Another thought struck Tom: "What if this is another test? Is there something I should be noticing or doing?" He looked around. It was a big ship, not an aircraft carrier but probably a cruiser. Lots of people were now on the deck. Some were taking charge; keeping the paths clear, standing ready at the lifeboats, talking into their radios. It seemed under control. "Maybe something I was supposed to notice something on the way up here." He thought back to evacuating onto the deck. "Didn't see anything that looked like a test then either." He continued thinking.
And then the alarm stopped. "ALL CLEAR. RETURN TO YOUR STATIONS." the loudspeaker commanded.
Tom wondered "That's it? What just happened?" He picked a random officer who had been talking on the radio.
"What just happened?" Tom asked the officer.
"Minor fire in the engine room. Under control now." the officer replied.
Tom walked back to the ship interior. "Well, I guess in a ship this size these kind of things happen. Even if it was a test, like a fire drill, I did fine. Since my dinner got interrupted, what next?"
Tom decided to check out the store. With as many people on the ship as there was, there was a general store with a variety of items. There was a bit of a wait to get in because the aisles were so narrow and the store would be unusable if too many people were in at the same time. There were food shelves and coolers with drinks. A section of over-the-counter medications and toiletries. A section with clothing and accessories, both work and casual. There was a surprisingly large section for entertainment. With no internet access, entertainment was in demand. There were DVDs and CDs, board games, model building kits, stationery, books and magazines. Even electronics like a tablet or DVD player. Then there was a selection of souvenirs, like a sailor might send back home.
The most unusual thing about it was that the cashier didn't take cash. They had a system with a plastic card you could load up with money at an ATM-like machine. Since Tom didn't have the card(and wasn't carrying cash anyway) he left the store after a look around. "Maybe I'll ask Sgt Sweet for some spending money." he thought.
He was starting to feel tired so he decided to go back to his room. Another thought occurred to him as he went back. "What if Josh is a test? Another actor? What are the odds I find another person into diving?" he thought "Pretty likely actually. A lot of people saw me in the wetsuit, and this is the kind of place someone into diving would gravitate."
He arrived back at his room, which he still had to himself. He couldn't shake his suspicion. "You guys like hidden cameras so much?" he thought to himself angrily. The ceiling contained many painted-over pipes and electrical cables. "Perfect for a hidden camera." he muttered under his breath.
He looked in every crevice formed by the pipes and cables, and ran his finger along the backsides of them. He even poked his diving knife into some crevices. After finding nothing, he opened every locker and looked under every mattress. Nothing there except the stuff he brought.
Exhausted, he laid on his mattress. "Either there really is no camera, or it's beyond my ability to detect? Am I being too paranoid?" He couldn't fall asleep so he just stared at the ceiling.
"Calling Tom." came over the radio. It was Sgt. Sweet.
Tom composed himself. "Here sir."
"Checking in on you after the fire alarm." the Sergeant asked.
"I'm fine, sir. I'm in my quarters now." said Tom.
"Confirmed. Everything taken care of?" asked Sgt Sweet.
"Actually, I stopped by the store and was wondering if I could have a card with some spending money?"
"I'll look into it." Sgt. Sweet replied. "Anything else?"
Great chapter. Very fascinating. Good explanation for why the alarm did so fast stop.
Maybe Tom could ask for something to calm his nerves, like a good book or sleeping pills? He could also ask about a plan for areas where he is and isn’t allowed in or can only visit during certain times (training, …).
Eager for the next update.