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Contest: Spooktacular Ship Stories
SchiffSchiff replied to SaltySeaGuy's topic in Contests and CompetitionsA violent, bitterly cold wind rushed into Adrian Hawkin’s face. He pulled his oilskin hood closer and rushed back from the forward part of the Teal. One of the forward cargo latches had come loose from the waves again, and so of course they sent the new guy to fix it. Plucky 20 something years old, Adrian had grown up near the sea and always loved it. Getting a job on a ship seemed natural for him. Now he thought that maybe he should’ve listened to the warnings of old sailors about how harsh it could be. The bitter cold of the North Sea pulled at him as much as the old cargo ship, and the wind made its slippery rigging sing a mournful tune. Weather in early December was dreadful, and the swirling clouds of snow were blinding. He eagerly jumped through the door into the warmer interior, pulling the soaked outer clothes from his tired body. He would be happy to finally go to sleep, and he made his way down to his bunk in the open bunks where the crew lived and slept. The rest of the men aboard the Teal were much older and more experienced than Adrian and they often teased him for being a greenhorn. He tried to ignore their looks when he came down again hoping to get some rest. A few gave him sly smiles, after all they had just sent him out into the storm to fix something menial. “Have fun out there?” asked one of them, slapping his shoulder. “Just doing my job,” Adrian replied, and some of the meaner ones laughed. “You ran in quite fast young man, is the weather not so pleasant to you? The route to Murmansk is like this you know.” “Heh he’s probably just afraid he’ll see Scharnhorst,” said Pavel in a more serious tone. All the men quieted and looked at over towards the corner of the room where Pavel sat in his bunk. He was the spitting stereotypical image of an old sailor with a big grey beard, and tired wrinkled eyes. Adrian noticed that this seemingly dull comment had silenced the entire room. He decided to speak first “What do you mean? What’s a…Scharn?” “Scharnhorst,” Pavel corrected with his prominent Russian accent. “Never heard of her? She’s a ship from the War, and was sunk here in these very waters not so many years ago.” The men remained ominously silent. Adrian looked around feeling a little confused. “Why would you be afraid of a sunken ship?” Pavel chuckled. “Eh well you see boy that’s just the thing. The stories go she isn’t sunk. Or well, she likes to return to the surface to wreak havoc time and time again. You see back in the closing days of the War, the Nemsty, the uh Germans were getting more and more desperate. They had a big battleship called Scharnhorst and they sent her up north to Norway. They wanted to use her to destroy the convoys sending supplies to the Mother Land.” Pavel shifted back in his bunk, the entire crew allowing him to continue. “Scharnhorst went out one December day…not much different from today. There was a terrible, blinding snowstorm and she was out hunting a convoy. But she ran afoul of the Royal Navy and in a brutal battle was sunk. Most of the crew went down with the ship. Most of the rest were left to freeze and drown in the cold water.” “Her crew died in a pointless battle. And the ship never even saw the very convoy she was meant to attack. The stories…the stories go that come December when the winter winds howl and the snow closes in that Scharnhorst appears to hunt like she did in her last moments. She sinks any merchant vessels she comes across thinking they’re still the convoys she was meant to destroy.” “That sounds like it’s just a story,” Adrian insisted. “Ships can’t just rise after they’ve been sunk.” “Sure lad, but sailors have seen the ship. Ships have been confirmed to go missing around these parts and during this time of year. It’s not just a silly superstition I promise you that much. I’ve seen the ship too with my own eyes. Everyone here will tell you it’s true.” The others sullenly nodded together. Adrian however was not convinced or amused. “Oh now you’re trying to scare me off with ridiculous ghost stories now! Well you can all stay down here and share your silly superstitions with each other.” The other men laughed and Adrian went back upstairs to talk to one of the men on the ship he trusted, George the ships’ first officer who was on duty at the time. George was a kindly old sailor and he always helped Adrian deal with the unruly sailors on board. He seemed to know what Adrian wanted when he appeared in the pilot house. “They trying to get to you again?” he asked. “Yeah, sharing some absurd story about a ghost ship. They were all in on it. But I see no reason to be afraid of it, I just am tired of their joking.” “Eh, just keep doing your jobs well and they’ll warm up to you I’m sure.” Night had started to fall, and the sky turned progressively darker when George and Adrian both saw it. A strange surge of water far ahead of the Teal. A moving, shifting thing almost like a whirlpool. They first thought it was a whale but it was no living creature of the sea. The rusted upturned hulk of a great ship burst from under the waves, hurling spray in every direction. It started steadily righting itself, violating all known rules of nautical physics. It was an old warship, big turrets down its centerline and smaller guns all over its sides. It displayed signs of major damage, the hull was full of gaping holes, and surely shouldn’t have been able to float yet there it swayed in the rough seas. Adrian and George were stunned in silence unsure how to process what they were seeing when things took a drastic turn for the worse. A loud baleful howl sounded across the waves, the distorted call of a ship’s horn. The searchlights of the old warship switched on, panning left and right, shining sickly reddish light. A gout of fire spouted from her jagged funnel, and the impossible ship got underway, waves crashing over its bow. A searchlight beam touched the hull of the Teal and all of them snapped around to glare at the cargo ship like a series of hideous eyes. The eldritch ship blared its horn and immediately changed course for the small undefended ship. Rusted turrets grinded around at an unnatural speed, sparks spraying from her rusted joints, decayed guns raised and fired with a thunderous roar. Adrian told himself the blasts of flame didn’t resemble skulls. Shells screeched overhead and landed all around the Teal and George finally reacted. He ordered their helmsman to run as fast as they could and grabbed the radio to make a distress call. More shells landed all around them, hurling huge waves onto the deck. There was a great crash and the whole ship shook, her lights flickering. A shell had slammed into their engine room, and now they were dead in the water. The ghost ship sailed at them at full bore, seeming less like a ship and more like a terrible animal borne of the sea, as it rampaged through the waves directly towards its crippled prey. George repeated their desperate mayday transmission until they were all knocked clean off their feet. The warship’s sharp bow sliced deep into the side of the Teal like a huge knife. Adrian crawled to his feet, and then he heard them. The voices, the voices of drowned angry men, of desperate young sailors cut down in battle dying in pain and fury, men left to drown in the sea, or trapped in destroyed compartments with no escape. He heard the angry, tortured screams in German, louder and louder. Then he saw the things that crewed the remains of the Scharnhorst and he and George finally screamed too. Two days later a coast guard ship from Russia reached the location of the fragmented, garbled distress call of the Teal. The weather was cold but clear and calm. They found no signs of any ship, only some small bits of debris and an oil slick.