Five00 Short Stories

The Night on the Bridge

I picked up the journal and sat on an armchair. I loved reading in the attic which also served as a small library. The journals were written decades ago by Margaret Parker, my great-grandmother, and wife of late Doctor Kenneth Parker, MD who once practised at the New York Metropolitan Hospital. I flipped open a page randomly…

***

There was a loud cheer in the First Class Dining Saloon when Captain Edward Smith announced that the ship will be docking in New York day after tomorrow.
 
William Murdoch, the First Officer, looking smart in his uniform, moved away from the table after noting down the instructions of the Captain.
 
He waved at Cal Hockley, Rose’s fiancé; who was his distant cousin. There was no sign of Rose though; she must be hanging out with that good-for-nothing loafer, Jack.
 
Murdoch came near my table, bowed and handed me a rose. Considering we had left Queenstown three days back, the rose looked fresh. I noticed a slip of paper rolled around the stem. I unrolled the paper surreptitiously under the table.
 
“Midnight, on the bridge. Come alone.”
 
I crumpled the slip. It was April 14, 1912; a Sunday evening dinner party and everyone was busy having a gala time.
 
When I reached the bridge an hour earlier, I found William alone. He brightened up when he saw me.
 
He informed me that tonight he has been assigned lookout duty on the bridge as the Captain needed some rest. He showed me the Radio Room, The Navigation Room and took me towards the Bridge Wing. A misty expanse of cloudy-white spread across till the horizons. It was like walking on clouds. I could now understand why it was called the “Ship of Dreams”. As he led me to the Boat Deck, I could see that it also housed the officers’ quarters.
 
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“Coming, Mom!” I shouted back as I responded to my mother’s third ‘come down immediately’ call. I began reading fast, intent on finishing the episode.
 
xxx
 
I was arranging my dress as he got up with a start, “Oh I must rush to the bridge now!”
We walked back to the glass panel lined bridge. I could spot a big white speck on the horizon, straight ahead, which was getting bigger and bigger. It looked like a white apparition and reminded me of the snow-laden peaks of the Alps.

 

Bill’s face had turned white. I had never seen a more horror-stricken person in my life. 

 
“Maggie, you must go back to your cabin,” he implored me in anxiety, “and fast!”
 
As I proceeded to rush downstairs, I could hear him hollering instructions to the Engine room and Wheel House, “Stop the Engines…”, “Steer Thirty Degrees to Port!”
 
I rushed down through the Grand Staircase and reached the D Deck, our Saloon Deck. As I opened the door of my cabin, there was a massive jolt and I was thrown inside.
***
 
I slammed shut the journal softly and rushed downstairs.
 
xxx