Gordon Lee lay back on the recliner, his bare body basking in the rays of the warm overhead sun.
“Oh, Gordy!” sighed his wife, Elizabeth Lee, who lay on the recliner beside him. She turned towards him and took off her sunglasses. “This cruise has been the most fun we’ve had in a long time. Away from the daily grind, to be able to relax without having to think about work…it’s been a real pleasure.”
Gordon smiled back. “It’s been great, Liz. Too bad we dock tomorrow. Back to Singapore and back to work. I’m going to savour every last minute on this ship.”
She stroked Gordon’s abs with her fingers. He took her hand and gave it a light squeeze. The couple lay in their recliners and closed their eyes, holding each other’s hands.
Elizabeth put her shades back on, and sighed again.
“I wish this cruise could last forever.”
“Have you packed the toiletries yet, honey?” Gordon asked as he took his clothes off their hangers and folded them into neat squares.
“Not yet, love. I’ll do so once I’m done with my mascara,” she called out from the bathroom.
“Don’t take too long! We’ve only got a couple of hours before the Legend of the Seas arrives in Singapore.”
Elizabeth emerged from the bathroom, putting her lipstick back into her purse.
Gordon kissed her. “You look beautiful, honey.”
“Gordon! I just put on my lipstick!” she said with mock indignation. “Here,” she passed him the toiletries, which he stashed into the external compartment of one of their suitcases. “Done! We’re packed and ready to go!” he announced. “Let’s go up to the deck and enjoy the scenery while waiting for the ship to enter the harbour.” They dragged their suitcases out of the stateroom.
They arrived at the alfresco dining area, where other guests were already seated around tables and waiting expectantly for the ship to reach the shore. Most of the tables were occupied. “Mind if we sit here?” Gordon addressed a seated couple, both with greying hair. “Go ahead,” they replied.
“Have you guys been enjoying yourselves?” the elderly man spoke, in an attempt to strike up conversation.
Gordon nodded. “We’ve had fun. We tried the rock climbing wall, went for a few massages, and spent most of the time sunbathing. What about you?”
“We spent a lot of time at the casino,” the old man chuckled.
“Dear George over here, he can’t pull himself away from the poker tables!” his wife interjected. “He’s lucky money is one thing he doesn’t lack!”
“We haven’t been properly introduced. My name’s Gordon Lee, and this is my wife Elizabeth,” Gordon offered his hand to George, who shook it. “We’re partners at the same law firm, Lee and Weston.”
“I’m George Holwell, and this is my lovely wife, Sarah,” he gestured. “I’m a businessman. Actually,” he leaned over and lowered his voice, “This cruise line is one of my investments.”
“Really!” Elizabeth exclaimed, surprised. “I’ve certainly enjoyed it! You’ve done a fine job.”
“Nah!” George waved his hand in dismissal. “I merely contribute some money. I’m not directly involved in the day-to-day running of the ships. Although my wife here, she knows a thing or two about running cruise ships. She used to be a director of one of the ships in the company.” They looked at Sarah, who nodded. “But I’ve recently retired,” she said. “Now, I just enjoy George’s company.”
Elizabeth looked around the ship. “Funny,” she observed. “We should be nearing land by now, but we’re still surrounded by sea.”
“It is odd,” agreed George. “I should be getting a signal on my cellphone by now.”
A loud clang was heard on the port side of the ship. A few curious people were already walking over to the side of the ship to find the source of the clanging noise. “What a din!” commented George. The four of them stood up and walked over to the port side.
CLANG! CLANG! The passengers who were already there were talking animatedly among themselves, presumably about the thing making the noise. “Excuse me,” Gordon gently nudged his way to the railing, and peered down. “Oh my!” he exclaimed. The source of the noise was a thin, bony man wearing an old, raggedy orange shirt, sitting in a small dinghy. His hair was unkempt and his beard was unshaven. He was hitting the hull of the ship with his tiller extension, which he had detached from the tiller. “Let me up!” he shouted hoarsely.
Someone called the crew to bring some rope. A member of the crew came over and threw down a rope, which the man held tightly. “Help me out, here!” the crewmate shouted. The guests held the rope behind him and helped to pull the man up. “Heave ho!”
Soon, the man was safely aboard, dripping with seawater. The people on the ship stepped away from him, slightly apprehensive and afraid of this strange, wet, and wild-looking man.
“Can I see the captain!” he panted, a note of urgency in his voice.
“Are you alright?” asked Gordon. “How did you end up like this?”
The man looked up, and the edges of his mouth curled up. “You’ve been on a cruise?”
“For four days, now. We’re returning to Singapore today.”
“Singapore?” he said bitterly. “Singapore’s gone under. Two days ago, a huge chunk of the Antarctic ice-shelf slid into the ocean. The global sea level rose dramatically. Our dikes collapsed. About everyone on land, especially in the low-lying areas, have drowned. The survivors are probably stuck in the high-rise buildings.”
A murmur spread through the crowd. “Singapore, gone?” someone wailed.
“Yes.” the man said grimly.
“Oh dear, looks like we’re going to be on this ship for the rest of our lives,” said Elizabeth worriedly. “Honey?” Her husband’s face had turned white.
Gordon could only manage a whimper. “Our law firm…”