“You should be sleeping!” the doctor told Tom as soon as Nathan had left. Tom failed to see why the doctor would care what he did, and didn’t feel like humoring him.
“I’m not tired!” The statement came out whinier and more high pitched than Tom would have liked.
The doctor raised an eyebrow. “Would you like a sleeping draught? There’s not much else to do, and you could use the rest.”
Tom really didn’t want to sleep, but he couldn’t think of anything else to do, so he agreed. Once the doctor gave him the drink and left, though, Tom drank half and almost gagged. He set the rest down under the bed and hoped what he had ingested would be enough to make him tired.
It wasn’t. In fact, he didn’t notice any effect at all, and he grew increasingly frustrated. Finally, he decided he couldn’t take lying down anymore and sat up, looking around the room. It was cluttered with various objects that he had overlooked while his friends had been in the room. Many of the higher shelves contained numerous sharp objects that Tom probably didn’t want to know the purpose of, especially considering that they were located in an infirmary. Not all of it looked menacing, however. On one lower shelf, within Tom’s height range, lay what looked like measuring instruments for weather. He remembered the navigator talking of thermometers and barometers and other ometers…All the various names escaped him, but he knew them by sight. What the doctor might have them down here for, where they did not even function correctly, did not occur to him, but he decided he wanted to investigate further.
He focused on getting out of bed, hoping that his weakness would fade. He recalled almost falling earlier, and stood slowly, testing his strength. He felt slightly shaky, but strong enough to wander over to the shelves, and he figured that as he moved more his strength would return. The doctor must be an idiot if he thought that staying in bed would help.
He made it over and looked at the instruments, trying to read them. The markings on the barometer were indecipherable, but the thermometer was easy enough.
286 degrees. Wait, that didn’t make sense. Tom looked at it more closely, and saw that it did in fact read 286. He figured it must be broken.
He rummaged through the shelf, and suddenly his eyes caught something silvery on the other side of the room. It was a small, open tank of water, with what looked like a comb in it. There was a lantern above it, and a piece of paper underneath. Tom thought it was a very odd assortment, and he shuffled over to look at it.
It didn’t seem to serve any purpose. The glass tank just sat there with its comb, and there were no fish or anything inside of the tank. It disappointed him. Bored already of the room he occupied, Tom picked up the comb and ran it haphazardly through the water, and saw the ripples it made.
Something about the ripples intrigued him with their beauty. He faintly saw their shadows on the paper below the tank before they faded. He ran the comb through again, and studied them more closely. Where did they go when they disappeared? It almost hurt, to see them vanish. He focused on prolonging their shadows with each stroke of the comb, and the shadows and waves became noticeably more defined. Finally, he stopped using the comb altogether, watching the waves and their shadows and focusing on making them larger. He grew dizzy without knowing why.
The tank suddenly shattered, and the water flowed out onto the floor, soaking into the boards of the ship. Tom snapped out of his trance in horror, the comb still in his hand. He was in trouble; that tank had been glass, and glass was expensive and rare.
As if on cue, the doctor burst in, and upon seeing Tom out of bed with the broken tank and water pooling around the shelves, his face turned purple with rage.
“What did you do!? It’s broken! That took me years to get!” Tom backed up and his weakness suddenly returned, landing him on the floor with a thud. The comb was still clutched in his hand. “You!” The doctor whirled on him, and Tom braced to get struck. Instead, the healer hauled him up by the arm and shoved him back into bed, grabbing the comb out of his hand. “Stay there!”
Tom didn’t even consider disobeying. The doctor marched out, and quickly returned with a flask. “Drink it.” Tom did, not wanting to upset the doctor any further, who looked like he was going to cry. It tasted awful, but fear of what would happen if he didn’t finish it made him drink without gagging.
“When you wake up, you get out of here. I don’t want destructive boys like you around.” The drink hit him almost instantaneously, and Tom’s eyes grew heavy. The last thing he heard was the doctor sweeping up the shards of glass, but he could think only of the beauty of the shadows of the waves.