You can't see through it. Can't see what's behind or in front of
you, just a cozy feeling of
warmth as if those things no longer exist, or ever did.
"We're off course," says the Watch, as if he could feel that,
sense that, with no way of
knowing for sure.
The Mate considers this, mathematical probabilities run through his
head. Something jogs
in his mind. Heisenberg, a mid-century physicist looking for nuclear
particles. If you can't
find them where they are, perhaps you can find them by where they
revolutionized atomic research. The uncertainty principle.
The Mate considers this, if you've no idea where you are, you're
probably off course.
Don't know for sure but it's a likelihood, a mathematical
probability. But does it mean
anything? Perhaps there's an inverse to it. Like Heisenberg's
theory, if you know where
you aren't, maybe you can use that to find out where you are. Or at
least deduce from
But it's boring, tiring. Being lost...is old, worn-out, been doing
it too long, too long now,
past too long. The hours and unending hours in fog seeming like years,
seem like your
whole lifetime is spent within these hours. And the fog, the fog is
everywhere, the fog is
all there is. There is no time, no place, no nothing but this.
We're in a fog, he thinks, and no way out. Perhaps we've always
been in fog. Sure feels
like it. Perhaps we'll never get out. Like Kafka, should've read
Kafka instead of O'Neill,
he thinks, maybe there was a way out. But it was boring, no point to
it, being lost all the
time and reading Kafka.
Mathematical uncertainty "the Captain's in the chartroom,
navigating on a star. He can't
know where we're going 'cause he don't know where we are"
lines in a song by Joe
Walsh. The Mate considers this, but then the fear takes hold again. If
you're off course in
the fog, what's the likelihood you'll smash into something in the
fog. Crash into something,
a reef, a rock, another ship, and break apart and sink beneath the
waves, forever and gone
That's the fear, the fear of fog that everyone has felt since they
went into it. The fear of
death in sudden unknown quantity. A smacking smashing sound and your
sinking before you do, knowing for those brief moments of knowing that
there'll never be
any more moments of knowing, as you sink beneath the waves.
Now watching and waiting for that moment, and nothing else. Looking
for it, as if the
certainty of sudden death is almost better than the not knowing, the
constant fear. And if not for the angst, the knot in your gut, it's
almost like you don't care,
either way. Just to get out is all, just to get out and away from it,
His thoughts return to the Captain. Locked in his quarters for days
now, since the storm.
Not coming out, not answering, not taking his meals. What's he's
up to? Drinking
himself to oblivion, or...killed himself maybe. Hanging from the
ceiling by a rope or a
cord and swaying now, back and forth with every movement of the ship.
Like a self-
made puppet trapped in its own strings, dangling in the web of its own
And no way to get to him, locked in his room, his quarters. Should he
Assume the Captain has relinquished his command, leaving him in
charge, the Mate. In
charge, and all their lives depend on him. Do they know that he's in
charge? That all their
lives depend on him, and his own life too. Will they listen to him,
will they follow, will he
lead? And what to do now, now that he's in charge. Change course,
"What's our heading?" he hears himself ask the Watch. But he
didn't ask that, knowing
that the instruments are gone, fried in the storm, the lightning. No
instruments at all, no
computers, no navigation. No way of knowing. No one to call and ask
for help. It's all up
to him, just him alone, just him.
The storm had hit, rocking the boat. But storms are a part of life,
unexpected maybe, but
there nonetheless. Sometimes they kill you, or change you forever as
if you were nothing
more than a random cork bobbing in the immense ocean, swayed by the
along alone to nowhere.
This storm had almost sunk them; an incredible effort just to survive,
just to stay above
the water. It knocked out all their instruments and left them here in
the fog. Underway,
under their own power, but not knowing where.
His father had died, the Mate's father. Father died and that left
him in charge. But he
wasn't ready for that. Ran away, joined the Merchant Marine to find
some direction in
The Captain comes down from his quarters, after so many days, so many
makes his way down to the deck, feeling his way through the fog, hands
on the railing,
slowly counting the steps. The Captain comes down to the front of the
the Mate and the Watch. He looks and them and the fog, hands on the
railing and throws
"Man overboard!" yells the Watch, but he doesn't yell, doesn't
say a word. There is no
reason to. Just looks at the Mate. The alarm is meant to alert the
crew to stop the ship and
search for the lost soul. But no reason for the alarm, no reason for
him to yell. The lost
soul can never be found, no reason to even try.
Just looks at the Mate for something to say, an explanation, but
nothing comes to his
mind. Just his training, what he's been taught and told. "What are
your orders?" he finally
asks him. "Full speed ahead," replies the Mate with as much
confidence as he can.