Better Places

By Maya Petzoldt, TIWP student

REACTOR COMPROMISED. HULL COMPROMISED. TOP DECK COMPROMISED. SECOND DECK-
“YEAH! I get it! The ship’s compromised! I didn’t need a stupid watch’s alarm system to tell me that!”

I quickly go back to panting heavily as I sprint through the hallways, listening in horror to the sloshing of water that I know is coming up the stairs from the seventh deck. Well, this day is certainly getting worse. My friend and I were already on this ship illegally, and all we really wanted to do was to get away from his parents, but what-do-ya-know, the ship got ambushed.

Well, ambushed might be too sophisticated a term, the ship is being torn apart by a Sjöodjur, a massive freaking sea serpent. Sjöodjur are terrifying beasts that normally only plague the northern waters, not the freaking blue current that coasts the equator and a few, small, barren islands.

The thing is huge, built for storing heat and shattering icebergs. They have white underbellies for Harena’s sake, they clearly don’t get much sun. Although, I guess that doesn’t change too much in a hurricane like this. All thoughts of the terrifying, hungry Sjöodjur are thrown out of my head as I hear a familiar whimpering from one of the many locked doors.

I quickly try the door knob, only to learn what I already knew, Joseph had locked himself in. I take a minute to breathe deeply, and then knock my fist against the door a couple of times, calling out to my sobbing friend.

“Joseph, come on, we got to go! This ship’s to blow!”

I hear a bit of indiscernible mumbling, a few gasps and hiccups thrown in to drive home just how inconsolable my best friend is. I clench my teeth tightly to keep from yelling at him, as this is not time to cry.

“Joseph you have to open the door! And if you’re not gonna do that, then at least speak the hell up!”

He does, but not by much. I only catch a small- “I’m sorry…” – before whatever else he was going to say was cut off by the Sjöodjur ripping another hunk of metal out of the upper decks, accompanied by the screaming the crewmates. Some yell in pain and fear, others in rage and courageous words that become lost to the winds. There is a by now familiar shrieking, as the Sjöodjur tears its vocal cords apart in a battle cry, and more shouts echo from above.

I tilt my head back in exasperation as I focus on the sound of the sea abusing the hull and filling the levels of the ship, and of the tears my friends sheds. I have enough of this, I know Joseph is scared, and he has every right to be, but this is no time for sitting in self pity.
I kick the lock with as much force as possible, and the already battered door swings wide open. I pay no mind to my friend’s mild scream of terror as I sweep him up in my arms, bridal style. I quickly start running towards the top deck, despite my friend’s adamant dislike of the idea. I stop at the bottom of the stairs as Joseph beats my chest weakly, worn out from his previous sobbing session.

“Marylin! Let me go! Just let me drown! I deserve it! I know you’re scared, and I’ll only hold you back! Just let me die alone, go save yourself! Please!”

I sigh heavily, and wait for friend’s renewed efforts to cry himself to death to settle down.
“You’re damn right I’m scared, Joseph, but I thought I made it clear that I would not let you die, and that I would guard you on this journey. And besides, I think there are better places for us to confront your suicidal depression and my crippling anxiety than a ship that is simultaneously about to sink and explode.”

I shift Joseph onto his feet as he is reduced to simple, small sniffles.

“Now Joseph, let me set you straight, because we are about to run off into one hell of a menagerie of danger, so you need to get into the right head space-”

“Wait, so like a pep-talk?”

“Well would you look at that – looks like you’re sane again! No pep-talk needed!”

And with that, I quickly began to drag Joseph up the stairs, where I assume he became more astutely aware of the Sjöodjur’s war cries!

“Wait-no! I want the pep-talk! I WANT THE PEP-TALK- PLEASE WAIT-”

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