.: Entry Forty-Seven :.
My name is Elliot Parker. Except here it’s not. Except here I can’t tell anyone what my name is. Except here there is only one person who knows who I am, the Captain. To everyone else I am nothing but the stowaway girl. To him, I am the Princess. To him, I am a pay check, whichever way he sails to the wind I am worth a sum to him. But a Captain without a ship, is a problem. For both of us. I need to put more distance between me and that living hell. That’s how I ended up in this.
At first it was just the bugs that bothered me in this balmy forsaken tunnel. The protection the Captain offers, comes at a price, the promise not to run. His sight is limited, but even he knows that the promise I made was under a mask. Anyone with a shred of sense would only make that kind of conditional promise with an alternate plan. Anyone with a shred of sense knows a promise made under a mask was made under a degree of duress. Anyone with a shred of sense would keep an eye on the one wearing the mask. That means while the crew try to look inconspicuous I know they are watching me, all the time, under his orders. That means they know he doesn’t trust me. And he knows I don’t trust him.
So here we are, in a stalemate. Worse still? In a fragile agreement, while on the run, being hunted. Something I shouldn’t have been able to see, not if I was whatever normal is meant to be. The sea of blue and cream are riding above us, heading in the direction of cave we are leaving. I shouldn’t be able to know that. I shouldn’t be using this much power in myself. The Captain is shielding me from the crew seeing his new sight dog, for lack of a better word. We might very well get to the ships and be able to sail away, but even then, he won’t let me go. Why handover something, someone who can read the sight like I can, why handover someone who can see danger before danger can lock you in its sights, even if it is hunting you. The only difference is down here, there is only one direction, one way we can run.
The crew trusts me as much as I trust them. But for now? For now, I am the Captain’s personal pet.
After what happened in the cave, I know the crew have ideas of their own. But their loyalty to the Captain is strong enough to be compared to a pack of dogs, he is their unbeaten and unbeatable alpha.
The tunnel is dark a damp, but the torches make it just as balmy as the forest above us. Running my fingertips along the wall as I walk lets me see the sea of cream and blue above us moving closer to the cave. We have been walking solidly as quickly as we can manage for hours. Our only break, a stolen few hours of rest before dawn. Only I know it is the middle of the morning above land. We have walked all night and so far, we are below the sea we are running from. The Captain’s hand pulls mine from the walls. He may not speak, but the warning shot from his eyes tell me I am still being watched. “Did we lose much lead with our break?” I shake my head with the slightest movement. A twitch at the corner of his mouth is the only giveaway he allows himself in his relief. But this is far from safe, far from over. I want to get out this tunnel. I know there is a fork ahead one path leads to the ships, the other to open water. The tunnel mouth opens out to a dead end, sort of, there is an open cave that fills with water when the moon rises. The tunnel opening closest the ships is a hatch covered in sand and dead branches and brush. A hatch that hasn’t seen the sun in some time, a hatch with all the weight of that wet sand and the rotting branches, could be somewhat hard to unstick.
“Captain, we need to talk.”
“What have you seen?”
I glance over my shoulder; the Captain has had me leading our way so far but it is time to put strength and stealth ahead of us. I tell him that we take the left fork, the one that leads to the hatch, but the path will narrow and strength is what will open the hatch. But we still risk being seen and exposed as we leave the ground, strength and loyalty will get us above ground. That is unless he doesn’t trust his men. If not, then we stop now, let night pass and loose half a day in distance, they are approaching the cave as we speak. But if we go through the water chamber we emerge on the rocky islands, the salt spray will be as tough and as risky as appearing on the edge of the forest close to ships guarded by men. Above land we can plan, but, even if we go through the chamber, and make good time, they will be on the return to the ships. Above and below land if they find the tunnel we had slipped into.
An hour later and the tunnel begins to widen no longer two men abreast it can take three. I keep watching the Captain waiting to see the fork, still not sure what side he will take, but I know one thing for certain, I will see just how much he trusts his men. This is the tell I am waiting for, to find the chink in the armour. I watch him from the corner of my eye when the light allows, looking for some kind of hint on what the path will be ahead…