Let  Go

by

Sean Branigan

 

 

Consciousness returned to him slowly, like fine fingers of fog filtering through dark city streets. With the consciousness came confusion.

What had happened? Where was he?

Then the memory came back: the explosion, the horrifying sound of a hull splitting open--the terrifying, gut wrenching feel of hundreds, no, thousands of gallons of water pouring through the wound in Seaview’s hull--his frantic race to the hatchway and his desperate scrambling to close the hatch and save his ship.

His head was pounding and when he reached up to touch his temple, his fingers came away stained with blood. That’s when his vision waffled, telescoping in and out. It was hard to tell if the lights were getting dimmer or his vision was fading.

Closing his eyes, Lee braced his back against the bulkhead, suddenly feeling the pain. In the rush to save his ship, Lee had ignored the messages his body was sending him until it could no longer be denied. He slid down the bulkhead till he was sitting on the floor and wrapped both hands around his left leg.

Warm blood poured from the wound. The gash seem to start mid thigh and ended somewhere just above his knee. Lee was no fool. He knew this time he couldn’t beg his way out of Jamie’s clutches. He needed help soon, before he bled out. He wasn’t ready to let go. Not yet.

Lee glanced around, trying to remember this particular hold. There had to be a mike somewhere. He spotted it on the far end of the hold. It couldn’t have been more than six feet away but it felt more like six miles. He clawed and pulled himself to his feet, lurching for the opposite side of the hold.

He couldn’t stay on his feet. The blood loss, the pain in his leg crawling up his body like some kind of living thing feeding off his agony, everything conspired to keep Lee from calling out for help. He collapsed in a heap on the floor, two feet away from the mike.

~*~*~*~*~

Admiral Nelson paced the control room, unable to stay in one spot. Lee was missing and so far none of the search parties had been able to locate him. The last time anybody had seen him, he’s been down on C deck, right before explosion.

What if Lee was dead?. No. It wasn’t possible. Lee Crane had more lives than a Siamese cat. He’d come through one impossible situation after another. He couldn’t be dead. Nelson refused to believe it. He refused to let go of hope.

Chip’s voice pulled Nelson out of his thoughts. “Sir, damage control reports a sealed hold on the other side of the breach on C deck. If Lee is anywhere, he’s probably in there.”

Nelson spun around to face the exec. “Then why the devil doesn’t the man answer us? The least he can do is tell us where the blazes he’s gotten to,” Nelson snapped.

Chip couldn’t answer that. Tormented by the very same question, he knew that something was keeping Lee from reporting his condition. Nelson was on his way out of the control room. Chip followed. If Lee was dead, he couldn’t let the admiral face that on his own.

~*~*~*~*~

“The door is jammed sir. The whole corridor is out of square now and the hatch is jammed tight,” Sharkey said, his dark eyebrows furrowed in concern.

Nelson wasn’t accepting that as an excuse. “I don’t care if we have to blow the door off it’s hinges. I want the hatch opened, no excuses. Get on it Chief!”

Sharkey jumped as if slapped and almost saluted. “Yes sir! I’ll have the hatch cracked in five minutes!”

Meanwhile Chip was shouldering the door, ramming it with all his strength. The wheel was unlocked but the chief was right, the corridor had to be out of line and the frame of the hatch was now warped. The door wasn’t going to open for him.

“Step back, son, let the chief in there,” Nelson said with a hand on his shoulder. Chip did as ordered, letting Sharkey in to set the explosives.

In a few minutes, the explosives were set and the three took shelter behind the corner. With a nudge from Nelson, Sharkey detonated the charge.

Smoke filled the corridor as Chip and Nelson rushed forward. Nelson hit the hatch with everything in his build and the door creaked open, the hinges protesting loudly.

Nelson stopped in mid step, Chip almost running him down. He heard the sharp intake of breath from the younger man as both men took in the figure of the man on the floor.

A finger of blood trickled down the right side of Lee’s face, his normally olive completion almost bleached. The reason was clear.

The wide swath of blood on the floor could only have come from the cut on Lee’s leg. His trouser leg was soaked with it. The widening pool of blood reflected back the crimson reflection of Harriman, staring in disbelief. Nelson felt his own knees give out and he fell to Lee’s side, peeling back one eyelid to look into Lee’s staring eye. He was aware of Chip on the mike, calling for medical help but beyond that Nelson wasn’t paying attention. Lee might be dying. He couldn’t have that, not when they had been so close.

“Lee, son, hold on for me. Listen to me, I need you to hold on, that’s an order,” Nelson pleaded. He put his hand under Lee’s dark curls and lifted his head up, hoping for a response. Lee’s dark lashes fluttered and he shifted his head back and forth as he tried to climb back to consciousness.

“Admiral?” Crane’s weak voice asked.

“Don’t talk lad. We’ll get you to sickbay.” The relief in Nelson’s voice leaked out.  Chip heard it, but was wise enough to keep it to himself. Nelson and Lee had a bond not of brotherhood, but something more. Not for the first time, Chip was reminded of the bond between father and son.

“I…I wasn’t sure…if you’d find me. Is Seaview safe?” Lee managed. He seemed unable to open his eyes, the blood loss and trauma having taken a deep toll on him. Nelson glanced up at Chip. In his worry about Lee, he hadn’t really paid attention to the progress reports.

Chip nodded. “The breach is sealed and we’ll be surfacing as soon as we get ballast control back. Should be any minute now.”

Lee nodded weakly. One hand found strength to reach up and wrap around Nelson’s own wrist.

“Good. She’s safe. I couldn’t… forgive myself…if something happened…to you, or Chip…I had to try and seal the seal the hold. Was only trying to keep Seaview safe.”

That was typical Lee, giving his last breath for his friends and his lady. Nelson didn’t have the words to answer. As Jamieson arrived with an army of corpsmen, Harriman stepped back, but Lee didn’t release his grip on Nelson’s wrist. Jamieson noticed and raised an eyebrow.

“Doesn’t look like he’s ready to let go, Admiral."

Nelson couldn’t stop the dry chuckle as even Chip had to smile. “No, it doesn’t look that way. He’s not the only one.”

 

End.

 

 

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Contents Page
Main Page