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.


3. The noise from below

After chucking on a casual blue summer dress and abandoning Joey (who claimed she had painful stomach cramps), I made my way swiftly up to the sky deck. Jogging at a steady pace down the corridor, I stopped and stepped softly into the scene outside. I scanned the deck. There were heaps of people crowding it; about 20 tables were all lined up in rows. The jazz band had retired and had now been replaced by a fair young girl in a red cocktail dress who had just begun singing Hallelujah. I glanced at my ring watch. 9.30. I was late. All eyes were fixed on the girl. I wavered. I noticed a fair haired boy sitting at a table in the front row next to the only unoccupied chair in the room. His eyes were flitting between me and the singer, he finally held me in his gaze and then acknowledged me with a smile. I mouthed to him: ‘Can I come in?’ he nodded and then gestured to the vacant seat. I slunk around the outside of the room, as mutely as possible, raised an apologetic hand to the singer and then set down gently. His friend was sitting behind him; he gave me a questioning look.

“Late,” I whispered. He nodded, I turned to the singer.

“It’s alright, Red,” I heard a whisper in my ear, I saw the fair haired boy leaning across to me, “you didn’t miss much.”

I raised my eyebrows in mild surprise.


He shook his head.

“After this,” he waved his hand in the direction of the singer, “they’re announcing the winner of the prize draw.”

“Oh yeah,” I said, “that thing,” the singer’s eyes flickered to us and then stuck there, “do you know what the prize is?”

He gave a shrug and then jerked a thumb at his friend.

“We heard you got a tour of something downstairs and then free meals for a year.”

“Really?” I wondered, “Everybody’s telling me you get the first class rooms on the bottom floor.”

He frowned. I noticed the staff lady that came into our room earlier standing by the stage. She had a name tag that said the name ‘Felicity’ on it, “If it is,” he said, “I hope we get it, we got stuck with a double bed. Asked for twin beds but they said ‘it was cheeky to ask’.” He mimicked Felicity. I suppressed a laugh.

"It's not funny!" he said. I let out a hysterical laugh and then got immediately hushed by Felicity.

"Sorry," I lowered my voice again, "we got stuck with the same thing.” He raised his eyebrows at me.

“’We’?” he said.

“Yeah, I came here with my friend Joey.”

“You have to share with a boy?”

“No, it’s short for Joanna."  I explained. He nodded in understanding.

“Well, I’m not sharing with him,” he shook his head, again throwing a thumb in the direction of his friend, “I’m spending every other night in the tub.”

I noticed his accent.

“Are you American?” I asked. He patted his chest.

“California, born and raised,” he said proudly, “England, right?” he asked. I nodded, “you pay for this cruise?”

“No, prize draw.”

“Same,” he said. His friend pounded him on the back with a fist.

“Yo, Jas,” he said, “this is it.”

Felicity approached the stage. The boy jumped up and squatted on his chair.

“Now, what you’ve all been waiting for,” she announced, “the winner of our special prize draw.”

 “Come on…” the boy muttered.

“And the winner is…” she paused for effect, “Cameron Roberts!”

There was a mild applause with a soft murmur underneath as a flustered boy, about two years younger than me, stood up from behind a table.

“And…” the fair haired boy said. He raised his hand, “we were told there were two winners.”

There were several murmurs of agreement as Felicity forced a nervous smile.

“Er…” she wavered, another member of staff ran on stage to rescue her and said into the microphone.

“That’s only occasionally.”

He shrugged and then swung round to me.

"Ah, well there's always tomorrow," he winked and then stuck out his hand “Jason, by the way,”

“Robin,” I said, shaking it. Retrieving my hand back, I could hear the sound of glasses very slightly clinking together. I turned my stare onto the wine glasses that were dangling above the bar, there was a faint shiver rattling through them. A look of fear was striking the members of staff around the stage, one by one. I crouched down below the table. Its legs were trembling frantically.

“You alright?” I heard vaguely from above the table. I pressed my ear to the floor, feeling the vibration of the boat run through me. I spoke hoarsely:

“Th…b…sh…” was all I could manage.

“What?” Jason asked, dipping his head below the table.

“The boat’s shaking.” I said. Suddenly, an ear-splitting ringing blared from the alarms as the staff were bellowing:

“Everybody, get back to your rooms!”

I felt a hand grasp the back of my dress and hoist me to my feet. I heard a talking in my ear, it was deep and unfamiliar.

“Come on, you've got to get out of here!”

Before my head could turn I was yanked from the spot. I slipped off my high heels as the sky deck had formed into a blurry rush of noise and colours. People dashing across the room, tables tipping, glasses smashing, voices shrieking.  With a muscular hand still clasped to my back, I tried to wind through the pandemonium.

“What’s happening?!” I yelled to a member of staff. As she talked I could feel my head pounding as the blood thumped in my ears and the pain stung behind my eye. Thump, thump, thump. The noises turned into one muffled cacophony in my eardrums. Thump, thump, thump. My brain began to spin without pause. Thump.

“What room are you in?”

“What?” I turned to the staff beside me, then answered, “341.”

Thump-ety, thump-ety, thump.

“341?” she said, “the rooms 300-400 are closed off at the moment, you’re going to have to stay with us for the time being.

My vision began to melt.




“Why?” I could faintly hear myself saying, “what’s happening?!”

If there was a reply I didn’t hear it. Thump! I suddenly realized that the thumping wasn’t in my head, it was coming from below the floor. Thump, thump, thump.

“Closed off?” I whispered. Disorientated, I attempted to make my way through the mass of people. I turned to the person attached to the hand on my back, their facial features were distorted and their nose was morphed into their cheeks. I could tell there mouth was moving but I couldn’t hear a voice.


Closed off, I thought, “Joey!”





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