When we left Julia Finney and Liam Acres, they were still near the ships’s kitchens, as other survivors of the Poseidon’s capsize were climbing up the Christmas tree from the dining room. The plan was to climb up to the bottom of the ship, since any rescue would have to come from there. In Athens, Juliana Acres, was attending a party, still unaware of the peril her brother is facing. So now, let’s return to that fateful New Year’s Morning…
Word of the Poseidon disaster had reached the offices of the Greek Majestic line, and announcements began to go out to the family members of the passengers and crew. One of those called to this difficult job was Phil Beamer, who worked in the main office. He knew of the party in Athens that night, and knew there would be family and friends of crewmembers attending. When he arrived, he asked the hosts, Kirk and Richard, to point out anyone with a relative onboard the Poseidon, and asked those people to follow him into another room. Many were employees, or former employees, so they followed him with dread. Jules Acres clasped the hands of friends Veronica Peters and Sean Benz. Veronica’s older brother Kevin worked with Liam in the dining room, and Sean lived with Brian, the bartender in the Trident.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Beamer started slowly. “I have some distressing news about the Poseidon. The line doesn’t want you to find out from some nosy reporter, so I’m going to tell you now, straight out. Something happened to the Poseidon just after midnight, and a mayday call was sent out.” There was a murmur around the room, and he put his hands up for silence. “Now, we don’t know much yet, but the nearest ships, as well as the Greek Coast Guard are headed to the last reported position.”
“Any word on survivors?” a woman Juliana didn’t know asked.
“What do you think happened?” Sean asked.
Phil took a deep breath. “We don’t have any information on survivors yet, but since the mayday call did go out, surely the passengers and crew were able to take some action.” He glanced once more at the piece of paper in his hand, although the terrifying details were burned into his mind. “At 11:49 there was an undersea earthquake northwest of Crete, we think that might have caused whatever the problem is. I assure you that we will get to the Poseidon as quickly as possible, and take every action to save all aboard. We just don’t know much now, but if you will all please leave the address and phone number of where you’re staying, as well as the names of anyone you’re concerned about, we’ll notify you as soon as we have some news.”
That pretty much broke the party up. Sean, Veronica, and some of the others were going to the line office to wait for word, but Juliana wanted to be alone with her thoughts, so after giving her name and contact information, as well as Liam and Julia’s names, she walked back to the small house. She forced herself to call her parents and give them the news, before they learned of it from someone else, but she tried to be cheerful, saying that no one really knew what had happened to the Poseidon, and that Liam was probably safe. Tavish and Maureen took the news in their customary stoic nature—members of the family had been at sea for generations, and accidents were a hazard of the trade. Juliana promised she would call as soon as she got any new information.
After hanging up the phone she went into the bedroom she’d gotten ready for her brother, smoothed the bedspread, and straightened the pillows. She went to the window and looked out at the moon shining on the calm sea. ‘Oh, Liam! Where are you? Are you all right?’ She opened the window, so she would be able to hear the telephone ring, then went outside to sit on the sand.
Back on the Poseidon, Julia looked down into the dining room again. No one else was coming up the tree, and she strained to see if there were any crewmembers down there she might convince to come up. She was looking especially for Kevin, but couldn’t see him. She remembered that he’d been in the dining room when she last saw him, just after midnight.
She also wondered about Brian, and looked toward the Trident. She didn’t see him there, but perhaps he had already gotten out through the service door behind the bar. She thought of all the bottles and glasses in the Trident, and looked again at Liam’s cut leg.
Rev. Scott had asked for more people to come with them, but due to shock or fear, no one else was interested. Finally he climbed the tree himself, and made one final appeal.
“You couldn’t talk anybody else into comin’, huh?” Mike Rogo asked, but before Scott could respond there was a series of explosions and the ship tilted.
Everyone in the corridor scrambled to hold something. Liam put an arm around Julia as she braced herself against him, trying to be careful of his leg, while Scott rushed back to the doorway.
None of the others could see what was happening in the dining room, but they could hear screams and the sound of rushing water. Scott was yelling, “Don’t panic! One at a time!” Suddenly the screams grew louder and were followed by a large splash. A few moments later the minister returned, closing the double doors near the entrance to the dining room, muffling the horrifying sounds they were still hearing. The look on his face said it all, and no one dared to meet his gaze.
“Which way to the kitchens, Acres?” he asked in a strained voice.
“This way, Sir.” Liam answered, starting to move down the corridor. Julia walked beside him, helping him keep his balance while he tried to keep his weight off his injured leg. Scott and the others followed. They walked past a few bodies, including that of Frederic, the pastry chef, but none of them showed signs of life. Julia tried not to look too closely, fearing who else she might see lying there. So many friends…
They came to a dead end and saw a red light shining near the floor, and a heavy steel door blocking the way.
“What is that?” Scott asked, looking at Liam. The two men stepped forward a bit.
“Fire, Sir,” Liam answered, horror masking the pain on his face.
“That’s a special fire door isn’t it?”
“Yes, Sir, it’s a safety door,” the steward replied slowly.
“So any fire on the other side would be out of oxygen? Would be smothered, right?”
“Well…” Liam answered hesitantly, “that’s the theory, Sir.”
“Let’s test it….” This led to an argument between the minister and the detective, similar to the one they’d had below, over the Christmas tree, and again this time it ended with Scott convincing him there was no real choice.
As Scott and Rogo moved to open the door, Liam turned back to Julia and the passengers, “Will you move back against the bulkhead, please? Will you move back?” He went to where Julia was standing, and put his arm protectively around her.
“I can tell that your leg is hurting a lot,” she whispered, “lean on me for a while to take as much weight off it as you can.”
He smiled at her and bent his injured leg a little more, taking all his weight off of it.
In a few minutes Scott came back, wet from sweat, and stood in the open doorway. “Acres, the companionway on the other side of the kitchen, where does it lead to?”
“Down to…up…to Broadway, Sir,” he answered wearily, still leaning against Julia
“What’s Broadway?” Scott asked.
“It’s a service way, Sir. It runs the full length of the ship,” Julia answered, wanting Liam to conserve his strength as much as possible.
“Does Broadway lead to the engine room?”
“Well, I don’t know much about below decks, Sir, but…there might be access from that area, yes, Sir,” Liam answered, as Julia nodded agreement.
“There is!” young Robin Shelby broke in.
“You again?” Mike Rogo asked. The detective didn’t want to take the word of a child, but James Martin pointed out that the two crewmembers had also heard that Broadway led to the engine room, even if neither had been there. Once again, Rogo gave in to the group decision to move on.
Of course, with the dining room now flooded, what real choice did they have?
“All right, let’s go then,” Scott said, as he turned toward the sauna-like room again. “There are a lot of bodies in here, it isn’t a pretty sight. Don’t touch anything, it’s hot.” He looked at Liam, still leaning against Julia. “Can you make it, Acres?”
“Oh yes, Sir, yes, Sir. I’m fine, Sir.” He looked at Julia and smiled. “I have all the help I need, Sir.”
“Good man!” he said, and nodded to Julia.
The group made it through the kitchen without too much difficulty. It was almost unbearably hot, the footing was difficult, and yes, there were charred and scalded bodies, but they got through. As she was helping Liam, Julia glanced around furtively, wanting to see anyone they knew, but also not wanting to see. She noticed that Liam was doing the same thing when he wasn’t concentrating of keeping his footing. Manny Rosen had to practically push his wife into the room, due to her fear of fire, and Susan Shelby grabbed the Reverend and cried the first time she saw a body, but they were soon out the fire door on the other side.
Once out of the kitchen, the group went down a short hallway and came to a stairway, upside down, of course.
Scott called from the front of their informal line, “Acres, is this the only way?”
Liam looked up. “Yes, Sir”
Scott pulled himself up the incline by the railings, turned and looked down to the others. “We’ll need something to pull you up with,” he said and he began to look around.
Julia looked at Liam with concern, wondering how he would get up to the next level, as Martin opened a case on the wall and pulled out a fire hose.
“Try this, Reverend,” he called, as he tossed it up to Scott.
“You first, Acres, I need you. Rogo, help him,” Scott called, as Julia helped Liam to the bottom of the staircase and Rogo looped the hose over his head.
“Here, put it around his waist,” the detective said, as he got behind Liam, and supported him, ready to take him up the slope. Liam reached for the handrails, and did all he could to move himself, which was a struggle.
Julia looked on with concern, and while the three men were still talking about something on the landing above, she grabbed the rails, braced herself, and began to climb. She didn’t want Liam up there with no one to look after him, and certainly didn’t want him in the middle of some argument between these two men who seemed to be fighting over the leadership of their small group.
“Through those doors, Acres?” Julia heard Scott ask, just as she reached the top.
“Oh no, Sir, that’s the crew’s galley, Sir… It’s…it’s that way, Sir.” Liam looked at Julia with relief when he saw her.
“Thank you,” he said as she and the minister helped him to his feet. He was out of breath again from his most recent exertions, and was having even more trouble balancing.
“Reverend?” Julia asked. “I think we should let Liam rest a bit. I can show you the way. I’ve been in this area enough.” She thought of the crew’s lounge just a short way down the corridor where they should be having their celebration now…
“I can do it, Luv,” Liam protested, but it was obvious that he was about at the end of his strength. “We need to get out of here while there’s still light… I’m all right.”
“I’m surprised these lights are still working,” Scott replied, just then thinking of it.
“They’re on an emergency circuit, Sir. On batteries. They’re supposed to stay operational for three hours,” Liam answered as he was reluctantly led to a place to sit.
“Well they’d better” Scott glanced at the two of them, and the three shared a look of concern.
“Sir, there are emergency lights, flashlights and lanterns, in a locker around here somewhere…” Liam trailed off as he looked around, still trying to orient himself to his new surroundings.
Scott was torn; knowing they had to find some kind of replacement light, but also knowing that they must get up to Broadway as quickly as possible. “Acres, once some of the others get up here, do you think you can direct them to that locker?”
“Oh, yes, Sir. Of course, Sir.”
“We’ll be right back then,” the minister said, as he walked off.
Julia clasped Liam’s hand tightly before she followed Scott. “Thank you for letting him rest, Reverend. I’m very worried about him,” she said, once they’d moved away, and Liam wouldn’t be able to hear.
“Is the injury serious, Miss Finney?”
“I don’t really know, Sir. It doesn’t look too deep, but I think he lost a lot of blood right after it happened…”
“He’s very lucky to have you to look after him, Miss Finney.”
“I’m lucky to have him, Sir. We’ve been friends for a long time, and now…” she didn’t want to go into the details of her personal life with this man, even though he was probably trained in such areas, and besides, they didn’t have time for such things.
They came to where Julia thought the passageway should be, but found a huge pile of debris instead. “Well…?” Scott asked, looking at her closely.
“There’s no other exit from this section, Sir!”
“There’s gotta be! Think!”
Just then they heard running feet, and a voice calling, “Jules? Are you there?”
The pair turned around and a tall thin man, with sandy blond hair, came rushing up. When Julia saw him, tears sprang to her eyes. “Brian! It’s you! I was so afraid…with all the glass…” They embraced.
He hugged her tightly. “I got lucky, I guess. I wasn’t even in the bar, but the storage area, when it happened. I did take a look in there though… I don’t think I would have made it.” He shuddered slightly, looked at the minister, and held out his hand. “Hello, Reverend. I’m Brian Curry, the bartender at the Trident. I’ve seen you around, but we’ve never officially met. I just talked to Liam…Acres, and I think I know of a way out of here.”
“Well, Mr. Curry, in that case, I’m VERY happy that you’ve joined us! Show us.”
Julia looked at Brian carefully. He didn’t seem very hurt, no worse than the rest of them, and not as badly as Liam. He had some bruises and scrapes, as they all did, but it could have been so much worse for him. She thought about Liam, and how he was doing. She wanted to check his leg before they went on any farther. “I’m going back to Liam, if that’s all right,” she said. “I’ll look for the flashlights too, on my way.”
“Good girl, Miss Finney! Let’s go, Mr. Curry!” Scott said, as the two men headed off.
The two men made their way down the corridor and soon came to a chain link gate locked with a padlock.
“There,” Curry indicated gesturing. Scott found a piece of pipe to force it open, revealing small hatch behind some grating. “That’s it, Sir. Down there,” Brian pointed. “I think that’s it, Sir…” Scott used the pipe once more to pry the hatch cover open. “All right…”
Scott looked into a round vent tunnel. “This leads to the central shaft?” he asked.
“That’s what I’ve heard, Sir,” Brian answered, leaning over his shoulder, peering into the shadowy tube.
“Where does the shaft lead?”
“There’s an exit on all decks, just like this one. It doesn’t look very promising, does it?” the bartender said slowly.
“No it doesn’t,” Scott said, shaking his head.
“But it’s the best shot we’ve got,” Curry added, a little more enthusiastically.
“Yes, Mr. Curry, I think it is,” Scott agreed.
This seems like a natural stopping place, here between scenes, so I’ll continue this story next week. If ANYONE is reading, PLEASE, write something to let me know. Comment, question, tell me fan fiction is stupid, just LET ME KNOW YOU’RE there! (please)
See you on Wednesday…