Despite rotting at the bottom of the ocean, this long-wrecked ship plays host to a group of elaborately dressed party goers. What could possibly be going on in this under the sea scene? Let's hear your best fictional explanations.
This is just one of many images from Andreas Franke's Stavronikita Project, which blends real photos of the S.S. Stavronikita with images of folks in rococo fashions (via Design You Trust). You can see more photos from this series at The Sinking World for even more inspiration.
Post your tales of these underwater folk in the comments. Here's mine:
Mercado swam a little faster as the Rococo came into view. When she'd taken the Disaster Tours pod ride, she couldn't help but admire the clockwork creatures who still roamed the ship's decks. It wasn't just Feng Xitai's workmanship—though that was unquestionable; while the ship had rotted and furled with ocean life, the bots looked as new as they had on the Rococo's maiden voyage. It was the way they seamed to enjoy their underwater life, continuing to laugh over their dinner parties and trysts and elaborate dances. Most people thought the bots hadn't left the ship because Feng had failed to program them with adequate self-preservation protocols. Mercado liked to think it was because they were having too much fun.
She'd had to dismantle a Disaster Tours surveillance bot on the way down. Technically, Disaster Tours didn't own the Rococo or her crew, but there were rumors that the company kept shark bots near their underwater tour sites, and Mercado preferred not to meet her end between two sets of titanium teeth.
She spied a cluster of the ship's bots on deck seated about a dinner table. Illusory candles burned, lighting up faces that still looked powdered and rouged. She only needed one of the bots this time, a lure for the financiers who would back a full-scale salvage mission. She mentally selected a gynoid in a tall wig, slumped in her chair in faux drunkenness.
Mercado gripped the ships railing and pulled herself over. One of the bots spied her and raised his glass, beckoning her over. She briefly considered what it might be like to pull up a chair, to run out her oxygen surrounded by these elegant actors. Perhaps in her dying moments, she'd be reborn as one of them, haunting the ship for eternity with her own bon mots. Instead, she lifted up one of the drunken gynoid's arms and attempted to slip it into a propulsion vest.
As soon as the gynoid spotted the vest, however, she began to flail. She slammed Mercado backward with a surprisingly strong arm. Her screams pierced the water as Mercado scrambled to recover the vest and try again.
Mercado ignored the sharp, sudden pain in her gut as her fingers clasped over the vest. I was only when she tried—and failed—to push off the deck that she noticed the blade poking out of her belly and the tendrils of red snaking from her wetsuit.
'I poured the wine and took a sip, but I wasn't paying it any mind.
I scratched at my chest. Whatever this suit was made out of, I didn't like it. I had seen suits made of cotton, wool, even silk. I had even been fortunate enough to sample the first two, and this didn't feel like either of those. I was also fairly sure the itchy fabric wasn't silk.
"Not enjoying the party, William?"
"Sorry?" I replied, shaken out of my mind.
Anna smiled, "I asked whether you were enjoying the party."
I took another sip of wine, "Oh, yes. Yes, it's very..." I looked around the room at the woman slumped in her seat, asleep, "It's very lively."
Anna laughed, "Not the word I would use."
"No," I agreed, "It's like a gathering of cadavers."
Jonathan walked over to Anna and I, "Anna! I didn't see you there! How are you enjoying my new ship?"
The ship rocked from side to side, causing me to spill my wine onto my suit.
Jonathan chuckled, "Not yet found your sea legs I see, William." He turned to Anna, "Anna, my dear. You simply must meet my aunt. I've told her about your poetry, and she wishes to hear some from your own lips."
Jonathan led Anna away. She turned her head to look back at me. Our eyes met and silent words shared when it happened.
The ship lurched forward, tossing me violently into the table, spilling soup all over the sleeping woman. The hull cracked and water poured in with intensity I'd never seen before. Water filled the cabin, and pushed it's way down into my lungs. The last thing I saw before everything faded away was Anna, floating away, hand in hand with Jonathan.'
The cloaked man stared at me silently for a moment.
'Is that all?' He asked.
'Yes, but isn't it enough?'
'I loved that woman since I was a boy, and never told her. The last thing I saw before I died was her unloving fiancee leading her away from me. I will not let that be.'
'You died,' the cloaked man said, 'People die. And they leave all manner of loved ones behind. To stay in the world and not live in it is a corruption of existence.'
'That being said,' he continued, 'I can't stop you. You must choose to move on.'
'Then I choose to stay!'
'You'll find nothing but misery, there.'
'I'll be with her.'
'A shadow of her.'
The cloaked man raised his staff and the world faded away.
I poured the wine and took a sip.
This time, I would get it right.
It was an idea had by children hundreds of years ago, of having tea parties at the bottoms of pools; an adventurous game of breath holding and trying desperately to stay at the bottom for as long as possible. Some rich old bat decided that now was the perfect time to make her childhood dreams a reality, never you mind how boring tea parties actually were; especially tea parties without actual tea.
We were not to open our mouths or else the equipment keeping us all breathing would malfunction. Which could be a good thing; it is far easier to ignore dash board comments than actual speech. Our clothing was weighted so that we wouldn't accidentally float away or display the horrific undergarments we where currently enduring. This baroque themed party on a rotting boat was not what I wanted to be doing on my Saturday afternoon. I knew nothing about the baroque period before I was asked to attend this trivial torture and now I wish I knew less. How my mother convinced me this would be a good idea, I cannot possibly imagine. I think I will simply go to sleep, I hope this party will be over quickly.
From all his adventures, full of debauchery and sin, the one Silvio, fourth Hidalgo of Limonagrio, regretted the most was that night during the new moon before Midsummer when he found himself at the seashore.
The last thing he remembered was getting removed by force from Doña Miguelina's Soiree after saying some scandalous rumors about her cousin, the archbishop and was lost after trying to find the path back to Villa Limonagrio when he suddenly hear the laughs and songs of an enchanted gathering.
He found himself in front of the sea, as black as ink, and along the dark waves he saw lights, not unlike oriental paper lamps and he felt oddly drawn to them. He swam, with blouse and breeches, and feeling such a wrapping peace.
Underwater, he approached to the lamps and figures, human figures, beautiful figures dancing on the deck of "La Doncella", a ship that had sank when Silvio's great-grandfather, the famous commodore and first Hidalgo of Limonagrio, was a mishipman. Never Silvio had seen such beauty and elegance; he observed them from afar, singing ballads in the language of whales and seagulls and playing licentious games that made him, from all people, brush.
The spectres noticed him and Silvio was needing air, but when he tried to go to the surface, the aparitions dragged him with cold porcelain hands and frozen faces. He thought on screaming but did not wanted to let go the little air he had left. He was feeling that unnerving peace pulling him, along those creatures and as he was losing consciousness he suddenly felt a pull and thought everything was lost.
When he woke up, it was a bit before dawn and Silvio was surrounded by fish. The fishermen in their small bost had caught many unusual things, including a monkfish, but never an Hidalgo. It turned out to be the best catch they ever had, granting them enough coins to make fishing a hobby while Silvio, the fourth Hidalgo of Limonagrio, returned to his carefree life of lavishness; always narrating the same story of the aquatic aristocrats amd alwalys making sure to never walk alone at night after heavy drinking. Especially near the seashore.
Reginald was dreadfully unhappy, but there was no way 'round it: a servant serves, regardless of the circumstances. He tried once more to light the candles.