Dark Thriller. For her gap year, Robin and her friend Joey (short for Joanna) win a prize on a 5-star, year long cruise. Things start off well, but as time goes on they realize something isn't quite right as people keep getting picked to go to the mysterious floor below and then not returning...she realizes that they're on this cruise for a different reason and soon she is in a situation where escape becomes impossible.


4. The break-in

I could feel my temples pulsing. The world moving in slow motion. Figures crossing my path. A voice calling my name. As my vision cleared, I turned my eye line down to see my feet as I was hurtling down the corridor. Raising my head, I couldn’t see through the crowd. A sign beside me said ‘rooms 300-400 this way →’ I followed the arrow. A skinny hand gripped my wrist. At a halt, I raised my head to see a female member of staff’s blue eyes staring into mine.

“Excuse me, miss,” she spoke levelly, “you can’t go down there at the moment.”

“No, but you don’t understand-” I tried to protest.

“You’re going to have to come with me,” she insisted.

“Please! I just need to-”

“You can’t stay here at the moment,” she tried to pull me from the spot.

“NO! Just please!..”

“Calm, down miss.”

“No, you see, my friend’s-”

“You need to come with me at the-”

“Listen to me!” I cried, slapping a hand across her face. I watched guiltily as she bowed her head and put a hand to her delicate cheek. I felt prickles swirling around my palm. Before she could lift her head, I darted down the corridor as fast as possible and flickered my eyes to each door number.

“329, 331, 333…” I whispered as I went. I froze. All doors seemed intact until I reached this one. This one had a hole punched through the wood and pieces flaking off of it. An array of chippings were scattered at the bottom. I searched the frame. It was harshly grazed and clawed at. Scratches were running along the foot of it. I turned my gaze on the door number, “341.”

I popped my head through the hole; nothing was apparently in the room. I withdrew my head and swung open the dilapidated door open carefully. Walking past it, I caught a glimpse of the bed and then did a double take. I found myself gaping at it. The linen sheet had a tear running all the way across it and spots of crimson splattering the clear material. The wallpaper was draped lifelessly across the headboard in two halves and the bedside light was knocked on the floor with the bulb smashed.

“Joey?” I said huskily. A heavy breathing emerged from the bathroom. I nudged the door open with a forefinger and watched as it gradually revealed the rest of the room. A hunched figure was curled in a ball in the bath tub, “Joey!” I cried in relief, appearing at her side. Her skin was deadly pale. Her eyes were dewy and bloodshot. Her lips were white and crisp. Her chest inflated and deflated heavily.  Her wide, unblinking eyes were fixated on her feet. She smacked a hand on the side of the bath. Crimson was tarnishing her knuckles. Her fingers quivered.

“It…It…” she panted. I turned over her red-stained hands.

“Joey, are you bleeding?” I asked her, checking to see if she had a wound. She stiffly shook her head.

“It…bled,” she said in a hushed voice, “so much.”

“What did?” there was a catch in my throat as I said it. She made the tiniest flicker with her forefinger.

“It came from underground…” she whispered hazily, more to herself than me.

“Joey, this is a boat,” I reminded her, “there isn’t an underground…”

She half-blinked.

“The floors below…” she said finally, making another tiny gesture with her finger, “it was in so much pain.”

I felt water tumbling down my cheeks as I wiped my clammy hands on my dress.

“Joey,” I sniffed tearily, “what are you talking about?”

Eventually, she stared at me with horrified eyes. She stuck her finger out shakily in the direction of something behind me. I swivelled around on the spot. Nothing was presently in the room; I warily pulled the door back shut to see if anything was hidden behind it. And therein the corner of the floor was a gaping hole, yawning in the tiles. I shuffled away carefully as I heard her rasping behind me.

“It said your name…”

* * *


I sat shakily in the armchair, digging my nails into the sides whilst looking up at three concerned faces. Joey had already been taken away by one of the staff.

“I don’t know,” I said in reply to Jason’s friend’s – who I found out was called Tom – question, “I don’t know what it looked like, I didn’t see it.”

Tom looked at the face beside him.

“Can’t we just check the security tape from the camera outside?” he said. The male member of staff – whose nametag said ‘Andy’ – avoided direct eye contact with him.

“You’re not authorized to see that…” he told him.

“We’ll just ask Joey what it was,” I said, trying to switch the topic. Jason and Tom exchanged a look. Jason spoke first.

“How do we know it’s an ‘it’?”

“That’s what Joey said,” I shrugged, “she spoke as if it was some kind of monster.”

He smiled.

“Well don’t worry I’ve got Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent on the phone,” he giggled.

“And I’ll call Peter Parker,” Tom joined in.

“Oh, haha,” I said sarcastically, leaning over and smacking both of them on the back of the head.

“Ow!” they cried in unison.

“Look, I’m serious!” I said, I thought for a moment. “How did you even know which room I was in, anyway?”

Tom ran his fingers through his hair.

“I heard you tell one of the staff,” he explained.

“But -” I started. There was a knock at what was left of the door.

“Knock, knock,” a voice said. I flipped my head round and saw a blonde girl with blue and pink streaming through her hair pop her head through the gap in the door.

“Woah!” she exclaimed, “What the hell happened here?”

Jason beckoned her. Taking a seat next to him, she removed her jacket to show off her Jimi Hendrix T-Shirt and then gave an awkward smile. I furrowed my eyebrows.

“Who’s this?” I wondered.

“This is Ash,” Jason announced, “my sister.”

Ash gave a little wave.

“So…I heard there was some sort of break-in.” she said. Andy chipped in before she could continue:

“Now, how did Joanna say ‘it’ got in?”

I snapped my vision round to the bathroom.

“From underground…” I turned back, “well…the floors below.”

“Right…” Andy nodded, scrawled something in his pocket book and then curled his hand around it.

“Floors below?” Ash said, giving him a questioning look, “but rooms 100-500 are all on the bottom floor.”

“Are they?” my query was received with three nods. Andy being the one that didn’t nod, he just looked around the room anxiously, “but we went up three flights of stairs to get here.”


“Oh, no wait…” Ash said finally, “there is one floor below this…all those ‘first class rooms’ everybody’s been talking about…”

“Yeah, the one’s you have to win,” Tom said.

“Or so they say,” they turned to me as I spoke, “no one seems to know what’s down there.”

I could see Andy glaring at me out of the corner of my eye. Ash smirked.

“Maybe it’s not rooms at all,” she giggled, “maybe they’re keeping something else down there…”

We all stared at each other suspiciously. Andy gave a nervous chuckle and then said,

“Haha, don’t be ridiculous,” I noticed him scribble the name ‘Ash Linnay’ into his book, circle it twice and then close the cover. I considered Ash. She turned to Andy.

“Ever been down there?” she asked.

“Of course not,” he shook his head. All eyes were suddenly glued to him.

“D’you know what it’s like?”

He shook his head again. I spotted a bead of sweat clinging to his forehead as if Ash was shining a light in his eyes.

“Doesn’t anyone tell you what it’s like?” Ash persisted.

“Of course not!” he snapped. There was a slight pause.

“Why not?”

Andy sighed. Ash continued.

“Surely the people who win the prize come up and tell everyone…”

Andy chuckled and shook his head once again.

“They don’t.”

“Don’t what?” I said. He turned to me.

“Come up and tell everyone,” he looked around at our bewildered faces, “we do this every year…once you go down there you never come back.”

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