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Countdown to Disaster

by Trevor Wells 6 months ago in Historical
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As the clock ticks down, the Unsinkable Ship inches closer to its watery grave.

Countdown to Disaster
Photo by Kyle Johnson on Unsplash

April 10th, 12:00 P.M.

Robert Forrest joined his family in waving goodbye to those who came to watch the illustrious RMS Titanic set sail for New York City. His little sister Ruby was the most eager of the bunch, seemingly yelling "goodbye" at every new face she could spot. But as Ernest and Margaret Forrest bid farewell to the friends who came to see them off, their son's eyes couldn't leave one particular face in the crowd: William Chapman. The son of one of Ernest's business associates, William was also the best friend Robert ever had. Whenever he pictured the future, William was always there, right by Robert's side in some capacity or another. For some reason he couldn't explain, Robert knew William was the person he was meant to share a life with.

But as he stood on the deck of the Titanic, he knew his family had other plans in mind. Waiting for him in New York City was Anna Payne, the daughter of Ernest's oldest friend. The impending marriage between the Forrest and Payne families' eldest children had been an open secret for some time, and now, the wedding was to be held at the end of May. While Robert's mother was overjoyed and Ruby couldn't wait to be the flower girl, Robert fought to keep his displeasure hidden. He didn't love Anna. He didn't want to leave England. And most of all, he didn't want to leave William. But he knew the choice wasn't his to make, as far as his father was concerned. So with a sinking heart, he watched as William and the Southampton port disappeared over the horizon.

April 10th, 6:30 P.M.

Marguerite and Enzo Garnier almost cried when they first caught sight of the Wonder Ship. Enzo clutched his wife's hand as he handed their tickets over to the officer, who then ushered them to board the ship. Stepping aboard the Titanic was like stepping into a royal castle for the young couple from a small village in Cherbourg. Their voyage, Enzo and Marguerite hoped, would be to a better life in America. After finding their room and unpacking their clothes, Marguerite and Enzo laid down together on the bed. As he felt Marguerite's stomach, Enzo closed his eyes and imagined the life he would work to provide for his wife and child. He envisioned a lovely home in a beautiful neighborhood filled with trees, birds, and friendly neighbors. Soon, the distant hum of the engines and the feeling of the ship cruising across the open sea sent the hopeful couple into a deep slumber.

April 11th, 11:30 A.M.

As Bridget Flannagan stepped onto the RMS Titanic, she knew she owed her life to the woman who financed her ticket aboard her metal savior: Eileen O'Sullivan. Having been her neighbor for years, Eileen was like the older sister Bridget never had. Her chats with Eileen were a much-needed respite from the warzone that was her home. Be it a bad day at work or a poorly prepared dinner, Bridget's husband Patrick had a reason to strike Bridget almost every day. Having no family and no money of her own, Bridget knew there was no way she could escape Patrick without ending up dead or a streetwalker. So after Bridget finally found the courage to tell Eileen about her husband's violent temper, Eileen knew exactly what she had to do to save her friend's life.

Having heard about the Titanic making its maiden voyage, Eileen convinced her husband Philip to buy Bridget a first-class ticket. Having never cared for Patrick, Philip easily provided Bridget with the means to escape the miserable man and start over in America. On the day the ship arrived, Bridget hurriedly packed her belongings and hitched a ride to Roches Point. As the ship roared to life, Bridget felt like her heart was finally being let out of a tightly wound vice. In that moment, she felt like life had given her her first taste of freedom.

April 12th, 8:00 P.M.

Robert joined the rest of his family for dinner in the lavish dining room. He could hardly touch a thing on his plate.

Marguerite played the piano in the general room while Enzo watched in awe. Her playing was as beautiful to Enzo as the first time he ever heard her tickle the ivories.

Bridget nervously explored the ship, fearing she'd round a corner and come face-to-face with a furious Patrick. Her worries were quelled when she instead came across what she was sure was the most beautiful staircase and clock in the world.

April 13th, 6:15 A.M.

Robert sat in the shadows of the upper deck, drinking straight from the champagne bottle he'd stolen from the kitchen. It was the only thing he could think to do to calm his nerves--and get the thought of William out of his head.

Marguerite and Enzo slept peacefully in the same bed, Enzo's arms wrapped securely around Marguerite.

Bridget awoke in a cold sweat, having had a disturbing dream about Patrick. In it, he'd grabbed her on deck and shoved her off the railing, sending her falling onto the engine's propellor blades. After making sure she hadn't disturbed her cabinmate, Bridget laid back down and tried to get the gruesome images out of her head.

April 14th, 11:40 P.M.

While strolling the deck alone, Robert's thoughts of his bleak future were interrupted by a loud tearing sound. It was so unexpected that the shock sent Robert stumbling and falling flat on his back.

April 14th, 11:45 P.M.

Loud footsteps and panicked shouts awoke Marguerite and Enzo. As Enzo put his feet on the floor, he was shocked to find it covered in water. After hurriedly wrapping his heaviest coat around his wife, Enzo took Marguerite by the hand and led her into the flooded hallway to find out what was going on.

April 14th, 11:50 P.M.

Bridget laid sleeping in her bed, unaware that the ship had just collided with an iceberg. She'd retired to her cabin early that night after a quick dinner and passed out after taking some of the barbiturates Eileen gave her to help her cope with her anxiety.

April 15th, 12:10 A.M.

Robert reunited with his frantic family. His mother and sister were alarmed while his father was frustrated by the crew's lack of explanation on why they were being called to the deck. Remembering the loud tear from before, a knot formed in Robert's stomach as more people arrived on deck.

Enzo and Marguerite worked their way down corridors and hallways, desperately trying to reach the deck. As they came across more waterlogged areas, Enzo prayed he would at least be able to save his wife and unborn baby.

Bridget remained asleep, leaving the exasperated crewmember banging on her door to believe all the cabin's occupants were already on the main deck.

April 15th, 12:55 A.M.

Robert bid a tearful goodbye to his mother and sister as they were seated into a lifeboat. Ernest solemnly promised that he and Robert would be on one of the later boats. The pit in his son's stomach grew deeper as he couldn't help but feel like his father's promise was an empty one.

Finally reaching the deck, Marguerite was heartbroken to learn that they were only allowing women and children onto the lifeboats. Despite Enzo's pleas for her to flee the sinking ship while she could, she refused to enter any of the boats without her husband.

April 15th, 1:40 A.M.

"I know I haven't told you this enough, Robert...but I love you. You're an amazing young man." That was the last thing Ernest said to Robert before hugging him and helping him take one of the final seats on the lifeboat. As the boat was lowered down, Robert looked back up at his father. It was the first time he'd ever seen such despair in his father's eyes.

April 15th, 2:05 A.M.

With tears pouring down her face, Marguerite took her place on the last available lifeboat. Enzo watched as the boat was filled and lowered out of sight, his sorrow overriding his primal desire to be fearful of how he was now trapped on a ship doomed to meet the ocean floor.

April 15th, 2:20 A.M.

Robert sat in the lifeboat with his hands over his ears, desperately trying to block out the loud crashes and bloodcurdling screams. He knew one of the screams had to be coming from his father--the man whose love had always come with strings attached, even in their very last moments together. Robert felt bitter tears streak down his face as he realized his father was going to die never knowing who his son really was or what he wanted from life. If God lets me survive this night...I'm not going to New York. I'm not marrying Anna Payne. And when I get back home, I'm never leaving William's side ever again.

Bridget Flannagan's lifeless body floated in her submerged cabin. By the time she'd woken up, the room was already halfway flooded. To her utter dismay, the mass of water left her door completely immovable. Realizing there was no escape and not wanting to wait for her inevitable drowning, Bridget retrieved her bottle of barbiturates and swallowed the remaining pills. Laying back down in her bed, Bridget closed her eyes and waited, praying that the medication would take her before the rising water could.

April 15th, 2:40 A.M.

For the first time since waking up to a terrifying nightmare, Marguerite smiled as she held her husband in her arms. After going back to the scene of the sinking to look for survivors, Marguerite cried out at the sight of Enzo, clinging to a deck chair to stay afloat. After Marguerite begged the lead sailor to get closer, Enzo fought through the arctic water to reach the lifeboat. It took Marguerite and two men to pull Enzo into the raft. Draping the coat Enzo gave her onto his shivering body, Marguerite drew her beloved into a passionate kiss. Enzo's cold, saltwater-stained lips could do nothing to extinguish the warmth in Marguerite's heart. Amidst so much devastation and death, her family was alive and together.

"I love you, mon amour" were the last words Marguerite said before she let Enzo rest his weary head on her shoulder, ready to brave the icy air until rescue arrived.


About the author

Trevor Wells

Aspiring writer and film blogger: Lifetime, Hallmark, indie, and anything else that strikes my interest. He/him.

Link to Facebook

Twitter: @TrevorWells98

Instagram: @trevorwells_16

Email: [email protected]

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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    Well-structured & engaging content

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    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  1. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (3)

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  • Mariann Carroll5 months ago

    👏 Bravo

  • Excellent work , read and enjoyed

  • Babs Iverson5 months ago

    Terrific Titanic story!!

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