When I first take you on board my yacht you will no doubt admire its sleek and pristine appearance. From the polished hull through to the crisp and pressed uniforms of its crew, my vessel exudes expense, opulence and desirability. You marvel at how magnificent it looks, the white of the hull contrasting with the gently lapping azure sea. I take you on an impromptu tour showing you the master bedroom, the well-equipped kitchen, decadent living areas and inviting bathrooms. Every detail has been carefully considered in ensuring that this is a yacht you want to always sail in. The flowers that have been placed on your side of the bed are your favourite. You see the bathrobe hanging on the back of the door and can already feel its soft embrace as you slide it around you following an invigorating shower.
Back on the immaculate deck,I show you to a sun lounger and invite you to relax as we set sail, a hot sun blazing in a sky where there is not a cloud to be had. You lie down enjoying the caress of the sun’s rays as you are waited on by my crew, a succession of delicious and cold drinks brought to your side as you slip into a gentle sleep.
A sudden lurch of the vessel rudely awakens you and you shiver. The sun has vanished, a canopy of dark grey clouds having covered it. You sit up as you hear a crack and the sun lounger fractures, not from your weight, but as a consequence of its decayed state. You jump up and the vessel leans alarmingly as it is buffeted by a large wave. Spray combines with driving rain as you scurry to the nearest door into the yacht to escape the storm that has appeared out of nowhere. You halt on the threshold and frown as your gaze sweeps over stained and tattered carpets. Paint peels on the walls and the ceiling has fallen in on one side. You call out my name but there is no reply. Concerned you move from room to room but find nobody. The crew have vanished. The kitchen is smeared with grease and dirt, rotting food has been left lying around. The bathrooms are grubby, the tiles cracked and the mirrors broken. You make your way around the yacht but the scene is similar everywhere you go. It is run down and dilapidated from long-term neglect.
The yacht tips and you hear plates smash as you make for the bridge of the vessel, increasingly concerned for your safety. The bridge is similarly deserted and you see the yacht’s wheel has been lashed in place causing the vessel to continue on a course into a mass of black clouds and forked lightning which you can see ahead despite the cracked glass in front of you. You reach for the radio but it has been smashed. There is a mobile ‘phone which you pick up in desperation. It will not allow you to dial any numbers however and will only permit you to call three pre-programmed numbers. The first displays the word “Coterie”. Somebody answers but all you can hear is the sound of celebrating, the noise of the party is deafening and your pleas for help are drowned out by the noise of excitement and reverie. The second reads “Lieutenants”. Again it is answered and you ask the person answering for help. You are told that they are busy and you got yourself into this situation so you will have to sort it out yourself. You try that number again and a different voice answers but it tells you that you are crazy to have sailed into a storm and they cannot help you. With fear and desperation rising you ring the final number and the word “Me” comes up on the display.
“Hello?” I answer.
“What’s happening? Where are you? I’m in trouble, something has happened to the yacht. Everything was fantastic but now, I don’t understand, it has all gone wrong and I am in the middle of a storm. It’s happened so fast, help me, please help me.”
“Head onto the deck,” I reply calmly and end the call.
You do as instructed and above the noise of the wind and the crashing waves you hear the unmistakable sound of a helicopter. You look up and see me controlling the winch as I lower a harness down to you. The yacht pitches and you lose your footing. You clamber back up and try to grasp the harness but I have begun to yank it back up away from you. Still clutching the mobile you call me again.
“Help me, please, send down the harness, I need your help.”
I begin to lower the harness again but as it nears and you try and grab it you feel a stinging sensation on your arm and draw it back. A weal is already forming from where the pellet has hit you. You look up and see me grinning as I wave the airgun at you. The harness is still in front of you and you try to grab it but another volley of pellets drives you back before the harness begins to rise again.
You call me a third time.
“Please, why are you doing this? I don’t understand. Help me, I will do anything, just get me off here.”
“Anything?” I answer.
“Yes, anything, just please, lift me off here.”
You look up as the harness begins to lower and I train my sights on you once again.
“Please don’t shoot at me, I don’t know what I have done, this yacht, it has turned into a nightmare,” you shout into the phone begging me.
“Didn’t you see the yacht’s name when you came aboard or were you too in awe of it?” I ask. You glance at one of the life rings and see the yacht’s name printed on it. You paid no heed to the name when you glanced at it when you first boarded the yacht as you were indeed taken in by its grandeur. As the yacht rolls and threatens to throw you off your feet, your eyes settle on the black letters on the red and white ring. They are unmistakable.