At the end of Titanic, Cameron kept us guessing is to whether Rose died or was merely dreaming. In these subsequent installments, I'm going on the latter assumption. As far as I'm concerned, Rose still lives. :-)
"Er...Eema, why is this happening to me? I should go back on deck to see if..."
"No, Joseph," said Eema sadly. "The boats are gone; it's only a matter of minutes before this grand ship sinks to the ocean floor, and take all these poor souls with it."
She looked at him with small age-worn eyes and continued, "Joseph, I'm here to let you know that all your hard work will not be in vain."
Eema spoke in a comforting grandmotherly style that instantly put Joseph at ease. Her words were full of wisdom and Joseph could tell in an instant that his theories had to be right. This is no clumsy, cold-blooded, stupid beast, but a wise and intelligent animal. How he wished he could share his good fortune with his wife, but by now the lifeboat containing his family had rowed further away from the sinking ship.
"It's all gone, Eema. I was to take that skull to New York, share my
findings with Dr. Sadler and his colleagues...Why oh why didn't I wait
until June as earlier planned?"
Tears trickled down his face as Eema drew closer and told him, "Don't fret so, baby. No one knew this was going to happen. To tell the truth I've lived through some tough times myself. The Fireball. Now that was a life-changing experience!"
Joseph didn't quite understand when he asked, "Fireball? What was that?"
Then Eema explained in heart wrenching detail of the meteor that struck the Earth, sending a life-destroying blast for miles around. Too many lives lost, so much destruction that threatened the remaining dinosaurs' very survival. She told him how the Fireball aftermath turned the annual migration to the Nesting Grounds into a death march for many. She told Joseph about the Herd's leader, Kron, and how his leadership was put to the test.
"He was a hard one, Kron," Eema said. "He drove us all to the breaking
point. If Aladar hadn't come along..."
"And who," asked Joseph, "is Aladar?"
Eema explained how an idealistic iguanodon, along with his adopted lemur family, challenged Kron, and ultimately became the Herd's new leader. "But I'm not here to talk about me, or Kron, or Aladar," Eema said, indicating the forlorn figure standing at the fireplace in the first class smoking room.
"Look at him, at Mr. Andrews," she said sadly. "He built this grand ship, put all his heart and soul into it. He was on top of the world, had it all, what with everyone praising him for this Ship of Dreams. Now, he still can't quite comprehend that something like this would happen. Who'd thought that disaster would strike, on this very ship that they said couldn't sink. But it happened, and Titanic and all the poor souls aboard her are not long for this world."
Eema sighed as she watched Thomas adjust the clock, his face the very picture of despair. "He's a courageous man, facing certain death...and the death of his dream..."
Then Eema mentioned something else, something much closer to Joseph Grant's heart. "You see, Joseph, that skull you were to take back home is...Well, it isn't where you think it is..."
Then, "Go on, honey. Stay on this ship as long as you can. That couple that passed you in the hall – Catch up with them, as the boy drew that skull so brilliantly...and the girl...She doesn't know it yet, but she will..."
She paused a few seconds before disappearing in a misty cloud, then said, "Joseph, you should thank your wife, and that young lady, for saving something wonderful."
However, something made him go back to Titanic; he had hoped that the rare diamond still had to be there among the wreckage. So the submersibles took the plunge again, searching for an elusive and priceless piece of history. Oh, they managed to salvage a few artifacts along the way: china plates and silver ashtrays emblazoned with White Star Line insignia, a few shoes and boots, toy fragments, among other things.
But there was something else salvaged that caught Brock's attention. A massive leather bag which was somewhat corroded by time and dense salt water. What the bag contained was a mystery; Brock found it among relics very close to the purser's safe. Thinking this bag contained the Heart of the Ocean, Brock had it brought to the preservation room. What a boon if this could be what he had been searching for all these years. But what did it matter now?
"Brock!," yelled Bodine. "Come here! You won't believe this!"
Lewis Bodine's tone of voice sounded mighty urgent and Brock was jolted back to reality – and anticipation. What if this was indeed the rare blue diamond more valuable than...
Bodine, a big strapping bearded man reminiscent of a learned Jerry Garcia, rushed to Brock. "Boss, you know that bag? Well, we finally got it open, and...Oh man!"
In the preservation room, workers aboard the Keldysh painstakingly washed away eighty-four years of ocean debris from the artifacts. The bag was the last to be inspected; when it was opened, speculations flew about the room like wildfire. An anxious Brock Lovett hurried into the room as a team of preservationists marveled at this new find. Was it indeed what Brock had hoped?
"It isn't the diamond," said Bobby Buell, Brock's "money man" who oversaw the expenses of the salvage expedition.
"Why wasn't this ever mentioned?"
Brock's eyes widened in astonishment as he at last surveyed the bag's contents. He couldn't believe what he was seeing, but there it was – a dinosaur skull.
"What the hell...?"
He flipped through his notes, skimming over various entries about everyone and everything that was on board Titanic the night it sunk. Why wasn't there mention of a dinosaur skull, and why hadn't anyone missed it?
"Wonder what's the story behind this?," commented Buell, his fingers lightly grazing the knobby frill. It was Lewis Bodine, expert in all things Titanic, who spoke up, "There was a passenger aboard Titanic, a scientist. Name was Grant, but he went down with the ship. Only his wife and kids survived..."
He paused a bit, then snapped his fingers as a thought came to him.
However, with a sigh, he said, "No, I don't think she knows about this,
or does she?"
Brock's eyebrows shot up quizzically; his curiosity running wild. "And who is 'she'?"
Sarama had a tough time convincing her audience of the awful events that would happen more than 65 million years after the dinosaurs' demise. So, with her forefeet ,she drew an image of the object she saw in her dream. In awe, the animals gathered as the image took shape. They had never seen – never will see – such a structure. Sarama drew the likeness of the great ship that would ultimately meet an untimely death on its maiden voyage.
"It would be said," she explained as she completed her drawing, "that this thing was unsinkable, but they were wrong. On its first voyage, catastrophe struck..."
She continued to scrap out the image in the dirt, pausing here and there to reflect on her accuracy. It has to be just as I saw it, she surmised, in that dream... The prophetic hadrosaur, working frenetically, explained, "It struck here," indicating the starboard side. "Those future creatures try to steer it around this..."
Another drawing this time, of a mountain, so she explained the best she could. "Not just any mountain, but one made of ice...We've never seen ice, with the rare exception of the flyers..."
A pteranosaur present spoke up. "Yes, dear. My mother remembers flying high up in the mountains and seeing ice on the tallest peaks..."
Sarama said, "Yes, and this one, this ice mountain, would not be spotted in time. The great ship struck the ice..."
She pointed to the ship's starboard side, saying that the holes punched were damaging enough. Then she said, indicating how the water flooded in, "As the ship goes down by the head, the water spills over the bulkheads at E Deck. Then progresses back and back...There's no stopping it."
She paused for reaction from the crowd, then said, "I heard him say that, in my dream."
"Who, Sarama?," asked Plio.
"The one who will build this...He is heartbroken that all his work will end up on the bottom of the sea...Twenty-two hundred innocent lives on board...Only a handful will survive.."
"But what does this have to do with me?"
All eyes looked up to see Eema slowly make her way to the lake. It was Baylene, accompanying Eema, who spoke first.
"I do apologize, Aladar. But Eema insisted on listening to Sarama's..."
The elderly styracosaur snorted impatiently. "Don't make any excuses for me, Baylene. I have to know."
Then, turning to Sarama, she said in a quieted voice, "Honey, tell me everything...What does this tragedy you foresee have to do with me?"
Sarama's answer was simple. "Because, Eema, I saw you there with one of the passengers. You spoke to him, just moments before the ship sank..."
That was the last thing Eema said to Joseph Grant before she dissipated
in a mist. Was it a dream? A hallucination brought on by the rising panic
and confusion? That's what he thought the moment he found himself rushing
toward the stern, pushing his way through the terrified horde.
In his desperation to reach the stern, and perhaps catch up with the young couple, Joseph could hear the plaintive strains of "Nearer My God to Thee".
Yes, it is fitting...the band playing a final piece, a hymn at that, in this grand ship's last moments.
It was pandemonium unprecedented as the remaining 1500 on board swarmed the deck trying desperately to avoid the advancing waters. Some tried to swamp the few remaining lifeboats not yet out of harm's way. Others dove into the frigid waters out of sheer panic. It was every man and woman endeavoring to save themselves as the bow section completely submerged itself. The stern rose higher and higher; passengers and crew frantically swirling about, hoping for some miracle to avoid a watery grave.
Some prayed; some cried. As Joseph made his way toward the stern, he
heard a man behind him praying, "Yea though I walk through the shadow of
the Valley of Death..."
Then he heard a sharp retort: "You wanna walk a little faster through that valley, fella?"
Something about the voice caused Joseph Grant to turn around. His eyes met those of the young man his wife had befriended only days ago. Margaret had asked a favor of the boy after viewing his drawings. It was to be a surprise after the ship docked but Margaret couldn't wait until then. She showed him Jack's handiwork just yesterday: A portrait of the skull that was now safely in his wife's hands. Such a good wife, to remember...Wait!
The woman with him...She seems familiar as well...
Joseph Grant turned to speak to the young couple. He called out, "Mr. Dawson! Miss Bukater! Follow me to the stern...This way!"
Looking back towards the now fully submerged bow, Joseph could see the cables of the forward funnel snap like twigs in a gale storm. Like a temple pillar heaved by Samson himself, the funnel plunged into the water, causing tremendous wave reaction. The hapless souls in its wake did not stand a chance.
"It's nearly complete, this ship's death," he said to Jack. He thought of his family, and of Eema. For a few fleeting seconds, Joseph swore he saw the aged styracosaur momentarily appear next to him.
Her warm motherly voice soothed him. "It's going to be all right, baby. All this nightmare will soon be over, but the real test will come for your wife, and for this young lady standing here next to you."
Eema disappeared just as the lights went out...
To Chapter 3
Copyright©2002 by P.R. Parker ("Sarama")