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Synopsis

It was their love for sailing that brought Jack and Karen Billings together. Anytime they had free time, they could be found aboard their most prized possession, the Marlow Explorer. The seventy-eight foot yacht was large enough to seat about fifteen people and had always been the go-to place for countless parties, relaxing weekends, and romantic getaways. However, the demanding nature of work and everyday life often stole the majority of Jack and Karen’s time. Now over fifty years old, they were beginning to get back in touch with their love for the sea. Having just returned from a six month long sailing trip, the couple was eager to revive the lives of their friends as well.  

"Why don’t we throw a Halloween party?” Jack volunteered. “The weather looks perfect for sailing, and it’d be a great way to get all our friends back together.” Karen smiled at the thought, remembering the parties from their younger days. “That’s a great idea,” she replied. “It’s been so long since we’ve seen any of them. I’m sure they’d love to come.”

Immediately Karen’s mind went to work on how to decorate the yacht and what costume she should wear. “Just picture it, Jack,” Karen said with excitement. “Cob webs covering the walls below deck, ghosts hanging from the mast, vampires in coffins, and witches by a cauldron of punch. And, of course, a fog machine to complete the mood!” “Perfect!” Jack laughed and smiles at his wife. Just the thought of a party had brought out her youth.  He watched her hurry around the yacht in excitement, planning out the perfect places for decorations. She eventually noticed him watching her and skipped over to him. “Well don’t just stand there!” She said with a giggle. “You’ve got some invitations to send!”
About two weeks later, Halloween finally arrived. Karen had spent two days prior to the party decorating every square inch perfectly. "I hope everyone shows up on time," said Karen as she paced back and forth in the kitchen, dressed in her elaborate witch’s costume. Jack chuckled. "Don't worry,” he said, pulling her from her pacing and into a hug. “No one would miss a party like this!” Karen smiled and let herself be relaxed by his embrace. They walked onto the deck hand in hand and gazed out onto the horizon. “The ocean is so calm; not a cloud in the sky,” Jack remarked. They spent a few moments taking in the peaceful view until they heard the sound of car doors slamming. Jack turned around and saw three cars parked at the marina. He reached inside his pocket and pulled out two fangs. “We wouldn’t want to greet our old friends out of costume!” Jack said with a wink.

They both moved towards the walkway excitedly and watched as their friends approached in full costume. First, were Tim and Sarah Smith, who they had known for nearly twenty years are dressed as Marc Antony and Cleopatra behind them were David and Martha Jackson, both cloaked in ghostly white sheets. Jack squinted to see the last couple.  “I think that’s Sam and Emma Tate," said Jack eagerly.Karen leaned closer to see and nodded in confirmation. Sam was dressed as the Grim Reaper, complete with a plastic scythe, and Emma was wrapped from head to toe in bandages, making a convincing mummy.  Karen and Jack enthusiastically greeted their guests, and everyone began chattering and catching up.

Ten minutes later, the Marlow Explorer set sail on the calm ocean for the Halloween night cruise.Karen poured everyone a glass of champagne as they were catching up with one another. Jack tapped on his champagne glass with a spoon, and everyone turned their eyes to him. "Everyone, I have an announcement to make. Karen and I have been married now for thirty years. Having my closest friends here aboard with me makes it that much more of a special occasion.” Turning his attention to his wife, he continued with a tear in his eye, “Karen, darling, I just want to say thank you for the best years of my life. I want to give you this gift as a token of my appreciation." Everyone smiled as Karen stepped forward, now sobbing happily herself. "Thank you, darling,” she sniffed. “I'm so proud to be your wife. There's nothing I would have rather done than be with you all these years." Jack embraced Karen and handed her a neatly wrapped box. Everyone eagerly watched as she peeled back the glistening paper to reveal a rectangular-shaped velvet box. She lifted the lid, and everyone gasped at the gorgeous ruby necklace. Jack helped her place it around her neck, and everyone clapped and admired the beautiful gift.

As the ladies engulfed Karen in a circle of glee, Tim Smith approached Jack. "I'm so happy for you and Karen,” he said with a smile. “You both are the most generous people I've ever met in my entire life. I just wish there were more like you. Then this world wouldn't be so corrupt."Jack placed his arm around his old friend. “Thanks, Tim. That really means alot to me, but you know I think you're just as great. I'll never forget the time when I was working on my car and the jack slipped and the car fell on my chest. If you didn't react the way you did, I wouldn't be here today. I honestly owe this all to you." Tim chuckled modestly and the two men fell silent.

After some time, Tim suggested they head up on deck. When they climbed the stairs, they found the Tates stargazing and walked over to join them. Just as Jack was about to sit down he noticed a thick fog rolling in on the horizon. Sam followed his gaze. "I don't like the looks of that fog,” he said. “There could be a ship or something heading towards the yacht. We’d never see it coming."Jack frowned and nodded with concern. He opened up a compartment beside him and fished out a pair of binoculars. After observing the fog for a few moments, he handed them to Sam.“I’ll go turn on the spotlight, but that might not help too much.”“We could shoot a flare,” Sam offered. Jack nodded and checked the same compartment for some. “Here, shoot one off and keep watch. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Jack walked quickly over to his instrument panel and flipped on the spotlight. “That’s a bit better,” Jack said, somewhat relieved. He tried to pinpoint the yacht’s coordinates, but the compass was spinning out of control. He picked up the radio and tried to reach someone, but all he heard was static. “What the hell is going on?” He heard the flare shoot off and looked up, only to find that the fog was nearly fifty yards away. He squint’s his eyes in disbelief and noticed something else. He could barely make out a tiny island emerging on the horizon. He looked down at the map, but there were no islands listed. Jack tried to steer the boat in the opposite direction, but it wouldn’t budge. He yanked the wheel with all his might but still couldn’t manage to move it at all. He felt himself begin to sweat nervously and picked up the radio receiver again. After several tries, the Coast Guard finally answered. “This is the Marlow Explorer and we’ve just entered some thick fog! My instruments don’t work, I can’t steer, and we’re approaching an island that I can’t seem to locate on the ma--” The yacht rocked violently and knocked Jack off his feet, leaving the receiver hanging. He could see water spilling onto the deck and screamed, “My God! Everyone get below deck NOW!”

 

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