Sarah’s long yellow dress fluttered in the light breeze as she stood on the deck of the cruise ship and watched New York City fade away. She tucked a few strands of curly brown hair, which had escaped her bun hairstyle, behind her ear. She’d never been on a ship or out of New York City, before. The decision to travel to London was made within the hour of reading a letter sent to her by a lawyer. The letter stated that her father had died, and she was the named heiress of his large estate.
She’d never met her father, and her mother had abandoned her for an acting role in California. She grew up in an orphanage run by nuns and was preparing to become one. It was the adventure of travel, of a new city, and independence that made her purchase the ticket. Yet as the only home she’d ever known disappeared, a tear slid down her cheek.
She knew no one other than the nuns, and despite their stern indifference toward the orphans, she enjoyed prayer and mealtime with them. When she turned toward the front of the ship and noticed a handsome man watching her, she blushed and looked away. She had had fantasies about being swept off her feet and carried away in a whirlwind romance for several years, but the fantasies had faded along with her hopes of being adopted.
As she was preparing to say her evening prayers, there was a knock at the door.
“For you, ma’am,” said a professionally dressed woman holding a bouquet of fragrant colorful wildflowers.
“Thank you,” Sarah said, accepting the flowers and closing the door. She was sure they were from the man who was watching her, earlier that day. Still standing by the door, she read the note that stated to meet him for lunch the following day.
She set the vase of wildflowers on the dresser and traced a finger down the scar that stretched across her cheek; a reminder that she was unwanted. She remembered that night when her mother stood by and laughed while her boyfriend slid the blade of his pocketknife across her cheek. She said a few prayers for having stolen money from the church for the ticket, glanced at the wildflowers then flopped onto the bed.
It was still dark outside when she woke, and she decided to watch the sunrise from the deck. She slipped out of the cotton dress she wore the day before and pulled a similar light green one down over her head. The deck was empty, and the crescent moon shone silvery from the cloudless sky. When the ship made a sudden jerking movement, she grabbed onto the wood railing with both hands, but it wasn’t enough to prevent her from slipping down to the deck. After a few more bucking movements, the ship began decelerating, and by the time the sun turned the sky a light pink and creamy-yellow color, the ship was motionless in the water. Because there wasn’t electricity, the crew walked throughout the ship, reassuring everyone that they were safe.
Sarah wasn’t the only passenger to notice a ship on the horizon, and when the ship disappeared a while later, despite the flares, she got an uncanny feeling about the future. When she noticed her admirer, David, walking toward her, she realized that she forgot all about lunch.
“Lunch?” David asked, offering her a small brown paper bag.
“Yes, thank you,” she said, accepting it.
They made themselves as comfortable as they could on the deck’s lounge chairs and began to eat the sandwiches.
“Do you have any idea what happened?” she asked.
“Why would you say this?”
“A murder occurred in room 381, during the last cruise. It was the brutal stabbing of Julia Kline by her husband. It was their honeymoon. Something about the entire wedding having been an act of revenge for her cheating on him.”
“A haunted cruise ship, huh."
“I know for a fact that it is. I’m the ship’s second in command, and reports of strange occurrences have been made.”
“What’s to be done?”
“Come on, we’re taking the speedboat from the recreational storage bay.”
She stood when he did, and he grasped her hand. When they reached the door to the storage bay, they halted abruptly at the sight of the bloody handprints on the door. It was as if the entity knew that they were attempting to escape its ship. Hoping the speedboat would be safe, David pressed a button, and the boat began to lower to the pool of water below it. After they got into the boat, the storage bay doors were opened, and they accelerated out onto the choppy water. A lightning bolt flashed down through the grey clouds, in the distance, and into the sea, and as they headed in the opposite direction of the storm, a chilling, moaning whine rang from the cruise ship.
After traversing the rough water for two hours, a large cargo ship came into view. They needed to board the ship because the gas in the speedboat was running low. Consequently, they sent flares up and were delighted when the captain of the ship replied. Once on the ship, they were shown to an unoccupied room with bunk beds. It had been a long day, and they made themselves comfortable. He informed the leaders of the cruise ship where the last known location of the haunted ship was, and to be prepared for paranormal activity. Nevertheless, the cruise ship was never found.
About the author
My educational background beyond the traditional, public schools includes an Associate of Mechanical Drafting and a Bachelor of Psychology. After being a numbers person for half my life, unfortunate circumstances put me on a fine arts path.