Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chapter Forty

In transit - Mid-Atlantic
'The Long Day is Over'

All I could think of was Moira.  And Deb.  And Tonka.  But mostly Moira.  The thoughts of them brought tears to my eyes.  I shuddered and openly wept.
I let them down.
I could see my daughter's little face against mine, hear her wispy voice asking, “Achey better?” It only brought more tears.  Remembering Tonka’s dog dance gave me a momentary laugh.  And Deb.She looked up at me on that clear fall day and smiled; the look in her eyes was the most direct and honest I've ever known.  That day seemed a lifetime ago.
The lack of food and water for six days weakened me and caused hysteria.  But this was different; this was no delusion.  The pain was more real than any I had ever known – and I know pain.  I’d gladly trade the rest of my life for one brief moment to tell them how very much I loved and missed them. 
They'll never know what happened to me.
My seabag was my bug-out bag.  I kept all manner of things in it in case of emergency.  One was a cheap survival kit I had purchased at Walmart that included a golf pencil and some paper. So I used them to pace myself with a daily log.  The hash-marks in my log said I had been in here for six days. I had learned about keeping a bug-out bag in SERE school – Survival Evasion Resistance Escape.  SERE school was a hundred years ago but I still remembered the rule of three.  Three seconds for security, three minutes for air, three hours for climate, three days for water, three weeks for food. 
There is no three for walking into a trap. 
So I journaled, listed my inventory, and focused on my threes. My security was shit so I worked on everything else.  I managed to scavenge water by hanging the poly bag that enclosed the survival kit out the hatch on a length of fishing line,  propped open by the spent matches and duct tape.  The hatch was open but an inch or so.  My jury-rigged rain-catcher only worked when we lucked into a passing squall – which thankfully was often.  The water tasted brackish and wonderful at the same time.
Walters had played me like a Stradivarius.
I had started with four granola bars and 12 pieces of hard candy. The last of the bars left three days ago.  I had but one piece of candy left – a black licorice I’d normally not eat but now kept as a treasure.
The log was two scraps of paper on which I wrote in miniscule print.  I used the walls as a calendar, noting the first and last light with scribe marks upon the deck from the shadows thrown.  I knew they would change as our journey progressed so the pattern created by my scratches would be meaningless, but it gave me something to do.  Hopeless really, as I didn't know our destination, had no idea what day the voyage had started, being blacked out for some period.  Still, the problem was something for my mind to work at and kept me from going feral.
I held the stub of a pencil aloft above the second scrap of paper. Like a planchette traversing a Ouija board, my hand began to draw as some unseen hand forced mine.  I drew small icons of Moira, then Deborah and finally a goofy looking mastiff.  Tears smudged the lead, which I carefully blotted as I lay on my stomach perfecting each. 
Twilight played across the deck. Night fell.  The engines' drone, periodic waves and background noise of a ship underway vibrated through me as I lay there staring at symbols of the people I loved.  Darkness blotted out their images and folded me into another night.
I cried softly.  Alone.

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