It’s short story writing prompt time! Normally when I post one of these I post the prompt that it came from before the story itself, but this time the prompt includes a spoiler, so it’ll be at the end.
A tall woman with light brown hair sat on the floor of her cramped bathroom, resting her head on the toilet. Her eyes were heavy as she stared at the wall, hoping the nausea she felt would subside long enough to allow her to get something that might wash away the horrible taste in her mouth.
‘Go on a cruise, Laurie; it’ll be so relaxing!’ She thought bitterly. ‘You need to get away and pamper yourself!’
It had been fun at first. She’d gone to see some of the shows, and had enjoyed tanning on the deck. Her room was small and cramped, but she hadn’t planned to spend much time in it anyway, so that hadn’t bothered her. At least not until the storm, which had forced everyone inside. She’d been in her room ever since, regretting the cocktails she’d had with lunch.
After a while, she pulled herself up off the floor and steadied herself. She stayed still for a few moments, making sure the rocking of the boat had stopped and that her stomach was going to let her move without rebelling. When she felt comfortable that both of those were the case, she left the bathroom.
She still had a few bottles of water left over from the stash she’d collected from the dining hall on her first day on the ship, so she grabbed one of them and chugged it. She sat on her bed and thanked God that the water didn’t come right back up, then took a few sips of a second bottle and laid down, setting the rest of the bottle on her nightstand before falling asleep.
A few hours later, she woke up and finished the bottle of water. She still felt terrible, and now her head was pounding on top of everything else, so she decided to go see if there was anywhere on the ship that still had some anti-nausea medication available.
‘Did the power go out?’ she wondered, as she wandered the dark halls. ‘The ship doesn’t feel like it’s tossing and turning anymore, so the storm can’t still be going… What happens to a cruise ship when the power goes out? CAN the power go out?’ She looked around, hoping to bump into a crew member so she could ask what was going on.
She eventually made her way to the dining hall, where she found a few people sitting at tables with candles lit before them. She went up to an old couple sitting at the table closest to the door and asked, “Excuse me, do you know what’s going on? Why are there no lights on?”
The couple looked at her quizzically. “The power’s been out for hours. Did no one knock on your door to let you know? We’re waiting for search and rescue to come collect everyone,” the woman answered.
“I got seasick during the storm and fell asleep. I guess I missed them knocking. So we’re just waiting here to be rescued? Have they said why it’s taking so long?”
“Well, the last I heard, the storm was heading to shore, so they must be having a hard time getting to us,” she said with a shrug. She didn’t seem too concerned, which made Laurie feel a little better.
“Okay, well, thank you for the update. I’m going to go see if I can track down some anti-nausea meds.”
She grabbed another bottle of water before heading out of the dining hall, then headed off to the area she remembered seeing the doctors in the day before. As she walked, she saw a few more people wandering the halls, a lot of whom had clearly spent at least some of the last few hours at the bars. The thought of alcohol made the nausea churn in her stomach again.
She finally found the doctor’s office, but didn’t see any sign of any of the doctors, so she looked around a bit to see if she could find any Gravol.
“What are you doing?!” A voice behind her shouted. She jumped and spun around to see a doctor standing in the doorway.
“Sorry, I’ve just been massively seasick since the storm, and I wanted to get some nausea meds. No one was in here, though, so I just looked around…”
“They’re right here,” he said, grabbing a box off the shelf and tossing it to her. “Now go back to your room and stay there.”
She looked at him, confused. He looked pale and scared.
“Is something wrong?”
“No, everything’s fine, it’s just that the storm is still going and you’re better off staying in your room.”
“Oh, I thought it had ended. The ship doesn’t seem to be rocking much anymore.”
“The waves aren’t as big, but it’s still storming pretty badly out there. Stay in the dining hall or your room.”
“I guess that means the rescue boats are going to be a while getting here.”
“Rescue boats? Oh, yes. They’ll take a while to get here. Yeah.” He looked at her with sympathy, and she looked back at him, still confused. “Just head to your room. The Gravol will help you sleep.”
“Okay…” She gave him one last confused look before heading out.
On the way back to her room, she noticed the stairs to the main deck on the other side of the hall and felt an intense curiosity rise up inside her. She figured the storm must be really bad to make the doctor seem so concerned, and she just had to know what was really going on. She looked around to make sure no one was nearby, before darting up the stairs to the deck.
When she took hold of the door, she braced herself for the wind to grab it. She took one last look around for anyone passing by, then pushed open the door and closed her eyes, prepared for a face full of rain…but nothing came. She opened her eyes just in time to see a fish swam by her face. Her eyes went wide as she walked out onto the deck.
Panic set in as she looked around, they were on the ocean floor.
The ship looked completely different from the outside; she could see the evidence of what had happened. Some of the lifeboats were missing, it looked like at least some of them had broken off the side. There were busted windows, so why wasn’t there any water inside the ship? Why didn’t she remember the ship sinking? Surely she would have noticed… Surely someone else inside the ship would have noticed even if she hadn’t.
She walked further out onto the deck. She couldn’t feel the water, she wasn’t struggling to breath. She kicked at something that looked stuck to the floor, it didn’t come off. She looked closer, was that a barnacle? How long had the ship been underwater? She turned around and saw the doctor standing on the deck behind her, looking at her sadly.
“What’s going on? Why can I breathe?” She asked. He just looked down at the floor. Her eyes widened as she finally realized what was happening.
She sank to her knees on the deck and cried.
A sick woman learns something disturbing on a ghost ship.