Buyer's remorse. It was an experience she might have expected as a possibility after purchasing a car or a house, but not a husband. Awakening next to him for the first time as a newlywed, though, she felt the knot in her stomach inexplicably tighten at the reality of her situation. The epiphany had its own ambiance, too: a slow, irregular rocking movement, the periodic vibration of it accompanying a dull but steady engine sound an octave lower than the pitch heard inside a passenger jet. In total darkness, as she lay on her back beside him, his hairy arm became a pressure beneath her breasts in clutching her like a possession, and this caused her doubts to coil ever tighter in clammy constriction with the realization of where she was---not in a honeymoon suite at all, but an inside cabin on a five day jaunt to Bermuda instead of the twelve day cruise to Alaska he'd first proposed. "We'll save money, honey," Russ told her at the change of plans, and she'd gone along with it, too, caught up in the afterglow of finally marrying the football jock and aspiring actor who had been the target of every sonority vamp at Clemson. He was, after all, tall, dark, and as handsome as Tom Selleck had been in Magnum P.I..
   His breath was a stale heat on her shoulder, now. Connie hesitated to turn on the light, feeling a sudden ironic twinge of fear at the prospect of seeing his face after the wedding, to see that he'd changed somehow. Then a nauseating rush of claustrophobia finally forced her to flip the switch.
   The sight was anything but romantic. His mouth gaped. His thick stubble resembled coarse steel wool. One solitary hair grew mutantly long from the center of his upper left cheek. When she lifted his arm away, Russ snorted and turned as though rebuffed. At this, she also recoiled, but decided not to wake him, and instead--looking at her watch--dressed quickly to go to breakfast alone.
   The only sound in the narrow hallway outside their tiny stateroom was the faint hum of the ship's engines. She traversed a quarter of its length before reaching the first elevator landing. Punching the call button, she waited, expecting to join half a dozen middle-aged revelers on the way up to the buffet on deck eleven. But when the door opened, the elevator was empty.
   "I'm in luck," she consoled herself, aloud, wondering if she should try that luck later in the ship's casino on deck seven. Maybe Russ would even upgrade to a bigger cabin, then. One with a porthole, at least. 
   Fat chance, the small, recriminating voice inside her head chimed. She recognized the voice as her mother's. Mother, who, since her divorce, had never liked any man she'd dated, except perhaps the sensible, more responsible Bill Thorne, who drove a Lexus instead of an old red Corvette. ('Vintage,' as Russ put it). Or Alec Andros, the shy bookworm whose smile wasn't nearly as smooth and sexy, albeit genuine and respectful. Would either of them have put her in an inside cabin for her honeymoon, as Russ had? Obviously not, although what mother didn't understand was the attraction she felt to the masculinity that emanated from Russ--and how safe he made her feel. It had been so easy to tumble for him, too--this man every girl wanted. It had been like a robot falling for a magnet. True, she had to face the fact that Russ was now an out of work actor who'd only scored two national shaving commercials before a more recent string of failed auditions. And so his next audition, after their brief honeymoon, would probably be for a sales job at Associated Insurance. But did that mean he'd never score a movie role, or that the script she'd signed onto by marrying him was destined to be the role of Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road?


Connie approaches the breakfast buffet. A drink station stands opposite, with two fresh urns of coffee at the ready. She glances around the room in curious disconcertion. No one is visible in the seating areas or behind the counters. She pokes her head through an open door into the kitchen, and calls.

   Anyone here?

She starts to spoon some eggs onto a plate in line, samples a hot slice of bacon, then stops. She walks around the entire room, and through the kitchen, encountering no one. Dumbfounded, she stands before the coffee urn, pours a steaming cup and tastes it. Then she sets it down and leaves the dining room, walking slowly in reverse, watching for movement. A sign reads "Breakfast 6:30--9:30."

EXT. POOL AREA. 8:05 A.M..

Connie emerges onto the pool deck, and looks over the rail at the activity area. The deck chairs all are empty. In rising panic, she runs back to the nearest elevator landing and quickly descends one floor via the stairs.

INT. DECK TEN. 8:07 A.M..

She bangs on the nearest stateroom door. There is no answer. She tries the next stateroom. She sees a courtesy phone, runs to it, but finds it dead. She finds another stateroom with door ajar. She sees that the bed is mussed, as though the occupants have just left.

      CONNIE (entering)
   Hello? Hello?

She looks into the bathroom, then the closets. There are clothes and luggage. She tries the phone. No dial tone. She tries the TV. The cruise director is narrating a pre-recorded rundown of the day's events: bingo, glass blowing, 80s trivia, wine tasting. She flips channels, but it's the same rundown on all channels. She walks to the window and looks out at the open sea. To the right, in the direction the ship is heading, storm clouds appear on the horizon.


In full panic, Connie runs along the hallways, past empty and silent lounges, shops, casino, theatre, then up to the bridge. There she encounters a solid steel door with a sign reading "Authorized Personnel Only." Finding it locked, she bangs on it.

   Open up!

Exasperated, she sees a red fire alarm button inside a plastic cover. She hesitates, then opens the cover and punches the button. At first there is no reaction, then a shipwide muster alarm sounds. She goes back out on deck overlooking the pool area, and watches for people to emerge, but no one does. Then the alarm goes silent. HORRORCANES


Ghost Ship Cruise
A story/script by Jonathan Lowe
ocean adventure