Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #101
… Out of nowhere, the shallow based ship pitches to the port side, tossing passengers about like rag dolls…
300 miles to the west and into the dark of night, a happy couple is about to wrap their wedding holiday in grand style, with a riverboat cruise into the Mississippi River Delta. The sternwheeler is outfitted for delight, restaurant and jazz bands dotting the large decks.
James and Abigail have previously digested the city of New Orleans through the eyes (and stomach) of youth; such are the sinfully rich pleasures by those who may well be aligned with the “dark one”. It is no place for the feint of heart or those who easily blush. Neither are they so innocent, but for being accustomed to a more sedate lifestyle. Their eyes have been sufficiently opened wide.
It is about time to return to normal.
But not until a floating experience that will cap what has been a glorious beginning to married life. With innocence mostly intact, they plan on making the most of this evening preceding their return to the real world.–
–The boat is fully loaded this 8 September Friday night, one hundred other cruisers ready to leave the dock. The lot of them are equally ignorant to what is about to come, including the crew, who navigate in the artificial light of beacons. They cannot see the swirling mass of weather above their heads.
If ignorance can be used as an excuse, then the fact that they were miles downstream, when they had no business leaving the dock, may be ignored.
Out of nowhere, the shallow based ship pitches to the port side, tossing passengers about like rag dolls. The Ferrells are dislodged from their dinner seats.
“Hang on to me, Abbey!” James protects his bride from unexpected and unknown forces.
“What’s happening?” a clueless question shared by all.
“I don’t know, but it looks like we’ve come about, heading back to the dock.”
The paddle-wheeler has indeed turned around, driven more by wind and water than steam. In fact, it feels like they are one giant surfboard, riding the crest of a fifteen foot high surge. They are propelled northward with the water, not gaining one knot of speed or foot of distance between them and the wave.
James leads Abbey to the lifeboats, thinking it an option, then thinking twice. Upon seeing an overturned lifeboat crash against the west bank, they grab life jackets.
“Put this on. We are heading for the middle of the ship.”
Getting past a panicking mob proves to be a challenge, with no two people going in the same direction, let alone looking like they have a plan.
The crew’s directions are not clear, more used to light chop or the wake from passing ships. Storm surge from a hurricane is completely another thing. The Captain and helmsman find the rudder has no effect. “Let’s get as far inland as we can,” is the Captain’s only hope for survival.
James and Abbey gain the main ballroom, lashing themselves to one of the support beams. They hang on for dear life in each others arms, their future teetering in the balance, looking now like a mere distant horizon.