Grabbing her arm, Trevor began to run towards the front of the ship. Claire tried her best to match his speed as she was dragged along behind him. She had no idea where Trevor was taking her, but she followed him anyway. The grip of his hand on her arm gave her little choice.
After dropping to the aft well deck, they darted across to the door the steward had brought them out of earlier. Opening it, they passed into second class and together they dived into the ship's interior.
Moving quickly, Trevor dodged as passengers and crew passed in a confused blur. Methodically, they made their way forward, after many abrupt halts from walls and dead ends, unfamiliar with the ship's layout. After a few minutes, they found themselves speeding down a long straight hallway. Up ahead a familiar figure watched them approach.
Nurse Jessop turned as she saw them, her mouth opening to speak. They raced past without stopping. Concerned, she called after them. "Mr. Collins! Is there something wrong?" She got no response as they left her behind.
Trevor and Claire crossed into another third class section near the front of the ship. He began to look for ladders and stairwells which led to the decks beneath them. Deep inside Trevor knew he was probably being foolish, overreacting to what was most likely an elaborate mirage. But what if by some unexplained event they really were on Titanic? What if it were all real? He couldn't take that chance. They had to get off the ship, and the tender moored to Titanic's side was their last option before they quite literally hit the open ocean. It was now... or never.
As Trevor continued to drag Claire behind him, they scrambled down into what the signs listed as 'D' deck. He did a quick scan. There was no loading activity, no open hatchway. He paused, thinking.
Beside him, Claire tried to catch her breath. "Trevor, now maybe you can explain to me just what you think you're-"
Without answering, Trevor yanked her into motion again. He sped around behind the steps they had just descended to find the next flight leading down. They both scrambled quickly down to 'E' deck.
As he and Claire came to a stop on the next landing, Trevor noticed it. There was a bright glow of daylight from around the corner. Darting past, he saw a rectangle of light down a hallway. Trevor ran towards it like it was salvation. Two of the ship's officers were there with some crewmen, overseeing the now complete transfer of mail and passengers. Stretching between the ship and the tender was a long wooden gangway with waist high railings. It was attached to the tender itself, and to Trevor's horror it began to rise into the air as he approached, swivelling up and back to the tender.
"Wait!" Trevor called out. "Wait! We're getting off!"
The two officers turned at the sound of his voice. One leaned out of the hatchway to call to the tender. "Hold! We have two more disembarking!" The officers waited impatiently, eager to finish their task.
Trevor came up to them and breathed a sigh of relief as the gangway began to lower, settling once again upon Titanic's deck. All smiles, he bounded out onto it and into the open air. The wooden planks rattled underneath his feet. Above him, the dark mass of the side of the ship loomed like a shadow. Suddenly he stopped, looking back when he realized he no longer held Claire's arm. Claire stood silently at the hatch, refusing to budge.
Trevor couldn't believe his eyes. "Claire, come on!"
"No," she said stubbornly.
Claire looked at the hatchway as if it represented some boundary she refused to cross, a reality she refused to accept. "We can't leave, Trevor."
"Are you insane?"
"Trevor, I will not give in to this... this whatever this is. Not one part of it. Because none of it is real. If we run away, we're accepting this as an actual ship that's destined to sink. We'd be diving deeper into the delusion, and I'm not going to do it."
Trevor pleaded. "Claire please, just get off the ship!"
The officers at the hatch heard this exchange and gave each other a look, realizing something was odd. One called out to where Trevor stood. "Excuse me, sir? I'm Second Officer Lightoller. I'm afraid I'm going to have to see your tickets."
Reluctantly, Trevor walked back after a few seconds. With a weary sigh he stepped back across the threshold. Reaching into his pockets, he leafed through the papers until he found both of their tickets, handing them to the second officer.
Mr. Lightoller looked down and read the stubs. "Hmmm. Your tickets show your debarkation point as New York, not Queenstown. Why do you want to get off here?"
Trevor looked over at him and felt the urge to scream out what he knew was going to happen. But as he glanced at Claire she looked away, trying to seem disinterested. He could see the uncertainty in her eyes, the smallest fear that maybe she was wrong, that maybe they should leave the ship. But he could also see that in spite of that her mind was made up. Her arms were crossed firmly on her chest. She obviously wasn't coming. And Trevor wasn't going to leave her. Looking over, he realized Lightoller was still waiting for an answer. Trevor did his best to give him one.
"There's no... no reason." Trevor stepped fully into the ship and away from the hatch. "We just had a bout of sea-sickness and we didn't think we would be able to finish the voyage." Trevor looked at Claire, his expression subdued.
Lightoller nodded slowly, seeming to understand. "Don't you worry, sir. You'll get your sea legs under you in a day or two. Then you'll hardly notice. We'll endeavor to give you a smooth voyage. Strange. Most passengers can't feel the ocean's swell at all on a ship of this size."
Trevor tapped the second officer's shoulder with his hand. "Hope you're right..." As he moved over to stand by Claire, Lightoller gave him a curious look, picking up on Trevor's somber mood. Without another word to the two of them, he turned and nodded to the ship's fourth officer standing next to him.
"Very well, Mr. Boxhall. Send them off."
Boxhall leaned out of the hatch and called out to the tender, before stepping back into the ship. Trevor's eyes followed as the gangway rose off Titanic's deck, angling upward, pulling back to the tender. The two officers stepped back from the hatchway as crewman in dark uniforms and berets labeled White Star Line pulled the hatchway closed, plunging them into darkness with a thud.
Trevor and Claire walked slowly to the aft railing at the very back of the ship. A British flag waved off the stern, flapping in the afternoon light. The ship was under way again, and a frothy white wake stretched into the distance behind them as they steamed towards open sea. Trevor watched silently as the coast of Ireland began to receed into a thin line.
Claire turned from the sight and leaned against the railing. As she watched Trevor a cool wind danced through her hair. She looked away, her arms still crossed before her. They both said nothing for several seconds. Trevor glanced at her with a worried smile. She could tell he was upset.
"Trevor, you actually believe this is real, don't you? And now because of that you're mad at me."
"No," Trevor said, looking out over the ocean. "I'm not mad. How could I be? You've always believed what you believe."
She looked into his face. "You really did want to get off the ship. Why?"
Trevor gave her a look. "Why do I want to get us off the Titanic, that's a tough one. Hmm. I don't know. Because we don't have gills?"
"Trevor, this is all in our heads."
"You don't know that for certain. We're taking quite a gamble. What if this is one of our past lives? What if it's exactly what it seems and we're really here living it?"
"The god of love with past mortal lives? Explain how you could even entertain that thought, Trevor."
"I can't. Not really. But I could have been forced to forget this life just like that psychic lady said. You don't know the other gods like I do. They can be a little bit... flighty."
"You amaze me, Trevor. You believe you're a god. Yet when someone presents you with something contradictory to that belief, you just... find some way to incorporate it. So let me see if I understand this. The gods have made you mortal more than once... but they didn't let you remember any of it till now? That's what you believe is happening?"
Trevor sighed. "I'm not saying I do believe it, Claire. I'm saying I could believe it."
"I don't know, Trevor. If you have a past life, maybe it's just because you're," Claire looked at him, "only human after all."
"See, now you're the one talking crazy." He smiled.
Claire saw that his mood was lightening, and hers did too. "Well, there's something to be said for persistence, Trevor. I believe the clinical term is obsessive compulsive."
Trevor looked her over. " Someday I'd love to show you the compulsions I'm obsessed about. But what I'm saying now is that that boat may have been our last chance out of this."
"That boat would have pushed us deeper into the delusion, Trevor. The more we think of this as real, the harder it will be to finally see that it's not."
"Then why are we still aware, Claire? How many delusions function when the patient knows he's delusional?"
"None. That's my point. That is how we get out of this, Trevor. We may still have some awareness because the hypnotism didn't completely work..."
"Assuming it is hypnotism..."
"Of course it's hypnotism, Trevor."
"Now who's finding it easy to incorporate something into their beliefs," he teased.
"Trevor, it could be potentially dangerous to see any of this as real."
Trevor touched her hand. "Feel this railing, Claire. It's cold. That's wind blowing through your hair. I can feel the slight vibration of the engines through the deck plating. I can smell the funnel exhaust. The sunlight feels warm on my skin! How do you explain all that?"
Claire seemed reluctant. "Well... so. It's a very good illusion." She gave him a look of certainty. "But if there's one thing I've learned Trevor, it's that some people can believe just about anything."
"And some can't believe anything else, Claire. We didn't just drop on deck today out of nowhere. The people here have known us for several days. They all think we're Mr. and Mrs. Collins who boarded yesterday at Southampton."
Claire looked away. "Trevor, you can refuse to accept your real identity all you want, but don't expect me to slide down the same delusional slope." She took a breath and looked back towards him. "Let's see If I can get this into your head." She leaned over and yelled into his ear for emphasis. "I'm Claire! You're Trevor!" Leaning back, she spoke in a normal tone. "Doctor. Patient. Period. I thought we went through this already when we met?"
Trevor smiled as he reached into his pocket and brought out the small black and white photograph he had looked at earlier. Silently he handed it to Claire. Skeptical, she took it from him. The photo's edge shook slightly in the breeze as she held it. Looking down, Claire couldn't believe her eyes.
It was the two of them. The image was hazy from poor camera quality instead of age, but she could see both of their faces clearly. Their arms were around each other in the photo and she was smiling as Trevor kissed her cheek. They stood in front of a run down old house, a lush countryside of low, green hills rolling away in the background. Their fingers were intertwined, two wedding rings almost touching. The same two rings they both now wore.
"Wait... this is us,Trevor."
He nodded. "Read the back."
Claire flipped the picture over. "My life and my love, Honeymoon in England. April, 1912."
She didn't quite know what to say. "Trevor, I..."
He didn't hear her. His mind was already considering the situation. "What if we warn the crew? Avoid the collision? Change history a little bit. So what if there's one less movie that makes a gazillion dollars."
"You just won't give up." Claire smiled to herself quietly. She realized he wasn't going to accept her point of view and decided to try a different approach. An approach he could believe.
"Trevor, don't you believe in fate?"
"Sure. Three of them. Good old Cloe, Lachy, and Atry. Daughters of Ananke. Or someone else, maybe. None of the god's are all that eager to claim them. Very serious, very boring. Real downers at all of Bacchus's parties. Don't know why he always invites them. Absolutely no sense of humor."
"Then what if they decided that this ship is fated to sink, Trevor?"
Trevor was taken aback. "I hadn't thought of that..."
Claire pressed on. "Let me tell you a little story. It's about an author, Trevor. A man who considered himself a psychic, and claimed to write with inspiration from an 'astral writing partner'. What I'm sure you'd claim was one of the Olympian gods. Anyway, he wrote a fictional book about a ship that strikes an iceberg along her starboard side and sinks in the month of April. All the details were are almost exactly the same. That there were too few lifeboats, the passenger capacity, the power plant, hull dimensions... even the ship's name. Titan. Written 14 years before the sinking of Titanic. And it didn't make a differance in the end. just another ignored warning."
"Well, there have always been oracles Claire."
"Trevor, my point is that sometimes foreknowledge doesn't always change things."
Trevor paused for a moment. "Like Cassandra." He said.
"Exactly," Claire replied. "This man had the pain of foreknowledge without the ability to change things. He died poor, penniless. He was never a success. Titanic sank anyway. The book's title said it all. Futility."
Trevor didn't understand. "So what are you saying?"
"If you believe in old Cloe and the gang, then I don't think it would be wise to cross them. Then again, if this is all just an illusion, the less we interact with this environment the better our chances are of seeing it as an illusion. Either way, leaving things alone is our best chance of getting out of here."
Trevor was silent, considering what she said. Finally he nodded. "For once you might be right Claire. Fate is the department of the Sisters Grim. I should stick to mine. " Trevor smiled again. He looked out over the ocean, realizing something. "We can only be who we are."
Trevor turned to her, knowing what he should do now. "Thank you, Claire. I feel better. I know what I need to do."
Claire smiled at him as she gave him back the picture. She hated playing into his Cupid delusion, but she was more concerned about the delusion they were currently in.
"I'm glad you see reason, Trevor."
"I think I just reasoned that I'm... hungry, Claire. Where does someone go to get a meal in this delusion?"
Claire was feeling hungry herself. "I suppose finding the mess hall wouldn't be giving in too much," she conceded. They both turned to go below decks when Trevor turned and looked back at the empty railing, staring at it for several moments.
"Excuse me Claire. Could you hold on a second?"
Claire felt a momentary panic when Trevor went back to the railing and stepped onto it's lower bar. Surely he wasn't planning to test her theory and jump, was he? She stepped cautiously back towards him as he stared out over the ocean, silent.
Suddenly he spread out his arms and yelled. "I'M KING OF THE-!"
Claire dragged him off before he could finish. Several passengers began to stare.
"Sorry, Claire. I've always wanted to do that. Just couldn't resist." She saw the smile on his face. It was definitely the old Trevor she knew and loved... well, knew anyway. Still, she barely contained her own smile.
Trevor spun in place. "It's time to live life, Claire! Can't spend every day worrying about icebergs. Maybe every other day. Or at least this Sunday. By the way, while we're here if you come across anyone sketching Kate Winslet nude, make sure you come and get me."
"Better check your reality dipstick, Trevor. I think it's running a little low."
"It's so much more fun when a pro checks it. Are you busy later?"
"Trevor, that statement's proof enough that you're low a quart."
Their voices grew softer as they walked away from the railing. They moved down the stepladder to the aft well deck and out of view.
The third class dining room was several decks down and in the middle of the ship. Trevor sat at a long, crowded table covered in white tablecloth, seated directly across from Claire. He tore enthusiastically into the meal placed before him, hardly looking up. In front of him, Claire had already eaten all she was hungry for.
Trevor talked as he chewed. "You know Claire, for imaginary food this is pretty good." He noticed she had finished. "Can I have that?"
Claire sighed as she pushed it across to him.
"Trevor, I think I'll go back to our berth and see if I can find a change of clothes." She didn't want to, but getting out of this delusion was going to take longer than she thought, and she felt the need for at least some new clothes.
Trevor mumbled around a biscuit, deciding to play up the whole husband thing. "Sure thing, sweetie. Try not to believe too much in what you're wearing. I know I won't. I'll be along later. That will give you the chance to heat the erotic rubbing oils for tonight." An older woman seated next to Trevor looked over in shock, having overheard.
Claire said nothing. Instead she slowly leaned across the table in a fluid, seductive motion that caused Trevor to look up as she came closer, her lips parting... just before she thumped his forehead with her open palm, hard. The biscuit dropped from his mouth.
"Just checking that everything's still working in there, Trevor." With a satisfied smile, Claire turned and left.
Trevor picked up the biscuit again and took another bite, only somewhat embarrassed. He turned to the older woman.
"Foreplay..." he explained, before diving into Claire's dinner as well.