01 Feb My wife and I went on a cruise last week. We barely made it back Alive Part 1
You’ll be told it was an accident. A freak storm that ravaged the Dominican Republic before slamming into us.
You might even get to see pictures. Doctored ones showing a menagerie of stragglers being rescued off the coast of the Caymans.
That’s if they decide to share anything with the media at all. Considering the amount of hush money we were given to keep quiet I’m seriously doubting it.
190,000 dollars. That’s what they gave each of us. They told us this was compensation for the hardship we endured.
But it doesn’t erase the scars. I’ve tried drinking them away. I’ve tried self-medicating.
Nothing is going to work to make it stop haunting my dreams.
My wife has it even worse. Since we returned she hasn’t spoken once. The shock of what we went through hitting her harder than a sledge hammer.
I can’t keep quiet anymore, even if I wanted to. It’s gnawing away at our sanity.
I would ask God forgive what I must attempt to recount. But after what happened those days on the water, I’m not sure he even exists anymore.
There are certain moments that I can recollect with little to no effort at all. The moment the fog rolled over top of our cruiseliner is the first that comes to mind.
I was out getting a tan, the middle of our second day. We were just about six hours away from our first port of call in Mexico. And then an air horn disturbed my afternoon nap.
A dozen things happened at once as I sat up and lifted up my sunglasses to be sure I wasn’t seeing things.
A heavy gray mist was pushing its way across the bow of the ship, it stretched the length of the horizon like an insurmountable wall. I sat up and followed the bewildered crowd toward the inner safety that the ship offered as the clouds grew thicker and it became nearly impossible to see.
The panic started a few moments later when the power to our deck abruptly faltered and nearly three hundred of us were standing in the darkness trying to make sense of this.
One of the passengers from our group, Craig; said he thought he saw something else moving amid the mist.
“Maybe the coast guard?” another asked.
“I have a pair of binoculars,” a third responded.
I took them and pushed through the crowd to the open air tanning deck, leaning against the side rail to get as good of an angle as possible to see.
What i gazed upon changed our whole vacation from a dream getaway into an absolute nightmare.
“It looks like… another ship out there,” I said as the leader of our group, Isaac; joined me at the rails.
He took the binoculars to confirm it as I heard my wife call my name.
“Logan! What’s going on?” Sara asked.
“It doesn’t look like they’ve altered course. They may not know we’re out here What with all our systems down,” Craig realized as he dashed off to find one of the crewmembers.
Just a bit of bad weather,” I reassured my wife as I wrapped my arms around her and we waited for Craig’s return.
The remainder of our group came on deck along with throngs of other passengers, all of them peering toward the vessel with interest and commotion. It was already clear to see the other ship was also a large luxury ship like ours.
A few security officers began to insist that everyone should go back inside.
“Why should we go inside? If they ram us it won’t matter where we are!” a new older man named Lincoln pointed out.
A few other passengers started muttering in agreement, some whipping out cell phones to try and take a picture of the vessel. It was still too far away to really be able to see anything though.
Then amid the noise, a sharp whistle was blown. A strong muscular black man found a pedestal to stand on and get everyone’s attention as he glared down at all of us like we were little kids.
“Listen up everyone, Security Director Jacob Brooks speaking. I have some some updates from the bridge crew that relate to our current situation,” he announced.
“Wait; why isn’t this being broadcast over the PA?” an elderly woman muttered.
“That’s part of the issue we’re having. It seems we hit a snag and our systems are completely down…” the commotion he’d managed to quiet down was growing loud again so he blew the whistle until everyone shut up.
“Now ordinarily we would rely on our backup generators to get things running smoothly again. However there seems to be a malfunction with them as well, leaving us in the water without much to fall back on,” he explained.
“How the hell does that even happen? I thought this ship got five stars!” one irate passenger yelled. More chimed in. Then I made a startling discovery that changed everything.
“Hey! My cell phone just died,” I said. A few near to me checked theirs and noticed the same thing was happening. Nothing electronic seemed to be working.
“What the fuck is going on?” Isaac asked next to me. I didn’t know for sure, but now the fog was thicker than ever and it was becoming difficult to see out. We had no clue how close the other vessel was to ramming us.
“Everyone that can reconvene in conference room S-13 and we can go over some standard emergency procedures but if you cannot attend or make it into the conference room, please return to your rooms to await further instructions!” Jacob shouted. But most of us weren’t listening to him by then.
Because the ship had gotten closer. We realized it was another cruise ship, but now even amid the heavy fog we could see the decks were devoid of life.
“Look!” Sara shouted covering her mouth in shock as she pointed toward the side of the boat.
There, scrawled in what appeared to be human blood; was a message that was as wide as a car and stretched down the side of the cruise liner.
The commotion was hard to calm down as Jacob whistled again and again, but finally he had enough and fired a warning shot with his service pistol into the air to calm the crowd.
“Now that I have your attention,” he muttered as he holstered the weapon again, “The last thing we need to do right now is panic. We have no idea what happened to them or why, so there is no reason to consider the same threat occurring here. For now it is merely in our vicinity and causing us distress, nothing more and nothing less.”
“Then what should we do, sir?” Isaac asked.
“I need to go up-deck and check with Deputy Captain Vioch about our current situation. In the meantime, it looks like I’ll need to deputize a few men here since most of my regular staff actually took their own vacation when we left port from Galveston. I’m four men down. If anyone of you feel you are up to the task, speak now,” Jacob barked.
Sara gave me a little nudge. I looked at her like she was crazy. Then she smiled nervously. It was the type of smile I hadn’t seen for a while.
I raised my hand right alongside a scrawny young man named Lincoln and another guy of the group. I think his name was Declan? Mister Brooks didn’t offer us any sort of firearms but told us to keep the peace on this deck until he returned. Easier said than done really. Just in that small group of 19 that I came aboard with, the speculation of what had happened to the ship was starting to spread.
“Something must have killed everyone on board. A virus I’m sure,” The elderly woman, Bonnie; said as she started to knit furiously.
“Oh that’s rubbish. I’m sure the ship merely experienced some fatal miscalculation and left them stranded out on the open water without a means to contact the land,” a newcomer named Thomas suggested.
“You mean like we are,” Sara said blandly. That got everyone to be quiet, as it was the first time any of us actually had to face the fact we had no clue why our own ship was down.
“I guess it could always be worse, at least we still have a buffet,” Isaac joked. But I didn’t feel like making light of anything just yet. Especially when I went to the rails again and noted now the other cruise liner was right alongside our own. The scrawled bloody message even easier to read. It looked like it had been written quite some time ago. Months possibly. I remember wondering if we would be trapped out there as long.
“We should board it,” Craig suggested as he appeared from the upper deck stairs.
“Did you find one of the bridge crew?” Sara asked him anxiously.
“They’re all too busy trying to handle more commotion on the other decks. It’s getting crazy all across decks E through K,” he said.
“I can’t even imagine trying to keep this many people calm,” Isaac said shuffling about and wrapping his arms around his body.
I did the same; suddenly it was extremely cold out there on the deck.
“It’s going to get worse unless someone goes over there to get answers,” Lincoln agreed. A few others also joined with Craig’s sentiment to attempt a crossing.
“But that’s crazy talk, we don’t even have anything to cross with,” I argued.
“It’s better than sitting around here and doing nothing,” another passenger said. Other passengers were listening in on the argument. I knew it would be impossible to settle them down soon.
“Even if we wanted to cross, there’s nothing here that can do that,” Sara said.
Kevin and Declan seemed to take that remark as a challenge and started to search the deck for anything that might help them with their foolish plan.
A few moments later they returned with a heavy tow line.
“This ought to do the trick,” Craig suggested. I knew it would be pointless to stop them. So I did the next best thing and decided to go aboard as well.
He had also managed to convince a few more men to join our would be scouting operation.
Thomas. Raymond. Greg.
“There might be supplies we could use for our own voyage, materials to get the engine up and running,” he was saying as we made it to one of the upper decks. The tow line was so heavy we knew the only successful way to snag it on anything would be with a downward throw.
“Heave! Ho!” Greg shouted as we made our first toss.
Heave! Ho!” he shouted again this time with more emphasis after we pulled up that heavy tow line.
It took us five tries. Five fucking tries to toss that huge ass thing and get it hooked to one of the side rails near to the ships middle deck. By the time we had finished, nearly a half hour had passed and I was exhausted.
“I’ll stand look out on this side,” I offered as I caught my breathe.
“And explain to Mister Brooks what it is we’re doing here?” the leader of the posse teased.
They had me figured out. I didn’t want to confront the security director again. So we gathered a few blankets for each of us to create a makeshift zipline wrapping them tight around the rope and then our chests. Raymond led the way; yelling cowabunga as he slid over to the mysterious vessel.
“This is such a bad idea,” Greg muttered.
I realized it was really too late to back out of it now, and since Sara had already agreed to stay in our room I couldn’t think of any more excuse for not joining the group aboard the strange ship.
I have to admit though, that rush of air and mist hitting me as I slid across two massive cruise liners like I was some damned tomb raider, man it made me feel ten years younger.
But any excitement I had was quickly replaced with worry and dread as we began to explore the quiet catacombs of the other vessel.
“Fucking bizarre,” Thomas muttered as we walked toward one of the still open doors to the inner hallways. Not a light flickered as we moved. But all of us were quick to notice that was some sort of strange silky substance that coated most of the walls and floor.
“Must be an after effect of the mist,” Craig suggested. “Hey, some of these staterooms are open,” Thomas said kicking a door aside and trying to look inside the darkened suite.
“Anybody think to bring a flashlight?” Marcus said nervously. We could only barely see our own reflections in the shattered rooms mirror.
I took out a small keychain that had a mini light on it, it wasn’t much but it did do the trick.
“My god,” Thomas said as he covered his mouth and we saw to our horror a body slumped over the bed. It wasn’t just the fact that the man was dead.
His entire body was caked in barnacles, as though the ship had been stranded at the bottom of the ocean for a century. His corpse was now as much a part of the ship as the deck we stood on.
“Guess they didn’t all abandon ship,” I said grimly as we moved toward the upper deck.
“We need to see if there’s any crew aboard,” Craig said, hastily kicking on doors and trying to find any signs of life.
There were nothing.
Finally we arrived at the bridge, and stared down at the shattered instruments and broken windows in defeat. There were so much of the strange slimy silk blocking up the room we couldn’t even go in to see if there was anything worth retrieving.
“What… in the hell,” Craig said as he used my mini light to peer toward the tanning deck just a few decks below, where once hundreds of sunbathers had likely sprawled out to bathe.
Instead in their place we saw to our shock that at least a couple dozen bodies were scattered, their heads severed and their organs spread across the shiny surface of the deck like discarded trash.
They looked like they were running from something. Attacked.
“We need to find the black box and figure out what the fuck happened here and then get the hell off of here,” Craig ordered.
None of us disagreed with that sentiment. Raymond made the suggestion we go to the generator room, but none of us really knew where that was. So instead we made our way back down to the open air deck where the bodies were found and used a map from there to determine the best route.
“Through this dining hall, down a few more floors; shouldn’t take long to get there,” Greg said as he memorized the map. We did as best we could and followed one of the emergency stairwells nearby to reach the lower decks.
Every step we took felt more ominous than the last. It was hard to see where we were going with such limited illumination and the further down we went the more the annoying substance that coated the ship was blocking our path. Eventually we made it to one of the massive indoor pools, where the only thing giving us any sort of luminous glow was the reflection from the water.
Raymond covered his mouth in horror as one of the headless bodies drifted near us in the grimy pool water.
He stumbled backwards into the stairwell and fell into a mesh of the silky substance that seemed to be spreading faster across the ship.
Frantically he coughed and swallowed some of the silk as he fell and fumbled with it, which of course caused him to freak out only more. Craig and I helped him to his feet and I muttered, “Stay calm man. Nothing here can hurt us.”
I don’t know if I said that to reassure him or myself. At the moment I knew the only thing that mattered was we needed to keep moving.
“We can’t go that way,” Thomas observed, noting that the substance made the steps slick and difficult to walk on and then shining a light across the room toward the entrance to the dining hall.
“Maybe we can find some food supplies too,” he suggested.
We didn’t need to be told twice. The four of us moved through the hall, not making a sound amongst us except for the occasional cough from Ray.
Pushing open the dining compartment doors, I drew a sigh of relief when I saw a flicker of light from across the wide room.
But it didn’t last long.
As we got closer I realized that although the candles themselves seemed to be recently lit, the only thing still remaining in the middle of the buffet was a fresh corpse.
It was a child. No older than eight or nine, with his chest exposed and his vital organs carved out.
I remember vomiting. I think Greg and Ray did too.
It took every ounce of strength for me not to pass out as I pushed away from the malicious scene toward another stair well.
“Calm down, calm down,” Thomas urged me.
“They ate him! Whoever survived, they ate that poor boy,” I stammered.
“There’s nothing we can do about that,” he growled.
Craig nervously reached in his pocket and smoked a cigarette. “God damn, I never seen anything like that,” he said, his hands visibly twitching. Raymond and Thomas did their best to try and push forward toward the lower engine room, none of us even daring to speak of the massacre we had seen above.
“Over here,” Greg announced excitedly once we found the right room and he opened up one of the emergency conduits.
Only to find that most of the wiring was fried or beyond repair.
“Well fuck, guess that shouldn’t surprise me,” he said with a laugh.
The rest of us weren’t listening. My eyes were on Craig. He was moving toward the back wall where more of the systems panels were tied in to the massive generator deeper below, his eyes not wavering from the lettering stamped on the side of the wall near to our location.
“You guys are seeing this too right?” he asked. I remember my mouth went dry and my heart dropped.
It was the logo for the cruise liner, followed by the name of the ship itself. Everything mirrored the same ship we had boarded only a day ago.