Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: OVERSEAS VACATION( 08/13/15)
| TITLE: Vortex |
By Beth LaBuff
| ~ 7th Place |
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I was on the second component of a three-part themed travel tour. The last few days were spent in the Arctic Circle for a Northern Lights expedition, with stops in Greenland and Iceland. Today’s itinerary was a cruise ship tour of the Bermuda Triangle. I peered at the printed message in my hand. Captain’s Lounge—12:30. Beware the gray-eyed lady.
The cryptic message preoccupied my mind during lunch. Drat, I dribbled ketchup on my sleeve. I swiped the last puddle of ketchup from my plate with a scrap of bread, then, gazed at the paper again. Captain’s lounge—12:30. Beware the gray-eyed lady?
As my tablemates began to excuse themselves, I arose. I hastened to my cabin, peering over my shoulder, lest this enigmatic gray-eyed lady be stalking me. Inside, I consulted a map for the Captain’s Lounge location. It was 12:17; I had three minutes to arrive at the lounge. I hurriedly daubed at the ketchup stain on my sleeve, combed my hair, and then scurried out the door. I arrived at the Captain’s Lounge at . . . 12:17. How could it still be 12:17? Something was amiss. I tapped the crystal face on my watch, shook it, and listened for a ticking. There was no time to concern myself with its non-functionality.
I stepped into the empty lounge; across the room was a woman, her back toward me. As my eyes acclimated to the dimness, she turned. I was mesmerized. Translucent eyes locked with mine; eyes like gray icebergs that punched holes in my soul and left me floundering for breath. Fastened around her neck was a red fox fur stole. I started to stroll toward her, but my path was intercepted by a cart-pushing steward. I stopped to avoid a collision. My agitated mahogany eyes skewered the man, and when my gaze returned to seek iceberg eyes, she had vanished.
I shook my head to clear it, then glanced at my watch. Still . . . 12:17. Curiouser and curiouser. I made my way to the deck for the captain’s tour of the Bermuda Triangle.
The 12:45 tour began precisely at 12:17 by my watch. The tour group assembled on the starboard side as the captain indicated the flushing motion of a whirlpool that swirled a furlong from us. While waterspouts churned off the stern, he regaled us with tales of sunken ships and vanishing aircraft. As waves impacted the hull, he hinted that passengers had been known to encounter mysterious characters, perhaps from another time, trapped within the Triangle.
I looked aft, then I caught sight of her again; the fox fur tail of her stole swooped around the corner. I hurried to follow when the motion of the ship collaborated with my ketchup-laden lunch, and I felt a trip to the ship’s rail more prudent. Afterward, I turned and ambled in her direction, keeping my ketchup-mottled sleeve hidden. I failed to find her, as she, again, seemed to have entered that shadowy twilight zone. Could she be one of those mentioned by the captain, trapped within the Bermuda Triangle? How could that happen? How would someone know if they were trapped?
Within minutes I would disembark, ready for my next grandiose adventure, a trek around Red Square in Moscow. I must admit, I was relieved that I would be leaving this ship. The Bermuda Triangle excursion had been mystifying . . . and disconcerting . . . and I seemed to have misplaced my tickets to Moscow.
The knife and spoon formed an acute angle atop the pristine tablecloth. I glanced at my watch, 12:17. Isn’t anyone ever on time anymore? My ship’s tablemates were late for lunch. I straightened my shirt. What was this? . . . A ketchup stain?
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