****DON't read unless finished with The mafia... part one
Captain Jonathan Ende set the intercom radio back in it's cradle and stared at his hands. He had been doing this sort of stuff for seven years and never, not once had anything like this ever happened. And, frankly, it scared him. People were dead on his boat, burned to mangled crisps by the grenade that had penetrated his starboard bow. At least ten deaths now weighed on his conscience and undoubtedly, more were on the way. He shivered and stared out the window as the cruise staff around him scrambled for telephones, for order, for a solution to this nightmare. He could also be kissing his job goodbye. It wasn't like he had done anything wrong, but the cruise line would be making a statement by releasing him to appease the public. The company would suffer law suits, complaints, slander, and bad publicity. Ende, of course had nothing to do with it. He was just doing his job as the captain, sailing around the tip of Somalia like he had hundreds of times before. But the cruise line would need a scapegoat. And he understood business well enough to know it would be him.
That, however, was the least of his problems. He had nearly 800 people on his ship and he wasn't about to let ten terrorists in fishing boats slaughter them all. They way he saw it, he had two choices. Give up or take the offensive. He smiled weakly. It wasn't a hard decision. He turned around.
“Vince!” He roared at an aging Brazilian man yelling frantically into a satellite telephone, “Vince I want you to go to the ninth deck and fire the LRAD at them. We don't much more time before they take another shot at us with their launcher. You got it?” Vince glanced at him, smirked, slammed his phone down, and turned towards the emergency elevator. “Captain” He shouted over his shoulder, “I'll do anything to get us outta here.” The man punched a button on the panel, stepped into the elevator and turned to face Ende. “Consider 'em gone.” He said.
The elevator doors closed and sent Vince up to the highest deck on the Seatrekker.
The Long Range Acoustic Device, or LRAD, – a satellite-dish shaped sonic weapon that could fire a highly concentrated beam of sound at any object up to nearly a thousand feet away – was Vince's personal favorite. Out of the many defensive weapons the Seatrekker held, it was probably the most effective and the most fun to use; it's maximum volume being 146 decibels, far past the threshold of pain for a normal human being, but not enough to kill anyone. The police used it and the military used it. And now so did the cruise lines. Vince couldn't help grinning as the elevator ticked off the deck levels. Those pirates were in for a migraine.
The elevator beeped pleasantly and Vince stepped out into the sun, onto the ninth deck. He squinted and listened for a moment to the harsh rattle of bullets against the Seatrekker 's side and then quickly glanced around for the LRAD. Another person died for every minute that passed. He had to hurry. Vince caught sight of the starboard tarp-covered LRAD and sprinted over to it, dodging deck chairs and picnic tables. Blindly, he tore the tarp off, jammed the the earphones down on his head and wrapped his hands around the LRAD controls. He suddenly felt young again. Like he was in the Brazilian military once more, riding shotgun with an automatic in his hands. It gave him a tantalizing high.
He spotted the pirates easily. The two boats were close together and wreathed in a cloud of rocket smoke. He swiveled the LRAD towards them, flicked the machine on and silently adjusted the decibel level and range. The control panel beeped. A definite, confident beep. Vince fingered the trigger and took a breath. The terrorists had picked the wrong ship to fight with. Vince hoped they had some Excedrin on board...
He pulled the trigger. The effect was immediate. The high pitched, painful, whining noise was like a punch in the face. All ten pirates dropped their guns and clutched their ears, swearing in Somali and one or two practically fell to the ground. Vince could hear their groans even a hundred feet in the sky. It made him smile. “Take that, you híbridos” he muttered in Portuguese and let out another sound pulse from the LRAD. Three of the pirates managed to stagger to their feet, guns in hand, and squeeze off a few bullets in Vince's direction. He could hear them whistle past his ears. In response, he raised the decibel level and fired again, this time mashing his finger down on the trigger, grinding his teeth, holding it down. The pirates became frantic with pain. They scrambled over each other like mice, clawing past their comrades, rushing for the outboard motor and steering wheel. Vince chuckled. They were retreating! The boat on the left was the first to go, weaving precariously in and out of balance as the crazed Somalians put as much distance between them and the cursed LRAD as possible. Grudgingly, the second boat headed out after the other a minute later, firing a few bullets over their backs in disgust. Vince cheered inwardly and swore he could here the rest of the boat joining in underneath him. He had done it. He'd warded off the pirates. The fishing boats were now specks in the bay, never to bother them again. Vince plucked the earphones off of his head and ran for the elevator.
When he got home, he was expecting a raise.
I stepped off of the Seatrekker into the Floridian sun on the sixty third day and took a deep breath. I was finally off of that boat. Any thought of the ocean, of water at all now made me sick to my stomach. The only images that came to mind when I thought of the cruise or the ocean were those of the fifteen bodies that had been salvaged from their staterooms and laid out in the hallway outside of my executive suite after the had pirates left. They were missing arms and legs and their skin had looked like gray putty; charred beyond all recognition. They hadn't even been able to be identified until we pulled into Ngqura, like a wounded beast, where the bodies were unloaded and their dental records were retrieved. We spent five days in Ngqura, waiting for the massive hole in the starboard plating to be repaired. The atmosphere and attitude of the passengers had been cold and solemn while we waited in the South African port. It was more like a funeral than a vacation.
So I was grateful to be done with the Seatrekker as I walked down the dock, towards the shuttle provided by the cruise line and wearily threw my sagging body into a seat. It had been the worst experience of my entire life; more like a hell than the paradise the travel agent had advertised it as. Feeling hollow and dead inside, I swore never to sail again. At least near Somalia. Near the the mafia of the ocean. Near the pirates. I never wanted to feel so fragile again. The bus rattled to life and the driver rolled out of the parking lot, past the palm trees and dumpsters of the Miami beach, the Seatrekker fading from view behind me.
Somehow though, I could feel death grinning it's horrible and ghastly smile, just over my shoulder, knowing now that it's famine had just been filled...
This short story, the Seatrekker, and the Somalian pirates are based upon what happened to the Seabourn Spirit, a cruise ship that was indeed assaulted by pirates while passing by Somalia on November the 5th 2005. Some were injured but no one was killed in the incident and an LRAD was used to repel the “pirates” away. A rocket propelled grenade was also shot at the ship, went through a veranda and into a passenger's room, but did not detonate. All characters are fictional.