AN: I didn't want to write this chapter, but it had to be done. The whole time I was listening to what the band was playing when the Titanic was sinking, Nearer my God to Thee, on its soundtrack. It was rather haunting and relaxing and I thought it would be the perfect title for this chapter. I suggest you guys listen to it while reading this.
http: // www. youtube. com/ watch? v=-lwAc5UDdL8
Chapter XIII: Nearer My God to Thee
Francis, who had quietly witnessed the gunplay in a stunned state, quickly slipped back from the crowd. This was his last chance to get to a boat. He remembers something suddenly... The child crying in the alcove! Quickly, he sprints back to look and sees that the little boy still crying there. Francis scoops him up and runs forward, cradling Peter in his arms.
Sadiq was shouting at the crowd, telling them to calm down as he slowly led some of the passengers to the boat one at a time. He made sure to block the view of Hercules staring down at the railing. It was a shame for him really… Honda was one of the best seamen he ever met.
"Here's a child!" Francis yells, squeezing his way forward to the boat. "I've got a child!" He shoves his way over to Sadiq and looks imploringly at him. "Please... I'm all he has in the world." He lied.
Sadiq nods curtly at him and pushes them into the boat. He spins with his gun, brandishing it in the air to keep the other men back. Hercules was still in shock but he managed to rip his eyes from the First Officer's dead body, floating in the ocean. His voice broke as he shouts at the crewmen to release and unroll the davits as if nothing had happened… as if the death of his comrade was nothing more than a memory.
Francis gets into the boat, holding the little boy securely on his lap. He takes a seat and rocks Peter in his arms to calm him. "Shh…There, there."
But the boy does not stop crying.
Ivan Braginski stands in front of the fireplace in the Smoking Room, staring at the large painting above the mantle. The fire was still going in the fireplace. It glowed with its embers still being licked by flames. The room was empty, except for him. An ashtray slides and falls off the edge of a table behind him… The whole ship was tilting.
Behind him Alfred and Arthur burst into the room, out of breath and soaked. They run through, toward the aft revolving door… then, Arthur stops and recognizes Ivan on the mantle. He sees that his lifebelt was off, lying on a table.
"Wait wait…" Arthur pulls Al back, then he turns to Ivan. "Won't you even make a try for it, Mr. Braginski?" he says cautiously.
With a regretful shaky voice, Ivan said, "I'm sorry… dat I did not build you a strongerr ship, young Arthurr."
Alfred, leans close to Arthur and whispers at his ear. "It's going down fast... we've got to keep moving."
Ivan turns from them, then picks up his lifebelt and hands it to Arthur. "Good luck to you, Arthur."
"And to you… Mr. Braginski."
Alfred pulls him away and they run through the revolving door leaving the ship's owner and builder alone to stare after their wake.
Finally, the band finishes the cheerful waltz as passenger bumps into the 4th string player in the last note. Wallace Hartley looks at his orchestra members.
"Right, that's it then." He says nonchalantly. "I think we should all make a try for it."
The members nod, and slowly, with their instruments, they go on their separate ways. The boats have now all been gone and people now run to the direction of the Stern. They run frantically, stampeding and stepping onto fallen persons. The ship was now, obviously tilting. The string members leave him, walking forward along the deck. Hartley watches them go… but he stays behind.
He puts his violin to his chin and bows the first notes of "Nearer My God to Thee".
One by one the band members turn back to look at him, hearing the lonely melody. Without a word they walk back and take their places. They join in with Hartley, filling out the sound so that it reaches all over the ship on this still night…
"Capitan… where should I go?"
Ludwig was startled out of his trance as he observes the chaos around him. He whips around to find a meek looking Ukrainian woman, carrying a baby bundled up warmly with thick cloth.
"Please…" she implored him.
He had no answer for her. Ludwig just nodded stiffly and went on his way, leaving the woman confused and filled with terror all the more. He walked in a daze. This could not be happening, the phrase repeated itself over and over inside his head. His heart felt heavy as he took long shallow intakes of breath with each step.
"Captain Ludwig…! Sir!" A seaman pulls off his lifebelt and catches up to Captain Ludwig as he walks to the direction of the Bridge. The seaman proffers it, but Ludwig seems to stare through him. Without a word he turns and goes on walking slowly, even when the cold waters reaches up to his knees.
In the First Class Smoking Room, Ivan stands like a statue. He pulls out his pocket watch and checks the time. Then he opens the face of the mantle clock and adjusts it to the correct time: 2:12 a.m. … Everything must be correct… His brandy glass that was sitting on top of the marble mantle slips beside him to the rugged floor.
Water swirls in from the private promenade deck in the Bonnefoy Parlour Suite,. Arthur's paintings were submerged. The Picasso transforms under the water's surface. Degas' colors run. Monet's water lilies come to life.
Vash Zwingly, with a gun clutched in his hand, stares at the hall of the dining saloon. The plates and china were floating all around him like flat lilies on a pond as the ship groans and creaks. Small clinking of porcelain could be heard. He did not make a sound as the water rose up to his waist then to his chest.
With shaky nimble hands, Feliciano removes the knots of the lifebelt from Gilbert's body, which was now lying limp on the wooden deck. Gilbert's blood was now slowly mixing with the seawater. Feliciano struggles to put the lifebelt on as the water rises around him. His wide brown eyes were still glazed with tears, but now he has stopped sobbing. He closes Gilbert's eyelids and gives his friend a kiss on the forehead.
"We shall meet again soon my friend." he whispers.
Feliciano stands up, letting Gilbert's body lull on the deck. With determination, he starts to jog towards the Bridge. Now, he needed to find the Captain… before it was all too late.
Francis sits next to the wailing child, whom he has completely forgotten. He gives Peter to a woman sitting with them on the boat. Horrified, he watches the water rising around the men as they work, scrambling to get the ropes cut so the ship won't drag the collapsible under.
The boat was hit by a wave as the bow plunges suddenly. It partially swamps the boat, washing it along the deck. Over a hundred passengers were plunged into the freezing water and the area around the boat becomes a frenzy of splashing, screaming people.
On the portside, Collapsible Boat B was picked up by water as a huge wave travels up the deck. Working frantically, the men try to detach it from the falls so the ship won't drag it under. Colonel Antonio Cerrido hands a crewman a pocket knife and he cuts furiously at the ropes as the water swirls around his legs. The boat, still upside down, was swept off the ship and the men, including Antonio, start diving in, swimming to stay with it.
Just when he was about to close the watertight door of the Wheelhouse, Ludwig hears splashing footsteps.
"CAPITANO!" Feliciano shouts. "Capitano I have found you!"
Ludwig wheels around stoically at the doorframe and his blue eyes grew astonished to see the Italian. A sudden wave of relief filled him, mixed with the weight of dread at the bottom of his stomach. Feliciano catches up to his side just in front of the door, panting. His brown eyes were wild, and so was his semi wet hair. Ludwig was surprised to see the Italian's hands were covered with blood, so were his shirt and his lifebelt. He did not get the chance to ask him though.
"Capitano!" overcome with emotion, Feliciano flings himself onto the Captain, wrapping his arms around him tightly.
Stunned, but feeling himself overcome too, Ludwig wraps his arms around the young man as tightly as he could, burying his face onto Feliciano's neck. For a few fleeting moments they stayed like that, before Ludwig had to push the Italian away at arms length. Now, worry was evident in his cold blue eyes.
"Feliciano, what are you still doing here?!" his voice was scolding, "You've got to get yourself to a boat, NOW!"
"No. Not without you, Capitano." Feliciano's eyes were starting to tear up again.
"I'm not leaving, Feliciano… I'm sorry. I can't leave." Ludwig's voice was solemn.
"What?" the Italian frowned in confusion. "Why not?"
" 'A Captain must go down with his ship.' " Ludwig recited tonelessly.
"I don't understand." Feliciano's hands were twisted onto Ludwig's uniform, his eyes now flowing with earnest tears. "You must come with me!"
"Feliciano, look at me." Ludwig forces the young man's chin up. "Stop crying. Go… Save yourself. Forget about me."
Feliciano shakes his head determinedly this time. "No. If you're not going… then I'm staying here with you!"
Ludwig felt struck by these words. "You can't…" he felt his heart sink. "Don't be absurd! You've got to get yourself to a boat."
"But the boats have all gone."
"Then you should still make a try for it." Ludwig says firmly and clutches onto both of Feliciano's shoulders. "Please… I beg you. Leave me. Don't try to make this harder for me as it is."
Feliciano merely shakes his head and sobs quietly, not willing to let go of the Captain's uniform. The solemn music and the screams of the passengers echoed around them with the loud roar of the rushing waters.
"I still don't understand Capitano." Feliciano choked a sob. "I'm not letting you die just like Gilbert!"
Just then, a fast rush of water came at a huge wave towards the Bridge. Before the wall of water slaps against the wooden platform, Ludwig grabs Feliciano by the lapels into the Wheelhouse and shuts the watertight door just in time. The water surges, completely submerging the Bridge compartment in seconds. Feliciano could only see water out of the porthole of the door and out of the wide glass windows that surrounded the compartment… The noises outside were now completely gone. The two of them were now alone, surrounded by the gleaming brass instruments in the room. Ludwig seems to inwardly collapse. The both of them were now trapped.
Water roars through the doors and windows of the First Class entrance as it cascades down the opulent stairs like rapids in a fast river. Torris, the steward, was swept down the marble steps to A-Deck, which was already flooded into a roiling vortex of ocean. He grabs the headless cherub at the bottom of the staircase and wraps his arms around it. Around him the passengers… nobles, aristocrats and rich people, with their elegant dress gowns and tuxedos scream and struggle in horror as the Atlantic waters swept them away.
Torris looks up in time to see the 30 foot elegant glass dome overhead explode inward with the wave of water washing over into the foyer. A Niagara of sea water thunders down into the room, blasting through the first class opulence. It was the Armageddon of elegance.
Outside, the stay cables along the top of the funnel, snap out of their hooks, and lash like steel whips down into the water. Francis watches as the funnel topples from its mounts. Falling like a temple pillar twenty eight feet across, it whomps into the water with a tremendous splash. People swimming underneath it disappear in an instant.
The water pouring into the open end of the funnel, draws in several swimmers. The funnel sinks, disappearing, but –Hundreds of tons of water pour down through the 30 foot hole where the funnel stood, thundering down into the belly of the ship. A whirlpool forms, a hole in the ocean, like at enormous toilet-flush sucking in bodies of passengers into its mouth.
Captain Ludwig stands near the wheel of the ship and watches the water sloshing the glass windows of the enclosed wheelhouse. Feliciano stood next to him, his eyes wide with terror. Both of them knew of their predicament… They did not speak for long moments and the only thing that was heard was the groaning and creaking of the woodwork. Feliciano clutches onto the Captain's sleeve, his fingers trembling.
"Capitano…" Feliciano started with a soft voice, breaking the ear numbing silence. "This is… this is where we first met."
Ludwig faces him, his face had a stricken expression of a damned soul on Judgment Day. Without a word, he gathers Feliciano into his arms and held him as tightly as he could. The Italian starts to sob against his chest and Gilbert's blood was starting to stain the Captain's white uniform.
"Feliciano…" Ludwig's voice was thick in his throat. A weary sort of acceptance had fallen over on both of them once Feliciano had stopped crying. They held onto each other firmly as if they were afraid to let go. Now, there was nothing they could do at this point. "Do you regret ever meeting me?"
Feliciano lifted his eyes up to look at him and shook his head. "No Capitano. I've never regretted anything in my life. I think I've lived it the way I wanted to."
"That's one thing I envy about you." Ludwig said quietly. "You seem so free to do anything."
"How about you Capitano…? Do you ever regret that you've met me?"
"No… That's one thing in my life that I would never regret."
Slowly, Ludwig lifts Feliciano's chin and presses his lips firmly on the Italian's. It was soft and sweet and filled with all the mixed emotion that they were experiencing now.
The glass on the windows start to make tiny cracks along the edges of its frame and the sound it made was teeth-grinding. The weight and pressure of the water was now too much for the glass and the windows burst in on itself. A wall of freezing water edged with shards of glass slams in on both of them. Ludwig and Feliciano embraced tightly, hanging on for dear life as the both of them disappear in a vortex of white foam…
The passengers were now frantic on the upper decks of the Titanic. All the boats have now gone and their only means of survival was to climb up to the tilting stern. Wallace Hartley, the violinist, sees the water rolling rapidly up the deck toward them. He holds the last note of the hymn in a sustain, and then lowers his violin. His peers look at him in a resigned sort of manner.
"Gentlemen, it has been a privilege playing with you tonight." He says solemnly.
To be continued....
Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
darkness be over me, my rest a stone;
yet in my dreams I'd be
nearer, my God, to thee;
nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee..
AN: just maybe 3 or more chapters to go my lovelies. Please pray that I might finish it. oTL this has been long over due. Anyway... Have a happy Easter everyone! :)
Tell me what you guys think! Cheers!