Doing a little Time Travelling here. Moving forward in the story for a #TeaserTuesday entry that I hope will entertain you. Please comment, and, as ever, thank you for reading.
(Kaiulani Spencer, sister of Noah and friend of D.T. Rhysing, senses something is amiss with her relationship with Prince Abdul al Shar, owner of the Saracen, a super yacht anchored in Anaehoomalu Bay. Follow along as she wakes in the night, searches for answers, and comes face to face with the ultimate predator...)
The Bones of the King - CHAPTER 78 - Predator and prey
Unable to sleep and frantic with worry, Kaiulani once again crept from the prince’s bed and found her way to the video monitor two compartments away. She touched the space bar on the keyboard and the screen came to life. Another touch and a menu appeared on the left hand side of the screen. With some experimentation she was able to discern order and meaning from the prompts the program offered.
Kaiulani was, like many of her generation, very computer savvy. There was nothing about them that intimidated her so experimenting with the unit she had stumbled across presented no challenges. Only the fear of being caught at her task made her nervous.
Within five minutes she realized that she had found a series of digital feeds from security cameras in several staterooms, the crew quarters somewhere in the bowels of the ship, the engineroom and other machinery spaces. There was one tiny room she did not recognize. The only piece of furniture in it, if she could call it that, was a sturdy framework of metal in the very center. The walls were unadorned and the deck seemed to be of bare metal.
The options toolbar listed controls much like a videocassette recorder and she found a menu of recordings cross referenced to location and camera number. She selected the feed from the stateroom she had slept in and hit the scroll back icon. A time rate prompt asked her to select a speed and Kaiulani chose a high speed. With a tap on the return key the room came to life. A blurred figure hovered around the bed and then suddenly resolved into her, sleeping restlessly on her first night on board. Kaiulani slowed the rate of playback and continued to scroll backward.
It was strange to watch herself sleep, though at the speed she had chosen it didn’t look as though she was sleeping at all. Her form twisted and rolled and crawled around on the bed as though possessed. Very soon the bed was empty and perfectly made up. Kaiulani sped things up again, knowing that she was now viewing scenes that had taken place before she had come aboard the Saracen. Two cycles of light and dark went by and the scene changed rapidly.
A young woman slept peacefully in the bed, long blonde hair flowing over the pillows. Kai switched to forward motion and watched until the woman disappeared. Slowing and reversing, Kai was able to isolate the last time the woman appeared in the guest stateroom.
She was asleep, a smile playing across her features when two crewmen, one of them Ibrahim, al Shar’s bodyguard, appeared in the scene. The covers were snatched away abruptly and the naked woman woke, fear and confusion apparent in her eyes. Ibrahim pulled her roughly from the bed and all three disappeared from the view of the camera.
Kaiulani felt a jolt of fear in the pit of her stomach. She had seen enough already to tell her to get out, but she had to know more about the previous occupant of her room and, if possible, what became of her. Maybe something had happened that Kai did not understand. She had to know for sure.
Fingers flying, she rapidly created view boxes for twelve camera feeds, trying to find and use all those that were closest to the guest stateroom. She found the playback was synchronized and seamless and immediately picked up the motion of the crewmen and the woman in the small room she could not identify. The men were doing something to her, holding her hands above her head and then moving to her feet as her hands remained in the air. Kai selected that view, minimized the rest and watched in growing amazement and dread as the woman was tied to the framework that was the room’s sole feature.
Scrolling forward as fast as she could while still being able to make out what was happening, Kai began whispering to herself and rocking back and forth on the edge of the chair. The two crewmen disappeared and the woman seemed to flutter against her restraints as she tested the bonds repeatedly. Suddenly she froze and a new figure appeared in the room. Kai slowed the playback to normal speed and watched as al Shar held the woman by her chin with his left hand and caressed her hair with his right. She was trying to pull away and Kaiulani could see the muscles in al Shar’s arms tense. Without warning he jerked a huge hank of the hair from her head. The woman mouthed a silent scream and Kaiulani shivered and lowered the monitor. She had seen enough to know she didn’t want to see any more. It was beyond time to go. She had to find a way to extricate herself from al Shar’s web and then never come near the Saracen again. Noah’s friend Mike could handle things once she got away and told them everything she had seen. Something terrible had been in store for the woman in the video.
“She came to enjoy it after a time,” said a voice from behind her.
Kaiulani turned and saw al Shar in the aft doorway to the compartment. He was looking at her without expression, his eyes cold and hard, taking her measure as she realized she had been caught. Kai knew in that second that al Shar was a predator and she the prey. She had seen this scene played out too many times on the reef to expect a happy outcome. Omilu shadowed schools of weke and waited until one out of hundreds was in the wrong position, a little high above the bottom or separated from the safety of numbers. Ulua hunting Durgon or Palani were the same. For the reef fish it was always a deadly race for shelter among the lobes and fingers of coral, begun in the blink of an eye and over within seconds. Sometimes the predators started late or too far from the reef and their prey would escape and other times the prey would be caught and swiftly consumed. Of these encounters Kaiulani knew there were two givens. The first was that when the attack came it was faster than the eye could follow. The second was that the prey never ate the predator.
She made it to the aft door of the compartment and ducked through it and beyond. Behind her, giving swift chase came the prince. She heard his footsteps following her headlong dash but she did not look back. Another doorway opened into a passageway that she recognized. She was on the offshore side of the Saracen, headed forward, her bare feet lightly hitting the deck, her strong young muscles straining to add impetus to her flight. Rounding a corner she came face to face with a crewman, feinted right and then ducked left, losing none of her desperate speed. A curse in Arabic and the sounds of two bodies colliding told her that al Shar had lost ground.
Ahead of her the passageway walls and the overhead framed the soft blue of the predawn sky. The only barrier between her and safety was the gleaming rail some three and a half feet high. Kaiulani hit the deck with both feet and launched herself into a dive, clearing the rail with room to spare. She arced out over the water and down, elation competing with fear as the sea came up to greet her.