Cruisin' For Trouble

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: October 27, 2017

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Submitted: October 27, 2017

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Cruisin’ For Trouble

 

Reynolds and I gulped our coffee and stared down the customs line at the San Diego International Airport. The line stretched all the way out to the central lobby and was full of weary travelers that appeared half dead. We were lingering in the lobby, surveying the scene. After already arriving late to the airport, it seemed as if fate was against us. One Japanese man had even fallen asleep standing in the line. I didn’t want to have anything to do with that line or the people in it.

“I think we may miss our flight if we dare stand in that,” I commented, “and we cannot miss that flight! If we do, we can’t go on the cruise at all!”

“The flight boards in twenty minutes,” Reynolds noticed. His crisp brown hair was parted and gelled back, exposing his high cheekbones and angular face. He was clad in slim black dress pants and a white polo shirt with a charcoal overcoat on top. I was sporting sweatpants and a black t-shirt. I didn’t do my hair since I was in such a hurry, so it sat rather haphazardly on my head.

“What do we do!?” I shrieked, “It cost your parents a lot of money to set this up for us.” Reynolds glanced around and his eyes fixated onto something. I turned and looked up at a sign directing us to the charter jet lobby. Reynolds had a mischievous look on his face and I knew exactly what he had in mind.

We raced down the hallway to the private jet lobby. Reynolds said he had been on a private jet before and that they screened you at the plane. We reached the lobby and headed toward the ticket counter.

“What are you boys looking for?” the clerk asked suspiciously.

“I am Reynolds S.T. Strattingsworth and this is my secretary Jordan and I am looking to book a flight to Orlando,” Reynolds barked, “now!” The clerk appeared amused. She slowly reached for her computer and began typing something. All of a sudden, she appeared aghast and looked back at us. Reynolds smirked and provided a credit card. She took the credit card and scrambled to book us a flight. Before I knew it, we were on a charter plane destined for Orlando.

“What happened back there?” I inquired.

“She thought I was my dad,” Reynolds responded. Reynold’s dad, Silas S.T. Strattingsworth, was a very successful real estate tycoon. He paid for me and Reynolds to go on the cruise, as well as our flight and everything else. And now he was paying for our charter flight. Not that he would mind, of course; he had plenty of money to spare.

“Have you ever been on a Disney cruise?” I asked.

“No,” Reynolds replied, “Although I’ve been on many other cruises before.”

“Oh, I haven’t,” I commented, “But I’m sure this will be fun!” I didn’t lead a life as luxurious as Reynold’s, but he is one of my closest friends. My family is middle-class, living in southern San Diego. Reynolds and I are both in the 12th grade at Stratton Private School, that's how we first met. However, I went there because I was smart and he went there due to his family’s wealth.

As the jet rocketed over the southern US, I contemplated what we would do on the cruise. There are many things available to do in the Bahamas, but the excursion I wanted to do the most was snorkeling off a small island. There were many other snorkeling options, but I estimated that this one would be the least crowded since everyone else would be exploring the amenities on the ship that first day. Of course, Reynolds didn’t want to go into the open ocean, so I told him that we would only snorkel in the closed-off bay. After some mental deliberation, I decided it would be counterproductive to tell him the rumors about what lurked in the bay.

The flight was relatively smooth. We landed in Orlando and took a bus to the Disney Port. After even more security we finally reached the Disney Dream. The goliath ship loomed over us as we entered. The first thing I noticed was the infamous AquaDuck hanging over the edge of the ship like a stray noodle in a bowl. The water coaster was well known as one of the best cruise line water rides. By the door, a group of tuxedo-clad employees welcomed us onto the ship and announced our names on the intercom.

“Please welcome Reynolds S.T. Strattingsworth and Jordan Lee!”

I was awestruck by the grandeur of the inside of the ship. This looks just like the main hall of the Titanic. The lobby was three stories high, with several balconies and platforms along the sides. A massive glass chandelier hung from the ceiling, hanging perilously over a bronze statue of Donald Duck. A black piano was cordoned off next to the staircase. The room emanated with an orange glow, shining off the oak veneer on the grand staircase that dominated most of the lobby. Off to one side were the elevators and more stairs, and on the other side was a long hallway descending to the dining rooms. At the moment, people were mingling around the front desk positioned just past the lobby. Disney sure spared no expense building this.

“We might as well go to our room since we already have the keys,” I commented.Our room was the Roy O. Disney Suite on the ship’s 14th floor. At about $16,000 for the both of us, I was surprised Reynold’s dad was able to secure this. The expansive room was like the penthouse of the ship. It included a kitchen, hot tub, more than four beds, and a huge balcony. I immediately collapsed into one of the beds and was enveloped by high-class comfort. Two days of traveling had worn me out. Sleep was creeping over my body. Reynolds was busy unpacking our bags. It wouldn’t hurt to take a small nap. Just a few minutes, then I’ll help Reynolds unpack. The warmth consumed me and I closed my eyes. Just a... few minutes…

 

• • •

 

The monstrous sea creature stared at me. I tried to swim away but it was faster, diving down and snatching my feet. As the creature pulled me into the depths I heard Reynold’s voice. “C’mon Jordan! Wake up!” he said. “Hello?” As the creature continued to pull me down, I could feel my lungs screaming for air. “Jordan! Wake up!” The creature was violently shaking me now. “The ship has stopped!” Suddenly, everything dissolved into darkness. I awoke with a jolt. Reynolds was gently shaking me. “Wake up, Jordan! It’s time to go!!” He was wearing swim trunks and a cardigan.

“Uhhhh… wait, what!?” I stammered. “The ship has stopped!? And why are you wearing a cardigan to the beach!?”

“Yes!! We are in Nassau. You slept the whole time!! Now eat up, we have to go!!” Reynolds shoved a plate of french toast in my face and I devoured it. “Get your swim stuff on, I’ll be waiting downstairs.” I still couldn’t comprehend what had happened. I slept the through the night! And now the ship was stopped! I shoved my trunks on, grabbed the sunscreen and a shirt, and bolted down the stairs. Reynolds was waiting in the lobby with our bags.

“Alright, let’s go,” I said. We walked down the boarding ramp into the blistering heat of Nassau, Bahamas. From there, we took a short ferry ride to Blue Lagoon Island. The small island was robust and busy, hosting a whole assortment of events, including swimming with dolphins, jet skiing, and snorkeling in the lagoon. Reynolds and I were going to be snorkeling in the smaller bay. There it is!” I pointed at the bay, which was separated from the open ocean by a net. The bay developed into a small stream that snaked over to the lagoon. Reynolds and I hopped onto a golf cart and sped over to the bay.

“You headin’ to da bay, huh?” the golf cart driver asked in heavily accented English. “Have you heard of da barra-”

“What times do the ferries leave?” I interrupted. “We were not sure.”

The driver, quickly realizing what was going on, answered my question and returned to driving in silence. If Reynolds learned about the legends of the monster, he wouldn’t even go near the water. Of course, the myths were obviously fake, the bay was enclosed and safe. At least that’s what I thought.

Reynolds and I jumped off the golf car, tipped the local, and rushed to the beach. I tore off my shirt and grabbed my snorkel and mask from the bag. Reynolds was stretching out on his towel.

“C’mon!!!!” I shouted. “Get in, dude!!”

“I think I’ll pass,” Reynolds responded.

“You were the one rushing me out the door!!”

“Jordan,” Reynolds replied, “If you’re gonna get in, get in!”

“You know what, I think I will.”

“Go ahead, nobody's stopping you.”

“Alright, but you’re missing out…” I ran over to the edge of the water; It was as clear as a crystal. I dipped my foot into the Caribbean water. Dang!! This is warm!! I put both my feet in and waded in up to my chest. Looking back, Reynolds was quietly lying on his towel. He’s missing out. Nonetheless, I put on my snorkeling gear and swam out to the middle of the bay. The deepest the bay got was about six feet deep, so I could touch the bottom most of the time. I purged the snorkel and stuck my face into the water. Nothing. There was absolutely nothing there. Just the fine white sand. Disappointed, I swam over to the edge of the bay. Hopefully, there was something interesting over there.

And I was right. This side of the bay was thriving with activity. Petite yellow and purple fish mingled around the brilliantly colored coral rocks, which came in all shapes and sizes. Red, pink, yellow, blue, purple. The coral, fish, plants- everything vibrated with life. The coral terraces jutted out, forming holes and passageways through which the fish traversed. I reached out to touch one of the fish, but it darted off, as did the entire school it was with. I laughed and tried to grab a needlefish, but it also slithered away. I looked around and realized that actually, ALL of the fish had vanished. Cautiously, I peered down one of the holes in the coral and saw several fish hiding. Don’t be afraid. Suddenly, something swam in and out of my peripheral vision. The fish that were hiding retracted even farther into their holes. They're not afraid of me, they’re hiding from something else. I whirled around to face… nothing. There was nothing there.

Just as I was turning back to face the reef, something caught my eye. Something large. I turned my head to see an ominous shadow glide across the floor of the bay. It was at least a meter long, grayish in color, had a slender body and sharp nose, and a mouthful of needle-like teeth. Adrenaline kicked in. I spun around and skyrocketed up onto the fragile coral. Although it cut my feet, I didn’t register the pain. I climbed as high as I could onto the reef until only my lower legs were submerged. As blood from my feet mixed into the water, the large creature began circling around the reef. Although I didn’t know much about sharks, I knew that they circled around their prey before striking.

I waved my arms and yelled like a maniac while balancing on top the reef. Reynolds stared at me, puzzled. “SHARK!! SHARK!!” I yelled at the top of my lungs. “GET A LIFEGUARD!!” It was no use. Reynolds hollered something back at me, but of course, I couldn’t hear. I tried making a shark fin with my arms, but Reynolds didn’t understand. Then, to my horror, he took off his cardigan and approached the water. “NO!! DON’T!! SHARK!! DON’T GO IN THE WATER!!” but Reynolds couldn’t hear. He waded into the water, totally oblivious to the menace mere meters away.

 

Reynolds awoke abruptly from his short sleep. Jordan was standing in the middle of the bay yelling at him like a madman and making unintelligible gestures. He’s probably trying to get me to come out. “I’m coming!” Reynolds hollered back. Now Jordan put both his arms over his head to form a triangle and started moving back and forth. Is he dancing? Slowly, Reynolds took off his cardigan, put on his goggles, and approached the water. Jordan was yelling again. What is wrong with him? Reynolds tentatively waded out into the water. What could possibly have been so exciting that he interrupted my sleep to tell me? As he waded out, Reynolds couldn’t help but feel like Jordan was trying to tell him something urgent. But what could it be?

“SHARK!! SHARK!!” Jordan pointed just to Reynold’s right. “GET OUT OF THE WATER!!” Reynolds ducked under the water and saw a flurry of motion to his right. He screamed underwater and made a break for the reef Jordan was standing on. But the shark was faster. It zipped past him, brushing against the side of his arm. Reynolds yelped and swam for his life. Just in time, he reached the reef and Jordan pulled him up.

“It scraped my arm!!” Reynolds yelled. Jordan examined his arm. A quizzical look appeared on his face.

“There’s no blood,” Jordan noticed. “Normally, when a shark brushes against your skin, it draws blood.” Jordan squinted at the dark form in the water and a look of realization dawned upon his face. “It’s not a shark,” he realized, “It’s a barracuda!”

 

“What do we do, Jordan!?” Reynolds asked.

“There is only one thing we can do,” I replied, “make a swim for it.” Reynolds appeared appalled.

“What if it catches us?”

“It won’t. But we’ll need a diversion.” I recalled that barracudas are attracted to shiny objects. “Which means... you’ll have to give up your watch.” I gestured at the shiny- and expensive- mariner watch on his wrist.

“But this watch is very valuable to me!” Reynolds protested. I seized him by the shoulders.

“Listen, if we are going to get out of this, you’re gonna need to part with that watch.” Reynolds was silent for a moment. Then, a fierce look of determination spread across his face. He nodded and unbuckled his watch. “As soon as you throw the watch, make a break for the shore.” Reynolds wound up his arm, ready for the throw, and chucked the watch as far as he could. It landed with a soft plop in the water. The barracuda lingered for a moment, then streaked toward the watch.

“Go!!” Reynolds yelled. We dove into the water and swam as fast as we could for the shore. I kicked and kicked as hard as I could. Swim practice, don’t fail me now. My legs burned. I felt like I was swimming in lava, but still, I pushed as hard as I could for the shore. Then my heart skipped a beat. Reynolds! I stopped dead. I had forgotten about Reynolds! Several feet behind me, Reynolds was clawing at the water in desperation. Grabbing his arm, I pulled him alongside me. With only a few more yards to go, I swam faster than Michael Phelps in the 200-meter butterfly. We reached the shore and the two of us clambered onto dry land. Reynolds collapsed on the sand beside me. I looked back. The barracuda had vanished. Who knew barracuda’s liked Rolex watches? We lay on the sand in silence for few minutes, the only sound being our labored breaths.

“Reynolds,” I admitted, “I should have told you about the barracuda before dragging you in. I thought they were all lies. I realize I put us both in danger. I’m sorry.” Reynolds was silent for a moment, then dissolved into uncontrollable laughter. I just stared at him “I don’t get it,” I managed. Reynolds laughed even harder. “What’s so funny? Why are you-”

“Jordan, you don’t have to apologize!” Reynolds exclaimed. “I’m fine! Matter of fact, we should do this again sometime.” I glared at him, dumbfounded. He wants to do this again? Something sharp in the water touched my foot and I jumped back. Images of the barracuda flashed through my mind. It’s just a part of a seashell.

“I think I’ll stick with the pool.”

 


© Copyright 2020 Alden Vieira. All rights reserved.

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