The speakers droned another announcement over the murmur and occasional shouts of the passengers on the deck, “We are expecting clear skies and calm seas for the next three days. Please be sure to use our on-deck pool area to swim and sun bathe. At 3:30 there will be a Twister game for all children over on the stage. At 4:30 we will…”
The ocean waves peacefully lapped the sides of the cruise liner. The sun shone bright above the liner, casting his shadow into the deep blue, abysmal waves. It was about the tenth day since he had left the harbor in Long Beach. He was actually not too sure if it were ten days ago or seven; it actually could be way less than even that. Time just seemed to drag itself around, as if it were mocking him by going as slowly as it could. It also reminded him of every single senior citizen on the cruise: how they half stepped, half dragged themselves up the stairs, tightly gripping the banister for the balance that they themselves no longer had.
He tried to avoid them as much as he could. Whenever one saw him, they always seemed to rasp in the same, gravelly smoker’s voice, “Hey, you there, boy! Use your pair of young legs to help these old ones!” This would then lead them into hysterical, toothy laughter, which would in turn be followed by a fit of coughing and hacking. Usually most ungraciously sent flying into his face and down his neck, bringing the smell of decay and medication to hang like a cloud around him.
As soon as he was finished walking one up the stairs they would usually thank him and proceed to ask him for his name. This was the part he hated the most. “My name is Odanodan. Said like ‘Oh Dan, Oh Dan.’”
The senior would then look incredibly confused, proceed to verbally murder his name, before asking him to repeat what he had just said. He used to repeat it and repeat it till he was ready to throw himself off the ship. So now he just tells them, “Just call me Dan.”
Right now he was sulking upon remembering how many people had mispronounced his name in his short lifetime. Dan was way easier to say than Odanodan, and only his mother called him by that name. He had decided that as soon as he was old enough he would change his name. He had told his mom this, expecting that she would become very upset, and as he expected, she did.
“Odanodan Rey, what in heaven’s name are you talking about? That is the name your good, poor father gave you before he died! How disrespectful that would be to him! Imagine how he would feel if he were here! HE would be-,” and on, and on she went as she always did whenever he spoke of the subject. Well it didn’t matter. He would be 18 in a few months, get a place with Kevin and get a job: then he could change his name and there would be nothing she could do about that.
Speaking of Kevin, he was probably enjoying his summer break peacefully back in Cali. Driving whenever he pleased, shooting hoops when he liked, playing video games as long as he wanted, sleeping like there was no tomorrow- and here he was stuck on a cruise half full of elderly folks and the other half full of families. He just didn’t understand why his mom had to drag him along. She was a chef and had been working this job with the cruise liner company for as long as he could remember. Generally she would be gone for a few weeks at a time, leaving him with Kevin’s family, then be home for a week and a half, then start the process all over again. When he was younger she would bring him along for Christmas Break and Summer Break, but then he started complaining about having to come along so she stopped. That had worked for about 7 years, until now.
He finally looked up from the water and turned to leave, only to find his eyes stopped with a pair of aquamarine eyes. Her hair was long and choppy, and the color was a strange, dark sea green; dark at her roots, growing more defined at ends. He was pretty certain that she was into grunge or punk by her apparel; there were so many rips and tears in it, she might as well just have taken it out of a dump. She stood a few feet from him, but even if he had been standing at the other end of the deck, he would still be able to see her deep scowl. She regarded him with a certain sharpness, as if she knew everything that he was thinking and was judging him for how little it was. This had been going for the past few days, every time the same stare. This time he will talk to her. After all, there was nothing better to do, and it wasn’t like if he said something horrible, that he’d have to be haunted by her presence the rest of his life.
They stared at each other for another few moments before Dan spoke, “Look, I don’t know what your problem is, but if you want to say something go ahead, I’m game.”
She only stared into him harder at this, causing him to grow increasingly uneasy. What is her issue? It’s not like I asked her to take her clothes off or something. Maybe she thinks that I’m somewhat of a jerk for talking to her like that. .Okay, let’s go, round two, different approach.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to come off so strong. You always seem to be staring at me like, a lot. If there is something that I can help you with-“
“It will be a surprise if you can help me, since I am the only one who can help you,” she suddenly snapped. Then spinning on her heel, she stormed off and went down a stair case, disappearing as suddenly as she had appeared.
Geeze, now that is a girl with some issues. This is why I normally don’t bother with girls- just too much work. Well, maybe she is stuck here with her family. She probably wish she were at a concert banging her head off than being on this liner of boredom. Dan then proceeded to decide that it would be best to just avoid her, since she just seemed more trouble than necessary. As he walked down the steps he didn’t notice the creeping clouds start to block the setting sun.
Odanodan slept restlessly. He tossed and turned, trying to get into a comfortable sleeping position. He just wanted to be back in Cali, back in his comfortable bed, having a comfortable summer with his best friend in his comfortable town, not on this bizarre cruise with his overprotective mother, weird old folks, annoying kids and the staring, emo nut-job. When his mind finally turned to sleep, he only found more dissatisfaction there.
He saw himself sleeping. He tossed and turned, mumbling incomprehensibly in his sleep. It was a strange dream so far. For one he never dreamed out of the first-person before, second that he’s stalking his own self as he slept. Awkward. Outside of his cabin there was noise. It was a sound like nothing he had ever heard before. Something like hearing and smelling a meal being made after a long day of eating nothing. Or like seeing all of your favorite artists together singing you happy birthday and all saying that they want to be your friend. Though these things don’t even compare to what he was currently hearing. He went over to the door, heard a creak from the bed, and was soon joined by his dream him. Or was it the other way around? Odanodan wasn’t too sure. But neither did he care. All that mattered was the sound. The sound was growing more intoxicating by the minute: before he even realized it, he had opened the door and was walking towards the rail. He found the source of the noise. The ocean was singing. It was singing and it was absolutely addicting. He tried to climb over the rails to get even closer, but found that he was too big to climb through the bars. He didn’t even bother to watch the other him also try to get out that way; he dashed up the stairs to get to the main deck. As he was going up the stairs he passed many others going up, all with their own duplicate either leading or following close behind. When he reached the deck, he saw that there was over half the ship, all drunkenly getting up on the rails and jumping into the noise. He could not see his mother, nor did he care that he didn’t. All that mattered was the sound. He looked frantically for a space to climb over the railing, when he turned and his eyes met with aquamarine ones. “That’s one you owe me,” she said. He didn’t have any time to react as she drew back her fist and punched him square in the jaw.
With a jolt he stumbled backwards onto the ground, and just like that, he was awake again. However he was not on his uncomfortable bed, which was not a horrible loss. He was absolutely soaked on the main deck in the pouring rain- the wind made the rain feel as if it were made from knives, and the ship was tossed about hectically by every crest and trough of the waves. He also realized that he was surrounded by zoned out passengers and crew members throwing themselves helplessly over the railing. It all seemed unreal however, not one made a single noise as the hurled themselves into the abyss of the waves. Why are they doing this? He questioned himself. Then he realized the sounds again. Those sweet nothings in the air, made everything stop, except for him. The strange longing cries. He needed to get there. Nothing else matters, does it?
She quickly snapped her fingers together several times and he was back on the deck in the pouring rain again. A few feet in front of him stood the girl. She was also soaked and her hair had turned black; it whipped back and forth with the change in the wind direction. She looked angry as she always did staring at him, however this time it was mixed with a look of determination. Odanodan gulped, righted himself and gathered himself together enough to ask, “Do you know what is going on?”
“Yes, of course I do. But there’s no time to talk now. I wasted a lot of time to find you in this chaos. The ship will sink soon: we don’t have a moment to lose. Come.” She beckoned to him and tried to grab his hand. He hastily jerked it away before she could wrap her fingers around him. What is wrong with her? Sure things are bad, but they can’t be too bad right?
“Hold up, wait, what are you talking about? This ship won’t sink that easily, it’s a cruise ship after all. We have to get my mother at least, it shouldn’t take too long.”
She growled angrily with frustration, “The Ship Sinkers may like to play with their prey but once they are done, they are done. You do not mess with those from the Oceans Deep. There is no longer time to get your mother. Unfortunately you are the only one that I can take, and that is almost too much in itself. Let us go now, their song is nearing the end.”
Maybe it was because he was still reeling from experiencing the song, or perhaps it was the shock of the scene around him, or possibly the punch that brought him into this reality, that he easily gave up resisting and took her hand.
“Good job, now let us hurry,” she said, though it did not sound like an encouragement; it sounded more like a finally-we-can-get-on-with-life response. They sprinted as fast as they could over to the back deck of the ship, though he was practically dragged behind her. When they reached the area, there were surprisingly none of the entranced listeners. She let go of his hand and gave him two earplugs.
“Put them on. You may still get entranced by their song and I do not want to have to deal with that again. No matter what happens do not let go of me, and I will do my best to make sure that you do not. We will go as fast as we can through them, it will not be too hard once we get away. They do not care too much about lost prey.”
I hate how she talks like it is all my fault, he thought as he placed the earplugs securely within his ear and nodded to her. She nods back him and leads him to the railing, steps up and sits on it, beckoning for him to do the same. He began to climb up next to her, when the entire ship let out an enormous groan that, although he couldn’t hear it too well, he could feel it in his bones. This caused him to lose his balance and fall back onto the deck. He could see her mouth ‘Hurry!’ to him as he scrambled back to the railing. He barely got to the top before she had grabbed his hands placing them on her shoulders, mouthing, “Hold on!” and jumping off the railing.
He couldn’t tell if he screamed or not, but he was pretty sure that if he did, it must’ve been a very high pitched one. They hit the water hard, and he was surprised that he managed to continue to hold on. Once underwater, however, it was a totally different story. The horrors occurring above were nothing compared down here. It was hard to see it all, but what he could see was the swirling water pummeling the ship’s hull, floating bodies and body parts, and the glowing eyes of the Ship Sinkers. He couldn’t see them very well, but they were most certainly no Little Mermaids amongst them. The ship groaned even louder and began to shake, spiraling downwards. Upon their entry into the water, a couple noticed their fall, and were swimming quickly over to them to claim their prizes.
Oh my God, we ae so screwed. What is this girl waiting for? Did she die on impact?
But before he could ask himself another question and before the Ship Sinkers could reach them, they were off. Since he was holding on for dear life, he could not tell how she was doing it, but it felt like she was kicking incredibly fast. Inhumanly fast. She soon breached the water and swam along the surface so that they could both breathe. The waves were still quite large, but grew steadily smaller until, they were the same size as they had been that afternoon.
They returned to where the ship sank. She had found life buoy on the way back and they were both using it to slowly kick back through the wreckage. Her strange burst of energy seemed to be gone, along with her swimming talent. Passing certain wreckage she reassured him that they only take ships when they want new prey and something sparkly. So they normally don’t stay too long on the surface. But neither do they leave behind any hints as to what actually happened on the surface. As they treaded along she found a sweatpants and squealed with delight. She then proceeded to knot the bottoms together and whip it over her head.
“What are you doing?” I asked exhaustedly.
“Making a makeshift flotation device. We can’t both use the buoy.” And as she said this, her next whip successfully filled her “float” with air. She then knotted the open bottom and began to float easily.
“How do you know how to do all these things?”
“I’m a lifeguard. I’ve been trained to swim well and perform rescues in open water.” Hah, she must be crazy if she actually thinks that I believe that, after all that’s happened so far.
“Well Miss Lifeguard, do you have a name, or am I to call you that forever?”
“My name is Ephyra, and we are going to be stuck with each other for a very long time.”