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I am stranded on a desert island far from home. Please send help.

I am stranded on a desert island far from home please send help

Estimated reading time — 51 minutes

I don’t know whether anyone will ever read this account which I’ve scribbled on loose sheets of paper using a leaking biro pen. I intend to stuff the papers into a sealed bottle and toss it out to sea in the remote hope that it will reach someone who knows of our disappearance and is in a position to help.

This is what I’ve been reduced to, coming from a modern world with instant global communications and ending up here – on an uncharted island populated only by desperate castaways and savage beasts. As I write these words, I am sitting on a pristine beach watching a spectacular sunset over clear blue seas. In other circumstances this would be paradise, but my companion and I have been to hell and back and I fear we have little time left.

Poor Rachel – my fellow survivor and lover – she is sick, having contracted an unknown tropical disease which I have no means of treating. We’ve run out of food and are low on water, but my greatest fear is the deadly predator that has been stalking us for the last two days, remaining hidden in the thick foliage during the daylight hours whilst creeping closer after dark, waiting for its chance to strike.


I have a gun which I acquired during our hellish odyssey – an ancient but still functional revolver…but there are only two bullets left in the chamber which I intend to save for Rachel and myself…if it comes to that. A bullet through the head would be preferrable to a slow death from disease or starvation, not to mention being slaughtered and devoured by the foul beast lurking behind the trees.

I haven’t given up all hope however, which is why I’m writing this final plea for salvation, praying that my note reaches someone who is still searching for our lost ship, SS Mystery of the Seas.

It’s hard for me to understand how I’ve arrived in this hellish place and even harder to explain. So, let me start at the beginning. My name is Leroy Johnston and I am a 35 year old chartered accountant originally hailing from Maryland in the States, although I’ve lived and worked in London for several years. You don’t need to know my life story but it should suffice to say that I liked to work hard and play hard.

A couple of months ago I booked onto a trans-Atlantic cruise sailing from Southampton in England to Miami, Florida. I’d chosen this vacation for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’d had a busy few months in my job and had just received my bonus and so was keen to blow off some steam with a relaxing holiday. I was also between relationships and hoped to meet someone on the cruise, if only to enjoy a holiday fling.

And then there was my friend Eric. The two of us went way back, having first met and bonded during our time in college back in the States. We’d grown apart somewhat over the years but had always stayed in touch. Eric had dropped out of college early to join the merchant navy before he met a girl and settled down back in the US. They had a child together – a boy named Jason. But, as is often the case, their marriage ran into trouble and ended unceremoniously in a messy divorce.

Broken and depressed and with limited access to his son, Eric took a job as a second officer working for a cruise company and was assigned to work on the SS Mystery of the Seas, a medium-sized ship carrying up to 1,200 passengers and about 400 crew.


In the end it was Eric who persuaded me to book on the cruise. He would be working of course, but promised he could sneak me into the officer’s bar after hours for free drinks and to reminisce about old times. This turned out to be a fateful decision but I can’t blame my old friend for this, as there’s no way he could have predicted what would happen to us.

The first few days of our ocean cruise went just as one would expect. I enjoyed sunny days lying by the poolside and sipping on cocktails, while in the evenings I dined, attended shows and mingled with my fellow passengers in the ship’s bar and lounge. This is where I first met Rachel.

It was formal night and I was dressed in an uncomfortable tuxedo suit which certainly wasn’t my first choice of attire. I thought I looked more like a penguin than James Bond, but I guess I made a good impression. Our eyes met across the crowded bar and there was an instant attraction. Rachel looked stunning in her black cocktail dress and stiletto heels, and I was taken aback by her natural beauty, exemplified by her olive skin, long, dark flowing hair and hazel brown eyes.

I gulped down my drink as I plucked up the courage to go talk to her. I bought Rachel a glass of white wine and we started to talk, exchanging the usual pleasantries before we moved onto more meaningful conversation and flirtation.

As it turned out, Rachel and I had a lot in common. We were both young professionals working in the finance sector taking a well-deserved break to avoid burn-out. We’d both recently come out of long-term relationships and were eager to get back on the dating scene. Neither of us were getting any younger and we were both keen to seize the moment.
And so, a few drinks in the lounge turned into a night cap in Rachel’s cabin and a passionate tryst between the sheets. We had a great time together and the romantic encounter was just what we both needed to relieve the stresses from our day-to-day lives.

Honestly, I don’t know what would have happened between Rachel and I if our ship had arrived safely in Miami. Perhaps our fling would have been nothing more than a holiday romance – a good memory to think back on once we returned to reality. Or perhaps our relationship might have developed into something more. There’s no way of knowing now…but as it turned out, our fates were intertwined in a way we could never have predicted when we first met.

In any case, I now look back upon that carefree night of passion onboard with a mixture of fondness and regret, because this was our last moment of normality before our whole world was turned upside down.

The Storm

The night of the event started like any other. I don’t know what our exact location was when it happened. I guess Eric would have known but I never thought to ask him. To the best of my recollection we were due to dock in the Bahamas the next morning, so I guess we were approaching the Americas but still on the open ocean. Still, our nautical location was the last thing on my mind as I sat with Rachel, laughing and drinking as we enjoyed the live music in the lounge.

We were surrounded by other couples and family groups as the diligent staff attended to our needs. I’m sure that not one of us had an inkling of the disaster to come.

I honestly didn’t notice the boat beginning to rock as the first waves hit us. It was subtle at first, but the situation rapidly deteriorated. Rachel noticed it before I did as she glanced across at the porthole window between songs.

“Wow, that’s weird.” she exclaimed whilst pointing towards the view outside.

I looked over and saw the sky had turned an unnatural shade of crimson red, giving it an almost sinister and otherworldly appearance. I was somewhat taken aback by the bizarre sight but saw no reason for concern at that point.

“Strange.” I muttered, “I guess its some kind of rare atmospheric event?”

“Yeah,” Rachel replied hesitantly, “I suppose its beautiful in a kind of terrifying and foreboding way.”

We both laughed nervously at the joke, but I was getting the distinct feeling that something wasn’t right.

As we continued to watch, the wind picked up and the sea became rough, with increasingly large waves hitting the hull, forcing the ship to rock back and forth. Suddenly our drinks started to slide across the table, prompting us both to reach out and grab our glasses.

Others in the bar took notice as glasses smashed on the ground and at least one man fell off his chair. But this was only the prelude to a major disaster. A moment later and the PA system in the bar burst to life as a voice cried out in barely suppressed panic.

“Red alert…I repeat…Red alert! Brace for impact!”

The officer who made the emergency announcement might as well have dropped a live grenade in the lounge as panic overcame us. I heard several women screaming and saw both passengers and crew scrambling for the doors as our safety briefings were quickly forgotten.

I turned to Rachel but saw she was still staring out the porthole, watching in awe as a mighty storm took hold and multiple lightning strikes descended from the blood red sky.
“My God!” she exclaimed, as if in a trance, “Is this the end?”

Seconds later and the bow of the ship rose up to an impossible height, throwing us backwards as tables, chairs, glasses and bodies were all upended in a scene of total chaos. I fell through the air, gravity taking effect as I screamed out loud.

I saw Rachel tumbling alongside me, joining the deluge of human bodies as our once luxurious and comfortable lounge was torn apart. In that terrible moment I was sure we’d all die as the ship would capsize or be swept away by the vast wave which had hit us, but somehow our vessel stayed afloat – the bow falling as the wave passed under the keel and the ship stabilised, the water suddenly becoming eerily calm as the mighty storm subsided as quickly as it had appeared and the formerly red sky returned to a familiar shade of dark blue.

I had little time to consider this bizarre event however, as I picked myself up off the floor and observed the chaotic scenes around me.

“Leroy!” came the cry, and I followed her voice to find Rachel sprawled on the floor, an overturned table on top of her and her eyes filled with shocked fear.

I ran to her side, lifting the table off her body and helping her up.

“Are you okay? Are you hurt?” I asked in a panic.

“No, I don’t think so.” Rachel replied shakily, “Just a little shook up.”

I was grateful that we’d both escaped relatively unscathed, but as I surveyed the wrecked barroom I realised others hadn’t been so lucky. The lounge looked like a bombsite as shaken passengers and crew got to their feet while others groaned and cried amongst the debris. I saw several with cuts and gashes caused by broken glass whilst others cried out in agony as bones protruded from their broken limbs.

I stood still, temporarily paralysed by shock as I cast my eyes upon the chaos, still not believing this could really be happening. It was Rachel who shook me out of my paralysis however, as she grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the devastation.

“Come On! We’ve got to help.” she exclaimed.

Seconds later and Rachel was assisting an elderly woman who’d fallen and couldn’t get up, ordering me to fetch a chair as she reassured and comforted the lady. I was impressed by how quickly my new lover had adapted to our situation, but as I jumped into action I realised our carefree vacation was over, although I couldn’t have guessed that this disaster was only the beginning of our descent into hell.

It turned out to be a long night as we tended to the wounded and the overwhelmed medical staff struggled to treat them. I returned with Rachel to her cabin in the early hours but we were both too exhausted and traumatised to make love, instead lying awake through most of the night as we tried to come to terms with what we’d been through.

We both felt sure that our formerly carefree and enjoyable cruise had come to an end as the injured would be evacuated at our next port of call while the cruise company would surely send in the lawyers and loss adjusters to assess the damage and work out how much this mess would cost them.

We were both relieved to see the sun rise as we believed we would soon be docking at Nassau. But when I looked out from the cabin balcony I was surprised to see that we hadn’t docked and were in fact still sailing on the open ocean.

“That’s weird,” I muttered, “I guess the storm screwed up our schedule.”

“Yeah.” Rachel agreed as she tapped on the screen of her phone, “And the wi-fi’s down too. I’m paying twenty five dollars a day for this?”

She smiled thinly but I sensed she was concerned – as was I. I reached across the bed for the phone and lifted the handset up to my ear, only to hear nothing but an ominous silence.
“Dead.” I confirmed.

“I guess the storm did more damage than we thought?” Rachel asked sheepishly.

“Yeah.” I replied thoughtfully, as my tired brain tried to make sense of these new developments. “Remember I told you about my friend Eric, the guy who works on the crew?”
Rachel nodded.

“I think I’ll go down to speak with him, see if he can tell me what’s going on.”

Rachel frowned before asking – “Are you allowed to go into the staff quarters?”

“Oh yeah.” I replied with a cheeky smile, “I’ve got special privileges. James Bond security clearance, remember?”

She laughed as we remembered the shared joke from the first night we met, and for a moment I felt like everything was going to be okay. I kissed Rachel on the cheek before exiting through the cabin door and making my way down to the lower decks.

I met my old friend in a secluded corner booth in the officer’s bar, far from the prying eyes of other passengers. We were the only patrons but Eric insisted on pouring himself a stiff whisky despite the fact it was still early morning. I politely declined his offer of hard liquor, raising an eyebrow as I watched him down the drink in one.

Eric looked exhausted – his eyes bloodshot and face pale and drawn. I guessed he’d had a long and stressful night but nothing could have prepared me for what he was about to say.
“It’s bad Leroy, really bad.” he began ominously.

I gulped, looking him straight in the eye before speaking my next words.

“What the hell happened Eric? Didn’t you see the storm coming? Was there no warning?”

“None.” Eric replied sternly, “In all my years at sea I’ve never seen anything like it. One minute the seas were clear and calm and the next it was like we were dropped into the eye of a hurricane. The wave that hit us must have been close to one hundred foot high. We’re damn lucky it didn’t sink us!”

I felt a cold shudder running through me. “So, we got off lightly then? But surely we’re okay now, aren’t we?”

Eric scoffed before replying.

“Lightly? I suppose you could say that. Still, we have dozens of wounded, several of them serious…and five missing.”

“Missing?” I exclaimed in shock.

“Yeah. We reckon they went overboard during the storm but can’t say for sure.”

“Jesus!” I swore, as the gravity of the situation finally hit me.

“I know. It’s horrific.” Eric confirmed, “But what really worries me is the fifteen patients down in our infirmary with life threatening injuries. We can keep them stable for now but can’t provide the treatments and surgeries they need.”

“But they can be evacuated, right? Can’t the authorities onshore send help?”

Eric shrugged his shoulders dismissively. “Do you see land out of your cabin window?”

I frowned. “So, what? We’ve been blown off course? But surely we can contact the nearest port?”

Eric shook his head and broke off eye contact. “All communications are down. GPS, satellite…we can’t even pick up any radio signals. We haven’t even seen another ship or plane since the storm hit us. We have no idea where we are and no way of contacting the rest of the world.”

I spluttered nervous laughter, hoping that Eric was playing a practical joke on me, but his expression was all too serious.

“How can that be possible? This is the 21st century for God’s sake! How can a ship this size get lost and cut-off in this day and age?”

“I don’t know.” Eric replied truthfully, “But listen Leroy, I’m telling you all this because you’re my friend. You can’t speak with anybody else about it. The captain’s worried about provoking a mass panic. Hopefully this mess will be resolved in a day or two, but until then we’ve got to keep a lid on it. Okay?”

I wasn’t happy about my friend’s instructions but I reluctantly agreed to keep the details of our predicament to myself. This immediately led to difficulties between me and Rachel. When we met for breakfast in the dining hall she inevitably asked me what Eric had said and I had to lie to her. On the surface she accepted my explanation that everything was okay but I think she knew I wasn’t telling the truth.

The remainder of our breakfast passed by in cold and awkward silence until we parted ways without making arrangements to meet again.

The rest of that day passed me by in something of a blur as I tried to process the horrifying reality of what my friend had told me. Meanwhile, there was a surreal atmosphere on the ship as the crew attempted to conduct business as usual. The captain made a rather unconvincing announcement later in the morning, explaining that the storm had caused some small damage and resulted in a few minor injuries, and as a result the ship was slightly behind schedule.

Few believed him however, and the mood onboard became increasingly claustrophobic and uncomfortable as day turned to night and discontented passengers gathered in the bars, some drinking heavily and whispering in small huddles, spreading conspiracy theories about what was really happening and concluding that the ship’s senior officers knew more than they were letting on, even if the majority of the crew remained ignorant.

Before the end of the night, this dissenting group centred around a man in his 60s called Trevor Henderson and his significantly younger wife Cecilia. The Hendersons were a stuck-up wealthy couple from New England who I’d been forced to sit with during our first night’s dinner service. I found the couple snobbish and pretentious, noting how the balding and overweight Trevor wore a captain’s style jacket and bored everyone with his supposed nautical expertise, while Cecilia was deliberately rude and verbally abusive to the waiting staff and took the appearance of a stereotypical trophy wife – complete with bleach blonde hair and obvious signs of cosmetic surgery.

I hadn’t liked the Hendersons and had hoped to avoid them for the rest of the cruise, but now it seemed they were inserting themselves at the centre of this growing party of dissenting passengers. I feared where this was going and wondered whether the captain had made a mistake by keeping the situation a secret. But I didn’t intervene in the increasingly angry discussion at the bar, instead finishing my drink and returning to my cabin alone.


It proved to be another restless night as what little sleep I did enjoy was interrupted by vivid nightmares of red skies, huge rogue waves, and alien seas filled with dark monsters and deadly predators. I awoke screaming, my body covered with a cold sweat. As I lay alone in the dark I experienced an almost primal fear as I believed I was facing an existential threat beyond my limited understanding.

Dawn brought me little relief as I wearily glanced out the cabin window and once again saw nothing but open ocean. I knew nothing about seafaring but realised we surely should have reached land by now. Disturbed and confused, I quickly washed up and made my way below deck to find Eric and hopefully get some answers.

Seeing my friend didn’t reassure me, as Eric looked even worse than the day before, with his uniform crinkled, his hair and beard both dishevelled, and the smell of alcohol evident on his breath.

I put my hand on his shoulder, whispering in his ear with concern – “Hey man, are you okay?”

Eric laughed maniacally in response, saying – “Sure man, I’m having a blast! It’s a non-stop party on this boat!”

I removed my hand and attempted to make eye contact with my old friend, only to find he wouldn’t engage with me.

A moment later and Eric’s walkie-talkie burst to life. He wearily lifted the receiver and we both listened to the panicked voice on the other end.

“You better get up here Eric! Things are getting ugly!”

“Jesus.” Eric swore.

“What’s happening?” I asked impatiently.

“The captain agreed to meet with a party of concerned passengers this morning up on the top deck. I told him it was a mistake, but no-one ever listens to me. Come on, we best head up there.”

I followed my friend to the elevator as we ascended in tense silence. The deck was a sorry sight to witness as the swimming pool was drained, deck chairs folded up and the bar closed. This was no longer a place of fun and enjoyment but rather one of grim austerity and barely contained threat.

We heard raised voices and soon spotted the mob – a crowd of around fifty to sixty angry and scared passengers who were confronting the captain and other crew members who stood at the front of the ship. The captain was attempting to calm the crowd but with little success.

I noted a stern-faced man of South Asian descent standing by his side, subtly scanning the crowd with focussed eyes.

“That’s Sanjay,” Eric whispered in my ear, “Ex-Indian Army and Head of Security. A real tough cookie.”

I saw the Hendersons were in charge of the angry crowd with the obnoxious Trevor leading the tirade against the captain.

“Listen buddy! Do you take me for an idiot? I served in the navy for five years. I know we’ve been sailing due west at 20 knots all through the night and we should have reached the Bahamas 24 hours ago! What’s more, the sun isn’t rising and setting in the right place in the sky. Even the star constellations are wrong! What the hell is going on here?”

I saw the grey-haired captain sweating through his neat white uniform as he struggled to find the words to reply.

“Sir, its true we’re facing a difficult situation, but I must ask that you remain calm and leave this to the professionals.”

Trevor laughed in open mockery before exclaiming – “Professionals? What a joke! You people have no idea where we are or where we’re going, do you? You call yourself a captain? I say you’re totally incompetent!”

The accusation didn’t go down well as the captain’s face turned red before he spoke through clenched teeth.

“I don’t care for your tone sir. If you continue to act aggressively, I will have you placed under arrest.”

A tense silence ensued as Eric and I watched on from a distance. For a moment it looked like the wind had been knocked out of Trevor and I thought he might back down, but then his wife Cecilia interjected abruptly, speaking directly and harshly to her husband.

“You’re not going to let this jumped-up little asshole speak to you like that, are you honey?” she asked loudly.

With that, the fury came back into Trevor’s eyes as he shouted – “Hell no! I’d like to see you try!”

And in that moment, all hell broke loose. Sanjay made the first move, reaching out to grab Trevor and place him in plastic cuffs. Celicia screamed in fury, hitting the security officer repeatedly with her handbag.

The violence escalated as the Hendersons’ supporters surged forward, soon overwhelming the outnumbered security staff and crew members in a violent fury. I saw Sanjay getting punched and kicked by several passengers although he continued to fight back fiercely.
But Trevor was now free and he went straight for the exposed captain, screaming – “I’ll show you, you lying son-of-a-bitch!”

He grabbed him roughly and they tussled, struggling desperately as their bodies spilled across the deck. Eric rushed forward to protect his captain but it was already too late.
Trevor had the captain pinned up against the railing, and a moment later the officer was falling – his body going over the edge. He screamed in terror as he fell, eventually hitting the water with a dull plop. Suddenly Trevor backed off, a look of shock and guilt etched across his face as he surely realised he’d gone too far.

Meanwhile, we all ran over to the railing, looking downwards to see the captain bobbing up and down in the water, as thankfully he was still alive and conscious.

“Man overboard! Enact the emergency rescue protocol!” Eric ordered.

But before the crew could act one of the passengers cried out in terror as he pointed over the side of the ship.

“Sweet Jesus! What the hell is that?”

We looked down and saw it, a huge sea creature rising to the surface and sliding through the waves, heading directly towards the stricken captain. I could hardly believe my eyes as I watched the serpent-like shape which I reckoned was easily forty foot in length, its head emerging from beneath the water line to reveal a long and thick snout like that of a crocodile. The beast’s reptilian eyes were cold and predatory and its mouth was filled with rows of sharp teeth.

Unfortunately for him, the captain saw the beast approach and screamed in utter terror, trying in vain to swim away from the monster’s deadly maw. But he didn’t make it far, as the giant reptile secured his frail body in its mighty jaws and literally bit him in half, filling the blue water with red blood and viscera.

Several of the crowd screamed and at least one vomited after witnessing the horrific killing. I myself turned away, unable to watch as the feeding frenzy continued.

In the immediate aftermath of the captain’s grisly death, attention quickly shifted to Trevor Henderson as the crowd turned on him.

“You murdered him!” shouted one young crew member, his voice shaking and his eyes filled with angry tears.

Trevor held his hands up defensively as all his defiance suddenly melted away. “I didn’t mean for that to happen! I didn’t know…How could I?”

But the young man wasn’t in the mood to forgive. Before any of us could stop him, the kid pulled a concealed weapon from his waistline which I recognised as being a flare gun. He fired the weapon at close range, hitting Trevor square in his chest.

We could only look on in horror as the flare burned inside his ribcage, setting Trevor alight but not killing him. He screamed in agony and charged across the deck in a blind panic as passengers and crew leapt out of his path. Finding no help or relief, Trevor flung his burning body over the railing on the starboard side of the boat, falling to his doom in the unforgiving waters below as his charred body surely sank into the depths or was devoured by yet another beast swimming in this alien ocean.

Cecilia reacted with blind fury to her husband’s violent death, charging at the still shaking crew member with the intention of throttling him where he stood. Fortunately, she was held back by several of her late husband’s supporters, although the grief-stricken woman continued to wail like a banshee and threaten the young man.

“You bastard! You killed my husband! I’ll get you for this! I’ll make you pay!”

Soon she was dragged away as Sanjay and his staff regained some level of control, taking the flare gun from the kid’s shaking hands and securing him in plastic cuffs as he was placed under arrest. And Eric and I were left on deck under the morning sun, staring at each other blankly as we wondered how the situation had descended into wild violence so quickly.

Eric and I met that evening in the officer’s bar below deck. On this occasion I insisted that Rachel would accompany me as I believed she needed to know the full story. Eric reluctantly agreed. There was little point in trying to keep secrets – not anymore.

We all took a stiff drink as Eric told us what he knew.

“The kid who shot the flare gun is called Pablo. He’s a waiter in the dining hall. It seems that he and the captain were involved in a relationship, which explains why he reacted like he did to the skipper’s death.”

“Wow.” I replied in shock.

“Yeah.” Eric nodded, “Sanjay’s placed him in the brig, mainly for his own protection. Mrs Henderson has been making threats.”

“So, will they put him on trial once we reach port?” Rachel asked.

Eric scoffed dismissively before replying. “If we ever make it to port.”

I quickly changed the topic, asking – “What about the creature that ate the captain?”

“It’s still following in our wake.” Eric replied fearfully, “I guess it’s got a taste for human flesh and is hoping for another snack…And before you ask, I have no idea what the hell it is. Looks like something from Jurassic Park to me. Nothing like it swims in our oceans, that’s for sure.”

Rachel raised an eyebrow before asking – “What do you mean, our oceans?”

The question hung in the air for a tension-filled moment while Eric took another swig of hard liquor before he dared to answer.

“I mean we aren’t in terrestrial waters any longer. Although I can’t tell you much more than that.”

Rachel shot me a look of genuine terror and I swallowed, my brain attempting to process the madness my ears were hearing.

“How can that be possible Eric? What is it you’re not telling us?”

Eric drained his glass before pouring himself another.

“For what it’s worth, I have two theories. The first is that the storm was in fact a gateway which transported us to an alternate reality – another Earth with geography and ecology very different to our own…”

“You can’t be serious?” Rachel interrupted.

“Do you have a better idea?” Eric replied angrily.

“What’s your second theory?” I asked.

Eric shot me a cold look and twisted smile. “That we’re all dead, and this is hell.”

I felt a sickness rising in the pit of my stomach, my head spinning as I found myself lost for words. When Rachel spoke again, her voice sounded defeated and deflated.

“So, what happens now?”

“Well, technically the first mate is now in charge of the ship. But in reality Sanjay is calling the shots. He’s going to announce emergency measures within the next few hours. Passengers will be confined to their cabins after dark, food will be rationed, and all non-essential systems will be shut down to divert power to the engines…Oh, and there’s going to be a ban on alcohol consumption.”

This time I raised my eyebrow as I looked at my friend’s glass with concern.

“Oh, don’t worry – I have officer’s privileges!” Eric said with a laugh, although I was far from convinced.

“So, in 48 hours we’ve gone from a fun-loving cruise to a police state?” Rachel asked in astonishment.

“Yeah.” Eric confirmed, a shame now evident behind his voice. “Maybe Sanjay’s doing the right thing. Time will tell.”

“But it doesn’t change the real problem, does it?” Rachel continued, “We’re still lost at sea and have no idea where we’re heading.”

“Correct. Our plan – if you can call it that – is to continue sailing west in the hope that we either make landfall or receive radio contact from…someone. We’ve got enough canned food to last for a week or so, but our fuel will run out sooner than that. And, if that happens, we’ll be adrift in the open sea without engines and slowly running out of food and fresh water…basically becoming a floating steel tomb for sixteen hundred people. That’s if we don’t all kill each other first.”

“My God.” Rachel swore.

I shook my head, adding – “How has it come to this?”

“I’ve been asking myself the same question.” Eric replied solemnly, “Here we are on a hellish alien ocean slowly running out of the essentials. And what do we have to tackle this crisis? A crew of waiters, bartenders and cleaners from a dozen different countries, and passengers – half of whom are either children or senior citizens…”

“But they all have one thing in common.” I interjected, “They all want to get home.”

“Yes.” Rachel agreed, as some of the light came back into her hazel eyes. “There’s always hope. We can’t give up.”

Eric snorted in contempt as he took another drink, and my concern for my friend’s welfare increased.

Rachel and I left Eric soon after this, returning to her cabin before the dusk curfew came into effect. We had decided to spend the night together but more for company and emotional support than anything else, as we were both shaken by Eric’s shocking revelations.

On our way back we spotted a familiar face at the aft of the ship – Cecilia Henderson, the recent widow who already seemed to have gotten over her grief, as she kissed a bartender passionately on the lips while we watched. She shot us both a hostile glare before leading the smitten crew member by the hand, apparently taking him down to her cabin below deck.
“Wow, she moved on quick.” Rachel quipped sarcastically.

“Yeah.” I answered thoughtfully, although I couldn’t help but wonder whether the woman had a hidden agenda yet to be revealed.

I suffered through yet another unpleasant night despite Rachel’s presence, my nightmares filled with memories of giant crocodilian predators, burning flesh and blood-curdling screams.

I awoke during the early hours to the din of an alarm sounding and the PA system blaring.
“Alert! Alert! All security personnel report to the top deck immediately.”

Rachel shot up from the bed and we looked at each other with fear and confusion.
“What the hell now?” she asked angrily.

“I don’t know.” I answered, “But I think we should get up there. Eric could be in danger.”

Rachel nodded and we hastily threw on our clothes before rushing out of the cabin.

The sun was rising by the time we made it onto deck, and we ran into Eric as we exited the lift.

“What’s happening?” I cried.

“It’s that crazy bitch Cecilia Henderson!” Eric shouted frantically, “She’s trying to take the ship!”

We ran out and witnessed a scene of anarchy as two sides engaged in a pitched battle. Celicia’s faction consisted of many of the original malcontents as well as assorted crew members, including the young bartender we’d seen her seducing the night before. Cecilia was at the forefront, a crazed look in her eyes and blood on her hands as she wielded a steak knife.

I heard her screaming out to her violent supporters as they launched an attack, most armed with nothing more than deck chairs and other improvised weapons.

“They murdered my husband because he knew too much!” she cried, “They’re hiding the truth from us. We must take back control!”

The frantic crowd screamed like a band of fanatics charging into battle. Opposing them was a mixed group of security staff and other crew led by Sanjay, some carrying extendable batons or tasers. I noted that none carried firearms and so guessed there were none onboard. As a result, the desperate and surreal battle would be fought hand-to-hand.

Clearly, Cecilia’s faction were trying to force their way up the staircase and break into the bridge. I dreaded to think what would happen if they succeeded.

Before I could stop him, Eric charged forward to join the fray. I shouted after my friend and followed in his path, soon finding myself embroiled in the violent fight.

A middle-aged man in a Hawaiian shirt charged at me without provocation, screaming like a berserker as he raised a deck chair above his head and attempted to hit me with it. Acting on instinct, I dodged the attack and punched, striking the man hard in his exposed stomach. He keeled over, but my blood was still up, so I punched him again in the face, knocking him down to the deck.

A second man – little more than a kid actually – hit me on the back with an umbrella stand, prompting me to squeal in pain. I turned and grabbed the kid’s improvised weapon, slapping him hard with an open palm and forcing him to retreat in humiliation.

I enjoyed a brief respite from the fighting as I observed the battle raging around me. Eric was attacking multiple rioters with his bare hands, a wild fury evident in his eyes as he punched until his fists were bloody. In a sudden panic I realised I’d left Rachel alone and vulnerable, but when I found her in the crowd I realised my lover was more than capable of looking after herself, as she had a heavy-set rioter pinned to the ground.

And then I saw Celicia, her blonde hair now dishevelled and her eyes full of fury and madness as she screamed wildly and charged straight at Sanjay. Her knife was raised and no doubt she planned to bury the blade in his chest, but the Indian officer was well-trained, and his instincts were sharp as he grabbed her wrist and twisted, forcing the knife from her hand before he forced her to the floor.

By this point it was clear who was winning the battle. Celicia’s mob were filled with a furious zeal but they lacked organisation or training. One after one, the mutineers fell under the batons or were dropped by tasers. With their leader defeated, the rest saw the writing on the wall and they began dropping their improvised weapons and raising their hands in surrender.

I surveyed the scene in disbelief as blood flowed on the deck and wounded men and women groaned in agony as they squirmed on the floor. And there was Celicia Henderson, now pinned to the ground with her hands secured in plastic cuffs as Sanjay kneeled down on top of her. She continued to scream with all the fury in hell, spitting out her hateful words and threats.

“I’ll kill you! I’ll kill all of you bastards!”

When I looked into her wild eyes I felt a cold terror pulsate through me, forcing me to turn away.

It took most of the day to deal with the bloody mess caused by Celicia’s botched rebellion. There wasn’t enough room in the brig for all the mutineers, so only the ringleaders were locked up while the rest were confined to their quarters. It later transpired that Celicia and her bartender lover had broken into the cells during the night and shortly before their botched rebellion, as the woman sought revenge on her husband’s killer. They’d found the poor kid Pablo and slit his throat from ear-to-ear.

Rachel and I attempted to make love that evening but we were unable to rekindle our previous passion, not after what we’d witnessed over the previous days and nights. Instead we talked long into the night, trying to make sense of the madness.

“I don’t know what scares me more,” Rachel said solemnly, “The crazy situation we’re in or what it’s done to the people on board.”

“It’s all a façade.” I replied bleakly, “Human beings are only one step away from savagery.”

Rachel looked at me sternly before replying. “Don’t say that! There are still good people on board. And we’re going to make it through this. Somehow or another, we’ll make it home. And one day this will be a story we tell our grandkids.”

She shot me a cheeky smile and I couldn’t help but reciprocate as I found her optimism infectious. Rachel had turned out to be so much more than I’d first thought – not only was she beautiful and intelligent, but also brave and strong. I began to think we could survive this hell if we stuck together, and after that…who could say?


We had a day of peace before the next attack came – a deadly assault upon the entire ship’s complement that none of us could have predicted. I was on night duty on the evening in question. Sanjay had asked for volunteers from the passengers to ensure the evening curfew was being upheld. It wasn’t my idea of fun but at least I felt like I was doing something useful.

I was walking the upper deck under the moon and stars. While I marched down the port side I saw something crawling along the walkway in front of me. With some trepidation I moved closer and switched on the battery-powered torch they’d given me, seeing what looked like a black slug about three inches in length.

I instinctively recoiled upon seeing the slimy creature and wondered how it had come to be here. It seemed unnecessarily cruel, but my instinct was to crush the small beast under my boot…so I did so – taking a perverse satisfaction from the splatting noise as its tiny, boneless form was flattened. Then I wiped the slug’s remains off the sole of my shoe before proceeding with my patrol. I didn’t give the incident a further thought until later, by which time it was already too late.

I was walking down the dimly lit interior corridor back towards Rachel’s cabin, looking forward to falling asleep in her arms. But I groaned in frustration when I saw the lone figure at the end of the passageway, his back turned to me as he stood perfectly still.

My first thought was that he was probably drunk. Despite Sanjay’s ban on alcohol consumption the drink was still flowing as a kind of black market had developed. However, I was tired and in no mood for such nonsense, so I challenged the man firmly as I approached him.

“Hi buddy, what are you doing out here? Don’t you know its past curfew?”

No response. The man didn’t even turn around. I felt a little uneasy as I continued towards the man, noting how he was big – over 6 foot tall and well built. I didn’t like my chances if it came to a fight.

He wore tracksuit bottoms and a white t-shirt but his back was turned to me and so I couldn’t see his face. But, when I got closer, I saw he stood in a puddle of crimson liquid that had seeped into the carpet, which I soon realised was blood.

“Oh God!” I exclaimed with concern, “Are you okay sir? Do you need a doctor?”

The man finally responded by emitting an inhuman gurgling sound from deep in his throat, and then he slowly turned around and I came face-to-face with a hellish vision.

The man’s white t-shirt was covered with dry blood which seemed to come from his mouth, because when he opened his jaws I was horrified to see raw flesh stuck between his teeth. And his eyes…Dear God! Those eyes! They were no longer those of a human being, instead replaced by soulless black orbs like those of a shark.

He stared straight at me, his dark eyes focussed with a predatory zeal, and then he unleashed an animalistic roar from his blood-covered lips before storming down the corridor, heading straight for me.

I cried out in terror before running, sprinting frantically down the narrow corridor as the monster quickly closed the gap. I soon realised that I wouldn’t make it to the far end of the corridor and so I resorted to banging on random doors and pleading for help from the passengers.

“Please let me in! For the love of God!”

The first few doors remained firmly shut and I panicked as the beast came ever closer, his heavy feet thumping as he continued to roar with a wild fury. I slammed my fists on yet another door, the monster now so close that I could smell the foul stench from his breath.
To my huge relief, the door slowly opened and I pushed my way inside, barely registering the occupant as I slammed it shut behind me – and just in the nick of time, because a moment later the monster smashed its fists against the other side of the door. Meanwhile, I retreated inside the cabin, hoping that the door would hold.

The beast’s savage attack continued for about a minute before he eventually gave up and stomped back down the corridor, and I was left to thank my unlikely saviour.

I cast my eyes upon a frightened elderly woman sitting upon the double bed. Her skin was wrinkled and she was dressed in a light blue dressing gown. She appeared frail and vulnerable but seemed more concerned with my well-being, and I could hear the compassion in her voice as she spoke.

“Are you okay young man?” she asked.


I took a deep breath before replying as my body continued to tremble from the shock.
“Yeah…I think so. Thank you for opening the door.”

She smiled faintly before answering. “Of course. I couldn’t leave you out there with that…thing.”

As if on cue, we heard the monstrous man crying out as he continued to stomp down the corridor.

“You saw him?” I asked nervously.

“Yes.” she confirmed, “He was one of the passengers on this floor. Bobby, I think his name was. I don’t know what happened to him, whether he got sick or lost his mind…But that beast out there isn’t a man, not anymore…”

I couldn’t even begin to process the terrifying implications of what this lady was telling me and so I decided to change the subject.

“My name’s Leroy.” I said whilst trying to smile.

“Nice to meet you, Leroy. I’m Agnes and I’m travelling with my husband Zachery. We’re celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. This trip was a present from our kids.”

“Wow! Congratulations to you both!” I frowned, scanning the cabin before continuing,

“Where is Zachery now?”

Agnes lowered her head as her tired eyes betrayed feelings of guilt and fear. “He went out to find some bottled water. The water stopped working in our bathroom you see…I told him not to leave the cabin after curfew but he wouldn’t listen. Too stubborn.”

She raised her head, looking up at me with pleading eyes. “Do you think he’s okay?”
My heart went out to the lady and what could I say?

“I’m sure he’s fine.” I answered in what I hoped was a reassuring tone of voice.

But the elderly lady’s talk of her missing husband reminded me that Rachel was in her cabin alone while the creature continued to stalk the corridors. Agnes must have seen the anxiety in my expression and she guessed what I was thinking.

“You have someone special too, don’t you? A girl?”

I nodded in the affirmative.

“You should go to her.” Agnes said without hesitation.

I shook my head, saying – “I can’t leave you here alone.”

“I’ll be fine.” she answered firmly, “I’ll keep the door locked until Zachery gets back. Don’t worry about me. Your lady friend needs you.”

I nodded my head as my confidence slowly returned, and I made for the door handle before Agnes stopped me.

“Wait Leroy! You can’t go out there unarmed.”

Then she passed me a hefty blackthorn walking stick, pressing it into my hands.

“This is Zachery’s, but he’s too proud to use it. It’s not much but is better than going up against that beast with nothing.”

I was truly touched by her thoughtfulness and grateful for all she’d done for me in such a short space of time.

“Thank you.” I replied, “I’ll be back soon.”

And then I cautiously opened the door and poked my head outside. Thankfully, the monstrous man was nowhere to be seen and the corridor appeared to be clear.

I shut the cabin door securely behind me and swiftly proceeded down the corridor and towards Rachel’s cabin. But suddenly I heard a high-pitched scream and I started to sprint as my adrenaline kicked in.

When I reached my lover’s cabin I found the door ajar and was horrified to witness the scene within. The man who was formerly known as Bobby was inside the cabin, having left a trail of blood along the carpet as he savagely reached out to grab his prey.

And there was Rachel, separated from her monstrous attacker by the bed and desperately striking out at him with an empty suitcase. She saw me standing in the doorway and cried out for help.

I acted on instinct, charging forward and striking the attacker hard on his back, forcing him down onto the bed. The beast cried out but didn’t stay down. I should’ve struck him again but hesitated because I still wondered whether this monster retained some sliver of his humanity.

But the monster soon rose and turned to face me, storming forward and pinning me against the wall, his face only inches from mine as his dark eyes glared right through me and his bloody jaws opened. I thought I was done for, but then Rachel cried out and gained the monster’s attention.


He turned his head while Rachel charged like a warrior princess. She attacked with her stiletto heel, forcing the sharp end through the beast’s eye and deep into his brain.

With that, the zombified man collapsed heavily onto the floor as blood poured from his open wound.

“Jesus!” I exclaimed, “Are you okay?”

Rachel didn’t get a chance to answer as a second later the now familiar siren blared and a panicked voice spoke over the PA system.

“This is an emergency! This is an emergency! All able boded passengers and crew must arm themselves and report to the dining hall. All children, elderly and invalids remain in your cabins with the doors locked.”

Rachel and I both looked at each other in disbelief, sharing a moment of terrified silence before she spoke.

“We need to go.”

We proceeded to the dining hall via the staircase and discovered a scene straight out of hell. There were others like the zombified man we’d killed in the cabin – dozens of them, their eyes black and maws full of blood and flesh. The monsters appeared to be working in unison, launching a coordinated attack upon the living.

The zombies tore across the dining room, turning over tables and chairs as they roared aloud like a pack of blood-thirsty jackals. The horrors were met by a motley assortment of passengers and crew armed with batons, table legs and bread knives, all desperately fighting for their very lives.

Predictably I saw the defensive force was led by the ever-steady Sanjay and his security team, and I soon picked out the wild-eyed Eric amongst their ranks.

Soon battle commenced as the two forces clashed in a bloody skirmish right in the middle of the hall and the scene descended into savage anarchy. I’d seen violence before on the top deck but this was something different. Both sides were trying to kill each other – the zombies going for their victims’ throats while the living smashed their enemy’s heads in with their improvised weapons.

Rachel and I soon joined the fray as our survival instincts kicked in. The first zombie I faced was familiar to me. Celicia Henderson. I found her greedily chewing on the open throat of a young female cleaner, although she looked up as I approached her kill zone.

Her artificial beauty was now entirely gone, replaced by soulless black eyes and a mouth filled with bloody flesh. I don’t know how she got out of the brig but somehow it seemed fitting for the mutineer’s story to end here.

She rose to meet me, screaming like a furious banshee as she prepared to attack. But I was faster, bringing the wooden walking stick down upon her head again and again, not stopping until her skull was crushed and her brains spread across the carpet. I paused briefly to consider the gory scene before I rejoined the frantic battle and fought the next zombie.

The rest of the night passed by in a bloody blur as we fought brutal running battles throughout the ship against the zombie hordes. None of us understood why this was happening or what evil had inhabited the former people we were fighting. All we knew was that they would kill us if we didn’t kill them first, and so there was no other choice.

The fighting continued until dawn when we finally killed the last of the monsters.

iraculously, Rachel, Eric and I all survived the fight, although many others did not. There was barely time to wash the blood off our clothes and fill our bellies before Eric summoned Rachel and I to meet him down below.

By now my friend looked like a shadow of his former self, his expression haggard and his eyes full of pain and grief – as they’d seen too much evil. He confused us both by not coming over to the table with an alcoholic beverage but rather a sealed glass jar containing a small black slug which slithered around inside.

“Have you seen one of these before?” he asked in an almost accusatory tone.

“Yeah.” I answered nervously as I remembered the slug I’d crushed under my boot the night before. “I killed one.”

“Smart.” Eric said with a nod. “Shame you didn’t get a few more. Hundreds of these little bastards have been crawling up the hull for days now, slowly making their way onboard. The crew washed them overboard when they saw them but we had a lot on our plate these last few days, and no-one thought these tiny slugs were a threat.”

“Wait.” Rachel interrupted, “Are you saying these things are responsible for what happened last night?”

“Bingo.” Eric replied, “That’s the theory anyway.”

He picked up the jar and looked at the slithering slug with a mixture of curiosity and disgust.
“The ship’s doctor says they’re parasites. They enter our bodies through the mouth, ear or nostril while we sleep and attach themselves to the brain, somehow using electric stimulation to control the body. It seems most of their ‘hosts’ died during the process, but others were transformed into the blood-thirsty zombies were all witnessed and went on a killing spree.”

“Sweet Jesus!” I exclaimed in shock.

“I know.” Eric replied solemnly, “There’s so much we don’t know about this world and the creatures that inhabit it.”

“How many died?” Rachel asked suddenly.

Eric broke eye contact and sighed deeply before answering. “We don’t have an exact figure, but we reckon at least half of the ship’s complement died last night.”

My jaw dropped and my head spun as the full extent of the horror hit home. I did a rough calculation in my head before muttering – “Eight hundred souls…”

“At least.” Eric confirmed, “And that’s not counting the suicides. Many lost loved ones during the assault and people are losing hope. Some have taken pills or used a belt, and others have simply thrown themselves into the sea.”

In that moment I thought of Agnes, the kind-hearted old woman who’d saved my life the night before. I asked Eric about her welfare, only to be told that both Agnes and her husband Zachery had died during the night. The news hit me like a punch in the gut and I felt immense guilt.

Rachel and I were almost broken by Eric’s latest revelations, but he wasn’t finished yet.
“There’s still work to be done.” Eric said grimly, “I’m sorry to ask, but we need you guys for an ugly job.”

All of the surviving crew and passengers who were able bodied and hadn’t lost their sanity were tasked with two unpleasant jobs in the aftermath of the zombie rampage. Rachel was assigned to the clean-up crew with responsibility for meticulously searching the ship from top to bottom and destroying all the parasitic slugs they found.

Meanwhile, Eric and I were working under the strict eye of Sanjay as we collected all the bodies from the previous night’s massacre and dragged them up to the top deck one-by-one. We maintained the dignity of the deceased as far as possible, using spare bed sheets from the laundry to wrap them up like mummies.

It was an awful job that almost broke me as we discovered body after body throughout the ship, many with horrific injuries and all having died in pain and fear. The dead children were the worst…I don’t even want to think about them.

After several hours of back-breaking work we had assembled all of the hundreds of corpses on the top deck along the starboard side, but the job wasn’t finished yet. We couldn’t store the bodies you understand, and we couldn’t just leave them on deck to rot. So, this left us with only one option – burial at sea.

It didn’t seem right as we weren’t giving the deceased the dignity and respect they deserved. There was no-one to speak for the dead and the body disposal was just that, and a grim but necessary job. But there was worse to come.

It wasn’t long before the crocodilian sea monster returned, the predator who had devoured our captain and been stalking our boat for the past few days. And now the monster was being rewarded for its persistence as it greedily feasted upon the bodies we tossed overboard.

Naturally, this fresh horror led to much upset amongst the work crew, and the disposal of bodies was temporarily halted. But Sanjay was unrelenting, marching down the deck and shouting his orders like a determined drill sergeant.

“Keep going! Keep going! We have to do this!”

Reluctantly we continued the foul job, trying to ignore the sounds of the predator biting into flesh as the blue water turned red. The giant crocodile enjoyed its feeding frenzy for only a short time before an even larger predator invaded its patch.

One of the work crew shouted in panicked excitement whilst pointing to the horizon. We all turned to witness a new horror – a huge fin cutting through the waves. Soon, the leviathan breached the surface and we observed what was surely the alpha predator of this hellish sea.

What we saw was a monstrous shark, a killing machine with huge jaws filled with rows of massive teeth. The monster must have been 60 to 70 feet in length and its huge frame might have weighed as much as 100 metric tonnes. It reminded me of a megalodon, the enormous shark which hunted the prehistoric oceans on our version of Earth. This species went extinct on our world million of years ago, but not here apparently.

Every man and woman on deck were frozen in abject horror as we watched the monster rapidly approaching our boat, cutting through the waves, its massive jaws opening as it tasted blood in the water.

The reptile snapped its jaws aggressively and for a moment I thought the two monsters would fight it out. But the forty-foot crocodile was no match for the seventy-foot shark and so it retreated quickly, leaving the kill zone to the megalodon.

The beast got in close, its huge frame bashing against the side of our ship, making the boat shake with the impact. People began to shout out in a panic before Sanjay once again took charge.

“The fish isn’t big enough to threaten the ship. We keep going!”

Eric and I shared a look, noting the horror in each other’s eyes. This act would surely diminish our humanity even further. But, after all we’d already seen and done, only one thing seemed to matter now…survival. And so we did our grisly duty, throwing more bodies overboard for the monstrous shark to feast upon.

Eventually the megalodon had its fill and left the scene, only for the crocodilian beast to return and continue its feast. And, when the reptile was done, the remaining bodies were picked off by smaller scavengers. It was a horrifying scene, and by the time we were done there was a trail of blood left in our wake across miles of ocean.

I felt physically sick after the job was finally completed and wanted nothing more than to retreat from the blood-soaked deck and wash the stench of death off my body. Eric stopped me however, placing a firm hand on my shoulder which I promptly slapped away.

“Leave me be, damn it!” I cried out angrily.

My friend wasn’t deterred, however. “We’ve been through hell my friend. But I finally have some good news, and I wanted to share it with you first.”

I turned to face my friend in astonishment and was ready to punch him out if he was joking, but the expression on his face was deadly serious.

“What do you mean?” I asked as my curiosity piqued.

“A radio signal.” Eric replied, “We picked it up a few hours ago and have triangulated the source. We’ll be changing course shortly and heading southwest towards that location. It’s come just in the nick of time to be honest because our fuel reserves are running low.”

I felt a deluge of emotions in that moment but the most powerful of them all was hope.
“I don’t believe it!” I exclaimed excitedly, “Do you know who’s calling us?”

“No.” Eric confirmed, “It’s a one-way transmission with a message on a continuous loop. All quite mysterious. But we’ll find out the truth soon enough.”

I grinned inanely and couldn’t wait to tell Rachel. Naively, I thought that our nightmare was almost over, but of course it wasn’t that easy.

The Island

The final part of my account begins as a party of eight boarded one of the Mystery of Seas’s lifeboats and made the journey to shore. Eric, Rachel and I were part of this small scouting party, as was Sanjay – head of security, two other security men called Marcus and Carlo, Dr Marshall – the ship’s physician, and a passenger who was trained as a paramedic named Andrea.

We’d made the approach to the island several hours before only to find there was nowhere for our large cruise ship to dock. One might have expected scenes of jubilation onboard when land was spotted, but instead the scene was markedly subdued. We’d already lost so much and witnessed such horrors, not to mention false dawns.

And the island itself held a foreboding presence on the horizon. The hot sun shone down upon an isle of clean white beaches and tropical vegetation. It might have looked like paradise under different circumstances but now we all yearned for the safety of civilisation, and there seemed to be no signs of that here.

At the island’s centre was what we hoped was a dormant volcano which towered above the shore and dominated the skyline. As we approached it was difficult to ascertain how large the isle actually was, but clearly it was of substantial size and more than just a speck in the ocean.

The island was surrounded by coral reefs and so we had to anchor the ship in a large bay off the coast while a scouting party of volunteers was sent ashore. Our job was to discover the source of the radio signal and find out whether there was anyone living on the island who could offer us assistance.

The mood onboard the lifeboat was tense as we made the short journey and barely a word was uttered between us. I tried to catch Rachel’s eye but she turned away from me. We’d had a fight that morning over the expedition. I didn’t want her to join the scouting party and would have preferred her to stay on the ship, but Rachel took exception to this given how hard she’d already fought for survival. I understood where my lover was coming from but the truth was I didn’t want to risk losing her.

But the grim silence on the lifeboat turned to shocked astonishment as we sailed through the coral reef and witnessed what lay underneath the clear blue waters. What we saw were wrecks – sunken boats of various descriptions and from different eras – everything from fishing trawlers to yachts and even what looked like the rusted remains of a German U-boat from one of the world wars.

All these wrecks lay inside the bay and within spitting distance of the shoreline, and clearly we weren’t the first stranded party to have arrived at this mysterious island. I suppose we should have considered the implications of this extraordinary discovery before proceeding but instead we sailed on until we reached the shore and disembarked upon the white sands.
Something felt off as soon as we set foot upon dry land, the hot sun beating down upon our heads as we looked to the trees ahead. I had the distinct and unsettling feeling that we were being watched and it turned out to be so.

We heard a whizzing sound and ducked as a projectile flew just over our heads. I turned to see an arrow hitting the side of our lifeboat, embedding itself in the metal hull.

“What the hell?” Eric exclaimed.

Sanjay and his men reacted on instinct, pulling out the flare guns and tasers they carried as weapons. But a second later and a gunshot rang out, the sound breaking the silence and forcing all of our group to freeze.

Soon, our attackers emerged from the undergrowth and made their way out onto the hot sands with weapons drawn and aimed menacingly towards us. The gang that emerged from the forest were an odd bunch to observe. They were a dozen in number – all men of various races and dressed in a ragged collection of ripped clothes. Most appeared to be in a sorry state, malnourished and emaciated, their skins covered by insect bites and unsightly sores.
All were armed to varying degrees. Most carried what looked like homemade bows and arrows but others held ancient firearms – bolt-loaded rifles and hefty revolvers. And they all had one characteristic in common – a look of violent desperation and hunger in their eyes. Somehow, I could tell that these men had killed before and would do so again, given half an excuse.

One of their number stepped out from the line, shouting out an order to us in accented English – “Drop your weapons or we’ll shoot!”


The hard-nosed Sanjay was reluctant but he must have realised we stood no chance against opponents with firearms. He gave the nod and all our weapons were thrown down to the sand.

The man who had given the order stepped forward to meet us, tucking his pistol into his waistband while his men continued to aim their weapons towards us. The man wore an open shirt and sported a long, dishevelled beard. He looked better fed than the others but only marginally so, and when he grinned we saw his teeth were yellow and rotten.

“Greetings visitors!” he exclaimed dramatically, “Welcome to our little piece of paradise. My name is Sebastian and I am the leader of our community.”

We were speechless after hearing Sebastian’s bizarre words and it was left to Sanjay to respond on behalf of the group.

“What is the meaning of this? Why are you threatening us in this manner?”

“This is our island and you are intruders.” Sebastian answered firmly, “We have the right to defend our shores.”

“We have not come here as invaders!” Sanjay shot back, “We are lost and seeking help.”

Sebastian laughed boisterously before answering. “My friend, we have none to offer you.”

Sanjay shook his head in frustration. “Then what is it you want from us?”

Sebastian’s cruel grin widened as he revealed the cold truth. “We saw your boat sailing into the bay. What a ship! It’s been a long time since we saw such an impression vessel arrive on our shores.”

We all guessed his intentions straight away.

“The ship will be no good to you.” Sanjay said, “We are almost out of fuel. You won’t escape.”

Sebastian laughed again. “My friend, there is no escape from this place. We accepted that a long time ago. We aim to strip your boat for everything we can. Your supplies and equipment will keep my people alive, for a while at least.”

Sanjay shook his head in defiance. “Damn pirates! The crew won’t let you onboard. I’ve left strict orders…”

“Oh, I think they will my friend. We have the eight of you, and we’ll kill you one-by-one until they submit. One way or another, I’ll get what I need for my people.”

Sebastian waved his men forward and ordered us to get down onto the sands, and before long they’d taken us as their prisoners.

Our group was frog-marched at gunpoint off the beach and past the trees where we reached a mud path and soon made our way to a clearing. This was the location of the pirate’s camp, a bizarre and ramshackle collection of bamboo huts and structures built from the salvaged remains of ships and boats. At the centre of the camp was a jury-rigged radio mast which must have been the source of the signal we’d received. My heart sunk as I realised we’d been lured into a trap.

There were many others living within the small settlement, including women and children. The latter came out to see us with a mixture of wonder and suspicion in their young eyes, considering us like we were alien visitors from another world.

As we were prodded through the camp I wondered how all these people had come to be here. Had they all been stranded and marooned like we had? Were the children born here? If so, that meant their parents or grandparents had lived on the island for generations. How could this be possible? I didn’t have time to ponder these questions however, as we were marched out of the camp and towards a small natural harbour on its far side.

There the pirates had a number of small boats tied up – a couple of rowing boats and a larger vessel which looked like a converted fishing trawler. I was concerned to see a heavy machine gun fixed to the rear of the boat, a weapon presumably salvaged at some point from a stranded naval ship or plane.

Sebastian shouted out orders to his men and split our group into two. The doctor, security men and Andrea were forced on board the trawler while the rest of us were kept on shore under armed guard.

The pirate leader shot Sanjay a hard look as he explained his intentions. “He’s their leader. Keep him here with the others. We’ll kill the first four and dump their bodies in the sea. If they still don’t give up we’ll come back for the other four.”

I felt a cold chill as I realised our chances of surviving seemed very low. Eric and Rachel surely shared my feelings of helplessness and despair, but the expression on Sanjay’s face was one of barely contained fury as he stared Sebastian down. But the pirate leader left with his four condemned hostages nevertheless, and we could only watch on in impotent horror as the three boats set out to sea, leaving us on the beach with the men tasked with guarding us.

The four of us were ordered to sit upon an overturned log on the beach while the four guards watched over us. We weren’t bound or restrained and I soon got the impression that our guards weren’t particularly professional. Two of them had guns – one with a rifle and the second with a revolver. The others two were armed with machetes.

One of them seemed apart from the rest, sitting to one side whilst awkwardly clutching his blade and avoiding our eyes. The other three pirates began ransacking the packs we’d brought to shore with us. One of their number squealed in delight when he found a bottle of malt whisky in Eric’s bag. Sanjay shot Eric an accusatory glare, but soon the men were passing around the bottle, drinking heavily and quickly becoming intoxicated.

With the guards distracted, Sanjay took the opportunity to whisper instructions into our ears.

“These bastards are going to kill us. We need to act now while there’s still a chance. On my signal, we attack.”

Suddenly, I experienced a surge of fear but also excited adrenaline. Sanjay was right of course – it was now or never. In an instant the four of us charged forwards, each of us jumping the nearest guard. Sanjay struggled with the rifle-wielding man while Eric grabbed a discarded machete and stabbed a drunken guard with brutal efficiency. Meanwhile, Rachel approached the fourth guard who seemed reluctant to fight, backing off whilst holding his machete in a shaking hand.

And I fought desperately with a wily young pirate brandishing a revolver, trying to force the gun from his hands. But the bastard got the better of me, kicking me hard and throwing my body down on the sands. He still held the gun and I expected him to shoot me, but instead he turned around and aimed at Sanjay, who was in the process of smashing his guard’s head in with the butt of a rifle.

He shot the Indian security officer once in the back, making him scream in agony. A moment later, Eric arrived on the scene and slashed out with his machete, cutting my guard and forcing him to drop his gun. I acted quickly, grabbing the revolver and shooting the wounded guard in the chest, killing him instantly.

Next, I turned the gun on the fourth and final guard but he instantly dropped his blade and threw his hands in the air, shouting – “Please don’t shoot me! I’m not one of them…Don’t kill me!”

The short but bloody battle was over and we all ran to the wounded Sanjay’s side, pulling him up and leaning his broken body against the overturned log.

“We’re going to get you help.” Rachel said.

“No.” Sanjay replied firmly, as he struggled to overcome the pain, “There’s no time. I can’t go on, but I can cover your escape. The others down in the camp will have heard the gunshots. You don’t have much time. Take everything you can carry – food, water, weapons…and retreat into the jungle.”

He paused, nodding towards the last surviving guard. “Take him with you. He might prove useful.”

The guard reacted with terror at the suggestion. “No! We can’t go inland! It’s not safe. Please, I’m not one of them. They made do it. My name’s Diego and I’m from Key West…My yacht got stranded here two years ago…”

We all looked at the man with puzzlement, but Sanjay quickly interjected. “There is no time for this! You must go now!”

With some difficulty he lifted and loaded the rifle, aiming it towards the pathway leading back to the camp. We did as ordered, frantically grabbing everything we could before running to the trees, me covering Diego with the gun as we went.

We hacked through thick vegetation before discovering an old path into the jungle, all the time listening for the sounds of battle back on the beach. Suddenly we heard gunshots – the sharp cracks of rifles and softer popping noises of pistols and revolvers. But before long all went silent. We expected the pirates to pursue us but they didn’t. We’d escaped from one danger but had little idea of where to go next.

The jungle pathway led us to higher ground and from the top of a small hill we got a good view of the bay below and witnessed the battle for control of the Mystery of the Seas. The pirate boats had approached the huge cruise ship and we could see blood in the water, surely confirming that our fellow hostages had been executed by Sebastian’s men.

But the ship’s crew hadn’t given in, instead using a water cannon to defend themselves against the attackers. The smaller rowing boats were vulnerable. One was capsized by the deluge of water, forcing its passengers to frantically swim for shore. The second rowboat retreated, but the fishing trawler stayed beyond the range of the water cannon, using the machine gun secured to its deck to riddle our ship with bullets.

I saw a crew member hit, his body falling over the side and sinking into the clear waters. To our horror, we could only watch as the crew raised the anchor and started up the engines, beginning to set sail back out to sea.

“Damn lunatics!” Eric exclaimed in dismay, “What the hell are they thinking? The ship has a day’s supply of fuel left at most. They’re all going to starve out there!”

Rachel and I were left speechless, watching in silent sorrow as we saw our ship depart to an uncertain fate. But we didn’t dwell long on the sad sight, instead following the path into the jungle.

Going was tough as we cut through the undergrowth with machetes and struggled under the constant assault of biting insects and the stifling humidity. Meanwhile, Eric tried to get more information from our captive Diego.

“Where does this path lead?” my friend demanded.

“I don’t know for sure.” Diego replied, “Like I said, I was told to never travel beyond the edge of the camp. I heard some of the others talk about another beach on the island’s west side. They say there’s a jetty and an old boat there.”

“You’ve been with these pirates for what…two years? What can you tell us about them?” Eric pressed.

“They were all marooned here at one time or another.” Diego answered wearily, “Either that or their descendants were. People have been born and died here without ever leaving the island.”

“And originally they all came from our world?” Eric asked.

Diego shrugged his shoulders. “That’s the thing. We all come from somewhere else, but not from the same world. The way I see it, there are multiple versions of the Earth, but they’re all somehow linked to this world. Someone or something has pulled us all to this damned place…”

Diego’s words hung in the air as we all considered the terrifying implications of his extraordinary theory. I didn’t know whether to believe him or not, but in a sense it didn’t matter because our sole focus was on escape and survival.

At some point during the afternoon Rachel suddenly yelped out in pain. I swung around in concern and saw my lover slapping the side of her neck.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Yeah.” she replied, “Just a mosquito bite. Nothing to worry about.”

I took Rachel at her word and we carried on, not realising the significance of what had just occurred.

It was dusk by the time we made our next amazing and chilling discovery. As we hacked our way through the vegetation we suddenly came to a clearing and were astonished to find stone structures – ancient, weathered and covered in vines as the jungle slowly crept in, but still standing.

We walked through the ruins in astonishment, awestruck by every sight. Most of the buildings were crumbling, but at the centre of the small lost city was a pyramid built in the Mayan style, with a flat top and steps ascending its exterior. The pyramid was about 60 foot tall and still largely intact, having so far survived the encroaching jungle and standing as a lasting monument to whatever ancient civilisation had built it.

We slowly walked around the structure, awestruck by our discovery and the implications of its existence.

“Did you know about this?” Eric asked Diego.

“I’d heard rumours but never believed them.” he replied nervously.

“It’s amazing.” I added, “How old do you think the ruins are?”

“Hard to say.” Eric replied, “Centuries, maybe millennia. Clearly whoever built this settlement are long gone.”

“I wonder what happened to them.” I muttered, although part of me didn’t wish to know the answer.

It was Rachel who spoke next as she shouted out to us from the far side of the pyramid.
“Hey guys, I’ve found a way inside!”

I was reluctant to enter the ancient structure for a number of reasons, but Rachel and Eric were keen to explore the interior, so I felt I had to follow them. Diego refused however, shaking his head vigorously and remaining outside. I briefly considered whether it was wise to leave our prisoner unguarded, but it hardly seemed to matter if he escaped now.

We entered the tight and dark corridors which were illuminated by a battery-powered torch carried by Rachel. It was inside the ancient pyramid that we discovered yet another clue regarding this world’s mysterious history.

“Look!” Rachel said excitedly as she shone her torch to show the ancient paintings which adorned the walls and charted the history of this lost settlement. We followed the images, examining them closely one-by-one. The first showed ancient sailing ships on a rough sea, struck by a mighty wave similar to the one which had assaulted our cruise ship on that fateful night.

Next, the boats crossed a sea filled with monsters like the ones we’d encountered – huge sharks, giant crocodiles and what looked like a huge octopus or kraken, its mighty tentacles wrapping around one of the ships and pulling it down to the depths.

We moved on to an image of the surviving ships landing on a shoreline and colonists exploring a pristine white beach. Things seemed to improve for these ancient peoples as the next few pictures showed the construction of their city and temple, with massive stones being dragged from the mountainside and assembled, while settlers hunted in the jungles and set up farms.

But their story ultimately took a darker turn. We gasped in horror as we saw a picture depicting human sacrifice, with a young boy stabbed to death on top of this very pyramid. The next image was even more chilling, showing a nude woman tied to a stake on the jungle’s edge as some kind of monstrous beast watched her from behind the dark treeline, with only its cold, predatory eye visible behind the thick tropical vegetation.

This was the final picture on the wall and there was no indication of what had ultimately happened to this ancient civilisation or how they’d met their end.

We stood in silent contemplation for a time before a terrible sound brought us back to reality. We heard a mighty, blood-curdling roar from outside the pyramid, closely followed by a very human scream of pure terror. We quickly ran out of the pyramid and back into the clearing, clutching our meager weapons as we prepared to face this latest horror.

There we saw Diego, still screaming and now covered in blood. He lay in the dirt at the jungle’s edge, his eyes full of fear as he desperately cried out for help. But a second later the man was taken by something beyond the trees, his body dragged into the undergrowth.
We stood by helplessly, watching the turmoil behind the bushes as Diego was ripped apart. We were yet to see the beast which had taken him, but after Diego went silent we saw a huge eye glaring out at us from the darkness – a cold, reptilian and murderous eye focussed upon us – its next prey.

Instinctively, I aimed the revolver and fired a single shot into the bushes, prompting the beast to temporarily retreat. But a moment later, the monster roared in fury.

“Run!” I screamed, and all three of us tore off in the opposite direction, fleeing further into the jungle as the beast stormed after us.

I don’t know how we survived the night. The three of us ran deep into the forest until we were ready to drop from sheer exhaustion. We made it to the base of the volcano and found a cave where we took refuge for the night. From our hiding place we heard the predator tearing through the jungle below, roaring with frustration as it searched for us.

By dawn the din of the rampaging monster died down and we felt safe enough to exit the cave and rejoin the pathway to the coast. Eric reached his breaking point that afternoon. I suppose I should have seen the signs. Looking back, I believe my friend was on the edge and perhaps it was only a matter of time before he fell.

We were all scared, exhausted, hungry and losing hope, but Eric had exasperated his problems by continuing to drink, having ‘liberated’ his bottle of whisky from the dead pirates. He broke down whenever the drink ran out.

I noticed the hard glares he gave Rachel and I throughout the day as the tension slowly built until he suddenly exploded in a fit of paranoid rage.

“You think I don’t see it? You think I don’t see you two love birds whispering in each other’s ears? I know what you’re planning!”

“What the hell are you talking about?” I replied.

“You let Sanjay die! You let Diego die! Now, you mean to do the same to me! I have a son back home…did you forget that? You need to know there’s nothing I won’t do to get back to him!”

Rachel interjected at this stage, moving in closer and speaking calmly in an attempt to defuse the situation.

“Listen Eric, I know you’re upset, but we’re all in this together…”

He didn’t react well, instead reaching out to grab Rachel and holding his machete to her throat. A wave of raw panic hit me as I drew my revolver and aimed it at my friend’s head.
“Let her go!” I demanded fiercely.

“I’m not going to die here!” Eric shot back, his bloodshot eyes now filled with madness.
Rachel suddenly kicked out, escaping from Eric’s grasp but further provoking his anger. He raised his blade and prepared to strike out. Without thinking I pulled the trigger and a split second later the side of Eric’s head exploded in bloody viscera, his brains splattered as his limp body collapsed into the dirt.

My hand still shook as I looked upon my friend’s lifeless corpse and realised that I’d descended even further down the path to savagery.

We were within spitting distance of the beach whenever Rachel collapsed. I could hear the crashing waves and smell the salt air and for a brief moment I let hope into my heart, but then I saw her fall.

I ran to my lover’s side as her legs gave way and I caught her in my arms. I felt her forehead and discovered she was burning up with fever, and the mosquito bite on her neck had swollen up to the size of a golf ball.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were sick?” I asked gently.

Rachel smiled faintly before replying weakly. “I didn’t want to add to your worries.”

I had to carry her body the remainder of the way to the beach. She’d lost so much weight that it was easy to do so. When we reached the shore I placed her gently down on the sands and explored the scene. As Diego had promised there was a jetty, but it was rotted away and falling apart. And then there was the boat we planned to escape upon. I found it smashed to pieces against the rocks, beyond repair or salvage. My heart sank as I realised we’d reached the end of the road, and there was nowhere else to go.

I returned to Rachel, trying to comfort her and hide the awful truth, but I think she already knew. She’s so weak now. I don’t know whether she’s taken an allergic reaction to the bite or contracted a tropical disease. I guess it makes little difference because I have no means of helping her, and all I can do is give her water and be by her side.

We shared a moment as we watched the sun set over the ocean and she whispered in my ear.

“It’s so beautiful isn’t it? You know, despite everything that’s happened I’m still happy I met you Leroy. You’ve made me so happy.”

The tears were rolling down my cheeks as I held her tight.

And so this brings me up to date as I finish the account I began scribbling in my journal days ago. I’ll tear the pages out, secure them in Eric’s empty whisky bottle and toss it out to sea. This is my final ‘hail mary’ – my last shot. Rachel is growing weaker as the sickness slowly takes her and the monster has tracked us down. I can hear it stalking us through the jungle, waiting for the cover of darkness to strike.

I haven’t figured out everything about this hellish world we’re stranded upon but I have my theories. I can’t say for sure what will happen to this message in a bottle but I reckon there are three possibilities.

The first and most likely outcome is that my bottle will simply float upon the God-forsaken oceans of this world for all eternity and no-one will ever read my tragic account. But there is a chance – however small – that my bottle will be pulled into one of the vortexes connecting this world with our own and my message will find its way into the hands of someone searching for our missing ship.

The last possibility depends on Diego’s multiverse theory being correct. If this is the case, my account may arrive on an entirely different Earth where the Mystery of the Seas never went missing or perhaps never even existed.

In any event, I know the chances of my note reaching somebody who is in a position to help are ridiculously small. Nevertheless, I must try – for Rachel’s sake if not my own. So, if you’re reading this – please send help. Because we’re running out of time.

Credit: Woundlicker


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