Stranded: What It Takes To Survive
Dazed, groggy, Cyrus awakens unsure of his whereabouts. With his body tethered to a buoyant surface, he comes to, taking in his surroundings with blurred vision. Indistinct noises of a man, a boy and a woman penetrate Cyrus’ conscious as faces begin to match the noises.
Sarah: Sir, are you ok?
Cyrus: Where am I?
Jack: Hell if I know…
Sarah: We’re on a boat…not sure where but…
Cyrus: How did I get here? Who are you people?
Sarah: We’re not sure. We just started waking up one by one and found ourselves here. My name is Sarah, the kid by the edge of the boat looking out is Thomas and this is Jack.
Jack: Welcome to the shit show lad. Who might you be?
Cyrus then anchors his feet beneath him and makes his way over to the edge of the boat. While looking out at the horizon, he responds, “Cyrus…Cyrus Bradshaw.” The sun begins to disappear under the horizon as it changes from yellow to orange.
Cyrus: It’s getting late, maybe we should gather all the things we can use and head to the lower deck.
Tabitha: That sounds like a good idea.
Blurred by the glimmer of the sun, a tall, slender figure emerges on the upper deck. Making her way down the stairs, she appears on the deck; shoulder-length silky brown hair, black stilettos and black-framed glasses. Extending her right arm and accentuating her bust, Tabitha introduces herself, “Tabitha Lockhart, pleasure to meet you Mr…” “Bradshaw…Cyrus Bradshaw”, Cyrus interrupts.
Tabitha: Well Cyrus, the food and blankets are already on the lower deck. I’m not sure what else you’ll find on this boat that’s of any use.
Cyrus: No communication devices, weapons, anything?
Thomas: We should head downstairs; I can barely see the sun anymore.
Jack: I agree with the kid, let’s go.
The cover of night has now shrouded the boat. After a quick tally of all the items available to them, the group gathers around a round, wooden table. With dim lights lit and an interrogation-style glow cast on each face, Cyrus begins to speak.
Cyrus: Alright, so we have limited food that we’ve rationed to last us about two weeks, none of us can operate the boat because of the damage done to the control system and we all don’t have phones, which I find to be particularly strange.
Jack: Thanks for summing up our dismay Captain Obvious.
Cyrus then darts a displeased look at Jack. Sarah perks up and dons a gleeful smile as she begins to speak.
Sarah: Well, since we’re all in this situation together, we should at least get to know each other. I’ll go first. My name is Sarah Michaels, wife of Phillip Michaels. I’m 32 years of age and pregnant with my second child at the moment!
Sarah could not hide her elation as the whole group looked on and gasped in astonishment and responded with collective congratulatory messages. Going in no particular order, Thomas opted to go next.
Thomas: I suppose I’ll go next. I’m Thomas Bailey, I’m a sophomore at Ohio State University and I’m looking to become a professional football player when…if I ever get back home.
Jack: Dream big kid. Well I’m Jack, just Jack for now. I live in Long Island with my wife Marie and I served in Afghanistan…two tours.
Tabitha: Hmmm…Military man. That should come in handy if we ever need protection. My name is Tabitha but my friends call me Tabby. I’m 26 and a middle school teacher in Miami. I love to party and I’m all about…adventure.
While introducing herself, Tabitha slyly glances at Cyrus with a lascivious gaze and asks, “So, what about you, what’s your story?”
Cyrus: I have a wife, 31 and a daughter, 6. My wife is a nurse and volunteers at homeless shelters in our community on Saturdays. My daughter Layla started ballet at the beginning of the year. She’s fallen on her ass a couple times chuckles but whenever she sees me looking she gets back up, wipes away the tears and moves on. I love my family more than I love myself and I want nothing more than to see them again.
Silence wafts over the room as the others stare at Cyrus. Jack volunteers to break the silence and says, “Relax mate, it’s not like we’re going to die. We should get some rest, figure out what to do in the morning.” So everyone retires to a section of the room fortified with blankets and pillows. As everyone begins to drift into unconsciousness, a faint whisper skates over Cyrus’ ear, “Only one will survive, only one will go home.” Immediately, Cyrus leaps from his sheets to look around the room. Everyone is still in their respective positions, Jack now shaking because of his light snoring. More concerned with sleep than anything else right now, Cyrus retires to his blanket and pillows and closes his eyes.
A couple hours pass and the howling of the winds and clatter of the boards of the upper deck begin to stir Cyrus. Cyrus glances across the room, unable to decipher anything in the darkness. Getting up, he heads to the bathroom and turns on the light. Before opening the door, he notices the glow of the light underneath the door revealing a crimson liquid on the ground pooling out of the bathroom. Slowly, reluctantly, Cyrus cracks the door and Thomas’ lifeless body flops unto him and wraps itself around him. Screaming, Cyrus flings Thomas back into the bathroom and drops to the floor, eyes locked on the door and he retreats to the others. Now awake, the others begin to question a shaking Cyrus…
Jack: What the hell is going on?! What time…
Cyrus: L…look in the bathroom…Thomas is…
Jack impatiently tosses his blanket and makes his way over to the bathroom. He opens the door and startled by Thomas sprawled out onto the ground with a wound from his chest dragged to the base of his abdomen, Jack stumbles back, “Jesus Christ.” Gripping his head on either side, Jack leans on the wall for support as he stares in disbelief, “What the fuck?!” Both Tabitha and Sarah go to look. Sarah reacts with eyes swimming in tears and both hands covering her mouth while Tabitha shuts her eyes and just looks away, unable to accept what she’s seen. Jack turns to Cyrus.
Jack: How the hell did this happen?! Who the fuck did this?!
Cyrus: I…I don’t know. I just woke up, went to the bathroom and saw him like that.
Jack: How the hell could this happen?! We were all right here…all in this room…no one…
Jack paused for a brief moment as if some horrific realization entered his head. Turning to the others, he continued, “Unless someone else is on this boat with us.” A scream from Sarah confirms everyone else’s thoughts as they stand frozen in shock at the possibility.
Jack: We have to find out or it could be one of us next.
With slow, turtle-like movements, Jack and Cyrus grab flashlights to search the boat, Sarah latched onto Jack and Tabitha latched onto Cyrus. They slowly make their way around the ship, peering into every room, every crevice, every space, but to no avail. Their search revealed something positive but something sinister: No one else was on the boat. They returned to the room to discuss.
Jack: So, if there’s no one else on the boat. It had to be one of us.
Sarah: How is that possible? We were all here. Even if it was one of us, how could we kill him without anyone else knowing? You saw the cut…it looked like he was attacked by a bear or something.
Tabitha: Blondie’s right. Maybe it wasn’t someone…but something…
Cyrus: Don’t be ridiculous, there’s no one and nothing else here and none of us have any reason to kill him.
Jack: Sigh It’s still pretty late; we should try and get some rest.
Sarah: You want us to sleep?! You must be out of your damn…
Jack: We can watch in shifts, I’ll take the first watch just to make sure this doesn’t happen again; you guys can get some rest. I’ll wake up Mr Family Man in three hours.
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!!” Tabitha’s scream rips through Sarah and Cyrus’ subconscious. Cyrus takes a sweep of the room and notices Jack leaned up against a stack of pillows with a gaping wound in his forehead and a stream of blood leading from the wound and pooling on his stomach. Startled, Cyrus jumps back, hitting his head against the wall, “Holy shit!! What the fuck is happening?!?!” Sarah joins Tabitha’s screaming while tears stream down her face and she grasps Tabitha, frantically trying to move away from Jack’s body.
Cyrus: What the…how the hell did this happen?! He was watching…how the fuck did he die?!
Cyrus then crawls over to the women and embraces them with his gaze affixed on Jack, still in disbelief.
Cyrus: We need to get off this boat…we will get off this boat…even if…
Sarah: crying How?! We’re in the middle of nowhere…we’re stranded out here…two of our friends died a couple hours ago…we’re never leaving so we might as well just kill ourselves!!”
Thrusting herself from Tabitha’s grip, Sarah races to the upper deck. Cyrus races after her and catches her at the moment she readies herself to jump…
A morning and afternoon pass and no one touches the buffet of peanuts and potatoes on the table. While the sun sets, Sarah approaches Cyrus on the deck.
Sarah: I think Tabitha killed Thomas and Jack.
Cyrus: I know she seems a bit shady, but why do you think she did it? She has no reason to…
Sarah: Thin the herd? Make the supplies last for the rest of us? I think we’re only still alive because I’m pregnant and you have a family back home. She may be a killer but she still has a heart.
Cyrus: It’s not fair to…
Sarah: I’m only saying this because I think we should look out for each other. We both have children we’d very much like to see again. Don’t you want to see Layla again?
After pausing for a short while, Cyrus agrees and sees Sarah retire to the lower deck. Moments later, Cyrus notices Tabitha glaring at him from the upper deck. Seconds pass without any exchange of communication and Cyrus turns to continue admiring the view. At this time, Cyrus remembers the whisper he heard last night, “Only one will survive; only one will go home.”
Once night falls, the three retire to the lower deck, all unable to sleep. They all assume their respective positions in the room and lie down, eyes wide open. Over and over, Cyrus replays the whisper in his head and considers the possibility that he is the one murdering the other members and if so, should he continue. Just then, a creak in the floorboard alerts Cyrus to possible movement in the room, but he sees nothing. This happens a couple times until Cyrus’ fatigue gets the better of him and he falls asleep.
“Cyrus…..Cyyyyyyyyrus!!” Alarmed by the wailing in the distance, Cyrus stirs from his sleep. Sarah stumbles towards Cyrus with dim light highlighting a wound on her left shoulder. Cyrus rushes to her aid but Sarah refuses and persuades him to pursue Tabitha. Cyrus grabs the flashlight under his pillow and ventures to the other sections of the boat but to no avail. As he returns to the room, he notices a figure moving slowly against the wall, shrouded in darkness. Cyrus rushes towards the moving figure and grabs it by the neck, squeezing, strangling. It buckles and frantically tries to escape his grip. Cyrus grabs the figure by the head and smashes it repeatedly into the wall. The body slowly descends to the floor and towers back onto Cyrus’ feet revealing Tabitha’s bloodied brown hair. Cyrus then inspects her body and as his eyes move from her head downwards, he notices her slashed abdomen and intestines trailing behind her on the floor. Retreating in shock, Cyrus feels a piercing pain in his lower back rapidly move to his side. Cyrus screams out as he tumbles to the floor. Sarah kneels on his hand while she thrusts the knife towards his chest. Cyrus, mustering every bit of energy he has left, halts the knife at his chest.
Cyrus: Sarah, why…Why are you doing this?!
Sarah: I have to get off this boat; I have to see my family! And I know you heard it too…the whisper; that’s why you killed Jack isn’t it?
Eyes flung wide open at the realization, Cyrus succumbs to his weakness and Sarah penetrates his chest by a half inch. Struggling to hold back the knife, Cyrus tries to appeal to Sarah.
Sarah: I heard you kill him when he woke you up to take your watch, but I couldn’t move, I was terrified. I heard Tabitha put Thomas in the bathroom and knew that if she could kill that sweet little boy, she’d have no problem killing me…she had to go.
Cyrus: That’s why you approached me on the deck; you wanted me on your side to make it easier to kill her…and me. We can work together; we both have kids. I have a little girl Goddammit!!! Please Sarah…
Staring into Cyrus’s tear-soaked eyes, Sarah pauses and slowly pulls the knife back; intensity of the situation gradually dropping. With tears in her eyes, Sarah drops her arms and begins to cry.
Sarah: I don’t know what happened; when Thomas and Jack died…I lost it. I was sure I was going to die next. I couldn’t…I need to see my family; my husband and my children. I’m sorry; I don’t know what came over me Cyrus.
Cyrus: grunts It’s ok; let’s just focus on keeping each other alive from now on and getting off this damn boat.
With a relieved laugh and tears streaming down her face, Sarah wraps her arms around Cyrus to help him to his feet.
A blinding pain registers in Sarah’s head as she looks down to see Cyrus gripping the knife handle at the base of her stomach. Gasping from shock, Sarah peers at Cyrus who engages her gaze with a sinister glare as he slowly moves the knife up to her right breast and twists it inside her. With the last flicker of life in Sarah, her eyes freeze open and she falls to the floor. Panting, Cyrus grips the area of his first wound now completely drenched in blood and he army-crawls to the upper deck. Using every ounce of energy he has left, he positions himself with a view of the ocean as he gazes at the moonlit waves. As his eyelids begin to close, the faint glow of a white light becomes visible like the sun setting over the horizon.