.: Entry Forty-Eight :.
… My name is Elliot Parker…
The tunnel is beginning to smell like salt spray, I know we are approaching the fork but the men don’t. I can hear them whispering about the sea being close, soon they will be whispering mutiny, being lead down either path.
“Which way do we turn?” I let my voice carry a little with the fork in sight. “Captain?”
He glares at me before looking away. He makes a show of looking at both sides of the fork. Now the moment of truth. A decision that can’t hide the truth of the question I have been wondering.
“We take the right. Come on men.” I smile, not that the crew sees, they see what I want them to see, which is nothing, a blank shrug.
We walk for another three or so hours until we can see the patches of where the water creeps up to. The Captain tells us to walk back an hour’s distance to where there is less evidence of water damage, we camp there until the early hours of morning, it may be the last sleep we get for some many miles. The men begin to grumble finding space in this tunnel just enough to sleep sat with legs stretched before them. The floor is cold but not as cold as the warning the Captain gives, no noise above a whisper and be wary of the tunnel we have just left, what dangers lurk in either direction is unknown.
The men begin to settle with the supplies being distributed and food eaten with a hushed chatter. The voice that cuts through the dim light and whisper is the Captain, calling me to him, like an obedient pet. Navigating my path avoiding stepping on members of the crew having been sent to the back to give some supplies to the men at the rear of the party, a parade of obedience. The closer I get to the Captain the smiles on the men ahead of me are a challenge. I feel the corner of my mouth twitch, is it nerve? Is it danger? Is it anger? I let it pass and continue to the Captain, passing a leering smile I feel a hand slap me on the backside, the men around him burst into laughter. “I wouldn’t mind that body warming me at night.” I try to shake the rage and look up to the Captain, the mask is of gentle humour but recognition of this man’s challenge. “This one is mine boys, not for sharing but try curling next to fat Shane, he always seems to be a walking furnace maybe you will get lucky and he will share it with you.” The crew laughed with the Captain but the smile never met his eyes. Beneath the mask, the face of a man who just had to tolerate someone playing with his favourite toy, even if for a second.
I reach the Captain who has sat down to sleep. I go to sit down in the small space next to him, navigating how to move without disturbing the Captain or the man next to him. The Captain pulls me down onto his lap, pushing my legs in line with his, my back to his chest. I feel the solid but warm body at my back, pushing me forward to wrap his blanket over our legs. A few of the crew are watching, I can feel their eyes on me, all the time, even if I ignore it. I feel his hands still in place either side of my waist. I feel the twitches in his fingers, tightening, trying to communicate his command without using a word. The blanket now covering our laps. His hands abandon my waist. One hand snakes around my middle and pulls me back so his chest meets my back. I know he has sat straight behind me, keeping contact with every point of my back I can feel his stubble on the side of my neck and shoulder as he lets the warmth of his breath meet the soft skin, I can feel his smile. “Come now pet” he says so the crew can hear, he settles himself to lean on the cave wall and has me lean on his chest, he’s marking his territory. Part of me hates it, part of me knows he is doing this to keep his position, he is keeping me safe. It’s a dangerous game to play no matter the situation.
The Captain pulls the rest of the blanket so that it drapes over my shoulders covering my folded arms. I see his hands moving under the blanket, Skirting the edges of my folded arms making the blanket move and my folded arms forgotten. I watch him play a game, rubbing my arm, the crew laughing like school boys. I know what they assumed, but the Captain’s hands are not on my chest, not where they think his hands are. I smile to myself I don’t bother separating the mask to indifference. This smile, its laughing at them, even if they can’t see that. I can smell the Captain, his breath hot on back of my neck his warm skin breaks the smell of the ocean beginning to fill the chamber further down the tunnel. He lets one hand reach out of the blanket. The fingers tracing my collar bone to just behind my ear, then his fingers are in my hair, curling it out the way pulling it behind my ear. Gently he applies a little guiding pressure, urging me to tilt my head and expose more of my neck to him. I feel his fingers brush where the flicker of my skin betrays my heart beating a little faster than I would care to admit. I feel the brush of his lips as he smiles. He murmured in my ear, less than a whisper so only I could hear as his breath tickled my skin. “Anyone could be mistaken to think that you like this.” His smile in his voice, his tease.