In spite of the harmonious rising and falling of the wine-dark waters of the Mediterranean, David Strife woke with a start. He had had the dream again. His condition had been improving, his therapist assured him, until he received the letter. He still couldn’t believe it, despite where he found himself. He sat up on the queen-sized, memory foam mattress and emptied his pack next to him. And there it was, right beside his service pistol. He picked it up and read it again.
On it’s face, it was an innocuous invitation. But David knew better after campaigning against the man for so many years. It was a taunt. Either pass up an opportunity to confront the object of his contempt or accept a luxurious vacation paid for with blood money and be made the hypocrite. David was determined not to let Linden Murray get the better of him. As his anxiety peaked, the yacht pitched forward and he heard a crash in the quarters next door.
Shaken from his thoughts, David quickly repacked his rucksack, swung it sloppily over his shoulder, and grabbed a small journal off the desk on his way out the door. A squall like that forecast one of two things, and since he hadn’t seen storm clouds through his porthole window, it suggested the ship was nearing land.
As he rounded the doorframe of his quarters, he ran right into another guest aboard the yacht, an olive-skinned young man with blood dripping from his hand. They bumped shoulders and David tried to excuse himself, but the man just glared. The eyes struck David. A picture rose before his mind. A pair of eyes. Deep brown eyes in a sea of black. Accusing eyes set below a drab turban. Eyes with whites so pure and glaring, they lit the darkness. They pierced his being.
His head began to seethe at the memory, and he wandered below deck like Theseus through the labyrinth. It might've been below below deck as it were. The yacht could have been a river cruise ship, after all, and it made David sick to think it was Murray’s private play toy, as with the jet that flew him to Sicily.
David had been alone aboard the jet, but there were many passengers aboard the yacht, other than the young man and ship’s crew. He hadn't questioned why Murray sent him the invitation until the others boarded along with him. Until that point, he had imagined himself sitting across from the old man alone, spurning his benefaction and forcing him to admit his complicity. It was a fantasy, David knew, and as he ascended to the lower deck, Murray's true motives still escaped him.
The quite formidable island grew in David's vision above the summit of the stairs. It was fitting a man like Murray chose this island. It was almost as if it imposed itself on the surrounding islandscape. It jutted from the sea with abandon and stabbed the virginal sky. It looked a precipitous emerald in a field of sapphire and could only be described as floral, unlike the arid island to port. But David knew the real reason it attracted Murray. The island is a Maltese territory, and Malta is the Monaco of the Mediterranean.
The clouds passing overhead draped the island in an ominous shadow. Yet, as the island seemingly moved from under the clouds, a dark spot remained and it shook and undulated as if living. David was so mesmerized he didn’t notice the green-eyed, raven-haired beauty pass him as he wandered to the railing.
"Beautiful aren't they?” asked a stranger leaning on the railing next to David.
“They’re flowers?! I’ve never seen a flower with black petals," David mused softly, as if to himself.
“Eyes of Twilight: extremely deadly.”
“Huh...oh...thanks for the warning.”
The stranger stood upright and extended his hand. “Name’s Henry.”
“Hi,” was all David could muster, shifting his journal and taking Henry’s hand, still preoccupied by the heaviness between his ears.
“Well, I better be going. We’re about to make landfall so I need to fetch my luggage. But it was nice meeting you...um.”
“It was nice meeting you, David,” Henry said, disappearing below deck.
David turned his gaze to the approaching bay and could see the jetty where the yacht was headed for docking. He supposed he still had time, so he hurried to the upper deck. Planting himself at a table with a magnificent view of the yacht’s final approach, he opened his dream journal. He was to record every time and date the dream occurred and also any details he could remember of it. All part of his therapy. Only he was having trouble concentrating. He struggled to shake the image of the eyes from his mind. His efforts were distracted by the shrill voice of a whiny young girl behind him.
Annoyed, David shut the journal and stuffed it into his pack. He would have to finish later.