Strangers: Ship of Fools

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She anchored offshore and stank of the charnel house.

A raven brought me news of the ship, telling me the ship had sailed out of the mist on Blood Lake and dropped anchor midway between the main island and the quickest path to my home.

Last I remembered, there were no ships on the lake, which meant the damned thing was from the Hollow’s side, and rarely has something good come out of that foul place.

Armed and ready, I left the house and took the quickest route to the lake. I passed by silent birds and graves with occupants who continued to scream invectives at me. I ignored everyone and everything. My sole focus was the lake, and who the hell had come to see Cross.

I reached the shore and caught sight of the ship. Away-boats were being lowered into the water, and as the wind shifted, I smelled the ship. It was a fetid stench that gnarled my stomach and brought the taste of bile up into the back of my throat. The smell reminded me of a whaler coming into port with a full hold of oil, her decks stained with the blood and fat of the creatures.

Yet this was no whaler in front of me.

This was, I feared, something worse.

Only once in my life had I smelled a slave ship, and the stench emanating from it reminded me of that foul ship.

One of the men saw me, cried out, and the men in the away-boats pulled harder for shore.

When they were close enough for the men to jump out and wade towards me, I drew my Colts and opened fire.

Hate and rage lend clarity at times, and this was one of them.

Every shot was true.

The men who had been armed with ropes and chains, clubs and brass-knuckles, fled for the safety of their boats.

They did not make it.

I reloaded as they sank beneath the water, and then I walked out to the closest boat. There would be more men aboard the ship. A skeleton crew to be sure, but I wanted them all dead.

They would be, soon enough, and as the night came, I would set fire to the ship and light up the night sky as it burned down to the waterline.

I can’t abide slavers.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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