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Ghost Ship 2 – Return the Illopogas
by L. V. Gaudet
(C) February 2009

 

     The waves licked wetly at the dock, muted and dull.  The pale moon tried to illuminate the world below with little success.  Dark clouds looming on the horizon drifted in, the first tattered fingers splaying across the moon like skeletal limbs.  Wind drifted across the sandy edge of the water where the tide lapped the sand like a thirsty beast, drawing up specters of dancing sandy ghosts cavorting across the narrow ribbon of beach.  Beyond the reach of the sandy ground tall dry grass whisked and danced stiffly, whispering secrets as the slender stalks rubbed together.

            The incessant buzzing and chirping of insects stopped suddenly as a new duller tone joined the symphony of the waves licking against each other, the dock, and the water’s edge.  It was a duller sound, of water gently lapping at rotting waterlogged wood.

            Somewhere a dog whined, cowering and shivering with fear.

            In the houses the people slept, unaware.

            The dull shadow of an ancient ship silently crossed the surface of the waves, followed by the blackened rotting timber of its bulk.  Tattered shreds of what had once been sails hung limply from the masts, discolored and rotting.  Cracked and pealed, the weatherworn paint of the ship’s name was barely readable, “Illopogas”.  The very air around the derelict ship seemed to darken and grow heavier, stiller, as it slipped silently through the water toward land.

            A homeless old man sleeping in his makeshift shelter at the edge of the beach groaned woefully in his sleep, his face twisting into a grimace of fear.  He was an old salt of the sea, having spent his years from a teen until he grew too old and feeble to tow a line working on various ships.  He had seen many seas, many places, and many strange things.  Only once had he laid eyes upon the ill-fated ancient lost ship that forever sailed the seas empty of crew and cargo except for ghosts and memories, the ghostly Illopogas.  Unfortunately, he lived to tell the tale.

            Of course, none believed him.  Since that fateful day Jebediah, Jeb to his long lost friends and crewmates, had been lost to the ravages of the whiskey bottle, withering in body, mind, and soul.  Jeb had been the sole survivor of his ship, remnants of which later washed up on many beaches, the lumber strangely rotted and darkened.  He had been pulled from the murky waters by a fishing vessel, babbling unintelligibly and lost in a waking nightmare that only the soothing burn of a bottle of whiskey seemed able to quiet.

            He had tried to tell them what happened, had tried to warn them all.  However, they just shook their heads sadly at him, an old sailor who had apparently sailed a few seas too many.  He babbled to anyone he thought, hoped, might listen.  Jeb had become a common sight in the sailor’s watering holes, sitting in a darkened corner, withered and marinated in a brine of stale whiskey, muttering unintelligibly to himself and occasionally entertaining the other drunken sailors with his inebriated ramblings of ghostly ships and monsters of the seas.  He had tried stopping people in the streets to warn them, but invariably they wrinkled their noses with a look of distaste and hurried on their way, trying to avoid the pathetic drunken old man stumbling about in a cloud of delirium and fetid odor.

            A low moan drifted across the surface of the waves, sorrowful and lost, rolling up the narrow strip of sandy beach.

            Jeb woke with a start and stumbled out of his makeshift shelter, staggering to the water’s edge.  His rheumy eyes stared out, empty and haunted, at the expanse of water.

            Tonight the Illopogas returned for him.

            Tomorrow an empty husk of a man would be found on the beach, lost forever within the tormented depths of his mind, a victim of a ghostly apparition.

           

  

Published:

Feb 15/09 online at Patchwork
http://www.patchworkproject.com/lvgaudet.html

Bookmark Ghost Ship 2 - Return the Illopogas by L.V. Gaudet (Horror Flash Fiction)

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Ghost Ship (The Illopogas)

by L. V. Gaudet

(C) January 2009

 

 

  

     A pall hung over the moon, misty clouds stringing across the sky like the tattered remnants of a ghostly sail.  The endless sound of the ocean forever in motion whispered ceaselessly like the incomprehensible roar of a far away stadium crowd.  Pale light from the moon reflected weakly off the constant gently rolling water, illuminating the upward motion while casting faint shadows on the downward movements of the water’s ceaselessly flowing surface.

            A sound moaned softly somewhere in the darkness.  It was the creak and groan of ancient lumber flexing and bending with the pressure of the waves pressing upon it, trying to bend the wood to its will.  With it came the soft lapping of the waves licking against the slowly rotting timber, carrying it on an endless voyage across the sea.

            Within the dark confines of the ancient ship’s hull, the air hung heavy and stale.  Dead.  Throughout the empty cargo hold was the rotten wood remnants of long ago stalls and pens for the transporting of livestock.  The spaces between these broken lumber remnants were filled to capacity with tightly packed rows and rows of shelves from ceiling to floor.  Littered among these shelves were shackles.  Some were red-brown with the rust of ages, some seemed black as a new cast iron pan and freshly oiled.  Many lay within the ranges in between.  There were shackles on the shelves and lying discarded on the floor like dead metal vipers.  Still more hung down from the low ceiling, swinging casually with the gentle rolling of the ship on the sea, swinging silently except for the occasional light ching when two touched briefly in their never-ending dance.  A thick gritty and greasy dust clung to everything.

            “Is the cargo secured?” a voice called out.  The captain was feeling nervous about the dark clouds looming on the horizon.

            “All secure,” called back the first mate.

            “Secure the masts,” the captain called out, “bring in the sails.”

            The sounds of men scurrying about the deck, voices indefinable and vague, echoed down to the hull below.

            On the vacant deck above, the pale light of the moon caressed across the ship from bow to stern.  The sails hung limply, tattered and shredded, stained and rotting.  The planks of the deck lay clean and dry, repeatedly washed by the waves as though by invisible deck hands.  Endless days under the sun had left the timber bleached.

            The moans and groans of ill and discontented souls oozed up from the bowels of the ship with the creaking and groaning of the timber, the only sound other than the waves and shifting of what remained of the rotting tack that touched the deserted deck.  Sometimes a terrible scream would be carried on the wind, fleeing the terrors locked within the weeping timber of the ship’s hull.

            This is the Illopogas, a cargo ship that was once used for transporting many different types of cargos over the years, the last of which was livestock that was not of the four-legged variety.  Stories of the Illopogas migrate like some of the denizens of the waves, travelling from port to port, whispered in the darkened corners of inns and pubs by sailors who have drunk too much.  Even in the telling of these tales, these drunken louts eye the room suspiciously through narrow slitted eyes, making protective gestures behind their backs, wary of jinxing themselves and bringing the Illopogas across their path when next they sail.

            Few sailors have crossed paths with the legendary ghost ship, The Illopogas, and lived to tell the tale.  None has been able to hold on to their shredded sanity.  Some say that the ship is haunted by vengeful ghosts, others that the ship itself seeks revenge.

            There is something about ghost ships, forever sailing the seas manned by an invisible crew, which strikes fear into the hearts of men.  None as much as the Illopogas.

            Beware the ghost ship.

            Beware the Illopogas.

 

 

Published:

Jan 19/09 online at MicroHorror

http://www.microhorror.com/microhorror/category/author/l-v-gaudet/


Feb 23/09 online at Patchwork
http://www.patchworkproject.com/lvgaudet.html

 

 

 

Bookmark Ghost Ship (The Illopogas) by L.V. Gaudet (Horror Flash Fiction)

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