Stranger Times

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(This story was initially an entry for the Wattpad Short story contest: Lost World/Time Travel. The contest was to make a <2000 word short story about a cruise ship warped back into Pangea)

(Finalist for the Wattpad Short story contest: Lost World/Time Travel)

(Winner of the first Syke Story Contest:

The stars!

The thought slips past my lips, as I stare up at a night sky that now looks completely, utterly alien.

I couldn't find any of the constellations that I found so effortlessly every other night of my life. Orion wasn't there. Neither was Virgo, Ursa Major, or even the North Star.

Panic gripped my throat and refused to let go. I want to run, throw myself off this damn boat. Anything but try to think about why the stars, the god damn stars, were wrong!

I'm so distracted I missed seeing someone else on deck, until his hand drops on my shoulder and he stands next to me.

"Yeah." He says. "It was about that scary."

That voice sounds intimately familiar. Strange, since I don't know anyone on this cruise. But the first person I think of when I hear that voice is my dad.

I look over to him, and like his voice, his face is strangely familiar.

Grey beard, wool fedora, slightly crooked nose, green eyes like mine. He is slightly shorter than me, though it was hard to tell with his hat. He's thin, but judging by the grip he still has on my shoulder, he's still quite strong.

The kind of old man I'm hoping to age into, come to think of it.

"You know something about this?" I ask him, pointing up at the sky.

"Irritatingly little." He replies. He shakes his head, and takes a compass out of his pocket.

"That being said, we should find a lifeboat." He added, glancing at his watch.

"Why?" I ask.

The word is barely out of my mouth when something rocks the ship, as if something from beneath the water had hit it with with some massive hammer. The thundering sound echoes back into my ears, again and again, until the stranger interrupts.

"The usual reason you abandon a ship." The familiar stranger says, as he starts walking. I follow, catching up to him fairly quickly.  Despite the danger we're in, he isn't in any hurry. It's a short walk to where the lifeboats are set up. The stranger stops in front of the nearest one, and throws the top off. He gestures for me to get inside, while he starts manipulating the levers beside the boat.

I climb inside just as my new companion sets the boat to descend slowly. As the lifeboat falls, he almost lazily climbs over the rails to join me.

As we began to descend, alarm bells began to ring, and lights began to turn on all across the ship.

We barely touch the water when the whole ship began to tilt unnaturally.

"Take an oar." The stranger says to me, as he hands me a long piece of wood from the bottom of our lifeboat. Numbly, I follow and set the oar into its handle, beginning to row just as my companion does.

Together, we start rowing away from the cruise ship, as I realize it's sinking.

I turn to the stranger, and say "we can't leave them!"

The stranger is calm, and when he speaks, he may as well be describing what he's reading in a book. "If we don't get far enough away, we'll be sucked under. We can't help anyone if we drown."

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