It was early morning – three am perhaps? – when I received an unusually breezy knock on my door. My subconscious must’ve thought it was Bailey come to wrap his thick fingers around my neck again, as I awoke rolling out of bed, knife in hand, in one smooth movement… but there was no further sound. A moment or two longer, and I let myself sag, grimacing at all the punishment my body has suffered. I had a rubbishy headache.
Once cleared of junk, I opened my cabin door with infinite suspicion, foot braced to the jamb. But no one was there – whomever had scuttled along, had just as quickly scuttled off, but not before leaving me a cheery little parcel. Oh joy.
It sat on the unmentionable stain I’ve adopted as a doormat.
It might have looked like a gift-wrapped package accompanied by an envelope, but in all honesty, my thoughts were: It’s a bomb. It’s not my birthday. I bet it’s full of knives on some kind of spring mechanism. $50 says it’s a piranha on a spring – is that a thing? Hmm, I guess it’d die. Maybe still in its jar? Is that Christmas wrapping paper?
Christmas paper? Of all the things I expected to find at my cabin door, on this ship, in the early hours of the morning, this was the most unsettling. The corridor was empty, quiet, and deathly still – as it should be.
Those sly bastards.
After long, long consideration, I slowly dragged the crinkly thing inside with a foot, then quietly closed and re-barricaded the door.
I placed the ‘package’ on the desk and sat across the cabin, judging it. Time had been spent on this festive treat. Care had gone into its presentation, but it wasn’t Bailey’s style. Look at those razor-sharp creases and folds, fixings invisibly smoothed away – every detail perfectly executed.
Oh, I knew who it was from, alright – it was the most foreboding present I had ever seen. Red. Holly. Santas merrily slaying, all in a row. Ho! Ho! Ho!
I snuck closer to confirm what was written on the label…
More time passed. I’m not sure how long, or what I was thinking. I felt numb, but I had to know what was inside.
Annoyed, I carefully slit the wrapping paper and smoothly removed it. Then – after some dickering with a skewer and some other tests – I opened the plush cardboard box inside.
It was a plunger detonator.
Etched on the wooden handle were the words, ‘Push me’.
Five hours later, I did.