Word Count 498
From No to Yes
by G. Ackman
“Do you believe?” the costumed tour guide asked. Phil scoffed and mentally said “absolutely not” but kept silent. This “fun” ghost tour had been his wife’s idea. Ten o’clock at night before they board a cruise ship tomorrow and he would rather be back in the hotel room, munching on peanut butter cups and falling asleep to the History Channel. That was his idea of a vacation. But Belinda looked so happy and that made it worthwhile – almost. Two hours later, Phil was exactly where he had wanted to be earlier, except that now his feet were sore.
The beginning of the cruise went well. It was the night of the second day that changed everything. He woke up in the middle of the night and needed a smoke, so he put on his jeans and headed to the Lido deck smoking area. There were only a handful of smokers there and he nodded pleasantly to a few of them. They became a de facto club on board a cruise ship – the outcasts of Lido deck. Two cigarettes later, he thought maybe he could fall asleep again and headed back to his cabin.
It was foggy, but that was not unusual at sea. He headed down the starboard side of the ship, looking for the door that would take him to the elevator down to the main deck where their cabin was. He knew he had gone too far, but he didn’t remember seeing a door anywhere. The fog was heavier now, settling on his shoulders like a moist cape. He could hear the rhythmic brrrrummmm of the ship’s horn sounding every five minutes. His own visibility was down to less than twenty feet. He did not like this feeling of disorientation. Every noir movie he ever watched flashed through his mind and he half expected to hear clicking heels coming up behind him.
Up ahead a darkness took form. He couldn’t quite make it out, but it was near the rail. Was it a person? No, it must be a winch for the lifeboats. No, it was a person standing at the rail. Great. He could ask where the passage is. He quickened his steps. As he got closer, he could see that it was a woman in a cocktail dress and hat standing on something with both her hands on the rail and peering over the side. Why would she be looking that intently at the dark water nearly 100 feet below? Before the sight even fully registered in his mind, she jumped up on the rail, looked sadly at him, and then fell backwards into the water. He screamed. Suddenly the deck was filled with people. Crew members took over and a search began. Seven hours later, they told him that everyone was accounted for and he must have mistaken what he saw. But he knew – she had been there and she had fallen overboard – years ago.
“Do you believe?” Yes, he most certainly does.