Would you like to go on a cruise? This short story is set on a cruise ship and has a very funny ending.

Chain Reaction

by Louise Cooper

Everyone was enjoying the cruise. The weather was warm and sunny, the sea was calm, and the passengers hadn't complained about anything, which was unusual. Even the chief engineer wasn't bad-tempered, which was very unusual.

Until, one morning, the ship suddenly stopped.

'What's going on?' roared the captain from the bridge. The jolt had spilled his morning coffee all over his uniform.

'Don't know, sir!' the third mate shouted back. 'But I think we've snagged our propeller on something!'

The chief engineer hastily shut down the engines (which did make him bad-tempered), and the trouble was investigated. The propeller was snagged, all right. An enormous chain was wrapped around it, and if the engineer had not acted so quickly the blades would have been mashed beyond repair.

'What idiot left a thundering great chain drifting around in the sea?' the captain growled.

'Don't know, sir,' the third mate said again, gloomily. 'But it's going to take some clearing.'

The captain sighed and looked around. It could have been worse, he supposed. The sea was dotted with small islands fringed by white beaches on which waves broke gently. The sun shone from a cloudless sky. If the purser organised a few deck games, then with any luck the crew could free the propeller before the passengers started grumbling.

They set to work, and by lunchtime they had untangled the propeller. But the captain was curious. The freed chain disappeared down into the sea, with no end in sight. Who on earth had put it there, and why? He wanted to find out, and another hour wouldn’t hurt.

'Haul it in,' he ordered the second mate (the third mate was off duty by now). 'Let's find out if it's attached to anything. If it isn't, I'll complain to the local coastguards—it's a hazard to shipping!'

The crew started to heave the chain aboard. It came easily enough, but there was a lot of it. Half an hour passed, and they were still hauling. Then suddenly the chain became harder to winch in.

'I think we're nearly there, sir!' the second mate panted.

The captain did not reply. He was staring at the nearest island. Strange… the beach looked much bigger than before. And the low cliffs weren't low any more, but seemed to have grown. 'Sir!' bawled the second mate. 'Come and look at this!' The captain hurried to the winch. The crew had reached the end of the chain. Attached to it, bumping and clanging against the ship's side as it was heaved up, was a circular object about five metres across. The captain frowned. It reminded him of something. In fact he had a thing just like it, though much, much smaller, in the bath in his private cabin. It was…

A plug

He looked at the islands again. The beaches were getting bigger. The cliffs were getting higher. As if the sea level was dropping…

'Oops…' said the captain.

This story was selected as part of the BritLit project. To find out more about BritLit visit our TeachingEnglish site.        

Language level: 


Have you ever been on a cruise ship? If so, did you enjoy it? If not, would you like to?


Demy's picture
Demy 13 January, 2013 - 18:06

No Greek is not like Spanish.They are different))
As for me,this language is very easy but for my friends very difficult.They say that the Greek letters as hieroglyphs)It depends on the person who wants to learn this language and from his Mother Language.
From what country you are?(Flower94)

0 users have voted.
Demy's picture
Demy 1 January, 2013 - 19:49

It is fun story)
I have been on a cruise ship.It is was in Cyprus!It was great!!!We traveled to the Greek islands and the capital of Greece Athens.I still have great memories of this cruise!!!After this I even start to learn Greek)
So it is was very useful trip!)

0 users have voted.
albina gjuzi's picture
albina gjuzi 18 December, 2012 - 09:10

I have never been in a cruise too but here in Albania we have a lot of cruises and a lot of places to visit.I loved this story.

0 users have voted.
altair's picture
altair 24 November, 2012 - 11:16

i have been on a cruise ship i had fun but i wasnt amused when we crossed the straits of giblartar because i saw a man fall into the sea and be torn to pieces by a shark

0 users have voted.