Today’s word is Bewildered and, at first glance, that feels like a good word. A much better than some I’ve had. However this word is leaving me feeling bewildered indeed, so let’s see what we end up with…
Her first thought was a flat-out denial. It wouldn’t even entertain the idea, no more than it would entertain the prospect of sprouting pink wings and taking off into the night sky. It was struck from her mind as efficiently as any ridiculous suggestion would be and if Perrie turned her back and looked down the passageway from which she’d just come, she could feel her body relaxing at the normality of it all.
There, her mind said. You see? There’s no disaster here, nothing to be concerned about.
Indeed everything else about the situation seemed normal. Many decks above her people were sleeping and chatting, eating and dancing, wasting minutes without a care in the world, because there was nothing to fear. Nobody realised that every second counted and why would they? There was no cause for alarm. It had been a couple of slight judders; probably a propeller blade or perhaps a dolphin. Spare a thought for the poor soul who has to deal with it at this time of night and carry on.
No, it was the sound that struck the fear into Perrie, that made her feel like her heart was being compressed and circles of damp sweat to spread beneath her arms. The careful but continuous sound of creaking, of metal giving way, of surrendering to the immense power behind it, and when Perrie turned back around, she could see its destruction.
Water, slowly but steadily, creeping up the bulkhead, seeping in from the ocean outside and filling every gap it found.
It’s not supposed to be here, Perrie’s mind protests. The dim sounds were heard from the bow of the ship. There shouldn’t be water here. Any water should have been contained within the first four bulkheads. And here I am at number six. And so is the water.
Making its way back, edging up each bulkhead and straight over, pulling the bow down ever so gently, that now Perrie could feel the angle. She watched in horror as the water lapped at her feet, frigid cold water, ready to seep up into the passageway and roll down, down to the stern, down into every cranny it found.
It’s not happening, she chanted to herself, turning her back on the water soaking the soles of her shoes. I’ve had too much to drink. I’m overtired. I’m having a bad dream. It’s not real, it’s not real.
But the cold bore through the soles of her shoes, numbing her feet and startling her back to her senses. She swung back round and watched the water creep past her, stretching out down the passageway, and she knew. With sudden clarity, she knew.
Count your seconds, she thought as she turned and ran back down the passageway, the water giving gradual chase. Don’t waste your minutes for the timer’s been turned now. The sand is trickling out as the water is trickling in. She got to the stairwell and grasped hold of the railing, peering back along the passageway at the water, still following her, and her thoughts weren’t of herself, trapped on a doomed ship, nor of her fellow passengers, blissfully unaware, the alarm not yet heard.
My life’s work, she thought as she watched the water approach. Years of planning, years of dreaming, years of waiting and it’ll be gone in an hour. It’ll be on the bottom of the sea within an hour.