As the voyage drags on, the steerage cabin fills to the brim. My fellow passengers are gradually losing all their money to the banker who, each night, cleans up our savings in a game of Mexican monte. He’s the only passenger aboard who can afford to sleep in first-class, but he’ll be staying with us until there’s no more money to be won.
He won’t win any from me. I have none!
Each night the card game grows more boisterous. The punters are betting larger amounts and they’re getting angrier that they can’t seem to win against the banker. I don’t know where the money keeps coming from, but soon enough there will be none left and there will be a mutiny below deck. Each night for the past three nights I have been walking above deck to get away from the humanity.
Tonight there’s an eerie glow in the atmosphere. The moon is out, but it’s obscured by the humidity floating over the Mediterranean air. It’s discernible as a glowing orb of light low in the sky. It casts light on te sea around us, and in the distance it reveals a large island whose base seems to be floating above the surface of the water.
The captain is walking the deck tonight. It’s the first time I’ve seen him on this voyage.
“Good evening to you traveller.” He proclaims.
“Evening sir. Lovely night.”
“Aye, the moon is our guarding grace tonight.”
“May I trouble you sir? What is that island yonder?”
“Island? Have you had too much rum? We sail through open seas tonight. No islands from here to the Azores.”
I look again and the island is gone.
The next night the card game is even louder. I can hear the commotion from my sanctuary on the deck. I look to the starboard side of the bow and the floating island is there again. Have we covered no distance since this time last night?
The noise from below deck grows louder. A man rushes above deck and smoke billows from behind him. He dashes to the front of the ship and jumps into the ocean, flames are licking his back. Seven people follow him into the water, all equally alight. The captain emerges from the quarter deck. Smoke billows from behind him. “Abandon ship!” He shouts before diving into the sea amid a crowd of dirty travellers now erupting from below deck.
The stern is well alight now. I stand at the bow watching and waiting to make my final move. I shout to the people, all swimming away from the island. “Swim this way! Towards the island!” They don’t seem to hear me. “This way!”
I can wait no longer. I’m being roasted by the flames. I dive in and swim away from the doomed people going in the wrong direction. Their greed and desire got the better of them, but not me. The island is calling to me. I swim until I can swim no more.
The currents must have brought me in, because now I reside on dry land. The island chooses who it receives, and it chose me. It’s exactly as Plato described it: great concentric moats, bridges, canals and buildings clad in semi-precious metals. I set sail in search of a better life, and I found it unexpectedly. The island is my home. Atlantis is my home.