Authors: Aundrea M. Lopez
Once We Were
A Novel By
© 2013 by Aundrea Lopez
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 written permission of the publisher, except when permitted by law. For information, address Createspace, Amazon,/Author Aundrea Lopez.
Visit on Web at:
Published in Association with Createspace and Amazon
Printed in the United States of America
was born and raised in the state of California, United States, where she currently resides. She studies English Literature and Education, and tutors English at the high schools in her community.
She is currently working on her second novel,
will be released in 2014.
Time sails full speed ahead. It never asks permission. It never laments for what's left behind. It never backs down from where it's headed. Ioan respected that. Upon reaching his cabin on the night of April 14th, time sped at 23 knots. Then it did the unthinkable. It stopped. He'd spend his lifetime trying to start it again. The ship listed slightly on the starboard side. Gut wrenching crashes erupted far off, but the vibrations in the walls had stopped. Ioan finally took a breath. “Bloody hell!” he cursed. He raced for the deck. The towering ghostly figure of an iceberg floated by.
Bells surrounded him. Phones bells, lookout bells, and control bells. All watertight doors sealed shut. If there was an emergency, everyone would be moving. Ioan trusted the senior officers to take care of the situation. All would be fine in no time. But no one moved. The color in their cheeks vanished as fast as the words from their mouths. That's what scared him the most.
Look sharp, Saier. We have orders,” Officer Lowe and Moody met him at the bridge.
What's going on?” Ioan asked.
Never mind that. Captain's orders are to prepare the lifeboats and get the passengers on deck. You remember our drill this morning? Swift and calm. No need to start a panic.”
What are we panicking about, sir?” Ioan asked.
Good. I like that attitude. Now get a move on. Start on port side.”
Ioan did as he was told. The crew scrambled back to life after the captain's word. They all trusted him. Whatever it was, he'd make it right. “Give me a hand with this,” Ioan called to a confused crewman nearby. The drill still fresh in his mind, Ioan prepared Lifeboat 3 for launch.
He settled the ropes on the davits and prepared to swing them off deck. The captain marched by. Chief Officer Wilde, Bosun Alfred Nichols, and Thomas Andrews hurried behind. The captain didn't look too well. In fact, he looked sick. By the phantom look in his eyes, Ioan saw something going terribly wrong. The man was scared as hell. A wireless operator panted his way beside them. “Captain! I got a response back from the Carpathia, sir! Said she's 93 kilometers and can be here in 4 hours at 14 and a half knots! Top speed for her!”
Any transmission from the Californian?” the captain questioned.
Californian's last reported location was a little less than 16 kilometers from here. Her last transmission was at 10: 30 reporting she was approaching an ice field and stopping her engines for the night. Her radio has gone silent. Carpathia was the only one close enough to respond.” A stone grave silence fell over the superiors. The captain stared out into the ocean paradise, now turned to a watery execution. He was far away. He slipped away back home where his wife and daughters waited for him. He reassured his wife this was the last time. He looked over his uniform in the mirror and promised himself it was the pentacle of his career. He stood beside the inconsolable women who would not get their men back tonight.
Sir?” Officer Wilde focused his attention. “Sir, I will have your orders.”
The order,” the captain stammered, remembering he was the captain. “Yes. Women and children into the lifeboats first. Yes.”
Ioan watched bewildered as the captain stiffened back to the wheel house. No one had to say a word further. He'd seen the look in their eyes. Only God could save them now. He had a duty to stay and secure the lifeboats and save as many as he could. He was obligated as an officer. He never gave much thought to death. He didn't think it deserved the regard. We all have the devil to pay. He'd go contently sailing an eternal ocean with the lost. He had given everything to the sea. His life would be no exception. Death has a way of tweaking a man's principles. How things changed when death watched him from the calm North Atlantic waves.
“You expect the angels to lend a hand as we stand here and watch?” Ioan called to his crewmen. “God won't save you from the locker, gentlemen! We're on our own! Where are the passengers?”
All still inside, sir. They're complaining about the cold.”
Well they damn well better get over it. I need more women and children.”
These are all we got, sir.”
What is the maximum age for boys?” a man asked pushing his boy forward.
I will allow fourteen years old or younger,” Ioan replied. The boy trembled over the boat. The boy looked well over sixteen.“Go on, and hurry. Don't look at him, Just get into the boat,” his father instructed him.
Sir, please,” his mother wailed from the boat. “I won't go without my husband. He must come with us.”
I will arrange another boat for gentlemen,” Ioan told her. “This one is for women and children only.”
Listen to the man, Agatha,” her husband told her. “He's trained for situations like these. He knows what he's doing.”
Are there anymore women and children?” Ioan called to the group around him. The other wives held tightly onto their husbands' arms. They yanked their children back from the lifeboat.
We don't have much time. We have to launch this boat and get on with another one. It's their lives now,” Officer Moody told Ioan.
Ioan turned back to the man. “Take care of your family,” he said. “Don't leave their side.”
“God bless you, sir! God thank you, sir!” his wife sobbed as her husband climbed in next to her.
What are you doing?” Moody pulled Ioan aside. “The captain ordered women and children only.”
How can I look another man in the eyes and tell him he doesn't have the right to live?” Ioan answered. “Let the men board. That's the only way to get these women off this deck.”
You take this one,” Moody said. “They need someone who knows the boats.”
I'm not going,” Ioan answered. “Not on this one. You go instead.”
You two take this boat,” Officer Moody called to the crewmen assisting them. “Step lively. Launch in one minute.”
Ioan watched as the last ladies were hurled into the boat. “You know the odds,” Officer Moody muttered to him.
“I know them,” Ioan answered quietly.
Just be prepared. There's no going back once it's too late,” Moody told him. He turned back to the boat. “And lower away!”
God, don't you do it,”
Ioan thought to himself.
“Let it go. She's not your responsibility.”
was a passenger. His job was her safety. Whatever happened between them, he couldn't go quietly without knowing she was safe. He cursed himself again and started for the second class entrance.
Cora sighed at the abandoned poker room. Cards, chips, and loose coins scattered across the table, as if someone took defeat too seriously. Chairs overturned and ash trays smoked with unfinished cigars. The closet doors stood ajar. A few lifebelts swung from the broken hinges. A velvet green coin purse slumped on the table. “Bea!” she called. She was completely alone. Cora rolled her eyes and marched down the hall again, muttering, “I'm going to kill her.”
Ioan spared no room or corridor. He checked everything. “Sir, what's going on around here?” a passenger and his wife wandered confused in the hall.
“Why is the ship stopped?”
Put your lifebelts on and get to the boat deck immediately!” Ioan ordered, brushing pass them. More passengers lingered aimlessly in the halls. No officers or stewards came down to direct them. He wondered why it was taking them so long.
Are you mad?” a man protested at him. “I'm not leaving my bags to the roaches! And for what? To stand out all night in the bloody cold? We'll stay put in our room, thank you. If there is a
emergency, our steward will fetch us.”
Do what you damn well please,” Ioan called. “The rest of you get to the boat deck now! Don't be cocky! Tell who you must! Let's get a move on!” Cora was not among any of them. Ioan's anxiety mounted. He'd hunt these halls until he drowned and still never find her.
Cora gave up. Bea clearly had gone back to their room. Cora swore she'd let her have it when she got back. She'd
have left her alone down here.
She turned back around to take the lift to her floor. Then she heard it. Very small at first, like a runny facet. It was uncanny. There were no bathrooms nearby. She listened carefully to ensure she'd heard it right. The innocent trickles amplified to unruly thrashings, like a ravenous dog off its chain. The frames creaked on their hinges. The walls swelled and heaved against a sinister culprit. The hall rug flickered back and forth. Cora thought she saw water and her stomach turned when she found she was right. The waves crawled closer. They swallowed everything in their path.
Cora ran back the other way. She realized how stupid she was to come here alone. She didn't know this part of the ship. She looked down each way. There weren't halls like these near her room. Employees used them to get to other passages more quickly. Naturally, all doors were locked. She had to go back the way she came.
The water deepened. She didn't like the idea of getting wet, but quickly realized it was better than drowning. At least she could spare her dress. She lifted her skirts as she stepped into the frigid waters. It was unbearable. She jumped out again.
Her would have to go if she wanted out. She heaved deeply and stepped back into the water. Her dress fanned around her like a mauve rose. She pushed forward until she reached the lifts again. She yanked on the lever to signal the operator to come down. No response came. She pulled it again, over and over, but to no avail. No elevator came to her rescue. Her heart throbbed.
“Please!” she cried. “I'm trapped! Send down the lift! Please!”
Still no response.
Ioan halted abruptly. He stood in a fork in the hall. “Hello!” he called. He swore someone was screaming. “Is there anyone down here?” he shouted. No answer. A loud banging echoed down a hall. He sprinted in that direction and came to another hallway. “Can anyone hear me? Please yell or tap if you hear my voice!” he called. It was silent. Then he heard it too. The sound of water rushing somewhere in the walls.
Please!” Cora shouted. “Send down the lift!” She beat the lever frantically. Ioan turned left down the passage, but came to a locked door. He rummaged for his keys, but realized he'd dropped them outside his cabin when the ship hit. He pounded on the door. “Is there anyone there?”
Cora turned to his voice. “Hello? Have you got a key? I'm trapped!” Ioan was relieved and terrified when she answered. Of all places to be lost in. “Cora, can you follow my voice?”
She waded against the water toward his voice. “Where are you?”
Can you see any doors?”
They're all locked!” she cried. “I can't get out!”
Are you hurt? Are you able to walk?” Ioan asked.
I'm fine, but I'm freezing.”
That's a good thing. It means you're living,” he said, as he searched his pockets for any assisting tool.
What's going on out there? There's water everywhere! I think there's a leak!” Cora cried. Ioan charged at the door, but it held its ground.“That's nothing a plumber can fix,” he said. “Stay calm.”
Right, stay calm he says. How am I suppose to stay calm?” she demanded.
Take a breath and relax. There's no need to lose your head.” Ioan tackled the door again. It groaned but refused to budge. They were running out of time. “Ioan, you can't stay down here. These walls want to come down. Don't worry about me. I'll find another way out,” she told him.
You can forget that idea. I'm not leaving you,” he told her, feeling for the revolver in his pocket. He quickly loaded the gun. “You'll be wanting to step back.”
Cora took cover in a corner behind a cabinet.
Ioan took aim at the center of the lock and pulled the trigger. She covered her ears as the gunshots exploded through the hall. Ioan charged the door down. He helped Cora through the hinges. Water spilled over the threshold. He practically dragged her down the hall. “Ioan, you're hurting me,” she complained at his grip.
Not to worry, miss. We'll get you to a lifeboat and you won't have to worry about that,” he said professionally.
She was disgusted. “You know, you don't have to act like that.”
“It's my duty as a White Star Line officer to get you to safety.”
Fine, but please stop talking to me like that. It only makes me want to box your ears. Let me be the first to remind you that I have a life. You know what that's like, don't you? And in life, you make choices. Good or bad, love them or hate them, it doesn't matter. You do what you have to.”