Back to Normal: Chapter 20
People were running in all directions and screaming. I stopped and closed my eyes and felt Eric’s pain as it intensified. I remembered he said he would be in the casino. That was down in the center of the ship. I ran back to the stairwell, and people were pouring out of it onto the deck. There was no way I could get through that crowd to go down the steps when they were all coming up. I ran around to the other side to find the same in that stairwell. I had to find a way down to Eric. I looked around for another way down when the floor suddenly rose up under my feet as I heard another loud explosion. I was knocked off my feet and fell backwards. About ten or fifteen people in front of me also fell and we all started to roll back towards the center of the deck. Bodies were on me; people were screaming. I knew there was nothing behind me except a huge wall of metal. I tried to turn my head to see how close it was when suddenly everything went black.
I had been playing black jack in the casino that night, but unlike the night before, I was starting to lose. I told Pam and Eric that I was going to the deck to get some air. Dawn would be here soon and I wanted to enjoy the sea air while I could. I was watching the moon’s reflection on the water thinking of how peaceful this all is when my thoughts were interrupted by a muffled explosion somewhere deep inside the ship. Within seconds, panicked people were swarming the deck, pouring up out of the stairwells, screaming and crying out for their loved ones. I searched the growing crowd for faces in my party, but saw no one that I knew. Then a second explosion rocked the boat, sending people flying. The floor buckled and flames started to shoot up from a huge hole in the deck. The scent of blood immediately overwhelmed me, but I kept searching for familiar faces. I closed my eyes and searched for Sookie. We had had enough blood exchanges in the past that I could still find her if I tried to and she was near. I headed towards the center of the deck and found her unconscious in a pile of bodies. Her head was bleeding, but she was still alive. I picked her up and ran to the outer edge of the deck away from the crowd and laid her down to examine her for other injuries. The crew had already sprung into action and some crew members were lowering life boats into the water and others were handing out life jackets. Amid the chaos, I heard and felt a third explosion but it felt a little further away. Almost immediately, the ship began to list and I had a dreaded feeling that we were sinking. I picked Sookie up and got into the haphazard line for life jackets and when I reached the crew member in the front, he handed me the last one with an apologetic look on his face. He wasn’t wearing one either. I laid Sookie down onto the sloped deck and quickly fastened the life jacket onto her. As soon as I had it secured, I felt another jolt and the deck listed further. People lost their footing and began to slide towards us. I reached out to grab Sookie just as we were both knocked over the edge of the ship. A huge group of us fell into the water. It was shockingly cold as I hit the surface. When I came up, I searched for Sookie, but there were so many people swimming and still falling all around me. I closed my eyes and swam in her direction. I found her floating face up, still unconscious, and dangerously close to the ship. I grabbed her and started swimming away from the ship as fast as I could. Several people grabbed at me. One pulled me under and we started to sink. I let Sookie go, knowing that she could drown, but that I could not. I was finally able to free myself from the panicked person who had me in his clutches, and kicked back up to the surface. I found the floating Sookie again and swam as hard as I could with her away from the ship.
We came to a lifeboat and I pulled myself in first, then reached back into the water and pulled Sookie in. There were only three other women in the boat, all huddled together and shivering. No one spoke but we exchanged looks and then I turned to see to Sookie’s condition. Her head was still bleeding, and I gently licked the wound and the blood as it ran down her face. I glanced over to see the horrified and disgusted looks from our fellow passengers. I could see that Sookie’s head injury was critical and had to make a quick decision. I could give her blood, but because we had already had several blood exchanges in the past, this one would most likely bind us in a permanent bond like she had with Eric. My other option was to drain her further and turn her. I knew that she would not want that if it could be avoided, and so I bit into my wrist and placed it to her lips. I heard gasps of horror from the other women, but ignored them. My blood was dripping into Sookie’s mouth, and I could already feel our tie strengthen. She was weak, but her lifeforce grew with each drop. I could feel the pull of dawn and knew that I didn’t have much more time. I loved Sookie and was ready to face the sun for her, but desperately wanted to give her a chance to live first. After my wrist healed, I bit a second time and put it back to her lips. She moaned softly and then I felt her mouth begin to suck gently on the wound. My last thought was that I had succeeded in saving her and could face my final death in peace.