We sat in the lifeboat, or emergency evacuation vessel, as they had been referred to in the muster drill upon boarding the cruise ship. Strapped tightly into our seats, we could feel the craft as it bounced over thirty-foot swells. I couldn’t be sure of that accuracy, but in my mind, that is about how large they felt.

It had been hours since we had been ejected from the sinking cruise ship. The interior of our vessel was shrouded in an inky darkness except for the slight flicker of interior lighting. A loud thump could be heard slamming against the hull, followed by a slow scratching sound that faded. The craft rose against the wave and descended rapidly down the other side. The sound of creaking metal was constantly heard as if the vessel was about to break in half like the ship it had just left. We were, however, reassured that the sounds were typical for the floating rescue boat.

            Another large swell lifted the boat, and once again, a thump could be heard pounding the hull, then subsiding to a slow, quieting screech against the outer metal. We all wondered if a sea creature, a kraken, or a megalodon might be trying to penetrate our protective barrier.

            For hours, we drifted as the sea calmed, but the thumps and scratches continued, only decreasing in the intensity of sound and the frequency of their recurrences. Then, one final jerk was felt, shaking the boat violently before the sounds ceased.

            It wasn’t until we were finally rescued and the lifeboat was lifted out of the water that we saw the shoe and partial pants leg tangled in the stabilizer railing underneath the lifeboat.




J.B. Preston is a minimalist who writes poetry, literary, and speculative fiction. He has worked as a bartender and librarian but now focuses his time on writing and traveling. His work has appeared in The WestWard Quarter and Ariel Chart. 


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