They had been at sea for what felt like an eternity. The charts and maps said they were sailing to the Pacific but as each day passed, the view from the deck became more and more similar until it was just all blue. Blue stretching on forever and ever.
It was a lonely place to be. It was an absurd thing to feel when surrounded by such a busy, tightly-knit crew but as he lay in the cabin, listening to the slow roll of the ship as she drifted through the waves, it sometimes seemed he was the only one on earth. But then, there would be that slow step on the boards above him, as rhythmic as the pulling of oars or singing of shanties, and the painful truth would come crashing back.
Maybe, he thought at times, it would be better if he was the only person left on earth.
What a terrible thing to think, he would always admonish himself. But they were on a terrible voyage. He had felt it begin to infect him, eat away at him like the worms in the hulls of vulnerable, old wrecks. His thoughts became darker in tandem with the suffering length of this journey and with the simmering madness he saw in the eyes of that old man.
He wondered if he feared him but had long since decided, in horrible hours of contemplation, that he did not. He feared the wrath of God and how He would punish this cruise of the damned. Ahab would drag them all down eventually – it was their cursed destiny – and he was his servant, trapped in the bonds of awful obedience and…cowardice.
Only in the darkest hours, when the world fell into eerie silence, could he imagine what it would be like to break those bonds. He knew Ahab had guns in his cabin – he had pointed one at him once in his madness – and Starbuck wondered what it would be like to take one down from the rack, hold it in his hand. He handled dangerous weapons frequently, his profession demanding it, had killed living, breathing creatures but that was what God had called him to do. This would break all laws, holy and secular.
Out here, maybe laws didn't preside. The ocean had her own laws. And each man had his own duty, to do what was right, what was morally correct. But he found that he did not want to live in a place where laws did not exist. It was a delusion of Jonah that such a place could ever be a haven.
Yet, still, as he lay, isolated in the darkness, he wondered how he would do it. He thought he would carry the gun with him and wait for the perfect time but it would be a burden, a constant reminder of his sin that he couldn't stand.
He would have to do the deed quickly, as if he could deceive his mind before it had the ability to consider what he was about to do. And the Captain would have to be sleeping. Not because he was afraid he might struggle and overcome him, not because he was afraid of what he might say, but because it had to be as painless as he could possibly make it. Even now, a thousand miles into hell, he could face hurting a fellow man.
And he could not bear thinking of the look in the old man's eyes as he shot him, again and again, through the heart.
The thoughts left Starbuck trembling. He wondered if he could ever justify such a thing, before the judge on earth or in Heaven. No, he could not do it. He could never do it. He was a coward. Even the faded memories of dear Mary and his beautiful children could not make him raise his hand against Ahab. He would die, tied to him, and he would not breathe a word.
Oh Lord forgive me, he would repeat desperately time and time again. Maybe I am as mad as Ahab himself. Maybe I deserve my fate for such blasphemy.
He would turn over in his bed and try to sleep but that rhythmic step, that ticking clock counting down to their destruction, would keep him awake. He would pray for deliverance, but no longer knew what he meant by the word.
Hey, thanks for reading! My first fanfic on this new account and I thought it would be appropriate if it was a Moby Dick one as...well, it's my favourite book and I think the characters are absolutely fascinating. Next to Ahab, Starbuck is probably my favourite/second favourite character and he became really interesting to write as.
Feedback is always appreciated. :)