Pass the Pen
Part Three - Resist it, Let It Not Be So
"Jack's missed you, boy...."
That old, all-too-familiar kinking of my stomach was back.
was the shrinking of my soul, a reaction so well-practised from too
many times hearing that tone of voice from a regular tormentor. By
virtue of nothing more than instinct, my body made its usual attempt
to close in on itself, in some unconscious and futile effort to make
myself invisible to my predator.
But that tack had never worked before, and I knew that it was
certainly not going to work now.
And suddenly, somehow I realised that I would never try it again.
Years of pain, fear, degradation, horror, and self-blame for
had been inflicted upon me suddenly came to a boil inside of me, and
I knew that their only outlet would be decisive action.
But there was no way on earth I was going to let HIM know that.
least, not YET....
"Mr Simpson... I... I trust you are feeling better, sir?"
lied, feigning my best faux timid voice -- honed from years spent in
the theatres of Drury Lane -- to get him to let down his guard.
As he stepped out of the shadows, I could see, even in the
changing lantern-light, the thinly veiled evil in his eyes. Thinly
veiled indeed, for it was quite obvious that his shuddering house of
cards was already coming down by his own hand. It was no longer
necessary he pretend some malady of the mind, for as far as Jack
Simpson was concerned, he was alone with his favourite prey, and his
hour of victory and twisted pleasure was once more to hand.
Don't bet on it, mate.
"I am quite sure I SHALL be feeling better very soon,
Kennedy," Jack snarled, advancing upon me with a slow,
threatening slink rather than a walk. "Do make me glad I saved
your sorry little hide, Archie, for I should have been very lonely
indeed, had I not done so."
That whoreson would just as soon have left me adrift to be
by the Frogs, had it not suited his purpose to save me, and I full
well knew it. In just a fraction of a moment, all of the horrible
possibilities flashed through my mind, only serving to fuel my anger
all the more. Every step he took toward me gave me time to gather my
Nonetheless, I played the part, and backed with well-acted
measured fear into the far corner of the hold.
Into the dark.
He just had time to see a self-assured, even smug smile on
and I just had time to see confusion, and perhaps a hint of fear, on
his, before I blew out the lantern.
Simpson never even saw my foot coming, but his high-pitched
told me it had found its target. By instinct rather than vision, I
bent over and found his skinny neck, locking it in the crook of my
elbow and pulling his stringy-haired head to my chest, thus choking
off his gasping breaths.
"Ar -- chie... what -- gaaahh... eahhh...."
I could not help but laugh at his pleas, and I released him,
prolong the experience for him. As I heard him tumble to the deck in
the darkness, I again reached for him and pulled him to his feet. He
staggered, and once more I used my instincts to level a punch to his
jaw. He fell over, hitting the planking hard, crying out hoarsely.
"MISTER Simpson," I began triumphantly, closing in
sprawled body, "I have taken your torture for long enough. I
aside my own beliefs that I too might have the right to live a life
free of fear aboard this ship. I have, in the belief that I did not
matter, yielded to you, at great cost to myself. You have made me
believe that *I* was the one who was not good enough to be here.
Well, Mr Midshipman Simpson, I'm here to tell you, that YOU are
the one who is not good enough to be aboard this ship! *I* am TOO
good to be associating with the likes of you, and I am CERTAINLY too
good to have to take your abuse ANY longer!!"
"Mr Kennedy..." I heard him begin, weakly. As if
REALLY going to fall for his act again. Once more I closed in on him
and dragged him roughly to his feet, only to level him again with a
simultaneous kick and punch. And again he hit the deck hard.
This time, he didn't cry out.
Panting with exhaustion, the waning of adrenaline, and perhaps
some exhilaration at having FINALLY done what I'd been aching to
do for far too long, I leaned over to catch my breath and collect
myself. Just then I heard the sound of two or three sets of running
feet, and looked up to see a faint light, increasing in intensity,
even as it bobbed along the companionway walls.
When the feet stopped, I saw a lantern illuminating the shocked
of Horatio, the fainter outlines of Matthews and Styles behind him.
"Archie... what happened? I heard a commotion... Are
"Yes, Horatio, I'm fine..." I straightened and adjusted
my waistcoat. "Yes," I repeated. "I'm FINALLY
But even as I spoke, Hornblower moved a couple of steps closer
extended the lantern, bathing a larger area of the room with a wider,
if shifting, beam of light.
And illuminating the form of Jack Simpson, lying on the deck.
Lying VERY still.
To be continued...