Henry sat in his cabin, a game of backgammon rested on a fold-down table before him. First Mate, Giaco slouched in the chair on the other side. Normally, the crew of the ferry Costa Concordia kept busy while underway between Moon Base Gagarin and the shipbuilding yards in lunar orbit.
Unfortunately, a failed Equalizer Valve left them powerless except for emergency batteries, and unable to make way. Most ships carried spares, but no one kept spare Equalizer Valves because they never failed…except on the oft bedraggled Costa Concordia. It would take four hours before the tug, Evangeline, arrived to tow them home.
Henry pointed to a spot among the pictures fastened to the bulkhead. “This time spent goofing off aboard ship reminds me of when I was a boy in New Zealand.”
“There was this old ferry, the Aratere, left abandoned. My mates and I had the greatest imaginary adventures playing aboard her. I loved her so much, I kept her name plaque and put it up there when I got this ship.”
Giaco looked up Aratere on his tablet. “Ohmigosh. That ship constantly had trouble. Like it was cursed. And you brought its name plaque aboard here?”
“It explains our constant troubles!”
“It does!” Giaco sighed. “Anyway, I notice the plaque is gone.”
“Yeah, an old mate of mine, Garret, saw it and begged me to loan it to him. He’s got it now.”
Aboard the brand new supply ship Edmund Fitzgerald, on a run to resupply Mars’ Shepard Colony, she sat adrift and powerless. It would take days before another ship arrived with a spare Equalizer Valve. Edmund Fitzgerald didn’t carry a replacement, because the valves never failed. Captain Garret Young looked up at the wall of his cabin and shuddered. It would be months before he could return the Aratere name plaque back to Captain Henry Ward.
It’s not only a bad idea to steal cursed name plaques, but one should take great care not to give a ship a cursed name as well.
Costa Concordia: capsized and sank after striking an underwater rock obstruction off Isola del Giglio: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Costa_Concordia_disaster
SS Edmund Fitzgerald: An American Great Lakes freighter that sank in a Lake Superior storm on November 10, 1975: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Edmund_Fitzgerald
This is written for Matthew Wright’s Mega Short-Story flash fiction writing challenge. More writers are invited to join in on the fun. Look for the original challenge right here: https://mjwrightnz.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/this-weeks-mega-short-story-challenge-6/