Chapter 27: The Find the Captain
Everyone that wasn’t busy hunting for the captain or cleaning up debris was topside. They were salvaging whatever food they could that hadn’t been ravaged by the storms. Megan and Aaron had gone straight to the cabin that Jules had directed them to, but it had been bogus. It looked like the camera had been removed recently. They had scoured all the nearby cabins on that deck and found nothing in the two hours they had before their duty shift ended.
Megan and Aaron each had a bushel basket and were wading through the rows of broken corn stalks, harvesting anything that was broken or looked like it wasn’t going to survive. There were many people topside with them, some harvesting beans, and others picking up apples, oranges and pears that littered the ground.
Carol was no longer on kitchen duty and so met up with Rebekah and Marcus on deck seven. Many of the doors here were unfinished but closed. Some were locked, making for slow searching.
“There has to be a better way to do this,” said Carol after a few minutes.
Marcus sighed and said, “Jules wasn’t able to narrow it down any further. Too many of the staterooms were made identical. We were able to rule out about two-thirds of them by deduction, but that still leaves hundreds to search.”
Carol continued, “Maybe we are going about this all wrong, Beka.”
Rebekah never stopped walking. “What do you mean?” she asked.
“If you were a psychopath that knew every nook and cranny of this ship, where would you hide the captain?”
Marcus replied, “It would have to be a place that could be secure but be within easy reach. This ship is just too damn big for it to be anywhere. Let’s just think for a second. It also needed to be somewhere that Jules wouldn’t be able to detect.”
“Like our secret rooms?”
“Becka!” warned Marcus, shocked that she would make such a revelation.
Carol asked, “What secret rooms?”
“Marcus, is there really any point in keeping that from Carol. She’s on our side, remember?
“I wasn’t keeping it from Carol. She was there, remember? But since we are on the subject, we might as well completely fill her, and Jules in.” They all slid down the walls to sit on the dusty floor of deck seven. Marcus and Rebekah told Carol and Jules about their series of secret rooms and the symbols.
“I always wondered,” said Jules. “You were hiding from me?” he asked in his most hurt voice.
“Relax Jules, it was just a game before. This is much more important and you are on our side now.”
“Guys, this is just a hunch. I think I have it. Come with me.” Rebekah jumped up, very excited. “Jules, you don’t have any cameras in the Grand Gallery, do you?”
The computer replied, “You know the answer to that, Rebekah”
“Yeah, just checking…”
The other two jumped up to catch up with Rebekah. “Wait up Becka, what are you talking about?”
“We have a ton of stuff in storage in the Grand Gallery. It’s very accessible to the major decks, including the Bridge.”
“So? We are looking for cabins, not building materials,” said Marcus.
“That’s the point. There are complete cabins down there too. Wrapped up and ready to install. They were there when we had to take off and no one has made them a priority or even thought about them since we already had plenty.”
“You mean the cabins were delivered?” asked Carol.
“Yes, they were all prefab. The ship is really just a framework and empty hull made of Aerolon like a huge container ship and the cabins literally just snap in place. Throw in some furniture and voila,” Rebekah explained as they reached the double doors that led down to the gallery. “Jules are we in the clear?”
“I have no cameras here, but everyone on the ship is accounted for. The coast is clear, Rebekah.”
“Thanks, Jules. Come on guys.” They pushed open the gallery doors and slipped inside. They quickly closed the doors behind them to hide their presence,
Plunged into total darkness, they all pulled out their flashlights before they tried to descend the massive stairway. It would have been an incredible room had it ever been finished. As it was, it was just a space for containers and wrapped equipment. As the three beams of light cut the darkness, there was all manner of unfinished shops, faux cobblestone panels that would have been a Parisian walkway through a set of village shops. Now just stacks and crates and boxes as far as the eye could see.
They reached the bottom. “OK, guys, spread out. Look for some of the biggest wrapped crates,” said Rebekah.
They walked amongst the boxes.
Carol was the first to speak, “Guys look at this!” Her flashlight was pointing at an enormous antique carousel.
“Yeah, they intended to have a complete amusement park upstairs. Rebekah played her light out over the port side from where they were standing. “That over there are the supports for a …”
“… A roller coaster!” completed Marcus.
“Granted, not a very big one, but yes, a roller coaster.” The topside was almost sixteen acres. The amusement park was going to wind its way around the whole area with a Coney Island like atmosphere.”
Marcus had heard it before, but Carol was relatively new to the ship and never even got the same tour that Liam had received.
“That is so cool!” said Marcus.
“You’ve heard it all before. Is your head just turning to concrete?”
“You two never quit do you?” said Carol, eying the two of them. She was playing her flashlight all around. It glinted off of something in the dark, stretched between crates overhead. “Hey wait! Look at this!” She played the light back.
Everyone looked up where her light was pointing. Strung overhead was an electric wire. Rebekah was the first to react. “Hey, that shouldn’t be there.” Her beam of light met Carol’s and followed the wire as it was draped from crate to crate. They weaved their way between crates and found a group of them that were a lot larger than the others.
“Beka, is this what…”
“Yep, this is it and look, the wire is leading right to it and some of the packing has been removed from that box!” She ran the rest of the distance. They found the packing material had been loosened around the natural doorway that the cabin it contained would normally make. They pushed it aside and found the cabin was well lit on the inside.
Instantly Jules chirped, “Rebekah, you found it! I see you on camera.”
The three of them were breathless as they stood around the gurney that contained Captain Grumm. Marcus spoke first. “Oh My God. Yeah Jules, I think we kind of figured that out. Beka, what do we do now? If we announce we found him, Kyton will know where we found him!”
It was Carol’s turn to be brilliant. “Guys, it’s risky, but I have a plan.”
The alarm rang out across the ship. The captain had been found. Found in one of the lower hallways, collapsed on the floor. No one knew how he got there or where he had been. He had pulled out all his IVs and was pretty groggy and in a lot of pain, but he was back in the infirmary under the watchful eyes of Doctor Weaver, Gus Maher and Janice Rohm. There were a few very grateful teens that seemed they would never leave his side. They were even there when Kyton and Sydney came to visit.
“I am so relieved he was found,” Kyton said, eying the four teens. “Who found him again?”
Aaron pointed at Sydney. “One of the search parties did sir, Nathan and Duncan discovered him on deck eight, starboard,” replied Sydney.
“I see, well good work everyone.” He looked at Rebekah and Marcus. “Oh and great work on that video, kids. Great stuff.” Kyton turned and walked out to have a word with Doctor Weaver.
“Oh, I almost forgot,” said Sydney, fishing through the pockets of his security jacket. “Mister Davis asked me to give this back to you. I almost forgot in all the excitement.” He handed them the camera unit for the drone. “He also asked that you keep it up and make regular reports. Without Ethan here, you two are the best two drone pilots we have. Report back anything you find.”
Marcus took the small canister from Sydney. “Thank you, sir. We will be happy to help.”
Kyton looked back in. “You coming, Mister Blankenship?”
Sydney turned back to look at the captain. “Take care of him, will you? He’s the spirit of this ship. I thought we almost lost him. I don’t know what the crew would do without him!” With that, he turned and strode away to follow Kyton out of the infirmary.
Doctor Weaver turned and walked back into the small ward that was already overcrowded. “OK, team, visiting hours are over.”
Everyone starting talking at once. “Can’t we please stay?”
Doctor Weaver objected. “No, this is an infirmary, not a social club.”
“We want to help,” said Megan.
“You already helped more than you know. I sense you are somehow behind his mysterious reappearance. I’m not going to ask, but thank you. Sydney is right. This ship would not function without him.”
“Can’t at least one of us stay with him?”
Tricia looked from one face to the other. Undecided, she finally relented. “OK. One of you may stay. Only one. You can take turns if you need to.”
Right then, the lights flickered and came back on. The hum of fans and the beeping of medical equipment starting their reboot was a welcome sound. “Thank God,” Doctor Weaver whispered almost to herself. Many devices started beeping they needed attention in one way or another. “Excuse me, kids. I have work to do.” She hurriedly began pressing buttons on various screens as more and more devices came back to life. Gus scrambled to help and Janice started connecting the standard heart and breathing sensors back up to the captain.
It was decided that Megan would take the first watch. Rebekah and Marcus had to go back and prep the drone, now that they got its camera back. Of course, they mainly wanted to see what kind of message that her father might have left them. As they left the infirmary, Aaron remembered he was on shift first thing in the morning.
He said, “As much as I would love to keep up this pace gang, I’m a realist. I have to have some sleep and I have to be back on shift in seven hours.”
“You’re right. We’ll watch this. We won’t wake you unless there is something really important. It’s going to be really hard getting used to it being daylight all the time. No sunset, no sunrise. How does this work anyway?” asked Rebekah.
“I’m glad you asked,” said the little British voice in her ear. “I’ve got some theories about that.”
“I’m sure you do, Jules, but we can wait on the theories, can’t we? Right now, I just want to get this in a safe place and make sure everyone on that launch is safe,” said Marcus.
Marcus continued, “How long can they hold out in the launch anyway?”
Rebekah answered, “They have standard rations for eight people for two weeks. They can last a little longer.”
“How do you remember all this stuff?” asked Marcus incredulously.
“I just have always had a good memory,” replied Rebekah. “Whatever I see, I remember. My dad had me tested when I was eight. ‘Eidetic memory’, they said. It helps sometimes.”
“Wow, I would give anything for that.”
“Don’t wish too hard. It can be a curse too…” She trailed off. Her thoughts went back to the day her mom died. She could remember every detail of the hospital room, the setting on every piece of equipment. “…yeah, it can be a total drag.” She wiped her eyes as they looked around and retreated to their alpha site.
Inside they attached the camera module to a pad. The camera read the identity of the pad owner and verified it was her through visual recognition. The earlier footage disappeared and a video of her father with Liam and Zak appeared.