Wednesday Sampler: The Beddington Incident by Bill Flynn
July 29, 2015
In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Wednesday’s Sampler features The Beddington Incident by Bill Flynn. If you’re looking for an award-winning historical thriller based on a real incident too disturbing to be believed, this is the book you want to read. As one reviewer said: Bill Flynn mixes historical intrigue with suspenseful fiction in this Hitchcock – like thriller. Bill intertwines Nazis with gold bullion and deadly uranium from WWII, leading to a modern day eco disaster and nail biting suspense.
The Beddington Incident was a semi-finalist in the East Texas Writers Guild First Chapter Book Awards contest.
In July of 2013 a strange black package with the words, SS Beddington, Top Secret, came up in the net of a fishing trawler off Cape Cod. Because of its classification the captain of the trawler, Peter Broderick, does not open it, but notifies the Navy under the impression that they’ll declassify it and it will belong to him as an artifact taken from the sea.
Wrong! The Navy confiscates the package, stating that there is no record of the Beddington being sunk during WW ll. The trail toward the package’s origination, sixty-eight years before, is filled with mystery, suspense, foreign intrigue and even cover-up activity dating back to the year 1945, during WW ll. Peter Broderick and marine biologist Janie Sheffield with the help of a Massachusetts Senator and the captain of a deep-sea salvage ship, Sean Kelly, attempt to prove the existence of the SS Beddington to the Navy.
They also need to determine the content of its top secret cargo that’s emitting gamma radiation near the wreck… an ecosystem for marine life. The trail to find out why the Beddington sinking by a German U-boat was a government cover-up starts in Strassfurt, Germany in 1945 where material to build one of Hitler’s secret weapons is captured by the U.S. Army.
It continues to the port of Avonmouth England where the Beddington is loaded with the captured material and other cargo from Russia…then onboard German U-boat, U-873, in the Gulf of Maine. The story ends in 2013 four hundred feet down in the Atlantic where the ship, ‘that never was’, is located and the contents in its hold number four discovered. This initiates an intriguing turn of events. Their shock of what’s discovered there gets answered for the reader in Munich, Germany.
The First Chapter
GULF OF MAINE, ATLANTIC OCEAN
JULY 13, 2013
Flocks of screeching sea gulls follow behind the boat as the net opens to empty a flopping load of cod, haddock, and hake into the trawler’s hold. From the wheelhouse, the captain spots a dark object mixed in with the fish that is vivid compared to their light color.
“What in the hell is that black thing that came up with the fish, Antonio?”
“Don’t know, Pete. I’ll go down and fetch it. Janey, wait till I can climb down and grab it before you ice the catch.”
The crew of the Elizabeth Ann III had just winched up their last haul of fish before returning to their home port of Provincetown on Cad Cod, Massachusetts. Peter Broderick, a fourth generation captain, named after the first captain, his great-grandfather is at the helm of his 84 foot trawler that’s powered by a diesel engine. It has two sleeping areas, a galley, a bridge augmented with navigation instrumentation, fish finding sonar, and radar. Two power winches in the stern bring in the large fish nets. The thirty-eight-year-old skipper wears a cap with a long black visor that captures his unruly blond hair. Pete throttles down the trawler’s engine to idle with the calloused palm of his right hand.
Pete’s swarthy well-tanned first mate, Antonio Posada, is of Portuguese descent and named after his great-grandfather who was a crew member on the first Elizabeth Ann. A first generation Broderick trawler that fished off Cape Cod during the Second World War between 1941 and 1945.
The third member of Pete’s crew is Janey Sheffield. She stands by to shovel shaved ice over the fist in the hold. Janey is twenty-two and a graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in marine biology. She works as a deck hand and ship’s cook, eager to gather oceanic, environmental and fish habitat knowledge during her summer fishing trips. She’s looking forward to following in her father’s footsteps as a marine biologist.
“Okay, Antonio, bring that thing forward after you get it, and we’ll have a look.” Captain Pete makes a note in his log book of the position of the Elizabeth Ann III and the ocean depths where the black object came up.
Antonio climbs down a steel ladder attached to the side of the hold. He notices that the black item looks like a package, and it’s speckled with barnacles. He grasps it and climbs back up to the deck. Antonio wipes the strange black package down with a towel and places it on the chart table in front of Peter Broderick.
Pete removes the barnacles on one side. “Looks like whatever is inside this package is raped in more than one layer of oilskin.” He takes a measuring tape out of the cart table drawer. “It’s ten inches square and six inches thick. Weighs about seven pounds, and the top layer of oilskin has a thick coating of tar covering it.”
“How did it get into our net, Pete?” Janey asks.
“Our net was down about two hundred feet, and the bottom was at four hundred. It must’ve had some amount of buoyancy. The tidal current of an incoming and outgoing tide was running strong. Probably that’ what released it from the bottom.” Pete turns the strange black package over and removes several clusters of barnacles. Antonio and
Janey lean over the chart table to get a closer look at some faint red lettering on the black surface.
Pete picks up the package and reads what’s written there in faded red letters. ”It says SS BEDDINGTON, and below in larger letters is written TOP SECRET.” He points to a flap that’s covered by tar. “I think this is where the package was sealed when the tar was hot.”
Janey takes a closer look. She puts one hand on the tar-covered oilskin and flips her blonde ponytail over her shoulder with the other one. After she runs her fingers down the sealed seam, she looks up at the captain with an inquisitive expression. Her blue eyes open wide. “Can we open it, Pete? I’d love to know what’s inside.”
“Yeah. I’ll get a soldering iron and heat that seam sealed with tar sealing the flap. That’ll get it open,” Antonio adds.
“Whoa, guys! We will not be opening this package today,” Pete says.
Janey frowns disappointment when she says, “Why not?”
“Because this package is marked top secret, and until it’s declassified, it’s government property not to be tampered with.”
Antonio nods his head slowly while staring out at the ocean in thought. He recalls a tale about the torpedoing an sinking of the SS Beddington, passed down through his family from his great-grandfather, the mate on the first Elizabeth Ann. “Pete, I remember my father telling me about that ship.”
“Yeah, it also rings a bell with me. My great-aunt Annie, the daughter of the first skipper of the Elizabeth Ann, told me that her dad rescued some survivors from the Beddington. She said, shortly after the rescue, he got a visit from a Navy officer, telling him to keep quiet about the sinking and rescue incident. Annie Broderick lives in Chatham. I’ll pay her a visit and try to find out what she recalls about the Beddington. After the Coast Guard investigates the top secret classification of the package and declassifies it, I may want to contact the survivors or their relatives.”
“That will take some doing. That ship was sunk almost seventy years ago.”
“I know, Antonio, but I still want to give it a shot.” Antonio and Janey return to the deck and start to shovel ice into the hold Pete moves the throttle forward and picks up his ship-to-shore radio microphone as he steers for a heading toward Provincetown Harbor.
Pete tries to call the Coast Guard as the trawler reaches o.5 nautical miles from where they netted the black package. He wants to give them a heads-up about the top secret item he’ll be delivering when he docks. He presses the transmit button on the mike and hears only static. He also notes that his radar and fish finder scopes are filled with white noise. All instruments on the console are erratic, as well. Pete throttles back the engine to idle and calls out, “Antonio, come forward and take a look at this stuff.”
Antonio hurries to the wheelhouse. He looks at the scopes and the other instruments. “Holy shit! What’s our position?
Pete reads off the longitude and latitude he’d charted from a map on the table.
“Hey, Pete! I’ve seen this before when we fished around here, but it went away when we passed through it.”
Janey joins Pete and Antonio. “What’s going on?”
Antonio points to the scopes and instruments.
“What do you think is causing that, Pete?” Janey asks.
“It may be a large metal object. Could be the SS Beddington down here.”
“Or maybe something radiating from the hold,” Janey says as she takes note of the position of the Elizabeth Ann so she’ll have it when she talks to her father about the interference.
The trawler gets underway. After cruising one hundred yards, all scopes and instruments return to normal. Pete calls the Coast Guard to request that the duty officer meet the trawler at Cabral’s Pier in Provincetown.
After docking, Pete steps off the trawler carrying the black package. A Coast Guard and Naval officer are waiting for him there. The coast Guard Officer introduces him to Navy Commander Burrows who does not offer his hand. Instead, he speaks to Pete in a terse tone.
“I must confiscate that package now,” The Commander says. Pete hands the package to him. “Will you declassify it and return it me?” Pete asks. “It’s from the Beddington, and my great grandfather rescued survivors from that ship.”
“Please be advised, Captain Broderick, that there was never a ship by that name. I am directing you to tell your crew of this not to divulge your find of this package to anyone.” Pete Broderick stares at the back of Burrows as he leaves to enter a waiting staff car that speeds away from the pier.