Foreword: I am using the production order rather than the order episodes were screened or appear on the DVDs.
Lee pulled to a stop outside his lighthouse home and killed the Cobra’s engine. For a moment he sat, listening to the sound of the surf, carried on the onshore breeze - letting the solitude wash over him, thankful to be home. He knew that he was getting sick. His symptoms had started three days into the cruise back to Santa Barbara, with chills, a sure sign that he had a temperature; he’d even had the heat on in the car driving home. Then he had started sneezing; although he hadn’t actually felt ill. Fortunately that was the last day of the mission and Seaview had arrived back home, so he had managed to escape Jamie’s scrutiny. Shivering, he opened the door and climbed out, reaching in to retrieve his cover and briefcase from the passage seat. Taking a deep breath to try and alleviate the sudden feeling of fatigue that had swept over him, Lee walked around and opened the trunk, hefted his suitcase out before locking the car and heading inside.
He considered heading for the kitchen to make a hot drink, but not only did his throat hurt, his stomach was threatening to mutiny. So he instead headed up stairs to the bedroom via the bathroom to get a glass of water. Setting the glass down on the bedside table, he stripped off his uniform and laid it across the foot of the bed, too cold and wiped out to bother hanging it up. He’d considered taking some Tylenol before he crawled into bed, but feeling sick to his stomach, decided it probably wasn’t a good idea.
Lying down, he felt a little better, at least he was warm. He hoped that this was just some flu type thing and he would be okay tomorrow, if he didn’t show up at the institute; someone would come to find out why. With a sigh, he snuggled further under the covers and closed his eyes.
Head of the famous Nelson Institute of Marine Research, Admiral Harriman Nelson sat at his desk, sipping coffee while reading a newspaper. He was taking the opportunity to catch up on current affairs while Seaview was in port awaiting a decision on her next cruise. Although Seaview had some of the most sophisticated communications equipment, it was easy to get caught up in his work and lose touch with what was going on in the outside world. Especially when the mission was a difficult as their last one; all his attention had been focused on rescuing Lee Crane. Thwarted at every turn, Nelson had feared that they would not be able to get Lee out of Venice alive. In the end, Lee’s presence at the casino had worked in their favour and they had been able to rescue the school teacher, along with Lee and Riley. A successful conclusion to the mission; he didn’t want to think about what might have been.
Taking another sip of his early morning coffee, he returned the cup to its saucer and turned the page of the newspaper, scanning the headlines.
had a meeting later that morning with Lee Crane and Chip Morton to discuss two
possible ventures. Both had merit, but
Nelson was keen for an easy cruise that would give Lee Crane time to relax and
plenty of opportunity to dive, which he loved.
The last mission had been especially tough on Crane; he’d been trapped
A knock on his door interrupted his thoughts. “Come.” He closed and folded the newspaper. Laying it to one side as Chip Morton entered.
“Morning, Chip. Come in, sit down. No Lee?” Nelson observed, folding the paper and putting it to one side.
“No, sir. Lee isn’t in yet.” Chip took a seat in front of Nelson’s desk.
Nelson frowned, glancing at his watch. It was unusual for Lee, he was generally the first one in; in fact, Nelson sometimes wondered if Lee ever went home. “We’ll give him a few minutes. Coffee?”
“Yes, thank you, sir.”
Lee groaned as he came awake, feeling like crap; his head hurt so bad that he could hardly lift it and his stomach was churning. With another groan, he shoved the covers aside and rolled out of bed. Unable to gain his feet, he crawled to the bathroom and just made it to the toilet before his gut contracted and he was sick. He was bathed in perspiration, but was shivering with cold. Every heave of his stomach sent slivers of pain through his shoulders and neck, into his head. The room was starting to spin, adding to his nausea. His strength seemed to be draining away with the contents of his stomach.
He knew that he needed help, but didn’t think that he could make it back to the phone in the bedroom. Finally his stomach calmed and he flushed the toilet and closed the lid. After a few minutes, he managed to summon the strength to pull himself up and sat down, snagging a bath sheet to wrap himself in to try and get warm. He glanced towards the shower; the thought of a hot shower was enticing, but he wasn’t sure that his legs would support him. One thing was for sure, he couldn’t stay where he was.
Come on Crane, pull it together. He chastised himself. He’d certainly survived worse. Forcing himself unsteadily to his feet, he made it to the basin and rinsed his mouth. Knowing that he was probably dehydrated, he swallowed a couple of mouthfuls of water, but his strength was diminishing and his legs felt like they were turning to mush. He was fast losing his hold on consciousness. He swayed drunkenly and the floor seemed to rise up to meet him and then everything faded to black.
Placing his cup down on its saucer, Nelson glanced at his watch impatiently. Where the devil was Lee?
“Maybe he’s had car trouble,” Chip suggested as if he’d read Nelson’s thoughts.
Nelson reached for the phone and called security. “Any word from Captain Crane?”
“Very well. Have someone check to see if there have been any major incidents that could have delayed his arrival. And check with the hospitals.” Nelson replaced the receiver and looked at Chip. “Nothing.”
“Do you think Lee’s all right?”
“I wish I knew, Chip.” Nelson hadn’t been happy that Lee had recently moved into the lighthouse. It was a 50 minute drive depending on traffic; if anything happened it would take too long for help to get to Lee. He was tempted to take the flying sub and go make sure, but Lee wouldn’t appreciate him checking on him. But dammit! Lee should have called. Suddenly another thought occurred to Nelson. Cursing under his breath, he again reached for the phone. “Angie, get me Admiral Johnson.”
“You don’t think Lee has gone off on an assignment without telling you, Admiral?” Chip asked.
Nelson ran a hand through his hair. “I don’t know what to think. It wouldn’t be the first time that Johnson has ‘forgotten’ to relay information.”
“Admiral, what can I do for you?” Johnson came on the phone.
“Bob, where the devil is Lee Crane? If you’ve got him on another assignment, so help me...”
“Hold on, Harry. I haven’t got Crane.” Johnson interrupted. “Are you saying he’s missing?”
“I don’t know yet,” Nelson admitted, some of the anger draining from his voice. “He was supposed to show up for a meeting this morning.” Nelson again glanced at his watch. “That was thirty minutes ago. Lee would not be this late without letting someone know.”
“I think you need to report him as missing, Harry. If someone has him, time is of the essence.”
“I’m aware of that,” Nelson snapped, then sighed. “I’ll let you know when I have something.” Replacing the receiver on its cradle, he pushed to his feet. “Chip, I think we need to confirm if Lee is missing or just delayed somewhere.”
“Yes, sir. How are we going to do that?” Chip asked also coming to his feet.
“We’re going to look for him.” Nelson announced as he headed for the door.
Nelson made a textbook landing on the plateau close to the lighthouse. Lee’s home was remote enough not to raise unwanted attention by FS.1 landing in broad daylight.
“Nice landing, sir,” Chip commented.
“Thanks, Chip.” Nelson powered down the flying sub and after releasing his belt, swung around in his seat. “Let’s go find our Captain.”
“Aye, sir,” Chip unstrapped and followed Nelson out of the rear hatch.
There was no sign of life as they exited the craft and walk around the front. If Lee was here, the sound of FS.1 should have alerted him to their presents well before they landed. A gentle onshore breeze ruffled Nelson’s hair as they hurried towards the lighthouse. It was a cool 65 degrees, with a high of 75F forecast for later in the day. Nelson was grateful for the leather flying jacket he wore.
As they approached they could see Lee’s car parked out front. Nelson cast an uneasy glance at Chip. It looked like his fears had been well founded.
Chip produced a key and unlocked the door, allowing Nelson to precede him inside.
Nelson nodded towards the stairs. “Check upstairs, I’ll check down here.” Without waiting for Chip to agree, Nelson hurried through into the lounge. A quick look told him it was empty. He moved through into the den, it was also empty. He was retracing his steps when Chip called.
“Admiral, up here.”
Reaching the top of the stairs, Chip headed for the bedroom. The door stood open, the bed unmade. Lee would never leave his bed unmade. Turning, he crossed the landing to the bathroom and knocked. “Lee, you in there?”
Getting no response, Chip opened the door and froze at the sight of Lee, sprawled face down on the floor. “Lee!” Quickly stepping around, Chip dropped to one knee beside Lee and felt for a pulse. He could feel the heat radiating from his friend.
“Admiral, up here!”
“Lee,” Chip gave him a gentle shake, but there was no response. Lee’s skin was blotchy and his breathing laboured. Something was seriously wrong and they needed to get Lee to the hospital. Chip debated getting Lee into the shower to get his temperature down, but the sudden shock could do more harm than good. Chip looked up as Nelson entered the bathroom and joined Chip beside Lee. “He’s burning up. We need to get him to the institute.”
Nelson nodded agreement. “I don’t think we can wait for help. Let’s get him into the flying sub.”
They wrapped Lee in the bath sheet and gently carried him down the stairs and out to the flying sub.
Nelson pulled the mattress down from the bunk and they laid Lee down, covering him with a blanket. Chip sat on the deck with him while Nelson strapped into the pilot seat and powered up FS.1.
As soon as they were in the air, Nelson called the institute. “Notify Doctor Jamieson that we are coming in with Lee Crane. He’s unconscious and running a temperature. Have an ambulance meet us at the dock.”
Lee was cold, an almost un-natural, bone chilling, mind numbing cold. He didn’t have the strength to move or even to open his eyes. His mind could not make sense of where he was or what had happened to him. He seemed to be floating in a cold darkness. He wished that he could escape the icy chill that pervaded his body and dulled his mind. There were sounds, movement, voices, but try as he might, he couldn’t respond. He felt trapped in this limbo that he couldn’t wake up from. His thought started to drift; thankfully the cold seemed to recede as he slowly sank into oblivion.
It was a Monday morning and the emergency room was already dealing with the influx of walking wounded and sick people that had deferred getting treatment until this morning.
It rapidly turned into a scene of controlled panic as the double doors swung open and Lee was rushed in. Jamieson had been waiting with the ambulance and already had an I.V. in place and had Lee on oxygen. Lee was quickly surrounded by a triage team.
“I want a full blood panel and let’s start him on Vancomycin and Aspirin.” Jamieson ordered as Lee was carefully transferred from the trolley to the gurney. He already suspected that Lee was suffering from a bacterial infection, but blood tests would confirm it. Meanwhile, he started Lee on antibiotics, which hopefully would prevent it from turning into something more sinister.
Jamieson pulled off his mask and gloves before heading for the waiting area to talk to Nelson and Morton. Thankfully, things had quietened down and there were no other relatives in the area. Jamieson took a breath and braced himself to face the two anxious officers.
Both Nelson and Chip came to their feet as Jamieson entered the waiting area.
“How is he, doc?” Nelson asked urgently.
has a bacterial infection, probably from the water. As you know Admiral, the
“But he’ll be all right?”
“I don’t like making promises that I can’t keep, Admiral. We’re transferring him to ICU and we’ll of course do everything we can. The danger is that he could develop Meningitis or septicaemia.” He wished that he had better news, but there was no point in gilding the lily, and raising false hopes.
“Can we see him?”
Jamieson nodded. “You can wait in my office. I’ll come and get you when we have him settled.”
Lee looked at the phone and frowned, the day was getting crazier by the minute. First he’d woken up in a strange motel room with no memory of how he’d gotten there or why. When he’d tried to ring the institute, he’d got ‘no such number’. When he’d called the operator, she had told him that here was no number listed for The Nelson Institute. It seemed that everything had changed overnight. Either someone was playing a very elaborate joke, or he’d lost his mind.
Coming to a decision, he grabbed his jacket and car keys and headed out. His little red Cobra was parked outside of his room; at least that hadn’t changed. Leaving the motel, he took the back road, headed for the Nelson institute; maybe there he could get some answers.
Finding himself turning onto what was not much more than a dirt track, Lee again began to doubt his sanity. There was no Nelson Institute, the track led to a pair of rusted gates, set in a crumbling stone wall. The whole place looked like something out of a horror movie. Lee sat for a moment staring at the scene in front of him. Nothing made any sense! Climbing out of the car, Lee approached the gates, they creaked open on rusted hinges at his touch. He half expected to hear manic organ music and evil laughter. He shook his head. Letting your imagination run away with you Crane. He chastised himself.
Returning to the car, he drove through the gates and followed the road to an old, abandoned mansion, perched on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Where Nelson’s office should be. The windows were boarded over and vines covered one side of the front. The once pale cream paint was pealing from the walls. The surrounding landscaped grounds were an overgrown jungle. For a brief moment Lee wondered if he had somehow been transported into another time.
The whole place was eerily quiet, nothing moved. There were no birds or sign of wildlife.
Again, Lee climbed out of the car and walked up the front steps to the arched doorway. The door was locked, but he could see through into a grand entrance hall with a sweeping staircase.
With a growing feeling of frustration and confusion, Lee returned to the car. With shaking hands, he put the key in the ignition and started the engine. His next stop would be the estate agents, whose ‘For Sale’ sign was posted outside.
Jamieson stood silently watching Nelson, standing looking down at Lee Crane. He understood how hard this was for the Admiral; the two had become close since Lee had taken command of Seaview. “Talk to him, let him know that you are here,” Jamieson advised gently.
Nelson sat down and reached out, taking Lee’s hand. “Come on, lad, you’ve got to fight. Seaview needs you, we need you.”
Jamieson dropped a sympathetic hand onto Nelson’s shoulder and smiled, he hoped, giving some re-assurance. While it was true that Lee Crane was a trouble magnet and took far too many risks in Will’s opinion, there was no doubt whose fault it was that Lee was here this time. How had he allowed this to happen? What sort of doctor was he, to not have anticipated this?
As if he could read the Doctor's thought. “It’s not your fault, Will,” Nelson told him.
“Isn’t it? I should have anticipated this, ran more tests, kept him under observation.”
“You know as well as I do that Lee would not have stood for that.”
Jamieson knew that Nelson was right; the Captain could certainly be a difficult patient. Lee was stubborn and frequently drove him crazy. He’d learnt that, while he respected and even empathized with Lee to a certain extent, you could not admit to it or he would not hesitate to use it to his advantage. Jamieson’s thoughts were interrupted by the door opening and Sharkey entering.
“Excuse me, sir. I just heard. How’s the Skipper?” Sharkey’s gaze flashed to Crane.
Jamieson quickly moved to intercept the Chief and usher him out. Nelson didn’t need Sharkey’s mother hen routine and Lee certainly would not want the men to see him liked this. “The Skipper is very sick, Chief. He needs quiet.”
“But he will be alright, won’t he, Doc?” Sharkey looked imploringly at Jamieson.
Jamieson smiled sympathetically. “You know the Skipper, he’s tough.” He steered Sharkey to the elevators.
“If there is anything I can do...” Sharkey offered, pausing at the elevator before pressing the button to summon the elevator.
Jamieson nodded. “I’m sure the Skipper will appreciate that.”
Sharkey hesitated as the elevator arrived. “You will keep us informed, Doc?”
“Of course, Chief.”
Sharkey nodded and reluctantly stepped into the elevator car.
“Ah, yes, the Nelson mansion,” the salesman smiled. “Would you be interested in buying?”
“Maybe,” Lee lied. “What can you tell me about the owners?”
The salesman gestured to a chair. “Have a seat, Mr ....?”
“Crane,” Lee sat down.
“Now, let’s see.” He moved to the filing cabinet and pulled
the details. “As you’ve probably realised, the house has been empty for some
time. It belonged to an Admiral Nelson
and his sister. The Admiral died when
his submarine – the Seaview sank with all hands. His sister was devastated and moved back to
Lee was in shock. The Admiral, dead? No, that couldn’t be.
“Are you all right, Mr Crane?” the salesman asked.
Lee sucked in a calming breath. “Yes...yes, I’m fine, thank you.”
“Would you like to view the property?”
“I’ll think about it. Thanks again,” Lee stood and turned to leave. He needed to think about what he’d found out.
Not sure of what to do next, Lee returned to the motel. He remembered driving past it on several occasions, although he had never stayed there. Lee shook his head. How could that be? If the Nelson Institute never existed and this was all some sort of weird dream or illusion; then what was he doing here? He felt more confused the more he thought about it.
Walking into the bathroom, he studied his reflection in the mirror. He didn’t look any different and there were no signs of injury that he could see. Had he been drugged? Was this some drug induced hallucination?
“Lee, can you hear me?”
Lee spun around, only to find that there was no-one there. Wishful thinking. Sighing, he walked back into the bedroom and sat down on the bed, dropping his hands into his lap. His world had turned upside down. He wasn’t sure what was real anymore. He wondered if his life would ever be the same again, or if he was trapped in this nightmare forever.
The bungalow looked the same, but the car parked under the carport was not one Lee was familiar with. He had a feeling that it wasn’t going to be Chip who answered the door. With growing unease, Lee got out of his car, walked somewhat reluctantly up to the door and knocked.
He wasn’t surprised when it was opened by a man in his late fifties or early sixties with receding grey hair.
“Yes, can I help you?”
“Err—I was looking for Commander Chip Morton,” Lee replied, feeling somewhat foolish, since it was clear the Chip no-longer lived here.
“Sorry, there is no-one by that name here.”
Lee nodded numbly. “Thank you.”
“Are you all right, son?” The man asked kindly. “Would you like to come in? You look like you could use a drink.”
Lee shook his head. “No, thank you. I’m fine. Sorry to have bothered you.”
“No bother son, I hope you find your friend.”
Lee turned and walked back to his car. Was everyone he’d ever cared about dead? His life was unravelling and there was nothing he could do to fix it. He’d never felt so powerless and alone.
Where did he go from here? Did he even have a home? Getting behind the wheel of the Cobra, the only solid link to the life he remembered, he started the engine and drove away – unsure of where to go next.
Not one to back away from anything, Lee decided he needed to know for sure if he still had a home, so drove out to the lighthouse that had recently become his home. He wasn’t sure what he expected to find, but it wasn’t a fully functioning lighthouse. Lee pulled off the road and stopped. He felt numb. How could this be? The lighthouse had been derelict for years. Nothing made any sense. Was he going crazy? He wiped a hand across his face. He’d always been able to maintain control of his emotions, hiding behind the emotional barriers that he’d learnt to erect long ago, but right now that control was slipping away. He closed his eyes, trying to pull it together.
Opening his eyes, nothing had changed. The lighthouse stood as if mocking him. It seemed that Seaview, the Institute and Nelson, everything he knew and cared about were nothing more than a memory. Lee gave himself a mental shake. He didn’t know what was going on, or who was responsible, but he was going to find out, and when he did, they would be sorry they messed with him.
Putting the Cobra into gear, the drove away.
Entering ICU, Jamieson found Nelson sitting at Lee’s bedside. The Admiral had hardly left Lee’s side since he’d been brought here.
“Just making a routine check,” he smiled reassuringly. Unclipping the chart, he flipped through the information entered by the nursing staff.
“How’s he doing, Will?”
“There’s no change, but at least there’s no deterioration,” Jamieson returned the chart and turned his attention to Lee.
“How long before...? Nelson asked hesitantly.
“Hopefully the antibiotics will start to take effect soon and he’ll start to show some signs of improvement.” Will hoped that it would be sooner rather than later, for all their sakes.
“You look tired, Admiral. Why don’t you take a break? Lee is in good hands.”
“But he will be all right?”
“Yes, baring complications. He’s young and strong. I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be fine.”
Jamieson nodded. “Now Admiral, how about you take your doctor’s advice? Go get something to eat and some sleep. I’ll call you if there is any change.”
Nelson shook his head. “Sorry, Will, but I need to stay here”
Jamieson sighed in resignation. "I understand, Admiral." He knew he was wasting his breath, but it was worth a try. "At least I can see to it you eat. I'll have a try sent up."
Lee woke slowly; he was in a comfortable bed with soft, brushed cotton sheets and sumptuous pillows. For a moment he lay, feeling totally relaxed until he began to remember. This was not the motel room. Opening his eyes, he found himself in a strange bedroom. How had he gotten here? Sitting up, he pushed aside the covers. He was wearing his white pyjamas. The king-size bed faced a full length bay window, with double doors that opened out onto a balcony. White lace curtains moved gently with the breeze, as it drifted in through the partly open doors. He could smell the salt air and hear the sea in the distance.
Swinging his legs over the side of the bed, he stood and walked barefoot across to the door leading to the landing. An elegant double staircase led down to a substantial entrance hall that he recognised as the old Nelson mansion. Was he dreaming?
“Hello, is anyone there?” he called out, not expecting an answer. His voice echoed around the space. Lee looked over the banister. The entrance hall was flooded with light from the domed skylight, and everything was quiet. He started cautiously down the stairs. The mansion was build around the circular entrance hall with wings off to each side. Lee paused for a moment at the bottom of the stairs. “Hello?”
Something drew him to the rear, where he found doors on either side, under the stairs. Not knowing why, he chose the right. Opening the door, he found himself in a kitchen, and stopped dead at the sight of Nelson standing in front of the stove.
“Admiral,” Lee almost whispered, afraid that he was seeing things.
Nelson turned and smiled. “Lee, come in, sit down.” He picked up the coffee pot from the stove and walked to the table. “Coffee?”
Lee walked slowly towards the table. “Admiral, am I glad to see you. I thought...that you were dead.”
Nelson finished pouring coffee into a mug before looking up. “Aye, lad, I am, and I’m sorry to say that so are you; although you don’t know it yet.”
Lee shook his head and took a step back. “No.”
“I’m afraid it’s true, Lad.”
Lee scrubbed a hand across his face. “No, I must be dreaming.”
“I wish that were so. Come and sit down Lee,” Nelson coaxed gently.
Lee hesitated, all his instincts told him to get the hell out of there.
“The Seaview sank with all hands. Everyone died, Lee.”
Lee shook his head. “No---Chip.”
“Chip died when the bell struck a mine. You can’t keep denying it, Lee.” Nelson told him.
“No, this isn’t real, it’s some sort of trick,” Lee turned on his heels and headed for the door. The room started to spin and he felt himself falling into darkness.
Nelson stood absently watching the numbers light up as he rode the elevator up to the command floor. Responsibility weighted heavy on him, all he wanted was to sit with Lee, but as head of the Nelson Institute there were some things that he couldn’t ignore. Life had to go on. The elevator stopped and the doors opened, interrupting his daydreaming. Stepping out, he walked wearily down the lobby to his office. He’d only managed a few hours sleep between visiting Lee and his other commitments. He knew that Lee was in good hands and that he’d be called if there was any change in his condition, but still it had been difficult to drag himself away from Lee’s bedside. He wanted to be there when Lee woke up, to let him know that he was safe. He told himself that Lee was a grown man and a reserve officer. He didn’t need him hovering over him, but honestly, it was more for his benefit than for Lee’s. After all they had gone through to rescue Lee, only to have this happen.
Nelson asked himself why he continued to allow Lee to take these dangerous assignments, wasn’t being Captain of The Seaview hazardous enough, with all the craziness that they regularly faced?
As if I could stop you. He mused. Sometimes Lee’s stubbornness drive him crazy, but it was what made Lee such a good Captain. Lee would never give up, no matter how hopeless the situation appeared. Reaching the door to Angie’s office, Nelson sighed and returned his thought to the mounds of paperwork that would be waiting for him in his office.
“Morning, sir,” Angie greeted as he entered the outer office. “How is Lee?”
“Morning, Angie. Not much change at the moment, I’m afraid.” Nelson continued through to his own office and closed the door. Sitting down behind his desk, he surveyed his in tray. He still had to make a decision on Seaview’s next mission, but that could wait; she wasn’t going anywhere without her Captain. Their friendship had grown to the point of being as close as father and son. Although Nelson’s rank and the fact that he was Lee’s CO, sometimes made it difficult to balance his feelings against his sense of duty.
Reaching for a stack of mail, he attempted to focus his mind on work. He worked his way through the pile, making notes for those that he wanted to reply to; he’d dictate his reply for Angie later. An envelope from International Bionics caught his attention. It contained an invitation from Dr. Ulrich for Nelson to visit his cybernetics laboratory and an outline of his work.
Cybernetics dated back to the 1940s and had many possible applications, including medical, mechanical and communication feedback. Early applications of negative feedback in electronic circuits included the control of radar antenna. During World War II, a graduate student at the Servomechanisms Laboratory at MIT, working with Gordon S. Brown to develop electronic control systems for the U.S. Navy. Although it seemed that Ulrich’s research was taking a different direction, Nelson would certainly be interested in visiting the laboratories in Switzerland, but not until he was sure that Lee was going to be all right.
Lee woke feeling disorientated. What was happening to him? Where was he this time? The familiar smell of antiseptic told him he was somewhere medical, but not sickbay. There was no sensation of movement or vibrations from Seaview’s engines. Opening his eyes, he found a nurse standing beside the bed.
“Where am I?”
“Pearl Harbour Navel Hospital.”
Lee frowned. “I don’t understand, how did I get here?” The last thing he remembered, he’d been in Santa Barbara.
“Now take it easy Commander. You’re suffering from shock. You were in the water a long time.”
“What? I don’t remember.” Lee ran a hand through his hair in agitation.
She smiled reassuringly. “The doctor will be in to see you shortly. Try to relax.”
“Crane, what the devil happened?” Admiral Jiggs Starke bellowed as he entered the room.
“Admiral!” Lee almost came to attention, despite the fact that he was lying down. “I’m sorry, sir...I don’t remember...anything.”
“What do you mean, you don’t remember? That’s very convenient, Commander.” Starke stalked towards the bed aggressively. “Don’t think you can hide behind that excuse for long. I want to know what happened to Harriman, and I’m going to find out.”
Lee was even more confused. He had no memory of how he had gotten here or what had taken place. Surely Starke didn’t really think that he would do anything to hurt Nelson. “I don’t remember what happened, but I do know that I would never do anything to hurt Nelson or Seaview, sir.”
“Maybe a spell in the brig would help you remember.” Starke threatened.
“The brig? But I haven’t done anything,” Lee desperately tried to drag up some fragment of memory, but it was no use. He raked a hand through his hair in a gesture of frustration. None of this made any sense. Why couldn’t he remember?
“That remains to be seen,” Starke growled.
“Admiral, Commander Crane needs to rest,” a distinguished man with greying hair entered the room and approached the bed.
“Humph,” Starke commented, but turned to leave. “This isn’t over Crane.”
This time it was Chip Morton that Jamieson found sprawled in a chair at Lee’s bedside. At least the Admiral had finally taken his advice; although Will suspected that Nelson hadn’t gone far. Jamieson approached the bed and stood observing his patient for a moment. There was slight improvement in Lee’s condition. His temperature was down a little, indicating that the meds were starting to take effect.
“He’s a little better,” he told Chip. “How are you holding up?”
Chip levered himself upright in the chair. “I’m okay.”
Jamieson nodded. Chip probably had not had much sleep; dividing his time between the institute and here, but he wouldn’t lecture him on it for now. At any rate, Chip was a little easier to deal with than Lee, but not by much.
Jamieson turned his attention to the monitors attached to his patient, noting the reading. He checked the I.V. and the cannula in Lee’s arm.
“Lee hates I.V.s, he’ll want that out when he wakes up,” Chip commented.
Jamieson nodded, “Along with the catheter.”
“Yeah, got that right.”
Jamieson unclipped the chart and made some notes. “If he continues to improve, we’ll reduce the sedatives and take him off the ventilator.”
“Do you think he knows we are here?”
“It’s possible, some people wake up and say that they were aware of everything that was going on around them. But whether he remembers is another thing.”
“We’re going to have words when he wakes up. What the hell was he thinking? Why didn’t he call someone?”
“Because he’s Lee, he won’t change, no matter how much you nag.” Lee drove everyone crazy with his apparent disregard for his health. Jamieson also planned to have a talk with his CO when he woke up.
Lee opened his eyes to darkness. For a moment he stayed still, listening. There was something familiar about his surroundings, but the lack of sound didn’t fit. Almost falling out of the bunk, he realised that he was in his cabin aboard Seaview. Finding his way to the desk, he switched on the desk lamp and looked around the cabin. Everything appeared to be in order, but relief was tinged with uneasiness at the lack of any sound. There should be something; the sound of the air conditioning, the thrum of the engines, something.
Pulling open the desk drawer, Lee took out the gun he kept there and headed for the door to investigate. Opening the cabin door, he checked the corridor. It was dark; there was not even the red glow of the emergency lights. Lee returned briefly to get a flashlight – what disaster had befallen the boat? A feeling of déjà vu hit him as he moved cautiously down the corridor.
Coming to Chip’s cabin, Lee stopped and knocked.
Opening the door he found the cabin in darkness. Entering, he shone to flashlight around the room. “Chip?”
He checked the head and closet, but found no sign of Chip Morton. Leaving the cabin, he headed forward with growing trepidation. Seaview wasn’t moving, so they must be on the bottom, but what had happened to the crew? Passing a mic, Lee paused and unclipped it from it’s bracket. “This is the Captain. If anyone can hear me, please respond.”
Replacing the mic, Lee continued down the corridor, flashlight in one hand and his gun in the other, alert for any danger that may appear out of the darkness. The beam of light from his flashlight reached into the dark, but revealed nothing. He met no-one on his way to the control room. Entering via the spiral staircase, he stopped at the bottom. Like the rest of the boat, the control room was cloaked in darkness. There was nothing visible beyond the observation windows in the nose, no light refraction or anything. The instrumentation was silent and inoperative. What the devil was going on?
Lee made a circuit of the control room and coming to the radio shack, tried the radio, but it too was out of action. Unable to find any reason, other than there did not appear to be any power; he fished in his pocket for a dime and unscrewed the top of the unit. Everything appeared in order, there were no lose wires or any other damage that he could see.
“Who’s there?” Lee spun around, searching the control room with the beam of the flashlight. The darkness seemed almost malevolent, adding to his feeling of apprehension. “Show yourself.” He demanded.
Slowly a human form materialized out of the darkness. Lee watched, stunned as he found himself face to face with himself.
“What’s the matter, Captain?” the double smiled maliciously.
“Who are you? What have you done to the crew?”
“They’re all dead, Captain and it’s time for you to join them.” The double raised a gun and fired.
Lee stared at his chest as three neat holes appeared. Strangely, he felt no pain. Then everything faded and he seemed to be floating in a fog.
“Lee, can you hear me?”
Nelson’s voice – but it couldn’t be, Nelson was dead – wasn’t he?
Over the next three days, Nelson and Chip took turns to sit with Lee, talking to him, reading to him and telling him what was going on at the institute. Nelson’s heart ached as he watched Lee lying there. Although Lee had been taken off the ventilator and was breathing on his own, he still did not react to anything. Nelson hated feeling so helpless. For all his knowledge, there was nothing he could do to help Lee.
Jamieson quietly entered the room, picking up Lee’s chart; he studied it for a moment before he spoke.
“He’s responding to the antibiotics, his temperature is down and his vitals are getting stronger.”
Lying the chart down on the bed, Jamieson lowered the rail and taking a penlight from his pocket, he leant over to test Lee’s pupil reaction.
Lee raised a hand, swatting at Jamieson’s hand, but the movement was un-coordinated.
“He moved!” Nelson was on his feet, moving closer. “Lee, can you hear me?”
Jamieson caught Lee’s hand and smiled at Nelson. “We’ve reduced the sedation; he’s coming out of it. Lee, are you in there? It’s time to wake up.”
Lee opened his eyes and found himself in another hospital bed. The I.V. and the uncomfortable feeling of a catheter told him that this was real.
“It’s about time you woke up,” Nelson moved into his field of vision, smiling reassuringly.
“I’m not dead.” Lee looked down, running a hand over his chest.
“That must have been some dream.” Nelson teased gently as he raised the head of the bed.
More like a nightmare.
“Ad---Admiral, is that really you?” Lee asked hesitantly, afraid that he would be plunged back into the nightmare at any minute.
Nelson reached out and squeezed Lee’s arm. “Yes, Lee – it’s really me.”
Lee looked around the familiar faces. “What happened, how did I get here?”
“We found you unconscious at home. You’ve had us worried. How are you feeling?” Nelson asked.
Lee raked a shaky hand through his hair. “A little confused. I can’t seem to remember. How long have I been here?” He was sure that here was med-bay.
“A little over three days.” Nelson smiled re-assuringly. “It’s good to have you back, lad.”
“I hate to interrupt, but I need to check you out, Skipper,” Jamieson interrupted. “Do you know your name?”
“Lee Crane, Commander.” Lee turned to Nelson. “Am I still Captain?”
“Of course, why would you think otherwise?”
“Well, you’ll have to explain that later,” Nelson was still smiling.
Jamieson wrapped the pressure cuff around Lee’s arm, bringing his attention back to the doctor. Jamieson frowned at the reading.
“Take a deep breath. Move something.”
Lee did as instructed; surprised that he was able to move his arms and legs easily.
“That’s better.” Jamieson removed the cuff and picked up Lee’s chart.
“Can I have some water?”
Jamieson nodded. “Of course.” He raised the head of the bed further, so that Lee could sit up a little more, making it easier for him to drink.
Nelson poured a cup of water and held it for Lee to drink.
“Thanks.” Lee looked at Jamieson. “Can we lose the I.V. and catheter, please, Jamie?”
“Not for a couple of hours. If you can take fluids, we’ll remove them and you can have something to eat.”
Lee again turned to Nelson. “Is Seaview all right?”
Nelson nodded. “She’s in her pen, where you left her. And don’t worry, she isn’t going anywhere without you. Just take it easy and do what your doctor tells you.”
“I’ll be good, promise.”
Jamieson snorted. “That will be a first.”
Frustrated at not being able to stay awake for any length of time, Lee lay quiet, drifting on the edge of sleep. He was anxious to know what had been happening while he’d been unconscious. There was probably a heap of work waiting for him on his desk, but he knew that he wasn’t going to escape Jamie’s clutches for a while. With a sigh, he opened his eyes and turned his head to look at the man seated at his bedside. “Admiral.”
Nelson smiled and leaned closer. “Lee, how are you doing?”
“Sorry---not very good company. Can’t seem to stay awake.”
Nelson placed a hand on Lee’s arm. “Just get well. We can talk later. If you behave, I might even let you beat me at a game of chess.” He teased.
Lee managed a weak chuckle. “I’ll look forward to it.”
“Are you comfortable? Do you need anything?”
“Any chance of a cup of coffee?”
“How about a cup of hot chocolate from the machine? As long as you don’t tell Doc.”
Lee nodded. “Sounds good.”
The Admiral returned five minutes later with two cups. He put one down on the rollaway table where Lee could reach it and returned to the chair beside the bed, with the other.
“Thanks,” Lee smiled and reached for the cup, taking a sip. The hot, sweet liquid tasted great and swept over him like a warm blanket, washing away his frustration. “Have you given any more thought to Seaview’s next mission?”
Nelson nodded. “Some. I’ve had an invitation from Doctor Tabor Ulrich to visit his cybernetics laboratory in Switzerland.”
“Are you going to accept?”
“I’m considering it. Ulrich is probably the greatest genius. From what I have read about his memory bank, it’s fantastic.”
Lee smiled; he could almost hear the wheels turning in Nelson’s head. “You should go.”
“You wouldn’t be trying to get rid of me, would you, Captain?” Nelson joked.
Lee’s smiled transformed into a grin. “No, sir.” Lee yawned, Nelson’s presents, combined with the sedative effect of the hot chocolate suddenly had him struggling to keep his eyes open. It wasn’t often that he let go of the reigns and let someone else take over.
Nelson came to his feet and gathered up the empty cups. “I think it’s time I let you get some sleep, before Doc has me thrown out of here. Good night, lad.”
“Night, Admiral.” Lee rested his head back against the pillows and closed his eyes.
Lee winced as he levered himself higher in the bed, feeling as weak as a kitten. This time there was no-one sitting beside his bed; so he must be getting better. It was good to be out of ICU and free from all the paraphernalia that Jamie had had him hooked up to. He’d already received the lecture from Jamie for not reporting his symptoms, now he was waiting for Chip’s version. Chip might be his subordinate, but that didn’t stop him from voicing his displeasure when he considered that Lee had acted recklessly.
Sighing in frustration at his inability to do much more than sleep. Lee gazed out of the window; at least this room had an ocean view. The sun was shining and he wished that he could be out there, walking on the beach and wading in the surf. However, he knew that he couldn’t realistically expect to escape Jamie’s clutches just yet. He turned at the sound of the door opening.
“Hey, buddy, you’re looking better," Chip greeted cheerfully.
“I’m feeling better.” Seeing his friend lifted Lee’s spirits.
Chip sat down beside the bed. “Yeah, well do me a favour and don’t try to escape until Jamie says you are ready.”
“Not for a few days at least,” Lee agreed.
“Not at all, that’s an order – understood?” Chip gave him his XO glare that had most crewmen running for cover.
“Understood, sir,” Lee gave him a salute, despite that he was Chip’s CO. They were close friends and off the boat, rank went out the window.
“You gave us quite a fright.”
“I know, I’m sorry. I thought that I’d just caught a chill or something.”
Chip picked up the Clive Cussler novel that he’d been reading to Lee. “Do you want me to finish reading this to you?”
Lee grinned. “No, thanks, I think I can manage to read the rest myself. Besides, I need something to keep me occupied.”
“Okay, do you need anything else?”
“How about some takeout?” He gestured to the remains of his lunch. “I’m already getting tired of hospital food.”
Chip put the book down and looked at his watch. “The cafeteria should be open, I’ll see what I can do.”
Hiding a smile of satisfaction, Chip took a bit of his burger while he watched Lee tucking into his Salmon Caesar Salad sandwich. It was good to see Lee enjoying his food. Lee didn’t deserve his reputation as a picky eater; he just knew what he liked. For the most part, Lee avoided junk food, preferring seafood or Italian instead, he also enjoyed a good steak when they had a beach barbeque.
“This is great, thanks Chip.”
It surprised Chip that Lee didn’t have a succession of women visiting him. He knew that Trisha was more than a little interested in Lee, and she wasn’t the only one. Lee could date any woman he wanted.
“What are you plotting?” Lee regarded him suspiciously.
“Who, me?” Chip shook his head. “Nothing, I was just wondering, is there anyone you’d like me to call?” He knew he wouldn’t get a straight answer if he asked outright. “A girlfriend maybe?” He suggested cautiously.
“Fishing, Mr Morton?” Lee asked, pausing in taking a sip of his coffee.
“Okay, yes. I would have thought that you would have had a stream of women through here visiting.”
Lee laughed. “There is only one woman in my life, Seaview. Besides, I make a point not to mix work with pleasure.”
“Oh yeah, and what about Carol Denning?”
“What about her?”
“Come on Lee, don’t play dumb with me.”
“I was just doing my job.” Lee replied defensively.
Seeing Lee’s eyes start to close, Chip changed the subject. “The Admiral has deferred a decision on our next mission until you’re fit to return to duty, so you can relax and concentrate on getting better.”
“Jamie is starting my rehab tomorrow.”
“That’s good news, a step closer to getting out of here.” Chip knew that Lee hated being laid up and would soon be clamouring to go home.
Lee nodded. “Can’t happen soon enough; I want to go home and sleep in my own bed.”
Chip could relate to that, although he hadn’t spent nearly as much time in sickbay as Lee. Getting to his feet, he started clearing things away. “I’d better go. I’ll stop by later.”
A smile crept across Nelson’s face as he stood in the doorway to Lee’s hospital room, watching his young friend sleeping. Lee was sprawled untidily in the bed, taking up every available inch of space. In spite of the pillows and blankets being in dis-array, Lee looked comfortable and was sleeping peacefully.
Reluctant to disturb Lee’s slumbers, Nelson remained standing in the doorway. It was rare to see Lee looking so peaceful in his current location. Usually he was impatient to escape, he hated being in hospital even more than he did sickbay. Lee was being released that morning and Nelson had expected to find him dressed and eager to leave.
“Seems our Captain isn’t in any hurry to leave.” Will Jamieson commented, joining Nelson.
Nelson turned to look at the Doctor. “Are you sure he’s well enough to leave?”
Jamieson nodded. “Apart from wanting Lee to eat more, I’m happy for him to be discharged, provided that he agrees to stay with you, Admiral.”
Nelson chuckled. Hospital food was not Lee’s favourite. “I’ll call ahead and have Angie make dinner reservations.”
“Tell her Italian.”
“Lee.” Nelson’s smiled morphed into a delighted grin as he approached the bed.
“Hello Admiral. Thanks for coming to spring me,” Lee returned Nelson's grin with a dazzling smile.
“How are you, lad?”
“I’m fine Admiral, honestly. Hello Jamie, can I get out of here now?”
Jamieson smiled. “Yes, you’re free to leave when you’re ready.”
“What are you waiting for, Lee? I thought you wanted to go home,” Nelson asked.
“I do, Admiral – as long as that is where I’m going.” Lee glared meaningfully at Jamieson.
“I was hoping that you might agree to stay with me for a few days,” Nelson replied warily. He knew that Lee hated being fussed over, but Jamieson was not happy with Lee going home alone until he was stronger.
“I’d like that, Admiral.”
“Good, now that’s settled, let’s get you out of here.”
“Can we stop at the sub-pen on the way?” Lee asked hopefully.
Nelson shook his head, but smiled indulgently. “All right, but only for a few minutes; Doc will have my head if I let you anywhere near Seaview.” It still surprised him that Lee could turn on that ‘little boy’ look when he wanted something. What was even more surprising to everyone, including himself, was that he let Lee get away with it.
Nelson pulled the sedan to a stop on the dock and looked across at Lee. Lee’s gaze was fixed on Seaview, floating in her pen.
“Go on, Lad. I know you want to go aboard.”
Lee grinned and reached for the door handle; needing no further encouragement.
A crewman that had been working dockside came around to Nelson’s side and opened the door, saluting as Nelson emerged.
Nelson returned the salute. “Just leave it there, we won’t be long.”
“Yes, sir,” the crewman closed the door and returned to what he had been doing.
Nelson walked around the car to join Lee. “All right, Lee?” he asked discreetly.
Lee nodded. “Yes, sir.”
Nelson led the way across the gangplank onto the deck and entered via the sail hatch. He paused to let Lee precede him down the stairs into the control room. He stopped at the bottom of the stairs and watched Lee as he walked around the control room, pausing to touch the consoles; letting Lee commune with his boat. Everyone knew the way Lee felt about Seaview. Even though he was Seaview’s creator, Nelson didn’t have the same connection with the boat that Lee had. Nelson waited until Lee returned to the nose.
“Want to tell me about it?” Nelson hitched up onto the corner of the table.
Lee turned and sat on the window ledge, dropping his hands into his lap. “I know it was only a dream, but it was horrible. Everything had changed. You were dead; Seaview was lost with all hands. Everything I knew and cared about was gone. I was thrown from one nightmare to another and there was nothing I could do. My whole world was turned upside down and I didn’t know what to do to fix it.” Lee sighed. “I was trapped in some nightmare reality and couldn’t find my way back. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to wake up in Med-bay.”
Dressed in civilian clothes, Lee looked even younger. Nelson felt a sudden surge of parental affection and concern. It sometimes frightened him when he thought about just how important Lee had become to him. He’d never really gotten close to anyone before, his work and career always came first. But from the first time he’d met Lee Crane, he’d felt a connection. There was something special about Lee.
Suppressing his feelings, Nelson pushed to his feet. “Well Lee, there is one thing I am sure of, we are both very much alive.” Thank goodness. He moved closer to Lee and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Come on. Seaview isn’t going anywhere and I promised Doc that I would feed you.”
Lee gave him a shy smile and pushed to his feet. “Aye, sir.”