“Where is he?!” Violet whispered, green eyes racing in the night.
"Tom?" said Jon.
“Isn't he with Jill?”
"I didn’t see him get into the raft."
Violet lunged at the nearby railing and saw Jill in a raft being lowered off the ship.
“Is Tom with you?!” Violet yelled.
Jill's voice trailed off with the descending raft. “The last time I saw– he wa–”
"Where?" Violet yelled. She sank obliviously to the deck, amidst the swarming passengers and the icy wind. Jon wrapped her in his coat.
"Come on, we have to get you out of here."
“Jon, he could be anywhere on the ship. He could be –!"
“Don't think like that. " Jon said, rising to his feet. "I think I know where to find him."
“Jon, you’re not leaving me again?!”
“I’ll be back. I promise!” Jon said, jetting off.
The lower level was flooded and black. He plunged into waist-deep water, instantly regretting it. His hand fumbled around in the dark, grasping for the number on the nearest door. Violet’s cabin would be furthest in. His body shivered and with every step felt numb. 315. A little closer. 325. The odd numbers were on his side, which meant Violet’s cabin was on the other. At 333, the hallway split. There was a brief moment of panic, and a second later, he found the door of Violet’s cabin.
"Tom!" Jon yelled, beating the cabin door until Tom finally answered.
"I can’t get out!" Tom said. ”It’s jammed.”
"I'm sitting on a bed." Tom said.
Jon threw his entire body against the cabin door. After about three times, the cabin door finally broke.
"That water is obnoxiously cold!" Tom said. "I hope they won't charge you for that."
Jon heaved to catch his breath.
"What are you doing here? Violet is worried sick about you."
Tom held up a petrified butterfly. "I had to come back! It’s for science. Someday it’ll be very important."
Jon sighed. "Come on. I’ll give you a lift."
“I can manage. Thank you very much!” Tom said,hesitating before he stepped off the bed.
“I know you can," Jon said, quirking an eyebrow."Violet will never forgive me if I let you freeze.”
Jon extended a hand. Tom latched onto Jon's arm, nearly capsizing them both on the bed. Jon’s leg seized when Tom’s foot dug into his hip as he climbed onto Jon's shoulder. Jon teetered slightly, regained his balance, making his way back into the blackened hallway.
“It’s so dark.” Tom said, grunting with exasperation to pull something from his pocket.
"Sorry kid, I don’t have a –"
Tom suddenly flicked the lighter and dimly lit the hallway.
“Don't tell Violet,”Said Tom.
“Are you supposed to be playing with that?”
“How else are we supposed to see where we’re going?”
“Fair enough,” Jon said.
"I’m so cold! I’m never wearing shorts again."
"I have no idea how that feels right now."
When Tom laughed Jon forgot how miserable his legs felt.
"You know," Tom continued, "When I get to America, the first thing I want to try is –"
"Do you have to bring up food at a time like this?"
"You’ve never had Spaghetti?"
"Nope! I have to try it. Next. I think I will try–"
"Shh! You hear that?"
The hallway around them creaked .
"What was that?" Tom asked.
"I don’t know, but we probably don’t want to be around her to find out."
The creak ricocheted through the hallway again. Jon tried not to think about the pins and needles shooting into his legs through the soles of his feet. With every step, He teetered as though he was walking on stilts. A little further away, Jon saw a faint light bleeding into the edge of a hallway.
"There must be power" Tom said.
The creak taunted them again. Suddenly, a wall of ice water burst into the hallway behind them.
"OK, it’s not just my imagination anymore, "Tom said. Jon dashed to the nearest door frame and propelled himself forward along the wall.
The wall of water followed, and swept them into the dining room. Tom was suspended in the water before Jon caught his hand and kept him from getting swept off by the current. They floated to the second level of the banquet hall's stairs, where the water leveled off. The dining room's furniture levitated in the water's wake. The tables clashed against each other, and the chairs bobbed along the surface of the water.
A minute later the water was still rising. Tom skipped up the stairway to the second floor, and Jon hobbled behind him.
“Any ideas?” Tom asked.
“There!“ Jon pointed to a door on the upper level of the far side of the room,
“It’s locked from the other side,” said the dejected man on the second floor, who sat hunched over the edge of large crates, wrapped loosely in a dark blanket.
“Who are you?” Tom asked.
“I thought this ship was supposed to be unsinkable,” Tom asked.
The engineer’s searing gaze fell on him.
“There wasn’t supposed to be ice.”
“It stopped,” Jon said, quieting them both as the swirling water beneath them in the banquet hall came to rest.
“For now,” gripped the engineer. “It probably found deeper pockets.
“Where?” Jon asked.
“No clue. Does it matter?” the engineer asked.
“Yes! The captain probably got a message to the Carpathian." Jon said. He and Tom gathered around the engineer.
"They’ll be here any second. If we can just make it to the deck, there might be a chance for all of us to get out of here alive. Or don’t you care?.”
"Son. My life’s work is about to go to the bottom of the Atlantic – let’s not pretend it can be salvaged – what’s waiting for me in America?"
“I’ll go,” Tom ventured. "just a quick warm up."
"You gonna swim the rest of the way?"
Tom began running in place, flapping his arms open and closed .The back of engineer’s hand landed on the inside of Tom’s elbow.
"It’s negative degrees –" he said, " for a good swimmer."
"I’ll have you know, I was the champion at my school."
The engineer grunted.
Jon shuffled down a few steps of the staircase.
"Did you happen to notice the furnature ?" asked the engineer.
Jon shuffled a couple more walking right up to the water.
“Suppose I could make it through?” he asked. "What would I look for?"
“Son. It’s a thousand meters – through lord knows what shifted – down that hall, in absolute black. I get lost in the daytime. When you come to the passageway, there’s opening to an outcropping with a ladder, on the other side of the door."
"Sounds fun," Jon said.
"Don’t hold your breath waiting for me. I’ ain't getting in that water. ”
"I’ll swim it! " Jon said. "Just give me a few seconds. I'll be f--f--f-ine."
“Your chattering teeth say otherwise.”, the engineer griped.
“Jon!” Tom called out to Jon, closing distance between them. Jon stooped slightly till he was at Tom’s height. “What about violet?”
"She’s fine! She’s on the deck waiting for us. "
"What if you don’t come back?" Tom said, his voice quivering. Jon embraced him.
“She’s the reason I’m doing this.” he said, "I’ll be right back."
Jon winked and submerged under the water. His jaw instantaneously clenched shut, and he felt a thousand pinpricks stab his body. He fought to keep his eyes open and his mind present. Amidst the floating debris and the through the furniture that barricaded the room, he saw an opening into the hallway where he had just enough room to squeeze through.
His body sailed through, into the open hallway. The opening closed as the furniture collapsed on itself, he’d have to find another way back. When he turned back to the hallway, he found himself starring into the eyes of a floating corpse.