© Copyright 2012 - Daviddrb6 - Used by permission
Storycodes: Solo-F; M/f; drug; strip; transform; doll; chemical; electro; mc; hist; cons/reluct; X
INTRODUCTION: This is my contribution to the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic. However you won't find Kate Winslet, Leonard DiCaprio or Kenneth More on board.
On board the RMS Titanic; the mid-Atlantic; the evening of Sunday 14th April 1912
Caitlin O'Loughlan stood on the promenade deck and exhaled, watching her frozen breath blow out in front of her and disperse. She puffed out several more breaths and smiled. She'd always enjoyed doing that as it had seemed magical to her as a little girl.
It was bitterly cold and Caitlin had heard rumours of ice in the area. She had on her stewardesses uniform of an ankle-length black dress, starched white apron and cap neatly placed on her head. She looked out across the still, calm sea and then her eyes were drawn up to the sky. At first she saw only three stars but as she stared she saw more appear until the sky was dotted with little white dots of glimmering light. She saw two were of a dark-red colour and wondered if either one of them was Mars. The only sound was the gentle wash of water along the Titanic 's sides. She was a long way from her home in Ireland.
Caitlin shivered and decided it was time to go in. Even though it was past ten o'clock she still had one more job to do. As a First Class stewardess one of her tasks was to turn the beds down in the evening. One passenger though had told her to come back later. She knew who it was: a Mr. Martaine who'd boarded the ship at Cherbourg. She knew very little of the man other than he kept to his cabin all the time and only came out to eat.
Caitlin's route to First Class took her past the grand staircase in the foyer of A Deck. The walls were decorated by oak panelling and in the centre of one of them, on the landing, was a clock flanked by two female figures who represented Honour and Glory. Overhead was a dome of ornate iron and glass that let in natural light.
"Only the English would have a staircase like this", Caitlin thought with a wry smile.
Reaching First-Class Caitlin walked down the long white corridor. The corridor was empty with the only sound the gentle throbbing of the ship's engines. She stopped at a mirror to check her appearance. The mirror showed a girl who was twenty-two. She was slim and of medium height. Her face was oval shaped with bright blue eyes that showed intelligence. She had a small, straight nose and a mouth that when she smiled heightened her checkbones and was friendly. Some strands of her brown hair had come loose and she tucked them under her cap. She resumed walking and thought about the passengers she served. There was Edith Rosenbaum, a fashion journalist from New York who had a whole stateroom filled with trunks of clothes she was bringing back from Paris. There were the Duff Gordons who felt the world revolved around them and the American millionaire John Jacob Astor and his new bride, Madeline. She always looked tired and ill and Caitlin had guessed she was in the first stages of pregnancy. She'd seen that several times at home.
She reached the door of Martaine's cabin and knocked. "Can I turn your bed down sir?" she asked.
Caitlin clicked her tongue in irritation and knocked again. Still no answer. Deciding not to waste time she opened the door and went in.
Martaine was sitting at the table working on what looked like a small electrical machine. It consisted of a wooden base on which was mounted a flywheel the size of a dinner plate operated by a wheel and pulley system. On both sides of the wheel were thin, upright metal cylinders. From these were attached thin, curved rods that ended in spheres. It seemed out of place in the room with it's panelled walls, comfortable bed and imitation Georgian furniture. The room also had a fireplace which contained an electric fire. A clock stood in the centre of the mantlepiece while above it was a large, oval-shaped mirror. Leaning against another wall was a folded up wooden table.
Caitlin turned down the bedclothes then turned to face Martaine "Is there anything else sir?" she asked.
Martaine continued working on his machine and Caitlin suddenly wondered if he was an anarchist going to blow up the ship. Should she report him? He looked up and Caitlin saw he had short, swept-back hair above a moon-shaped face with a roman nose and firm mouth. He had intense blue-grey eyes and wore a brown suit. "No there isn't," he said and Caitlin noticed he a clipped, cultured voice. "Forgive me for asking but are you Irish?"
"Yes sir", Caitlin answered and found herself smiling. "Edenderry, County Kildare. It's in the Irish Midlands sir".
"You're a long way from home", Martaine said. "Oh, I'm forgetting my manners. I haven't thanked you for your work". He got up and Catlin saw he was a stocky man; like a boxer. He held out his hand and Catlin hesitated. Then she took his hand and curtsied. "How do you do sir", she said. She felt a prick on her right thumb and as she took her hand away Caitlin saw the skin had split next to her nail. It looked red and she hoped it wouldn't start bleeding. She continued: "It's a very rural area sir. There are a lot of farms and the only other industry is a shoe factory".
"So you decided to try your luck elsewhere?" Martaine asked.
"Well round there you can either work the land; take up holy orders or have children. I didn't want that so I went to Belfast". She pulled a face and felt her shoulders and back were starting to hurt. "Being a Catholic I found it a dirty Protestant town, if you pardon the expression". She rubbed her thumb with her forefinger. It was stinging and now her right arm was starting to ache.
Martaine chuckled. "You got a job on the Titanic then?"
"No sir," Caitlin replied. "I worked as a stewardess on the Belfast to Liverpool ferry. Then this job came up and I applied for it. I wanted to go further afield and see America".
"Do you think you'll settle there?" Martaine asked.
Caitlin shrugged her shoulders and felt her body shiver. Maybe she'd let herself get too cold on the boat deck. "I don't know sir," she replied. "I think I'd be too homesick. I like Ireland. I like the English too. There are some snobs who'll look down on you, but there some nice people among them". She nodded towards the machine: "Excuse me for asking sir but are you some sort of inventor?"
"Yes I am", Martaine replied. He turned to the machine then hesitated. He looked back at Caitlin for a moment then turned to the machine. "It's an experimental electrical generator I'm working on", he said. "Most generators have be assembled in the places where they are to generate the power. I thought if you could have a generator that you could carry around in just a case and easily assemble, it could generate power for a street, or even a ship like this one. I haven't taken out a patent for this so I have to keep it secret for now".
"I'm sorry for asking sir", Caitlin said. "I was just ... curious..." She stopped. Her back and shoulders were hurting and the pain was spreading down to her legs. She looked at Martaine. He was staring at her intently. "I - I won't tell a soul sir", she said in a rush. "If - if you'll excuse me sir I - I have to be ... going ... going now."
"Of course," Martaine said. "I mustn't keep you from your duties".
Caitlin started walking towards the door. She suddenly felt very tired. The door was within reach but it suddenly seemed to stretch away into the distance. She closed her eyes for a moment and when she opened them saw the door was looming overhead in a dark grey light with black stars dotted around her vision. She closed her eyes again and felt herself falling into a soft deep pit which she knew was sleep.
Caitlin awoke. She was drowsy and felt she'd slept for a long time. She also felt exposed. It was the sensation she felt when she'd taken off her shoes to bathe her feet in the river. She could sense her feet were bare but so was the rest of her body. She tried to raise her arms only to find she couldn't move them. In fact her whole body felt limp. The bed she was lying on felt hard beneath her.
She kept opening and closing her eyes. She saw a shape some distance away and focussed on it. The shape turned into the bed with the clothes she'd turned down. She moved her head and saw her own clothes dumped on a chair nearby. She wasn't in bed yet she was in the middle of the room suspended off the floor. There was also something brushing against her skin and she felt wet as though she'd just come out of the bath.
Caitlin felt herself being turned over. The bed seemed to rattle underneath her and she found herself gazing up at her reflection in a large round mirror suspended over her on a stand. There was another similar mirror suspended over her further down and Caitlin saw she was lying naked on the table that had been opened out. She looked up at her reflection again. Her hair was loose around her shoulders. Her eyes were half closed and her mouth was open.
Caitlin tried to speak. All that came out was a small croak.
She saw a brush. It was like a large paint brush and it was being rubbed up and down her body. Looking again Caitlin saw her skin was glistening. She murmured as the brush was rubbed into her naked breasts. Her legs were parted and the brush rubbed into her vagina. She wanted to scream for help: that she was being raped but she couldn't.
Caitlin felt her head being lifted up and her chin cupped in something damp and soft and now the brush was being applied to her face. She saw it was a smaller brush and it gently painted her forehead, cheeks and lips. Caitlin saw the brush being held by a gloved hand while another held her chin. She saw the face of Martaine looking into her's and that he was wearing a smock.
Catlin tried to speak but another croak came out. "Don't say anything", Martaine told her. "I'll tell you when to talk".
He laid her head down on the table and Caitlin felt drowsy again and closed her eyes. She could hear Martaine moving around and he seemed to be talking to her about " an injection" and "electrical vitrification", but he seemed to be a long way away. Caitlin felt he was standing at the other end of the field that used to have the donkey in that she and her friends had ridden on as children.
She felt herself sinking down into the soft, comfortable darkness again. She remembered a ship lit up at night she'd seen passing when she'd worked on the ferry. It's lights grew brighter; merging into one and it focussed into the frosted glass light fitting set into the panelled ceiling. Caitlin saw her reflection in the mirror again except her face was now covered in a creamy, jelly like substance. It was also in her hair which was slicked back and she could see Martiane was rubbing it into her body. She was turned over on to her stomach and felt the jelly being massaged into her back.
Caitlin was turned face upwards to the ceiling again and left lying on the table. She looked up at her reflection again. Her face and whole body was lathered. She heard Martaine telling her that she would have to be wait but it wouldn't be too long. She heard him moving around and the clink and clatter of him putting away the equipment he'd used on her. Then it was quiet and Caitlin could only hear the soft ticking of the mantlepiece clock and the the faint beat of the Titanic's engines. She could also hear a slight fizzing coming from the substance and as she looked into the mirror again Caitlin saw the lather seem to sink into her skin. It left her naked body with a glistening sheen; like sun shining on glass. Caitlin felt her whole body becoming stiff. She could still her heart beating but now it felt that it was something inside her body that she didn't need.
Caitlin stared up at the mirror and saw her eyes now had the same glassy sheen. She saw Martaine place the generator behind her head. The prongs were placed at both sides of her head on her temples and she heard the mirrors rattle and clicking sounds come from them. Caitlin saw Martaine come back and pull a switch to start up the generator. She saw the fly wheel start up with a whirring sound and become a blur as it picked up speed.
Caitlin saw her reflection in the overhead mirror start to glow. It pulsated until she saw it was the glass of the mirror that was glowing. The light within it's circular frame blocked out her reflection and then seemed to spread out from the mirror to engulf her. She heard the generator's whirring grow louder.
Then there were huge explosions of light accompanied by a loud crackling that drowned out the generator's noise. Her body jerked from the lightning strikes and her limbs shook. Catilin remembered the thunderstorm that had scared her as a child one night. There had been brilliant flashes of sheet lightning that had made the night as bright as day and illuminated her local church. It was as though God was announcing that it was His House and he would defend it.
As Caitlin watched there was another flash of sheet lightning.
The Doll sat in the chair and watched her Master dismantle the machine and the table on which she had been born. The Doll's Master was stockily built with a moon face and swept back hair. She thought he was very handsome. He'd told her to sit in a chair and she'd done so. She had seen some clothes on a chair nearby her: a black knee-length dress, starched white apron and cap and wondered was she supposed to wear them. She would leave it to her Master. He would tell her what to do.
The Doll's Master told her to stand up and walk over to the mirror. Looking at her reflection, the Doll saw she was of slim and of medium height. Her brown hair had a silky shine and was loose around her shoulders. Her face was oval shaped with bright blue eyes that were unblinking. She had a small, straight nose and a mouth that smiled when her Master told her she had turned out more beautiful than he'd imagined. The smile heightened her checkbones and was friendly. She was wearing a leotard that left her arms and legs bare. Her limbs, like her face, were light pink in colour and had a smooth shine to them. The Doll's Master told her that tomorrow he would dress her up and take her round the ship to see how people would react to her. The Doll was pleased. She was sure they would complement her grace and beauty.
The Master told her to go and sit back in her chair. The Doll watched him as he sat at the table opposite her and opened a book to write in. The Doll sat listening to the ticking of the mantlepiece clock. Then she heard a metallic boom. It was followed by another. The Doll felt the room shake and then she heard a rattling as though a giant finger were being run against a grating. She saw her Master look up startled. She wanted to go and comfort him but she would wait until he summoned her. She saw her Master get up and look at the clock. " 11:40", she heard him mutter.
The next morning the survivors from the Titanic were scattered in lifeboats over a wide area. There were icebergs dotted around so when the Carpathia arrived the lifeboats had to row over to the ship. The sea was also littered with debris from the sinking: wooden panels, deckchairs, lifebelts, suitcases, a baby's cot, a child's rocking horse and several bodies.
The occupants of one lifeboat saw two bodies floating nearby. Although they were numb from the cold and anxious to get to the Carpathia they rowed over to examine them.
"Nothing that can be done for this poor devil," the boat's officer said as he checked the body of a stocky man with swept-back hair. "Must have been caught below when she sank. What about the other one?"
"Just a mannequin sir," the seaman replied before adding: "A doll". The seaman looked at the Doll. It was wearing a leotard while it's blue eyes looked up at the sky. It's shiny brown hair was spread out in the water and it's limbs were stiff and unmoving. The boat's occupants resumed rowing towards the Carpathia leaving the Doll that had once been Caitlin O'Loughlan to drift away in the current.
NOTE: As everyone knows the RMS Titanic hit the iceberg at 11:40 pm on Sunday 14th April 1912. She sank at 2:20 am on Monday 15th April with the loss of over 1,500 lives. The 700 plus surviviors were picked up by the Carpathia which arrived at the site of the sinking at around 4: 00 am having dashed fifty-eight miles through the night after receiving the Titanic's distress calls.
Edith Rosenbaum, the Duff Gordons and John Jacob Astor and his wife, Madeline were real passengers on board the Titanic and, with the exception of John Jacob Astor, all survived the sinking. Their stories can be found in the book Shadow of the Titanic by Andrew Wilson.
Caitlin's response to the Titanic's oppulence has it's basis in a joke in Ireland: that the Irish built the Titanic and the English sank her!