The noises of the sea, which can not be reproduced by anything but the sea, were filling the cool night air. The water was moving gently. The ship was swaying slightly. The sun had just disappeared over the horizon, and there was still enough light to see fiery blazes of orange across the sky. The stars would soon be out. It was the time of transition between night and day, which was so perfect and so often ignored that it seemed magical when it was noticed.
Footsteps interrupted the magical spectacle. Gus Waber looked up. The tapping on the deck ceased.
"Good day, captain."
"Commodore, actually," corrected Carl Leonard, as he joined Waber in leaning over the railing.
Waber swung his little swagger stick to and fro as he rested his hands on the railing. It was an absent, nervous tick he had. Other men bit their nails or twiddled their fingers. When he was a little worried on occasion he did this.
"It's so calm and peaceful, don't you think?"
"It's much better than constantly fighting for survival," Leonard admitted, "You know, this is probably the second thing I've just looked at and enjoyed in the past ten years or so. I've been so busy the rest of the time."
"I know exactly what you mean," Waber agreed, "Did you just dock with the Leviathan?"
"A few minutes ago. It takes a while to get around this place."
Waber nodded. He was looking a bit sorrowful. He had the look of a man witnessing something of such extreme beauty that he already begins to miss it before he had even finished looking at it. It was the bittersweet look of nostalgia.
"It's all over, you know. I always feel bad when things end. It's like a knight coming to the end of his quest. He's fought so long to end his quest he feels empty when he's finally completed it. My adventure's over. There're no more bad guys to keep in line."
"At least democracy has prevailed," Leonard said.
"I don't care any more. I'm tired of all this dogma about how democracy is good, or how monarchy is good, or whatever. Who cares what system of government is in power? They're all the same at the core. I don't want to fight for belief any more. The only thing I want to fight for is peace," he laughed, "I guess that's a bit of a paradox. Let's just say that all I want to work toward is peace."
Leonard nodded, saying, "But you miss war."
"Oh, God, I do. I love it. It's a thing of the past now, though. Bourgeois, as they say. I look at my whole life, and wonder, what have I accomplished? What difference have I made? The one thing I've spent my entire life on is a fossil now. There'll be no more wars after the last one. I'll be nothing but a bit of history.
"What change have I made? What legacy do I have? I haven't got any children. I'm too old to have any now. What memorial is there to remind the future generations of Gus Waber?"
"What difference have you made? Are you joking? The war would've been lost without you. Germany never would have been retaken. All of India would have fallen to the Mongols. You damn near single handedly gave the Alliance sea supremacy."
"Bah," said Waber, waving his hand, "I won't even be a foot note in a history book. I suppose I'm destined to just fade away and turn back to dust. I've left no lasting impression. My footprint isn't carved in stone."
"What memorial is there for you? Look around you!"
Waber looked around himself at the deck of the Leviathan. She wouldn't be decommissioned probably ever. She was the largest, most state-of-the-art ship ever built. It would probably be converted into a luxury liner or something as the navy began to disassemble itself. But the Leviathan wouldn't be decommissioned. It would be a memorial.
Waber realized suddenly how much his ship reminded him of himself. It was loud, boisterous, and big. It dwarfed everything in it's way and bulldogged it's way around. It was like the prima donna of vessels. Perhaps he wasn't worried because he wouldn't be remembered. Perhaps he was worried because leaving the Leviathan meant leaving a part of himself.
"Oh, listen to this old sailor go on. I've got no problems. You on the other hand! They don't even keep commodores in peacetime!"
Leonard laughed. Waber clapped his friend on the back and began to walk away.
"Good night," Leonard called after him.
"Good night," Waber replied, waving.
The Australian left. Carl Leonard looked up as the stars began to dot the sky.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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