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The greatest disaster in marine history

by SJ Covey 6 months ago in Historical · updated 6 months ago
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Titanic—Why mostly women and children survive the icy depths

The greatest disaster in marine history
Photo by the blowup on Unsplash

May 1912

If the remaining survivor of the Titanic tragedy who I haven't been able to trace since that fateful night tells their story this will not be ideal. Although, who will ever believe such a tale.

April 1912

"You have never seen New York? Well this settles everything Countess, I simply insist you and your husband take my cabin. Business keeps me in London longer than I anticipated therefore my suite will be empty."

"And what of our cabin dear sir?"

"Who cares! Gift the space to one of the lesser fortunate souls, raffle the blessed thing for charity. I care not, I do however wish to impress your husband, and repay him for his support over the many years we have been acquainted."

Their Stuart crystal champagne glasses lightly clink together with a note so clear and true to seal the deal. I observe my beautiful wife blush with something which the old man says to her. Covering the distance between us in a few long strides my arm comes to rest with a lightness around her waist, the perfect fit.

By Billy Huynh on Unsplash

"Are we agreeing to something I should be aware of my love?" I ask. To which my wife is quick to explain the generous offer of my friend. She insists we gift the cabin to someone desperate, who is in search of a new life and a new beginning. I leave the details for his secretary to find a worthy soul, or souls. We take leave to return to our lodgings, where our friend Roslyn is watching our children.

The following morning my wife crouches before our eldest, Peter. Even though she never bore him one would never be aware of this. I am not close enough to perceive her words, though I do discern them in my heart. Instructions to look after his brother, to behave, and we will be back before he knows we are gone. A kiss on his check and I pass our baby, Jon over to Roslyn's care.

"I will," she confirms, without the need for me to utter a syllable. The noise at the dock side is intense, last minute items being loaded into the holds. Arm in arm we stroll towards the gang plank, as usual people part as though Moses parting the Red Sea, and gape as we pass. Such a fine figure we strike, my wife's voice drags me from my revere.

"Welsh water, how very strange," pointing to one of the tanks filling the hold. "So far away, and you wouldn't imagine needing water at sea."

By Chris Curry on Unsplash

"My dear, we simply cannot expect you to bathe in sea water, let alone drink sea water," I say and her laughter fills the air. Bird song which drowns out the sound of the sea birds hovering above us.

An unfamiliar voice pulls me from my wife's side. "It's you, thank you, a thousand thank yous comes no way near what we should bestow upon you sir." In turning a man is before me.

A man in shabby attire, clean, yet well-worn as he rubs his hands along the seams of his trousers as though attempting to cleanse them before offering me his hand.

If only he were conscious of what stands before him, or at least what the rumours and charlatans speak of.

"Excuse me," I bow deep, as is the custom of my heritage and the upbringing of me and my people before me. A cursory bob of the head the fashion as may be, yet I cling to my roots.

"I do not believe I have the honour, nay, the privilege of to be certain as to what you refer to in your address."His worn hat he whips from his head and although looking foolish I appreciate his attempt to return my bow. "You and yer good lady, yer give us yer cabin."

The penny drops, "No need dear sir, I wish you both every success in the new world, will you do us the honour of joining us for dinner this evening?" He turns to his wife who blushes, and I can tell she worries of what she can wear, and how she would much rather hide away in her cabin.

"Congratulations," my wife gushes. "When are you due? This is one of those perfect situations. Our boys are staying here in England as we travel," taking her hand with the touch of a feather she continues.

By Melanie Brown on Unsplash

"I have all my pregnancy clothes and gowns in my cases with no use for any of the items. Please tell me I won't offend you in begging you take these from me?" As always my love saves the blushes of someone less fortunate and puts them at their ease—such a gift she has.

"Oh well, I—Thank you me lady," a curtsy from the young woman.

"Shush now, we shall have none of that, I shall have my maid bring them to your cabin directly along with the details for dinner."

"Travis Mercer, and my wife Beatrice," our new friend thrusts his hand towards me satisfied of the hand's cleanliness.

I take his hand in mine and mumble my name, close to his ear as always I tense for the reaction. With no reaction forthcoming I introduce my wife. "This delightful creature is my beloved Antanasia."

His wife has a sharp intake of breathe. "What a beautiful name," She clearly wants to call their baby this if they are blessed with a girl.

"We must board, I look forward to meeting with you later," bowing I take Antanasia's lead and follow her onto the boat.

"You appreciate they will name their child after you," I tell her. She greats me with her trilling laughter once again, modest as ever.

The sumptuousness of the suite is wasted upon us, we are used to the finer things in life as is our station, and a tiny part of me wishes we had gifted the suite to our new friends.

"You are such a thoughtful and considerate soul," Antanasia says taking my head in her hands and kissing me with a softness I welcome. "I can read what you are thinking," she clarifies. I return the kiss, before we take in the surroundings of our two bedroom suite, with a further two rooms which are wardrobe rooms, a vast sitting room and our own private promenade.

Shaking my head at the ridiculousness of the situation, this were a suite for one man. For a couple this is ridiculous, for one man... absurd.

The sumptuous velvets and heavy draping fabric which adorns the suite is probably more extravagant than the whole decking out of the lower decks. Yet who am I to worry of such things, I leave my valet to unpack as we retire to the first class lounge to meet some more of our fellow passengers.

By Jean-Philippe Delberghe on Unsplash

"Versailles! Oh, what happy memories," she breathes as we enter the lounge. Our surroundings are beautiful yet not a patch on the reality of the magnificent palace which it imitates. I understand the endearing nod at extravagance and grandeur in this unsinkable ship and make a note to congratulate my friend when I speak to him next.

After we have socialised and met with the noteworthy, plus the want to be noteworthy all of which flock to us due to our titles and their desire to be or be seen with people of our station.

We head to the dining room and meet our dinner guests, Travis appears uncomfortable in what I assume to be his finest attire whereas Beatrice is radiant. A glow emanates about her not just from the pregnancy but from the situation they find themselves in.

"Yes you do look like a princess my dear," kissing her cheeks. She is taken aback I have taken the thoughts from her mind, but she blushes and thanks me, wondering if she said something aloud.

The crisp white linens on the table further enhance the deep midnight blue of the dress she has chosen to wear. The perfect choice, and one I remember Antanasia wearing when she was with child.

"This is so beautiful, I am dreaming," she sighs at the ornate plasterwork and decoration adorning the room, down to the fine china and gleaming silverware, and glasses. I assist her to her seat, a scream rings out! An alien sound in such a setting draws everyone's attention, and here he is! Staggering towards me, a mad man with the look of someone who has lost everything with nothing further for him to lose.

His hands are stretching out towards me, I am fortunate he is babbling incoherently as he pushes waiters and guests aside, coming for me. Travis springs to action and quickly despatches of his restrictive dinner jacket. He brushes his dark hair back as a lock falls over his eye. He covers the distance between me, and my would be attacker with relative ease while I am moving the ladies to safety. A sliver of red is in my wife's eyes and I shake my head.

By Sisyphus Sosorakis on Unsplash

Not here, not now my love.

Travis tackles the man, he wrestles him to the floor, clear I had excellent foresight in our dinner companion it appears he is quite a useful man to have on side in a fight. He calls out for some rope to restrain the writhing form beneath him who spits venom in my direction.

"Murderer, monster, devil. I will kill you and the abomination."

A nearby passenger, no he's the ships' surgeon mutters to his neighbour. "I warned them about having such a vast supply of opium on board, medicinal use—poppycock. This man has found his way to the stores this is certain." Then raising his voice for the rest of the room. "I believe this man needs restraining for his own safety and that of others on board."

Excellent, they assume Harker is mad and drugged. How did he get aboard? How can I keep my wife and I safe for this five day journey? If they release him... A few thoughts will need to be planted into the surgeon's mind to convince him of keeping Harker under lock and key.

"Well done, my good man," I congratulate Travis's quick actions once we are all reseated enjoying our sumptuous ten course meal.

"The man, what few words I understood, make no sense. He is insane, talk of monsters and the like," he shakes his head. His fork of our third course, the salmon dish which is poached to perfection, finds it's way into his eager mouth.

"Oh don't," Beatrice begs. "The mind of a mad man is not polite dinner conversation."

The rest of this very pleasant evening we spend getting acquainted with our new friends, and when we finally retire for the evening I am fully anticipating my wife's questions.

"He follows us here thinking Peter is with us, he wants to kill him, and you. There is no one her with us to protect you," her words a stream as her hands flutter involuntarily to her neck. Her eyes blaze red, yet in a blink they are clear again.

"Him coming upon me was always a matter of time, my sweet. Do not fear, I may not be immortal like him, but he has weaknesses too."

"He will stop at nothing for revenge, his one true love, loved you not him, and when Mina died giving birth to Peter he vowed to kill you both."

"There, there calm yourself my love. These things of which you speak are true. Yet, as I am head of The Order, it is my duty to protect the mortals from Harker and the rest of the evil which is on this earth without their knowledge."

"And yet, and yet..." she stammers. "They believe the lies and rumours Harker spreads of us being monsters, of you being a devil a blood sucking murdering vampire."

"As are you," stroking her face and kissing her with a gentleness on her warm lips.

By Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

"How will we ever escape from him if they set him free on this vessel he will surely kill us."

"I will bend the will of the esteemed surgeon to keep our enemy under lock and key until we are safe. I will also send word to our allies who will be waiting for us when we arrive."

"If you are not worried, why do you look peaky? You did not eat enough red meat at dinner. You will become weak and ill, I will speak with the maid and ensure they are aware of our particular dietary requirements."

My smile spreads to my eyes as I observe my wife fuss and keep herself busy. I know she is rejoicing our decision to leave the boys with Roslyn, our friend, and witch who will protect them at all costs.

"I'll be right back," I promise her slipping out of our suite and shapeshifting into the form of the Captain Edward Smith. One of the many benefits of being the head of our secret order is the supernatural powers I posses. My clean-shaven face takes the form of his impressive white, full beard and moustache. My stature becoming more portly and shorter, and my gait alters as I wander the corridors before knocking at the door of the surgeon.

"Bill," pumping his hand having plucked the name from his head as he opens the door. "I don't have long my old friend. There is a rumour of a kerfuffle in the first class restaurant at dinner." My voice with its slight foreign accent is replaced with the voice of the captain and his gruff northern twang.

"Yes, yes you hear right, Captain. It is amusing to hear you use a new fangled word like kerfuffle."

"Where is he now?" My focus is to keep things brief.

"I have him locked in a cabin, tied to a chair, the man is clearly insane," he appears to be about to start a lengthy discussion, so I cut him short.

"Capital, super work. Keep him in confinement until we dock, then have him escorted from the ship after all the passengers have disembarked. We cannot have him upsetting any more of our passengers now can we?" I give a slight nod of the head and turn to leave as the surgeon's agreement floats down the corridor after me.

I rarely take advantage of my gifts, to be able to shape-shift is one bestowed to the head of the order alone. Smirking as my body and clothing shift back to what they were before so as to not scare my wife entering our suite as another man.

One thing this has shown me, I must be better protected. If anything were to happen to me Peter is far too young to take on the mantel as head of The Order. Plus, he does not know anything of our world.

I must rectify this upon my return.

The following three days we explore the vast ship with our new friends. We all enjoy a laugh with Travis riding the electric camel in the gymnasium, having seen nothing like this before or likely since.

On our fourth day at sea we are about to leave our suite to meet for dinner, I take my wife's face in my hands. "You look ravishing this evening my love."

Her amusement dances in her eyes, "Vlad you always say this, I cannot possibly look as beautiful as you claim I do."

"Oh but you do," her arm wraps through mine, and we glide along the corridor to the expansive staircase descending to our rendezvous. Heads turn in our direction to stare at us, we smile back to them.

"We must take the ladies dancing after dinner my good man, don't you agree?" I ask Travis who nods enthusiastically. As we enter the dinning room, our waiter guides us to our seats his shoulders almost touch his ears.

Why is he so tense?

I take a peek inside his mind to discover the course of his anxiety. Much to my horror, Harker has cajoled the surgeon and managed to escape his confines. He is at large, loose somewhere within the ship.

The staff are on high alert, desperate to avoid any embarrassments like before, I can sense this. I hope Antanasia can as well. Her eyes lock onto mine the faint hint of the signatory blazing red we display when fighting for our lives.

She is aware, of course she is. The air is palpable with the crews concerns.

I attempt to act as natural as I can, while my eyes dart here, there and everywhere, anticipating an attack at any moment.

"The man you captured has escaped," I confide to Travis in a hushed tone away from Beatrice.

"I shall be vigilant," Travis assures me, his eyes joining mine. The ladies, excuse themselves allowing us to take a wider sweep of the room without arousing suspicion To the casual observer we are waiting for our wives and watching the world go by.

"Who are those ladies?" Travis asks. "I've not seen them before have you?"

The table of six beautiful women he refers to will certainly not have been overlooked. Two of them possess shining long luscious locks, the colour of the sun. Another has hair the colour of a blazing barn which gives the illusion she is glowing. The other three must be sisters for their features are so similar. Dainty, delicate as fine china dolls, with ringlets to match.

Where have they been hiding?

"I have news," Beatrice announces as we stand upon their return to the table.

"Do tell," I prompt and risk a glance to Antanasia who gives a subtle, shake of her head to assure me this is not news of 'him.'

"Dinner is delayed due to there being a shortage of water, can you believe such a thing? In the middle of the ocean, a shortage of water!" My left eyebrow hitches up as I ponder what this can mean.

"The fresh water tanks sprung a leak, which has delayed dinner while they do whatever it is people do in these situations," she continues.

"As long as that's all that springs a leak hey Count?" Travis grins at me.

Dinner is more tense and forced than has previously been the case to which I apologise, claiming a headache has me out of sorts.

"We have no dancing tonight with tonight being Sunday, I lost track of the days didn't you?" Travis asks bringing my mind back from its wanderings.

"What bad luck, shall we retire to the lounge for a game of cards instead?" Standing and helping the ladies to their feet we settle in for the night, I purposefully select a table with a full view of the room.

"Shall we play brag? I love brag," clapping her hands together with enthusiasm Beatrice resembles a small child. My wife cannot suppress her smile of genuine love for this woman who until four days ago was a stranger to us.

"If you like..." the words trail off as she stares up, wide-eyed at the flame haired woman next to her, asking the table opposite to us if the band are playing this evening.

By Gabriel Silvério on Unsplash

"Morgens, what the devil?" She mutters, her tone too muted to be caught by anyone but me.

Which begs the question--what are Welsh water spirits doing aboard an ocean liner bound for New York which set sale from Southampton? Another question I am asking is where and why have they been hiding up until now?

A bone rattling shudder making those standing stagger and those seated look around accompanies a sound like the tearing of calico. Everyone around us carries on with their after dinner entertainment, we are alert.

"Excuse us," I take my wife's hand. Travis reaches for my arm.

"Is something wrong? I want to help if I can."

"I'm unsure, please, stay with Beatrice while we find out." We retrace our earlier steps of the evening and head towards the bridge. I want to discover what the noise was, and if this has anything to do with--"Harker!"

"Where?" My wife's whole body shape takes on the appearance of a feral animal, her lips pulled back from her teeth in a snarl.

"Quickly, the captain needs us," without asking a question she follows my lead and before five minutes elapses we are entering the bridge.

"You cannot be here sir, please go back to the lounge," an officer address me.

"Captain Smith?" I use my other worldly powers to will him to trust me and share what the commotion on the bridge is about.

"Mad man, a mad man! He took control of the wheel, this should never have happened he steered straight into an iceberg. She is injured, my wonderful unsinkable ship is taking on water."

Although I do not wish to protect Harker I must protect our secret world and again I use my powers to convince those around us this was an unfortunate accident. The iceberg came from nowhere and took everyone by surprise. That done we proceed to return to Beatrice and Travis.

Rounding the corner from the staircase, we are surrounded by the Morgens. Beautiful and somehow ethereal they are not as delicate as they appear, and we have to fight our way through them to get away. Dishevelled we quickly bring our friends up to speed, well partially, and we set about helping passengers to the deck.

The Morgens are dancing from gentleman to gentleman whispering in their ear. The magnitude hits with the force the iceberg hit the boat. These creatures are luring the men to their watery graves, this is his plan all along. Even those who are offered seats in the lifeboats refuse, preferring to stay aboard the sinking ship.

By Ahmad Odeh on Unsplash

Half empty lifeboats are sent away as the ship sends off it's distress signal rockets high into the black cloudless sky, they continue to boom overhead. Not one man leaves the ship, having been seduced by the water spirits. Gladly they go to welcome the seas icy embrace as at 2.20am the unsinkable boat splits in two and disappears beneath the waves.

Although not immortal unlike the lies told of us over the years, there are very few ways us vampires can be killed in our very long lives, cold water is not one of these. We drag the freezing bodies from the water, heavy sodden clothes drag them under along with the lure of the Welsh sirens. People already aboard the boats help where they can.

"Let go," I demand of Antanasia as she battles for one poor soul with two Morgens pulling his legs from beneath. "I will not have them take you under with him, we have plenty more souls to save, and the two of us, sadly, cannot save everyone."

By Manuel Meurisse on Unsplash

One hour later the only people alive in that icy water of -2 degrees is my love and I. I have no knowledge of what has become of Harker, he is not in any of the boats this much is true. We are helped into a lifeboat and sink back against the rail.

"Oh no!"

"It is a doll, a doll, not a child," I assure my wife as we watch her bob on the waves.

"She must have returned to the cabin for the doll her sister bought for their unborn child," her hands cover her mouth in horror.

"Beatrice?" I ask. Then I catch sight of the bodies, our friends, those who helped save so many themselves perished while we saved strangers.

"No," cries Antanasia her sobs all but break my heart. I failed not only them but her and I vow I will honour them in some way for their bravery and friendship.

We work our way through the passengers to make sure there is no mention of the Morgen's. Above all else we must keep this supernatural world hidden, secret. Mortals are very easy to bow to my will, and they accept my version of the story without question.

From lifeboat to lifeboat we go, by the time we are rescued there is only one truth for all bar one of the survivors. The unsinkable ship sank after striking an iceberg which was spotted too late. Harker and the Morgens were never aboard.

There is a further 3 days at sea following our rescue. No sooner on land, we are eager to return home to our boys having sent a cryptic telegram to Roslyn. The telegram warns her of the danger, and we are confident she will have taken them to a safe location.

"The Morgens took 648 men to their deaths," I explain reading the newspaper once the details of that fateful night are released to the public.

"108 women and 56 children also died, why did they kill them?" Asks Antanasia.

"We will never know, perhaps they are nothing more than unexpected casualties in our war, tragic as this is."

Four years on from the tragedy my wife blesses me with another son, we name him Travis, and within another two years we are blessed with a daughter to complete our family, Beatrice. Their lives shall forever live on within the loving embrace of our family, when they are old enough we shall visit their graves, and share their story.

###

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SJ Covey

The Order, SJ's NA series is awaiting it's release date from her publisher.

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