The Mariner

Part two

(go here for my disclaimer)

           With the tugboat anchored firmly to the dockside, he barged in the house. His arms felt heavy, the colour drained from his face and he was barely breathing. His daughter rushed to greet him but stopped dead in her tracks, gawking at the pale shadow that used to be her father. The wife followed soon after and embraced the child firmly, with tears pushing their way out. Falling down on his knees, the mariner mustered the remainder of his strength to reassure them he is no ghost, but in fact still very much alive, and begged them for food and water.
Once composed, he told them of the galleon and the feeling of dread that had accompanied him on the way home, convinced that sharing the tale would lift the burden off his shoulders. The wife scolded him for he was scaring his little girl and bid him to bed – surely, the awful memory was nothing a good night’s sleep cannot cure. Distraught and confused, he kissed them both goodnight as he collapsed exhausted in his bed, trying to forget the gloom that loomed over him. Sleep eluded him for a good while until he finally gave in and slipped into a deep slumber.
No sooner than he had, when a pounding sensation forced open his eyes. Albeit his lids were still half-closed, he could see the walls of his home blurry and distorted, as if in a mirage, and a dark silhouette on top of him, flailing its fists at his face. He raised his hands instinctively to shield himself from the cold-hearted beating the unknown man was enforcing while still trying to respond properly to this nighttime ambush. Thru the thuds and slams, the mariner managed to hear his attacker laughing madly, manically, and was instantly reminded of the radio chatter on his tugboat just a few hours back. Fighting the pain and fear, he managed to grab what felt like a sailor’s coat and tug the man to the other side of the bed, forgetting his wife should be fast asleep beside him. In rage, he reached for the pedestal cupboard and grabbed a letter-opener. Clenching it tightly, he stabbed the dark man’s face again and again, until black blood covered the sheets and the skull was left in ruins. The mariner’s groaning was muffled by cackle and splatter until silence finally came, leaving space only for his tired panting. He looked at his victim, sprayed out on the bed, with raggedy clothes and a torn black captain’s hat, and backed away. His bare feet squashed in the crimson puddle on the floor, his own face and hands covered in sin.
With closed eyes, he muttered a prayer to God and the Spirit, his plea only to be drowned by a low howl, followed by an angry snarl. The mariner pivoted and dashed for his daughter’s room, for it is where the horrid sound originated, yet he knew there shouldn’t be any beast in his home. The door was ajar yet he dared not enter the room blindly. He pivoted again and rushed for the attic, where the double-barreled shotgun lay, left from his army days. Checking the ammunitions quickly, he locked and loaded the gun and doubled back to the room. The snarling was now mingled with yowling and he braced himself for another battle.The shotgun shaking in his greased hands, he kicked the door and fumbled his way in. A viscious black hound was staring at him, baring its teeth, spreading the stench of rot and death with its breath. The dog suddenly pounced and he pulled the triggers, unloading both shells at once. The beast stumbled back yet was still standing, chocking and gargling. Tossing the gun aside, the mariner lunged forward, knife in hand, and slid open its veins. The hound whimpered and collapsed lifeless on the floor at last, soaking it in blood.
An echo of a lifeless laughter yanked him out of that dismal realm and he sprang up in bed, covered in sweat. Realising all was but a dream, the mariner let out a tired sigh of relief. He looked to the side, where, in his dream, the dark man was bleeding out, and found only his wife, lying next to him, just as it should be. Though his vision was blurred, he reckoned not all was right with his spouse. Rubbing his eyes, he found his hands stained in red. Dreading the truth, he wiped away the blood and perched over his wife. Her breathing was scarce and shallow and she wasn’t moving save for her chest gasping. A bloody mess was all that was left of her face. Trembling, he repulsed from the ghastly sight and tumbled down the bed. His eyes were shaking in horror as he inched backwards, trying to escape the dismal scene before him. Hearing a vague laughter outside, he sprang up. Fearing the worst, he swung the door open and darted to check on his daughter. The door to her room was broken down yet there was no black hound inside. Instead, the lifeless body of a little girl with a hole in the chest and a thin line on her throat was spread across the floorboards.
The mariner gaped in terror and averted his eyes. Devastated, he returned to his bedroom, where his wife was still barely drawing breath. He paced slowly onward, kicking something heavy and metal on the floor. Diving down, his eyes spied the bloodsoaked grip of the shotgun. Snatching it with shaking hands, he sat down next to his spouse. An unspoken plea glimmered in her eyes. He kissed her disfigured face and, cocking the gun, released a shell in her skull, cracking it open. The blood sprayed across the wall and silence took in.
The mariner closed his eyes, letting his tears flow freely now. Hearing the heinous laughter once again, he tilted the barrel upwards and rested it on his chin. Tears trickled down the cold steel and the roar of black powder filled the room.

                I stood in awe as Sergei was telling me the horrid story. To this day, I regret hearing it for my fate may have been very different. This is why, as I am about sail the open sea, I leave this record of the story in its entirety – as it was never told before. Let it be a warning for all those who dare traverse the bleak and dismal seas at night, incredulous of the horrors it harbours.
I fully realise few will read my words and fewer still heed them, for I myself was a man of facts, not myths. Yet the things I found out afterwards about the phantasmal galleon and his ghostly captain – things better spared and left unspoken – have plagued me all my life. I now leave these shores in search of truth and closure, and implore you, with all my heart, for all that is good and holy.

Brave not the seas at night.

 

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