Confusion After Mayhem


Sue K.



(A WHN from Kowalski’s point of view- Phantom episodes)



Edward 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?  

Yesterday 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.  

Ski 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.  

Kowalski 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.  

Frank nodded. “He was awake a few minutes ago. Probably still is.”  

With 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.  

“Hi, Ski,” the skipper said as he hesitated.  

“We were worried about you, sir,” he blurted. “Me and the guys. All of us…. No one was saying nothing….”

“I know,” Crane replied, trying to shift around to get comfortable. He winced and bit his lip.  

“You okay, Skipper?”  

“I’m okay. These racks are about as comfortable as a bed of nails.” He sighed and closed his eyes.  

After 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.

Crane’s 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.   

“Know what, sir?”  

“The admiral. Why the admiral . . . “  

“Shot you? He tried to kill you, sir. We were there.”

“I know. But he had to.”

“I thought I heard you say something like that when you came back aboard. But why? Why did he have to shoot you?”

“What’s scuttlebutt saying?”

“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 groaned.

“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 wrist.

“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?”

Crane nodded.

“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 ghost.”

“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.

“Not yet.”

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 for long.

“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 to Krueger?

“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 you.”

“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 the pain.

“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 repeated.

“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 after you.”

“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 done that.”

“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 ordered.

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, Admiral?”

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.  






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