plans had been foiled again. Werner came to a decision.

"We surface."

Schneider straightened in surprise.

"But Captain, you told us we cannot show ourselves to the enemy."

"It is a moonless night so it will be dark up there. Furthermore, our hull is black, which makes it impossible to see us in a situation like this. We bring only the conning tower above the water and we search for them with binoculars. There might be enough light for us to spot them. If so, we fire at them from the surface."

"But what if they see us?" Schneider asked.

"They won't. Get us up on the surface, now." Werner's tone indicated that no more questions were to be asked. Schneider gave the order to surface.


USS JOHN JOHNSON

Everyone's eyes scanned the dark ocean. There were not enough binoculars for everyone but each available sailor squinted their eyes at the darkness even then. One of them might get lucky.

Sonar was thankful for the silence. Listening to an ocean in passive mode minus the sounds of the engines and the waves slapping the hull was as perfect a situation a sonarman could want. Their concentration was as intent as the sailor's up on deck.

Lt. Commander Gonzales was in the bridge, scanning peering out at the blackness half expecting an explosion from a torpedo that he couldn't see or hear. He almost jumped out of his skin when a door slammed open.

"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, SAILOR? YOU WANT TO TELL THE ENEMY WHERE WE ARE?" Gonzales' face was bright red from anger as well as embarrassment from being startled. The man's eyes were wide open and he was almost out of breath.

"Sorry, skipper..."


U-1215

U-1215's conning tower broke the surface of the sea and rose up until the submarine's deck was just below the water. Four men quickly climbed out on the bridge and began scanning the horizon. The sky was overcast with only a few holes to offer some starlight to provide illumination. This was not enough for good vision and everyone strained their eyes looking in every direction though the last heading to the destroyers went through the most scrutiny. 
Bucher, an off-duty torpedo handler was one of those assigned to man the bridge. He was looking through his binoculars at his assigned section, scanning left and right.

"What was that?" a man to his right said. Bucher had seen it out of the corner of his eye. It was a flash and he instinctively knew what it was.

"INCOMING!" he shouted. This was followed about a second later by a huge splash to port and a rumble that rolled over the waves.

"We're under fire! Dive, dive, dive. All hands clear the bridge!" No one needed to hear the third exclamation. Everyone was scrambling down the hatch as fast as they could as several more splashes hit the water around them. Water was falling into the hatch opening when the last man closed it. With the bridge clear signal, U-1215 steepened its dive to an angle of 15 degrees.


USS JOHN JOHNSON

Gonzales looked out the bridge windows at the direction of the splashes. The sailor who had slammed the door had announced that sonar had detected the surfacing u-boat. Gonzales immediately restarted the engines, gave the order to swing the guns toward the direction given by sonar and waited for his radar to pick up the u-boat. Once he had the numbers dialed in, the order to fire had been given.

There was no bright explosion, he saw. They had missed.


U-1215

Werner dove the boat steeply, heading for a depth of 120 meters. Items that were not fastened down came crashing to the deck plates along with a few people. They staggered to their feet and held on to anything that would support them.

Meyer was one of those staggering to his feet, a cut on his cheek attesting to the force of his fall. Gunther was on the deck, blood pouring out of a wound Meyer could not see. He moved toward the reactor monitors and scanned the gauges, looking for any danger signs. Nothing.

Then he felt the boat level out. We're at whatever depth that fool of a captain ordered, he thought. I'll make a full report to the admiral when we get back to base. If we get back, he thought ruefully.

Then, a flash, a hot searing flash burst out of the generator room, followed by a deafening explosion. The the hot gas swept through the reactor compartment in a second and the inside of the submarine was immediately engulfed in darkness. A few seconds later, flames leapt out of the generator room, sending tendrils out into the reactor room. Those who had gathered their senses ran out through the hatches, leaving several of their comrades either dead or dying in the room.

Meyer had been deafened and temporarily blinded by the blast. He groped around, trying to get his bearings but the room was rapidly being filled with smoke. Memory helped him find his way to the hatch between the crew's quarters and the reactor room. Crew members waited for him to get through before closing the hatch.

The submarine was slowly filling with smoke and, from the smell, Meyer could tell it was toxic. He had to convince the captain to surface the boat and get the crew out. If they tried to fight the fire, the smoke would overwhelm the fire fighters before they could put the fire out.

It was dark and he groped his way toward the torpedo room and the stairs and hatch that would lead him into the control room. The smoke was getting thick, aided by the ventilation ducts that ran the length of the submarine. He struggled up the stairs, pushing his way through crew members who were looking for clean air.

He finally reached the control room, which had red lights on that were running from batteries. The smoke had filled it and the silence meant that it had either been abandoned or the crew were dead. He had to find the ballast tanks controls and surface the boat before he, himself, was overcome.

He crawled his way to the panel, slipping over two dead crewmen. He found Werner, leaning on the panel with the diving controls. Werner turned his head. He was still alive.

Meyer was on his last breath. He slowly pulled himself up and pushed the controls that would surface the boat. Nothing happened.

Except for the red lights, the boat was completely without power. None of the controls would work. Meyer fell beside his captain and looked at him. Werner looked back, he had stopped covering his mouth and nose and freely breathed in the toxic fumes. They both sat silently for a while before Werner said a single word, "sorry." Meyer didn't hear it. He was dead.

Werner gazed at the man for a few moments, an inner strength keeping him alive for a few more minutes until he, too, breathed his last.


USS BUZZARDS BAY

"They hit it?" Admiral Brown asked. Captain Bennet shrugged his shoulders.

"It's possible. Sonar heard what seemed to be an explosion though it was muffled. Implosion noises were heard several minutes later. He's gone."

Admiral Brown looked thoughtful as he went back through the day's events. Two destroyer-escorts sunk, his carrier damaged, his aircraft lying at the bottom of the ocean, it was a fairly decent performance for the u-boat. He would have liked to capture it but that was impossible now. He'll have to send a communique to naval headquarters.


THREE MONTHS LATER

U-1215's SECRET BASE

The admiral stood in Werner's office, gazing out into the empty dock. It had been three months since he had last seen U-1215. There was no clue about what happened to her. Intelligence had reported an attack on a task group near the Madeira Islands but nothing else. He had no way of knowing if U-1215 had been involved.

He sighed. He was alone. He moved toward the chair and sat down on it with a heavy thud. He had yet lost more of Germany's children. He had failed.

His aide was talking with one of the guards outside when a shot rang out. They ran to the office and found the admiral, still sitting on the chair, a pistol in his hand.


Adolf the mouse remains was almost indistinguishable among the carnage of the generator room. The explosions and violent movements of the boat had driven him into a chewing frenzy on the boat's wire insulation. The last were the generator's cables, which carried the most electricity. They shorted and created a great flash, killing him instantly and causing the rest of the insulation to catch fire. Though the fire soon burned itself out, the toxic smoke from the smoldering cables had filled the submarine through the ventilation ducts. U-1215 slowly began to drift down into the depths.