Dec 6, 2011

CHAPTER 29: DRY BLOOD

When Paul arrived at the port side of the Plymouth Dawn, the four investigators climbed up the side using a rope ladder attached to a pair of grappling hooks. The upper deck was absolutely silent. There was not a soul in sight. Usually at least one person would be up there mopping or cleaning something or another. Instead, only the waves and the howling wind danced in their ears. Liam was first to take note, “Where is everyone?”

“Might be below decks,” Hank replied. “That's your job. Get to it. Move, move, move.”

Liam nodded to Sergei and then they moved off in their own direction. They found a hatch at the bridge tower, opened it, and disappeared below decks.

Hank said to Louie, “Alright, come on, let's make this quick. I don't like this.”

The two pressed on. The control room would be at the top of the bridge tower, the third floor, just like on the Holdsworth. The first flight of stairs was outside the tower, which made things easy. The second flight of stairs, however, was inside and required going through the officer's quarter areas. Hank had actually counted on this. He had hoped to find answers in that area. And answers he would get, but also more questions. Two for the price of one.

The access hatch was fortunately unlocked. Hank opened it and then Louie went through first. In rare circumstance, the silent man said, “My God.”

Hank stepped inside, rifle raised, and immediately knew what he meant. Bullet holes dotted the walls, while blood smears provided accentuation to the ghastly d├ęcor. Among other miscellaneous items, shell casings and abandoned weapons littered the floor. One the lights flickered in a strange rhythm. It would stay lit for about three seconds, then shut down for a split second in two flashes. Nothing in the room felt in the least bit settling. Hank asked the obvious question, “Where are bodies?”

Louie shook his head.

Hank snatched his radio and said, “Bravo team, check in.”

“We're below decks, captain,” Liam replied. “So far, nothing. Got anything?”

“There's blood and casings all over the floor here,” Hank told him. “No bodies. It's starting to look like-”

“Monsters,” Liam said it for him. “We'll keep an eye out. Seems quiet down here though.”

“It never stays that way,” Hank sighed. “We're moving on, stay in contact.” Louie was bent over examining a shell casing when Hank said to him, “How did this happen? Surely Captain Elway inoculated his crew.”

Louie shrugged.

“Let's go,” Hank whispered as he turned to the stairwell. Silently, they went up the first half-flight, turned the corner, and went up the second. The corridor was tight and they had to move up single-file. When Hank made it to the large, steel door, he found it to be locked. He fiddled with the handle, but it was no good.

Louie put his hand on Hank's shoulder and pulled him aside. He showed him that in his hand was a door breaching charge. Hank nodded, then Louie got to work setting it. Since the corridor was tight, they had to move away from the blast to avoid splash damage. Once the charge was set, the duo dashed down and BOOM. Just as quickly, they moved right back up, weapons at the ready. There was no telling what they might find....

Unlike the crew quarters, the control room was absolutely spotless. Everything from the charts to the radio equipment was in pristine condition. It as if this was not the control room itself, but the showroom used to sell the ship. Even the windows were totally spotless. Hank was impressed with how Captain Elway must have run things and- then he saw him. Captain Elway sat neatly in the corner of the room, his brains, doused in blood, spilled out the left side of his skull. In the captain's right hand was a silver revolver. What happened was obvious.

“God,” Hank exhaled as he slung his rifle. He took a knee beside his dead old friend and looked him over. For a second, he thought that maybe he could something, maybe he could still be saved. But it wasn't true. Dan Elway was dead by his own hand. Hank slipped the pistol out of the captain's fingers and set it aside. It just seemed wrong for it to stay there. “Dammit Elway, what happened?”

Louie said a silent prayer.

Hank stood, shook off his emotion, and resumed work mode, “Look for the ship's logs, we need to find out what went down here.”

Louie nodded.

Hank knew where to look. In his mind, he figured that the state of cleanliness on the bridge was done entirely by Captain Elway, who must have locked himself in the bridge to avoid whatever killed the crew. Once there, from Hank knew of his old friend, he would have logged everything and then cleaned up. If he was to be found dead, he would be found dead neatly. The logs were placed in chronological order on the table at the center of the room. “Found 'em,” Hank told Louie.

He opened up the latest log, which was dated only the day before, “I have run dry of options just as I have run dry of food and water. At my side is old my old revolver, the only thing never to fail me. I feel as though I have no choice but to use it. There is no help for me or the Plymouth Dawn. We are doomed. I am doomed. For whoever finds this, please read my logs and know what happened. Then get off this ship. Run. There is little of value here and it is not worth your life. Run. I have no choice but to flee. I am fleeing from life itself. I have run dry of options. Captain Daniel Elway signing off.”

Hank took a deep breath. The death of a friend stung. “Let's find out what-”

“Captain!” Liam's voice burst over the radio. “We've got a problem down here! We need immediate assistance!”

“Whoa, what's wrong?”

“We've got dozens of monsters closing in on us! No telling how many! We need assistance ASAP!”

“We're on our way.”

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