Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Beautiful (11/07/05)
By Peter Thomas
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Charles walked over to the porthole and looked out at the glimmering sea. The sun scattered over a million ripples and caused him to squint. In the distance he could just make out the coast of China on the horizon. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and turned back to the others. All twenty of the passengers were present.
"When will they let us out of here?" Amber said. She was a shapely blond with a perfect complexion and dark eyes. "What are they going to do to us?"
Charles couldn't take his eyes off of her even in the middle of this nightmare. In truth, he was starting to see her as a bit of a whiner, but her beauty made up for that.
"I thought they were going to bring us water," she said. "It must be a hundred and twenty degrees in here."
A couple of the elderly men shook their heads and looked away. Charles saw a burly guy eyeing her with lust. Charles started to feel jealous.
Joan Smith's baby started crying again. Charles took a deep breath and watched as Ellie stood and began pacing with the infant, softly singing a nursery rhyme. He thought about how he and Ellie had sort of bonded on the first day of the cargo cruise. She was a lovely girl, and he'd really enjoyed their time together. Something about her touched him.
Al Smith held his wife in his lap as he'd been doing since she fainted from the heat. The poor lady was pregnant with another one and had some awful morning sickness. She'd already thrown up twice. At least they had a drinking glass and a porthole. The baby started crying again.
"Would you make it stop?" Amber said.
Charles sighed. He watched Ellie as she rocked the baby in her arms and the infant grew quiet. He tried to hear what she was humming to the newborn. Now he watched her nurture the baby and he remembered how great he had felt being with her. He had admired her spirit and her intellect and her character. Imagine a girl giving up a law career after only a few years to be a missionary in China. He lived for adventure and her boldness impressed him. They had much in common and time had flown when they were together. Yes, she was a lovely girl.
"How much longer are they going to keep us in here?" Amber said, leaning against a bookshelf. "What are they going to do to us? They're going to kill us. I know they're going to kill us!" She began to sob. She sunk to the floor and began slapping her knees with anger. "I've got to get off this ship. I've got to!"
Charles marveled at how her beauty pulled at him like a magnet. If a woman could make you feel that way, then you didn't fuss over the small stuff. But for some reason, when he looked at Ellie and Joan Smith's baby, he kept thinking of their time together. They really had this rapport and connection, but then Amber had shown up. He couldn't relate to her dreams of nice houses and nice furniture and nice paintings and nice parties and nice evenings at the theatre. But he had a few flaws himself. She was dreamy. If they got out of this alive, she was the one he wanted to be with.
The door to the library burst open. Amber shrieked. Charles felt tension seize his muscles as he looked at the pirate's AK-47 assault rifle. The pirate was Chinese with long hair, a beard and a bandana. He looked at Joan Smith and tossed her husband a water bottle. Amber snatched it from his hand and took a big guzzle before a retired stockbroker from San Diego stopped her.
"She's needs it more than you do."
Amber sighed and gave it back.
The pirate said, "We've decided to let half of you go. A crewman will take you ashore. Decide who will go."
For the next few minutes, they bickered over who would go. Then the pirate came back with two other armed thugs. "It is time. Ten of you come." Smith carried his wife out. Another lady took the baby. Two couples left. Ellie encouraged a gray-haired lady to go in her place. Amber stopped at the door. "Come on, Charles."
He looked over at Ellie.
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