Foam on the Large Wave

 

(Fisi 'o e nauaoam)

 

 

 

  Chapter 13

 

 

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 hell.”

“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 breakfast.” 

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 about—Seaview.”  He 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.”

La’ani smiled.  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 away.” 

“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 other chance.

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 ahead. 

“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 somehow. 

“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 swim.”

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 him.”

Ra’ona snorted.  “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 said.

“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 hotly.

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.”

La’ani nodded.  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. 

 

 

Chapter 14
Foam on the Large Wave Prologue
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Contents
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