Doc had assured me the tranquilizer would
work, though it might have a few unusual side effects. At first, I didn’t even recognize the shot as a syringe. It looked
like a pen. One of the latest designs for folks who have to inject themselves
with insulin or other medications. One little push on the end, and voila, you have your shot. But I still had to corner Lee.
He had crawled well and truly deeper into the ventilation system, in fact, now
he was in Conduit 51. Swell, not only was it cramped, it held a lot of relays, sensors, wiring, gears, and Lee didn’t
or wouldn’t accept the danger he was in. His need to be alone, in the dark, had overwhelmed whatever sense the amnesia
I’d been crawling more than fifteen minutes from the nearest access shaft. And with the cans of soda pop dangling
from the net on my belt it was a damned nuisance.
The soda pop was Nelson’s idea. Everyone
knew that soda made one have to go more often, even the Captain.
So my mission, should I decide to accept
it, (well, of course I did) was to reach our errant and mentally challenged Captain
and get him to drink it, and/or inject him with the tranquilizer.
The conduit was just around another connecting
shaft and I could hear Lee sniffling. Was he crying?
“Lee?” I asked as I rounded
the corner and saw him huddled and hunched over, eyes downcast, holding his knees.
“Leave me alone, Commander.”
“My name’s Chip.”
“Admiral Starke said I’m not
supposed to call you that. And you’re not supposed to call me Skipper. You’re the Skipper.”
“You’ll always be the Skipper.
“Admiral Starke says it’s a
word that can only be used for the Captain,” he interrupted.
“I don’t give a damn what Admiral
Starke says. It’s not just a word…”
“But he’s an Admiral!”
“So that makes him God? Look, Lee.
You’ll always be the Skipper…to me, to Nelson, and to the crew. It’s
a term of endearment…do you know what that is? Well, never mind that now…you can’t stay in here forever.
Don’t you have to pee?”
he hesitated and looked even more miserable thinking about the fact that he’d been in here a long time and he really
did have to go.
“Good,” I continued, “’cause
Cookie though you might be thirsty,” I pulled out one of the cans from my net bag and inched my way closer.
“I don’t want any…go away,”
he squirmed further into the conduit, nudging a relay.
he yelped as the slight charge sent a few sparks into his arm, “It..it bit me!”
Bingo. The fates, or maybe Seaview herself,
had given me a contingency plan.
“Maybe, or else it was a spider.”
“Yeah…kind of hard to keep em’ off the boat. They like dark places, like here…oh, most are harmless, but
the flesh eaters are really bad, they’re a kind of chameleon spider, you can barely see them, a bit invisible in here,
can eat a man to death in minutes when they gang up on you, and then there are a few poisonous ones ...”
“Yeah. I think we’re more afraid
of them than the occasional roaches and rats… Admiral Starke told you about them, didn’t he?”
“Er, yeah…yeah…he told
me,” Lee lied, trying at the same time not to be to obivious looking all around him for the invisible arachnids.
I have to digress right now and tell you
that I’m not exactly sure about what happened next…but in my own defense, I guess you’d say I’m a
klutz. It kind of happened like this….
I’ll leave you alone,then, if that’s what you want…but at least let me give you this,” I pulled out
the tranquilizer pen, “it’s a shot. In case I found you bitten by
the spiders…it’s supposed to help keep you from dying, or at least lessen the convulsions, that’s your body
twisting around in pain, and foaming at the mouth…it’s kind of messy…and
the shot doesn’t always work. Oh, but you’d rather die wouldn’t
you…well, I’ll keep this one as a spare for me. They’re already on the prowl, if that’s what bit you…I’m
getting out of here…uh oh, too late…” I pointed behind him.
Lee’s panic to crawl away from the invisible spiders, he bumped into a
multi unit sensor array, which showered sparks on his hair. I pulled him out of harm’s way and poured Coke on the patch of flaming curls, not realizing at the time , that the pen had fallen in between us and, well, that I’d knelt on it.
had on occasion smelt like a wet dog (an occupational hazard due to special assignments with the SEALS or ONI), but now he
smelled and looked like a burnt wet dog and I couldn’t help giggling…
Lee, ole buddy, ole pal” I guess I hiccupped.
wrong with you?” he asked as he pushed me. “C’mon!”
know, it’s kind of’ nice and dark and quiet in here…”
gotta get out of here! Get moving! The spiders are after us!”
I groaned, and pulled the pen out from under my knee, “Oops.”
I’m glad you’re happy,” he chided.
“So happy, Skipper…” I suppose I gave him a drunken grin as I slid
against the nice gentle curve…kind of reminded me of other curves….as I
began to doze off.
swell,” Lee muttered. “C’mon Commander! C’mon! We gotta
get out of here! Damn it, Chip, move!”
The next thing I remembered was waking up
in my cabin, and the Corpsman asking me if I’d had a good nap.
Needless to say I was a bit embarrassed about my ordeal, but at least Lee’s out of that damn vent now, after having brought himself
and me to safety. And Nelson’s back aboard. In fact, rumor has it that Nelson
had a ‘little talk’ with Starke and that Capt. Bligh hasn’t been seen or heard from in a while. At least
not near Lee. Yes, it's good to have Nelson back home.
As for Lee, well, he still has the amnesia
and still thinks like a 7 year old, but you know, even if he was trying to protect himself, he dragged me out of the shaft
when he didn’t have to. So some of the old Lee Crane is still there, I’m
sure of it.
We have a couple more tests to complete
before Seaview can return to port and the experts can check out Lee. In the meantime, at least Starke is no longer ‘in
And I heard through the grapevine that Lee’s
even letting the crew call him Skipper!
But he’s drawn the line at having