A Night To Remember
It was a bitterly cold night, and the freezing air was piercing my uniform and stinging my numb flesh like darts. I nervously glanced around making sure that I could not be seen by anyone, as I was worried that I might be caught. I was not supposed to be on this deck let alone to be even seen by a passenger but I had to get out of the pantry. I loved my job on board the Titanic, I was so proud to be part of the crew for such an amazing boat but the pantry always gave me terrible headaches due to it being so small.
I felt cramped in there, confined, and imprisoned even, it was a horrid feeling, and what made it even was that the pantry was below sea level. It was terrible in the little pantry there was no room to breath and the unbearable heat made it even worse. It felt like we were going to suffocate if we didn’t get out. The pantry made me feel like my head was spinning and with the unbearable sounds of the side of the boat creaking with the pressure of the water on the other side. It was almost unthinkable that on the other side of that piece of metal was the water of the largest and coldest ocean in the world.
As I was standing there taking in the night sky and the calm waters I could hear the sound of the huge engines powering away beneath me, shaking the deck that I was standing on. The engines seemed to roar with authority and power, like a lion after it had just captured its prey. To be honest the engines scared me, the thought of anything having that much power and force scared the living daylights out of me. I started to think about why I was on the Titanic in the first place. My mother thought that I was taking too big a gamble for it to come off.
She said that I was being stupid and that I should stay at home and try to find a wife in Southampton. But she didn’t understand why I was doing it; I was on this ship to make my way in the world and what better place to do it than on the Titanic. I wanted to broaden my horizons and get out into the world, it was the perfect opportunity. Plus the fact that the Titanic was going to New York clinched the deal for me; it was the perfect place to start a new life. I wanted to go to the new world and make my way in it; I wanted to make a difference, and most of all I wanted to make my mother and father proud.
Dad, on the other hand, could see exactly why I wanted to go, he was brilliant to me and said the words that will live with me for the rest of my life; “Whatever you do with your life son, your mother and me will always be proud of you”. I could tell that he meant it, we were both nearly in tears standing there, however as we were both men we gathered our thoughts and I went on my way. I was on my way to my destiny and future in the new world. The silence was interrupted by two passengers walking in my direction; I could hear their shows knocking on the wooden floor.
Thankfully I had heard them in time, so it allowed me to move into the shadows once again. The couple turned off into the bar, still unaware of my presence. I thanked my lucky stars for I had gone very close to being discovered. Once they had gone and I had checked to see that nobody else was coming I slowly moved closer to the railings on the side of the ship and peered over into the darkness that awaited me. The ocean was as calm as a gentle breeze; even with the mighty Titanic powering through the water it seemed motionless and uninterested in the ship.
I stared up at the night sky, marvelling in the beauty of the stars, I nearly lost myself in them; they seemed to be guiding me. Standing there in that dark cold place it dawned on me what I was doing, I was part of the greatest ship of all time. It took me back to when I first laid my eyes on her; it took my breath away and made the blood in my veins go cold by her very presence. The sheer size and grandeur of her made me miss a beat of my heart, she was magnificent.
The black paint on the wood seemed to sparkle and glisten in the Southampton sun, the funnels seemed to stand tall and proud over the rest of the boat as if to say that they were in charge, and then the anchor appeared to look down at me and command respect; it looked like it weighed a ton. The ship seemed to rise out of the water like a God, it seemed to stand tall and proud as if it knew that it was the best ship in the world. It was there and then that an overwhelming amount of pride surged through me; it made me feel important and powerful as I was a part of this ship.
I even had a knot in my throat through pride. Once again I was brought back to the railings by the sound of someone else’s shoes on the floor. I quickly reeled around hoping to spot whoever the person was before they spotted me. Thankfully to my relief it was one of my friends from in the pantry, Ernest Abbott. He was a young man, only twenty one years, and had thick brown hair which always seemed to stand up no matter what he tried. He had a face that seemed to me to always have a reassurance about it, and a calmness that comforted all men and women who knew him. His eyes though, they were hard, blacker than black.
They seemed to stare blindly at you and search your very soul as you stood in front of him. I quite liked Ernest, he was a nice man but I couldn’t stand looking into his eyes for to long, they always made me feel crushed and insignificant. Ernest was a tall chap about six feet and one inch, he wasn’t out of proportion in his height he was just tall. The man himself though was the kindest man you could ever want to meet. He was always sincere, gracious and polite, the model gentleman. I always seemed more comfortable when he was around, I don’t know why; he just seemed to have a calming affect on me.
Coincidentally we happened to met each other when we were about to board the ship and had got to know each other from there. He, of course, had his own reasons for being on the Titanic, like all of us though he wanted to go to the new world and find his living. However his main reason for being on the Titanic was that he wanted to get away from his mother and father, he said that they controlled him and would never let him do what he wanted. So when he was given the chance of working on the Titanic he snapped it up. “Thought I might find you here,” he said to break the silence.
Hello,” I replied “Anything I can help you with Ernest? ” “Actually, there is John; unfortunately you have to come back to the pantry now. Your break is over. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news” Ernest said. “Well, you definitely are the bearer of bad news then aren’t you? ” I joked. “Yes I am but you do have to go back now,” he said again. “Ok I am going; I suppose it is your turn now is it? ” I asked half heartedly. “Yes it is” he said with a distinct element of pleasure, which was pretty clear due to the large grin forming across his face. With that I walked off back to the small, hot and noisy pantry.
Although I wasn’t going to rush back so I decided to take the long route back down to the pantry. I walked around the whole of the top deck passing many rooms filled with passengers enjoying themselves in complete luxury. One of the rooms I passed on the way back to the pantry was the first class restaurant. It was an amazing room fitted with the best of everything for the pleasure of the paying customer. The chairs were superb, covered with the most expensive fabrics around, with an excellent design to go with it. The design of the fabric on the chairs was red roses masterfully hand stitched on a cream background.
The chandeliers were exquisite, hanging from the ceiling with grace and beauty. The walls were covered with the most impressive wallpaper in the world and were decorated with excellent wooden carvings and sculptures. The carpet provided the finishing touch to the room; it was superbly made and was the softest and most luxurious carpet I had ever seen. I loved that room it was beautiful, if I was allowed to I would spend my whole time in their and never get bored of the beauty or majesty of the room. I walked on a little further before I came across the gymnasium.
It was a huge room that must have been nearly forty five feet long. The room was filled with some of the most modern and cutting edge apparatus around. There were countless machines which could be used all of the day. There were machines that stimulated horse riding, cycling and even rowing. This room was superb; no other ship in the world had such fantastic facilities as the Titanic. The room itself was covered in a white paint that glistened from the light. The room was adorned with illuminated and multi-coloured pictures of the Titanic that showed how majestic and superb it was.
Also other the fireplace there was a map of the entire world which highlighted all of the white star line routes. The gymnasium was truly cutting-edge and, to me, was the room that seemed to define the Titanic. It resembled all that the Titanic was: it was the future and it was here to stay. As I walked on a little further I came across another room, which was relatively empty with just a few people enjoying the ambiance of the room, as well as their rather expensive cigars. This room was not as cutting edge or grand as the others but it was still brilliant in its own right.
The First Class Reception Room was amazing it was as wide as the ship itself and had some of the most lavish finishes on the whole boat. The room was quite simple really it just had a few tables and chairs in it, but that seemed to add to the sophistication of the room, it made all the features of it even more prominent. It brought out the superb carpeting, the expert painting and the brilliant architecture of the room, as a mere humble pantry man from Southampton it was an exciting experience to even be near a place like this. To my utter dismay though I had to go back to work, and the pantry.
Then I thought to myself that I shouldn’t be disappointed or dismayed because one day it would be me in that room, with a cigar in my hand and living a life of luxury. When I got back to the pantry the boss was already waiting for me and, from the glare that he had in his eye, I could tell that he wanted me to go to work straight away. I didn’t mind the boss he was a good and honourable man, and as long as you stayed on the right side of him he would absolutely anything to help you out. On the other hand if you got on the wrong side of him there would be hell to pay.
The boss was not the most pleasing man to behold in your eye; he looked like the kind of man who would take pleasure in ripping you apart. He had scruffy ginger hair that looked like it hadn’t seen a comb for a rather long time, his face was that of a battered man who had fought in many wars, and his nose seemed crooked and bent. His eyes were cold and dark, but whenever you talked to him they seemed to light up with a deep fire inside him, and his lips were cracked and broken. However the most prominent feature of this mans face was the scar that went from his left eye down to the left side of his mouth.
It looked terrible, and it was cruel on the eye, it must have felt unbearable on his face. I once asked him how he got it but he seemed to dodge the question and change the subject. I remember him once joking that it was the reason he worked in the pantry so as to not scare the passengers on board. The man himself was built like a tank, he was huge, and that wasn’t huge as in his weight that was huge as in the size of muscles. I swear that he must have been able to lift a car up, that was how strong he looked.
As I took my coat off and made my way to my work the air in the pantry seemed to stand still momentarily, it was weird, like it was expecting something. There was a list of duties waiting for me; I quickly glanced down at the top of the list. The first thing on there said that a Mr Stengel required a bottle of wine in his room, this was fantastic. I actually had the opportunity to go to a first class room. His room was on C deck, this was going to be incredible, and it was extremely rare to get the chance to go to a first class room. I looked up at the boss; he had a smile across his face, and said Thought that you would like that one. ”
“This isn’t a joke is it? ” I asked sceptically. “No, not a joke, this is dead serious. You better hurry because Mr Stengel doesn’t like to be kept waiting,” the boss replied. I didn’t need any more encouragement, I quickly turned around and grabbed the most expensive bottle of wine that I could find and a bottle of wine in case Mr Stengel required me to open the bottle for him. I literally ran upstairs, moving faster than I ever had, this was unbelievable I actually had the chance to go to a first class room.
I was at C deck in no time at all, now I had to find Mr Stengels room, it was number 116. I made my way down the corridor, to the room, moving briskly over the antique carpet. I raised my hand to knock on the door, but just at that second there was banging from the depths of the boat, a sound that seemed unnatural and quite frankly horrifying. The whole boat seemed to shudder and creak; it was a terrifying sound, one that filled me soul with a fear of what was to come. I thought to myself that only one thing could possible do that to the Titanic and that was an iceberg.
I instantly came over a cold sweat, I thought that I was just being silly but when I thought about it there was nothing else in the Atlantic Ocean that could do that to a boat. But the Titanic couldn’t sink, could it? It was, after all, the unsinkable ship, the biggest, and grandest and most secure in the world. The Titanic wasn’t going to sink, there were no worries, and absolutely nothing in the world could sink this ship. I placed the wine next to the door and went to run straight back down the stairs to the pantry and the boss.
However I couldn’t get back crew members were everywhere blocking everything, rushing off to do something. It was impossible the whole ship seemed to have ground to a halt. I noticed one of the stewards standing in the hall telling people to go to their rooms and get their life jackets as a precautionary measure. “Steward, what happened? Why are you telling the passengers to get their life jackets? ” I asked with a crack in my voice.
“We hit an iceberg, a big iceberg. The passengers have to be warned in case… ” He replied with a sad tone in his voice. “In case of what? I asked simply “In case we sink,” he replied. Then he was gone into the crowd, vanishing in the mass of people who were making their way to the top of the boat. It seemed impossible, how could the Titanic sink it was the unsinkable ship. The crowd of first class passengers appeared to be walking casually around as if nothing had even happened, it was unimaginable. How could these people be so calm, we had just hit an iceberg for goodness sake? It was at that exact moment, with the hundreds of people milling around me, that a great sense of fear came over me.
It dawned on me that I could die on this ship, and never see my family again. I quickly put that to the back of mind, we weren’t going to sink, this was the Titanic after all, and I was just being paranoid. I immediately thought that I had to get back to the pantry and to the boss. He would know what to do, he always did. I fought my way past the grounds back down to the pantry. I went past the second and third class decks on the way, the halls were filled with shouting and thumping as the stewards told the passengers to put their life jackets on and head towards the top of the boat.
When I got back to the pantry the room it was deadly quiet and packed to the rafters and the boss was standing at the front with his arms crossed. “I was waiting for you to arrive, everyone needs to hear this at once,” the boss said simply. “Thanks boss,” I replied and moved towards the back of the room. “As you all know we have just been hit by an iceberg,” the boss started “But what only I know how much damage has been done to the ship. Information that has just been given to me by the bridge. I am afraid that it is bad news lads.
The Titanic, the unsinkable ship is going to sink in about two hour’s time. Now I don’t want anyone in here to panic because we still have a duty to do for the passengers and this great ship. We have very simple instructions to follow, we have to report to boat deck and bring calm to the situation and the passengers. Before we go anywhere or do anything, I would just like to say that it has been a privilege to serve and work alongside such admirable people, and I can say without fear or contemplation that you are the best men I have worked with. At this moment the boss seemed to pause and bow his head, I saw a tear appear in his eye. This was the only time that I had ever seen him cry and probably the last.
The boss continued “Now we are all going top the boat deck where we will follow our orders and go out with pride and respect. ” This isn’t possible, I remember thinking to myself. The Titanic cannot possible sink, it is impossible. I felt a deep sense of fear growing in me and wanted to collapse and cry in the corner. This wasn’t fair, I had so many things that I wanted to do with my life and had been denied it by some cruel fate.
I felt my heart break and fall apart, there were so many things that seemed unfair to me but the fact that I couldn’t ever see my parents again was the worst. Mum had been right it was to big a gamble for it to pay off; the world seemed heartless and cruel. However, for some reason, I seemed to stand tall like a man and grow in stature, it was at this time that I realised I had a decision to make, I was either going to stay and die honourable or die as a coward crying and waiting for death to come to me.
It ironically was probably the simplest decision that I ever had to make, I was going to die honourable, like a man and make my Dad proud. At this moment I glanced around the room at the faces of the men, they all had the same look of fear and determination. Fear of what was going to happen to them and determination to die as men. I could tell in all of their eyes though that they were frightened, and scare. The realisation that you are going to die is hard for anyone let alone young men; they were all crippled and torn. They looked ready to break.
I felt a huge amount of respect for every man. Every man hung their heads for a second to wipe the tears out of their eyes and then they all rose tall and strong ready for what was waiting for them. The boss went out of the room first with his head held high, trying to show no fear for what was about to come. Ernest was next with his head held equally high; it was incredible to see so many men who all know their fate act with such bravery and courage. I followed next walking out the door and along the deserted corridors.
Every one had already left for the boat deck, it was an eerie sight to see a hallway that was always so full of people, life and noise be empty, and they would be empty from that moment for eternity. As we were making our way towards the stairs, the sound of shouting drew nearer to us. We slowly started to climb up the stairs making our way toward the boat deck, our duty and our destiny. As we got to F deck I realised where the shouting was coming from, it was the third class passengers they were being held back until the first class had been put on the life boats.
I couldn’t believe it, even when people were going to die, they still separated them into classes, it was absolutely disgusting and every one from the pantry thought so, you could see it in their eyes. The boss managed to barge a way through for us to get to gate, he demanded that the stewards opened the gate for his men to get past to fulfil their duty. From the tone of voice the boss used not many men would have refused him. We all passed through the gate, but so did the third class passengers. They just joined on the end of our line and pushed through, good for them I thought.
I got to the boat deck about 5 minutes later, having somehow lost the rest of the men on the deck, so I tried to do my duty of containing the crowd. But I couldn’t the amount of passengers compared to stewards was ridiculous, so instead of fighting them I did nothing. I simply stopped and stood still, watching life pass me by. It was then that I realised how many people were on board the Titanic, there were thousands of people on board. It made me feel so insignificant to think of how many more important people than me were on board this boat.
So many different faces, so many different lives and so many different personalities all having the same fate and destiny, all being surrendered to the deep dark cold sea and death. I didn’t think it could happen, it wasn’t possible that so many people could die at once, surely it wasn’t. So many families ripped apart, so many lives ruined and so many friendships ended, how could it be possible for such a thing to happen? It wasn’t fair on any of us. I looked around and saw mother and fathers crying with their children, kissing and hugging, saying their goodbyes.
I saw brothers and sisters torn apart, reaching out for each other. But most of all I saw pain, misery and fear. Fear for what was to happen to their loved ones. I had to look at something else; I was going to cry if I continued to look at what was happening on deck. So, I looked up at the night sky and the stars. It was amazing to me, that beneath the stars, there was horror beyond belief taking place, yet the stars were more beautiful than I had ever seen them. They shone in the darkness like the sun, they were absolutely perfect, and their beauty was such that no night has ever beheld such a sight again.
I saw a bench with no one on it and moved across and sat down, it was a terrible feeling, knowing that you were going to die and that you could do absolutely nothing about it. That you were going to die before you had the opportunity to do so many things in your life. I would never see my mother and father again, never hear the sound of mums voice, never smell dads aftershave, never go for a drink with the lads, and worst of all never get married to the one girl I have truly loved, Charlotte. My heart felt like it had torn into a million pieces, and had left a black void in its place.
I felt terrible, I wanted the earth to just open up and swallow me where I sat. Life wasn’t fair to me, I had never done anything bad to anyone, all I wanted to do was life an honest life, have fun, get married and have a few kids. But that had been denied to me in the cruellest possible way, by dying in the middle of the biggest ocean in the world, thousands of miles away from anyone I love or care about. I looked up and saw that there were still hundreds of people who wanted to get on the life boats; it was then that I gave up hope of getting off the Titanic alive.
I was never going to get off this boat in time to save myself, it was quite simply impossible. There was at most an hour before the boat sunk and there were too many passengers left onboard for me to even get a chance of getting on one. I was doomed to die on this ship, but I didn’t intend on sitting here, waiting to die. I was going to go down fighting and try to stay alive until the end, no matter what. I was wrong though there wasn’t an hour left until the boat sunk; there was about ten minutes maximum.
The boat was tipping down into the water, the nose first, the hull was rising out of the water; the boat was being lifted out of the water. I decided to run to the stern as quick as possible, it was hard work against the ever increasing gradient of the boat deck. I had never run as fast as that, on the way I tried to grab a life jacket but couldn’t reach it. I hoped that it wouldn’t matter, by the end though it would. The hull of the ship was crowded with people desperately trying to avoid the cold water for as long as possible. I forced my way to the railings at the back of the boat, and got ready to have to fight for my survival.
By now the whole back of the boat was out of the water and pointing up into the night sky. I climbed over the railings onto the other side and held onto the railings, I wasn’t planning to end up falling down the side of the Titanic as the boat tipped more into the night sky. I glanced down into the water; it was filled with hundreds of people scrambling for anything to get them afloat. It was terrible to watch how people could be reduced to fighting and scrambling if their existence depended upon it. They looked cold though all of them, frost was already forming in their hair and their faces had gone blue, they looked terrible.
Not many were going to last at this rate the cold water was to much for them, it was an awful sight but one that didn’t surprise me. This was inevitable; as soon as I learnt that the Titanic was going to sink I knew that people were going to freeze in the water as they tried to escape the fate of the Titanic. By now the ship was almost vertical in the water it was a heart stopping experience, the lights crashed and we were then all in the darkness of the night and the starts. The boat started to shudder violently, it was terrifying, and the boat was being ripped apart.
The back of the boat was being ripped away; the metal was scratching and creaking under the pressure. It tore apart; it was an unbelievable sight, to see the biggest ship in the world torn apart like a play thing. The front of the boat continued to sink in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean but the stern fell back into the water beneath. Floating on the surface, the remainder of the Titanic seemed like it might stay there and that we would be safe. However the stern of the ship was to follow the front, the boat once again tipped vertically towards the night sky. I was ready; this was when the fight to survive began.
The boat was being sucked down into the ocean and was doing so pretty quickly. More and more of the boat was vanishing under water, and the water level was getting nearer and nearer to me. The water finally got to my level; I stood up on the railings and waited for the water. I know that the boat was going to try and suck me under so there was no point in trying to swim away. The water was rising up my body until when it got to my chest it sucked me under the surface of the water. That was when I started kicking and kicking hard at the surface, I was pulling myself with my arms.
I knew that I didn’t have long until my air ran out so I continued my efforts. I realised that my efforts were hopeless, I was getting nowhere except for nearer the bottom of the ocean, so I just let nature take its course and it continued to pull me down to me grave. I slowly and peacefully realised my fate and what was going to happen me, it was there floating in the dark cold water that I had my last thought, “Goodbye Mum and Dad, thanks for everything. ” I closed my weary eyes, breathed in the water and continued on my long journey to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.