Borders banged up against the wall by the side of the bed as a beautiful weather day had turned into a horrible weather night. Then the ship tilted in the opposite direction almost tossing him to the floor of his cabin. He put his hand out to the wall trying to steady himself as the ship pitched back and forth. The first indication he had that the weather might turn bad was the stack of barf bags standing by the elevator when he had arrived back aboard ship. No one paid any attention to them. Borders wondered how many wished they had picked up one.
Hill moved off the bed, putting his feet on the floor. He stood up, grabbing hold of anything that would keep him upright as he made his way to the bathroom.
"You better watch out," he cautioned Borders. "There's water all over the floor. It looks like it sloshed out of the toilet. Hope I'm not walking around in piss."
Another roll made him stumble forward falling in with the shower curtain.
"We should remain in our room until the storm has run its course," said Borders. "Breakfast is probably not even open."
With the storm and the ship going in opposite directions, calm weather soon engulfed the ship. The winds had been blowing at 74 mph which was one mph less than hurricane winds. They made their way to the elevator where the only other passenger was a senior citizen. She was a small woman with a painted smile, someone's grandmother.
"I'm stuck on the elevator," she said. "I've gone up six times now. Every time I try to get off, the door closes."
"What floor are you trying to reach?" asked Borders.
"I'm trying to get to the buffet," she replied.
"We're going to the sixth," said Borders. "You should stand right here by the door so you can jump off as soon as the door opens." He couldn't picture her doing any jumping.
With the ring of the sixth floor, the door opened. The two men stepped out, but before leaving, Borders pressed the button for the twelfth floor, leaving the old lady alone by the door. As soon as the door closed, she walked to the back of the elevator.
Lady Brenda was sick. A visit to the doctor confirmed she had the flu, of the type that was a bane to cruise lines. For the time being, she would remain in bed, in her cabin, with meals delivered. At least it was not a lost touring day. Today was a day at sea, when there was no port of call, just a cruise on the Mediterranean. With the storm vanquished and blue skies, it would be a nice day for a cruise. The next stop would be at a Greek island, and that was a day ahead. Jeopardy had not caught the bug - she seemed to be immune to such inconveniences. She would give moral support to her friend and probably not have to worry too much about Borders.
With no reason to remain tied to the cabin, and tired of Lady Brenda's complaining – moral support had its limits, it was the dining room for her. She walked down the long hall, past identical green doors, where the only difference was the number painted on a sea horse background. No one was up and about. 'Was it the flu or the aftermath of the night's storm? At least the elevator won't be crowded, where some men pressed a little too closely.' The elevator door squealed like fingernails on a blackboard, the lack of lubrication evident. At the end of its track, it stopped with a thump.
The back wall was a semi-circle of glass that gave a clear view of the front desk and lobby, except when the elevator slid behind a waterfall. As Jeopardy expected, the elevator was empty except for one passenger, a little old lady who stood with her back to the glass, her grandmother smile spread across fat cheeks. Jeopardy stepped into the room with a view, pressed number seven, and then walked to the glass wall. The old lady moved to the panel of buttons as if she planned to punch another number.
Jeopardy turned and stared at the tableau below, its view marred only by the reflection of the scene behind her. As the movement slipped past the waterfall, the view transformed into a dark canvas, and the elevator came to a sudden stop. It caught her by surprise as she fell against the glass knocking her off balance. Her hand stretched out to brace her fall. In the reflection, she saw a knife rise into the air behind her, its intent obvious. She turned and grabbed the old ladies wrist with her left hand, and slammed into her face with the heel of her right hand. They crashed into the elevator door. They wrestled for control of the knife. The woman was strong but not strong enough as Jeopardy slowly forced the knife downward, finally pressing it into the woman's chest. The old lady let out a quiet moan as she slid to the floor, Jeopardy still holding on to the wrist.
Slowly standing up, she looked down at the body. 'What had gotten into the old woman? Was she from 'Enigma'? Had they now tagged her because they learned of her assistance to Borders? If so, she was now a marked woman. Contracts were never cancelled.' She moved the body, sitting her up in the corner below the panel of buttons. When the door opened, she would be out of sight, at least for a few seconds, long enough for Jeopardy to slip out and disappear.
Next, she wiped down anything she may have touched. She knew there would be a hundred different prints - still - it was best they do not find hers. It would only make complications. Then she grabbed the old ladies purse, and then removed her jewelry and tossed it into the purse. Now she surveyed the scene, nudging the ladies' leg back with her foot, and then she pressed the button. The elevator resumed its journey to the sixth floor. When the elevator came to a stop, she stepped past the two couples waiting to enter. Engrossed in their conversation, they paid no attention to her. She was out of sight before she heard the screams. Quickly, she walked outside onto the deck. Seeing no one she tossed the purse over the side. She was sure they would look at it as a robbery.
The white table cloths were starched stiff as a nurse's hat and the second rate utensils gave a good imitation of silver. The dining room was large, stretching from one side of the ship to the other. The tables along the windows were for couples while the others were for various groups. As the seating near the windows filled, the arrangement worked its way towards the center of the room. Waitresses, dressed in black pants and white shirts as stiff as the table cloths, walked quickly back and forth, attending to their domain. They were short women with round faces and a few extra pounds around their waist. Their light brown color denoted their South Seas heritage.
As Borders and Hill ate their lunch, the second row of tables was being put to use. The tables were close, making it easy to carry on a conversation with those occupying the next table, without raising one's voice. It was difficult to carry on a private conversation, so murmuring was generic. The two couples at the next table were in an animated conversation discussing a murder on an elevator. An old woman had been found dead, stripped of her jewels and purse. Ship security put it down to robbery, and there were no suspects.
There was a murderer loose on the ship. The couples who found the woman were in shock and were being treated at the infirmary. Borders and Hill heard that the information channel was broadcasting warnings. It advised that no one should enter an elevator alone, especially women. First Panama, then a man overboard, and now a robbery and murder – this was certainly a trip to remember. They decided to check the channel for further information when they returned to their cabin.
Today was a sea day, meaning no port of call, a good day to explore the ship. After lunch, they went to the twelfth deck where they would be able, from behind a viewing wall, to see the Captain at the helm. The Bridge stretched from one side of the ship to the other, displaying three banks of computers, and what looked like comfortable chairs. From the plastic cubical they started and were surprised to see no one. All the computer screens were aglow with charts that bounced up and down or displayed backgrounds of cruise ships.
At the center, they thought they saw someone's head. Hill tapped on the shield, and a small head turned towards them. It was a young woman in a naval uniform. Borders thought it was one of the waitresses from the dining room. She stared back for a few seconds and then turned her head and ignored them. The two men left, feeling insecurity creeping up. 'Had they ever heard about the Titanic? There certainly no fear of icebergs, but there was certainly a lot of tankers.'
They did the rounds of the ship, checking the venues, the casino, theatre, lounge, reading room, and smoking room, where a painting of Sir Winston Churchill hung on the door. There seemed to be a restaurant or pub in every nook and cranny. They topped off the evening with a floor show.
YOU ARE READING
Mediterranean MissionMystery / Thriller
Mason Borders, operative for CSIS, has been given a new mission. He has to track a terrorist on a Mediterranean cruise. The ship will stop at a number of ports along the way. Any of the ports from Barcelona to Istanbul could be the target. While Bor...