Chapter 11: Water, Water Everywhere
They had smiled at each other, pressed their buttons, whooshed off into the swirling numbers and digital figures and that was the last they had seen of each other. There was no way of knowing how they had got separated. They just had.
Jodie had been so excited to visit the Titanic, but standing on the deck alone, the freezing cold, salty wind whipping at her face, she had never felt so alone.
‘Hey guys! You near me?’
Not a word in reply, just the whistling of the wind and the sound of the ship’s engine rumbling along the vast, ice-laden waters. Looking around at the empty, black night, she assumed that the ship was well into the voyage, and as it did not last many days, she wanted to find out which day it actually was! She didn’t know that for the first three days of the journey the passengers enjoyed mild weather and light winds. Then the temperature dropped from about 6 degrees Celsius to near freezing. The northwest winds behind the weather front also helped to steer a giant ice field toward the ill-fated ship.
She had put off coming to the Titanic because she didn’t want to come alone, and here she was on the freezing deck, as alone and scared as she had ever been. She considered taking out her card and leaving, but she had no idea where the boys were and couldn’t just leave in case they were in trouble. Then, to top it all, there was some sort of commotion close by. She moved nearer to see.
‘What is this boy doing hiding in here?’ she heard an angry man shouting and watched as he dragged poor Pacman out by the scruff of his neck.
‘I was playing hide and seek,’ Pacman said to the officer, hoping to deter him from asking for tickets or any form of identification. Pacman was always adept at wriggling out of sticky situations.
‘I assume you are from the third class cabins, young man?’
The passengers of the Titanic were strictly divided by their class which was an indication of what life was like at the beginning of the twentieth century. Sadly, the lower the class, the less chance passengers had of surviving.
Quick-minded as Pacman was, he said, ‘Yes, sir. G deck. Just playing, sir, to keep warm, you know.’
‘At this time of the night, young lad?’
‘Yes, sir. Sorry, sir.’
With that, he let Pacman go and he ran off in Jodie’s direction. He ran past, grabbed her hand and they both continued their dash, getting as far away from the officer as possible. They stopped by a railing with a view ahead of them as black and vast as the End of the World was white and never-ending.
When they had caught their breath, Jodie said, ‘Have you seen Kai?’ All thoughts of finding Charles Joughin, the man who drank the whiskey, were now far from her mind. Disaster was in the air – real danger – and they had no idea where their new little friend was.
‘Dunno if he even made it. I haven’t seen him. It’s flipping cold, you know. Your whiskey guy’s probably still drinking.’
If this was true then Charles Joughin was about to spill his whiskey down his front as the ship crashed into the iceberg. Jodie and Pacman were thrown across the deck by the impact and struggled to keep each other in sight. They finally linked hands and held onto the railing with every bit of strength they had.
The Titanic made its fatal collision about 37 seconds after the sighting of the berg. The iceberg scraped the ship’s right side, buckling the hull in some places and popping out rivets beneath the waterline over a length of about 299 feet. This opened the first five compartments (the forward tank, the three forward holds and Boiler Room 6) to the sea.
The captain, startled by the jolt of the blow to the ship, went onto the bridge and ordered a full stop. Within ten minutes of the collision, the five front compartments had flooded to a depth of about 15 feet. As seawater filled the compartments at the front, the watertight doors automatically shut. However, the ship was designed to remain buoyant with the first four compartments flooded; the impact caused the flooding of the six forward compartments. The water-filled compartments weighed down the ship’s bow, allowing more water to flood the vessel, accelerated by secondary flooding as more openings in the ship’s hull became submerged.
Huddled together, Pacman and Jodie could do nothing but hold on tight as people started to fill the deck around them, screaming and running around, wondering what was happening.
Jodie screamed at Pacman over the noise of the water. ‘We need to cut this trip short!’
‘You don’t say!’ Pacman shouted back.
‘I read that the pumps could only cope with two thousand tons of water per hour; but that quantity was flooding into the liner every five minutes. We have to go, but we can’t go without Kai.’
‘We don’t even know if he’s here, Jodie. And he’s got a card like we have. He’s probably back at the End of the World, warm and dry, pigging out on mini quiches and cola.’
‘I know, but we have to make sure. Let’s stay and search for as long as we can and then we’ll go.’
‘Sounds good,’ Pacman agreed. ‘But we don’t have much time, you know the story as well as I do and this ship does sink you know! I’ve seen the film, got the cap and T-shirt.’ They were both shouting now to make their voices heard over the screams of the crowds and the natural din from beyond the ship – the sea and sky conspiring to terrorise the ship with a deep, guttural roar.
The two started their search, keeping together at all times, shouting for Kai. Pacman looked under benches, lifted boxes up, but it was getting difficult as the boat was swaying heavily, dogs and people running about, lifeboats launched. All they found were six more globestoppers, but they had no time to talk about how weird it was or what it all meant.
Someone shouted, ‘Women and children first,’ and people started queuing to get on, especially the polite British. Before the clock hit midnight, the forward third-class sections had started to flood. At around five past midnight, approximately twenty-five minutes after the impact, Captain Smith ordered all the lifeboats to be uncovered and swung out. A short while later, he ordered them to be loaded with women and children and lowered into the sea. At ten to one, Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall fired the first white distress rocket.
Jodie and Pacman saw the distress rocket explode in the night air and light up the sky and knew that it was time to leave. They just had to hold on to the hope that Kai either hadn’t made it to the Titanic or he had left before they could find him. Maybe he landed on a different deck, was scared to be alone and decided to make a quick exit. Jodie and Pacman prayed that this was the case, but still couldn’t quite drag themselves away and continued to call his name. They were filled with a sense of hopelessness and loss as they did so, watching the panic unfold around them. There was nothing they could do to stop this happening; this was history being made – the worst non-war disaster of that century – and they were watching it play out right in front of their eyes.
A small puppy dog ran up to Jodie, looking bewildered, probably looking for its master. He was so small that she picked him up and popped him into her pocket. Time was running out. It would be a matter of minutes before the ship started to keel and sink.
Water splashed onto the deck as it started to roll back and forth. The dog slipped further into Jodie’s pocket and gently whined as the water got higher and the waves crashed onto the deck, which was now keeling over dangerously.
‘We have to go NOW!’ screamed Pacman. ‘Come on!’
Jodie watched as he pulled his card out and whooshed away from her into the swirling vortex. ‘I’m right behind you!’ she shouted and put her hand into her pocket to retrieve her card.
But it wasn’t there.
Frantically, she searched her other pockets. Nothing! The little dog stirred but would not come out. It had clearly found a new master. Her heart suddenly thumped in her chest so loud that she could hear it.
Has the dog eaten it? she thought, panic rising.
In the distance, she heard singing, an old hymn she had never heard before – Nearer My God to Thee. People were still frantically scurrying about and screaming and now it was clear that they had started to jump into the freezing water. By now the ship was on the water’s edge and slowly sliding in. People were toppling everywhere, some hanging onto the railings for their lives.
Jodie tucked her hand into her pockets and held onto the dog as she slid along the deck towards the water at a speed that she couldn’t control. This was it! It was all out of her power! The card was nowhere to be seen. She had been to the End of the World party, but now this really was the end of the world and all she could do was brace herself and hold onto the dog. And then – 3, 2, 1 – she was into the icy water with a terrifying splash. Her lungs felt as if they would explode; the water chilled her to her very soul. She had never been as cold and scared in her life. But as her body started to go numb and the little dog whimpered, out of her back pocket the card she so desperately wanted floated in front of her eyes; she saw the Fluxbridge Academy sign light up then go dark again. This was the only time that she had ever been pleased to see the school logo. She reached out to grab it, hope now battling with fear and cold, with the outcome uncertain. Within a second, which actually felt like hours, she had the wet card in her hand. She was just about able to move her frosty, numb fingers to press the buttons. All she could do now was hope with all her heart that it still worked