“Missing in Venice” by Luke Daugherty

by Luke Daugherty ’24

Even with her mighty engines in reverse, the ocean liner was pulled further and further into the canal.

Captain Aquarius of the RMS Charon was anxious. He had braved many hardships in the Royal Navy during the great war but this was his first command of a civilian ocean liner, the RMS Charon. He looked out at the New York skyline, with the Empire State Building prominent among the other, lesser buildings. “It will be all right,” he thought “it’s just a quick voyage to Athens.” 

 • • •

Frederick was terrified. He had never been on an ocean liner before and just wanted to reach Athens for his vacation. Then the loudspeaker crackled “The RMS Charon will be departing New York Harbor soon. Please enjoy your voyage.” Frederick ran below deck and cowered in his cabin as the ship’s mighty engines roared and she left the city. 

 • • •

The Atlantic Ocean. Captain Aquarius was glad to be back where he felt most at home, sailing over those familiar choppy waves and billowing winds, that he had experienced so many times before. There was one thing; however, that was missing. The danger. There was no threat of enemy submarines or dreadnoughts that made adrenaline pump and keep all on watch. No drills or discipline that made sailors operate a ship to the best of its abilities, using every last ounce of power to manipulate the machine to accomplish great feats. Yet, here he was on this unarmed ocean liner, with a crew whose main purpose was to give passengers a pleasant and comfortable voyage. “Sir,” a messenger said “there is a passenger cowering in room 154 who would like for the engines to stop because they are scaring him.” the Captain was puzzled, “What?” he asked. “There is a passenger cowering in room 154 who would like for the engines to stop because they are scaring him.” repeated the messenger. “What?” asked the Captain “There is a passenger cowering in room 154 who would like for the engines to st-” the messenger started to say. “So what should I do?” the Captain rephrased. “Maybe comfort him?” So, the Captain exited the command bridge and headed down to the lowest deck where he entered cabin 154. Inside the cabin a young man was curled up, quivering, on the bed. “A-are you t-the c-c-captain?” he asked, “yes” Aquarius responded. ‘C-can you p-p-please turn off the engines? I just want to go to A-Athens.” the man, Frederick,  said. “You will not get to Athens if the engines are shut off” the exasperated captain growled and returned to the command bridge. 

 • • •

After a few days of sailing, the RMS Charon had arrived at the Mediterranean Sea. A few hours after the ship passed the Pillars of Hercules, Frederick saw a mysterious creature following in the ship’s wake. “Ahhhhhh!” he exclaimed and immediately bolted from the aft deck and dashed to the nearest crew member. “There is a mysterious creature following the ship! We are all going to die!” Frederick cried to the crew member. “Sir, there is nothing to worry about, new ocean liners like the RMS Charon leave a sizeable wake.” the steward replied. “It was alive a-and colossal!” cried Frederick. “I’m sure it was just a pod of dolphins or some fish then” the steward calmly responded. “Now how about I escort you back to your cabin and you get some rest.”

 • • •

This voyage seemed peaceful. Almost too peaceful for Captain Aquarius. As the ocean liner was passing Sicily, the Captain was looking out the command bridge at the calm, blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Athens was 412 nautical miles away from his current location of the coast of Sicily, and so far, this was his most boring voyage as a captain ever. The most stimulating thing that had happened was a passenger who seemed to be afraid of everything. Suddenly, the ship stopped. “What is going on!” exclaimed the Captain. “I don’t know Captain,” a sailor responded, “nobody has stopped them from here.” Aquarius immediately sprinted down to the engine rooms “what is going on!” he cried when he got there. “We don’t  know Cap’n, the engines are still runnin’  but something’s got hold o’ the ship.” Captain Aquarius ran with expeditiousness back to the bridge and began examining the charts and compasses. “Where is it taking us?” asked the Captain. “We’re heading north, but I can’t say exactly where” responded a sailor. “Interesting; whatever it is has not crushed or damaged the ship in any way” noted Aquarius, “we should send down a diver to see what it is.” 

The Captain watched from the bridge as one brave sailor suited up to head down into the water. “I hope he finds out what it is without getting himself killed,” Aquarius thought as the diver vaulted into the water and plummeted down to its depths. Minutes passed with the Captain and various crew members waiting and watching for the diver to return. Then they saw him. He was swimming frantically towards the boat with a big shadowy something on his tail. He managed to break the surface before yelling “sea monster!” and being dragged into the depths of the sea. 

 • • •

The memorial service for the diver had been held the night after his dive and Captain Aquarius had been contemplating what to do. Finally, he had decided, and that morning an announcement crackled over the loudspeakers all over the ship. “Greetings passengers aboard the RMS Charon. For certain circumstances and by order of Captain Aquarius you all must follow the emergency procedure. All passengers report to your emergency meeting points and prepare to abandon ship.” There was chaos across the ship as passengers frantically seized belongings and raced to their meeting points. First, Group One was led by sailors to a lifeboat, life jackets were distributed and the boat was released. But after it had traveled about 100 feet away from the ship something from the depths of the sea reached out and crushed the lifeboat drowning the people one by one. 

The Captain saw this and immediately, a new announcement crackled over the loudspeakers. “Orders canceled. I repeat, orders canceled. Do not abandon ship, all passengers are to return to their cabins and pack their belongings. I repeat, do not abandon ship.” Passengers traveled back to their cabins with Frederick yelling “We are all going to die!” and Aquarius thought up a new plan. 

SOS  SOS  STOP This is Captain Aquarius of the RMS Charon STOP We are currently in a dangerous position STOP There is a sea monster that is moving our ship north STOP Lifeboats eaten when put in water STOP Help STOP SOS. Captain Aquarius had resorted to his last option which shamed him with his naval past but there was nothing else he could think of. As the ship advanced towards Venice, the Captain was sitting at the telegraph writing an urgent message. He only hoped that it would be believed and a Corps of the Port Captaincies ship could come in time. With the skyline of Venice getting closer and closer Captain Aquarius put on his life jacket and hoped for the best. 

 • • •

Frederick was running amok on the deck of the RMS Charon, passengers scrambled to get out of the way with their belongings. While he was running, he was screaming “We are all going to die! We are missing in Venice!” Stewards struggled to calm him down and stop him from plunging overboard, while he did this. “Sir! Please calm down sir! You must remain calm! Everything is under control!” Unfortunately, Frederick did not listen and continued to run amok. Then the loudspeakers crackled “Attention passengers of the RMS Charon. Captain Aquarius has sent an emergency telegraph to the Corps of the Port Captaincies and asks for you all to don your life jackets. The Corps of the Port Captaincies ship should arrive in the near future. We thank you for your courage and patience. 

 • • •

Venice was getting closer and closer and Aquarius could see no Corps of the Port Captaincies ships coming towards the RMS Charon. There had to be a way to save the passengers. Then a riot broke down the door in the command bridge chanting “Save our ship! Save our ship!” the Captain then exclaimed, “What is this!” In answer a member of the riot replied “We the passengers aboard the RMS Charon are finished with your captainship and we can do better at captaining than you!” the others agreed. “I am doing everything in my power to save this ship from whatever may come to it!” Aquarius declared. “We are missing in Venice!” cried Frederick and the others chanted “Missing in Venice! Missing in Venice!” Captain Aquarius along with some sailors wrestled the rioters back outside the command bridge and then he turned to look out the window. 

The RMS Charon was in a canal in Venice! It was being pulled down the canal, squeezing between buildings. Deeper and deeper into the channel. To the left, a tower crumbled and cracked in half. Captain Aquarius tried and tried but even with her mighty engines in reverse, the ocean liner was pulled further and further into the canal.