Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chapter Forty-Two

Atlantic Ocean

They were screwing with me. 
It’s working. 
A man I had come to think of as Deep Voice boasted loudly about how he would use a torch on me. Then he would light it with a distinctive whoosh.  Another man, Nasal Voice, would chime in, “Nah, you got this all wrong.  I’m telling you they all hate dental work!”  Nasal went on to describe how different picks and extractors would turn me into jelly.
They had started before dawn.  I heard their footfalls arrive outside my dogged hatch.  Their sadistic banter was designed to precondition me into submission.  They figured that seven days at sea without food or water would have weakened me beyond resistance.  On this, they figured wrong. I had managed to extract enough water from my jury-rig to keep me from delirium.  And though I hadn't had three squares per day I had noshed on my emergency stash of granola bars and hard candy.  I was sucking on the last candy as they spoke – a foul concoction of black licorice.
My recording of dawn, nightfall and other data (like the smell from the hatch) had alerted me last evening; we were approaching landfall.  My previous times at sea had taught me that land air smells very different than sea.  It's hard to describe, but land air smells woody, earthy and not as clean.  Regardless, I knew we were approaching the end of this journey -- and probably my end, as well.
So I had used my last chem-light and stayed up all night readying my cabin for a fight. 
I was not going easy or cheap.
I had strung fishing line about four inches above the deck just inside the hatch as a trip line.  Then I had arranged what few objects I could to obscure a direct path to where I lay.  My final defense was my 1911 pistol.  My captors had tossed my sea bag in on top of me when they dumped me into this cubicle.  They were not pros and had not searched it.
Better to be lucky than good.
I had disassembled, cleaned and re-assembled the 1911 and checked each of my four full magazines.  Back when I'd had money I could splurge on luxuries like these magazines – Wilson Combat eight-round with base pads.  Even though the springs in them are amazing I never kept them fully loaded, so each only had 7 rounds.  Another luxury were the Trijicon sights I’d installed – the tritium illumination could come in handy in the low light.
They must be getting their nerve up. I caught the tang of cigarette smoke. 
My sense of smell had grown since I developed fibromyalgia.  I’d never asked a doctor why, I just knew it had.  I could hear two sets of feet padding back and forth.  Low murmurs were exchanged as they got ready.
I made my final preps - tying the still pulsing chem-light to the bulkhead directly across from the hatch.  I wanted to draw their eye away from me when they came in.  My sea-bag sat beneath the light as a dummy "wearing" a spare sweatshirt and set of jeans – it was a bad mannequin but only necessary for a fraction of a second. 
The footfalls' pace increased. It was almost time.  I cycled the pistol and slowly chambered a round. The handle on the hatch moved a fraction as someone tested it.  I felt myself holding my breath, so I slowly exhaled, flexed my fingers around the grip of my pistol and aimed at the hatch.
I'm ready for whatever comes.

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