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Serenity at Sea

Rashad stared into the horizon, thinking that someone thousands of miles opposite of his stare was doing the same thing. Staring into the Atlantic Ocean, thinking of how far life had taken them. The brief thought flashed that someone could also be thinking their life was confined to the patch of land they currently occupied. He shook his head at the thought and looked back through the closed balcony door at his new wife sleeping peacefully as their cruise ship floated along.

Their honeymoon was halfway over and after three islands in three days, he was thankful for the trip to the next island would take the better part of a day. He needed a break from the excursions, the grueling sun while lying on the beach and of course, natives of the islands trying to sell you everything but the water. There was even one guy who put a few drops into a pendant.

He saw Asha shifting in the bed and knew his moments of solitude would be ending soon. He reminded himself again to thank her father for upgrading their room to a suite; it added to the romance of the occasion and nearly masked the fact that they were floating in the middle of the ocean on the maiden voyage of the world’s first automated cruise.

Serenity Cruise Line was the brainchild of one of those tech geniuses who developed Artificial Intelligence to handle every function on the ship. There was only one human representative of Serenity onboard, the man behind it all, Sebastian B. Winthrop. For nearly a year he’d sailed around the oceans and finally shared his creation with the world.

Winthrop roamed the decks and restaurants taking photos with guests, telling anyone within earshot how his brainchild would revolutionize the industry. Advertisements ran on every other channel on the televisions in the room and those onboard could receive a 20% discount for future cruises.

“What ‘cha thinking about?”

Asha’s voice startled Rashad and broke his reverie.

“Just thinking about how lucky I am.”

“Is that right?”

“Yes. I’m married to the most beautiful woman in the world and look at this view.”

He stepped to the side to give Asha a better look. She said nothing in response. Instead, she advanced toward him, grabbed his wrist and wrapped his arm around her body. The newlyweds stood silently for nearly an hour, watching the waves, the world, their past lives go past.

The clock read 8:00 am and Asha decided it was time to start getting ready for the day, or, at least breakfast. She pulled a new bathing suit from her suitcase and headed to the shower. Rashad plopped down on the bed, flipped on the TV hoping not to catch one of the family-friendly movies that seemed to be on a constant loop. He knew between the marathon showers Asha took and her overall slowness, he had at least 45 minutes before she would leave.

Much to his surprise, Asha emerged from the bathroom within minutes and was ready to eat. They exchanged a kiss and decided to meet at the Grand Serenity pool in a half hour. Asha rushed out the door, but no sooner than she closed the door could Rashad hear her the sensor beep indicating her key card was opening the door.

“I’m moving so fast I forgot my wrap.”

Her eyes were searching the room looking for a cover, but Rashad never moved his from the amnesiac spy on the TV.

“There. Over on that chair, pass me the pink cover-up.”

Rashad finally looked up and noticed his wife standing in a bathing suit that got his imagination going.

“Don’t even think about it. Pass me my wrap, so I can eat.”

“Damn,” Rashad mumbled as he stretched for the cover, not taking his eyes from the television.

Had he looked, he would have noticed the garment was wrapped around the lamp and not pulled it down with his tug. There was no slow-motion tumble for the lamp or Rashad. Asha couldn’t stifle her laugh as the big man fell from the bed attempting to catch the lamp.

When he stood up, he held the lamp in one hand and stared at the small chip-like object he held in the other. The puzzled look on his face told Asha that something was out of place. She walked closer but stopped as the balcony doors slammed shut, the room door locked behind her and the television screen turned bright red.

“What’s happening?” she screamed the question.

“I have no clue, it seems like the ship went into some sort of lockdown.”

“What is that in your hand?”

“It almost looks like a camera. I swear this little part is a lens.”

Asha finally got her legs to work and recovered her inside voice. She inspected the item and agreed that it was a camera, some sort of nanny security camera. Just then, the couple began to hear screaming and loud banging. Rashad ran to the door, but the handle didn’t budge. He motioned to the balcony doors, but they stood firm as Asha pulled.

She yelled incoherently and banged against the fiberglass doors. Just then, a dark shade descended down the door, eclipsing the sun and a yellow stripe ran around the top border of the room. It seemed to be some sort of emergency protocol, but there was no explanation for the lockdown.

The yellowed television screen turned white and a voice emitted: There’s been a security breach. Emergency procedures are in place to preserve the safety of the ship’s crew in the face of human danger. The voice repeated the statement over and over. The screams got louder, became cries, a loud alarm sounded and suddenly...Rashad woke up.


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