Susurrus

Episode II
A Necessary Journey

A Novel by Rory Tillitson

CHAPTER TWO

Evasion



Mitch awoke with a light rain falling on his body in the hammock. His mind registered the sounds that had brought him out of his slumber. The winch motors were whining as the sails were returned to their furled positions, the main dropping down inside the main boom and the huge Genoa winding up on the fore-stay pipe, running from the bowsprit to just below the top of the mast. He thought, “We are coming up on Tapiwa. Well it’s still dark but I can see the morning glow in the Eastern sky, so it's almost dawn.”

The boat continued to slip forward through the water for some time albeit slowly. The sound of the chain rattling as the hook was lowered into the sea. The sailboat slowed quickly as the anchor caught a purchase in the sea floor below. A female voice, “Captain... it’s time to get up.” He climbed out of the hammock, and said, “OK... Sue... I’m awake, can’t sleep with all the noise you are making anyway.”

He chuckled to himself and thought, “I need to get a life huh... talking to a computer like it was alive.” He said, “Sue.” Sue, “Yes, Captain.” He said,“Stand down from security condition yellow.” Sue,“Aye... Aye, captain... stand down from security condition yellow.”

He went down the steps. Mitch turned into the aft cabin to wash his face and brush his teeth. He was already at the small sink when it dawned on him there was someone else in the cabin. For a moment he had forgotten about the young woman in his bed. He turned to check and there she laid sound asleep, spread out across the large bed uncovered nude, she apparently slept as he so often did himself.

He finished what he was doing drug a towel across his face. Then not very gently, shoved a foot into the surface of the bed, causing the bed to heave and awaken the woman. She opened her eyes for a moment unaware of her surroundings. She was startled by a half-naked man at the foot of the bed. The bed continued to toss for a few seconds, then became steady once more. She remembered now where she was, and looking at him she said, “Good morning… are we there already?”

He smiled as if he had heard an old joke and said, “Yep... we just made anchor. It’s not quite dawn, but in about an hour the beach will be alive. They will be coming out to the boat. So not much time to eat and make your ‘arrangements’ ready. Are you up to this?” She got up and said, “Probably as ready as I could be... for getting put in a dungeon, and I didn’t even do anything wrong.” She laughed with him at her little joke about their situation.

She got up put on the top and shorts from the day before that she had tossed on the deck as she went to bed. Looking around she went to the sink, there she saw an unused toothbrush which she was thankful for and washed her face before joining Mitch in the salon.

Mitch went into the salon and threw a couple bowls on the table into which he poured some Cheerios, sugar and milk. He told Sally/Susan,“It’s not much for now but it’ll get us going, and quite nutritious as well.” He busied himself at the counter for a couple of minutes getting items out of the refer. When he finished he produced three small wrapped sandwiches. These along with three bottles of water he placed on the table before saying, “If all goes well, they will be gone within an hour and you can come out…but…” She finished the statement, “If not I could be down there for some time right?” He answered, “That is a very real possibility. Listen you need to stay below decks OK? I’m gonna go up for a quick look-see... I need to know if someone was watching us come in. Hold that thought…” He moved over to the nav station and clicking the mouse he brought the mast camera up on-screen. He was saying,“I never used this quite this way before, but it should do the trick.”

She moved over behind him to watch as he swung the camera around towards the shoreline. Everything was green. Just then she realized that they were looking at a leaf under very high magnification. Once he had changed the zoom factor the beach sprang into view, a large beach almost a mile wide.

The island wasn’t that large, about thirty kilometers across nearly round. It was fairly low-lying. Any volcanic activity long since eroding down, until the island was only a couple hundred meters above sea level. It contained three main villages of permanent residents.

The one he was visiting passed for the island capital of sorts and the local elder secured the supplies from the outside that the villagers used along with their mainly seafood diet. Then he had the camera pan across the scene.

Mitch said, “Well looks like everybody is still asleep that’s a good sign. If there were strangers on the island, they would probably all be awake wondering what was going on. Look... There are two guys walking down to the canoes. It looks like they are getting ready to come out soon. Did you finish your cereal?” She gazed at him and said, “Yeah... I’m done, and ready for the ‘dungeon’… ‘Master’”

He chuckled a bit and said, “OK then… you have to remember... that the reason you are doing this, is actually something that you brought on yourself... you know that right?” With no further words he moved over tossed back the rug took the tool and opened the deck. He lifted the flooring panel then placed the sandwiches and water down inside the space. She glanced at him and said, “Wait a minute I have to go…”

He said, “The head in the master, go ahead.” She returned, to see him gazing at the view from the camera. She looked over his shoulder as some men on shore were pushing two canoes out into the waves on the beach. She then reached into an upper cabinet grabbed an eight inch plastic bowl and tossed it into the ‘dungeon’. Then she climbed down inside saying, “I can’t use a bottle don’t know how…” He laughed and said, “Hopefully this won’t take very long OK?” She gazed up at him. As he lowered the floor unit back down she blew him a kiss and said, “Later.”

He finished putting back the rug. Checking for items that might suggest that someone was aboard… wash all the dishes… dry and put them away… gather all the clothing she had worn, even her purse, dress and shoes. He placed these in a plastic bag in the overhead ‘storage’ a hidden stash spot above the television screen. He looked around two more times till he was sure that any evidence, or trace items, said only he was aboard.

Then he went up on the deck glanced around there. He watched as the dawn broke fully to four canoes approaching the sailboat.

He waited until they had come along and said, “Maeva... Welcome… How are you my friends?” The people in the canoes shouted almost as one, “Hello Mitch!” He dropped the rope ladder down the side for them to climb aboard. Once they had boarded. He said, “Well it has been awhile since I was here... is everything pretty much the same?” The eldest Tony spoke,“We lost ‘Sammie’ last month. He just didn’t wake up one morning, but he was ninety-four you know.”

Mitch didn’t remember how old the man was, but had known him for years. Mitch said,“Well he had a wonderful and full life though. I hope to live as long and well as he.” Mitch added, “Come... we go below for some sodas, OK?” They all laughed and as a group moved down into the salon. Where Mitch began handing out plastic cups. He added ice and poured some Pepsi in each.

Looking at a ledger he said,“Let’s see… I have eight cases of ketchup, twelve fifty pound bags of rice, twelve fifty pound bags of flour, twelve twenty pound bags of salt, a case of black pepper and two cases of vinegar… right?”

The wrinkled old man took a crumpled piece of paper from his waist band, and after glancing at it looked up and said, “The four cases of…” Mitch interrupted him, “Oh yeah, and four cases of Budweiser… almost forgot that one.” And he laughed,“Oh yeah, almost forgot I have a bottle of ‘medicine’ for Sammie. I guess you’ll be handling that one huh.” Then he winked at the old man.

Sally/Susan was absorbing all the chatter from above her as she lay on her back under the deck. While she couldn’t see anything, a few slight cracks in the deck let in a very small amount of light. So at least it wasn’t completely dark. Tolerable though it was, she was more than slightly claustrophobic. She was having to constantly reassure herself that all was going to be OK as soon as they had left. She, for the first time in days, found time to look back.on exactly what was happening. The changes already made in her life. As well as what may happen in the near future.

She at first had actually, and with not much forethought felt that she was on some ‘noble’ quest to rescue her father. Now after the events of the past few days. She was slowly coming to realize that her life had become much more fragile. She was beginning to wonder if she could continue on the path that she was on without perhaps even becoming more of a target herself.

The mere thought sent a chill through her body. “Hell,” she thought “I don’t even know that my father is still alive.” Suddenly recalling some movie she had seen where the prime player had proposed that the victim needed to be proven to be alive, and in good health, prior to any demands being met. She thought, “I didn’t even think to ask to speak with him. I just assumed he was alright, because I didn’t want to know anything different. I am being so stupid, how the hell did I get here, without even for a moment using my head. Now I could be in danger and no closer to getting my father freed.” She continued to beat herself up thinking, “Stupid, stupid, stupid girl.”

Up above, the elder handed Mitch an envelope full of American and Australian dollars to pay for the supplies. After he had counted the amount and verifying it was correct. Mitch directed the young men to the forward berth where they began carting out the cases and bags of goods.

While this was going on, he opened the cabinet under the nav station. He retrieved a quart of Cutty Sark scotch wrapped in heavy paper, emblazoned with two large letters, C S. Leaving it wrapped, he handed this to the new village elder and said simply, “With my warmest regards... may you live long and prosper.” He chuckled to himself at his little joke.

Then checking to make sure they were only loading the items that they were due into the canoes, he followed the last man up on the deck. The elder was standing as if to leave. When he turned to Mitch, and softly said, “There were some men here yesterday looking way out-of-place... they came by helicopter... offering a reward for information, about an American woman... who it seems has murdered someone in Sydney. They believe she is traveling by sea towards the Philippine islands. They said that they would pay one hundred thousand American for her capture, and ten thousand for information as to her whereabouts. If you come across her be careful. As she must have killed someone very powerful. Don’t you think my friend?”

With that said he winked at Mitch and climbed down the ladder. He said, “I left a new list on your desk, see you in two months right?” Mitch nodded and said, “Be well my friend, until the next voyage ‘eh?” Tony shouted back, “You take good care of yourself, Captain.” He winked again, saying,“I almost forgot, the young ones asked me to tell you, that they would bring out fresh mangoes and bananas later. They want to invite you to a luau on the beach tonight. You can stay that long right?”

Mitch thought for a moment then spoke, “Sure, you tell the kids I look forward to their visit, and when they ask I will stay for the luau. No problem, I am in no rush.”

He stood and watched the boats till they were almost to the shore before going below. He slowly pulled the side curtains over the windows one at a time to obscure the interior from outside. Then he threw back the rug and using his tool opened up the deck. He stated flatly, “Houston we have a problem here.” Susan climbed up from her hiding place and immediately went to the head. Upon her return she said, “That was close. I thought I was going to have to use the bowl down there.”

She turned to a pensive Mitch staring at the screen and camera display. Then he spoke, “Sue?” The voice said,“Yes, captain.” He said, “Security condition red... until I rescind it understood?” The computer replied,“Aye... Aye, Captain... Security condition red”.

Mitch stated,“Sue?” Sue,“Yes, Captain.” He said simply,“Never mind I’ll do it the hard way.” The computer came back,“Captain… Explain please?” He laughed and said,“Disregard.” Computer voice said,“Aye... Aye, Captain.” He then went to the keyboard, and opened a program that monitors the camera. He hadn’t used it before and was hoping it would work.

Once it was open he configured the camera to do a three hundred sixty degree sweep of the area, and record in a manual mode till he stopped it. Hitting the ‘enter’ key then watching the screen very slowly begin the scan. He sighed, “Well let’s hope for the best right?”

Sally/Susan looking puzzled said, “I thought everything went well, what’s wrong?” Mitch looked at her and said, “Tony… The village elder told me... that two men came by and… (He filled her in…) Anyway the gist of that is he was trying to tell me that he felt the island is under scrutiny. I have to hang around for a while. Some youngsters will be by later with gifts of fresh fruit, and to invite me to a luau tonight as well. I should do this to keep appearances up, but we are very possibly being watched from above as we speak.”

On the other side of the globe an operator said, “There’s the sailboat we were told was coming to deliver goods, but the Captain went below deck and hasn’t come up again.” His superior said, “Keep an eye on that boat, record all movements. Probably a waste of time and effort though... as it was last seen in Norfolk... nowhere near Sydney.”

Mitch went back to the computer, and sent an email to his friend Jerry of the ‘Southern Star’ the text of which he was careful to type:

Jerry,

How have you been, the fishing any good down there? I caught a Mahi Mahi yesterday about twenty pounds or so, on my way to Tapiwa. Maybe we can renew our bet once more, as to which of us catches the biggest Mahi Mahi, what do you think of that ‘eh? Well keep in touch “old salt”, till our lines tangle again.

Your friend,

MT

Then he sent the missive off, hoping Jerry understood the meaning. Before he could get up from the desk the sound of an incoming email rang out. Mitch said,“Whoa, did I do something wrong or what?” He thought,”Maybe I just screwed the pooch with that one, I sure hope not.” He then opened his email folder and saw a reply from Jerry. Almost apprehensively he opened it to read:

Mitchell,

The fishing was good a couple of days ago. I went out to the east and caught several, bigger than you got mate. The bets on alright, once we get out of this lock-down we’re under, seems the gov feels someone here is up to no good, been grilling everyone on the dock daily. The idiots seem to think some bloke is gone bonkers, smuggling something or other, to God knows where. Most of the boats from here, have been cleared, including me, but they are insisting that we can’t go out to sea just yet. Bloody hell, they won’t even let on what it is, that someone was to have done. Anyway enough of my ranting about the gov, yeah the bets on, but you are going to need to have pictures, with the scale and everything, or no dice mate, hell I’m not believing you, even if you could manage to get one of them satellite photos, of you landing it live, and even you can’t do that one matey.

Jer

Mitch leaned back in his seat. He thought about what he had just read, “OK, so Jerry got away with getting her to me, and the government types made some mention to satellite photos, perhaps even that I’m being watched… could he have heard something about the Susurrus? Shit… maybe we didn’t get the bugs in time before they ‘made’ us? I suppose they could just be watching and waiting for me to deliver her to Manila. OK, then it is time for some serious shit…”

He put in a search for satellites in the south pacific, narrowed the list by eliminating stuff like TV station and web services, and then there was one. Only one satellite up there that fits the bill. He thought,”OK… Let’s see what you have.”

He went to his satellite receiver program,and entered the coördinates of the one in question. Lo and behold he got a lock. His system, because it is on a boat is capable of locking to ‘hang on’ to a signal. Mitch then began scanning frequencies till he got two hits. “OK boys.” He thought to himself, “Now me chat.”

He then opened another program to begin recording the gibberish coming from the satellite. After five minutes he ran that through a descrambler that he got off a torrent site some time back trying to get satellite TV, however that didn’t work. Mitch thought,”Well what do we have here…?” The signal was a code that he could see contained a jpg image. He opened it with an image program and a picture appeared of the deck above his head. He stopped what he was doing and almost passed out.

Susan had been quietly observing his actions until she saw the picture fill in on the screen. She said,“How the hell did you do that... is that us? Is someone watching us? What did you just do? What is going on?”

He turned to her and said, “Most video or surveillance cameras... send the ‘movie’ as a steadily changing stream of jpeg files... usually at a rate of thirty frames a second or so... the receiver simply keeps changing them to create a video file. It is still just a camera taking snapshots and transmitting them... even the Hubble space telescope is just a simple camera... albeit a very expensive one... the one looking at us now is very good... you see the detail… Hell you can see the grain in the teak deck. Anyway what I did was to capture one of the shots. I don’t have the right software or we could watch a live streaming view of the boat. Anyway, suffice it to say, that you have to stay below decks, sorry about that. However, I should probably go up and putz around for a while... you gonna be alright down here?”

She looked at him and sighed, “Yes I’ll be fine... I still have the sandwiches if I get hungry.” Even she laughed at that. Mitch then went up to the cockpit. What do you know, just in time here were two canoes full of kids paddling out to the boat. Without turning around still looking at the boats. He said out loud, “The kids are coming, you better go in the aft cabin for a while, till they leave.”

She answered, “OK... I’m there already.” He then waved at the children and went below. Under a seat on the port side of the salon he retrieved a well-worn box and shoved it up on deck. Then he got a large bucket of ice out of the ice maker shoved that up on deck. Lastly he got three bottles from another cabinet and returned to the deck.

There he pulled the machine out of the box and plugged it in. Just in time as the kids were along the boat. As they climbed up to the deck he was reaching back in the box. He pulled out a pack of paper cones. Then he poured half the ice in the top of the machine and turned it on. Then as the shaved ice poured out of the nozzle. He filled a cone with ice and topped it with a fruit flavoring. He began handing them out to the delight of the children.

Across the globe it’s late at night in the government control room where the Superior officer is saying, “Have you got any action from that sailboat yet or is he still out of sight? The operator laughed, “Some bitch is the ‘Good Humor Man’. Look at that he’s actually making snow cones for a bunch of kids.” His Superior scoffs, “God damn it, we’re looking for a fucking smuggler and we get an ice cream vendor… Shit!” Superior says, “Is that the only fucking boat in the God damn ocean, or are we losing the woman while she makes her way to Manila and we watch a God damn Hurdy Gurdy Man... What happened to the tracking devices. They should be there if she is on that boat right?” The operator says, “Absolutely no sign of the transponders. They aren’t there. I can guarantee you that if they were there we would have gotten a hit by now, even if the batteries were weak.” His Superior says, “So why in the hell are you watching him make snow cones?” The operator, trying not to laugh, said, “Because... You said so ‘Sir!’”

Mitch had run out of ice and each kid had gotten a cone. Everyone was happy. Then the kids began bringing up hand-woven baskets of local fruit. There were mangoes, bananas, papayas, guava, and some passion fruit. The latter being his favorite a very delicate textured extremely sweet fruit. Mitch loved the stuff. He had never questioned the name as it made perfect sense to him.

Then as was the usual routine, the kids asked to dive off the bowsprit into the sea. Of course Mitch said, “Welcome to the Susurrus and enjoy yourselves.” Then the procession began. One by one, they would dive off and swim around. Then climb the ladder run to the bow and leap off by vaulting over the handrail into the clear blue sea below. This was kept up for some time. Then one of the children stopped on the deck, and said, “Captain, will you do us the honor of feasting tonight on the beach with us?”

Mitch replied, “Of course I will, I accept your invitation... see you at dusk.” With that the kids all climbed into the canoes and returned to the shore.

Below decks, Susan was besides being bored, she was getting very warm inside the cabin..As there was almost no ventilation and of course no air conditioning, she simply shed her clothes and stepped into the shower in the master cabin. She turned on the water and began to bathe.

When Mitch heard the water begin to run he guessed what she was up to. He realized that even if someone was watching and saw the stream of water they would probably assume it was a bilge pump running nothing more. However he saw this as a lighthearted chance to get her shook-up.

He went down into the master cabin. As she was busy taking her shower she never heard him come in. He stood there gazing for a moment through the clear glass door for somehow this seemed more intimate than the shower up on the deck before. Then he spoke,“You trying to get caught? Knowing that someone is watching this boat so you take a shower, the drain from which is dumping directly overboard?”

He startled her for a moment. Then she realized what he said and she had finished rinsing. So she immediately shut off the water. Then she looked at him and stuttered,“I’m sorry… I didn’t think that… I was feeling hot, so I thought to cool down... maybe a shower… Oh shit... I probably blew that... huh?” Mitch having seen enough of her for the time being he turned around and tossed a towel to her. When she had dried off he handed a bikini to her and said, “This should be cooler.”

He walked away thinking,”Hot damn… She is one fine looking woman... that’s for sure, if only we didn’t have this ‘The world’s watching’ thing going on maybe… No probably not, forget that thought dummy”

Susan stood stark naked watching the man as he left. Then after a moment she looked at what he had handed her. She thought, “Wow this... has... the least amount of material, ever put in a garment by anyone. She held it up and observed a white set of strings in two groups. One having a triangle patch a mere one inch wide, with two sides three inches long… Hmm mm... This would be the bottom she guessed correctly. The other having two triangles, with two inches to a side. Well he was right about one thing this would definitely be cooler. Hell anything less would be absolutely nothing at all. She now knew why women got a ‘bikini’ wax, it was for just such a suit as this one. She had been around bikinis before, but she thought, “This is a new suit even to me.”

Mitch had gone to the computer and checking that the satellite lock was still intact he downloaded the latest image. He opened the picture to see the beach area of the island almost the entire beach. He grabbed another image. Someone was manipulating the camera and he was now watching the locals wandering about the beach, swimming, and tossing cast nets in the shallows. So he thought, “Perhaps we aren’t the primary target here after all.”

He closed the document, just as Susan said, “Mitch... Captain… I need your help in here.” Puzzled he went to the aft cabin to find a nude Susan holding the top across her chest. The strings of which fell straight down. “What are you doing?” he asked, while looking her up and down.

She replied, “I can’t figure out how to tie the straps.” He laughed and stepped over behind her looking over her shoulder. He pulled two of the strings behind her neck and tied them off, then reaching around under her arms grabbed the remaining strings, pulled them around and tied those. He said, “OK... shall I help with the bottom too?”

She twisted her head around, saying,“Sure…” He reached over to the bed picked up the small scrap of cloth and placed it with his left hand on her… well you know where. He said, “Hold that.” She did, although his hand had caused her to tremble. She wondered if he had caught that. He had noticed but just reached around. He took the top strings, pulled them around and through the loop, at the end of the back string, that he had reached between her legs, to draw up between her cheeks and tied them off.

He stepped back, saying, “There you go all done and I must admit, you look like the suit was designed... just for you.” She then looked at her reflection in the floor length mirror and thought,“Wow this suit is HOT. How come I never saw one like this before now? Oh shit... what does it look like from the backside?”

She turned as much as possible looking at her rear there was nothing there. It was as if she were completely naked from the back. Mitch spoke first, “Yeah, Susan… the other Susan… thought the same thing when I bought it for her. She never wore it beyond the boat. Shame really… at least from my viewpoint.”

With that said he went back into the salon and spoke, “We should probably eat these sandwiches you think?” She joined him saying, “Sure thing don’t let them go to waste.” The whole time that they sat and ate, he never took his eyes off of her and then he said,“OK, so what did you do in New York. I mean besides kill the men there?”

She almost choked,“Sorry… I was… am… well. I worked for a modeling agency, not as a model. I arranged the shoot locations and rented the items for the sets... all that sort of thing. Not really very glamorous at all, just another face in the crowd so to speak.” He gazed at this beautiful woman sitting practically naked in front of him for a long moment, then spoke,“OK... so when you were at your job... you wore long sleeves, long dresses, and worse yet, probably glasses… Those big ugly thick framed glasses... Oh yeah, and you probably wore your hair up, in some kinda bun thingy.”

She looked down at the ground for a moment before answering, “Am I that obvious? You almost described my wardrobe to the item, even the glasses. I lost those on the trip to meet up with you.” Mitch said, “The dress you had when we met it wasn’t that conservative. You actually flew in that?” She said, “There was a top... and a shawl, but that was lost coming over on your friend's boat as well and my hair I loosened, because of the heat.”

Mitch thought,“Wow… Jerry must have been surprised. To have seen the first you get on the boat, and the other you get off in Norfolk. Well it was late at night... he may not have even noticed, poor sap.” He then paused, because he wanted to be careful,“I do hope you realize... that you are... a very beautiful woman.”

She smiled and said,“Wow, you are human after all. My entire life... it was built on my looks, till I was hired for the position I recently left… hell, I’ve probably been sacked by now. Anyway, I was having a very bad week, I was in ill health, but I went for an interview anyway not thinking that I would get it. I was looking like shit, and lo and behold, the manager hired me. Explaining how tired he was of wannabe models applying for decent jobs to get their picture taken. So for the past three years my other side has paid the bills for both of us and rather well actually. It turns out that over the past few years I’ve seen countless ‘models’ come and go, yet I have had a steady, really good paying job. There are only a handful of top models, those that make loads of money. Most don’t last six months. You know… I guess I have to tell you that I was beginning to think... that either something was wrong with me, or you had spent too much time alone at sea, to notice me at all.”

Mitch laughed, “That is a good one… yesterday your ‘shower scene.’ I knew that you were trying to get a reaction out of me then.” He paused then said, “It’s just that, well, a couple of years ago, there was a woman in my life… Susan… well... there was a diving mishap... she was down with some friends. They got inside a cave of sorts... not real bad, but she was apparently startled by something... maybe a moray eel don’t know… bumped her regulator on the roof and damaged it… by the time the others realized something was wrong it was too late. They tried giving her air from their tanks to no avail. It seems that she just went to sleep for lack of air. It had slowed down the rate, instead of just stopping the flow, so apparently she didn’t realize the problem. Anyway... sometimes bad things happen to good people. Since then... I haven’t really wanted another relationship.”

She then said, “Now I come along and… I am disrupting your world, is that it?” He replied, “Lady, you don’t know the half of it. Besides the fact that you are probably the most gorgeous thing this man has ever seen, and I mean that quite literally... You have some government agency looking into my everyday activities... Not to mention the fact... That we are carrying half of Fort Knox in the bilge of my boat. I hope you know... that if I were any one of another... perhaps hundred or so skippers in this area you would already have been shark food!”

She looked him in the eye and said,“That fact is not wasted on me at all. I have been a fool for coming on this trip in the first place... I am totally out of my element here. I really am very sorry for getting you in the middle of all this, but most of all... I am so very glad... That I found you of all people way out in the middle of nowhere... and I feel that I have found the only good guy for thousands of miles. I trust you with my life and will do absolutely anything you say... anything at all... I mean that.”

It was then that he heard the chopper… Sue barked, “Danger, Danger, approaching aircraft bearing two seven zero degrees... range one thousand meters... closing fast... speed one hundred twenty knots.” Mitch almost yelled, “Got it Sue.”

Turning to Susan he said, “The hole... no time.” He leapt to the tool threw back the rug and opened the panel. The almost nude Susan climbed inside and looked up at him blowing him a kiss she said, “We get through this… we’re spending the night together.”

He smiled and closed the panel down and replaced all the items left out. He quickly washed the glassware so that no sign of two people could be seen. Then calmly went up on deck to watch the chopper land on the beach.

Mitch estimated it was mid afternoon. Several people were running towards the chopper before the rotor stopped turning. What he was concentrating on was the jungle behind the village. Then he saw just what he was expecting to see as two men walked out of the jungle. They were carrying bags about four feet long. They walked directly over to the chopper and exchanged some words with another man from the chopper. Then two of them were looking right at him. “Good news,” he thought, “the other three are not looking this way.”

He then spoke, “Sue?” The computer replied, “Yes, Captain.” Mitch said, “Maximum range on the radar full sweep. I want to know what’s out there. Go to security condition red!” The computer replied, “Aye... Aye, Captain... Radar maximum range... full sweep... security condition red.” Mitch kept his gaze on the shore as two of the men from the chopper climbed into a canoe with a local and started towards him. He said in a normal voice, “Susan… If you can hear me it looks like we are gonna have visitors.”

She heard him and the message gave her cause to shudder. She thought, “Damn it. Well you just be quiet girl, no matter what happens be still and quiet.”

The canoe pulled up along the boat as one of the men said, “Ahoy there, I hear that you are an American is that right?” Mitch answered, “That depends on who’s doing the asking…” The two men were wearing white shirts and semi-casual pants with sport coats, not the usual island attire. One man looked at his buddy and said, “We are from the U.S. Navy ship ‘Searcher’. We just want to ask a couple of questions, if you don’t mind.”

Mitch replied, “You don’t look like any sailor I ever met... nor a research scientist. The ‘Searcher’ is a research vessel, or so I’ve been told…. I also heard it was a CIA boat, which you look more like than a sailor.” He paused and said, “At any rate, what question do you want to ask and I’ll consider answering.” The fellow looked up, and asked, “OK if we come aboard?”

Mitch paused again then said, “OK, come on up.” They climbed the rope ladder a little unsteadily, in doing so Mitch noticed the butt of an automatic under one of the men’s jacket. Once on the deck the taller one said, “I apologize for the drama, I’m Mike and this is Jim, it’s just that we’re curious about your boat.” “What about my boat?” Mitch asked. The shorter fellow Jim had been quiet till now, he said, “This is a pretty good-sized boat for one man to handle, so where’s your crew?” Mitch laughed and said, “Sue?” The voice said, “Yes, Captain.” Mitch said, “Introduce yourself.”

Whereupon the computer voice responded, “Hello I’m Sue… the on-board computer that controls ‘Susurrus’, the vessel upon which you are now sailing. I have been given the sole responsibility of maintaining a given course, as well as monitoring the weather, and other conditions in the surrounding seas. I am available for action twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred sixty-five days a year. I am actually two separate units each with a quad-core CPU, and raided five hundred gigabyte hard drives, on an ups power system. Failure is NOT an option. I answer only to Captain Torrance, and no one else.” After a pause, “By the way I am NOT related to HAL, so don’t ask!”

The two men looked at each other, then the shorter man said, “You’re serious… a computer… sails this boat?” Mitch simply said, “Yep, that’s pretty much it... basically sensors feed data in, I simply give a course to ‘Sue’ and she sails the boat wherever I want to go.”

Mitch then said,“Crap... I suppose you will kill me for the program code, huh?” The taller man Mike said, “No... that’s not why we’re here. We have reason to believe you may have crossed paths with this woman recently.” He held up a very unflattering photo of what Susan most probably looked like a week ago.

Mitch chuckled at this saying,“Nope never saw that woman in my life. Seriously, where do you think you are anyway... Detroit or Chicago? You... for one moment think, that there are people floating around out here… They drown out here friend. What the hell did she do anyway. Steal your precious mysterious list... or worse?”

The short guy Jim started forward, then stopped and said,“She has in her possession documents that are vital to the national security of the U.S. of A. Anyone found aiding this woman is in for some serious hurt, get my drift?” Mitch just moved a little closer and said softly, “That would emanate from your asshole... shithead?”

The tall guy restrained the short guy and said,“Look we don’t mean trouble for you, OK. We would like to look around a bit, if you don’t mind. We realize you don’t have to let us, so it’s your call.” Mitch paused and said,“You got five minutes, there is an aft cabin and a forward berth. That’s my storeroom and a shitter, that’s it... and be quick, alright... I don’t like your odor.”

They went below one forward and the other aft. After looking around a bit. They came back up on deck, and the tall guy said, “Look friend, we are sorry about any trouble, just doing our job right?” Mitch said, “So the ‘Searcher’ really is a spook boat after all... huh?”

The men climbed off the boat, and as they departed the tall guy said, “That really is a nice boat... and yeah. I would like to get your software, later maybe.” Mitch thought, “I have a bad feeling about this… I don’t think we’ve seen the last of them, not by a long shot.” He waited until the chopper had left the island, before going below to let Susan out of her hiding place.

As she emerged she said, “They are seriously looking for me?” He replied, “Well it was hard to say from the picture they showed me but it resembled you to some degree.” He said this as he gazed at the skimpy bikini clad vision in front of him. He then said, “Soon someone will come out in a canoe to take me to the luau. Much as I would prefer a pass on the pork and just devour you.”

She laughed, “OK, that’s for later, so then what’s on the menu now…” He simply reached out and pulled on two strings. Then took her hand and they went towards the aft cabin.

Life is much too short to waste it.

One hour later. A freshly showered almost glowing Mitch Torrance appeared on deck to greet the canoe as it approached to carry him to the beach, where several hours earlier the locals had buried an entire pig in the sand. They were in the process of digging up the pig as the canoe took him into shore. He had to fight the temptation to look over his shoulder at the boat knowing he wouldn’t have seen her anyway.

Sally/Susan was still completely naked and prone on the big bed as he left to go to the luau. She was lost in her thoughts of the past hour,“Wow…. I can’t believe what just happened... after knowing what… some twenty plus men in my life. I travel half way around the planet and find a triple orgasm in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. While a satellite is probably watching us from space. What the hell… if we survive this situation, one Mitch Torrance will have to literally throw me overboard to lose me. I have looked for a man like him all of my life. He not only looks like an Adonis… He is a God in bed… I am completely worn out…” Then she faded off into a deep sleep.

Mitch returned to Susurrus almost three hours later. The boy simply nodded as he climbed out of the canoe and climbed up the ladder on the deck. Once there he said, “Report” The computer answered, “We have visitors... bearing two seven zero degrees... range sixteen kilometers... no speed... no movement.”

He thought, “That would be ‘Searcher’ no doubt apparently they aren’t convinced all is good to go here. I hope my email to Jerry didn’t cause this that’s the only possible connection for the comment ‘we have reason to believe, you may have crossed paths with this woman recently.’ Damn it. Jerry is the only link... hell they may even have his phone tapped I can’t call him. I wonder if it’s even possible to tap a sat phone.”

As he started into the salon. He caught movement from the corner of his eye and turned. He saw a naked Susan with her arms spread. She said,“Take me, I’m all yours honey.” Mitch looked at her and thought,“Well no rest for the wicked… or either of us not tonight.”

Meanwhile in a building near the Sydney harbor. A man speaks,“What do you mean ‘He’s dead’… you weren’t supposed to kill him. Damn it! Dead men can’t tell us anything. OK, we know the cabbie saw her get on his boat... how do we find out where he took her?” The other man said, “We don’t, the son of a bitch set fire to her just before we grabbed him. The boat’s gone, burnt to the waterline right beside the dock.” The leader says, “Alright, someone just figure out how far he could get on a tank of fuel and return, at least we’ll know how many places we are looking at… NOW, get to it people!”

Mitch looked at the lovely Susan and said, “There is something I need to do first... OK, go in and wait. I’ll just be a minute.” She grinned and said, “No way silly I’m staying with you.” He shrugged and after offering her some of the pork he had brought back with him, which she declined, he placed it in the refrigerator then went over to the console. He typed in his password to the control system, then a message:

Sue: all commands will be in text only understood!

Sue: Understood!

Mitch: Mark the vessel at two seven zero degrees... track any movements and report immediately.

Sue: Understood!

Mitch: All systems security condition red.

Sue: Understood!

Then he headed for the aft cabin with Susan in tow. They had a few more hours of bliss and then sleep before... a small red light on the cabin wall was flashing. He rose and went to the console being careful not to awaken Susan. There he saw the message he was dreading. Underwater contact two seven zero degrees... range eight hundred meters... speed five knots.

Mitch thought,“Damn it, that’s too slow for a torpedo, so what is it?” He doused the salon lights and went up on deck. He was scanning the horizon with binoculars when he saw it.

There was a trail of bubbles shimmering in the moonlight. He thought,“Divers… now what are they gonna do... board me in the middle of the night? Plant a bomb… Mine…” his mind was racing.

He opened a deck locker and retrieved a forty-five caliber automatic pistol checked the clip, then he realized he had no shorts to put the weapon in. He tossed it on the bench. He went to the deck console, entered his password and typed: Underwater mike on

Sue: Underwater mike on

The sounds of gurgling came on the speakers. He could see the bubble trail clearly fifty meters out on the port side. Then he could hear their breathing on the speakers… There are two of them. Then a ‘clunk’ as the divers stuck something on the boat… He thought “Damn it! Well it has been a wonderful and fulfilling, albeit a difficult life, sorry it was so short though.”

The sounds began to diminish. He looked over the side to watch as the bubbles trailed away in the direction of the ‘research’ vessel, ‘Searcher’. He assumed they were using some sort of silent running powered sled to propel them through the water. Then thought, “Right, damn, right, now what?”

No time to waste he went below and while not meaning to he awakened the woman in his bed. She asked,“What’s going on, why are you up?” Mitch said,“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you. I need a pair of shorts is all go back to sleep.” She got up and said, “Like hell I will, what are you doing?” He had no time for this,“OK, someone just stuck something on the hull, and while I don’t really think they would blow us up. I have to go down there and see what it is, OK?”

She was visibly shaken and said, “OK, what can I do to help?” “Stay out of sight, we are probably still being watched… shit... may be... even by infrared, if so we’re done for. Well, pray we’re not being scanned like that, OK? Just… stay in bed, the water is warm... it might hide your form.” He pulled on a pair of swim trunks.

He then went up to the deck, and stopped at the console. Starting the hookah rig and getting out of a side locker a long piece of tubing connected to a diving mask. He shoved the connector on the end of the tubing into a receptacle on the gunwale, put on a dive belt, and fell overboard with a light. What he saw made him feel uneasy but not really anything that scared him. A package.

Mitch thought,”Too small for a bomb... a tracking device.” He pried it off the hull with his dive knife. He brought it up on the deck for a closer look-see. He thought, “OK, we have it, what to do with it. Well tomorrow is another day.” He left it on the deck and went below. She asked, “What did you find?”

He said, “The most beautiful woman.” He kissed her. As he climbed in the bed he began to kiss her some more. But his mind was already racing about what to do tomorrow. They had to leave, but how could they get away from the tracer… Then he was brought into the now by her actions.


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