The knife was still dripping blood of the man it had just slain. My eyes flickered towards the bleeding corpse and back to the knife again as I ruefully tried to ingest the incidents of the last hour. I was equally drenched in crimson liquid; the bullet embedded in my left thigh sprouted blood in copious amount. I did nothing to obstruct the flow-I could feel the profound guilt inside me silently draining along. Yes, I had murdered the person. To justify, it was an act of self defense but really, I had acted under the ordeal that had taken over me. Trauma was all I had in my mind, and that was inevitable. I had just learnt that my best friend set me up for execution. And this trauma made a sadistic being out of me.
I threw down the knife and staggered towards the mantelpiece for support. The pain had reached an excruciating level now and I had no other alternative than to yield to it. I sank into the debris of upturned chairs, smashed furniture and shards of glass, looking outside my cabin at the grey sea, the only other thing alive in my vicinity. I direly wished that I was a wave, dissolving as easily as I was made….
It was an early April morning and I switched on the television to see Rupert on the Morning Coffee, a health chat show. I was browsing through the channels, when I saw the news- another murder aboard Carnelian. Not that I had a very good memory, but I vividly remembered it, Carnelian had been making the headlines for five consecutive years-the same reason time and again. She was the undoubted empress of the Caribbean, the desire of every traveler and subsequently, the hub of elites. The strangest thing about these murders was that every time, the richest passenger was killed. Stories went around that the ghost of Captain Bloodstone was responsible for this (Carnelian was a pirate ship initially), but for each murder one of the crew was arrested-which was again weird because either all of them were involved or someone was working behind this. Meanwhile, the innocent were getting slaughtered.
The case smelled so fishy that I decided to intervene. Jordan, my best friend, thankfully agreed to assist me. Together, we set out to solve the scandal – something that police forces of 14 countries had been unable to do. And ironically, we had accomplished our motive. Hundreds of excuses, thousands of lies and we had tracked Vaughan down. We had even planned to reveal him red-handed. Only I hadn’t known that it was actually a master plan of Vaughan and Jordan against me. I wondered if I had known this earlier, how much difference it would have made.
The door knob turned; the sound loud enough to break my chain of past memories. I hid behind the mantelpiece, scared out of wits. I had reached the dead end both the ways. If it was Jordan, I would be dead in no time and if it was someone else, I would be soon given death sentence or lifetime imprisonment for killing Vaughan. I didn’t mean to kill him,, I was just saving my own life. Unfortunately, I had no evidence to prove that Vaughan attempted to murder me. I held my breath and tightly shut my eyes, waiting for the judgment to shed its shadow on me. Moments later, the door closed behind with the lights still turned off. I assumed that the person had gone out because it was impossible to move around the room without any illumination; the light from the corridor would clearly show that. I came out of the cumbersome corner but a familiar voice startled me. Petrified, I crawled back to my hiding.
“I had been waiting for this opportunity for long. We finally made it Vaughan. Is she dead?”Jordan asked in a nervous tone.
Along with his voice came tears, heavily streaming down my eyes. My heart broke into a thousand pieces, each chunk piercing the hell out of me. It is one thing to decipher fact from circumstances, but when reality looms in front of your eyes, well; it is ten times harder to accept it.
“We will reach Barbados within half an hour. Things need to be rushed up. Is she dead?” Jordan asked again after a while, growing very impatient.
The Dead don’t speak, Jordan, I said in my mind. I was too terrified to articulate my thoughts. With my body giving away, I had negligible chances to survive. All I could do was to delay my demise. Mortal as I was, I feared entering into the world of Hades.
“Why don’t you speak Vaughan? I have come here all alone,” said Jordan, anxiety getting on his nerves.
“He is dead,” I replied to his query, mustering all the courage I had.
Hearing my voice, Jordan froze. At least it appeared that he did because the following ten minutes were filled by grave silence. He did not expect me to live. Who would? I was an unarmed fragile lady. Vaughan had the potent shotgun. My existence was nothing less than a miracle.
“You…you killed…how did this happen?” he spoke through choked words. I could well understand his condition because I was going through the same phase-with only one difference. He waded through shattered dreams and I through shattered trust.
“There are more humane ways of accumulating wealth, Jordan,” I said after a while. Before I died, I wanted to be well acquainted with the reason of his grudge.
In response came the sound of crunching glasses. Jordan was moving around, either to find me or to find the shotgun. During the brawl between Vaughan and me, the shotgun was thrown in a corner unknown. I had to judiciously use this time to escape. I had hardly any guts to confront Jordan, lesser to put up against him.
I slowly started moving towards my right. The door was located opposite to where I was hiding. Every move I made intensified the pain, so much that I thought of giving up, but the panic kept me in motion. Jordan was growing wild with every passing second, the crazy crunching of glasses evident of the fact. I also created a lot of racket, removing things that hindered my pathway but Jordan seemed unaware of my move, deeply engrossed in search of the gun. Almost there, you are almost there, I assured myself as I proceeded closer to the door. I stretched my hands, groping for the knob in the dark, when something metallic pressed against my head.
“It’s a choice between my reputation and your life. And your living has no worth,” whispered Jordan into my ears and struck my outstretched hand. The twinge made me shriek in agony.
“I can’t believe you are doing this,” I sobbed. Jordan pulled me upright by my hair and twisted my arm keeping the gun intact.
“I still have to unleash my monster,” he said, twisting my arm further. Unable to bear the ache I hit him with my stiletto heel. Although I did not strike him savagely, he fell backwards tripping over the centre-table. I moved towards the fireplace, hoping to get hold of the knife that I had thrown. I stumbled over something but regained quickly. Rummaging frantically in the debris, I got hold of knife. Meanwhile, Jordan was back.
“You can’t outwit me, missy,” he smiled, holding out the gun.
“Dare to move and I will stab you,” I warned, standing up, pointing the knife at him.
“I don’t even need to move. Your life is just one trigger away. The gun is mightier than the sword, or sorry, what’s that? A table knife?” he laughed and advanced towards me. I had hardly taken two steps that I hit the wall. I was cornered.
I don’t know if it was adrenaline rush or the fear of dying that I kicked the gun out of his hand. He raised his hands and retreated, maintaining a safe distance from me.
“You won’t kill me, will you? How can you forget all that I had done for you?” he provoked. Memories of good times flashed across my mind, melting me but I pushed them away. The Jordan that I had known did not exist anymore.
I was just about to lunge on him when the door swung open. Sudden flood of bright light rendered me blind for a while. However, I could recognize the individual from her silhouette. The smashing and crashing emanating from the room had woken up Mrs. Emerson, my next-door neighbor. I wasn’t sure if she had seen Jordan because he was still in the darkness, but she stood rooted, shocked seeing my aggressive stance, a stained knife in my hand, a brutally stabbed body and yet another victim (in her eyes). She maintained her position for a minute or two, before she let out an ear-splitting scream and fell unconscious.
With her scream vaporized all my hope of surviving innocent. It was sure to attract attention; therefore I had to make my move fast. Committing one more sin would not make a difference, if I would ever be able to commit it. I shifted towards the shadowy part of the room, looking back. What I saw left me dumbstruck.
There stood Captain Bloodstone, as alive as in the painting we had first seen. His bloodshot eyes, stern air and crooked smile were all distinct and clear. And he seemed to be approaching me. I guess I was hallucinating-a consequence of the dizziness I felt or perhaps, it was the calling for my death. It didn’t frighten me though; the pirate Captain was also murdered by his right hand. The same was to happen to me but I would take my revenge before I took my leave.
“If I have to die, I will take you along. After all, we are bffs. Best Friends forever.” And saying that I plunged the knife in the dark with all the power I had. I think it hit him and it hit him hard because I did hear him groan.
I fell, exhausted, having used all my energy reserves. I was grateful to finally have rest, not having to care about what the next second would bestow on me. I was half conscious but I could hear footsteps, people arriving. Seconds later, I lucidly heard the screech of a bullet. Simultaneously, extreme pain shot through my body. Everything around me went white. My senses started to resign and numbness gained control. Faraway, I could hear a soulful melody lulling me to sleep. An angelic, dreamless slumber.
See I told you but you wouldn’t believe me,” said Mrs. Moore, placing the pancake on her son’s plate.
“Told me what?” asked Mr. Moore without looking up from his plate.
“That the Ghost of Captain Bloodstone was causing the murders. The newspapers claim it now,” she exclaimed and handed over Veracity to Mr. Moore.
Mr. Moore somberly took the newspaper and glanced at the headline. The news piece made him push his breakfast aside.
The Killer Cruise:
Did The Ghost Of Captain Bloodstone Really Exist?
Wednesday, 13 March 1996
Barbados: Yet another murder bewilders the police as Carnelian arrived at the Deep Water Harbor with not one but three dead bodies this time. Topaz Tarkington, 23, Michael Vaughan, 31 and Jordan West, 24 were found dead in cabin 109, which belonged to Ms. Tarkington. Michael Vaughan was stabbed nearly 9 times, Jordan was shot straight in his skull, both suffering from spot deaths and Topaz was shot in her left thigh but her death occurred mainly due to heavy bleeding from the cut placed on her right wrist. The shotgun was found in Vaughan’s hands and the knife was stuck on the table. No one is suspected yet and detectives proclaim that the three perhaps killed each other during a fight. “The room was in a huge mess with almost everything broken. The shotgun had fingerprints of Vaughan and West, whereas the knife had fingerprints of all the three. We are investigating further, looking for some iron-clad evidence to justify our presumption,” said Mr. Timothy Dickinson, Deputy Commissioner, RBPF (Royal Barbados Police Force).
Mrs. Emerson, another traveler who was found unconscious on the doorway of the same cabin, however claims that she had seen the Ghost of Captain Bloodstone and insists that he is the reason behind the deaths. “I heard a lot of noise from her (Topaz) room and went to check what was wrong. As soon as I opened the door, I saw Captain Bloodstone standing there behind Topaz with the scariest expressions. Topaz also held a knife in her hands, perhaps she was fighting him. Bloodstone was progressing towards her, I was so scared that I shouted, after which everything blacked out. I am sure it is Bloodstone who killed Topaz; he had that intention written all over his face,” she said. Though the statement seems quite vague, investigators have taken her word seriously as she is the only living witness of these murders.
Unsurprisingly, Ms. Tarkington was the richest traveler on the cruise and her death has further added to the element of mystery in the Carnelian Scandal. Lot of people and even some investigators believe that the Ghost is the sole root of these reckless murders. The case having many misleading evidences will now be handled by MPD (Miami Police Department) and the cruise will cease all its voyages till the case is completely solved. Passengers on board will be returned to Miami by a vessel of The Barbados Coast Guard for safety reasons.
The families of both West and Tarkington have filed a lawsuit against Amber Antiquity, the owner of Caribbean Cruises Ltd. This is the sixth consecutive lawsuit against her .With the business suffering such heavy losses and the testimony of Mrs. Emerson validating the ship to be haunted, closing down of the company is quite probable. Amber Antiquity refused to speak anything regarding this matter.