Here’s an unfinished fiction series I once started to write. I wanted a series that was 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, 5 months, and 5 years. But I never made it past 5 minutes. It sat in my drafts for years, so here it is.
The name’s Erik. I’m a photographer. I shoot mostly fashion stuff for magazines and shows. I’m out on assignment today. We’re on a boat somewhere west of Australia. It’s a beautiful day. I’m doing a shoot for a new swimsuit line worn by model Alessandra Ambrosio.
I work with models all of the time. After a while, it’s like working in a bank. You’re surrounded by millions of dollars in cash, but after a while, it’s just the thing you work with every day. It’s not yours, and it’s just business. All of the women are beautiful. Probably some of the most beautiful women in the world. But it’s just a job like any other. You work, you hope you get the right shots, and you get paid. Sometimes you put in long hours. The travel wears you out, and life on the road gets lonely.
What concerns me today is the skipper was complaining that the port engine on this 1996, 37-foot flybridge motor yacht just wasn’t right; the gas engine was running rough and losing power. Something about loose valves or pistons. He’s below now taking a look at it.
It’s just the four of us out here. Me, the captain, Alessandra, and her makeup artist, Sidney.
Out of all of the models I’ve ever worked with, Ale’ has always been my favorite. She’s a sweet woman with a great sense of humor. Always on point and ready to work despite her fame.
Right now I’m out on the bow with her. She’s wearing a lovely multi-colored bikini. My Nikon D3X Digital SLR camera is clicking away. These shots are going to be great. They better be. This baby cost me seven grand.
“Sidney! Can you help me out a sec?” The captain shouts from below. Sidney rolls his eyes and heads to the back of the boat. “Coming!”
I turn my attention back to Alessandra. “Ok, dear. Give me a little smile. Turn. Little more to the left. Okay, look up just slightly. Perfect.”
Out of nowhere, there’s an explosion. Ale’s eyes were wide as she clutches the grab rail on the bow. I fall backward onto the deck. “What the hell?” she exclaims.
That’s when the screaming began. Screaming from below deck. Screaming I’ll never forget. It was the captain.
“Fire! The boat’s on fire!” Alessandra cried.
I looked backward, still reeling from the shock. Flames burst forth from the hold in the back of the boat. I scrambled to my feet. I glanced back at Alessandra. “Stay here.”
This was a fuel fire. I could smell it. Large billows of black smoke poured skyward from the flames. I could hear them screaming, but I couldn’t get to them. The heat was so intense. I clambered to the bridge looking for a fire extinguisher. I got inside and looked wildly about. Then I saw it. The metal hook on the wall to where the fire extinguisher was supposed to be but wasn’t.
I went towards the helm. I located the distress button and lifted the cover. I pressed and held the button until it beeped. Hopefully, the DSC signal will tell the Coast Guard the ship’s information. I grabbed the radio. “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! This is the Lady Louise! We’re on fire!”
I could feel the panic clutching me like a giant claw. I couldn’t give a location. I didn’t even know where the hell we were!
God, it’s getting hot in here. The heat is taking me and I can’t stop coughing. Smoke is filling the cabin. I looked out the windshield at Ale’. She had a terrified grimace of mute protest on her beautiful visage. A look I had never seen before. Then she said something I wished I’d never heard.
I grabbed what I could and threw it in my bag. Then reached for the only two things that could keep us from dying here in the next few minutes. I scrambled out the side door of the cabin. The flames licked my left arm. Searing it instantly. I screamed in pain and made my way toward Ale’.
The boat was going down, and the screaming from below had stopped. The thought turned my stomach. Hopefully, they didn’t burn to death and the smoke took them instead.
“Put this on.” I could see the tears streaming down her cheeks and her lower lip quiver as she put on the bright orange life jacket. She snapped it in place. She was hyperventilating. I grabbed her by the shoulders to steady her. “We’re going to be okay, honey. We’re going to get out of this.”
“Are we going to die?” She squeaked.
“What about Sidney and Captain Pike?”
“They’re dead. We have to go.”
She started crying more, but then suddenly stopped. “Wait. Look!” She pointed behind me. I wheeled around. Strapped in a rack at the foot of the bridge was what appeared to be an inflatable raft and two oars. I yanked it out. “How are we going to get it inflated in time?” she said.
“With this.” I affixed the CO2 cartridge into the nozzle. Thankfully it began to inflate. The ship was now tilting to the side. Lady Louise was going down for the last time. But we were going to get out of this if we could just get off her and into the raft.
“Alessandra. I need you to listen to me. I’m going to lash this raft to the side of the boat here. Then I’m going to throw it overboard. I’m going to drop this bag here into the raft. Then I’m going to go in. I’m going to ask you to then untie the raft and jump. I’ll catch you. I promise.”
“What about women and children first?”
“Just do it, Ale’!”
The raft went into the water. Followed by my bag containing my camera and what supplies and tools I grabbed from the cabin. I then climbed down and dropped into the raft. I looked up at her crouching on the deck. “Okay, Ale’. Come on!”
She was about to climb over when she suddenly hesitated, glancing backward. “What are you waiting for? Come on!”
“One sec.” She said, holding up her perfectly manicured index finger.
Then she was gone. Just the sun glinting in my eyes as I looked upward. “Ale’! Come back! What are you doing? They’re dead! You can’t do anything. We have to go! Please!
Suddenly she reappeared, coughing and gasping. “Here. Catch.” A huge duffel bag landed on me, knocking me to the floor of the raft.” I pushed it to the side, as it was followed by the slender 5’9″ 119 lb frame of a global supermodel. She fell into my arms as I broke her fall. Her face was inches from mine for a moment. She didn’t move. Her breath came in short gasps of fear.
“Jesus, You scared the hell out of me, Ale’. You could have been killed running back for that!” She could sense the anger mixed with terror in my voice as I gazed into her lovely feline eyes.
“What? If you’re entitled to one carry-on bag, then so am I,” she said, rolling off me.
I just shook my head but was somewhat relieved. The raft drifted away from the sinking Lady Louise. She was engulfed in flames now. Maybe someone will see the column of black smoke that poured from her, I thought. We both watched as she disappeared beneath the waves. The ocean hissed, mocking us. Extinguishing the flames in a final puff of smoke.
“Grab an oar. I’ll try to get our bearings as to where we are.” I said, looking around. I squinted in the hot sun.
Ale’ scanned the horizon. “Look!”She turned toward me. “Land! See it?” She pointed to what appeared to be a small island in the distance to our west. She grabbed an oar and locked it in place. I did the same. “Well, let’s hope there are people there that can help us.”
So here I am. Out in the middle of the ocean. Miles from the mainland of Australia with a gorgeous, international supermodel. Possibly one of the most beautiful women in the world. Here we are. Shoulder to shoulder, paddling an inflatable orange raft to who knows where.
Should I finish this? Let me know in the comments if you think it’s worth pursuing!
(If you click on the link of her name in the story above you can read the blog post from a few years ago when I met her in New York!)
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