5:00 pm – continued
The admiral in charge of the cruise ship they had commandeered stood at the railing. His arms were crossed and he was dressed in full dress uniform, decorated to the hilt. He and his wife and two teenage children were standing together in the last hour of the afternoon, staring at the dock, which was filled with dozens of sailors, officers and seamen, and their families. Up and down the Pacific and Atlantic coasts similar ships were anchored and waiting for their last crew. Several other ships going further out to sea had already departed throughout the day. This particular crew was going just a few miles off of the coast of California and anchoring there for the last hours of life before he ordered the weapons beneath to be detonated.
The sailors would be the ones responsible for blowing up the oceans; he would be giving the order. The same was true of every other ship putting out to sea today and the admiral was sure all the other ships were preparing just as his was. Since none of the sailors would ever make it back to shore, they were bringing their families and other loved and close ones with them. As a final send off, each ship would be hosting a grand party from the moment they set sail until that final solemn moment when he ordered his men to end their lives.
“Is everything ready?” the admiral asked his wife, turning his head so he could look into her beautiful chocolate brown eyes.
His wife was a renowned event planner and had gleefully taken charge of planning this last party. Now she nodded eagerly, her perfectly coiffed blond hair bobbing with her. She rested her hands on the railing and leaned forward slightly as the sailors were being called to order by the ship’s second-in-command out on the dock.
“Everything’s ready,” she said, the sadness in her voice belying the eagerness embodied by every movement she made. “It looks gorgeous and the food looks amazingly delicious. I haven’t had a chance to taste anything, so I hope everything tastes as good as it looks.”
“Everything does look great,” the admiral’s older daughter said as she leaned over the railing with her mother and waved to her boyfriend, the son of one of the officers. “As much as I’m looking forward to the party, though, I’m scared of dying.”
The admiral put his arm around his daughter as the sailors and their loved ones began filing onto the ship. Solemnness had descended over them and all they heard were the seagulls, the lapping of the waves against the ship and shore, and the heavy footsteps of the people making their way onto the ship.
“I know, sweetheart. I know.”
They were all scared of dying. But the admiral saw it as a fact of life. And he had his orders.