Sometimes, the demons reside within us. Restrained by intellect and culled by morality, they nevertheless constantly struggle for release.
During moments of enlightenment, we are at our strongest against them. We are sure of who we are and where we need to be in this world. Alternatively, the clarity brought about by enlightenment could show us where we shouldn't be.
Unfortunately, time and proximity limit enlightenment. You stand within the dark like a beacon drawing out the demons within others.
Sea Story Introduction
Live onboard a submarine provides a unique experience. You live under virtually complete control by the commanding officer and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. You spend your days performing activities required in the trade bestowed upon you by the government. From cleaning toilets to controlling reactivity, you have a job to do, like it or not.
One activity that requires participation from all personnel onboard involves fire fighting. When the alarm sounds, sleeping or awake, the entire ship is up and on station within three minutes, they have to be as failure most certainly means agonizing death.
Fire can spread fast in a closed space.
Ship training requires that every submariner knows the location of breathing connections throughout the ship by memory. When you test for your warfare insignia, they put a breathing mask on your face and blindfold you. They'll then ask you to take them for a tour across the ship and expect you to connect to breathing stations along the way.
Failing the test means you've lost one opportunity to meet your obligations. It also means you either passed out or were close to it searching for one of those breathing connections.
There are, of course, different ways to deliver emergency breathing air. People in charge of the machinery spaces utilize cabled face masks to connect to the air stations. Those assigned to fire fighting teams get self-contained breathing apparatus. It's a glorified high-pressure air cylinder on your back attached to a face mask. Safety first.
The crew was fast asleep after completing a set of Vulcan Death Watches. Ship exams were coming up, and those not sleeping three to a mattress were fast asleep in their own suite.
Although we were done with training, the captain was not done with us.
About two hours after drills ended, the crew woke up to the sounds of alarm.
For probably the 6th time in 36 hours, most of the crew woke up in alarm; the three-minute countdown had begun. Sailors rushed to their stations and prepared their areas for Battlestations.
In this event, I was already working in my machinery space. I was thankful that I didn't have to deal with waking up. The announcement over the speakers was that a fire (drill) broke out in the kitchen area. Everyone was supposed to put on their breathing protection. I put mine on, as did my counterpart in the other machinery area.
Drills could last for some time until the fireteam performed all their actions. So, I figured I would be in a facemask for at least an hour breathing the air we produced onboard the ship.
Demons that Gather
About 30 minutes elapsed from the start of the fire drill when I heard a yell from the machine space next to mine:
It happens from time to time. Language on board a warship could get pretty rough. It doesn't usually happen with such clarity when we're supposed to be wearing breathing protection. I gave my friend a call and asked to speak with him at his gate.
He had removed his breathing protection. He looked serene as if he came to some profound realization.
I told him I understood but that he should get back in the game. I mentioned that the last thing anyone wanted was to get caught "out of character" for one of these war drills. I explained that having been on board for 4-years with 1.5 years remaining, I've seen the consequences of such behavior.
We sometimes can't see the causes of our pain until it's there and welcoming us into its arms.
Demons that Hunger
Master Chief. Christ. He doesn't normally troll the engineering spaces of all people. He heard what my friend said and brought someone to take over his hole. My friend was relieved of duties and was removed from Engineering.
Master Chief questioned my friend about his statements in the engineering spaces. He admitted that he didn't want to be onboard anymore. He was tired and depressed. My friend said that he was evening thinking about taking his own life.
The things we feel when under pressure will never cease to amaze me.
Once he said those words, there was no turning back. And I felt the Chiefs gathering for a meal of their own.
Demons that Feast
I found him unexpectedly. It was about 12-hours after the Master Chief removed him from the engineering spaces. Most of the crew was fast asleep. I had parts to pick up from storage, so that's where I went. One of the supply clerks ventured into a hole to grab what I needed, where we found guards standing at each side.
It's there that I found my friend restrained. Accordingly to one of the guards, my friend was on suicide watch. The other chiefs gave him a slice of bread and a cup of water. They then took turns flashing lights in his hole on and off while playing loud music to keep him awake. One of the chiefs there told me that they felt it was essential to keep him awake until we reached port. It was all to keep him "safe."
These people fed off of the stresses and emotions of my coworker for their gains. Because they were incapable of reducing their tensions safely, they chose to do it another way.
I asked the chief if he also wanted to leave the ship for his safety. When asked, I told the chief that I knew this sailor and highly doubted he would ever make claims about taking his own life. I let him know that what they were doing amounted to psychological torture.
They let him sleep and left him alone. He was allowed to return to the crew spaces but was removed from all duties. When the ship returned to dock, he left, and I never heard from him again.
The demons fed, but their hunger never abated. Instead, the demons refocused it on new prey. The difference was, their latest target never broke. It drove them mad because they never got their fill. In some ways, however, I wonder if breaking would have been a better option.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
This is a story from a different time in my life.
One event led to another and with different expectations. I never expected the chiefs' anger to be redirected at me, but I know now I should expect it to some degree from anyone. No one likes being told what to do, especially when those people are of a higher authority. I wish my friend good health and hope he and his family are well.
Thank you for reading and following on throughout my Hive journey.
Special thanks to @ashleykalila for the POB dividers.
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