The Aubergine Depths
March 19, 2007
Disclaimers: Nothing here is anything close to mine.
Spoilers/Timeline: Nothing you need to worry about.
Summary: Something is amiss aboard the Murcielago.
Ratings Note: Contains language and imagery.
Author's Note: Somehow, talking to Mary led to me
talking myself into writing (another) AU of "The Doom
That Came To Gotham."
Acknowledgments: To Betty, for damning us all by not
I have been aboard the Murcielago for just over a
year, however, it is only now that I feel remotely --
It has been three weeks since we set sail from Gotham for
the second time since I've had the pleasure to be something
of an amalgam of unofficial steward, ship's boy, and --
Long before I'd stirred this ink to usability, I had told myself
repeatedly to accept the fact that I would not begin well.
Record-keeping is a far cry from being a diarist, and I
I understand that the latter takes both practice and the sort
of artistic mindset which I'm quite sure, at this late date,
that I lack.
Just the same, it is a difficult thing. I --
I think I shall try again another time.
Quote: "No such thing as a good time for porting in
Quote: "Never anything good came out of Gotham, and I'm
including you, you, and myself, thank you very much."
Quote: "Now, I've never been the sort for cities -- unlike our
own Mr. Todd -- and I really shouldn't say -- I don't think it
would be right to speak ill of a place I've barely visited,
however -- Gotham gives me an ill feeling."
Nearly every person on this ship came on in the ports of
Gotham, whether or not they were born or reared in that
I fear there is something wrong, and I am not at all sure
how to talk about it.
I have been ridiculous, and there is no excuse for it.
While it is entirely true that I begun this journal for purposes
which could not, by any definition, be deemed practical,
there is simply --
I must have done with it.
Early in May, we sold our meager stores (we are, first and
foremost, a scientific vessel) of tobacco and sugar for a tidy
profit, and then, for all intents and purposes, waited for
Captain Wayne --
(A journal is, perhaps, the proper place for me to finally
express my near-constant degree of surprise and, perhaps,
scandalization over how insistent our Captain is that we call
him by his Christian name.)
Captain Wayne is something of a polymath. We have
catalogued several new species of fish in the North Atlantic,
we have studied the crafts of the Natives in various
less-civilized areas to fine mutual effect, we have improved
the shipping charts for Atlantic sailors of all stripes.
It is, thus, familiar to have something of a pause wherever
we port -- even the uneasy Gotham city herself. I --
It is, of course, necessary to state that the Captain himself
is a native of Gotham. This is easy to forget, as, to the best
of my knowledge, all of his attachments to the city are of a
business nature, as opposed to anything softer.
Others of us aboard have speculated -- much -- about
whether or not our Captain ever has feelings of
I never --
I never would have imagined how very easy it would be to
digress in this manner. Should something happen, I must
state for the record, again, that I fear that there is
something badly wrong. I fear that the problem lies with our
Captain, and I fear that --
I am inexcusably dramatic. Were this a ship of the line -- or,
truly, any Navy vessel at all, I would surely be flogged on a
regular basis for the good of the ship and, perhaps, of the
Mr Grayson would, perhaps, disagree with this assessment,
but I am quite sure Mr Todd would not. I have been less
intimate with our other hands, as befits both class and our
Mr Grayson is far more comfortable with the other hands as,
of course, is Mr Todd -- Captain Wayne is far more of a
stickler for rank than he is for class (as befits a man
experienced with the oft treacherous ways of the sea), and
is by no means much of a stickler for either. I --
I have found discomfort here, I must confess, as well as I
have found education, useful experience, camaraderie, and
many intangible joys.
I wonder if, when my father placed this volume in my hand
upon our farewells, he ever suspected I could present myself
so uselessly, so --
Everything, everything in this volume is frippery.
Today I take hold of myself, if for no reason than the fact
that the alternative is to find myself huddled fearful in the
dark as Mr Grayson sleeps.
Point the first: He sleeps too deeply.
Point the second: He is not the only one.
Point the third: Yesterday evening, as Mr Todd and the
others helped us skirt the edges of a storm, as I worked to
keep ink and paper out of the worst of the spray while the
Captain dictated notes for both the day's work and our
future plans, the Captain's foot slipped.
He did not fall, but his face -- already grown quite pale over
the last several days -- drained entirely of color.
The Captain --
Bruce was afraid.
I let my inkwell fall, and everything seemed a dream as it
tumbled -- slowly yet unstoppably -- into the swells. I took
hold of his elbow, and I held him steady as --
As he shook.
I am the only witness to this, and I have debated with
myself the wisdom of sharing my fears with anyone --
Mr Grayson has already laughed me aside. He has come to
think of me -- not without reason -- as something of a
worrier. However, he is not among those aboard who have
laughed merrily at the jape -- introduced by Mr Todd long
before -- that I possess the soul of an accountant.
He is the one I felt would be most likely to, at the very least,
investigate my fears to the extent of speaking to the
Captain. He has been with Bruce longer than any of us, and
I daresay that, if asked, most everyone onboard would
agree that if there were anyone who knew -- or could
know -- the secret heart of our Captain, it would be Mr
I barely need look up from the page to watch him sleep. I
must look up merely to be sure he is there.
Mr Grayson has never been the most silent of sleepers,
whether or not he has helped himself to slumber with some
of Mr Todd's moderately contrabanded spirits, and yet
Now he sleeps with a peace I fear I find uncanny.
I fear that he has, perhaps, already spoken with
I feel I should state, if only for this poor record, that, while I
am no physician, I am not unfamiliar with the nature of
Before consumption had done with my mother and left my
father and I with the lifeless shell of her body, we placed
her in one of the better sanitariums in Gotham.
The family's means, at the time, were enough to ensure as
much comfort as any earthly power could afford her.
Her surroundings were more than enough to afford me with
an education many aboard would find dangerously ill-starred,
were they to know of it.
While I held the Captain against myself in the terrible
moments before he recaptured equilibrium, I could hear
no sign of putrefaction in his lungs, and I could discern no
sign of fever.
The flesh of his face was wet with nothing more than spray,
and its temperature, if anything, was chill.
There was an older gentlemen in the sanitarium with
malaria -- I have considered this, as well, but we have yet
to sail further south than the Virginias. Our Captain is too
stout a spirit for the looser, warmer climes, and our routes
anathemic to that sort of humor.
The contagion, if I am not merely locked in some evil
phantasm of a waking dream, may very well be spiritual in
We are none of us qualified for that sort of physic.
Tonight, Mr Grayson tosses fitfully. His covers are on the
floor -- again -- though his skin is dreadfully cold to the
touch. I am not sure I will take any true rest beside him.
Earlier today, Mr Todd caught my glance with a meaningful
look of his own. I shall tell myself to retain hope.
I met with Mr Todd early this afternoon, during the time in
which both the Captain and Mr Grayson have taken to
resting. Many of the other hands gather together at these
times, and though it pains me to admit it, I can only hope
their thoughts have turned to leisure, rather than the sort of
suspicion which is dangerous among the poorly educated
and low of class.
My conversation with Mr Todd, as exactly as I can transcribe
"Dickie told me you were worried about Bruce."
"I -- he is not himself."
Mr Todd spat over the side, and nodded. "No, he isn't. And
neither is Dickie, anymore."
At this point, Mr Todd gave me a very narrow look, indeed.
"You bunk with him."
"I do not feel any differently --"
"That," he said, and jabbed me hard between the buttons of
my vest, "is exactly what he said. I don't believe him, and I
don't know how to go about believing you."
I had but little to prove my case -- I have but little,
save for my continued sense of unease -- but I offered that
which I did have. I opened the cuff of my shirt and offered
Jason my wrist.
His laughter -- as is often the case -- had more of scoff than
humor, but he did not neglect to touch my flesh, almost
certainly to test for both temperature and weakness.
After several moments of this, he met my eyes once more. I
have never seen the man look so troubled, so -- frightened.
"Am I not myself?"
"You are -- I think. Look, you've still got the night-eyes of
the librarian you were born to be. Tonight, *I'll* keep watch.
If either Dickie or Bruce makes a move... I'll find out. And
I'll let you know."
He left to perform his more mundane duties, and I did the
same. Before retiring to the cabin I share with Mr Grayson, I
caught the barest glimpse of a shadow in our little-used
crow's nest. The shadow nodded its head.
It may be the worst sort of womanly, but I am relieved.
Even though I have not seen Mr Grayson since he quit our
small mess without touching the food on his plate.
Mr Todd did not return, last night. It is not yet evening here,
but I --
Mr Grayson did not return to our cabin last night.
The Captain --
I have not --
I fear I cannot remember when last I saw the Captain.
One of the lifeboats has gone missing, presumably with the
three lesser hands who did not appear in the mess this
I am the highest-ranked sailor the men have witnessed --
The highest-ranked sailor the men have presumably
witnessed today, and the only thing resembling an officer. I
fear the resemblance is a poor one, indeed.
We are not on the course the Captain ordered -- I have that
course set in the logs.
I do not dare comment on this.
Instead, I have given the men the most basic duties I could
think of. The extent of my bravery is to remain here, in the
sun, beside our remaining life vessel. Should it come to it, I
do not intend to offer a fight for the thing. It would be
pointless, and I am needed here.
Tonight I will finally use my book-weakened eyes.
Tonight I will endeavor to find an answer to write in this
volume, and from there --
From there, I do not know.
After my mother finally died, we burned all of her dearest
possessions, and paid a local reverend to bless the ashes as
they found the wind and their departure from our lives.
There are many flammable items aboard a ship.
June 13 (??)
I am undone. I am -- unmanned.
I am wounded and I know, I know, at last --
I know nothing.
On my throat --
I know this by the stars, though our course is both
astronomically sound and unknown to me.
Dick has offered no true hint of his intentions with this
ship -- ah!
I should burn these pages, and have done.
I should --
No, I think I shall keep this -- it is a brief thing, after all, and
as it amuses me to continue to write within its pages -- how
generous of my father to, after selling me to Bruce to cover
his debts, to set in my hands a book! -- so might it amuse
Though, diary, to be honest --
I have not seen Her crack the spine of a book since I have
been in Her acquaintance.
I can hardly blame Her. She is both in fine company with
such worthies as Jason Todd -- a more joyously, cheerfully
illiterate man has never been known -- and quite wealthy
with other amusements.
In retrospect --
O, diary, let me simply offer a quote, spoken by far too
many sailors of my acquaintance for anything resembling
'A ship with a woman in her belly is a ship of the Dead.'
Pithy, don't you think? Sailors are poetic souls to a man.
But ah, if She might read this, surely I must needs make it
worthy of Her!
The stars add no shine to her hair. When kissed by
sunlight -- if ever such a thing could have occurred -- I
believe it must have seemed golden, a bit of sunlight
brought to earth.
(Dick had something of the sort to say to her... recently, and
the exuberance of Her reaction sent him flying, tumbling
overboard. He returned in silence, wet and stinking of salt
and the cold blood of the denizens below, and his smile
pierced me to the very -- quick.)
Her eyes are no blacker than the sea when she is roused,
and her hands have the delicacy of fine-smithed poniards.
I will never forget the sight of Her laying Jason open with a
touch, nor the perfection of his ecstasy as he sank to his
knees before Her.
Her mouth is fount and fury, and that which lies beneath
Her flesh the Source.
She knit Jason well once more before me, after taking Her
fill. He waits, as we all do, for Her pleasure once more.
And Bruce --
Ah, the stoutest of us!
Her first, and Her last.
I can only imagine the expression on his face when first he
found Her in our hold, as he gazed upon cold perfection, as
he offered himself up, time and again.
At the moment, diary, he is too weak to do much offering,
but we are, all of us, quite sure of the intent in his moans.
He rests in the simple crate which once held Her. Tonight,
She has said, now that we have discarded what remained of
the rest of the crew, Bruce will be remade.
If we are quite good, She will, perhaps, let us watch.
And once Her work is complete...
Why then, diary --
Perhaps we will return to Gotham!