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Bizarre Hour

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Edward Midford raced across the bow of the ship, passing through the panicking sailors and wailing passengers. His grip on his rapier tightened, his breath hitching in his throat with each step. He had to find Elizabeth. Fast. Last time he saw her, she was with her fiancé, their cousin. She could be anywhere in the ship: tired, lost, and maybe even cornered. The thought of his little sister amidst this commotion was most unnerving for him. But then again, Elizabeth was a capable swordswoman, maybe even more capable than Edward himself.

He stopped in his tracks, drawing his emerald gaze to an ear-piercing scream on his right. A middle-aged woman carrying her infant daughter was heavily cornered on the deck. Clutching his rapier, Edward climbed on the stairs and slashed the two bizarre creatures that assaulted the woman and her child. His eyes followed where the undead landed, making sure they stayed dead.

"Are you all right, ma'am?" He turned to see if the woman and her child were harmed. To his relief, both were safe.

The woman, seemingly in her early thirties, smiled warmly at him. "Thank you, young man. I am very grateful for your help."

He let out a modest chuckle. "Please, let me escort you back to the others. I am sure the sailors are already taking out the lifeboats."

Yet the woman only shook her head. "I will find my way. You should go and find whoever it is you are looking for." With that, she hugged her infant child closer to her petite body and carefully left the deck, following Edward's instructions.

Dazed, he blinked and shook his head. Women seemed independent these days, he observed. He must have been too busy in his college life that he had forgotten how to socialize. He was even yet to find a suitable bride for himself, but he could worry about that later. Right now, he had to find Lizzy... and maybe even her fiancé Ciel and his butler, whose name Edward had also forgotten.

He jumped from the deck and landed on his feet, and then raced back into the inner part of the ship. He called out for his sister, checked every room that he came across, and fended off the undead creatures with fresh blood still dripping from their mouths. The sight made him shudder as he forced another creature onto his back, breaking the bones and stabbing him through the chest. When he got up, he found himself surrounded by more. He silently cursed his luck and charged at his opponents, putting his mother's fencing lessons to good use.

Suddenly, he felt a tall bizarre doll looming behind him, as he was trying to finish off two at the same time. He gritted his teeth, seeing the large shadow ready to pounce on him. He had to turn and attack the large undead man. He had to do something, but his mind was still in a state of panic and shocks that he was unable to do anything.

"Get down!" Someone shouted behind him.

Edward quickly complied, tucking his head down, just as the gunshot rang and the bullet was fired. One shot and the large bizarre doll was indisposed; two more shots and two more dolls fell beside him. His eyes saw the bullet holes not so far from him. He turned around and complained, "You almost shot me!"

His emerald eyes widened at his rescuer.

"But I didn't." The young woman discarded her spent pistol on the wooden floor. She quickly knelt beside a bizarre doll and rummaged through the pockets, and later frowned when she found nothing.

He only stood there, dazed once again. His eyes followed the movements of the woman who was just about his age, with a slender build and dark brown hair pulled up into a messy ponytail. Her white and blue sailor dress was dappled with dark red spots, as well as her arms. When she found him silently staring at her, she stopped rummaging through the corpses.

"Are you done staring yet?"

Immediately flustered, Edward looked at something else and was about to respond when a ship shook wildly. There was a loud thud heard from the outside, and the screams of passengers and sailors alike rang. There was another hit, possibly an iceberg, strong enough to outbalance both him and his female companion. The young woman stumbled and almost hit the floor until Edward stepped in to save her. However, he was caught off guard by both her weight and the unsteady floor, forcing them to roll across the corridor. He groaned when his head hit the steel wall while his back cushioned the fall. When he opened his eyes, he found the woman on top of him, her face buried near his groin.

"W-W-Whoa, wait! Back up, back up!" He knew his face must be burning red now, but he could not help it. Even at a tight situation, being in a position like this was embarrassing and extremely improper. As the woman was moving off of him, he saw another undead creature trudging towards them.

Edward's left hand caught his lady by the waist, while his right shot up to pierce the bizarre doll on his face. Blood spurted everywhere, but that was the least of their concern. He looked down at his companion and saw the amazed look she had on her face. He felt brimming pride in his core, a boost on his ego as an English knight.

"I got you," he whispered in assurance.

The young woman smiled and answered, "Well, I got you first." She got off of him and helped him up to his feet. "Where are you headed?"

"To save my little sister," Edward replied, looking at the other side of the corridor. There was no sign of the undead creatures approaching. He looked back at his... companion. "What about yourself? You should be with the women and children on the lifeboats."

"I am looking for my grandfather and younger brother," she replied, already pacing on the corridor. Her white skirt flapped as she ran, and only then did Edward notice that she walked barefoot. When they reached an intersection, she pointed at one route and said, "It leads to the boiler room. I heard from the communications officers that children were in there, but quite a time has already passed."

He nodded in understanding. "Thank you. Will you head in search for your family?"

She gave him a small smile. "Oh, my grandfather is at the bridge of the ship, but he might be gone now. The captain goes down with his ship as they say." She laughed wistfully. "But my brother should be around here somewhere."

"I hope you find him and that you will be able to get out here safe."

"Thank you." With that, she sprinted off to another direction, leaving him behind in search for his sister.

***

Edward failed to reach the boiler room, as it was already closed by the time he arrived. He was forced to run back to deck, where he found several passengers fighting over the life jackets and lifeboats. There was much commotion that even the men began to punch each other, only to be halted when one marine officer fired his gun to command silence. Edward soon rejoined his father and mother, relieved to see them safe. There was still no sign of Elizabeth, until—

"Brother!" His cute little sister came running towards him, a big smile ever on her beautiful face. She immediately embraced him around the waist.

"Lizzy! I am glad you're okay!" For a moment, Edward had forgotten his worries. One hand wrapped softly around his sister's waist, holding her close. His smile faltered when he saw Elizabeth holding up a rapier. It must have been hard for her, he thought bitterly. Turning around, he saw Ciel and his black-clad butler standing there. He would lecture Ciel later, for putting his little sister in so much risk, but that could be arranged later.

"I have a favour to ask," Ciel said, when Edward suggested that they should get on the lifeboats. "Let this man on the lifeboats instead of me." He pointed at his new footman, a silver-haired individual with a striped snake wrapped loosely around his shoulders.

Edward nodded. "Very well then."

His sister was about to protest until the black-clad butler Sebastian moved swiftly to render her unconscious.

"Pardon me," Sebastian said, carefully laying Elizabeth in her brother's arms. "It will take some time to make Lady Elizabeth to understand. I will accept any punishment later."

He shook his head. "I should be thankful; I cannot pull something like that on her." He carried Elizabeth and watched as Ciel and Sebastian ran off.

With a look on his new companion, who murmured that his name was Snake, Edward led them towards the lifeboats. His parents were waiting for him and were already seated on the lifeboat. Marquis Alexis pulled off his jacket to cover Elizabeth, while Marchioness Francis looked relieved to see both her children safe. Edward sighed in relief and relaxed on the boat, his grip on his rapier loosening. Snake looked cautious as the lifeboat was being pulled down.

Suddenly, there was a shout on a nearby lifeboat.

The Midfords swiftly turned their attention to the screaming passengers, and were horrified to see that the bizarre dolls were swimming on the ice cold ocean. They were making their way towards the nearest lifeboats, and as the passengers panicked, several of them were thrown off board.

"Hold on!" Edward shouted over to them, but to no avail. There was no possibility that he would jump into the ocean to save them. The night was cold; the ocean colder. A sailor who shared their lifeboat spent his bullets trying to save the passengers but to no avail.

"They are climbing the boat!" Lord Alexis exclaimed, gritting his teeth.

Edward saw one small boy climbing the lifeboat, his face a bloody mess. Even in the darkness, he could see that the boy had brown hair and wore a sailor's white and blue uniform. He must have been one of the officer's sons, who boarded the luxury ship for a vacation. The boy kept clawing at the lifeboat, his mouth gaping for the need of flesh. The sailor behind Lord Alexis fired his gun at the boy, but missed. He tried again; this time, it pierced the boy's shoulder, but the undead kept on moving.

Another ear-piercing scream came when the boy sank his teeth on the nearest victim. The passengers screamed and panicked and thrashed around, until one particular passenger pulled out a harpoon from the boat's corner and fired the weapon at the boy. The long metal spear went through the boy's head, ending his rampage. Yet the passengers were still panicking. Another bizarre doll managed to grip their boat. The Midfords and Snake watched in horror as the lifeboat rolled over, tossing aside its several passengers.

"We need to do something!" Edward held out his rapier, its pommel facing the ocean, while he was carefully holding the blade. An old man emerged from the water, gasping for air, and had luckily taken hold of his sword. Edward and Lady Francis helped the man out of the water, while Lord Alexis followed his son's example.

"Come, take the sword!" His blond hair fell over his eyes, clouding his vision, but he did not give up. He saw a hand reach up for his sword and mustered all his strength to pull another person up. When the passenger coughed and shivered from the cold water, Edward's eyes widened at the sight of her.

It was their second meeting of the night.

"Are you all right?" He scooted closer to her, looking for signs if she had been hurt anywhere. "I got you for the second time."

She laughed. "Ah, I knew you would make it." Her voice seemed delighted. Another shiver ran up her body as Edward took off his jacket and placed it around her shoulders. "Did you save your sister?"

Her concern made him smile. "Yes, I did. And I was able to get her out of here. I owe you my thanks for earlier." He paused, and then remembered something. "Have you found your little brother?"

"Yes, I did," she answered, still smiling. Her blue eyes drifted to where the previous lifeboat had just been. "I killed him with a harpoon, you see."