As a horror writer, I'm fascinated with this tragic event, since horror is often about what you should do, or not do, in order to survive. I've often wondered how I would have reacted, if aboard. Would I have panicked, running from side to side of the ship, until it sank and I froze to death in the ocean water? Or, would I have come up with the idea to use a cabin door as a floating device, like one clever male passenger?
Recently, I was excited to discover 'The One That Got Away' by Kellianne Sweeney. Kellianne has created a realistic Titanic tale with added original elements such as reincarnation and questions about whether there is an after-life. It's a compelling work that is respectful to the history, but takes it somewhere fresh and new. Enjoy this teaser!
My mind seemed to turn off and my body moved by its’ own accord to open the door and walk inside. I stood in the middle of the foyer and tried to collect my thoughts. I knew I had been instructed on where to meet in the event of the ship’s sinking. I had not been paying particular attention to this information because I had believed the Titanic to be unsinkable. Quick action was required, but I needed to figure out where to dash off to and stop standing motionless in the middle of the foyer like a simpleton. I could feel panic burbling from the tips of my toes, thrashing in my guts and squeezing my chest. I was very aware of my heart beating rapidly. Panic was a foreign emotion to me. It hit me like a brick wall and seemed to immobilize my limbs. Then, I thought of Jackson. I needed to be sure of Jackson’s safety. Oh, dear God, protect my child! If anything were to happen to him…I couldn’t even let my mind go there. My mind and body seemed suddenly connected with purpose and I bolted to the stairwell.
As I clambered down the narrow stairwell I was greeted by a deluge of third class passengers trying to come up. By the time I made it to the foot of the stairs the corridor before me was filling quickly with a glut of milling and frightened families. The sleepy, crying children wrenched jaggedly at my heart. I could see Jackson in every face. As I rounded each corner I hoped against hope that I would see his crazy, curly head bob into view. Surely Jane would get the children up and out right away? What if they were all still asleep? I pressed on with my mission to locate their room, but I was getting confused coming from this direction. It became apparent to me that I was not going to be able to navigate my way to Jane’s room due to the budding chaos in the hallways and my unfamiliarity with this end of the ship. I decided that it might be better for me to go up and come back down using the route that I was familiar with. I spun on my heel and joined the rapidly increasing exodus up the stairs. I was so grateful to finally reach the top. The stale air down there was giving me a headache. The foyer area was starting to fill with people now as well. On every face I saw varying degrees of panic. I vaguely wondered what my own face looked like. My thoughts were scattered again. I was fervently trying to figure the most efficient way to get to Jane’s berth in order to scoop up my son. My arms ached to hold him and bring him to safety. I struggled to think clearly. I would have gladly slapped myself upside the head if I thought that would juggle my thoughts back together. Even at the best of times I was not good with directions.
“Please,” a timid voice cut through the increasing din surrounding me, “are we to go to the lifeboats?” I turned to my left and found a pale and fragile looking young woman holding the hands of what appeared to be her daughters. The younger girl was sobbing so hard that she was hiccupping, while the older one looked as though her face would burst with the effort of holding back her tears. The woman’s face was strained and tight and her voice trembled as she spoke politely to me. “Would you please tell us where to go? Please, miss?”
“Yes,” I answered immediately and matter-of-factly. “Follow me.” I offered my hand to the older girl. She took it gratefully. My small gesture seemed to send a cascade of relief over her pinched face. She even smiled a little. I grabbed her hand with purpose and the four of us began to wind our way through the thickening throng up to the deck. After I saw this trio safely to a lifeboat I would cross over to the other side of the ship to where I would be more able to get my bearings. I thought of Violet. Of course she would be doing exactly what she needed to be doing in this situation. Violet was always able to take care of herself and others with poise and aplomb. I could even imagine her managing a lifeboat herself. As we entered the deck area the cold once again slapped me hard, but this time I had no time or concern for it. Up ahead I saw a lifeboat being readied to lower. I squeezed the girl’s hand tighter and guided the family firmly through the confusion. A sudden, thunder-like bang stopped me dead in my tracks for a moment as I searched for its’ source. I soon discovered that a distress rocket had been fired. It was fascinatingly lovely in the star sparkled sky. There was a collective pause as everyone on deck stared at the brilliant spectacle that meant disaster.
The One That Got Away by Kellianne Sweeney is available for purchase at many online bookstores including Amazon.