Chapter 22: Nowhere to Run

At exactly 9:32 p.m., Brynne’s wrist unit came to life. She was sipping on after-dinner tea, deep in thought, when the beeping brought her out of it. She set the half-empty cup of tea down on the dinner cart, and picked up the unit, which she’d set aside on the table with Andrews’s blueprints. She immediately calibrated it to open a link back to 2009.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect. Andrews was still at dinner, and there was absolutely no one around to witness Brynne’s disappearance. She rose from her seat in front of the dinner cart and pointed the wrist unit at the wall in front of her.

“Come on, come on, come on,” Brynne urged. She didn’t know when Andrews was returning, but she had to get this done before he came in and caught her. She could hear the sounds that accompanied link formation, just as she’d heard earlier that morning out on the deck.

She could also hear footsteps that sounded as if they were approaching the stateroom door, but they could only be someone walking past the room. Brynne listened – those footsteps were coming closer. They were right outside the door. It must be Andrews – he was back from dinner.

When Brynne heard the doorknob turn, she quickly shut off the wrist unit, aborting the link. She turned and leaped toward the dressing table, which is where she was calmly sitting when the door opened, and Andrews entered.

“How was dinner?” Brynne asked him, the picture of serenity.

“Peaceful,” Andrews replied, closing the door behind him. “Of course, everyone asked about you. Are you feeling better?”

“Much, thank you,” Brynne said, her eyes coming to rest on the simple brown package in Andrews’s hands. “What’s that?”

“Well, I know that the last few days haven’t exactly been ideal,” he began, “so, yesterday, I put in a request with Mr. Joughin, the baker.” He presented the package to her.

Still seated at the dressing table, Brynne took the package and, with much curiosity, began to open it. “Raisin bread,” she said upon discovering the contents. She looked up at Andrews in disbelief. Raisin bread was her favorite type of bread.

“Cinnamon raisin bread, to be precise,” Andrews said. “I know it isn’t much, but I hope it makes the trip at least a little better for you.”

Brynne set the partially wrapped bread down on the dressing table and stood. Apparently, Andrews knew her better than she expected, which was yet another reason why she had to get out of here. What else did he know about her?

Regardless, the gesture was still incredibly sweet of him. Brynne kissed him and thanked him before retreating to the bathroom to change for bed. Even though she wasn’t planning on sleeping at all, she had to maintain appearances to keep from arousing suspicion from Andrews. She couldn’t very well remain dressed in regular day clothes all night for no apparent reason.

She studied her reflection in the bathroom mirror. No matter what she did, things kept getting more complicated, like fate was working against her. She’d had all the time in the world today by herself, but the wrist unit hadn’t worked then. Now, the wrist unit worked, but she had to figure out how to get away from everyone so that she could use it.

Where was a place on the ship that was likely to be deserted at this hour? It was only 10:00. Many passengers would have already retired for the night, but it was still relatively early, and a few people would likely still be in the public rooms. She’d already tried the public lavatories earlier, finding that they were never completely empty.

What about the cargo hold? Brynne had completely forgotten about it, but it seemed like it could be an ideal place. Why hadn’t she considered it earlier? The only problem was that she needed to conjure up a reason to go out at this time of night (and alone, to boot) when she’d spent nearly the entire day in the stateroom on the basis of feeling tired and under-the-weather. She could pick a fight with Andrews and storm out. It wouldn’t be pretty, but it would get the job done.

Brynne turned her back to the mirror and leaned against the sink, rejecting the idea. She couldn’t bring herself to do that. There was absolutely nothing about him that she could harp on. He’d just brought her raisin bread, for goodness sake. Besides, if she left, he’d probably come after her anyway. It would be the same if she just walked out suddenly without resorting to an argument. He’d wonder what was wrong and come after her, trying to fix it.

This wouldn’t be a problem if Andrews were asleep. She’d be able to simply sneak out as she’d done earlier. But it was only 10:00, and she seriously doubted he’d be calling it a night this early. She needed a way to get him into bed early.

Brynne opened the bathroom door. Sure enough, just as she’d guessed he would be, Andrews was seated at the table, his eyes already glued to blueprints. He hadn’t even changed out of his dinner clothes, yet. Brynne deftly crossed the short distance to the table, taking care to avoid the books on the floor. He hadn’t even noticed her until he felt her arms gently snaking around his shoulders and over his chest. Leaning over him, Brynne kissed him on the cheek, her loose brown locks brushing against his face and neck.

“Why don’t you come to bed?” she beckoned.

Andrews responded to her with a simple peck on the back of her hand, but he barely looked away from his work. “I will, darling, in just a little while,” he said.

Brynne reached forward and gently pulled the pencil from his grasp, causing him to finally tear his intent, brown-eyed gaze away from the blueprints. Brynne kissed him on the lips, trying to make him forget about everything ship-related. It must have worked because he finally rose, turned off the lamp on the table, and retreated to the bed with Brynne.

Brynne felt like such a sleaze. Without a doubt, she was enjoying the moment as much as Andrews, but her motives were hardly transparent. Andrews was simply making love to his wife; Brynne, on the other hand, had pursued this course of action because it was the best way she knew put him to sleep besides sleeping pills, which she didn’t possess at the moment. When it came down to it, she was manipulating him. She didn’t like it; she hated it. But she couldn’t think of a better way.

The telephone rang at 11:03. Brynne was already wide awake when the ringing ripped through the silence in the room. She silently cursed the phone and whoever was calling on the other end. Andrews had nearly drifted off to sleep, and this stupid call was threatening to ruin her plan. She catapulted from the bed and caught the phone at the beginning of the second ring.

“Hello?” she whispered into the telephone. Her eyes remained trained on Andrews, who yawned, moved a little, and still seemed to be well on his way to sleep.

This is Mr. Boxhall. There’s been an accident.”

“An accident?” Brynne repeated. She picked up Andrews’s pocketwatch and checked the time. It was only a little past 11:00. What accident? Titanic hadn’t even hit the iceberg, yet.

“Who is it, Brynne?” Andrews asked groggily, his eyes still closed.

“It’s Boxhall calling from the Bridge,” Brynne replied. “He says there’s been some kind of accident.”

Andrews’s eyes opened and he pushed himself into a sitting position. The bed sheets wrapped about him, he scooted to the edge of the bed. Brynne handed the phone to him. “Mr. Boxhall – this is Mr. Andrews speaking,” he said. “What’s happened?”

Brynne picked up her bathrobe and slipped into it. She knew that Andrews was awake now, and would probably return to his work as soon as he hung up the phone.

“What …” Andrews said, still listening. Something in his voice made Brynne freeze. She turned the on the lamp on the table. “I’m on my way,” Andrews said. He hung up the phone and sprung to action, making a beeline to the wardrobe.

“What is it?” Brynne asked. “What did he say?”

“We’ve struck ice,” Andrews said, quickly pulling on clothes.

What?” Brynne asked. How was this possible? This wasn’t supposed to happen for another half-hour.

Andrews pulled on a pair of pants, followed by a shirt. “We may be taking on water,” he said. “They don’t know for sure, yet.”

Brynne tried to figure out a reason why this was happening so soon. Then she stopped. It didn’t matter. This was the opportunity she had been waiting for. With Andrews gone, Brynne could open her link and leave without any interference.

“What do you need me to do?” she asked him.

Andrews slid into a suit jacket and walked over to Brynne. “Get dressed, but stay here for now,” he instructed. “I’ll call you as soon as I know more.” He kissed her quickly, and then he was gone.

Brynne peeled off her robe and quickly dressed herself. She knew what was going to happen, even if the timing was off. She knew the tone in Boxhall’s voice: excited and perhaps a bit nervous. She knew what Andrews, the carpenter, and Captain Smith would find when they examined the ship. She knew what Andrews’s assessment would be. And she knew who would live and who would die.

As soon as she finished dressing, Brynne picked up her wrist unit and immediately activated it.

Well … she tried to activate it.

“No, no, no!” Brynne exclaimed. The unit was malfunctioning again. “Not again, damnit!” She pressed the little buttons on the unit repeatedly with no positive result. Disgusted, she tossed the device onto the bed and plopped down beside it. Now, what was she supposed to do? She sighed. The only thing she could do was wait for Andrews to call.

And he did, about half an hour after he’d first left their stateroom. The telephone rang around 11:30.

“Hello?” Brynne answered.

“Brynne.” It was Andrews.

“What’s going on?” Brynne asked.

“The worst that could possibly happen,” Andrews said. “A situation we never anticipated has occurred. We struck at such an angle that the first five water tight compartments have been breached and are being flooded as we speak. The forepeak, the cargo holds, one of the boiler rooms – they’re all flooded.”

‘So that’s it,’ Brynne thought. ‘It’s confirmed. It’s started. Ahead of schedule, somehow, but it’s begun.’ And the cargo holds, a.k.a her escape route back to her own time, were now out of the question.

Andrews continued. “She won’t make it through the night, Brynne.”

Brynne had known what he would say, but that didn’t make it any easier for her to hear. It sealed his fate, while hers was left hanging in the balance. She’d become like so many other women who would be widows before dawn.

Brynne cleared her throat, warding off any threatening tears. “What’s the next step?” she asked Andrews.

“The captain has ordered that the boats be uncovered,” Andrews said. “Every boat needs to be filled to capacity.”

“Of course,” Brynne said.

“I need you to tell everyone you see to put on a lifebelt and get up to the boat deck.”

“I understand,” she said.

“Be sure to wear yours as well, to set an example,” Andrews added.

“Of course,” she said.

“And Brynne – I don’t want you lingering on the ship for too long. Leave on one of the early boats.”

“Leave?” Brynne said. She was leaving, alright, but not in a boat. “What about you?”

“Promise me that you’ll go, Brynne.”

“Listen to me – no one knows exactly what’s going to happen. You can’t just condemn yourself. You’ve got to give yourself a chance.”

“Please, Brynne – promise.”

Any further argument would be in vain, Brynne knew, so she conceded. “I promise,” she said. “I promise.” It wasn’t a lie, but it felt like one to Brynne. She’d be going, but not in a way Andrews or any other person on the ship knew about.

“Meet me on the boat deck in half an hour,” Andrews said. “I want to put you in a boat myself.”

Brynne heard the click on the line as Andrews hung up the phone. She hung up, too, and immediately picked up her wrist unit. She tried to activate it again, but it was no use; it was still dead. What was wrong with this thing? There had to be something she could do to get it to work again.

She sat down on the bed. What the hell was she going to do? If she couldn’t get the link up again, she’d be stuck on this ship. Forget the ship; if she survived the sinking, she’d be stuck in this timeline. It was a scary prospect. Payton had assured her that COSI would find her if that happened … but what if they didn’t? Even if they did, when would it happen?

 

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