. . . the Health of Every Man(Revised)
by Beth Kelly
It was a dark and stormy night, and Lee Crane sat shivering, hidden among the rocks on the craggy shoreline. He brought the face of his watch close to his eyes, struggling to see the time in the illumination of a jagged flash of lightening. The rain pelted his face, flattening his hair against his scalp, as he attempted to curl his body against a nearby boulder in hopes of finding some type of shelter from the incessant storm! Rivulets of water ran down his back, causing great shudders to continuously wrack his body. He knew the elements were draining his reserves . . . He recognized the grogginess overtaking his mind- soon he would be unable to signal the Seaview. He was slipping into unconsciousness.Where is she? Why has the boat missed the rendezvous? I know the Admiral would never abandon me! Something must be wrong . . . His head fell forward, and he slumped sideways, now oblivious to the weather raging around him.
"Damn it O'Brien!" the Admiral growled at his junior officer. "How soon before the repairs are complete? "
"We're doing our best sir." O'Brien's voice trailed off as his superior's fist slammed against the plot table. "Well it's NOT good enough!" Nelson growled in return. Attempting to temper his anger, he moved forward to glance out the large view port in the nose. Staring into the inky blackness, he ran his hand across his forehead, frustrated at the overwhelming feeling of helplessness with which he was so uncomfortable. His senses prickled with the knowledge of the danger threatening his friend Lee Crane, Captain of the Seaview. Search parties were standing by, but with the boat sitting dead on the bottom, they could do nothing but wait.
This was supposed to be a simple mission- in and out within 24 hours, Nelson agonized. A little reconnaissance to verify the position and working order of a few border defenses . . . I should have known" he muttered. "I should have known !"
"SHIT" Chip Morton exclaimed, as he bumped his head on the bank of computer consoles under which he lay. Why is it nobody else on board this damn boat can manage to repair these things but me? He could hear the two crewmen on duty as they discussed plans for an after-hours poker game. While thankful they ignored his inadvertent clumsiness, he vowed Poker game my ass- you guys are going to spend time going over those repair manuals! Chip struggled to remove the panel protecting the hard drive, his fingers searching for the small indents in which to secure his grip. Sliding the panel back, he finally had a clear view of the problem.
"Do you need anything Mr. Morton sir?" Riley inquired, his tone light as he squatted beside the Exec.
An abrupt shift as the boat settled, sent the seaman sprawling across the outstretched legs of his superior. Morton in turn 'jumped' as the sudden motion touched off sparks, and sent a jolt through his body. The Exec could contain his frustration and anger no longer. ARGHHHHH!
Chief Sharkey made his way precariously through the passageway, maintaining his footing despite the turbulence threatening to upheave anything not tightly secured. He stopped at a cabin door, placing his ear against the frame. The expletive from within startled him, and he hesitated, unsure if he should intrude. Finally shaking his head, he moved down the corridor. Once more, he stood before a cabin. Listening intently, he heard angry recriminations and the force of a fist hitting something solid. The Chief grimaced at the sound, knowing Doc would have a patient to attend to in the morning. One more stop before I turn in he thought. Outside the third cabin, moans and groans greeted his ears. This time he didn't hesitate. He quietly opened the door and peered into the darkness. Once he was assured the tossing and turning of the man on the bunk was due only to dreams- or maybe nightmares, the Chief quickly withdrew. "Well," Sharkey sighed as he headed to his own quarters, "Just another dark and stormy night . . ."
Imagination is not the talent of some men, but is the health of every man.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson