Her bow rends the black swells one thrust at a time. The ship appears serene in silhouette against the bold moon glancing the horizon. Fog crawls across the deep, blocking the moonlight, surrounding her on all sides almost touching the escutcheon that reads, ‘Maiden of Death’. No eye that falls upon her could know the horrors in the bowels of the ship, and no eye ever fell upon her in the light of day, for she is a ghost ship of truest measure and when the light of dawn falls upon her weatherworn figurehead, she vanishes from the day. She sails still, though unseen.
Walking the deck of the haunting beauty is her Captain, Santos. Surly, mean, diabolical. His ghost ships’ only purpose is to roam the waters of the night, capturing the crews of stranded vessels and plundering their treasures to stow in her lastage and then she’s back to grinding through dark waters looking for Santos’ next prize. Some captives come aboard easily; cowards they are and not worthy to set foot on her, but Santos prepares those men for service to his beloved ghost lady. He takes them to the quarterdeck where he performs secret rituals. His crew lashes the recreants to a special chair with wrist cuffs spiked with nails, a gleaming copper bowl underneath catches their drippings. After, some serve in the galley, others to the cannons, and others serve on dogwatch, and fear of the Captains’ devious intentions keeps those cowards from rebellion.
Those who were courageous enough, who fought to resist capture come to incomprehensible ends. Each locked away in the lady’s brig awaiting their punishment for bravery. One by one, just before the lady vanishes in the early dawn, the courageous are forced to walk the plank. Heavy chains bind their arms and legs and the heaviest hangs round their necks. Pushed from the gangplank, there is no escaping the weight of their anchors.
They don’t sink to the ocean floor just to lie there, no. Instead, keelhaul is their punishment. Dragged along the bottom of the sea until their flesh scuffs away by the sea coral and debris that lie aground. The creatures in the depths of the ocean nibble greedily until the bones are bare and held together only by unappetizing ligaments. On the next eve when the lady comes to life, the poltroons hoist racks of bones from the saline.
In the quarterdeck, Santos performs his diabolical rituals on the bones, sprinkling the blood bled from the cowards, speaking his dark magic upon them and the bones walk and obey, forever under the control of the dark one called, ‘Captain’. Once courageous men follow blindly to the bowels of the ‘Maiden of Death’, and seated by a scuttle. There are no chains to ground them as they cannot disobey their master. An oar is placed into their bony palms and they begin the dance of rowing; forever rowing with their deafening clickity-clacking noise into the night.
Written by: Pattyann McCarthy 1/21/15 for competition.
Photo courtesy of: Ghost-Ship-Wallpapers-2.jpg February 27, 2015