Jones elbowed his way to the bow and stared into nothingness. His life was gone, over. He had to find his family if he could and start again. He had nothing, not even identification. The pair of shoes on his feet were the only pair he had. His once crisp white press conference shirt was torn.
Feeling he was being stared at again, he turned his head and met the gaze of the woman from last night. There was a coldness in her eyes.
“Jones?”, she barked.
“Yes, I told you.”
“You are a liar. I know who you are. You killed my husband.” She turned and looked at her daughter beside her. “You killed her father.”
“I’ve never killed anyone!” Now Jones’ ire was up. He’d never laid a hand on anyone.
“You removed my husband from Australia. You could have intervened, but you didn’t. 24 hours after being sent back, he was dead. I was pregnant. You killed my husband.”
Her eyes were like ice. “I hope you have learnt something.” The woman turned, drew her daughter close and they slowly moved away through the throng of bodies.
Jones breathed. He realised he had been holding his breath. Oh, of course they had heard reports of such things in his office, but he had never bothered to actually meet anyone who had lost a loved one.
He leant over the railing, watching the bow plough through the sea. The movement of the water calmed his nerves. He felt a body close to his. Too close. Then he felt the tip of a blade pierce his skin.
“Give me your shoes”, hissed a voice. “Now”.
His shoes? These were $1,175 John Lobb shoes. He wasn’t giving them up. He would……the knife dug a little deeper and Jones felt warm blood trickle down his back, his blood. He slipped off his shoes and pushed them behind him.
Suddenly the knife was gone and so were his shoes. He had been on this boat less than 12 hours.
The woman with the icy eyes appeared at his side. “Come with me, I have bandages.”
Jones followed her. “What is your name?” he asked quietly.
“If you believe I killed your husband, why are you helping me?”
“I believe the world will only survive if we help each other.”
Jones fell silent. He had no answer for Sarah.
Below deck Sarah lifted his shirt and used a tiny amount of her precious disinfectant to clean the small wound.
“You were lucky, it’s not a deep cut.”
“Do you know who stole my shoes?”
“Yes, forget them.”
Sarah turned him to face her. “Look, not everyone is like me, or like Jimmy, the crewman who recognised you. Several on board recognise you, I don’t know how many. Some, like me, lost family and blame you. Now we are all running. For some, like Jimmy, it is the second time. You are a face they can direct their anger at. You will have to prove you have a soul.”
“I believed I was doing the right thing at the time.”
“No, Jones, you could not have possibly believed you were doing the right thing. Those places were never the right thing. Sending my husband back was never the right thing.”
Sarah packed her first aid kit and gave her daughter a water ration.
“Jones, you lost your shoes. Better not lose your water or it will be a very dry trip for you.”
His water! If someone would steal his shoes, stealing his water would be easy. He rushed over to his little spot under the stairs and found his water untouched. Six litres of water to last eight days, providing the trip went well. Thankfully they weren’t near the equator, he thought to himself. Ten litres short of the recommended two litres a day, was this enough to stay alive? Was there more water on board? Were the crew distilling sea water? Jones had no idea, but now he was starting to worry. This was a situation over which he had no control. Not having control was not something he was used to.
Jones pulled a splinter out of his foot. What would his feet be like in eight days, he wondered.
Continued at Jones prayed.