Tom stared at the sky, his heart beating hard. He could suddenly sense…something. He felt like he could drown in the air, even though it also made him feel somewhat in control. He hoped he wasn’t getting ill again. He walked over to the side of the ship and looked down into the water. It was calming, somehow.
He wondered if the water felt like the air did now. It was so damp, and yet he wasn’t wet. There must be water in the air…it dawned on him then. It was going to rain. He looked up, and as if on cue, a downpour started. His classmates on the deck groaned, and started heading under, their break for fresh air interrupted.
Tom didn’t mind the rain, though. He had before, when Nathan had cruelly left him out as a prank, but now it was different. It was peaceful, and it made him feel strong, for some reason. He wondered briefly if he could catch the raindrops and throw them like a bucket of water.
“Tom, what are you standing there for? It’s pouring, let’s go!” One of his classmates pulled him away from the edge of the ship, and he broke out of his daydream.
He followed the others below deck, and he watched while those who had gotten caught in the rain attempted to dry off. They had taken some of the dampness in the air with them, and Tom noted how the wooden planks of the ship absorbed the excess water. That was probably bad for the wood, Tom figured.
“Don’t you want to dry off?” someone asked. Tom didn’t really want to, but agreed anyway, running his hands through his hair to shake off some of the water. He had never noticed before how nice rain was.
“Cruddy weather,” someone said. Tom frowned.
“I hope it lets up before the holiday,” someone else said next to him.
“Holiday? As in, days off?” Tom perked up when the speaker nodded. He hadn’t realized it was near the Ship Lord’s holiday again. He couldn’t wait for the festivities. There would undoubtedly be food, and often they met up with other of Ruthen’s ships to exchange goods. He could meet new people, maybe explore another ship, and best of all, not have to worry about class for three days. Once he got through this one, he could eat and then have time to himself, and hopefully plan with Nathan what to do to celebrate. Nathan had been strange lately, but surely he would have time over the break to spend with Tom. Tom spent most of the lesson that afternoon pondering what he could do over the break from classes.
Once classes were over that evening, Tom’s stomach growling with hunger, the navigator pulled Tom aside. Tom jumped in surprise. Was he being punished for something?
It turned out that was far from the case. “Tom, I heard you were ill from a friend of the captain.”
Tom tilted his head. He didn’t know anyone that was at all close to the captain, and he had no parents on the ship that would have such connections. It was true, though, so he simply nodded.
“Well, if you ever need to take time off, that’s fine.” The navigator looked as if she was sharing some secret with him. Was she telling him that he could cut class…whenever he wanted? He tried to suppress a grin.
“Uh, sure.” He replied, and quickly ran out after the rest of the class. That had been odd, but he figured the teacher was just worried about his health. How sick had he been, anyway? He didn’t know, but he was happy with all the benefits it had given him.
Tom headed to the mess hall next, sitting alone at a table and enjoying his meal. He started when he saw the same strange man he had run into earlier that morning in the hall, sitting at one of the head tables. As if sensing Tom’s attention, the stranger put his head up and stared back at him, his eyes glittering. Tom’s heart jumped. He remembered his conversation with the man, suddenly. The guy’s name was Archibald, and he wanted Tom to tell Nathan about clash, or something. Tom figured he would, just to get an explanation of some sort for all the odd events of the day. Assuming, of course, that Nathan knew anything. Tom frowned. He couldn’t decide yet if today had been good or bad.
He should probably go find Nathan. Where he would be, Tom had no idea.
As he headed down the hall, he could hear the drumming of the rain against the ship. He stopped, cocking his head. Had he always been able to hear that when it rained?
He headed down the hallway, his skin buzzing with a strange sensation, like the feeling he got before a storm but…deeper. More obvious. He stopped by the door to the deck, staring at the wood. He could hear the rain pounding outside.
This was stupid, he knew. But he pushed open the door anyway.
The rain hit him with force, soaking him in seconds, but Tom didn’t. He felt invigorated by it, and dashed to the edge of the deck, looking over the water. The spray of the ocean mixed with the rain from the sky, and he realized that they were different. He grinned into the storm, his face and hair already soaked. He felt powerful, out in the heavy rain like this. He wondered if anyone else felt the same way.
He jumped when the door to the inside of the ship banged open. Tom peered through the rain as a figure walked to the edge of the ship, looking out over the water into the rain. Tom almost called out, but then closed his mouth. It was Nathan.