Shrouds of Grey

It was 1915, and though we weren't in the war yet, the United States and United Kingdom were secretly sending envoys back and forth as we discussed buisness pertaining to the Great War. That's what I was then, in fact it was my first assignment, and to this day those screams haunt my memory, urging me to tell the tale of what happened that day in May all those years ago.

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4. Interlude

   ~May 7th, 1987; 21:16hrs

  Alone in his cabin Bret sat at his desk compiling the brief notes on the napkins he had scribbled down while talking to Mr. Callahan over dinner. The napkins had gotten damp in the salty evening air as he had been meandering back to his cabin after the dinner and now he was trying to transcribe the notes into a notebook before the notes became illegible. 

   "I really should be more careful with note taking," he thought to himself as he carefully opened up another napkin and examined the notes written on it in now running black ink. "Hmm, this is definitely an interesting spin on a part of history that most take for granted."

   Furiously he sat, carefully picking apart the multitude of scribbled notes in an attempt to reconstruct them into a cohesive memory strung together from the feeble mind of an old man, scarred by the horrors he had witnessed as a younger man in a time when the world itself seemed to be tearing itself apart. The lamp on his desk flickered a bit causing him to stop writing and casually lick his fingers as he went to adjust the bulb, the saliva would build a temporary barrier he knew, shielding his fingers from the heat of the bulb.

   "Ah, that still stung a bit," he muttered as he returned to his notes once the flickering had ceased. "Now then, let's see... Ah, there's the start of May 2nd's notes." 

   "Don't you think you should call it a night, eh Bret?" came a voice from the direction of his open cabin door. Eugene stood in the doorway with a book in hand as it was apparent by his attire he had been asleep but ventured to the head as nature must've paid him a late night calling. 

   "No, I can't," he smiled meekly at his drowsy looking friend, "I have to transcribe all these notes before they run too much... I can't let this rare piece of history just up and disappear because of my negligence." 

   "Suit yourself, just don't stay up too late," Eugene retreated back into the passageway, "You're a horror to try and wake up if you've not slept well enough." 

   As his friend and colleague vanished down the passageway back to his cabin, Bret just sat there, blankly staring at the void of space his friend had just occupied as he was remembering their college days together.

********************

~March, 1979

   "Don't you think you ought to bloody call it quits already?" called the voice of a tired room mate being deprived of sleep as his bed fellow sat wide awake at their desk, pounding away at the typewriter as he transcribed note after note on his hypothesis for the paper that was due in Oceanography Studies a week from then. 

   "I'm on a roll, do leave me be," the stubble faced young man spoke with detached emotion as his mind was elsewhere, primarily on the current paragraph pertaining to oceanic migration patterns and how such notions as global warming could change them. The twenty four year old man at the desk kept switching between the typewriter and his hand scribbled notes for hours, tapping out a few words here, a few notations there until he had finally finished the synopsis hours later.

   "Finally finished, I think I'll just take a moment to revel in my work before heading to bed," he whispered to himself as he clicked off the lamp. Laying his head on the desk and closing his eyes only for what felt like a minute before he conked out; the clock on the wall reading 2:20 am.

   ~3 Hours Later

   "C'mon, wake up Bret," Eugene grumbled as tried in vain to wake his slumbering roommate who, for the second night in a row, had fallen asleep at the damn desk and not in his proper bed. The mass that was his roommate did not want to budge at all so eventually Eugene decided to start experiments as to see what would wake him.

   Several failed attempts later, he was about to give up when he remembered the bag of fermenting seaweed that Bret had stored in their mini fridge (much to his disgust). Retrieving the bag Eugene carefully unzipped the bag and held the opening near Bret's nose.

   "Oh what in god's name!?" Bret shot awake as the olfactory receptors in his nose caused him to awake and shoot away from the source of the foul odor. Crashing onto his bed in a daze, it took him a minute to register what had occurred. "Was that really bloomin' necessary!?"

   "Considering I tried everything else humanly possible for me, yes, it was," Eugene smirked slightly as he returned the bag of fermenting protists back to their cool storage. 

   "What time is it?"

   "Somewhere around five thirty," the seaweed wielding culprit who had disturbed Bret's sleep answered. "Considering our first classes are at six thirty or so I figured I should wake you up."

   "Was I really that dead to the world?"

   "Yeah, you were. Now C'mon, I'll drive us to the coffee house."

********************

   ~May 8th, 1987

   Walking by Bret's room on his way to the head for the first time of the new day Eugen stopped as he noticed his colleague's door ajar. Upon opening it he just smile a bit as he beheld his friend passed out on the desk, a pile of transcribed notes lay in a neat stack beside his unconscious head. Sighing as he entered quietly he quietly tapped Bret's head lightly with his reading material; no response.

   "Ah, here we are years later and he still is dead to the world without sleep," Eugene smiled as he picked up the notes and read through them in silence. Bret was always taking notes, very detailed notes as long as Eugen had known him. Placing the notes down onto the desk. he scribbled a quick note on a Post-it note and left to carry out his business. 

   When he finally came to later, the first thing he noticed was that again he had passed out at his desk and even worse, someone must've seen him since, despite his door being shut, his notes were not exactly in the same place he had left them; it was also then that he noticed that a Post-it note was on them which read simply;

   ~Get dressed and come to the mess. I'll get us some coffee.

   He didn't even have to guess who wrote the note as he understood its meaning. Smiling as he changed out of his attire from the day before he slowly meandered down to the mess where there Eugene sat at the far end, two cups of steaming coffee on the small table beside him.

   "Morning fellow colleague," Eugene smiled, "ready to start your day?"

   "Yeah," he smiled as he sat down, "When Mr. Callahan is ready we can end this interlude and continue on with the story."

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