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Kip was the tavern owner’s son. He’d be in to work in the back when it was full. When it wasn’t he’d be home with his sick mother, fulfilling her needs if necessary, and looking after the house, keeping it tidy when father came home. Salt Tavern it was called. Kip thought the name to be ridiculous. He would have much rather called it something else. The inside looked like an old ship. Aged wood that creaked when you walked across the floor; at first glance you would almost like to think that you saw barnacles on the pillars. The bar was long with plenty of hard drinks behind it neatly aligned so all could see. All you would need is the whole d*** place to rock and it would be authentic enough to make drunken people think they were actually on a ship.
When there was nothing to do at the tavern, Kip would walk around and listen in on people’s stories. Old sea legends that no one could prove or disprove, and the modern stories from new and aged sailors. Kip loved ships, and he loved the ocean itself. He found it fascinating how large it was, and also frightening how cruel it was. His brother had set sail on a long voyage and said he wasn’t sure when he’d be back. He never came back, and no one had seen or heard from him since.
Kip wanted to go sailing with his father very badly, something other than the normal fishing trips he took him on. Kip knew how to fish already; it ran in the family. No, he wanted something exciting, something to sail after, something to discover. He had fantasies about going out and being attacked by pirates in the middle of the ocean. He dreamed about fending them off and saving his brother in a glorious display of bravery and toughness. They were just idle dreams though; he wouldn’t be able to do anything like that any time soon. He was only ten.
Kip spent the day working and listening to sailor stories. One in particular caught his attention. Something about a ghost ship. How odd to hear about a ghost ship now a days. Those myths and legends had died out a while ago.
“You’re daft!” He heard one yell.
“No n-no no.” replied another, slurring his words and obviously drunk.
“One too many drinks for you Sam.” said a man sitting next to him.
Sam had indeed gone through one too many drinks. Kip recalled bringing big mugs full of the strongest stuff over a few times.
“I’m not a liar,” Sam said frowning. “Me and a few other folks ‘ave seen a ship comin into the docks at night, and it’s always foggier beyond ‘uman belief!”
“We live by a dock Sam,” Said a man sitting across from him. “It’s goin to be foggy at night. It’s just normal.”
“Aye,” replied Sam. “But when this ship comes, everything goes all odd like. Animals start to act funny, and the blood in me veins goes cold. No one cept for Cap’n Troy comes off that ship and it’s too big for one man to manage. And every night e’ pulls in, he comes to this here tavern and drinks ‘imself silly! But e’ always leaves perfectly sober like and gets back on ‘is ship and leaves.”
Kip lifted his head from the bar and looked around for this Captain Troy. He wasn’t sure what he would look like, but he had a good enough imagination to try to find him. The only person close enough to him was a grizzly man sitting at the bar sipping his drink. He wore a worn out, long, ripped rain coat, and a big hat that covered his eyes. He never said a word, even when he came in. He just sat down at the bar, and Kip’s father poured a drink for him without asking what he wanted. He must have been a regular at the tavern. His face was dark and soulless. Kip felt the hairs stand up on the back of his neck.
“Well, I sure don’t see ‘im in tonight,” a man by the table said.
“E’s right over there,” said Sam pointing to the man at the bar.
They all turned to look at the strange man sitting at the bar. Kip looked at him along with the rest. The man sat there motionless.
“Oi!” Yelled one of the men. “Cap’n Troy!”
The man at the bar said nothing. He looked over his shoulder at the man and looked back down at his drink. The men continued their conversation and Kip just stared. The man tilted his head and looked at Kip. Fear and worry overtook him and he looked away quickly, pretending to scratch some dirt out of the bar. He could still feel the lifeless, heavy eyes staring him down.
“How bout another drink ey?” said the man.
Kip looked up quickly and stared at him for a moment. The man held his gaze barley moving.
“Uh,” started Kip. “Of course sir”
The man told Kip the drink, and Kip turned and looked for the bottle.
“Kip!” someone yelled.
Kip whirled around to see his father standing by the door near the back room.
“Take the garbage out would ya?” He said holding a thumb to the back room.
Kip nodded and looked at the man again. He was looking back at his drink again. His father walked forward to get the man his drink while Kip ran to the back room. He emerged into the back room and found a large bag sitting in the corner. He picked it up and started to carry it out. It would have been heavy for any other ten year old, but for the son of a fisherman, it was no problem. Kip was a strong kid. He went out the back door and plopped the bag down next to the cans which were already full. Someone would be coming by to grab the garbage tomorrow.
It was dark and very foggy. The exact same kind of fog that Sam was describing. Kip couldn’t see very far at all, just some of the ships in the dock and torches lining the bridge to the north. It was slightly chilly and a small wind made Kip shudder. The door to the tavern swung open and startled Kip. He jumped and looked to his left to see the grisly man come out. He saw Kip’s frightened face and turned to face him.
“Sorry lad,” He said with a low voice. “Didn’t mean to frighten ya”
“It-It’s ok,” Kip stuttered.
The man tipped his hat and walked toward the railing by the dock. Kip watched then followed him curiously. The man stopped at the railing and looked out into the fog. Kip came along side him and looked up at him. The man stared out for a few more seconds then took in a breath and looked down at Kip. His face was still dark and unnerving, but Kip didn’t break his stare. He wasn’t too afraid this time.
“Captain Troy?” He asked staring into where his eyes should be.
“Yes indeed,” he replied looking back out into the fog.
“Is it true?” Kip asked curiously.
The captain looked back down at him. “Is what true my lad?”
“All the stories those men said,” Kip said
The captain looked back out and let out a hmph sound. “I wouldn’t know”
Kip stared at him, confused, then looked out at the fog. He looked back to see the captain take off his hat. He had messy shoulder length brown hair that looked wet. He looked down, and Kip finally saw his eyes. Bright emerald green colored they were. It was a very unnatural color. Kip had never seen anything like it before. The captain looked at Kip, then at his hat. He lifted his hand and placed the hat on Kip’s head. It was rather big for him, and Kip had to push up the rim to see past it.
“Keep it,” said the captain smiling.
Kip smiled back. He didn’t know many people, and he was becoming friends with the captain. He turned to walk back to the tavern when the captain grabbed him by the arm. Kip turned around, looked at the captain’s large hand, then back up at him.
“Stay a while,” said the captain. “I like the company.”
Kip hesitated for a moment then nodded. The captain let go and produced a lantern from under his coat. He handed it to Kip, who took it without thinking twice. The captain then pulled a small match book out from his exterior pocket. Kip watched as if learning something new. The captain struck a match against the side and looked at Kip. Kip opened the small door and held it out. The captain shoved the match inside slowly and the lantern began to glow with a large orange light. The warmth against Kip’s face was nice.
Kip held the lantern up to the captain and he took it. He looked back out to the fog and held the lantern up. He swung it three times and slowly a schooner appeared. Kip stared in awe as the ship drew closer to the dock. He looked back and forth from the ship to the captain, but the captain didn’t look back down at him. He gaze was still fixed on the large ship approaching slowly, barely making a sound. Its as if it was gliding above the water it was so quiet, but some waves could still be heard. The captain finally looked down and looked at Kip who was extremely jittery. He found it fascinating that such a large ship could be so quiet.
“Would you like to see inside lad?” ask the captain
Kip looked up at him speechless.
“I, um,” he said. “I should probably be getting back to work sir.”
“Oh don’t worry about it,” The captain laughed. “It won’t take more than a minute.”
Kip looked back at the boat which now rested at the dock. It was an eerie looking ship. Aged wood that had what seemed to be a blue, green tint to its coloring, tattered, dirty sails which Kip expected to be white at one time. Dim candles lined the side and the windows were dark. Kip shuddered and looked back at the captain.
“Al-alright,” He said.
The captain smirked, and what a frightening smile he had. They headed down the road to the stairs. Kip followed, regretting what he had said. Thoughts raced through his mind, trying to grasp what could be on that ship. All the stories he’d heard, even some before this night. Sam wasn’t the only one who’d heard rumors of Captain Troy and his ghost ship. He could run. Right now, he could turn the other way and run back to the bar and hide under something.
Things had become much foggier as they proceeded down the stairs to the dock. Kip became nervous and started to feel a sinking feeling in his heart.
“Don’t be afraid lad,” The captain said, still walking at a slow pace towards his ship.
Kip watched him and swallowed down his fear. If he could handle storms on the sea, he could handle some proclaimed “ghost ship”. They reached the ship and Kip just gawked. It was much bigger than he thought it was. It towered over him and the captain.
“Here we are,” the captain said. “Why don’t you go up and have a look.”
Kip’s eyes widened in surprise, and it showed because the captain started to laugh.
“Don’t worry about it,” he said “She doesn’t bite.”
Kip nodded and looked at the ladder leading up to the deck. He gripped it slowly and it was cold and wet to the touch. He looked back at the captain one last time and proceeded up the ladder. It creaked and swayed as he climbed. He made it to the top and peeked his head over the rail. No one was on the deck. He pulled himself up more to get a better look, still no one. He finished climbing over the side and made it aboard. The deck was dark and slippery. He walked around a bit looking at the old boat. He heard a creak and spun around. Nothing was there, but Kip was uneasy none the less. He walked back over to the rail and looked down.
“Where is everybod-“he started.
The captain was gone, and the ship was a good distance away from the dock. Kip’s heart dropped into his stomach. He wasn’t a very good swimmer and didn’t want to chance jumping off. Quickly he ran to the other rail and yelled out to the tavern. Nothing happened. No one answered back. The fog completely covered his vision now, and he couldn’t see anything. He could barely see the floor of the ship. He scrambled around the deck looking for something, anything that could help him.
He felt a breeze behind his neck. He spun around and caught the sight of a pale sheet of light blue pass by the rail. He looked around sporadically and as he did, more sheets of pale transparency passed by, flying this way and that, sweeping over his head and through his legs. He crouched down and covered his head sobbing in fear.
“Is everything alright up there lad?” came a voice.
It sounded like the captain’s. Kip looked up. The fog had gone down and he could see far enough. He was back at the dock. He ran to the side and looked down. There was the captain, looking up at him, holding the lantern high. Needless to say Kip was confused.
“What happened?” Kip practically yelled.
“What are you talking about lad?” said the captain looking just as confused as he was.
“The ship started moving!” Kip yelled. “And there were things flying around!”
The captain stared and tilted his head to the side.
“Did you hit your head?” He asked
“No!” Kip screamed.
“Well come on down,” said the captain. “We need to get you back to your father.”
Kip was about to say something again but stopped himself. He nodded and sighed then started to climb down the ladder. He reached the bottom and looked up at the captain who looked back at him. His face was blank, bereft of any emotion what so ever. Kip became a bit scared and tried to avoid his eyes. He looked down the dock, toward the town, and started to walk down when a thought occurred to him. Who had steered the ship in? There was no one on board. He turned to ask the question, but the ship and the captain were gone and Kip was alone.