Title: The Grey That Comes After
Word Count 450
The Grey That Comes After
The captured sloop was made fast to the Indy. In time she would be searched properly and Captain Pellew would decide what to do with her. There would be prize money, William Bush thought. But perhaps none would come to him. He was not ship's company of the Indy, though he had fought along with the others. He was not part of the Renown either. The Renown was resting on the sea bottom. William was not this, nor that. He was not really anything. Just now William and Mr Bowles stood in the sloop's tiny wardroom. The sun had come out from behind the clouds of morning. The sloop was taken. There was time to breathe. Mr Bowles was cleaning blood from his sword with a captured dinner napkin.
“Go across to the doctor, you are bleeding.”
The cut was small. It was soaking through the shirt though, and he had to obey. Will went, hoping against dread that he would not need stitches. He had gotten his arm stitched last year, and that had been miserable. The cut to his side had not hurt at all until the older man brought it up. Now it did.
There were planks now laid across to the Indy. A fat landsman could have walked over with ease. William swung across, feeling the wound's pull as he saluted the quarterdeck. The dim close air inside the Indy was a relief. His head ached, and he was cold now too. The little German doctor was taking all comers, men of both his own and the captured ship. He was taking them in a jumbled order of his own devising, not by rank, as Will would have expected. Just now he was setting a broken finger for Hornblower, the tall dark lieutenant. There was blood on Hornblower's hand, but it was likely someone elses. Will could see that the bone had not gone through the skin, Hornblower would keep the hand. It looked horrible anyway. Hornblower sat like a statue, but he was pale and sweaty and his white teeth were clamped down on the powder stained curl of his other fist. The doctor cut his eyes alertly at Will.
“Sit down son, you will be next.” William nodded. Sitting seemed a fine idea. He knew this feeling, this gray land of afterward. He could see it in the eyes of the others waiting for the doctor's interference. He had seen it even in the usually amiable gaze of Mr Bowles. They stood in it together. He subsided to a locker, clasped his side and waited.