On what some considered being as close to a replica of the grand Titanic, everything was like the ship of its former glory, including the voyage route. Thick fog painted the night, and the ocean liner’s bow cut through the icy Arctic water. In its wake, and even at twenty-two-and-a-half knots, it left behind one-hundred tons of ash out in the sea as it pushed forward on its maiden voyage from Southampton on to New York City.
Light laughter had died out from the first-class dining, the ultra-wealthy, who dined on an array of oysters, salmon, filet mignon, lamb in a scrumptious mint sauce, and of course, chocolate eclairs. All the while, those in the third class enjoyed the fact that they were one minute closer to their destination, despite the thin gruel, cheese, and bread.
Along the ten decks, light bulbs dangled and swayed, illuminating the otherwise dark night.
On the starboard side, two sailors snuck away from their nightly duties for a smoke break. They packed away the fishing lines used earlier to capture that for the second dinner. However, at this hour, closing in on midnight, the ship had eased into its nightly routine. The parties below having died down, the rich and famous quietly tucked in their private and opulent cabins, except those playing cards.
“These here blimey blokes don’t know what it takes to create something scrumptious.” Enoch laughed with the others and pulled down his warm knit cap even more to cover his already-red ears. Meanwhile, his friend rubbed his hands together. “There are more stuffed shirts than I’ve ever seen.”
“It’s because of the name change. If this were a simple cruise ship, and not a historical recreation steamer, there’d be no steerage here, instead we’d be upstairs with the stiff ones.” Montague let the older sailor speak his peace once he’d finished. After all, he was learning the ropes from the older chap, after having only served on one luxury cruise liner earlier, he’d gotten this position with little-to-no experience.
Montague nodded. It was an honor to serve on this historically recreated steamer, of course, even if they sought a moment’s respite. He wasn’t a snazzy steward, nor did he work in the Engine Room, but there was honor in being a sailor out on the open sea. Many of the men on board had worked with him on the other cruise ship, and they were hand-chosen to work on this luxury liner. Luckily, someone had put in a good word for him, too.
“We have to take extra precautions because of the type of passengers, too. Not only because of the mail in the hold.” Enoch waggled his bushy eyebrows.
“Why are you a bundle of nerves? This is duck soup, I tell you,” Montague said. “We get fresh air and don’t have to deal with the haves and have-nots inside, a respite, I tell you.” He paused for a moment. “Those are the facts of life. I’ve heard them mention there be ice in the water.”
“They don’t want our lives.” Enoch smacked his thigh in laughter.
“We don’t have a shot at theirs.”
Montague knew enough about Enoch to know that he always had one thing or another to say about those socially above the crew. It wasn’t so much that the older man was jealous, but maybe just that he’d not been afforded the same opportunities. At last, things were changing dramatically all around. Even now, the #metoo movement was sweeping across the world for women’s rights. What would happen when women were given equal access and opportunities like the men? What would that mean for society when change came? Even just last month, he’d read about the fifteen-dollar minimum wage for many retailers and fast-food workers. That meant the beginning of more opportunities as well. The workers had unionized. Maybe that was what the crew needed to do, too, to strike to get a chance for a seat at the table, then?
“They’re dining on the best that can be offered,” Enoch grumbled, and tugged on the fishing line still dangling. Yes, sir, being a sailor and fishmonger for the day, whose task was to catch fresh fish to offer to the passengers from first-to-third class. He’d been making fresh catches all day to prepare for tonight’s second supper. “It’s a ship for the genteel, haven’t you heard the band? Snazzy.”
“Many here are sleeping better than they were in London. What a whopper. They get to be a part of the scenery, just below deck.”
“Where they think we belong, huh?” Enoch raised the question.
“Did you talk to the bloke who wanted to check the hold? Something about an important artifact we’re transporting? An artifact like no other, from the whispers.”
Enoch nodded. “I overheard that it is for the Greek exhibit.”
“Oh, an ancient piece? That is something you don’t hear every day.”
“Well, I did hear him talking about a Hephaestus.”
“I could use some godly fire about now,” Montague joked.
“I was on the way to retrieve the key to get the binoculars when I overheard that bit. I understand it’s under lock and in thick crates, weighted down, too, whatever it is. He was even able to convince the captain about it being a security issue for us all to do yesterday's mandatory emergency drill.” Enoch reached into his shirt and pulled out a cellphone, pulling up a picture of the crate.
In old-time fashion, everything needed to appear like the grandeur of the still-talked-about beauty of them. But that didn’t mean no one had sneaked on modern technology to send online.
“That’s why it was canceled?” Enoch scratched his face. “Maybe because he’s retiring soon. I saw him talking to that bloke about the cargo and keeping things safe. Where is it headed?” he asked. “Luckily, he put it on an unsinkable ship.”
Montague looked out at the black waters, dotted somewhat with icy patches. “I don’t know. I have a bad feeling about it all.” Suddenly, a large gust of wind blew, pushing the cold air toward them, and he shivered. It was as if invisible icy fingers played along his spine, sending painful prickling of what felt like a thousand needles into his hands and feet. He clenched his jaw until it passed. “Isn’t that what your wife said when you left, a dreadful premonition?”
Enoch grinned broadly. “And she’s never wrong. Of sorts. I promised that I’d send her something back.”
The ship stuttered akin to a car coming to a hasty stop. Then Montague gripped the metal rail, squinted, as something caught his attention. The fog broke and there in the middle of it, he clearly saw just ahead in the distance a female resting on an iceberg, visible because she glowed in a bright blue, the iceberg acting like a beacon of sorts. He raised his hand and squinted. A sea witch? A siren? He watched the creature gather light to create a warm golden orb. It grew ever larger, spinning and swirling, and the sound of whisperings mixed with that of the crashing waves.
As she disappeared, so did the glow along with her, leaving behind darkness.
“What was that?” Enoch paled, and Montague raised his hand to point when the shrill-sounding alarms rang out. Enoch paled further, which surely reflected his own trepidation. The supernatural was paying the unsinkable a visit.
By Jove, his wife was correct. Yes, this ship wasn’t unsinkable after all.