"Quite the hard man to find you are Mr. Lemaitre. Has it been thre-- no, five times now that we've caught up to you only to watch you slip away by some unimaginably good stroke of fortune. Really, if it wasn't so vexing, I'd have to admit you to be a very impressive individual indeed."
The gentleman bound at the wrists, to a chair bolted into the floor of the ship, smiled modestly; partly because the comment was so obviously laced with his captor's venomous contempt, but also because on the level of introduction, having already embedded himself this deep into the man's thoughts was complimenting -- to him at least. He was right there, nestled just below the subcutaneous, where the nerves fray only superficially, existing as some subconscious malignant irritation that threatened the man's every attempt at maintaining his composure. The two players in this game of cat-and-mouse, stared after each other, both displaying emotions perhaps a tad inappropriate considering their respective positions. On one hand you had a man decorated quite impressively within even the President's political milieu who had committed himself quite exhaustively to the chase of just one individual; and on the other, you had that one unassuming individual who had eluded him for nearly six years. The resources of an entire government task-force were ill-suited at besting this one man, and despite having him secured to a chair on a ship in the middle of the ocean, the detective couldn't deny the precariousness of his detainment. A pursuit nearly six years of age ending in a simple cuff-and-tuck at a Parisian cafe, with one of the government's most sought after paranormal-criminals didn't have the most settling assurance behind it. He was dubious to say the least.
"We both knew your luck would run its course eventually, it was inevitable." The detective said with not as much confirmation as he was hoping to convey. But then again, he didn't quite believe it himself.
"Well, what can I say détective. A man can only so vigorously deny a threat to his life until it becomes a struggle of acceptance. I grew tired."
"So, I'm to assume that the fortuity behind your capture was due to nothing more than a boy running out of gas," the man looked at him suspiciously, almost certain he was letting on to something he had previously intended to withhold.
"I believe that is the extent of it unfortunately, monsieur." He replied though not with the low tone of the disapproved and expression of shame, but rather a boyish grin that bespoke of something nefarious. The facade he had constructed of someone being held captive was so very purposely derelict.
The detective stood from his seat and strode to the door with purpose, exiting momentarily, before reentering with a novel sense of direction. He might have been the one at the head of this chase, but he certainly wasn't the one calling the shots. He coughed ineffectually, getting the attention of the gentleman who had ever-so silently been an observant of the scene, sitting further in the bowels of the room with a book in his hand that he pretended to digest. It was resoundingly clear, however, from his gargantuan stature and the piece tucked in a holster on his backside that reading wasn't his preferred pass-time. When he wasn't exchanging cursory glances with the detective, he would look curiously after the captive, his interest poorly concealed though with Gaspard's reputation around the agency it was hardly unexpected. The man stood as well, shook his joints free of tension before proceeding to the door to motion two others into the room. Both lackeys marched in with several jugs of water in tow, staring curiously at the detainee who returned their glances with an expression void of emotion. The man exchanging jabs with the detective before was slowly reverting, relinquishing his claim to something profound; evil almost, though a necessary evil that would prove to be vital if the man were to survive the moments to follow.
"I understand how unbelievably tired you must be right now," said the detective, his palms pressed together flatly, and his tone an inquisitive shade, "but I'm going to have to ask you to exert yourself a little more. I've been told that there's a couple colorful notions buzzing around up there," he continued, motioning towards the captive's head. "That you, my friend, know something my associates would like to know as well. And seeing as how they've put some much faith in my ability to get you to divulge with me what exactly that information is, I'm asking you to be a friend. My friend. So come on, whaddya say?"
"As appealing as that sounds Mr. Callahan, I'm a bit of an introvert. I just don't do friends."
Challenge accepted. The detective almost snickered to himself so elated was he at the thought of what was to come, the pain he would inflict on this little smug bastard. He'd been waiting a long time for this moment and he could feel his hands almost shaking in anticipation. "How fortunate," he said sparing no sincerity, " I was actually hoping I would have to resort to this. Well, it'd go down like this anyways, Copernicus always knew that." He looked to one of the men standing over the detainee who withdrew a dozen or so threaded rags from his jacket and handed one to detective.
"Gaspard, do me a favor and give us a fight. I want enough time to enjoy the moment." He wrapped the rag around his face, bunching it in the back so the fabric tightened in the front, bearing into the man's face and forming around it like a second skin. "Let's get him wet."
Twenty-five minutes later...
The trawler plunged into the angry swells of the dark, furious sea like an awkward animal trying desperately to break out of an impenetrable swamp. The waves rose to Goliathan heights, crashing into the hull with the power of raw tonnage; the white spray caught in the night sky cascaded down over the deck under the force of the night wind. Everywhere there were the sounds of inanimate pain, wood straining against wood, ropes twisting, stretched to the breaking point. The animal was dying.
Two abrupt explosions pierced the sounds of the sea and the wind and the vessel's pain. They came from the dimly lit cabin that rose and fell with its host body. A man lunged out of the door grasping the railing with one hand, holding his stomach with the other.
The detective followed, the pursuit cautious, his intent violent though hindered by several wounds he himself had been inflicted with. He stood bracing himself in the cabin door; he raised a gun and fired again. And again.
The detainee at the railing whipped both his hands up to his head, arching backwards under the impact of the fourth bullet. The trawler's bow dipped suddenly into the valley of two giant waves lifting the wounded man off his feet; he twisted to his left unable to take his hands away from his head. The boat surged upwards, bow and midships more out of the water than in it, sweeping the figure in the doorway back into the cabin, a fifth gunshot fired wildly. Gaspard screamed frantically, his hands now lashing out at anything he could grasp, his eyes blinded by blood and the unceasing spray of the sea. There was nothing he could grab, so he grabbed at nothing; his legs buckled as his body lurched forward. The boat rolled violently leeward and the man whose skull was ripped open plunged over the side into the madness of the darkness below.
He felt rushing cold water envelop him, swallowing him, sucking him under, and twisting him in circles, then propelling him up to the surface - only to gasp a single breath of air. A gasp and he was under again.
And there was heat, a strange moist heat at his temple that seared through the freezing water that kept swallowing him, a fire where no fire should burn. There was ice, too; an icelike throbbing in his stomach and his legs and his chest, oddly warmed by the cold sea around him. He felt these things, acknowledging his own panic as he felt them. He could see his own body turning and twisting, arms and feet working frantically against the pressures of the whirlpool. He could feel, think, see, perceive panic and struggle - yet strangely there was peace. It was the calm of the observer, the uninvolved observer, separated from the events, knowing of them but not essentially involved.
Then another form of panic spread through him, surging through the heat and the ice and the uninvolved recognition, a dose of natural adrenaline that shocked his system further than the injuries he sustained or the ocean that threatened to swallow him. He could not submit to the peace; at least not yet! It would happen any second now; if he were truly meant to die than at least he would see this damn thing through. He had orchestrated the plan up until this point, with a few unexpectedly fatal alterations, but he would need to live at least to witness the fruit of his plan.
He kicked furiously, clawing at the heavy walls of water above, his chest bursting. He broke surface, thrashing to stay on top of the black swells. Climb up! Climb up! A monstrous rolling wave accommodated; he was on the crest, surrounded by pockets of foam and darkness. Nothing. Turn! Turn!
It happened. The explosion was massive; he could hear it through the clashing waters and the wind, the sight and the sound somehow his doorway to peace. The sky lit up like a fiery diadem and within that crown of fire, objects of all shapes and sizes were blown through the light into the outer shadows. Even through his exhaustive struggle to mount the waves, he saw the withered form of the detective instants before a fiery hell consumed him. His own struggle he endured as he realized the sound of wood splintering and metal being twisted and shredded by the sheets wasn't just a ship battling with the ferocity of the ocean, it was the concussive force of a bomb being detonated from within the bowels of his ship. The puzzlement plaguing his mind for a mere second, confounded how Gaspard could have managed to rig a ship he himself had gone out of his way to procure. How was that possible? And even though Gaspard was slowly losing his lease on life, his reserve of energy thoroughly exhausted, witnessing the minute frame of his expression of utter defeat and the snapshot of his perplexed thoughts was enough to put a smile on his face at least.
He had won. Whatever it was, he had won.
Suddenly, he was plummeting downwards again, overcome by the fatigue he slipped noiselessly into the mouth of the abyss. He could feel the rushing waters crash over his shoulders, cooling the white hot heat at his temple, warming the ice cold incisions in his stomach and his legs and ...
His chest. His chest was in agony! He had been struck - the blow crushing, the impact sudden and intolerable. Oddly enough a certain serenity pervaded his being, though not the kind that eased the thoughts or soothes to soul, this serenity simply juxtaposed the intensity of his wounds. A calm from the raging fires that burned on the surface though occupied his head with bullet holes that riddled his body, the gash that severed the flesh of his head, and the lactic fatigue that rendered his appendages unemployable and heavier than the water itself.
It happened again! Let me alone. Give me peace.
And he clawed again, and kicked again ... until he felt it. A thick, oily object that moved only with the movements of the sea. He could not tell what it was, but it was there and he could feel it, hold it.
Hold it! It will ride you to peace. To the silence of darkness ... and peace.