The Voyages Of The S.S. Amore
stars beginning to shine in the bright, moonlit sky.
“I know we've had some rough times, Becca,” Victor began as he placed his hand over hers on the ship's railing. “I know I've been the cause of most of them....”
“All of them,” Becca replied, rolling her eyes. She felt his hand stiffen for a brief moment. Then he relaxed and sighed.
“Okay, all of them.”
“Maybe I caused a couple,” She replied, looking up at him coyly. “One or two. No more than that.”
“No matter who caused them...”
“No matter who,” he said, raising his voice slightly before relaxing again. “We're here now. This is our fourth honeymoon. Our fourth try at finally getting this marriage to work and I have a feeling it's going to happen this time. No more lies, no more sneaking around...”
“No more secretaries?” Becca asked.
“And no more tennis instructors.” Victor said pointedly.
For a moment Becca wanted to turn and storm away but then, like a trout who finally gives in to the persistence of an expert angler, she relaxed and leaned against Victor's chest. She'd had enough of the constant fighting and tension. Maybe now was the time to bury the hatchet and finally forgive Victor. Ever since they had met two years ago at that topless pancake joint, their lives had been a roller coaster of passionate love and unmitigated hate. Two years of cheating, laughing, lying, and screaming. Yes, maybe it was time to forgive him his foolish dalliances. And maybe, if her luck didn't run out, she could forgive herself.
She gazed up into his steel blue eyes and then down to his full, slightly moist lips. He held her in his strong arms and pulled her closely. Slowly, they leaned towards each other as their eyes slowly closed.
“Get out of the way”
A crowd of panicking vacationers charged up the deck, knocking the two lovers apart and throwing them to the ground. Victor grabbed at Becca, trying to use her to shield himself from the kicking feet of the terrified herd.
“What the hell is going on?” Becca screamed, tears of fright and pain welling in her eyes. A bloody and bruised porter, quick on the heels of stampeding mass, turned and yelled one nonsensical word in the panicked couples direction.
The Voyages Of The S.S. Amore
Irritated by the shouting coming from what was probably some lame party in one of the bars she wasn't allowed into, Jane peered out of the door of her cabin and made sure the coast was clear. Her dad had told her to stay in the cramped room while he had yet another heart-to-heart with that silicon infested bag of bitch he called a wife, but Jane had better ideas. Slipping out into the narrow hallway, she made her way to the small metal door she had noticed when they first boarded earlier this afternoon. A red sign was bolted to the door with words ENGINE ROOM: STAFF ONLY emblazoned on it. Trying the latch and finding it unlocked, Jane opened the door and went inside.
Stepping carefully down the metal staircase, Jane kept an ear out to make sure no one was coming. She didn't understand why her dad was being such an ass and not letting her explore the luxury liner on her own. It wasn't like she could run away again while being trapped on a boat. God, he was such a loser sometimes. All she wanted to do was take some pictures with the camera HE bought her for the trip.
Taking her silver Nikon out of her duct-tape-covered Hello Kitty fanny pack, she began to look around for something to photograph as she made her way down the narrow hallway. Click, a reddish smear against the bulkhead. Click, a small pile of broken chains. Click, an actual pile of moss-encrusted dirt. Click, a maggot feebly struggling near pile of filthy cloth.
“Christ, does this tub even have any janitors,” she muttered aloud.
Up ahead was a small propped open door with a sign indicating it was a storage closet. Peeking inside, Jane could could see that it was occupied by the same porter that had helped them to their cabins earlier that day. The one that her dad had expressly told her to stay away from.
“What are you doing?” she asked as she walked into the wide closet and closed the door.
The young man immediately began coughing, large clouds of marijuana smoke billowing out of his mouth. Jane smirked and looked him over as he hacked and tried in vain to extinguish the joint smoldering in his hand. He had his snappy red vest unbuttoned and white dress shirt untucked. She could just make out a hint of a tattoo on his forearm where his shirtsleeve had ridden up. It looked like an ankh.
“You...you aren't supposed to be down here,” he choked out, looking at her with fear in his eyes. “I could tell my boss and he'd...uh...you know...”
“Oh please. You aren't going to tell,” she said, pulling out a white bucket and sitting down on it.
"Can I have a hit or that, or what?" He handed the joint over warily. When she took a drag he seemed to relax a bit and sat down across from her on a metal toolbox.
“That's a cool skull ring,” he said, nodding at her finger as she handed to marijuana cigarette back to him.
“Thanks. I won it at this fair. It's plastic and painted to look all silver. I like your dog collar.”
“Oh shit,” he said, reaching behind his head to unclasp it. “I'm not supposed to wear it while I have my uniform on. Stupid regulations. How old are you?”
“How old are you?”
“Seventeen. I'll be eighteen in seven months.”
“What's your name?”
“Ethan. What's yours?”
“Jane. Do you dye your hair?”
“Yeah. It's really this turd brown. Black is way better. I had a friend of mine put in the red part here. I thought it would turn out more blood red instead of so bright.”
“I like the bright red. It makes the black...blacker.”
“Mine's black naturally. I got it from my mom.”
“Was that who was with you today?”
“Fuck no. That's my step-monster.”
“My mom works here on the boat. She's a waitress at that wannabe Irish pub a couple decks up. She made me get this job here. It sucks.”
“You get to see the world. That's pretty cool.”
“I get to help rich people with their luggage. No offense.”
“I'd rather be home on my own with my band. So what's your name?”
“Um....Jane...when I turn eighteen I'm totally changing it. I was thinking to either Esmerelda or Margaret. But it's just Jane for now.”
Ethan stubbed out the rest of the joint and put the roach into a small tin. Looking at the door as if worried that someone would overhear him as he leaned closer to Jane and whispered.
“Okay Jane For Now, you want to see a dead body?”
“Do I ever.”
The two of them stared into the trashed cargo hold. Broken crosses, ranging from small necklace pendants to one that looked to be over five feet high, lay scattered about the floor. Garlic cloves hung suspended from the ceiling adding a pungent bouquet to the overall smell of rot. A velvet-lined coffin lay smashed open and empty in the far corner.
The Voyages Of The S.S. Amore
almost getting knocked to the ground by two running gothy looking punk kids in the process.
Eventually Gavin made it back to his cabin, though certain parts of his journey seemed a bit of a blur. Leaning his head against the cool metal of the door he gathered his thoughts and desperately tried to will himself back to sobriety. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to have given himself that much liquid courage for the task that lay ahead of him. But from the looks of the largish wine stain on the floor in front of door, he wasn’t the only one who tied one on. Taking a deep breath, he turned the handle on the door and stepped inside.
Susan was facing away from him on the cabin’s narrow bed. She didn't even turn in his direction when he stepped into the room. Instead she sat hunched over with her head almost down by her lap. Her shoulders were hitching a bit and she was making that (rather disgusting sounding) slurping sob that she always made when she was truly upset and crying.
“Hello my love,” He said as he sat down on the opposite side of the bed from her, his body turned so he was half facing her. She stiffened a bit as he sat and then went back to making that sucking, snotty sounding noise. Gavin felt his stomach turn a bit at the sound, but he took a hard swallow and continued.
“Susan, I am so sorry for how I acted at that Finnegan's place. It was boorish of me to flirt back with that waitress, it's just that....well, I can't help myself sometimes. You can't understand what it's like to be an internationally recognized cricket player. Being famous has always gone to my head a bit and it's difficult not to react to some people's positive energy with some energy of my own. But it was inappropriate and I apologize.
“That said though, there are some things you should know,” he continued, looking warily over at where she sat. From the sounds of it she had gone from sobbing to grinding her teeth. Not a good sign considering what he was about to reveal. “The day you agreed to be my bride was the proudest of my life. Landing you was my greatest accomplishment, even greater than when I [insert prestigious cricket award here]. But that pride was tinged with more than a little guilt.
“You see, Susan,” he stammered. “I may not have been as faithful as I should have been whilst travelling. Being famous has certain drawbacks. Groupies are a big one and we all know that cricket really brings out the fire in some women. It's like spending all day being handed cake after sweet, delicious cake. Eventually even the Pope would take a bite.
“But those are in the past. The reason I bring this up at all is so that our marriage can start on a bed of honesty and not one of animal lust and deception. Also because you may have caught an STD or two from me.”
Gavin paused and waited for Susan to erupt in her typical fashion. Instead she let out extremely loud and horrific fart. Gagging slightly and resisting the urge to berate her for such inconsiderate behavior, mostly because he was in the middle of telling her about his various infectious diseases, he soldiered on.
“There are the herpes, of course. Though I would inform you that almost every member of the human race has herpes of one form or another. Babies come fresh out of the womb riddled with herpes. The chlamydia is treatable. The gonorrhea can be a bit tricky, I once got an infection in the back of my throat. Ha ha! I have no idea how that got there.”
Susan didn't say a word, just went back to hunching and gnashing and slobbering. Gavin began to get annoyed.
“I say Susan, are you even listening?” he reached over and shook her shoulder. Her head snapped around and bit hard onto the side of his hand. Gavin yelled as she tore a chunk of flesh from out of him, blood coursed down his arm and splattered onto the sheets.
“What the hell?” he reeled back away from Susan and sat hard on the floor cradling his wounded hand. “That's my bowling hand!”
Susan stood and slowly turned. Where it wasn’t smeared with glistening blood, her face was ashen gray. The muscles around the jaw were slack. The expression in her eyes was a curious mixture of dullness and rage. And hunger. She dropped some poor sod's forearm, which she had been busy eating while Gavin poured his heart out to her, and began to crawl across the bed.
“What kind of VD is that?” he asked, bewildered.
The undead thing that was once Susan lunged.
The Voyages Of The S.S. Amore
pouring another glass for Ed as well as himself. Sighing with contentment, Ben leaned back into the lounge chair and took in the view of the moonlit sea.
“This is the life, Ed,” Ben finally said, taking a sip of wine.
“That it is, my young friend,” Ed agreed and then pointed over at their ladies with his glass. “Looks like my Edna beat your new wife. You may have to trade her in.”
Ben chuckled and gazed at his wife as he she bent over to pick up the shuffleboard puck and return it to its stand. Her ass looked fantastic.
“Not a chance.”
“And what are you two deviants up to over here,” Edna joked as she sat heavily down next to her husband, who quickly gave her cheek an affectionate peck. “Think you could spare some of that hooch?”
“Finish mine, too much gives me heartburn,” Ed said. “I was just discussing with our new friends here that they should invest in some life insurance now that they're married. I mean everything looks great on your honeymoon, but life can change in a wink. Don't want to leave your partner in a lurch...”
“Oh, shut up Ed,” Edna grumbled. “We're on vacation and we agreed that you wouldn't try to sell anyone life insurance. I swear.”
“Are you two arguing again?” Diane said as she plopped down on Ben's lap, taking his wine from him and finishing it off. Smiling, he grabbed the bottle and refilled the glass.
“That's how it goes, honey,” Edna said, shaking her head. “One day, this one here will be talking poetry and love songs and the next, all business all the time. That's why I took up pilates. Trust me, I've been with this one fifty years tonight, so I know what I'm talking about.”
“You'll be dead inside long before that though,” Ed jokingly stage-whispered to Ben. Edna gave him a playful slap on the arm.
“It's so good to see a couple that's still together after so many years,” Diane sighed. “So many of our friends are already divorced. It's crazy.”
“You have to find a loving friend , not just a fuck buddy,” Edna stated, causing them all to break out into laughter. When it tapered off, Edna continued “Too many young people getting knocked up or just getting married so that they can have a party for themselves. Shameful. Ed and I love the same things, have the same hobbies, and we both enjoy just traveling the world and seeing what we can stir up.”
“Hear, hear,” Ben said, slurring a bit and raising the now empty wine bottle. “Oop! Looks like we need some more booze. How about it, Ed, think you can stand another bottle, or maybe you want some Metamucil?”
“Benjamin!” Diane cried out, shocked.
“You bring it on, sonny,” Ed smirked, giving the young man a challenging glare. “I'll drink you under the table. We'll let the women-folk drag us back to our cabins.”
Ben chuckled and slid out from underneath his newlywed wife. Weaving a bit he made his way to door that led off the balcony and into the fake Irish pub inside, he chucked the empty wine bottle over the railing and into the sea.
“Two points, straight into the water,” He said as he stepped into the quiet pub and walked right into the unyielding claws of Murdertron, the robot built for murder!
The Voyages Of The S.S. Amore
pacing back and forth in the small cabin.
Finally, after what felt like forever, Jane heard a timid knock on the cabin door. Jumping over the twin bed, knocking her makeup kit full of various black-colored lipsticks and eye-liners onto the floor in the process, she slammed into the door and yanked it open. On the other side was Ethan, holding a bloody cloth to his neck and looking even paler than normal.
“Oh my God!” Jane screamed, yanking the young porter inside and slamming the door. “You really did it! You got bit for us!”
“Yeah...well...I did get bit...,” Ethan stammered, his teeth clenched through the pain. “Can I get a towel or something?”
“Oh. Yeah,” Jane ran over to the closet and yanked out a suitcase. Tossing out the clothes, she picked out one of her stepmother's hot pink beach towels and some peroxide from the first aid kit her dad always carted around with him on trips. She noticed that he had also brought along an old photo album filled with old pictures of them from when she was a kid. He had probably wanted to reminisce with her at some point. Yuck. “I can't believe you really did it. Tell me everything.”
“I went up on deck, like we planned, and I looked around for, you know, them. I didn't have much luck though, so I went below decks, figuring they like being underground or something. And then...is that a Polaroid camera?”
“What?” Jane finished pouring the peroxide onto the towel and handed it to him. Looking behind her she saw what Ethan was pointing at. Her dad's old camera. “Yeah. It's my dad's. He loves the thing even though a digital camera is totally better.”
“That thing is vintage,” he said with awe, pressing the pink towel against his neck wound and wincing a bit. “Does he have any film for it? I heard they stopped making it?”
“He bought a bunch before that. But who cares. What happened when you met...Him. Was he all Gothic and commanding and stuff? What did you say to him that made him want to turn you into one of them instead of just feeding off you. He did turn you, didn't he?”
Ethan had gotten up and began rummaging through her father's suitcase. Jane walked over to the window and looked out over the starlit sea.
“You know,” Jane began. “I almost wish I had woken up early today to see the sunrise. Of course, I had no idea it would have been my last one. Soon, right after you bite me, I will be a child of the night. We'll roam the darkness, existing in that twilight space between life and death, feeding on..”
“Dude, these are bitchin'!”
Jane turned around to see that Ethan was wearing her dad's embarrassing Elvis sunglasses and was holding up a pair of wrist sweatbands her father wore when he played tennis. Now that she got a look at it, Ethan's wound didn't look like it was made by vampire fangs. It was more of a ragged tear and not the two neat puncture marks she would associate with a vampire's kiss.
“Do you think he'd let me borrow these?” he asked, slipping the red-and-white sweatbands onto his wrists. “Check out this album. Your dad used to have some style. Do you think he still has this western-style button up shirt around? Ooh! Did he bring it with him?”
“No. What's going on? Why are you being so weird?”
“I'm not weird,” he snapped. “I'm just into stuff most people aren't. Do you like bicycles? I was thinking about getting one of those fixed-gear ones when we get back from this trip. And I think I'm going to change my band's sound, you know. Maybe do a Film School meets Rogue Wave kind of thing.”
“Who the hell are they?”
“They're obscure, you probably haven't heard them.”
“Oh, dear God,” Jane gasped, backing toward the cabin door. Fear began to crawl up her spine. “What bit you out there?”
“Hey look, I'm getting some facial hair,” Ethan was looking at his reflection in the cabin's window. “Does your dad have a shave kit handy? Maybe I can trim it into a trucker's handlebar kind of 'stache or maybe twirl it on the ends. What do you think?”
He turned and looked at Jane with eyes that had turned entirely black. His formerly pale skin had now darkened to a chestnut brown and was rapidly sprouting long, black hair. His canines had extended and sharpened, but were not elegant like a vampire's tapered tools of undeath. These were the savage, utilitarian teeth of a wild dog.
“You're not a vampire.”
“No. Vampires are boring. You don't know what I've become.”
Yes, I do!” Jane yelled, her hand scrambling to open the stubborn cabin door. “You're a filthy hipster. You're a goddamned filthy hipster werewolf!”
Deep in the bowels of the ship, in the back of the shadowed cargo hold, Murdertron stalked his prey.
The Voyages Of The S.S. Amore
while a werewolf wearing a porter’s outfit and pair of Elvis sunglasses chased some poor girl with unfortunately black dyed hair. Ed and Edna calmly stood against the railing as they bolted past, the girl screaming for her daddy all the while.
“The way some girls dress these days,” Edna said with a frown. “They leave nothing to the imagination anymore.”
“Imagination is overrated,” Ed joked, taking a hold of his wife's hand. “Who'd have thought our anniversary would turn out this way, huh?”
“Not me, that's for certain,” Edna sighed as she pointed to one of the upper decks, where a vampire was locked in combat with a group of ravenous zombies. The zombies were all dressed in three piece suits, which meant no more big band music would be played on this cruise. “Do you know how hard it was for me to get a zombie virus out of that military base? Took me a whole afternoon, I missed my bridge club meeting.”
“You know how I love zombies though,” Ed said, looking at his wife with love and giving her hand a squeeze. “When did you find the time to get that, anyway?”
“Oh, I did that years ago. I think I told you I was going to visit my sister.”
“I should have known something was up. You can't stand her.”
“Don't act like you didn't keep any secrets either, you little sneak,” Edna looked up at her husband with a gleam in her eye. “Where exactly did you dig up a vampire from?”
“Well, when you were visiting your sister I took a flight to Europe and found that guy in the sewers under Paris. I've had him in the garage for the last couple years in that box marked 'scooter parts'.”
“I hate that scooter,” Edna scowled. “You're going to break your fool neck on that thing. Oh look, that handsome cricket player got turned into a zombie, what a pity.”
“That guy's an asshole,” Ed grumbled. Gavin had just lumbered onto the deck and fixed his eyes on the aging couple when a werewolf dropped down on top of him and began mauling him. In seconds the giant beast was shaking the undead cricket player like a squeeky toy. “Was an asshole.”
“I hope you like the werewolves,” Edna said. “I had to call in a favor with the coven to find someone who was still infected. Took months to track one down.”
Ed stopped. “You're kidding. I brought a werewolf too. I just found mine by chance last week when I picked up a hitchhiker.”
“I guess we're both just traditional, sentimental old coots.”
“Yeah, okay,” Ed said sarcastically.
“What does that mean?”
“I don't see what's so traditional about Murdertron. I guess he does look like a old, 1950's robot, but still....”
Edna looked concerned. “But Ed, I thought you were the one who brought Murdertron. I certainly didn't.”
The two of them looked at each other just as a red laser beam burst out of the side of the luxury liner’s lower hull and sliced its way mercilessly through the decks, a gang of roving zombies were cut to pieces as it pierced it way through the ship.
“Oh my,” Edna said blandly. “We'd better be getting out of here now.”
“Sounds good to me,” Ed said as they made their way to the ramp that was attached to the side of the ship. “It's a good thing the ship never left dock. We'll be home in half an hour.”
“Oooh! We can still catch Leno.”