Not from Hell, But To Hell!
Lucy and Marcus Teegarden planned to spend their tenth anniversary on a cruise. “I suggested it for months,” Lucy said. “I started with small hints—you know, saying nice things about cruises when we saw them in movies or on TV. But Marcus is dense, so I started leaving pamphlets all around and texting him links. Finally, I just came right out and asked.”
Marcus said yes. “I knew she was hinting,” he said. “But it’s condescending and annoying. Why would I want to celebrate ten years, anyway? Do prisoners have parties to celebrate ten years in the clink?”
The two of them booked a cruise for this November.
The Teegardens left their kids with Lucy’s parents and flew to New York. “When we boarded the boat, we were thrilled,” Marcus said. “But right away we noticed a kind of funny smell. The greeter assured us that they were just hardboiling a bunch of eggs for lunch.”
“I work in a public school where the facilities leave something to be desired,” Lucy said. “I thought it was sewage.”
It turned out to be something much worse.
SHUFFLEBOARD AND PRIVATE TIME
The first day went well. The Teegardens played shuffleboard, ate at what was billed as a “pan-Asian-and-Mexican buffet,” and even got in a little private time. “Tee hee,” Lucy said. “That’s what we used to say in high school when we had sex with our boyfriends. Tee hee.”
“You had sex with your boyfriends in high school?” Marcus said. “I’m shocked.”
“Yeah, right,” Lucy said.
“No,” Marcus said. “Really. I am shocked. That wasn’t what you told me when we met. You told me your grad school boyfriend was your first.”
“Curt?” Lucy said. “I never said that. I was with Karen for like six months before that.”
“Karen?” Marcus said. “You were involved with a woman?”
“I must have told you that,” Lucy said. “You’ve seen pictures of me and Karen.”
“I thought you were just friends,” Marcus said.
“Tee hee,” Lucy said.
THE CAPTAIN’S TABLE
The argument over Lucy’s romantic past dragged on for more than forty minutes, but eventually, the Teegardens returned to the matter of their cruise from hell.
“The first night we ate at the captain’s table. When we met him, he looked really sunburned,” Lucy said. “Then he turned to go, and we saw a little red tail peeking out the back of his jacket, with an arrowhead-shaped black tip.”
Marcus was the first to recognize what was happening. The captain was Satan, and they were on the cruise to hell. “Suddenly we noticed demons all around us,” Marcus said. “And on the lower levels of the ship we heard screams as if people were writhing in terrible pain. Ironically, the smell we had smelled when we first boarded did turn out to be hardboiled eggs, though doubly ironically, they used them to make deviled eggs.”
THE SCARY SEAS
The boat sailed northeast through the Atlantic, into the Bermuda Triangle, at which point it descended through a whilrlpool. When it surfaced, it was in a lake of lava during a hot hailstorm. They disembarked onto a burning island populated with flying were-creatures and other frightening beasts. There, the captain gathered the passengers and made his pitch. “He stood up on this stage, holding a skull in each hand, and asked us if we wanted to leave our mortal souls in damnation for all eternity,” said Marcus. “Most passengers did not.”
The Teegardens were among those refusing the offer. “We got right back on the boat,” Lucy said. “We were a little shaken, frankly, so we couldn’t enjoy Bermuda fully. Beautiful beaches, though.”
For its part, the cruise line denies any wrongdoing. “It says ‘Hell Cruise’ it right there on the original booking site,” said Harriet Yelchin, a publicist for the company. “Plus, the name of the boat, in twenty-foot letters, is Mephistopheles of the Seas. We’re deceiving absolutely no one.”
The Teegardens are home now, but they still carry the scars of their frightening experience. “Maybe this is what happens when you hint too much,” Marcus said. “Maybe next time you should just let me decide on a present. Right now you could be cleaning the house with your nice new vacuum.”
“Shut it,” Lucy said.
“Don’t you mean ‘Go to hell?’ Marcus said.
“I’m serious,” Lucy said. “I can’t be drawn back into any thoughts of the dark arts. I’ll do myself in.”
“Oh, no?” Marcus said. “Who would burn the toast?”
“Go tee hee yourself,” Lucy said.