Bewildering Stories

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A Worse Way

by Lou Antonelli

Scene: Nondescript sidewalk cafe, New York City.

“Well, how did the date go last night, old bud?”

“God, it was horrible. Nothing clicked, everything went wrong. It was a total disaster. I went down in flames like the Hindenburg...”

* * *

“You see, Mr. Lightoller, if the Titanic had struck the iceberg, there would have been hundreds of deaths, but also hundreds of survivors, including yourself.” The Time Traveler clambered atop the furniture floating towards the ceiling of the upside-down stateroom.

“But you asked the captain to change course and avoid the iceberg, which he did,” said the officer, treading water. “What has gone wrong? We weren’t supposed to sink.”

“The Carpathia was the ship which was to have rescued the survivors, but instead now it has hit the iceberg itself,” said the Traveler.

The water was rising quickly.

“Yes, and the captain had us go full steam to their rescue!”

“Unfortunately, I forgot that underwater explorations in the 1980’s showed that the reason the Titanic split in two while it was sinking was that when the ship began to list a faulty boiler mounting probably broke, causing a chain reaction that sent the boilers crashing into the stern.”

“The boiler must have blasted loose under a full head of steam,” said Lightoller, now treading water with his hand up against the floor.

“And instead of taking four hours to sink, I think it is taking less than a minute,” said The Traveler.

“Everyone dies now,” Lightoller said bitterly as he went under.

“Like my Dad said, ‘There’s always a worse way to screw things up’,” thought the Time Traveler as the water filled in completely.

* * *

Scene: Nondescript sidewalk cafe, New York City.

“Well, how did the date go last night, old bud?”

“She never showed up. Nothing. I tried calling her, but there was no answer. She disappeared like the Titanic...”

Copyright © 2003 by Lou Antonelli