Fire and Water
Pyro propped Drake up as they staggered through the bar. It was Pyro’s idea; they had to make people believe that Drake was still under the influence of Lethe, it was the only way, he argued, to get past Morpheus and all the swaying bodies. Trouble was Drake wasn’t pretending, his head throbbed worse than usual, he was struggling to focus properly and he couldn’t contain the tremors that were erupting all over his body.
The only thing that he could hear above the thump, thump of the music, was that little voice in his head which he tried so hard to keep hidden. It was nagging at him, asking him how he could’ve been so stupid as to believe that taking a ride on the Arcadia was going to be easy. Look, it said, at the people, they were nothing but shadows, zombies whose eyes stared at fading memories on the edge of their consciousness, too far out of reach, lost to the Lethe. Their features were distorted and twisted, like the Gods that kept them enslaved on the boat for all eternity.
Drake thought he could hear their cries, their pleas for mercy, for peace, mingling in with that annoying nagging voice. How could you have fallen for it? Free us. Please? Are you so consumed by the need for vengeance that you would lead Willow into a trap rather than listen to Pyro?
He felt like screaming as the voices became louder, drowning out even the sound of the music. Faces leered at him, strangers mocked him. Stupid boy! Come and join us, be one of us, forget your troubles. Drink the Lethe!
A girl in a long black dress and heavy eye make-up grabbed him and he stumbled. ’Dance!’ she giggled as Pyro fought to keep hold of him.
‘Out of the way!’ screamed Pyro. ‘He’s going to be sick!’
The girl didn’t seem to register what Pyro had said, her eyes were dead like nothing existed behind them, but she continued whirling across the dance floor in a Bacchanalian trance, asking people to dance.
Drake shuddered. He could feel zombified hands grasping at his clothes, pleading with him to save them. But he knew it was no good; they were already dead. He closed his eyes and let Pyro lead him across the room.
As soon as they’d exited the bar area, Pyro let Drake go. ’It’s just back there,’ he said pointing down the corridor to the back of the boat.
Drake leant his head against the wall, allowing the cold to penetrate through his skull, to dissipate the mayhem there. He stood up and rubbed his forehead like he was trying to iron out the creases.
‘Come on!’ snapped Pyro.
‘Okay, okay,’ said Drake. He took a deep breath and followed Pyro down the corridor, through the gym and to the steam room.
‘In here!’ hissed Pyro as a man in Bermuda shorts strolled past them with a rolled-up towel in his hands. Drake didn’t fear being seen by the man; he was as dead as the rest of them.
Willow was slumped on a slatted wooden bench, her head squashed up against the wall, her pink hair stuck to her face. Luckily the steam had been turned off else her make-up would’ve been running down her face with the slug trail.
Pyro sat next to her and, tilting her head back, tipped the contents of the can of pop into her mouth. As soon as the first sip of the fizzy brown liquid had been swallowed, she opened her eyes and groaned.
‘Where am I?’ she said, slurring her words.
‘Safe,’ whispered Pyro as he stroked her back. ‘Have some more of this,’ he said, making sure she drained every last drop from the can.
‘My head feels like it’s been used as a football.’
‘Eat this,’ said Pyro stuffing chunks of chocolate into her mouth.
‘You alright?’ asked Drake, propping himself up the wall. He had to get a grip.
‘Yeah,’ nodded Willow, cradling her head with her hand, ‘I think so.’
Drake took a deep breath and forced himself to stand up. ’Sit there, eat some more chocolate. We need to you to be as alert as possible if we’re going to get off this boat alive.’ He turned and closed his eyes momentarily, allowing the dizziness to subside. He pressed the button on the side of his watch and waited for Gizmo to answer.
‘Gizmo?’ There was no reply, just a dull buzzing of a dead line. ‘Must be the room, I’ll go out and try, give me a mo.’ Drake stepped outside, steadied himself up the wall, and tried again.
After a brief pause Gizmo’s smiling face appeared before him. ‘Hi Drake, how’s it…’ said Gizmo, pushing his glasses back up his nose and squinting, ‘oh, you look a bit rough.’
‘I’m okay,’ replied Drake, his voice calm but slightly betraying his lack of control. But, even with his Lethe hangover, he could sense that Gizmo was more relaxed with him. Maybe Gizmo losing Falkor had thawed him out a bit. ’I need you to do something for me. We’re stuck on a boat called the Arcadia, got any info on how to get off it?’
‘Can‘t you just get off the deck by the gangway?’ asked Gizmo, his usually smooth brow creased with lots of wrinkles.
‘It’s a bit more complicated than that. Is there another way?’
‘Just a sec.’ There was silence on the line as Gizmo disappeared. ‘Okay,’ he said reappearing a few seconds later, ‘according to this, the Arcadia was a mega-yacht owned by the Russian Billionaire Vladimir Berezovsky, hang on, no, that doesn’t make sense. Drake?’
‘Berezovsky drowned along with over two-hundred partygoers when it vanished in Bermuda in 2011.’ Gizmo looked up at Drake, his face draining of colour as this information slowly sunk in. ‘Drake, where are you…exactly?’
‘Like I said, it’s complicated. Can you find any plans? Any info on how to get off it?’
‘Yeah, the plans are floating in cyberspace. Hang on. Okay, here you are; there’s a service exit on the third level below deck, at the back of the ship, port side,’ he said, as the plans of the Arcadia appeared, before Drake’s eyes, superimposed in blue upon his vision.
‘Okay, thanks,’ said Drake, cutting Gizmo off.