This was a total nightmare.
Dead bodies were strewn across the deck, and while the people climbing up from the cabins were in a state of panicked confusion, a huge force titled the Thalassa to the left. Everyone saw the sea monster outside. They screamed while looking for a place to hide, and, fortunately, no one tried to stand under the sun, practically all of them trying to squeeze themselves into the cabinets out of fear.
Those who were still alive were divided into three categories: first, there were the people who’d just left their cabins and discovered the atrocities; next came the staff members who knew what was happening from various sources; and, lastly, the wealthy who lived at the top of the cruise ship. All these people were either angrily trying to find the captain or other management to demand an explanation, or they had gathered some food and found a safe place to hide.
Xia Yi belonged to the latter type, but the difference was that while the others were waiting to be rescued, he was trying to find a nice place to end his own life.
Then there was the captain, chief mate, and Mr Han’s group. They weren’t hiding in the ship’s control room, but were instead cowering in the storage compartment. The doors locked from the inside, and there was a small connecting pathway between the ship’s storage and turbine rooms. This place was originally designed in case of confrontations with the infamous Malacca Pirates or shameless militaries that would blatantly intersect the cruise in Chinese or international waters. The room was equipped with specifically-constructed doors composed of a special alloy and password locks. The walls were made of three layers of steel and alloy plates, and unless they were under attack by heavy artillery, they’d be fine. In any case, it was the era of technology and communication— all this room had to do was buy four to five hours for whoever was inside.
There were no windows, but there was independent ventilation, safety equipment, navigational instruments for communication, and lookout devices resembling periscopes which allowed them to view the deck and ocean. The twenty-or-so people who hid here weren’t relaxed at all; the air conditioning was broken and their only source of fresh air came from the vents. Thankfully though, the ice from the refrigerated storage section relieved them from the heat.
“I demand an explanation!” Han Lin loosened his tie and was speaking haughtily when the entire boat lurched to the left.
The captain’s face paled as he looked through the periscope. “Heavens, oh no, it’s that creature!”
Mr Han directed a look at his son and Han Lin immediately shoved the trembling captain aside to take a look himself.
Han Lin stumbled back as if he was afraid that some monster was about to emerge from the periscope. His chest rapidly rose and fell as he frantically looked around, then Han Lin practically threw himself towards the captain and grabbed the older man’s collar. “What kind of monster is that? Why would there be creatures like that?”
Mr Han, who was already displeased with his son, frowned and told his bodyguard to go and take a look. The burly man was 190 cm tall and even his face went pale as he instinctively grabbed something from the inside of his jacket.
China had a strict policy on gun control, but the rich and powerful always had ways to obtain these weapons through loopholes.
Mr Han finally let go of the actress’s waist he was holding and rebuked loudly. “What’s the matter?”
“Sea monsters— the ones you see in movies! It’s huge… at least… ten stories high!”
“What kind of bullshit are you talking about?!” Mr Han was 52 this year. He was neither fat nor too ugly, but he always had an insincere smile plastered on his face and his beady eyes shone with a bone-chilling light. He was an expert at redirecting his anger at his subordinates. Mr Han was holding on to a load of annoyance that he didn’t know where to throw, so, naturally, he glared and reprimanded. “Even if you haven’t seen a whale before…”
“No, Father, I saw it too! It’s an octopus that’s half the height of the Thalassa Goddess!” Han Lin turned towards the captain and yelled, “This is the thing that stopped the ship? That killed everyone? You’ve heard of it, right?”
The captain had a well-built physique as well and was just too shocked earlier to stop Han Lin from kicking him down. He didn’t dare offend the Han family, so he waited till now to gently remove himself from Han Lin’s grasp before saying, “There’s a legend which mentions a monster in the South Sea. Everyone who sails around here knows about it.”
“Don’t fucking lie, tell me the truth! Do you think we’re in a movie? Bullshitting with me like this? Huh?”
Han Lin roared while the actress who’d been silent all this time cowered. She’d starred in major projects, including disaster films; a monster in the South Sea… wasn’t that Deep Rising? They just so happened to be on a cruise too!
“Young Master Han, this isn’t a film. A lot of people have seen it before, it’s just…”
It’s just that no one had seen it in its entirety. Some had seen its shadow beneath the waves, while others had seen a long tentacle. To be honest, the captain had never taken the legend to heart because large marine animals have always existed. Even Giant Squids could grow to be just over ten metres, and carcasses of that size had washed ashore before. He used to think that the Thalassa Goddess was big enough to combat these beasts, but there was a great difference between ten metres and tens of metres…
The captain’s face grew purple, and he felt a rush of anger rise because of the disbelief in his words.
“Those secret American military camps have this monster’s information all on file! It appears quite frequently, so the satellites capture numerous pictures of it. It even has a name!”
“Making it sound so real now, aren’t we!” By this point, even Mr Han was sneering, “If this is a sea monster, then there has to be more than one; there’s a million octopuses in the Pacific!”
“And that monstrosity, even if this was a movie, what legend tells of one with blue dots?”
The room was dead silent for a long period of time before one of Mr Han’s secretaries croaked, “Then what… is that?”
“Abyss,” answered the chief mate who was shaking awfully. “I remember a Russian captain telling me that the damned name came from the Bible. It meant deep chasm, a devastating void, the depths of hell!”
A cold pang of fright crawled up everyone’s spine, and in that moment, it was as if their vision was pulled below the waves, into the pitch black sea where they couldn’t see a thing. A monster like that swallowed all forms of life; it swam hungrily amongst the mutilated bones and, finally, slowly drifted upwards in its starvation. It’s cold eyes broke through the surface, setting its sight on the Thalassa Goddess.
Some of the people collapsed right then and there.
It wasn’t that they weren’t brave enough, but because after entering through the door, the captain had informed them that the radio had disconnected; all communication was cut off and even satellite signals couldn’t be received. No instruments worked, any equipment that contained a turbine refused to start, the cruise couldn’t sail, there was no air conditioning, and even the GPS system had shut off.
They were completely stranded at sea.
“This— how could this be? It’s just a sea monster! This isn’t the goddamn Bermuda! What about the GPS?” Han Lin’s eyes grew red and he lost all composure. “Are we going to wait until they discover this cruise ship, only to find that the Thalassa Goddess has already become a ghost ship? We can’t seek help, but what about flare guns? Have we used them?”
The captain replied dully, “We’ve sent out a number of them this morning at six, but up to now, there haven’t been…”
He suspected all that was happening right now wasn’t solely because of the sea creature named Abyss. He didn’t believe that an aquatic monster could have the strength to pull a cruise ship to a halt. Even if it could infiltrate the ship through the pipes, like in the movies and destroyed all the motors, could a sea monster even begin to understand any of these machineries? Not to mention, none of the motors, turbines, or the GPS system had any signs of physical damage. They’d just suddenly stopped functioning.
“Captain…” The second mate, who was supposed to prepare some food, came running over. “I… I don’t know why, but the microwave is broken! And the lights won’t turn on either!”
“Dumbass, if there’s a power outage, why didn’t you use the small generator?”
“Mr Han, be mindful of your words!” The second mate was younger and more impetuous, so he scolded right back, “Of course I tried!”
Meanwhile, Li Shao was complaining as he walked out of the restaurant.
“What kind of luxury cruise is this? Something goes wrong and suddenly there’s no electricity. I mean, even if we didn’t take the food in the refrigerator, it’d go bad, but still, without a stove or microwave, what are we going to do?”
Xia Yi frowned when he saw that Li Shao had scavenged almost all of the food from the kitchen.
You could barely walk with this much stuff, muchless run for your life.
“This way, there’s a restaurant on this floor!”
Voices came from the distance. It was the flustered wait staff and crew, driven here by angry guests.
“Damned bastard, that little shit has food and water!”
Seeing over ten angry men lunge forward, each wielding coat racks and kitchen knives, Li Shao immediately turned and fled. Xia Yi wanted to swear at him, but in the end he still turned and dove into another shop.
Xia Yi was awful at sports; he knew he couldn’t outrun the others, so he had to find a place to hide.
Hiding behind a mannequin and a row of coats, Xia Yi knew that if Li Shao couldn’t escape, he’d choose to leave some resources behind. At this time, there were still over a thousand alive on the ship. Without electricity, food couldn’t be properly stored. Simultaneously, the temperature would steadily rise. There would eventually come a time where one didn’t need an apocalypse; fresh water and food would be enough for people to fight to the death.
At that point, the ozone layer would barely exist, which meant that the daytime would be freakishly hot, while temperatures would drop to well below freezing at night. By then, the people clinging to life would’ve run out of food and they would probably consume anything that was edible, including the bodies on the ship…
Xia Yi shivered.
He didn’t fear death, for it was just loneliness for all eternity, but after his death, he didn’t want his body to be…!!!
Right, he could always jump into the water. He’d stand on the deck, flip over the railing, stab himself, and then fall into the ocean.
But the sea monster…
Was there a difference when it came to whom he’d get eaten by?
Xia Yi didn’t know how to swim, and beneath the current radiation, he had zero chance of survival. Furthermore, if this was the end of the world, where could he escape to? This wasn’t a biochemical virus with zombies roaming the cities. There was no such thing as being lucky here, since even hiding underground only meant dying later than everyone else.
Mars was a planet where most of its surface had no magnetosphere, so it barely had an atmosphere. Thus, there was no life.
Xia Yi remained crouched there for a long time. Noises came and went as people ran, and there were occasional screams thrown into the mix; he just didn’t know if those people died from fighting for food or radiation. His logic had always been odd, and so, strangely enough, he deduced that the sea monster would most likely swallow him whole. Maybe he wouldn’t even count as a “bite”. But if it was… No matter how he thought about it, the latter seemed more upsetting.
After reaching this conclusion, Xia Yi shuffled beside the cabinet behind the fitting room and slowly opened a bottle of carbonated water. As he drank, he sighed. The end of the world really does save you a lot of trouble. There’s not even a need to write a suicide note.
He’d do it tonight. The longer he took, the worse the radiation would become, especially during the day.
Xia Yi struggled to remember the things that made him happy, but to his dismay, by the time night had fallen, he still hadn’t remembered much. The few joyful memories he had were with his parents.
Those butter-yellow pinwheels and rainbow puzzles were all events from very, very long ago…
Hopefully humans had souls.
All of a sudden, Xia Yi laughed, quietly and expressionlessly.
Maybe he should be crying, or perhaps he should be laughing. At the end of the world, would someone who was so alone that they didn’t even deserve betrayal be truly lucky?