Confusion After Mayhem
WHN from Kowalski’s point of view- Phantom episodes)
Nikolai Kowalski, or Ski to his friends and co-workers, was very
confused. Still!! It had been three days; the skipper was finally on the
mend—he would live!-and no one had explained anything. Chief Sharkey
didn’t know anything; the junior khakis didn’t even know anything.
Scuttlebutt was flying rampant. Who was the girl they had dropped off on
an island two days ago? Why was the admiral running around the boat scot
free? Why the heck was the OOM so flipped out about the captain?
After all, he had tried to kill Crane. Last
of all, Kowalski thought, why am I
standing here like a blithering idiot?
Doc had said one of them could come visit Crane this evening and since
he was a senior rate, it had naturally fallen to him. So here he was
outside the sickbay door hesitating. Like some goof ball. Ski took a
deep breath and reached for the door handle. He turned it gently, not
wanting to wake the skipper if he was sleeping. Doc told him he had been
keeping the captain under those first couple days but had backed off on
all but the most necessary pain meds today. The skipper didn’t like
taking that junk anyway, but still….
That had been quite a bad gut shot. And that brought the
questions again. How had the skipper been able to get around with that
slug in him? Scuttlebutt talked about possession by Krueger. For that
matter, the same scuttlebutt artists were saying that about the admiral.
had to admit that it made sense if Krueger came back as a ghost after he
had been killed. It had certainly wigged him out when he had shot him
and he just vanished. Understatement—he freaked. He didn’t remember
much after that, but it gave him the willies to even think about it. The
German was weird from the get-go. Made his skin crawl just to be in the
same room with him. Even
before things got crazy.
mentally shrugged it off. The sick bay was dimly lit, the skipper the
only resident. Frank was on duty, but Ski knew Doc was nearby. “Here
to see the skipper if I can,” he whispered.
nodded. “He was awake a few minutes ago. Probably still is.”
hesitant steps, the rate walked over to the rack where Crane had almost
died. The captain’s eyes were open and he nodded to Ski. Tubes seemed
to be everywhere, giving the skipper all he needed while his body
healed. Antibiotics, saline to replenish what bleeding had depleted,
blood transfusions, liquid breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the pain
meds. Ski had been a medic for a while, too. He knew the drill.
Ski,” the skipper said as he hesitated.
were worried about you, sir,” he blurted. “Me and the guys. All of
us…. No one was saying nothing….”
know,” Crane replied, trying to shift around to get comfortable. He
winced and bit his lip.
okay. These racks are about as comfortable as a bed of nails.” He
sighed and closed his eyes.
a couple of minutes, Ski was beginning to think the skipper had fallen
asleep. “Well, we just wanted to tell you that we’re all pullin’
for you, sir.” He turned away.
hand reached out and grabbed him by the wrist. “It’s important for
you to know….” he said. His eyes bored into Ski’s and the rate
thought he knew what an insect specimen felt like pinned to a board.
admiral. Why the admiral . . . “
you? He tried to kill you, sir. We were there.”
know. But he had to.”
thought I heard you say something like that when you came back aboard.
But why? Why did he have to shoot you?”
“The admiral went nuts.”
Crane shook his head.
“Well, sir, he sure had been acting
weird since Krueger came on board.”
“Krueger.” The captain shuddered and
“Skipper, I can come back later. After
you’ve rested.” So he
and the admiral weren’t the only ones spooked by that creepy German.
“No, Ski. You need to know, and then
the rest of the crew will understand.”
“Okay, sir.” He grabbed a chair with
his free hand. For someone in such bad shape, the OM had a cast iron
grip. As though Crane could read his mind, he released Kowalski’s
“It was Krueger, but not the way you
think. What do you think caused our loss of power that put us on the
bottom and cut our air supply?”
“Just before the admiral shot you?”
“I don’t know, sir. No one ever
figured that one out either, as far as I know.”
“Krueger? But, but how? Krueger was
dea . . .” It hit him. The
scuttlebutt. Krueger had come back to haunt them. “Krueger was a
“Yes.” The captain seemed to be
struggling to stay awake.
“You sure you want to keep talking,
Skipper? You seem awfully tired.”
There was another nod, and then Crane
continued. “Krueger was a
ghost. From the beginning.”
Ski felt like he had been sucker
punched. He sat down. “Even when we picked him up?”
“So he possessed the admiral and made
him shoot you. Jeez, that explains a lot.” Then he stopped and
remembered something else Crane had said when he was brought aboard. *
“You thanked the admiral. Why?”
Crane smiled softly. “I thought I did,
but it is so hard to remember everything that happened after I got to
the island.” There was a pause.
“Captain, Doc says you can have
another shot for pain if you need it,” Frank interrupted.
Personally, Ski thought Crane looked
like he was in a world of hurt, but he wasn’t saying anything. Frank
backed off, but the set of the medic’s mouth told him it wouldn’t be
“Ski, the admiral shot me because if
he hadn’t, we’d all be dead on the bottom now.”
Ski’s mind was whirling. It was a
ghost who had shut down all the systems, put them on the bottom and
sucked all the air out of the ventilation? But why? What had Crane done
“It was either me or the whole
crew.” Crane bit his lip. “I understood that when Krueger possessed
me in sick bay and forced me to do what he wanted.”
“So the admiral wasn’t possessed or
crazy when he nailed you?”
“Unless you count the craziness of
being forced to shoot a friend, a colleague.” Crane paused for a
moment. “Do you understand, Ski?”
“I think so, Skipper.” He still had
questions. “That was how you were able to act like nothing had
happened? Krueger had taken you over. The bullet didn’t bother him or
“I was near death. Krueger had control
over my body without having to fight for it. He could use me to do
anything he wanted.”
“So that’s why he did all that crap.
He wanted a body.”
“Yesss,” Crane hissed, grimacing at
“You want that shot now, Skipper?”
“In a minute, Ski. Do you understand
why the admiral did . . . why he had to shoot me?”
Frank showed up at the bedside again.
“No arguments, sir, or I may have to get Doc.”
“Another minute,” Crane implored
even as the medical assistant put the medication into an IV tube.
“That is probably all you have before
you conk out, Skipper.” To Ski, he said, “You’ve just about worn
out your welcome anyway, Ski. You’ll have to come back later.”
“Kowalski, do you understand?” Crane
“Not everything, but I understand what
the admiral did. And Mr.
Morton must have, too, or else he wouldn’t have let him go.”
“Yes,” Crane answered with a tired
smile. “Thank God he did, too.”
“Or the admiral couldn’t have come
“No. I . . . Krueger would still have
control over me. In my mind; controlling my body…. Abusing that
girl.” The skipper was having a hard time keeping his eyes open.
“The admiral did what . . . he had to do . . . for you . . . for the
crew.” Crane’s eyes closed and his breathing deepened.
Ski didn’t say anything for a moment;
just stared at the sleeping man.
“Wow, Ski. I was wondering what was
going on,” Frank said at his shoulder. “I don’t think I could have
“What? Shoot a friend, or thank your
friend for almost killing you?” Kowalski murmured.
“Yeah, I see what you mean.”
“Okay, you two, out!” Dr. Jamison
Both men jumped. Ski hadn’t heard the
CMO come in.
“I’ll take over now, Frank. You get
some rack time. You can take your next shift when you bring in some
breakfast for both of us tomorrow.”
“Yes, sir!” Frank grabbed
Kowalski’s sleeve and jerked him out the door.
Jamison read his assistant’s notes and
then checked out his patient. The captain would get well. It’d take a
bit of time and recuperation at the medical facility in Pearl, but
he’d be back in charge in the not too distant future. He turned to the
shadowed corner of the medical bay. “And how are you doing,
Nelson silently slid out of a rack,
stretching, trying to ease the ache of old bones that had stiffened
while he kept his vigil on Lee. He stood next to Commander Jamison,
rubbing his sleep deprived eyes and gazed at his friend. “He did
understand. I wondered if I had heard him right.”
“You heard him. And now the crew
understands,” Jamison replied with a smile. “No luckier crew exists
on the face of the earth, Admiral….”
Nelson said nothing. He continued to
watch the sleeping man and wonder….
Memoirs and Memories was the story I did as a WHN to The Return
of the Phantom. It was mainly from Nelson’s point of view. I am not
pretending to have every nuance of that story and this in balance. This
story just got typed as it came to my mind. Then I re-watched the two
phantom episodes again. (That was a hard task—not!!!)
But I did not fine-tooth-comb go back over my Memoirs story
again. (Even with all the time of late sitting in a hospital room with
my husband, I wasn’t able to do that.) So any mistakes in continuity
between my two stories are mine.