At first, when I heard the thudding of feet running by outside our cabin, I tried to squeeze my eyes shut and ignore the little bloom of irritation in my mind. It was early morning, I had Sarah beside me, and I didn’t have to get up until…
There they were again! With a grunt of frustration, I sat up, pushing the covers off of me.
“David, honey, just ignore it,” Sarah murmured beside me, not opening her eyes as a slender hand slid out from beneath the blankets to pat me on my bare chest. “It’s probably just some kids.”
“Well, they still shouldn’t be running around outside our suite – we paid good money for the full honeymoon package on this cruise,” I replied, although I smiled as I looked down at Sarah.
Sarah. My new wife. That word still felt strange in my head, like it didn’t quite fit. Wife. Not girlfriend, not fiancee. I’d be spending the rest of my life with this woman – and I couldn’t wait for it.
Somehow feeling the weight of my eyes upon her, she blinked and looked up sleepily at me. Luminous green eyes gazed out from an intelligent face, softened by a smattering of freckles across her nose and cheeks. She sometimes wanted to cover them up, but I loved them, had long ago memorized the location of every dot. Smiling, she pushed the covers further down, revealing bare breasts, breasts that I could spend hours kissing, and her arms reached out to draw me in…
No! There were the footsteps again, this time accompanied by muffled shouting! There also was some sort of engine running, a loud hum that seemed to bury itself in my bones. I turned and glared at the door, Sarah also sitting up beside me.
“Seriously, I’m going to go find out what’s happening,” I said, climbing out of bed and grabbing my pants and a shirt. “Just wait here. I’ll be right back.”
Sarah didn’t hesitate. “No way. I’m coming with you.” I couldn’t hope to refuse her, of course – that spunkiness was one of the many things I loved about her.
Outside our honeymoon suite, however, we found ourselves facing a scene of confusion and panic. People – not just children but adults, passengers and crew members alike – dashed back and forth, many of them shouting or screaming.
I reached out and caught a young man as he ran right by me. “Hey, what’s going on?” I shouted at him, holding him so he couldn’t dash away.
The man’s eyes rolled in his head with panic. “They’re coming! I have to get away!”
“Who’s coming?” I demanded, shaking him as he squirmed.
The young man, however, fought his way free of my grasp with a wrenching effort and just charged away. I let him go, gaping after him as I tried to think. A minute later, I heard a splash as he pitched himself over the rail.
“What the hell is going on?” I asked Sarah, staring around at the panicking crew and passengers. “Someone’s coming? What’s he talking about?”
The humming sound was growing louder, to the point where it rattled my teeth slightly and made me feel like an attendee at a loud concert. I could see Sarah put off by it too. “And what’s that damn rumbling coming from?” I yelled, turning and heading towards the source of the sound – the upper deck.
I climbed up the ladder, Sarah close behind me – and stopped, staring, at the scene that was laid out in front of me.
Some sort of… thing… was sitting down on top of the ship! It looked almost like an upended saucer, with lights shining down, moving across the deck below, where people screamed and ran from some sort of spidery things with claws and mechanical limbs. As I watched, one of those claws darted forward, seizing onto a woman in voluminous drawers, whose scream could have shattered glass as the thing dragged her back towards the huge saucer.
I might have frozen, but my wife didn’t pause.
“Hey! She needs our help!” Sarah called out, plunging past me and running for the shrieking woman. She snatched up a spar of wood from the deck and swung it at the arm, making a loud clang as she tried to beat it to free its captive.
But her efforts were in vain – another arm darted forward, this one closing around Sarah! Even as she screamed, she turned and fought it with the spar – but it seized onto her, dragging her back towards the big round ship perched on top of ours!
“David!” Sarah screamed, a note of panic in her shriek.
Finally, my paralyzed limbs felt released, back under my control. I looked around wildly, and spotted a metal pole. Once, it had perhaps been part of some sort of railing, and one end had a twisted hook in it. It felt sturdy in my hands, however, and I gripped it as I charged forward.
“That’s my wife!” I howled, leaping up to grab onto the claw with my legs, beating it with my makeshift weapon. “Release her!”
The claw increased its speed, pulling us back across the deck, and then suddenly airborne, but I refused to let go. The bar was leaving dents in the metal, and I felt sure that, with just a few more blows-
There! It released Sarah, and she dropped down to land on the floor below! I gave the claw one last whack, hearing something break inside the machinery, and then dropped down to check on my wife.
“Are you okay?” I asked, bending over her. She blinked up at me, those green eyes shining – and then abruptly sat upright.
“Where are we?” she burst out.
I stopped and looked around. I had thought that we’d dropped back down to the deck of the cruise ship – but instead, we saw ourselves surrounded by gray metal! My mind raced, quickly coming to a horrifying conclusion.
“We’re on that saucer,” I realized.
“No,” Sarah immediately corrected, her face ashen. “We’re inside it.”
For a moment, we both stared at each other, paralyzed by this realization. But after a minute, I nodded and stood up, gripping my metal bar.
“What are you doing?” my wife asked as I stood.
I tightened my grip. “Whoever’s controlling this thing took other people, too. We need to go find them – and get them to let us go.”
Sarah nodded. And then, to my amazement, she smiled, standing up alongside me and draping her arms around my neck!
“That’s my husband,” she murmured, kissing me on the cheek. “Always the hero.”
Despite the situation, I couldn’t keep a smile off of my face. “And I suppose that you’re coming with me, my wife?”
Sarah nodded. “You couldn’t stop me if you tried.”
We shared a kiss, husband and wife – and then turned and marched further into the ship. Together.