It had been five days so far. Five days since the combination of a very brutal sea storm and the captain’s drunken inexperience at the helm led to
Duncan’s abandonment on a life raft and the death of a few dozen of his band mates. Since then it had been five days of pure agony and loneliness in the apathetic embrace of the neon orange life raft.
Five whole days, which can be translated into 120 hours, or 7,200 minutes, or 432,000 seconds. An eternity. Hours upon endless hours of being tossed around by the sea, bouncing from wave crest to wave crest. Whether it was under the blistering, energy-sapping gaze of the sun, or the cold, darkness of the moon,
Duncan had no protection, no way of alleviating the harsh conditions of the Pacific Ocean.
Including the three weeks spent Aboard Her Majesty’s Rose, it had been almost a whole month since Duncan had set foot on land, and he didn’t like it. The endless rocking back and forth had left him very ill and uncomfortable. He had lost count of the hours he spent with his head over the gunwale of the raft, where the salty spray of the sea kept his forehead cool and wet his brown hair until it was plastered to his face.
The worse part was that he had run out of stomach contents to vomit up days ago. Now, whenever the need to vomit occurred all it did was bring stinging stomach acid up into his throat, the bitter taste of his own bile reminding him of how little he’d eaten since the quick bite before his last show, that fateful night. A couple of small, unidentifiable (at least to Duncan, who had no idea what the names of different fish were) fish and what was either a piece of wood floating by, or a petrified sea snake.
Duncandidn’t know and he didn’t care.
He was hungry, he was thirsty, he stank and his skin was peeling from the brutal force of the sun. All
Duncan wanted was land. As far as he was concerned once he put his feet on the ground everything else would be fine. Getting to land was the cornerstone of a good survival plan. After all, he’d spent his whole life on land, he was familiar with its moods and how it worked. There was little to no fear of the ground suddenly buckling and gyrating enough to make him sick. Absolutely no chance of a grass and moss-covered hill appearing out of nowhere to crash down on him like so many waves had done.
Land was his biggest desire and main concern. Nothing else mattered.
You’d think that with this being the 21st century and all, that cruise ships would have the proper equipment to detect all types of nautical problems, including storms at sea. And oddly enough, Her Majesty’s Rosedid have first-rate weather tracking equipment, including state-of-the-art computer relays which interfaced with GOES-11, a geostationary meteorological weather satellite positioned over the Pacific Ocean. And in case of trouble there was the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, which would let people back on land know where the ship was positioned if it ever went down. Yet, all the equipment and machines in the world aren’t worth a damn if the captain doesn’t know what he’s doing. From what
Duncan could tell, Capt. Able was the epitome of nautical incompetence.
As Able grabbed
Duncan’s fingers between his two meaty hands and began pumping up and down while smiling a little too enthusiastically, Duncancould see bits of food lodged in between the captain’s teeth and it made him shudder.
“Welcome aboard Her Majesty’s Rose, young man!” the captain said. “What’s yout name and what do you do?”
“My name is
and I’m the alto saxophonist for the ship’s band.” Duncan Hills
“Ahh, a member of Mr. Brooks and The Floating Troubadours, eh? Excellent. I hope your music adds the right touch to this summer’s cruises. Thank you for coming aboard. Mr. Esten will tell you your birthing arrangement,” Able said.
“Hello Mr. Hills, you will be on the third deck, room four, birth eight. Follow this ensign next to me and he’ll take you and your bags to your new room. There will be a crew meeting and then dinner in the main galley at seven thirty. This is where the captain will introduce you all to each other and begin this year’s cruise season with a motivational speech. See you then.”
Duncan and the ensign made their way down three decks to find his room. Along the way he got a good look at some parts of the ship and he decided that he was going to enjoy his summer. Her Majesty’s Rosehad three restaurants for the guests, two movie theaters, two casinos, a smattering of gyms and workout areas, three pools and even a sauna. Of course, as an employee of Royal Star cruise lines Duncan wouldn’t be able to go to a lot of those places, at least, not during the times when the female guests would be there. And he knew that he’d only get to see the restaurants while performing. The galley would be where
But even with a bit of segregation between the guests and employees,