Unaware he had fallen asleep, he hit the deck with a solid ‘thud’. Thrown from his rack by extreme movement of the ship, he awoke with a shock, immediately to have another man land on him, having been thrown from the rack above his own.
Crawling around in the dark mess space, he was initially disorientated, both to time and location.
“Fucking sword me, what sea state are we in?” he heard spoken just behInd him.
“Christ only knows. Is everyone alright?” was the reply from somewhere to his left.
Only now did he realise that the majority of off watch PO’s were scattered on the deck around him. All having landed as he did, in a tangle on the deck between racks, and for the most part, having been landed on, as he had, by men in other racks.
“What time is it?” he heard himself call out.
“About 0300.” came the reply.
“Have any alarm’s been sounded?” was spoken from somewhere in front of him.
“Don’t think so.”
“Righto, I’m lashing myself in, and getting my head down.” he said, and he did.
Once more face down in his pit. Clinging to his matress, a sound, not once heard prior upon this particular ship snuck into his semi-conscious state. Something that sounded like a mixture of scratching and tapping drew his attention.
Looking around, he realised he was back in the Damage Control Locker hiding.under bear suits. The scratching sounded as though it was coming from the other side of the bulkhead behind him.
Screwing up his courage, the PO slowly opened the locker door. Looking up and down the empty companionway, he began to make his way back below decks toward the engine room. Half way down a stairwell, the noise he heard whilst in the DC locker, started again. This time with more urgency, and put him in mind of someone imprisoned, trying to get out of a locked compartment. Knowing that stopping to investigate could well be to his utmost detriment, he paused to think, yet deciding to continue in that direction, and possibly freeing someone; someone that would most likely be an ally.
A wheel spanner pinned the dog down on the water tight door, effectively locking it shut to anyone on the other side. Sliding it out of place, as quietly as possible, the PO kept a firm grip on it as he opened the dogs, gently swinging the door toward him. As with the cable locker, his first place as a captive aboard the hellish vessel, the interior was completely dark. Running his hand up and down the bulkhead, just inside the door, he found what he hoped was a light switch. Flicking it on, the lights flashed into total illumination.
The compartment before him was an office of sorts. Desk, chair, filing cabinets, and the like were the first things he saw. Sadly acknowledging and absence of computer, or anything other than the vessels internal phone. Stepping in, he pulled the door shut behind him, dogging it as he had found it, albeit sans wheel spanner. Looking around the space, he took in the naked teenage boy, and vomited. The first thing he noted was that the boy was local in appearance, and had been tied hand and foot, with a short chain running to an eyebolt that had been screwed to the bulkhead at roughly eye height. Dried blood and what he hoped wasn’t feacal matter was smeared over the captives legs. Stepping toward the boy, he half expected him to scream or cower; he did neither. He just stood as best he could. Unable to sit or hang by his hands, his semiconscious eyes remained downcast. It wasn’t until he went to untie him that the PO discovered that the lad wasn’t just tied hand and foot. With his wrists pressed together, heavy wire had been forced front to back, between the bones in his arm. From there, the wire had been looped around tightly around his wrists; the ends twisted tightly around each other, with the ends snipped. His ankles were the same. Infection at the wounds inflicted by the wire was rife. Bright pink and grotesquely swollen, pus had crusted around the wounds and he couldn’t work out how to release him without a set of pliers, and cutting the wires. The smell, he realised, was atrocious.
Wanting to help the boy, but not knowing how, had the PO speaking quietly,. Reassuringly, to the lad. Telling him he would return with pliers and water as soon as he could. Whether the boy heard him, or even cared, he didn’t know.
And he left, exited the compartment, and made his way aft. Not realising he would never see the boy alive again.
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