One Lost Summer (Part 3, page 1 of 58)

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Part 3


Kirstie started awake, heart hammering, the alarm subjecting her heart to its name and function. And that other noise, what was it called? a klaxon? What was going on? What-

“This is the captain speaking. All passengers proceed immediately to the promenade deck where you will be issued life-preservers. This is not a drill. I repeat, this is not a drill. Please proceed in an orderly fashion to the promenade deck. This-”

-was utter madness! What was going on? The first real vacation she ever had and it’s spoilt by some sort of . . . surely the ship wasn’t sinking?

Without warning her tiny cabin was plunged into darkness. Fighting down the urge to panic she began groping blindly in the dark, fumbling for her battered wreck of a suitcase, looking for something to wear. What was this? A dress? A slip? Maybe a dress, the sheer one she knew she’d never have the nerve to wear, but had purchased only yesterday, motivated by some naïve notion that if she somehow worked up the courage to wear it that good things would follow. It had cost her a small fortune, both financially and personally. Feeling betrayed she flung it aside, somehow knowing that she would never see it again, that the cruel truth of dreams was that they were meaningless. Fumbling about in frustration, she selected something that she could recognise: a pair of ratty slacks made for bumming about in and a heavy T-shirt. Nothing else made any sense . . . all her undergarments felt the same in the dark. And socks! If only she could find her travel bag! No, forget it, there wasn’t time, the captain had just said so! She found her sandals and slipped them on; without socks they felt five sizes too big, the uncushioned leather cold, hard, slippery, and strangely foreign against her bare feet. Right! Now, where’s the promenade deck? Kirstie left her cabin and found the corridor dimly lighted by emergency lights. Was it her imagination, or was the ship listing to one side? Where was everyone? How much time did she have? She began walking, hoping to encounter someone who could tell her what was going on, but as in a nightmare she was met only with empty corridors and silence. Fear goading her on, feeding upon itself until it became open panic, she found herself running, sobbing for breath, sandals flapping . . . until at last one of them came off, was lost somewhere in the dark. The other quickly followed, flung away with a small animal noise of frustration. At last she came to one of the observation rooms-

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