Devil in the Deep Blue

by Jack Skelter

The sleek and sharklike U-boat had been stalking the British merchant convoy for five fretful hours.  Forty metres below the heaving seas, she struggled to maintain a two-knot headway against the powerful crosscurrents of the North Atlantic Ocean.

“Sound contacts at bearing three-four-seven,” the hydrophone operator whispered as he pressed the headset against his grimy ears.  “Moving towards us.”

“Periscope depth.”  Kapitänleutnant Tobias Elfe’s quiet order -- his first spoken one in the past half-hour -- reverberated through the hushed submarine.

“Aye, Herr Kaleu,” acknowledged the first watch officer, using the familiar, diminutive form of the submarine commander’s rank.  “Planesmen:  periscope depth, ten degrees up-angle.”

The planesmen twirled their wheels as the watch officer kept a careful eye on the depth gauge.  The submarine gently nudged her bow upwards.  Upon reaching fourteen metres, the watch officer ordered the planesmen to level out the diving planes.

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