Foam on the Large Wave
(Fisi 'o e nauaoam)
La’ani carried the tray with the prisoners’
dinners. It had already grown
dark outside, but the lights made it noonday bright.
She smiled. Before the
prisoner’s escape, there were almost no lights.
It was too expensive for many lights.
Until today the guards had been on double shift as well, but the
prisoner had been so drugged the last several days that he had been a
threat to no one but himself. Or
perhaps the guard that ventured too close to his flailing fists.
And the few other prisoners? They were too tired from each day’s work to try anything.
Lately, they had been even more compliant.
La’ani thought that the example of the American’s fate had
cowed them even more than previous threats of horrible punishments had.
What had been whispered about in the past six months had now proved
to be real. Even in her
village, everyone was subdued and afraid.
The other prisoners looked toward her only as
their source of food and water, not as a former friend or even as a
possible means of escape. With
slight hesitation, she slipped back the locking bar and opened the
American’s door. She
wondered if he was still possessed of the demons of his dreams? Off
and on for more than three days he had been taken to the room of torture.
This evening, though, he had been very quiet, with only occasional
outbursts. It was getting
late and his was the last dinner to give out.
She was afraid of him. He
had given all of the guards bruises, what would he do to her?
The previous meals had been shoved through a slight crack in the
door, with a guard no further than the next hallway.
Tonight the guards were absent, presumably taking their own dinners
with Mamala in the kitchen. What
if the prisoner was waiting by the door, ready to pounce on her?
La’ani drew in a tremulous breath. If he tried something, she could scream.
Then she felt ashamed of herself.
The man was more to be pitied than feared.
When she had told the old woman in the village about him, A’ona
Matua had told her that she should not be afraid of him.
He would not hurt her. A’ona
Matua had never been wrong about the things she had seen in her dreams or
the feelings of her heart. La’ani
would trust in the old woman’s instincts.
Carefully, she pulled back the door bolt and peered inside.
The light was already dim, but she could see a vague outline in the
corner of the room. As
her eyes became used to the muted light, she saw him raise his head.
The man sucked in a ragged breath and gazed
fearfully at her. “Please,”
he whispered. “No more.”
His back pressed more closely to the wall of his cell.
La’ani was amazed. He was more afraid of her as
she was of him. She
remembered the first time they had met during his escape attempt.
There had been no fear then. It
was the evil one. He had done
this. “You do not have to be afraid of me,” she said soothingly, still
standing in the door way in case he became violent.
At the sound of her voice, he studied her with
something closer to curiosity, although there was still fear. Several minutes passed and La’ani wondered if she should
just leave the packet of food and flagon of water on the floor and go.
The fear seemed to slowly disappear. “I
know,” he said softly. His
voice was hoarse, probably from the constant crying out during his
nightmares. “I recognize
you now.” He hesitated.
“At first I thought you were something, uh, someone else.”
“Like one of the giant monsters of Moana’s
realm?” she asked, flashing him a smile to reassure him.
He closed his eyes and she heard a soft moan
before he spoke again. “Don’t
laugh,” he said bitterly, looking at the ground.
“I have seen a great deal these past few years.
I didn’t need anything from Dr. Doom to enhance reality.”
Suddenly, La’ani was no longer afraid of this
American. She couldn’t
explain it; just that it was so.
“I’m sorry,” she said quickly, stepping to his side.
“I didn’t mean to sound as though I was laughing at you.”
He started at her approach and then he sighed.
“I know you didn’t,” he replied, his features softening
“My name is La’ani,” she told him, reaching
out and touching him on the arm.
He flinched when she spoke her name, but then he
looked at her hand in the dim light and then into her eyes. “That’s a very pretty name.
I, uh . . . once knew someone whose name was close to yours.
My name is Lee.”
“I have heard the evil one call you captain,”
she said. “You are an
American fighting man?”
“Something like that although I don’t think
I’m doing much fighting now,” he replied with a soft smile.
There was no humor there, she noted.
He looked over her shoulder as though listening.
She listened as well, but heard nothing.
“How long?” he asked, his voice almost a whisper.
She was puzzled at first, then it dawned on her to
what he was referring. “You
have been in here most of the past three days, and there were several days
before that. And you were in
the Leader’s house for a day, I was told.”
“I remember those early days—a little,” he
said, gazing at her curiously. “Aren’t
you afraid you’ll get in trouble talking to me?” he asked.
“I have talked to prisoners often,” she said
defiantly, even though she knew he was right.
She would need to leave soon.
He smiled. Even
as unkempt and bruised as he was, with a dark growth of beard, the
American was still handsome. And
there was a tiny spark of humor to offset the haunted look in his eyes.
“But I seem to be a special case.”
“Yes, you seem to be,” she said, remembering her father and
brother in this horrible place. They
had been special cases, too, but for a different reason.
“I will still give greetings as I do others,” she replied, this
time feeling defiant as well as sounding that way.
She had a sudden impulse to reach over and take his hand-- he
seemed so cut-off. She
jerked back when he bit off a cry of pain.
La’ani reached out again, but this time she gently turned his
hand over and examined it. Lee
had been given the same brand that all who defied the leader were given.
“I’m sorry. I
didn’t realize . . . although I should have,” she ended cynically.
“Common, eh?” he asked, cradling his hand when
she had let go.
La’ani could only nod.
She picked up the leaf-wrapped rice and pineapple balls and handed
them to him. Instead of
merely grabbing the food from her hands as some of the prisoners did, the
American wrapped his good hand around hers.
He gazed deeply into her eyes.
“Thank you, La’ani, for your kindness, and for giving me these
few minutes of enjoyment.” Then
he gently pulled away taking the food with him.
She set down the small plastic jug and backed
away. “Goodnight,” was
all she could think to say.
“Well, my friend, it would seem that you are
being most uncooperative,” Mendon said pleasantly on the morning of the
Figuring by now that talk was wasted on Mendon,
Lee kept quiet. His mind was
still foggy. Despite the fact
that he had not been given any drugs last night, his sleep had still been
restless. Vividly horrible
creatures and equally nasty enemies had walked through the corridors of
his mind. At least that’s what he thought had happened.
It always seemed so real.
He remembered La’ani. She
was real. He knew that. Her touch, her voice had come to him when he thought there
was nothing pleasant in the world anymore.
“Well, at the very least, my drug therapy has
had the advantage of helping you keep a civil tongue in your head,
Again, Crane said nothing.
What could he say? Mendon
was going to shoot him up with whatever he chose anyway. It was all going to start again.
Then he realized that the other reason he didn’t say anything was
because he was afraid. He was
so afraid he would begin to beg or offer something that wasn’t his to
give if he even opened his mouth.
His hands trembled and he wasn’t able to gather enough control to
stop that manifestation of his fear.
“I think today, we’ll try something a bit
different,” Mendon continued as though discussing something on the menu
of a high-class restaurant. Mendon
looked too happy. Lee felt
the trembling intensify. The
scientist went over to a cabinet and opened it.
There were about a dozen vials on each of four different shelves. He muttered to himself as he picked through them.
“These are most promising,” he said, his voice cheerful.
Crane felt the fingers of dread working up and
down his spine, but there was nothing he could do as Na’alu had a big,
beefy hand on one shoulder.
Mendon walked over to Lee with one of the vials in
his hand. “Do you wonder
that I have no hypodermic today, Captain?”
Mendon laughed, even though Lee was still saying nothing. “It’s because this is meant to be consumed as a drink.
Mixed with water this becomes a very quick acting bio-chemical
Lee couldn’t help it.
He stared at the small vial in horror.
“You think this is the danger, Captain?
This small container you can see?”
Mendon laughed again. “No,
the danger is the way the contagion inside is delivered.
In a water treatment plant. In
a water storage tank. In a
small jug of water….” Mendon’s
voice trailed off leaving his meaning very clear.
Crane had only just finished his breakfast,
washing it down with the small flagon of water that all the prisoners got
in the morning. He had saved
a little for washing his face and hands.
When he was lucid, the captain felt filthy.
He didn’t remember the last time he had taken a shower.
Everything had seemed very normal when he got his breakfast from
one of the guards. Now?
Now there was a new game in hell.
The scientist turned to Na’alu. “Go get your own breakfast.
He isn’t going to do a thing.”
When the Polynesian had left, Mendon smirked. “Now, to the real issue.
The other reason I have so enjoyed using you for a test subject.”
Mendon gazed at Lee and apparently liked what he was seeing.
“My biggest problem has always been the sharp taste of the agent.
It’s very hard to disguise the chemical that I have bonded to the
biological agent, especially in water.
As you know, if you want to deliver something like that to an
entire population, precision becomes paramount.”
Mendon stopped his explanation and studied his prisoner.
“You are obviously wondering what a biological agent has to do
with the information in your head.”
Mendon grinned. “Well, Captain, since you are going to die benefiting
my leader, you might as well benefit me, too.
This is not just for getting a piece of information that some
intelligent person would eventually figure out anyway.
This is also for the science of revenge, or more appropriately my
personal jihad.” Mendon
spoke as one who had been isolated for too long; someone who had to
discuss his discoveries with another individual, no matter who that person
was. “While I am doing the
Leader’s bidding, I am also developing my own weapon.
And there is no block for what I plan on unleashing.
You, Captain Crane, are the first to help me develop these
biochemicals for distribution.”
Lee had to work hard to squelch the horror
creeping through his body; paralyzing his mind even more than the previous
day’s drugs. He was still afraid, so afraid, but he had to find out
more, then do what Mendon seemed to think he couldn’t do—escape.
He had to push away his fear; ignore the demons that dwelt in his
head. That bit of
determination seemed to clear his head.
Still, there was a quaver in his voice when he spoke, “If . . .
if you have given me some kind of contagion, what keeps you, or anyone
else from getting it?” Lee
figured this wasn’t really a contagion, but he didn’t want to chance
“Captain Crane, I thought you were highly
intelligent. I said this was
an agent, not a contagion. But
I am working on a contagion, one that will be a much more effective
instrument.” He turned and
walked away a few paces, toward another cabinet.
“And do you think me so stupid as to develop my biological or
chemical weapons without having the antidotes?”
As he turned to face Lee again, his eyes lingered on the second
cabinet for a second or two.
Lee kept his face as bland as he could, trying to
not only mask his suspicions, but also the pain that was spreading through
“Feeling it, Captain?”
Crane continued to try maintaining his even
expression, but he didn’t think he was successful.
Mendon walked back toward him. Then he laughed. “Yes,
it has begun. You are trying
to hide it but it’s there. I
will escort you to the door, Captain.
And please remember, despite my size, I am more than a match for
Crane was well aware of that fact, so he didn’t
fight it when Mendon took him by the arm and dragged him from the chair.
It was hard, though. Even
the merest touch of his torturer wanted to make him pull away and cringe
in a corner. He felt even
filthier than he had before.
At the door, Mendon called out, “Take him to his
cell. He will remain there
for the next eight hours, then I want to examine him.
I have much to do with this agent,” he said, more to himself than
to Lee or the guard. “It
needs to be more subtle, take a bit longer to develop more fully in the
victim before they realize what’s hit them.
Wouldn’t want anyone running for medical help before the agent
was able to do its job.”
Lee continued to keep a straight face as Na’alu
led him to his cell, but once there, door bolted, he fell to his knees,
doubled over in agony. He
remained that way most of the day, after barely making it to the tiny
lavatory to rid himself of his breakfast.
Sometime much later, he managed to crawl into his cot.
The darkness of his room became a little darker
before he was conscious of anything other than his own misery. The denizens of this mind still visited him, but they were no
match for the terrible pain that ravaged his body and the ever-present
nausea. Crane had only
vaguely been aware of the fact that a guard had dragged him to the
laboratory earlier for Mendon to run tests and gloat.
Now he felt his burned hand pulled out from under his tightly
curled body and wondered what new horrors awaited.
He didn’t have the strength to fight it.
Then amidst the pain knotting his insides, Lee
felt a soothing coolness on his hand.
He opened his eyes and saw La’ani.
When she saw he was aware of her, she smiled as she rubbed a salve
on his hand.
“What is it?” he asked, then bit his lip as
another wave of pain hit him.
“It’s something my grandmother taught me,”
she said softly. “It is
made from coconuts and other things, too numerous to go into right now.”
Lee pulled in a ragged breath. “Thanks, it feels much better.”
She nodded, rubbing in more of the concoction.
“They told me not to even bother bringing you any dinner, but I
brought some anyway. In case
the sickness is passing.”
Nausea washed over him at the very thought of
food. Shaking his head,
Lee smiled bitterly. “No,
this is no sickness. At least
not a natural one.”
“Teva told me it was not a sickness that others
could catch,” she replied.
Lee nodded. “Teva’s
right. I’m Mendon’s
La’ani looked puzzled.
“Guinea pig?” Then comprehension dawned. “Oh.” Her
dark eyes seemed to cloud with sadness.
“But he’s trying to make sicknesses that can
be spread from one person to another,” Crane whispered.
He felt she had to know this, as it was most likely her friends and
family, the native population that would be experimented on next.
The rubbing on his hand ceased and she stared at
him. “Someone would do
“Deep down in your soul—what do you think?”
Lee asked bluntly.
She lowered her eyes.
“Yes, the Leader is mad for power and greedy for wealth.
The doctor wants something else.”
“Jihad,” he said, his voice ending in a groan
as his insides seemed to tie themselves again into a knot.
“Here, perhaps this juice will help,” La’ani
ventured, holding out a small jug she had pulled from under a sash tied
around her middle.
Lee looked at it dubiously, then took it.
He was intensely thirsty, but to add to what he already felt?
He licked his dry lips. What
the hell, he thought, and took a small sip.
His stomach felt queasy, but not to the extent as before, and he
took another. The flavor
resembled the smell of the salve La’ani had put on his hand.
“Same stuff?” he asked.
“Similar,” she said.
There was a noise in the hallway.
“Keep the jug and drink a little throughout the night,” she
“Thank you, La’ani,” he said. Through the night, he continued take small sips of the island
drink. Though there
were times that his seditious stomach let him know it was still in charge,
Lee didn’t feel the horrible, biting pain that he had felt through the
day. Now that he was
able to do more than feel miserable, he pondered how he could escape.
It wasn’t just a dream to hope for; Lee realized that this was
imperative. He wasn’t
dealing with a power hungry playboy, but also a revenge driven,
conscience-devoid biochemist ready to unleash a plague on humanity, or at
least one part of it.
Lee examined the door again, thinking of the
possibilities and took another small drink from La’ani’s jug. It was small, but it was better than nothing, insofar as a
weapon was concerned. Lying
on his bunk, he pondered, planned and then got up, pushing his pain as far
away as he could, determined to put his plan into action.
|Foam on the Large Wave Prologue|
|Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Contents|