With Apologies to Edgar Allan Poe [Notes For A Story At Sea]

I’m giving you all a dreadful holiday gift. These are my leftover unused notes, what was intended to be a story within a story, from a paid project that never came to fruition. It happens. 


We put out just after dawn from Port Victoria, Spain aboard a clipper ship known as The Mercy Vista.

Our vessel was a beautiful ship of about 400 tons, and fastened with gleaming copper. It was built near the Malabar Coast of Spanish Oak and Moroccan Teak. 

She was freighted with cotton, oil, and cocoa from Cote d’Ivoire. In the hold stood many casks of Greely and Allen. 

The Madeira wine lent an air of refinement that was soon belied by the most impure nature of what transpired. 

Among the crew, there was one Englishman, one Frenchman, and one American from Maryland. But of my country and family, I have little to say.

The Frenchman, calling himself Gaetan Eglantine, exchanged words with Captain Ainsworth, a quarrel of origins it seemed.

“Francais par le sang verse.” The nuance of meaning was diminished by the The Captain’s limited verse. “French by spilled blood,” I interjected for clarity’s sake.

Ainsworth, a rumored veteran of Ferroe Island, was accompanied only by a sidearm with a mysterious crimson patina, and a dog named Wolf. 

We got underway with a mere breath of wind without any incident to beguile the monotony of our passage. For many days we stood along the eastern coast of the Carolinas.

Forsaking port, out of the blue and into the black we descended, as the peculiar character of the sea began undergoing a rapid change.

About midnight, I went up on deck. In the next instant a wilderness of foam hurled upon us and rushed over the bow, sweeping the entire deck from stem to stern.

The chopping character of the ocean beneath us, a true maelstrom, revealed jet black oily liquid in the water. The end comes on black wings.

The men at the helm held visions of shipwreck or famine in their eyes, of death or captivity, echoed by the creaking of the main mast.

I would not have believed that the sea could rise so high, and down we came with a thundrous plunge that made me feel sick and dizzy, begging to pull us from the quick.

When a boat is well built and properly trimmed, the waves of a storm seem to slip under her. It appears strange to a landsman, gliding along ridden swells with such ease. 

But these shrieking whorls of black moved with unnatural purpose, lashing at the timber fore and aft as creatures wont to drag us asunder. Forth from the sea they hurried in fresh waves. 

They clung to the hull, they overran it, and leapt in hundreds upon my person. They gnawed upon me and writhed upon my throat, their cold lips sought my own. 

They reared to a high pitch, deafening at once, the roiling whorls of darkness rebelling against the same sea that had birthed them. 

Many miserable hours passed into the next. It seemed the sea churned for days on end. I blushed with shame, humbled I would die a horrible death.

Fearing the morrow would never come, I sat only with the sense that hell is empty and all the personal demons were with me.

I was half stifled by a kind of warm despair, for which this world has no name, and half chilled with a heavy calmness in my heart.

Even the blackest pitch of night must surely recede so the sun may rise anew once more. But my nightmare made form yielded only a dark end. 

It held dominion over us all.


Post a Comment

<< Home