The Last Ferry

Emma was leaning to the side, as if her long brown hair was too heavy for her neck.

“You heard about the ferry?” She asked.

“The accident a month ago?”

“Yes.” Emma said. “I was on that.”

“I thought there were no survivors?” I said, more to myself than to her.

“That’s why I’m here.” Emma said. “I was on that ferry.”

“Oh.” I said.

“You need to tell them that I’m sane.” Emma said. “I was on that ferry, I swear. There is something out there and they need to find it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Something attacked the ferry.”

“Okay.” I said.

I glanced at her file, although I knew the data already: No abnormal brain activity, no hormonal imbalance, and no history of psychological disorders.

“I swear, something attacked us.”

“A terrorist attack?”

“There was something in the water. And it pulled the ship down.”

“Something pulled the ship down?”

“Yes.” Emma said. “And it was alive.”

The ferry left at 5pm and should have arrived around 6:30pm. No SOS signal. No call for help. The wreck was never found; not even any debris. 400 people – gone without a trace.

“It must have been off course,” read one of the news articles. “Else the ship would have been found by now.”

“There was already this weird air;” Emma said. “Everything felt a bit odd. And I wasn’t the only one that felt it. It was sunny and usually on these trips everybody stands at the railing and looks out at the waves or has drinks on deck. But most were inside the bar or restaurant and even those that were outside were away from the railing.”

“It must have been shortly before 6pm. I was outside for a smoke, and then suddenly there was a single large wave, moving towards us. It was less than a wave and more like a bulge in the water, as if something was pushing the water from below. But it came really fast towards us, and only a few seconds away from the ship the bulge disappeared, as if whatever it was had dived deeper.”

“You were watching?” I asked.

“Yes. I saw this thing coming closer and otherwise the sea was calm, so it really looked odd, even from the distance. But then it disappeared; I thought it was just some freak current. It was maybe five or ten seconds – then the ferry shook, as if it was being pushed from below; and then there was this really loud noise, like metal being ripped.”

“I heard people screaming.” Emma said. “God, there were screams everywhere and some people were running outside and some inside – and then the ferry was just pulled down.”

“You mean it sank?” I asked.

“No.” Emma said. “It was pulled down. It went down so quickly, I fell over from the first shaking, and before I was back on my feet I saw the water at the sides higher than the deck; it came crashing down on us, but the main thing was that we were still being pulled, the whole ferry was being pulled underwater.”

“What did the staff do?”

“Are you even listening?” Emma said. “It all went incredibly quickly. There was no staff that could respond. From one second to the next the waves came crushing down on us. I’m not really sure what happened, I must have been flushed off the deck and the next thing I know is that I’m fighting against some sort of current that pulls me down, I’m fighting and swimming upwards; I already felt the pressure on my lungs, this pain, but then I saw the light above and I gave one last push and came through.”

“You were the only one?”

“No. It took me a while until I could see again; everything was just white for a while. But when I saw again there were others swimming there as well. Some of them were screaming, and they all looked as panicked and confused as me.”

“So you swam to safety together?”

“No, we wouldn’t have had a chance. We were in the middle of the sea, far from any coast. When you’re shipwrecked the one thing you should do is to stay in the same place so that rescuers can find you. I don’t know what the others did, but I was looking for things to hold onto.”

“Like a lifesaver?”

“There weren’t any. I saw a guy holding onto a suitcase, I even thought of pushing him off, you know, to fight for my life. I was already swimming towards him when I saw this body drifting to the surface. He looked like a young man, but his chin was completely ripped off. I was disgusted at myself, but I just held onto his body.”

Emma looked down.

“He was still warm, you know?”

“And you just drifted there?” I asked.

“Yes.” Emma said. “I saw some others fighting over things to hold onto. I could see maybe thirty or forty people. The guy with the suitcase actually got pushed off and the two men were then fighting for it. I was shouting at them to stop, but they didn’t. They just kept going and going and then the first men pushed the other underwater and held him there and he just didn’t come back up.”

“You mean the other man killed him?”

“That’s what I thought,” Emma said. “I mean, I was crying and screaming, but on some level I understood. You know, we were out there for half an hour or more. Without the body to hold onto I think I wouldn’t have survived.”

“But then, just when he had gotten back to the suitcase, the first man also disappeared underwater. It was just from one moment to the next, without any warning; he was there and then suddenly pulled down. I thought that was the second guy and that they would continue to fight – but neither of them came back up.”

“So they drowned?”

“No. They weren’t the only ones that disappeared. Just a moment after the guy with the suitcase I saw a woman being pulled underwater. I think she didn’t have anything to hold onto, she was just drifting, but she wasn’t waving for help or anything – she just shrieked for a moment and then she was gone. Then another woman disappeared.”

“A few seconds later I felt this weird whirling below my feet, and just a moment later the body I held onto was pulled underwater. Do you understand? They didn’t just sink or drown; one by one we were fished off, pulled underwater.”

“And the others realized that too. Everybody was trying to swim away from each other; but this thing was so much faster. I heard this weird plunging sound, over and over, and some shrieks in between, and I saw how one after the other disappeared.”

“And all were pulled down except you?”

“It was only five minutes or so,” Emma said. “And there were like five, or maybe seven of us left. I saw the others paddling away, but honestly I just gave up. I was so exhausted and cold and there was no ship or anything else in sight. I just thought it was over. The others were making an effort, but I thought that I’d be the next.”

“I saw a man that was still fairly close, how he was pulled down. I saw the expression on his face; he didn’t make a noise but he opened his mouth as if for a scream – and then his face disappeared in the water; his hand lasted a moment longer, but it just disappeared in a small wave.”

“First I felt the whirling again, like an animal swimming right below my feet. Then, within an instant, this thing grabbed my leg; it was smooth, but felt hard like a strong muscle or a leather belt. I felt it tightening on my leg, and before I could even think of reacting I was already underwater.”

“This thing pulled me down; I saw the light disappear from above me and then felt the pressure increasing and this incredible pain growing in my head and my arms and legs, even worse than the grip of this thing. The air was pushed out of my chest and the water got cooler and heavier. I tried to bend forward, to try and bite it or claw at it, but we were moving so fast, I just couldn’t fight against the water streaming past me.”

“But I managed to pull my knees in and I pushed with all my strength to get my arm down and I reached this thing and I dug my fingernails in it; I felt them pushing inside this thing, like through skin, and I pushed them deeper – and from one moment to the next it let go off me.”

“My lungs felt like they would explode and my whole body was aching. But I began to drift upwards and somehow I moved my hands a bit and helped and despite the pain I managed to paddle. I kept paddling even when I saw black. The last thing I remember is that the water was getting warmer.”

“And then?” I asked.

“And then I woke up in a hospital bed.” Emma said. “Somebody found me at the beach in the morning.”

“Okay.” I said. “But nobody believes your story?”

“No, they don’t.” Emma said. “That’s why I need you to verify that I’m not crazy or suicidal. They said that I tried a copycat suicide; you know, that I wanted to die and pretend I drowned with the ferry. But I promise it wasn’t. I want to live. I would never commit suicide.”

Emma jumped up and pulled her left trouser leg up. “Look.” She said, revealing a large, fading but still blue and red bruise mark that led all around her lower leg. “Does that look like I could have done it myself?”

This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.

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