Day Four

Day Four by Sarah Lotz Read Free Book Online

Book: Day Four by Sarah Lotz Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sarah Lotz
child – if there even was a child – must have disappeared inside one of the neighbouring cabins, although she was certain she hadn’t heard the crump of a door opening and closing. ‘Do you mind if I recheck some of the staterooms? The steward who was sent to do it is new.’ Good. A lie, but it sounded reasonable. She waited for the guard to argue, but he merely continued to stare at her – perhaps he’d read something in her face – then waved a hand as if to say ‘go on’.
    There were three staterooms that the boy could possibly have slipped inside when the lights went out. She opened the first, ducked into the bathroom, and then scanned the main area, opening the wardrobe to ensure that the child wasn’t hiding in there. There was no sign of him, but the room was a mess, the sheets scrambled into a ball, the bin overflowing with empty Coors cans. It was clear Trining hadn’t bothered to service her station at all that morning, and it was likely Paulo had just knocked on the cabin doors and then carded them without investigating properly. Trining must have God and all his angels on her side – it was a miracle no one had complained.
    She glanced at the guard as she tried the next room, but he was fiddling with his radio. The second she opened the door, the acidic stench of vomit rolled out at her. She hesitated, then propped the door against its magnet and stepped inside. The bathroom was empty, and the rest of the space appeared to be unoccupied. She looked around for the source of the bad smell, aware that now she could also detect another odour: urine. It was faint, but unmistakable.
    She crept around the edge of the dishevelled bed. The duvet was lumped between the wall and the side of the mattress, and poking out from the end of it, a pair of feet, the soles dirty and grey. She cried out and stepped back, bashing against the vanity unit and sending a make-up bag falling to the floor.
    The guard was inside the room in seconds, scrunching up his nose. ‘What is it?’
    ‘Come here,’ she whispered. ‘Look.’
    She watched the guard’s face carefully as he took in the scene. He recoiled, and fumbled for his radio. ‘Control, come in. Control.’ A hiss and a crackle. He banged it on his hand.
    Althea couldn’t drag her eyes away from those feet. They belonged to a woman, and she found herself thinking about something her lola used to say when she was a child: that the shoes of the dead must be removed as soon as possible so that they are not weighted down on their journey to heaven. Barely aware she was doing so, she reached out to remove the duvet, but the guard placed a hand on her arm. His palm felt hot enough to burn her skin. ‘Wait.’ The guard climbed onto the bed, moved across it, and gently lifted the duvet covering the woman’s head, revealing a scribble of straw-coloured hair. He leaned down to check for a pulse, then replaced the coverlet exactly as it was.
    ‘Is she dead?’ Althea whispered.
    ‘Yes.’
    They stood in silence for several seconds. The guard cleared his throat. ‘I must go outside to see if I can get a better signal. Do not touch anything.’ He softened his voice: ‘Will you be fine to stay here by yourself?’
    She nodded.
    ‘Again, please do not touch anything.’ He hurried out, leaving her alone with the body. The hairs on the back of her neck danced. Althea closed her eyes, crossed herself again, and for the first time in many months, she prayed.

The Suicide Sisters
    Helen reckoned there were some benefits to being among the few over-sixties on board; she and Elise had been allocated sun-loungers, while everyone else at their muster station had to make do with the floor. She was comfortable enough, but she could do without the racket. Next to where she and Elise were sitting, a group of men and women were flirting aggressively with one another, vying to be the centre of attention. The loudest of the bunch, a thirtyish man with the build of a rugby player and

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