No reply.

He kept his eyes fixed in the clock as the end of the hour approached at an excruciatingly slow pace. It had been a long watch but he was nearly at the end. He had already thought out what he would do after he got done. Two nutella sandwiches, one cup of instant noodles and some juice. Whatever kind was left outside by the second cook. It was custom to call the next watch keeper 10 minutes before the commencement of the watch. He asked his lookout to give the chief mate a call in his cabin.
The phone rang and then rang some more. No reply. It was unusual to have the phone ring more than 3 rings because everyone knew that the chief was a light sleeper. He figured that he was probably already awake and was perhaps fixing himself a snack in the galley downstairs. He settled down on the  watch keeper’s chair and returned his sleepy gaze back at the clock that has just managed to gain 3 places.
He hated these ocean passages that lasted weeks. Nothing in sight or within a radius of a hundred nautical miles. A watch was pointless but necessary. The hours crawled like a sick peasant working on a hot day. The coffee would wear off and it was almost always an uphill struggle to stay awake. But as the end came closer and closer he starting feeling alive again.
The clock struck four. He filled his log book and waited patiently for the chief, quietly going over the points he would include in his handing over. Fidgeting nervously he started pacing the lengths and breadths of the bridge.
Ten minutes passed but still nothing. He picked up the phone and called again. No reply. This was unusual and even more so for the chief who was never late for a watch. He sent his lookout down to go and knock on the chief mate’s door. He stood all alone on the bridge, disgusted and irritated.
Another ten minutes passed and there was no response from the chief or the lookout. He picked up the phone and called the chief again. No reply. He called the lookout’s cabin. No reply. He called the galley. No reply. He called the ship’s office. No reply. How bizarre, he thought to himself.
He couldn’t leave the bridge as he was duty bound. He didn’t want to bother the captain with this. Maybe something was wrong with the phone or something he thought. He rest the dead man’s alarm in the bridge and ventured down nervously to find out what had happened. If the captain found out that he left the bridge unattended he would have him sacked for sure.
The reached the chief mate’s door and found it wide open. Perhaps the chief was awake finally. He turned his head to knock the door and found the chief mate lying on his couch with his white quilt placed nearly over him. His hands folded neatly on top of the quilt. He couldn’t help but notice how pale he looked. He called out his name but he didn’t move. He stepped inside and tried again. No reply. He decided to walk over and shake him out of his sleep because he had had enough. Although as soon as he reached next to the chief mate and touched him, he felt and icy shiver. His eyes were open yet staring into nothingness.
He ran outside stumbling and screaming towards the captains cabin on the deck above. Luckily he found his door open.
All the way there he couldn’t stop screaming. He figured that the lookout probably did the same and woke up the captain. However he too was lying silently under his quilt with his arms neatly folded. Eyes open but offering no reply.
He ran out screaming for the lookout and reached the lower deck. All the cabin doors were wide open and the lights were on. Everyone lay under the covers in peace with their hands neatly folded.


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