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Horror Adventure Thriller

CW: death

A shout from the crow’s nest, and then, they saw him come up from the sea foam. His head was all they could manage to see. Someone flung out the life tube, the white still there, the red faded from the sun. It was hard to see him bobbing up and down in the waves, while the rain still spattered the fishermen, and the boat rocked back and forth in the torrent. Lightning still flashed. It took everyone on the rope to pull him back to the fishing boat. He was weak and soaked through. He coughed a lot. The captain told everyone to put the man into his chamber and see to it that he had a pair of the driest clothes they could find. The captain promised they would see the light of day.

He kept his word. The sun rose, and with it, so did his crew. All except for one. The man who fell overboard in the storm the night before was still in bed. The cabin boy brought him some whiskey and eagerly the man took it and drank deeply. The man coughed. He didn’t look well. One could see that. He was pale and almost gray in color. Even his blond hair had a tinge of sea foam green. He was burning with a fever and was extremely weak still.

The captain had a sweet spot for this man. The man was his cousin Charles DeGrave. Charles came on the fishing expedition because he actually was the investor. Captain was known as Captain DeGrave; no one knew his first name. When the cabin boy told the captain of his cousin’s health, he knew he had no choice but to find the next port with a hospital or health clinic. He talked with the navigator, but the man informed him that the storm had blown them off course and it would take a while to get back on.

Captain DeGrave called a meeting of the fishermen in the main galley and asked if anyone knew of medicine, of herbal-ism, or even magic. He needed help in healing the man that fell overboard the night before. It was urgent. One person spoke up. It was a woman who worked in the kitchen. She knew some magic from her homeland. It would require some herbs and some fresh ingredients that they could get in the nearest port. They were close to a place they could get them. She knew the islands here.

The captain did not realize what a resource he had right before his very eyes. Of course Ramona could help them. He promised to buy her whatever she needed, she just needed to ask. At the next port, she bought several chickens, one goat, a dove, and a new sachet of some herbs. She told the rest of the crew that she would need the kitchen to herself for one evening, and no matter what they heard, no one was to come in and interrupt her magic. Everyone was in agreement. Some of the fishermen already knew she was a sorcerer and were afraid to bother her when she was in the kitchen cooking alongside the chef.

The next morning, she had a small vial of ashes. She placed the ashes on Charles’ head and said something that was not in English. It sounded African or exotic. She told Captain DeGrave that if Charles did not get better within three days that he would either die or he would become a hollow one. Then, she wrapped her shawl tighter, asked to be left to rest, and to be told the outcome. Until then, no one should bother her. She retired to her small cupboard off of the kitchen.

The rest of the fishermen did their best to go about their daily routine the next three days but it was difficult. They knew that there was something strange going on in the belly of their boat. That much was true. Captain DeGrave was angry. Ramona had said nothing about the chance that Charles could become something else. What was that? If he was hollow that did not sound good at all. He sat by Charles’ bedside a good portion of the day, when he wasn’t checking on the stock of the fish, or the navigation, or taking care of himself.

He sometimes wondered if he shouldn’t have just let Charles die in that sea. He still would get his financial backing. But now, now he’d have to worry about letting his cousin become something otherworldly.

The third day came and Charles began to vomit up this black slime that looked like old blood. It was rank. Those that came to discard it were doing their best to keep from choking on their own vomit. He also had excrement come out much the same, and the crew’s reaction well, they did vomit trying to remove it from the room. The captain had reconciled to himself that Charles must be dying. Then, Charles started to speak again. It had been days since he had last spoken. He asked for water.

Captain DeGrave looked at his cousin and saw that the man was still gray, still discolored. He looked more withered, like a tree without rain.

“How do you feel?” Captain DeGrave asked.

“Hungry,” the man replied.

“Do you feel strong or weak?” the captain asked while fetching a clean glass of water from a pitcher.

Taking the glass of water, Charles replied, “I feel...I feel...weak?”

“Just drink the water you asked for.”

Charles tried a sip of the water then he spat it out. He let his hand go limp and the glass tumbled from his hand, then crashed to the floor, where it splintered into pieces on the wooden floor boards.

“Are you trying to poison me?” Charles asked.

“I’ll go fetch, Ramona. She’ll know what to do,” Captain DeGrave said hastily removing himself from the room. He told the man at the door who had been guarding the room to fetch the cabin boy, and have him clean the glass on the floor.

 

When Ramona and the Captain returned to Charles’ room they saw quite a sight. There was Charles with his back turned from the door, sitting on the bed. They saw the cabin boy limp on the floor where the glass had fallen. A pool of blood was forming around his head from a gash in his neck. The blood was still slightly bubbling.

“Something told me to drink from his neck. So while he was down there on all fours gathering bits of the glass, I hit him over the head with my bedpan. Then, I made a slice in his neck with the glass and started to drink.”

The voice was coming from Charles. Though he was not moving.

“We’re too late. You were supposed to come get me when the transition was happening,” Ramona whispered to the captain.

“How was I supposed to know. I thought he was just transitioning to death,” the captain whispered back. “Besides, if you knew this is how it would end being Hollow, how were you going to make it work?”

“I was going to bring him the chicken blood, and the goat blood,” she whispered back. “What else did you think it was for?”

“Magic?” he said.

Ramona just shook her head. “Now he is just going to want human blood. We cannot permit him to exist.”

 

With that, Captain DeGrave and Ramona created a quick plan. They had just enough time to make it work while Charles was still discovering what was happening to himself. They told the guard at the door. Ramona knew that Charles was no longer hungry at that moment, or he would have already tried to find more blood. They were able to exit the room without Charles noticing and created a barricade on his door. A new guard took the other one’s place. Everything was set. There was silence in the room for a long time, until they heard scratching at the door. The scratching became kicking then, pounding. Charles started to yell.

It was time. The captain was at the other side of the door with a knife at his arm. He was ready. His heart was beating quickly. His hands were shaking. He nodded at the guard. The guard let the barricade down. The door broke with the supernatural strength of the captain’s cousin. Charles’ eyes seem to slightly glow green. He eyed the closest person to him, which was the guard, and sensing his move, Captain DeGrave, sliced his arm. Fresh blood poured down to his hand.

Charles was on him like a wolf to prey. The guard had to act fast. He and the captain used all the strength that they had to keep Charles moving while he bit down onto the flesh before him. While still upright and walking, they walked together to the edge of the boat. The guard pushed the two men right off the edge of the boat, both of them were linked together by mouth and arm. They fell with a splash into the sea.

The last thing that Captain DeGrave saw before he went under into that wet cemetery where many of his ancestors lay before him were the stars in the sky. He held out his arm as Charles ate his very last meal. Charles gave to his cousin Martin his very last dollar for this shipping expedition, and it seemed that fate would have it, that Martin would give Charles his last drop of blood. Funny how fate worked. He should have known not to go wishing on stars. Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might…

March 01, 2021 17:06

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