Short Stories

SS Heroes- A Human Odyssey (Part 2)


Curiosity was getting the better of me and since I knew the staff wouldn’t answer my questions, I began to wander the SS Heroes after breakfast. I looked for signs of anything that would lead me to some clues…(from the previous article).

I started off down the main hallway back towards the dormitories, which passed the kitchen along the way. Signs on the walls reminded the passengers ¨Please wear your safety jacket at all times for your security¨. Cameras in the corners of the ceiling monitored the passengers´compliance. I heard a jangling of chains ahead of me, a cook  was about to enter one of the locked doors along the hallway. I walked casually behind them and, before the door closed, I slipped my foot into the gap. I had no idea if someone was watching the camera monitor but I took a chance and entered quietly.

I took a few breaths before walking down the staircase into the darkness. I followed the line of LED lights along the dimly lit hallway until I found a door with light shining through the window. The smell of animal dung hit me as I opened the door with my elbow. The enormous room was full of caged animals. Zebras, camels, horses, chickens, monkeys, and others lined the walls in their individual cells. Most of them looked bored or paced their cells when they saw me. I located the sources of the light, a greenhouse on the back wall and little round windows near the ceiling. I guessed that this must be how they have been feeding us such decadent meals; they kept the living sources of our food on board.

Before I could leave, I heard the loud voice of a parrot. It screeched and screeched and I feared it would alert a staff person. It was linked to a post with a simple rope. I found a toolbox with a set of sharp knives and picked one up delicately with my teeth. I tried to not imagine where the knife had been while I began sawing on the rope.

The parrot broke free and climbed on my back. ¨Ahar Matey!¨ it said cheerfully. With a mixture of glee and dread, I dropped the knife back into the box and opened the door. The coast was clear. Further down the hallway, I heard what sounded like the whirring of motors and roaring of flames. I slowly walked towards the sound; the parrot and I were both stiff and silent with fear. Through a window I could just make out the silhouette of two men hauling coal into the wide, glowing mouth of a furnace. It was the powerhouse of the ship. The chains jangled with each shovel of coal, their synchronised speed rivalled the pounding pedals of a cyclist.

I had seen enough now to be intensely skeptical and filled with more questions. Why were the men shovelling coal so fast? And where did the coal come from? Where did the animals come from and how long had they been there? Have we been eating the kin of these animals all along? The ship must make landfall sometimes but why do they not alert the passengers?

And the original questions still remain: Who is the captain? And where are we going?

I slowly backed away and headed hurriedly down the hallway towards the staircase. My new companion chided ¨Ahar Matey! Ahar Matey!¨. My head buzzed with the new information as I opened the door and stumbled into the shoulder of my most esteemed friend…

¨SS Heroes- A Human Odyssey¨ is a metaphorical short story written as three articles. The main character, Koa, is trapped on the luxury liner SS Heroes and is beginning to question their surroundings. The passengers are along for the ride and many have accepted the somewhat suspicious circumstances. SS Heroes represents Earth and the passengers represent humanity, but who is the captain and what are the signs of danger on Earth? Koa (the reader) is faced with a difficult question: ¨How do I move forward when I am beginning to sense the urgency in this situation and everyone else seems content to play along? (…or are they?)¨.


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