The Mystery of Ship No 13
“The Mystery of Ship No 13” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Tejbir Singh, Global Indian International School, Singapore.
The Mystery of Ship No 13
I had joined a corporate intelligence agency around two years ago and recently had been assigned to investigate a ship’s double murder mystery. My company manager Mr. Manik had provided me with all the necessary information needed, to give a fresh start to the case. The ship had left from Santos (Brazil) and was currently on voyage to Kandla (India)- the voyage was for about 30 to 31 days with 23 crew members onboard. As per the initial information, one man had been killed on the ship and on the other side there was a missing man from the same ship. This small piece of information had left me puzzled for few minutes. I was forced to think about the reasons and circumstances under which this murder might have happened. For some reasons, I was made to think that the missing case was connected to the murder.
After a while I was taken to the port and had travelled by a speed boat to reach ship No.13. As soon as I reached the ship, my attention was diverted to a man with a pale square jawed face with keen blue eyes. He had an unlighted cigar in his mouth and was waiting very impatiently for me. As I walked closer towards him he rolled back his right shirt cuff, struck a match and lit his cigar.
“Good afternoon officer, I am the chief officer of the ship - Benjie García”, he said.
“Afternoon” I replied, “I am Hassan Abdullah, and will be investigating about the murder of your ship’s captain as well as your missing third officer”.
“I was wondering if you could show me the captains body and the room in which he was murdered” I questioned, “you might as well show me the third officer’s room after the investigation of the captain’s room” I added.
“Follow me”, said another man with a deep sorrowfully voice who had himself seated on a rope coil and was using it as a couch probably to protect himself from the strong breezes. On my way to the captain’s office I tried talking to the young man but I had been ignored by him. I did not take the initiative of disturbing him again as he seemed pretty depressed, probably because of the victims might have been his close friends. I had soon reached a decorated and air conditioned room which had been all ruined by blood stains, the floor seemed to be covered with red blood stains which lead to somewhat of a trail leading to under the table where the captain worked. The blood trail created by the murderer surely made me find the captain’s corpse on my own.
Someone had closed his eyes. The horrified expression from his face by now was already gone. The captain was lying there cold. The holes in his skin told of a messy end. The scene spoke of rage and hate. The body had been abandoned on the cold white floor now stained with red. On the table, there lay a book with the title of Silver Blaze by Sherlock Holmes which was still to be read as it had a book cover tucked on the 78th page. I found his crew picture in one of the drawers he had in the table of his cabin. The captain looked somewhat to be a slightly bookish man with long brown hair, partially wrinkled skin, and a nose that of a roman and spectacles with round lenses. The murder weapon was not found in the captain’s room. When I later started interrogating from the other ship staff members I found out that the third officer didn’t share a good relationship with the captain. Since the third officer had only recently been promoted this was his first time sailing on the ship as a third officer. Only after one week, he was sent on duties thus he tended to make many mistakes while doing his job. On the other hand, the captain was a strict and commanding man, who always wanted everything to be done in a systematic way and only wanted disciplined crew members on board.
Later I was taken to the third officer’s room. His room had a lot of mess around when we checked his cupboards we found the third mate’s uniform stained with dried blood. The murder weapon was a knife which was stolen by third mate from the galley and was found in third mate’s luggage. But then where was the third mate? Was he also killed by someone else or was he hiding somewhere in the ship?
“Second officer” I called out, he stood there stationary. It seemed as if he was only physically present on the ship. Then I thought that the second mate and the third mate had some relation which connected them both, which really made sense because the second officer seemed quite disturbed.
“Second officer” I called out again, but this time with a loud and tough voice.
“Yes sir” he said turning toward the chief officer who was then standing outside the third officer’s room, perhaps he was confused to where the sound came from. He then quickly turned his face toward me pretending as if he knew that I was the one who had called him. “Do you remember what was the third mate last wearing after he had changed his clothes?” I questioned
He gave himself a little pause and said, “Well yes I do! officer”, “he wore an electric blue coloured short and a sky-blue aertex shirt, both of which were gifted to him on his birthday.”
‘How do you know that those clothes were gifted to him?’ I questioned.
“Well I know this because I was the one who had gifted him those clothes” soon after saying this I had seen tears welding up in the boy’s eyes. Soon after he said, “he was my younger brother officer”
I tried my best to understand the situation and after a sincere apology to the second mate I tried not to disturb him the entire day. Later that day while I was searching the third mate’s room I found a letter under the third mate’s clothes in his cupboard. As I opened the letter, at the start there was a slight smile on my face but as I progressed reading my face fell faster than a corpse in cement boots. In an instant, my mouth hung with my lips slightly parted and my blue eyes were as wide as they could stretch.
“Maria: Life is very much exiting now than it used to be. You see I have recently been promoted from able seamen (AB) to third mate and today is my first working day as a third mate. Therefore, I have more to expect from life, more to look forward to and the best of all now I have become much bolder than I earlier used to be.
A week has now passed, I don’t like it around here. The captain here is too strict and he always bosses around me. I was once again called to the captain’s cabin. He even screamed at me today and he had insulted me in front of all other crew members as he took me of the watch keeping duties. Jayden was there when he had insulted me. For some reason, I think this made me feel insecure and I thus started making more mistakes.
Two weeks have passed now, Today the captain promoted Sebastian - my very close friend as the third officer and I was demoted to the Able Seamen(AB) even though Sebastian was a whole year younger to me, he had now got a post higher than that of me. After promoting Sebastian as the third officer the captain claimed me to be one of the most useless crew members he ever had and gave this the reason for demoting me and promoting Sebastian over me. I felt really ashamed and my mind is going in the wrong direction, I mean I want to do something about the captain and get a revenge for all the times he insulted me and get rid of all the pain he might further cause to me.
Two weeks and five days have passed. I have made a final decision of killing the captain.
I have finally killed the captain. I don’t have time. I love you Maria, but I have no other option but to kill myself otherwise this scene of me killing the captain will haunt my life forever. I am going to jump off the ship soon.
Bye my love,
Jimmy wanted to get rid of all the pain which was caused to him and which might be caused to him in the further days of his life, but he chose the wrong path and now instead of suffering for a few days of his life he has now ended his life just for a revenge.
• Now I’ll come to the main motive of the story: -
-Getting angry is actually punishing yourself with the mistakes of other’s- So, keep calm and enjoy