Sounds the like of which he hadn’t heard since that fateful night, and he feared what it might mean, accompanied by what sounded like a foghorn, though whether it was in his headphones or not he couldn’t even begin to tell.
Wasting no time, and being bombarded by an escalating cacophony in his ears every step of the way, he made his way back to the main cabin, and out on deck. All the while wondering how a mere derelict could cause so much trouble when it appeared to be completely deserted. At first unsure if he should be chagrined or relieved to see that not only was the Maximum still there, but Justin was standing out on deck, waving at him, he paused for a moment, wondering if this wasn’t some manner of practical joke, by chance.
All doubt was dispelled, though, when he heard what his friend was shouting about.
“Shades! What the hell are you waiting for? Do you want to be trapped aboard the Twylight forever!?”
Those words got him moving again, even as they chilled his blood. A name Max had mentioned once when they were swapping spooky stories, and much like his favorite Bermuda Triangle tales from his own childhood, it kept him awake that night. Then again, he reminded himself that the Maximum herself, nee Rose Marine Queen, was a living Bermuda Triangle story, whether anyone back on Earth would believe it or not.
A perspective he found rather less than reassuring under the circumstances.
Nimbly leaping the gap between the two ships, he made for the cabin, seeking to give them a swift escape from this mysterious menace, fog or no fog, when he saw Justin still waiting. Stopping short, and seeing that his friend hadn’t even made a move to untether the two ships from each other, he asked, “Wait a minute, where’s Max?”
“He hasn’t come back,” Justin answered starkly.
The fog seemed to somehow press in a little tighter around the two of them as they waited for their friend, almost mocking them. Both of them tried calling for Max, but all they got was this staticky interference that sounded like garbled snatches of someone else’s conversations echoing back at them. As the moments piled up, Shades considered going back for him, but found himself held back by his friend’s own ominous words, about a ghost ship people simply disappeared from.
And still no sign of him.
Peering into the cabin, he made another observation he could have done without, demanding, “Hey! Where’s Bandit?”
Both of them paused for a long moment, realizing that the last time either of them could remember seeing their feline companion was back when they first spotted that damnable derelict.
Shades was about to go look down below to check on him, when Bandit peeked up around the corner of the steps, a haunted look in his eyes that only added to his own apprehension. Still, it was no small relief to know that at least the big cat hadn’t sneaked over onto the other ship when no one was paying attention. After all, it was bad enough Max was still over there.
Shutting the cabin door, just to be safe, he turned to Justin, and as Max continued to remain both absent, and out of radio contact, he demanded, “What the hell is going on?”
“Well, you see, the banner…” Justin stumbled over the words as he tried to figure out where to begin explaining this increasingly inexplicable situation.