A/N: Lately I've been super busy with school ending due to winter break and my fanfictions longing to be worked on. So, here's the chapter I ended writing with after I reached my goal of 50,000 words last month! (Note: I might change this ending!)
By now the fate of the Titanic was inevitable. The precarious slope of the deck—and the railings of the port side were perceived, by some, to be closer to the water than those of the starboard—and the flooding bow were enough evidence to prove that the ship was, indeed, sinking. From the crew, who most of the time knew what was happening; from the passengers, the first clinging to their husbands and grown boys as the third still struggled to find a way; and from the other help, such as the people who ran the restaurants and such, but only had as much knowledge as the passengers—all were aware that they were to go down with the ship, rescued or never to live another day.
In the ship's diligent Marconi room, Jack Phillips sent, with a tremulous finger, the last message to the assumingly nearest ship steaming ahead to help: the Carpathia. In the next twenty minutes, he and Bride would stay behind until there was no other option but to flee, waiting for any other response. They would wait until Captain Smith himself said, "Well, men, you have done your duty. Abandon your cabin. Now it's every man for himself."
And just like that, their life's work on the dying city was over. There was nothing else to do but save themselves, gather their things, sling on their lifebelts (a stoker almost stole Phillips', until Bride furiously fought him until he was lifeless), and flee into the rampaging panic that couldn't even be soothed by the energetic ragtime so scrupulously played by the band. But that wouldn't happen until the Titanic's nearly final moment, approximately twenty minutes.
It were these sprightly tunes that Marianne, Henry, and Ryan listened to as they hurriedly put one foot in front of the other, despite their aching leg muscles, and passed the faithful band to the Aft Grand Staircase. "Maybe it's warmer inside," Ryan had said, cheerfully as possible, before beckoning his younger sister and her beau to head aft.
Entering the room containing the marvelous structure, Marianne whimpered, "My God, what are we going to do?"
"Here, let me take care of this first." And with that, Ryan, her adored older brother, slid off his lifejacket and put it over Marianne's head, ignoring her protests. "There. Now you're all bundled up and warmer than we are."
Wanting to laugh, but hurting her heart when she did so, she instead put a frigid hand to his cheek and said, "Oh, Ry, I love you."
"I don't think we have time for these delightful chats right now," Henry piped up, his vision noting the men littering the spiraling rooms. "What time is it?"
Glancing down at his watch, Ryan read the time. "One fifty-five."
"Oh dear," Marianne whined while biting her bottom lip. "That isn't much time at all, is it?"
There was a dreadful creak, and Marianne flung herself onto Henry. The noise only reminded her of what was to come, and of the innocents who would soon die. "By the rate this is foundering, I would say we have half an hour at the most."
Not even an hour left, Marianne thought. When the stuffy, extravagant place became too much for her, she begged to be taken outside again. "The sooner we find a way out of here, the better chance we'll have to stick together," was her argument.
Eventually the clock struck two, and the ship was tipping rapidly. It was harder to saunter the decks than it was five minutes ago, and it would be even more difficult as the time passed. Sooner or later, they would have to come to a decision; and as the last few minutes of the Titanic were splayed out in front of her, everyone she knew and met on the cursed voyage was there:
There was Elizabeth King and Sergei Petrov—the lover whose beloved was killed brutally knowing of the woman he was helping, but she not of him—the former being escorted in, frightened, by the aide of the latter.
Waiting in line for another lifeboat were James and Jane Moore, the wife torn away from her husband by the tight-lipped officer as she cried out his name. Yet, there had been just as many incidences of this same exact manner executed as there were passengers on the ship.
And tucked away in a deck chair far from the chaos was Madame Francine, somehow knowing of Marianne's wandering study. With a long, sharp fingernail she held up her left wrist and tapped awfully on the glass covering, reminding her of the little time they all had left.
Five minutes passed, then another interval of the same number. It was at this time, 2:10 of the clock, that the first funnel fell. Marianne watched, with the upmost of breathless horror, as the chords snapped, ringing off like gunshots in the night; and then it commenced on its journey to the consuming ocean below, slowly at first but then faster and faster, until it hit the waves with a mighty splash that could only commensurate with its crushing weight.
After two hours and their music didn't help the minds of the others around them, Wallace Hartley and his seven other men were finishing their last song. Some perceived it as "Autumn," a brightly waltz, while others as "Nearer My God to Thee," the melancholic hymn. But either way, the band had played on, and as the water lapped at their feet, their fate was evident.
Turning to her beloved brother and adoring admirer, Marianne could feel the tears burn in her eyes. "This is it, I guess," she sniffled, her shaking hands pulling her coat tighter under her lifejacket. "And I'll probably never see my father again."
"Don't say that, Marianne," Ryan whispered as he wiped away her falling tears. "It'll only worsen our plight."
"But Ryan," she mumbled, beginning to sob. "What if I don't see you again, either?" Hauling him and Henry into a tightly-packed embrace, she murmured, "I don't think I can bear it anymore." And for the first time she closed her eyes to block out the nightmare she'd been participating in.
When the trio pulled apart, there was only one thing left to do, and that was get off the blasted ship. But as Marianne was shoved out of the heated discussion that had arose from questioning whether to jump off or stay on as long as possible, someone else of a cruel nature joined in.
An unwelcome shiver crawled up Marianne's spine, transforming her bony spine into an iron pole. There was something unpleasant and unanticipated in her tone, and she found no comfort in the barged affair. "Boys, boys, boys," Catherine repeated with a tsk of her tongue. "The decision is simple, but either way you'll end up dead." Then she turned her attention to Marianne. "My dear, at least save yourself. You don't know how big of an opportunity you've given up by staying on this doomed ship."
"And what is that?" Marianne spat, loathing the murderous creature who'd almost had her killed.
A foul sneer crawled up Catherine's lips, creating a wave of fear to follow in its path. "Women and children first," she hissed, and without a warning, she jolted her hands forward and shoved Marianne over the railing.
There was no time to scream, no free moment to think. All Marianne remembered from the dumbfounding push was that she was falling, tumbling into an unknown, perilous darkness as her layered skirt fluttered in her face, picking up speed. Though she flailed and managed to gasp, no known entity could have prepared her for the nerve-wrenching cold that she plunged into when she hit the water with an anticipated splash.
At first, there was nothing but a painful numbing sensation that spread throughout her body like a thousand knives, stabbing at her pores and forcing her hairs to stand. In fact, she was so in shock, she only stared into the bubbling, obsidian ocean, her brain shutting down. When she was able to shake herself out of her incomprehensive state, she thrashed her frozen arms and legs, weighed down by the drenched coat she wore, and kicked to the surface.
Breaking through the waves, she gasped from utter breathlessness, the wind knocked out of her lungs before she even hit the water; there was nothing left for her to survive off of down there in the pit of blackness. The next thing she noticed was the gigantic ship plunging to its grave right next to her, the visible portholes flickering and sliding under the brim of the waterline, all the while letting her witness its death.
Nonetheless, her victimizer, wanting to torture her prey, barely gave Marianne enough time to comprehend what was happening, the suction from the ship tugging at her loosely. As Marianne, a mere eighteen years of age, trembled while paddling away from the pull, a pair of pale, veiny hands grabbed onto her shoulders and pushed her down.
Frantic, Marianne slapped away defensively at the crunching grip, but all attempts failed. When Catherine let go, she was able to break the surface and breathe again before dodging another blow, this time straight at her head.
"Why are you doing this?" Marianne cried as salty, ice-cold water touched her tongue, dripping from her ruined hair.
"I'm only doing what my country did to me!" Catherine spat, lunging for Marianne, who was able to move away in the nick of time. "You don't know what it's like for everyone to forget about you—"
But that's all she was able to get out. Marianne, snatching for anything in her sight—in this case, a deck chair—had raised the folded object above her head and knocked it over the unfortunate killer's skull, cracking it instantly.
Despite having defeated her enemy once and for all, Marianne dropped the chair as though she had been slain and held back her whimper. For all it was worth, a murder was not what she wanted; she wasn't a killer. Yet here was the proof, body and all.
However, Catherine wasn't legally dead yet. With the last bit of strength she had before passing into the other world, she punched Marianne in the face with a cry of rage, let out a few pants from her wheezy breaths before floating in the water, motionless.
Woozy, Marianne fought her conscious to stay awake—and alive—even though it was no use. With one last praying thought for her family and a glance at the sickly pool of red around the deed she had done, she fainted in the arms of the ocean, finally overpowered by her fate.