Foam on the Large Wave
(Fisi 'o e nauaoam)
La’ani slipped through the corridor toward the
kitchen, carefully cradling the pouch containing the mysterious bottles
against her body. It was very
quiet. She didn’t even hear
the American behind her and she turned to check.
He wasn’t there. Lee
had been right behind her, but for some reason had not followed her
through the door. She padded
back to the door to the laboratory where she heard a muffled cry of pain
and the sound of scuffling. She
found Teva standing over Lee, his fist ready to strike.
His back was to her and she rushed to the two men, grabbing a rod
from the floor. She didn’t
hesitate; La’ani swung, hitting Teva on the back of the head.
The guard fell next to Lee. The American didn’t move, but
continued to lay huddled at the base of the table, eyes tightly closed.
He was biting his lower lip, but his face was suffused with pain.
“Lee,” she said, touching him on the arm.
“No, please, don’t touch it,” he moaned.
“Lee,” she repeated.
He seemed to hear her for the first time and
realize who it was. “La’ani,
promise me you’ll get those vials to a doctor,” he murmured.
Then his voice became more fervent, even anxious.
“Promise me, La’ani.”
“We will both get them to a doctor, or to your
Admiral Nelson,” she assured him.
He laughed bitterly.
“No, not me,” he said and then paused to suck in a deep breath.
He swallowed hard and continued, “Can’t see, think my arm’s
broken, burned hand. Sick as
“Lee, I will not leave you here with Mendon or
the leader. I saw what the
leader did to my father and brother.
I have seen what the evil one has done since he came here.
I vowed never to let something like that happen again, but I did.
I was afraid and others, including the other American, died.”
“I’ll hold you back.
Liability,” Crane said.
La’ani helped him sit up.
He let her, but didn’t make any other move, nor did he open his
eyes. “No, Lee.
Broken arms, burns heal. Those
vials have the cure for the other things.
Come, let us get out of here before Mamala comes to cook
For another moment, he sat quietly, then he sighed
and smiled. “Yeah, I guess
I’d really like to disappoint Mendon.”
With La’ani’s help, Lee slowly got to his feet.
She gathered up the container and then took Lee’s good arm,
guiding him out of the room. He
seemed to gain a measure of strength as they continued, but still their
pace was excruciatingly slow. The
kitchen was dark, but La’ani knew it well.
The American pulled out of her grasp and she
turned to him. “Darker in
here. Can see a little
bit,” he whispered. He had
placed his still numb arm into his waistband, immobilizing the arm.
He noticed her looking at him.
“Thank you,” he said.
“I have done nothing that I shouldn’t have
done for so many of my kinsmen in the past,” she replied.
“No, thank you for making me realize something
important,” he said and then he took a deep breath.
“To never give up.”
That startled her.
Given his horrible experiences of the past two weeks…. Had it
been that long, she asked herself? Yes,
given all of that, she didn’t blame him back there in the laboratory for
wanting to give up. Even now,
he appeared to be at the end of his endurance.
“I’ve lived with that for so long . . . never
giving up. I . . . I
had forgotten for a short while.”
She had to think of something to take his mind
from his injuries and sickness. “There
is another reason I am helping you,” she said suddenly as they reached
the door to the storage cavern.
He closed his eyes as she opened the door into the
more brightly lit cavern. “What?”
“I want to see that ship you keep talking
looked puzzled. “You talked about it in your dreams,” La’ani explained.
He nodded. “Quite
a boat,” he murmured. “When
we’re somewhere more safe, I’ll tell you about her.”
She imagined so. That
and a few dreams referring to friends or family had been the only pleasant
ones interspersed with the terrible nightmares the American had
experienced since early in his captivity.
“I look forward to it,” she whispered.
“Now we must be very quiet.
There will be a guard around here somewhere.”
And there was.
She held her breath when he passed by them huddling behind some
boxes. He passed by them
again on his way back to the outside.
Several times she heard Lee stifle moans.
When she whispered that it was clear, he hissed
back, “Let’s get out of here before I do something stupid—like give
“You are doing fine, Lee.”
But she was worried—and afraid.
What would happen to her if they were caught? Then she berated herself.
Her thoughts were unworthy, like the ones she had had when she had
sat by and felt helpless as her brother had been murdered.
And when she had done nothing when her father had been tortured as
well. She had to get Lee out
of here. There would be no
They were fortunate in that they were able to slip
past the guard and into the night without incident.
“We need to get as far as we can before dawn,” she said in his
ear. His good arm was now
draped over her shoulder. La’ani
didn’t know how long she could continue.
His body felt hot and by his own admission, he was very weak. She
only hoped that the grandmother, A’ona Matua, had something to help
him—that is if they made it to the village.
Lee marveled at the girl’s strength and resolve.
And he worried at the danger he posed for her.
He determined to go as far as he could, hoping that his body
didn’t betray them.
The slapping of waves grew louder and louder and
Lee felt the beat of the ocean in the very rocks they were treading on.
It excited him and seemed to give him strength.
Quick glances through almost closed eyelids showed dark water
“We’ll have to swim a very short distance.
Do you think you can do it?” she whispered close to his ear.
“Fine time to ask,” he quipped, a soft chuckle
dying in his throat. He
wondered about his chances, but he certainly wasn’t going to back off
now. “Yeah, because
La’ani, I usually keep my promises.”
She smiled in return.
“Wait, let me check and make sure the guard isn’t coming back
for a while.”
Leaning against the cavern wall, he marveled again
at how well Bomar had kept his activities secret.
La’ani was soon by his side again.
“It’s clear,” she murmured.
“Now I will guide you into the water.
You will probably have to use your burned hand, but the water will
help cool any pain.”
Lee nodded. “Let’s
go while our luck is holding.”
The darkness of night aided, allowing the escapee
to see a little better. He
felt the water buoy him even as it tried to sweep him off his feet. It was warm and nurturing and his mind fleetingly recalled
the times in his boyhood, when he had been at the beach, snorkeling,
swimming. Back before the sea
had been temporarily closed to him. He
brought his attention back to the present.
They waded a little farther and then struck out
beyond the cavern opening. Waves
buffeted him and Lee felt his seditious stomach trying to react. He had never been seasick a day in his life, but if this was
what it was like, he could now sympathize with those who were prone.
He gulped the tangy sea air and then clamped his lips shut.
A larger wave banged against his injured arm and he tasted blood
where he bit his lip too hard, stifling a cry of pain.
“I have another idea,” La’ani said in his
ear. “Brace yourself
against this rock.”
Lee didn’t argue.
He didn’t have the strength to.
The sea that had seemed so beckoning and gentle before had turned
into an enemy. The waves
banged him against the rock or tried to pry him from it.
The salt burned his injured hand, but just as La’ani had said,
the cool water also soothed.
“Lee!” La’ani called out of the darkness.
“Still here,” he replied.
She was close; he heard her sigh of relief.
“If you can hang on, I think this will be better
for you,” she said, now standing beside him.
He touched something wooden. It felt like part of a large crate. It would be like a raft, something like he had occasionally
played on at the Outer Banks with his friends when he was a kid.
But now it wasn’t play. La’ani
had to keep control of it while he was on it.
“Let me help you on it,” she said, her body
rubbing against his whenever a wave washed against them.
Under any other circumstances, he would have found
that pleasurable. Right now,
though, it was merely comforting. Lee
groped for the far edge, waited for a wave to lift him and then he slid on
the raft. It wobbled
precariously under his weight, but La’ani helped him toward the center.
Soon he was balanced. “Thanks,”
he murmured as she pushed the raft further away from the cave entrance.
Lee thought he should be feeling guilty for letting her do all the
work but right now, he felt so damned tired he couldn’t even muster
enough strength to feel anything….
La’ani had always loved the sea; what true
Hikerian didn’t? She had
spent most of her time in the sea when she wasn’t tending to those
things considered in the past to be women’s work, and lately when she
had been assigned to work at the prison.
She now not only had the outrigger from which she fished and
explored, but she had another, larger canoe that she had fitted for a
longer trip—one that would take her from this place of sadness and death
and nightmares. But the
larger canoe, to her shame, had remained only available. She had not yet had the courage to actually leave.
It had been her father’s, lovingly created in the old ways and
polished to a fine luster by its use.
After her father’s death, she had hidden it, worked on it where
the worms had begun to take up residence, and stocked it.
These last months had been so frustrating. Every
time she determined to actually flee the island, something had fed her
fear with excuses and kept the canoe in its secret berth.
Now, though, there was no more room for excuses.
There was the American. She
had to help him get away; and not just from Bomar and Mendon.
She had to get him and the precious vials totally away from Hikeru
“We were wondering if the guards had caught you
both,” came a deep voice nearby.
La’ani started, then relaxed. It was Kana, young son of Auva, the head fisherman.
He was barely fifteen, but already strong enough to haul in
ten-foot sharks with only minimal help.
Ra’ona, Kana’s cousin, was with him.
He was the same age, but somewhat smaller in build.
“The American is very sick and couldn’t
Even in the dark, Kana cast a critical eye at the
escaped prisoner. “Why this
risk, La’ani?” he asked. “This
one is fit to die and the Leader will tear the island apart looking for
“If for no other reason than to stir that evil nest that is
defiling our island.”
La’ani couldn’t agree more, but in her case,
there was more. She had to
save Lee. She had to do more
than she had done or been able to do for her own father and brother.
“He has shown great courage against the evil one,” was all she
“And you like him,” Kana teased, pushing the
raft along with ease.
La’ani said nothing.
Yes, she liked him, but not the way that Kana seemed to be
thinking. She saw a tinge of
pink in the eastern sky. “We
must get him to safety before the sun rises,” she reminded them.
“You do realized that the Leader will spare
nothing in looking for this American,” Ra’ona repeated seriously.
“Yes, I know,” La’ani said.
“But we agreed to this. All
of us who also vowed to protect the grandmother agreed to help me get him
away from the prison.”
“I know. This
madness must stop,” Kana declared.
“How in the world can we get him away from Hikeru, though? How can we contact his people?”
“He seems to think that despite the odds against
it, his friend, Admiral Nelson will eventually find him.”
“This admiral had better hurry, La’ani,”
Kana said, half serious, half in a jesting manner.
“Or there won’t be anyone to save.”
“He’s tougher than you think,” she said
Kana chuckled, his voice barely heard above the
more sedate slapping of the waves against their bodies.
“We shall see. But
we have to hurry if we are going to reach the cave before daylight.”
All three of them took turns by alternately pushing and pulling the
tiny raft with its unconscious cargo.
Just before the sun rose above the horizon, the three conspirators
saw the canoes of the fisherman heading past the reef to open waters. They pulled the raft into a tiny, well-hidden cove.
Kana pulled the American off.
“He is bigger than I am, but I should still be able to carry him.
Ra’ona, break up the wood and bring it.
We’ll need firewood deep in the cave.”
Lee groaned softly when Kana shifted him, but
stayed unconscious. La’ani
couldn’t help but think that was a very good thing.
|Foam on the Large Wave Prologue|
|Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Contents|