The intercom blared: “Five minutes until departure. All personnel returning to headquarters, please report directly to the dock for embarkation.”
Graham gathered his belongings and put them in his grip. He waited a few minutes before leaving the room. He still felt like he could not face anyone. He hoped that everyone would already be on the ship and that he could just slip on board.
Stepping out of the elevator and onto the dock, he saw something he had never seen before. The sun was beaming down on the Farallon Platform and the nearby island. Where the fog had always been the thick and ever-present setting for life on the Platform, an excruciatingly hot and clear day had taken shape. The attack had been partially successful – all of the boiler units in the region had been temporarily shut down. The techies were busy restarting systems and recalibrating the region’s battery backup schedules. Graham shielded his eyes from the sun’s reflection and walked slowly towards the boat.
Charley met him at the boat’s entrance. “There you are, we’re all here and accounted for. I’ve got the prisoners locked away in two of the lower holds. Now that you’re here, we can shove off.”
“Okay,” Graham said quietly, his voice sounding foreign in his ears. He averted his eyes from Charley’s cheerful gaze.
“Is everything okay?”
“Yes, fine. Just feeling a bit sick, that’s all. Didn’t sleep much.”
“Let me know if you need anything,” Charley said, putting his hand lightly on Graham’s shoulder.
“Thanks. I’m just going to head on up to the deck. Would you mind stowing my bag?”
“Not at all, Chief. Hey, but listen, the sun is hotter than hell up there. We were all thinking about riding topside, but it only took a few minutes for that blazing sun to force us back down here. The Captain’s got the air conditioning blasted for us, and there’s some nice strong coffee in the galley if you are interested.”
“Thanks, but I think that I’ll go up there anyway – at least for a little while.” Graham turned and slowly walked up the steep stairs to the deck, toward the solitude he craved.