01 Feb My wife and I went on a cruise last week. We barely made it back Alive Part 2
I was really drunk the day we left port.
Sara had told me I shouldn’t have stayed out so late with our group but I figured that if we were spending two weeks pretending to be their friends, the congenial repartee had to start somewhere.
Part of it was because I was trying to fit in with that elite crowd. But mostly I was nervous. This vacation was meant to be a second honeymoon for Sara, to repair all the mistakes we had made in our marriage so far. So I said to myself, I would take a day to work up the nerve and then propose to her with a new ring. Even renew our vows.
That never happened. Besides fucking like animals in an effort to get pregnant, we did little if anything in the romance department.
I remember the morning sun hit the back of our elegant ship as we cruised past the last speck of land. Sara took a picture of it while I recovered from a nasty hangover. The last good memory I actually have is vomiting in the toilet before passing out.
That should probably paint a picture for you of things to come.
“It’s the same ship.”
All four of us that had boarded the strange vessel felt a sudden unease standing there in the darkness of the generator room, trying to make sense of it.
“Okay; okay, maybe we are jumping to conclusions. Ships can have the same name,” I suggested.
I wish I had been right. But Craig was already putting the clues together.
“Same name, possibly? But make and model, that’s down right not going to happen. They register these ships in a database,” he said.
There was silence again as we all tried to articulate what we were feeling. “This isn’t fucking possible,” Greg stammered. Raymond was still coughing so loud it was hard to think.
“There has got to be another explanation!” Thomas shouted.
“Listen! I don’t like it any better than you three, but here we are! Now what the fuck are we gonna do with this bombshell?” Craig asked, his eyes focusing on me first.
I felt a shudder roll over my body. To this day I won’t forget what he was suggesting.
“You… don’t want to tell the others?” I asked, seeing his eye twitch nervously as we stood there together.
“We can’t! Do you realize how much of a panic there will be on deck if people found out? They were practically about to riot just an hour ago!” he remarked as Thomas nodded his head in agreement. Greg and I weren’t so sure though. “The others will demand an answer about what we found over here, and we’ve hardly even explored a fourth of the ship. Maybe there’s something else we can learn?” he said.
“We tell them it’s too dangerous. Thomas… you were in the Marines right?” Craig asked anxiously. “Air Force,” his buddy corrected. “All right then, everyone will listen to you. If you say that we can’t go back onboard, then that’s what will happen,” Craig decided.
“You can’t be so simple minded, Craig. Just take a step back and look at this. This ship… it’s the future. You saw those bodies. How long will it be before that happens to us?” I told them all.
“I don’t know! And I’m not about to stick around and find out!” he muttered as he pushed aside more of the strange silky material, his eyes wild with fear as he added, “When we get back across, we’re going to get our families and get out!”
“You mean abandon the others?” Raymond asked, still gasping for breath. I was thinking we needed to get him to a doctor before we made any hasty decisions.
“They’ll come to the same realization soon enough. The life boats are equipped to sustain us for ten hours on the water. That should be more than enough time to find land somewhere right?” Craig suggested.
Even Greg was starting to see this as a good plan.
“If we do this… if we are really going to do this… then it needs to be careful and calculated. We all go together after we convene with our family, okay?” I said.
“I have to find my wife and kids,” Thomas agreed.
And that was that. We made our deal with each other to keep the secret silent for as long as possible.
I only wish it had lasted long enough.
After crossing again by using the same technique with the towline, we found ourselves in hot water with our significant others and with the security team.
Mister Brooks had returned to this section of the ship with about three armed men to contain the commotion that was stirring in the darkness of the ship. It had to be past twilight at this point, but without any means of telling the time; all I knew for sure is that I just wanted to get back to my room with Sara and collapse.
“You four; come with me, Deputy Captain wants to speak with ya,” the Security Director snarled.
The other armed men were undoing our towline to sever the connection between our ships, preventing any other would be adventurers from exploring the ghost ship.
We followed Mister Brooks to the D deck where a few of the senior crew had gathered.
“Deputy Captain Vioch, these are the men that boarded the ship,” Jacob said as he closed the door.
Aside from the few emergency lanterns that the bridge crew had scrounge up, it was nearly impossible to see the man’s face clearly. I could tell he was old and seasoned, likely former Navy. The type that had experienced this sort of madness before, or so he likely thought.
I doubt he was prepared for the story we were about to spin.
And despite our reservations to keep the truth quiet, with armed men at our backs and a commanding officer questioning us; Raymond and Greg sung like canaries.
The Deputy Captain didn’t say a word as the two men recounted our short harrowing experience.
But when we were done, he merely turned to Thomas, Craig and I and asked, “Can you verify their account, gentlemen?”
Thomas saluted smartly. I nodded like a little child. Craig was doing his best to try and still seem brave.
“What in blazes is this madness, sir?” I dared to ask. But the look the old man gave me told me he was no closer to an answer than we were.
“Have you told anyone else aboard of your discovery?” he asked.
“None Sir; we even agreed we would stay quiet about it. To try and keep the peace,” Greg said.
Raymond was still coughing so much now he could hardly stand.
“What’s the matter with him?” Mister Brooks asked.
Then Ray began to vomit up blood as he collapsed onto the floor.
“He swallowed something aboard the other ship,” Craig muttered as a few of the bridge crew moved to turn him over and keep him from biting on his tongue.
“For Christ sakes, you should have mentioned this earlier,” Vioch snarled angrily.
As he shook, I saw Ray’s eyes roll back and he began to whisper the most unusual phrase.
I’ll never forget those words.
“Suffer the children,collapse the tree, return to the reunion,” he moaned again and again as Mister Brooks ran to find a medic.
But it was too late.
By the time they arrived he had fallen into unconsciousness. All they got to confirm was that he wasn’t dead yet.
“He’s severely dehydrated. We’ll get him down to sick bay,” the doctor instructed.
“Is there anything else about your journey you may have failed to mention?” the Deputy Captain snarled.
I opened my mouth to apologize when all of us heard a shriek from outside.
A few of the crew actually even visibly jumped a little at the blood curdling scream.
I pushed toward the door to peer out the windows as best as I could to see what was happening.
Then above the scream was this humming. A droning noise that grew louder with each passing moment.
Something large zoomed past the window, the buzzing drowning all other sounds out as I fell back in alarm.
“What the fuck was that??” I shouted.
One of the officers tentatively opened the door to look out. Then something grabbed his body and yanked him into the fog, crushing his chest like a peanut.
“Holy shit,” Greg stammered.
“Mister Brooks, begin sweep of A through F decks and get everyone back inside to their cabins,” the Deputy Captain ordered. Jacob shoved us toward the stairwell as we heard more screams fill the air.
“What the hell was that. Did you see it?” I asked as we hurried to the lower decks. Already people were cramming the halls, shoving one another about to get to safety. Throughout all of it I heard the droning noise grow louder and louder.
Something was attacking our ship. Something monstrous.
All I could think of was finding Sara. As Brooks and a few of his men struggled to maintain order, I slipped away with my friends toward the other halls that were meant to be for employees only.
“This is shit. This is shit. What the hell is happening here??” Craig shouted as we ran.
None of us dared to even wager a guess. We pushed through more frantic passengers as we arrived at M deck.
Sara was there amid our small group, her face one of pallid terror.
“Oh thank god. Are you alright?!” she asked kissing me before I even got a chance to respond.
The droning was growing louder. I pulled her out of the crowd toward a conference room where we got a chance to breathe and I recollected my thoughts.
“What the fuck is going on Logan?” Sara said trying her best not to cry. There was blood leaking out from under the door as we heard ravenous shrieks grow stronger. Another moment passed as I held her close.
Then the door slammed open and several from our tour group entered, some with injuries.
“Isaac, you’re bleeding,” I told him as I got him a chair.
Kevin, Holly and another woman helped me with getting him elevated and my wife ran to get some wash clothes.
Declan and Lincoln watched the door as more screams echoed the halls. “Thomas is still our there!” Holly said frantically. I heard Ray’s wife ask his whereabouts.
Then I focused on Isaac as he stirred and tried to make sense of things.
“Dear sweet Jesus… Craig, did you see it? What was that?” our group leader asked.
My friend seemed in a daze, his eyes frantically darting about the room, trying to make sense of things. He gave me the look of a man who was losing his grip on reality.
“Craig! You saw them? What were they like?” Bonnie muttered.
Finally he seemed able to speak again but what he said made little sense to us gathered there.
“I… I’m not sure. They were like scorpions. And also like leopards. Fast… immeasurably fast. And those eyes. There must have been thousands. It moved like a gelatinous mass. Writhing and consuming everything. It was everywhere. When it looked at me, it felt like it was looking into my very soul,” Craig stammered as he broke into tears.
The droning noise grew more chaotic and Declan pushed some of the furniture to block the door. That only caused Holly to go into more hysterics. “We can’t just leave Tom out there!!”
Another loud shriek filled the air and she began to sob and beg them to let other survivors in.
“Keep those doors closed!” Kevin demanded, trying to calm her down as Isaac tried to pair up his own description with that of Craig’s.
The old man sounded even more confused as he muttered, “A Scorpion? No… no more like a spider or a shark. Weaving its way through people with long endless rows of teeth. It was as large as an ox, with no eyes at all. Just a faceless mesh of mouths, ravenously devouring everything in its way.”
“This can’t be happening. It can’t be,” Sara said as she clutched my arm hard and tried not to collapse to her knees.
The whole room seemed to shake as more strange rumblings passed us by. Then Bonnie began to recite scripture.
“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring…“
We turned to her, perplexed by the sudden religious inclination and she twisted her hair absently before admitting, “My mother used to make me behave with verses like that. Said we were closer than ever to the End-Times.”
Declan laughed nervously. “There’s no way that could be what’s happening right? I mean, that’s just a bunch of Mumbo jumbo.”
Others in our group didn’t seem so sure. And considering what I had seen first hand, I too wondered about everything.
“None of us can know the day nor the hour for the Lord shall come like a thief in the night,” Bonnie responded.
“What matters is we stick together. If we do that we will make it out of this alive,” I told them. It didn’t sound very convincing with the massacre happening right outside. Holly kept crying, desperate to reunite with her husband.
“We should get some sleep,” Lincoln suggested. Another obstacle that seemed impossible to overcome. How could we possibly hope to rest when our fellow passengers were being torn in two by God knows what? All of us were thinking it, but no one argued with his sentiment either.
“Got to keep our strength up, to get out of here,” he added.
“Sure,” Craig said, his eyes still delirious from the horrors he had seen.
Sara and I scooted near to the eastern wall, my wife wrapping her arms around her legs and trying not to cry.
“I’m so so sorry,” I told her.
She didn’t even seem to be able to form words to respond.
It made me think back to the reason we booked this cruise in the first place.
I’ve touched on it briefly before, and as I reflect now on that somber night as we laid our heads down to try and sleep amidst sounds of pure torture; it’s returning to my mind how fragile our relationship has been over the past two years.
Sara and I have been together for six, and honestly if you were to ask me where I thought we would be back when we first got engaged I would have given you a standard response. Two kids, nice house. Living the American Dream.
That quickly transformed into an American Nightmare for us when we decided to try and make a family for ourselves.
First there were the miscarriages. Those were rough enough to go through. And then I had to get surgery and learned I couldn’t produce any kids either.
I remember seeing the disappointment cover her face like a shroud. Of course the doctors talked about other methods like IVF or even adoption, but Sara had already given up on it.
We both knew it could be years before we were even eligible to fit the criteria of being a foster family. I tried so hard to look into everything to fix our problem. Went into debt searching for pills and natural herbs. But nothing worked. Our perfect life came crashing down around us.
And if this cruise was indeed meant to be the culmination of everything we worked so hard to achieve, it only further proved how broken we were by it becoming another disaster in our fracturing lives.
We have always been distant with each other, almost going in different directions.
Like two ships on very different routes.
All I wanted was to make a course correction. Get us back on track.
Slowly, in the dark of that crowded conference room as the noises rose and fell like the tide; she reached for my hand.
Bonnie was leading the group in a prayer circle, thinking any kind of show of devout penance might help now.
I don’t know if that was the reason why Sara reached out to me in that instance or not.
But I simply know I felt her squeeze my hand in a way I hadn’t felt for so long that I refused to let go of that feeling.
It’s the kind of thing that can make even the most difficult of nights a little more calm.