Chapter Two

In which Captain Halloran and his best friend are introduced

A cold wind flattened Captain Joseph Halloran’s fringe against his forehead. Both his hands were occupied, one holding the loose end of a thick metal cable, and the other wrapped tightly around the rigging. Blinded by his slightly-too-long brown hair, Captain Halloran’s only choice was to flick his head somewhat cinematically. He groaned as he realised how pretentious that would’ve looked to his crew, a good two thirds of which was standing below him, presumably looking up and snickering. Great, he thought. All I need now is a knife held between my teeth and a stirring soundtrack. Regaining composure, the Captain threaded the cable through a winch above his head, then rappelled down the mast, cable trailing behind him. His heavy boots hit the deck and the gathered crew cheered.

Captain Halloran and Julian

“That’s enough!” The Captain shouted over the sarcastic applause. “Enough of that cheek.” He turned, fastened the cable to a hook at the base of the mast, and pushed through the crew toward his quarters.

“And how long did it take you to do your hair this morning, oh Captain my Captain?” asked a slight, blonde, bespectacled observer.

“Shut it, Julian.” Captain Halloran grumbled, but he couldn’t really hide his smile.

Julian Walton was Joe’s library companion. The pair would set up camp in the university library. Joseph would spread himself across a soft lounge chair, boots propped up on the nearest desk. On the floor beside the lounge would lie a stack of dusty books, most picked on whims, subjects like geography, languages, history, sometimes astronomy. Joseph would sit so slouched that he could select a new book from his stack without stretching. Jules would sit straight-backed at a desk further away from the lounge, reading glasses perched on his small, straight nose. Joe could tell when his friend was particularly interested in what he was reading; Jules would lean over his book, rest his cheek on his hand, elbow propped on the desk, and run his other hand through his dark blonde hair. His eyes would widen behind his glasses and sometimes his lips would move as he mouthed what he was reading. Whenever this happened, Joe would rise from his chair, walk unnoticed toward his library companion, and pull whatever book it was that had Jules so fascinated right out from under his nose, usually met with little sounds of annoyance and snatches of mumbled phrases like ‘train of thought’ and ‘you wouldn’t understand it anyway’. Joe never understood what his friend read, heavy textbooks filled with equations and theories attempting to explain the universe.

“You have the brains,” Joe would say, falling back onto the lounge, “but I have the hair.”

In the library


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