A New Dimension: Chapter Twenty Eight

        “Do you think it will work?” Sally said as they walked to the upper deck of the freighter.
        “I don’t know, I think so,” said Will, but he didn’t sound too sure of himself.
        Shortly after their encounter in the cargo hold, the three intrepid travellers had been introduced by Moze to the Captain. For a short time, it seemed likely that he would send them overboard, but after hearing Crimson Hen’s very broken Lithuanian, and then hearing her lilting French, then English, well, how could he not but help this witty and intelligent bird?
        Indeed, after the initial shock wore off, they became fast friends, spending many late nights discussing this and that, Physics, the nature of existence, what it means to be a sea captain, what it means to be a chicken, specifically a Hen. The Captain would laugh an uproarious laugh after she would make a sly joke. She would cluck and twitter after he shared with her some amusing anecdote from his life at sea. After even so short a time, when the Captain looked at Crimson Hen, his eyes sparkled and twinkled, and she blushed a deep shade of crimson.
        On the balmy evening before they were to make landfall at the capital city of Lithuania, after the rest of the crew had gone to bed, his twinkling was brightest and his eyes seemed to take in only Crimson Hen. She stood from her perch at the table where they were sharing a scintillating cup of tea and very gently informed him that she was the mate of Nebraska Rooster, something that she now knew she should have mentioned earlier. The Captain rose from his chair in embarrassment, and just as quickly recovered himself. He stood to his full height, thrust his shoulders back and took a deep breath, then bowed ever so slightly.
        “This, Nebraska, you speak of,” he said to her in his rough French, “he is a very lucky bird to have you by his side. I apologize, if I have overstepped a line in the sand, as you say in the American tongue.”
        “Not at all, dear Captain. I cherish this friendship we’ve built, and will cherish it always when I must take my leave of you.”
        “Must you go?” he said quickly, almost desperately. “There is plenty of room on this ship for a hen of your caliber, we could sail the seas together!” He said this knowing it was futile, but he asked anyway, so true was he to his own heart.
        Crimson laid a wing on his hand and said, “My dearest Captain, you know I must, but you will take a small piece of my heart with you when you once again leave the port for the open ocean.”
        He bowed once again, this time lower. Crimson bowed in return and there was a comfortable silence between them for a while. Then, seemly at the same moment they turned away again, and took their leave of each other, for the next day would be long, and a good night’s sleep would be hard to find, given the anxieties of their task the next day.
        
        “We’ve heard chatter on the radio, sir,” said one of the Captain’s men a few days before they had come to port.
        “What kind of chatter, Matis?” the Captain replied.
        “It’s . . . about Crimson Hen, sir!” The orderly’s face went pale.
        The Captain grabbed the receiver from his hand and put it to his ear. A long cold pause filled the room and a scowl passed his face. “They are searching for her,” he said finally, in a cold matter-of-fact tone. “They will be waiting in Lithuania to take her into custody.” He looked around at the assembled crew with a suspicious eye. “They know she is here!”
        Crimson had taken the news quite the hardest. “How can they know we’re here?” she asked again and again.
        “It was the security guards,” Will said, “it must be.
        “Maybe we showed up on security cameras after all,” Sally speculated.
        “It doesn’t matter,” said Crimson Hen finally, and she stopped her pacing and came over to where Sally and Will were sitting. “I’m going to get past them. We are going to get past them.”
        “Yes,” said Will, “I appreciate your determination, but the question isn’t about our resolve, the question is, how will we get past them?”
        Crimson leaned in. ”We’ll need a plan, a good one. Do you think you can work on that?”
        “Um,” said Will uncertainly, “you want me to come up with a plan?”
        “If you’re up for it,” Crimson said casually.
        Will looked up at Sally who smiled at him, and nodded her head. Then he looked back at Crimson. “Okay,” he said, “let’s do this.”
        
         Three days later, he and Sally were on the upper deck looking at the approaching port complex.
        “I’m scared,” said Sally, “a little.”
        “Me too,” said Will. “Up until now, we’ve been reacting to what the situation has brought us. This is our first go around at making a plan, and trying to pull it off.” He looked long out to the approaching port. Then he turned to Sally. He reached out and gently took her hand. She looked up at him in surprise for only a moment, then she took his hand in return. “I’m glad you’re here with us, Sally. I don’t think we could have done this without you.”
        “Oh, Will,” she said. “You’ve seen the Captain, you can’t know Crimson Hen for very long before you begin to fall a little bit in love with her.”
        Will smiled at Sally and nodded. “That’s true, Sally. That’s true.” They stood like this for a very long moment, lightly holding each others hand, and looking into each other’s eyes before Crimson interrupted their reverie.
        “Hey, you two. I’ve been looking all over for you. Moze is almost ready to go. I have to get below and get ready. Are . . .” she said, noting they were still holding hands, “are you ready for your parts?”
        “Yes,” they said in unison.

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