Friday, October 7, 2011
Why do I keep getting hit in the head?
I clutched my skull behind my left ear. It was crusted with dried blood. My mouth tasted like camel dick.
I don’t know how I know that.
I rolled to my side, propped myself up and bumped into something. It was black as a bucket full of assholes inside wherever I was. Then I sensed the movement and knew – I am inside a ship crossing the Atlantic. I had experienced the pitch and roll before when afloat for my third-class cruise. Thankfully, I do not get seasick.
After ralphing what little I had in my gut I continued dry heaving. I think I puked my appendix out.
I must have blacked out again because I awoke to a longer pitch and roll. The air was stale with the smell of – me. I had no idea what day it was, what time or where on the ocean I might be. I managed to sit up and get my back against a wall. I used to call them bulkheads but I've forgotten so much about being a Marine that it feels wrong to use the jargon of the person I once was.
My stomach stayed steady though my head continued to press against the back of my eyes. My left eye especially, and my teeth ached. I took a deep breath and winced as the cold air hurt a tooth. I probed around and felt a jagged edge; one of my back left lower molars felt cracked.
Great, a trip to one of those sadists in white coats – dentists.
The long swells had started hobby horsing the ship; a storm must be on the horizon. The ship groaned as it adjusted to a different period between trough and peak. An occasional corkscrew roiled my gut, but keeping my body against the firm structure helped.
I adjusted and after a long moment ran my hands over the rest of me. No other apparent wounds applied for attention. So I turned and gazed into the dark. It did not look back.
I felt adventurous, so I moved to my hands and knees and swept in front of me like a panhandler groping for a dime. I found a table bolted to the floor. I found the far wall and followed it back around. A shudder found the ship and it responded with a deep bass groan. I slid into the wall as the ship regained itself. Putting my hand out to steady myself, Ifelt something familiar. As I crawled nearer the mildew smell confirmed my touch. My seabag.
I pulled the heavy canvas over by the strap. A warmth infused me like finding an old friend. I fumbled with the combination lock. My finger found the raised notch. Finding zero was a bitch. I developed a large respect for the blind as my frustrations grew.
I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. I knew the combination but had always spun the dial by sight.
What the …
Footsteps fell outside my compartment. They paused outside the far wall from where I was sitting and, after a moment, retreated. My heart skipped a beat then continued too fast. Adrenaline made my hands shake. I exhaled again – this time a long slow clearing breath. I could taste the adrenaline and pushed my exhale out again to dump it. A peptic taste and weakness filled me.. All a natural reaction to fear but shitty nonetheless.
I turned my attention back to the lock with renewed urgency. The footsteps could come back any minute.
I have no idea how I did it but I opened the lock. I near wept from relief as the tumbler clicked open.
I fumbled through the bag, tossing clothes and other items out of the way. There. What I was looking for -- a small plastic dry-bag. I opened it carefully, found the item and tore the plastic wrapper with my teeth. I snapped it and shook the capsule. The chem-light glowed and showered my surroundings with a diffuse light.
I was in a 10 by 10 room. And there was a porthole -- painted over, dogged closed, but two feet from the ceiling. If I stood on my toes I could just reach it. I started to do that when a click popped a speaker in the passageway.
“Welcome aboard Jake.”
Posted by Jake at 10:22 AM