Authors: Iain Rob Wright
***AN SG HORROR RELEASE***
Part of the SALGAD PUBLISHING GROUP
Sea Sick copyright 2012 by Iain Rob Wright
Cover Art Copyright 2012 Stephen Bryant
Editing provided by Faith Kauwe
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the consent of the publisher, except where permitted by law.
A big thanks to Nicola Rees and her daughter Paige for helping me create the world of Sea Sick. The character, Donovan, is entirely their creation. I also thank an anonymous fan of mine for helping me create other aspects of the book. They know who they are! Big thanks to Stephen Bryant for his excellent cover and to Faith Kauwe for her lending me her superior editing skills.
OTHER BOOKS BY IAIN ROB WRIGHT
The Final Winter (Silk Raven Associates, 2011)
Animal Kingdom (Grand Mal Press, 2011)
ASBO (Silk Raven Associates, 2012)
The Peeling Novella Series (Iain Rob Wright, 2012)
Sam (SG Horror, 2012)
This book is dedicated to my fans and horror-lovers anywhere. You are the best bosses I have ever had and I love working for you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
By Iain Rob Wright
The bus came to a screeching stop at the end of the pier, deposited Jack and the other passengers,
then quickly drove away, spluttering a noxious black exhaust cloud behind it. The driver had seemed in a hurry since the moment he picked everyone up at the airport. The
excited group’s next destination was just twenty feet away. It filled the horizon proudly like a steel monolith.
Spirit of Kirkpatrick
currently occupied more than nine-hundred feet of Palma’s dockland, sitting
majestically in the Majorcan waters despite its gargantuan bulk.
Its multiple decks seemed to climb endlessly into the sky, while portholes lined its red-painted hull like hundreds of staring eyes. It was Jack’s first time on a cruise-liner. He wasn’t looking forward to it at all.
Most people would have been excited to spend a week on a four-star
passenger ship, hugging the beautiful coastline of the Mediterranean, taking in the sights, but not Jack. For Jack, relaxation – and even the very notion of enjoyment – was a function
he’d lost the use of long ago. The only reason he was even
here at all was because he had to be. The choice had been made for him.
An overly-tanned holiday rep approached the group. Her skin was leathery and loose and she spoke with a Spanish accent. “Good afternoon, everybody! I hope you all are ready for your holiday. Are you very excited?”
The group cheered.
Get on with it
, Jack thought to himself, eager to get away from the bustling holiday-makers surrounding him:
leaky-nosed children and fondling lovers, all of whom stole quick glances at Jack as they wondered what a middle-aged man was doing there alone. Honestly, Jack wondered the very same thing. Once aboard, his plan would be to find the quietest part of the ship and
spend the entire
week there, reading novels and drinking whisky. The other thing Jack intended to do was sleep – or at least try to. Rest wasn’t something that came easily to him.
“If you’d just like to come this way,” said the
leather-skinned holiday rep as she ushered the group inside a small vestibule on the dock. It contained a flight of narrow steps
leading up to an enclosed gangway which
ran alongside the ship.
When Jack reached the top of the stairs, he saw that at the end of the gangway was a row of tables and more olive-skinned holiday reps sitting behind them. Jack and the other passengers were told to form an orderly line
while they waited for their next instructions. Everybody complied, bright smiles on their faces, eager to be herded like cattle.
A cheap-suited gentleman came to greet the group. There was a sycophantic smile slapped across his smug, moisturised face. “Hello, everybody,” he said.
“Welcome to the
Spirit of Kirkpatrick
. My name is James.
I’m a member of the customer service team. If you could all get your boarding passes ready, please, you will find a passenger number at the top. Can all passengers with a number beginning 02 or 03 follow Karen over to the far desk?
Everyone else, please follow me to the near desk.”
Jack pulled out his boarding pass and checked the number: 0206606-B. The passengers
were splitting into two groups and he joined the one belonging to the woman introduced as
They reformed a loose line and funnelled along the gangway. The desk up ahead was filled with bright blue squares and
as Jack got closer he saw that they were credit card-sized pieces of plastic.
“Can I see your boarding pass, please?” one of the reps asked him.
The name badge on the man’s sky-blue shirt read:
Jack handed over his paperwork and waited while it was examined. Eventually the young man smiled, plucked up one of the plastic cards
from the table, and offered it to Jack. “Welcome aboard, Mr Wardsley. Someone will take you to your room once you are on
“Thank you,” said Jack, moving away to re-join the queue. A wide hatch in the ship had been opened up and people were now beginning to move inside one by one.
Queuing directly in front of Jack was
a group of three young men. They talked loudly and impatiently amongst themselves. They seemed to be quite drunk. One of them, Jack noticed, sported a ridiculous haircut, full of shaven lines and childish squiggles. It made his skull look like a hedge maze. He was the loudest of the three and every other word was laced with profanity. Jack took a deep breath and tried to keep his calm.
I came here to get away from cretins like this.
Thankfully, it wasn’t long before the queue
moving again and the three young men disappeared up ahead, barging their way, impolitely, to the front. With a bit of luck, the ship would be big enough that they wouldn’t cross paths with Jack again.
They better bloody hope so.
Now in front of Jack
was a little girl with her parents. The mum and dad
muttering to one
another as if engaged in some kind of spat, but their
little angel was oblivious to the tension. She was playing with a life-sized baby doll and pretending to feed it with a miniature bottle. With her golden pigtails and rosy-red cheeks she was the picture of innocent and adorable youth.
The queue started moving again. Jack could
see through the hatch entrance into the ship’s interior. Well-trodden red carpeting led down a narrow corridor before entering into a wide-open area beyond. Midway down that corridor was a Filipino woman
checking people’s passes as they walked by. Before that,
however, standing just outside the hatch, was a scruffy, bearded man with a plastic container. It seemed to be full of rubbing alcohol and the man was squeezing a small amount into every passenger’s hands before they entered the ship.
Jack sighed. The paranoia of swine flu, bird-flu, and a whole host of other overblown health scares were obviously not yet forgotten. Jack wondered what good, if any, a tiny dose of alcohol could really do against a super
virus. It seemed like a naïve precaution.
Ahead, the little girl’s parents took their turns with the alcohol, rubbing their hands thoroughly like a surgeon scrubbing up. Once they were done they ushered their daughter over to take her own turn.
“Can my dolly have some, too?” the little girl
asked as she ran over to the man with the dispenser. “I don’t want her to get a horrible cold.”
The alcohol-man seemed unmoved by the girl’s cuteness, but he obliged
anyway, spraying an additional blob onto the plastic hands of the toy baby. Jack smiled at the innocence of it all as he passed by the family and headed inside the ship. He didn’t need any rubbing alcohol. It was a mildly-effective precaution at best,
made necessary only because people were, for the most part, unconcerned with personal hygiene and good manners. Disease spread because of lazy, unwashed people, not because of individuals like Jack. He skipped right by the man with the dispenser and showed his pass to the Filipino woman inside the corridor. Then he headed further inside.
The open area at the end of the corridor housed an extravagant foyer with staircases on Jack’s right leading up to an ornate balcony. On his left was a walkthrough jewellery store and gift shop. Straight ahead was a pair of smoked-glass doors;
OCEAN VIEW RESTAURANT,
written above it in calligraphic script. A crowd of people – passengers and crew members alike – were already buzzing about the area with excitement and energy. It was likely that Jack’s group was the final intake of passengers for that day. Everybody else had probably arrived earlier in the morning, or perhaps even the previous day. Suddenly Jack felt like a newcomer to a party that was already well under way.
A party I don’t even want to be at.
Several yards ahead, a crew member had noticed Jack standing there aimlessly. The man – also Filipino like the woman checking passes in the corridor – hurried over, smiling warmly as he approached. He even waved a hand
in a friendly – yet awkward – gesture.
His gawky appearance and bemused expression made Jack
think he was unused to greeting passengers.
Perhaps he’s new.
Jack didn’t give a wave back, choosing to nod instead. The crew member’s uniform was a light-blue waist jacket with a white shirt beneath, black bowtie, and trousers. His hair was slicked back and dark, making him look older than the thirty or so years he probably
“Hello, sir. Let me show you to your room. Do you have your boarding pass?”
Jack nodded and handed it over.
“Ah, okay. Cabin B-18. Is very nice – a double.”
Jack took the man’s word for it. He hadn’t booked the cabin himself and
only expected the bare minimum. If his superiors had authorised the extra expense of a bigger room then he was grateful, but they needn’t have bothered.
“Right now we are on A Deck. We take the elevators down to B deck. This way, please, sir.”
Jack followed after the man, rounding a corner beyond the foyer’s
furthest staircase and entering into a slim hallway. On the right was a pair of brass-framed elevators. The crewman prodded a silver button on the wall between the two sets of doors.
While they were waiting Jack asked what the man’s name was.
The man tapped a badge on his chest that Jack had missed up until now.
My full name is Jose Mariano Panalan, but you can call me
Jack nodded, but found himself without a follow-up question. An awkward silence began to crystallise, but Joma managed to stop to it from manifesting fully.
“Can I ask what
name is, sir?”
“Of course. It’s Jack.”
The elevator pinged and the doors opened. Joma took Jack gently by the arm and ushered him inside, stepping in after him. “Is your first time on cruise, yes?”
Jack nodded. “It’s my first holiday in…ten years, maybe.”
Joma whistled in awe. “You must be excited then, no?”
Jack was about to answer that
no, he was not excited
, but reminded himself that the man was just making small talk and not offering therapy. “Yeah,” he decided to lie. “
Joma stared at Jack then, drilling into him as if he had a secret tattooed on his skin. “You not bring your wife?”
“I’m not married. Never have been.”
Joma didn’t probe Jack about it, which was good, as sharing wasn’t one of his strong suits. They both chose to remain in silence as the elevator descended to B deck. It was a relief when the doors finally opened again.
“This way,” said Joma, heading out into a warmly-lit corridor. Sconces lined both walls and seemed to bathe the ceiling more than they did the deep
-red carpet. It created a strange, yet calming, atmosphere. Joma padded along between the various cabins, left and right, until he came to one and stopped. “18-B. This is your room, sir.”