By Sue James


Feeling totally drained of energy Chip Morton lay down carefully on his bunk and closed his eyes desperate for sleep and a break from the crazy, terrifying day he’d just experienced. However, as soon as he closed his eyes the image of a huge, hairy white monster baring down on him flooded his exhausted mind and pain messages from his bruised and aching body told him he wasn’t going to find the rest he sought any time soon.


Damn! Sitting up carefully Chip flexed his aching muscles before rubbing at his dry, gritty eyes and swinging his legs back over the side of his bunk where he sat for a while, his long fingers massaging his temples as he mentally reviewed events he really wanted to forget.


It had started off as such a normal, uneventful day with no reason to expect any sort of trouble not that he should have expected it to continue uneventfully. With all his years of experience as Seaview’s exec he really should have got used to circumstances taking a turn for the worse but although on one level he was constantly prepared for the unexpected there was always a part of him that hoped everything would go to plan. Crazy really, he almost laughed at his own naivety. When, in all honesty, did everything go according to plan especially when a trip involved one of the Admiral’s scientific friends? He really should be used to the chaos that erupted so often on these scientific expeditions but they never ceased to test his endurance and this one had been particularly intense in the toll that it had taken on him both physically, mentally and emotionally.


Chip felt his stomach muscles clenching in reaction as he recalled the heart stopping moment when he had thought that his best friend and CO had been fired out of a torpedo tube. It had been stressful enough knowing that Lee was missing and having to keep his own emotions and reactions in check, staying in the control room when he desperately wanted to get involved in the search himself. It was so out of character for Lee to just disappear and Chip had known that there was something sinister going on even though he had no idea what it was or what he was going to do about it. And while fretting about Lee’s disappearance he’d also felt very uneasy about the enormous creature supposedly sedated in the missile room. Was it really secure? He’d done his best not to think about it but the thought that it might break loose had been a worrying one; you only had to look at it to realize that it would do an enormous amount of damage to both the boat and the crew if it did manage to escape. Thoughts that had turned out to be frighteningly true Chip thought almost angrily as he stood up and paced round his small domain. Rubbing absently at his sore right arm he relived again the terrifying moments when he had arrived in the missile room to find that the monitors were correct and a torpedo had been fired without authority. He felt again the surge of nausea that had threatened to overwhelm him as he faced up to the very real possibility that his missing friend had been expelled through the tube in front of him. He had wanted to deny the sickening evidence and had felt a huge surge of relief when the chief suggested that maybe the missing guard had been the victim only to feel immense guilt that he should be relieved another innocent man had been killed.


Hell, no wonder his head hurt! The dull ache that had started hours before had gradually grown into a full blown hammering that was threatening to split his skull in two and, reluctantly, Chip acknowledged that he needed the aid of a few painkillers before his brain exploded. Crossing to his desk he rummaged around in the bottom drawer until he found the small pack of aspirin he was looking for. Prising it open he was relieved to find that it contained five little white capsules. Thank goodness! The last thing he needed right now was a trip to sickbay where the doctor’s all seeing eyes would undoubtedly notice his stiff movements and insist on a full examination that might well result in him being incarcerated for the night! Certainly, if anyone had seen the way that monstrous creature had tossed him about as if he was a rag-doll he would have ended up in sickbay hours ago but that nightmarish incident was his little secret…his and Chief Sharkey’s and he knew the chief would keep quiet for the same reason he was…he didn’t want his bumps and bruises tallied by the well meaning medical officer!


Fetching a small glass of water Chip placed two of the aspirin on his tongue, took a large sip of water and swallowed, screwing up his face in disgust as he felt the innocent looking pills slipping down his throat. Downing the rest of the water he sat back in his desk chair and closed his eyes willing the aspirin to take effect and stop the intense throbbing in his skull. Maybe, then he would be able to sleep although he doubted it.


It would help if he understood what had actually happened on board in the past few hours. He was immensely relieved to know that Lee was safe and in no worse shape than he was himself but although he had briefly visited his friend in sickbay he hadn’t had a chance to talk to him about what had transpired. Of course, he doubted that Lee had known much more than he did. It was Admiral Nelson who held all the answers and so far he hadn’t offered to share them with his executive officer. Chip knew that he would find out eventually, probably tomorrow, but it irked him that after spending the day keeping everything running smoothly and almost getting himself killed in the process he still had no real idea what had gone on. He knew that he should be used to the way things worked by now and that he should also be grateful that they had had a narrow escape and were now on their way back to Santa Barbara but, deep in his aching mind he remained frustrated and irritated even as his headache began to diminish and he felt the dull emptiness of sleep beginning to pull at his consciousness.   


With some reluctance Seaview’s exec pulled himself out of his chair and trudged back across his cabin to his bunk where he lay down carefully, avoiding putting pressure on the worst of his bruises, and closed his eyes. He’d find out what had had been behind the chaotic, frightening day tomorrow and then put it behind him until the next time….and the next time…and the next time…. Hell, he had to be crazy to carry on doing this job but he loved it, despite everything he loved it….And finally Chip Morton slept, a slight smile on his lips.



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