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I jumped as chains rattled behind me. It was an old, abandoned ship with moss growing on its once polished wood. I expected to be alone. But that wasn’t the case this time. I felt a warmth…the type of warmth that you feel when a warm body is beside you. Even on a cold day that warmth can be felt. Even if that warm body is several miles away. It is a warmth of the heart, not the hands.
But there was no one around to radiate such a presence. Even so, I felt it strongly. I didn’t believe in ghosts but I was beginning to doubt myself.
It was dark as night had fallen a few hours ago. With this wrecked ship waiting to be explored I knew I couldn’t sleep. So I didn’t try. I trekked across the beach until I found it lying eerily on its side, the moonlight making it glow.
I whirled around, trying to locate the source of the cry. Stories had been told about this place and not all of them ended with a happily ever after. This ship was cursed. It was said to be haunted by the devious pirate who had led his crew to ruin.
“Who’s there?” I asked, flashing the beam of my flashlight onto some old crates labeled “Caution. Explosives.”
“Now, now…no need to panic.” The voice said. I tried desperately to find the speaker. But I was the only one in the ship’s hull as far as I could tell.
“Show yourself,” I said. “I’m armed.” I hefted my pistol into the moonlight. It shone with fire as I aimed it at thin air.
“That won’t hurt me, you know.” It said. “I’m not exactly vulnerable.”
“I said show yourself.”
“Alright. If that’s what you want…”
I gasped as a shadowy figure materialized out of the shadows before me. It was a man dressed richly in a seaman’s clothing. He was the pirate.
I studied him carefully, a thousand questions galloping into my head like a herd of wild stallions. The ship had been wrecked decades ago. The pirate died decades ago. Unless this was some practical joke, I doubted seeing him was possible.
“Who are you?” I asked, keeping my gun aimed at his head.
“I am Captain Nathaneal Flynt.” He said, taking off his hat and bowing low.
“No, you’re not. Who are you?”
Placing his hat back on his head, he smiled. “I am who I said I am.”
“He’s dead. He’s been dead for years.”
“Really? Years? It certainly has felt like years…an eternity almost.” He cocked his head to one side and frowned, stroking his chin thoughtfully. He noticed my disbelief through my scowl and grinned.
“Go on,” he said. “Shoot me.” He pointed at his forehead and crossed his heart. “In the head or in the heart? Take your pick.”
“I’m not a murderer,” I hissed.
“Oh, you’ll find that it’s quite difficult to murder me.”
“This is a dangerous game you’re playing, sir. I suggest you confess to this ruse and run along. I’m not here on my own terms. I’m not held responsible for the people I kill.”
“Then who are you here on behalf of?”
I didn’t lower my gun. I moved my aim from his head to his leg. “That is no concern of yours. You have your business and I have mine.”
“Ah, but I am a nosy man and I am rather curious.”
“Consider this a warning. I’ll count to three. If you’re still here when I’m done, I’ll shoot.”
The strange man seemed completely unfazed. His ridiculous smile seemed frozen of his pale face and he gazed at me curiously.
“One.” I said.
He stood rooted to the spot.
He didn’t move.
“Three.” I pulled the trigger, shot him in the leg.
I expected to hear a cry of pain. I expected him to crumple to the ground, deflated. But he continued to stand there with a grin spreading from ear to ear. I stared at him, puzzled.
“See?” he said, gesturing to the bullet lodged in the wood behind him. “I can’t be harmed.”
I gasped when I realized that the bullet had gone through his leg. He was no fraud. He was a ghost.
I stepped back in fear, almost tripping over the boxes of explosives.
“Be careful around those,” he said, seemingly pleased with my reaction. “They’ve been here for several years as have I. They’re incredibly unstable. They could go off any minute…not that I am concerned. I’m already dead. I just thought you might like to live a little longer. I do love a good explosion.”
I moved away from the boxes and put my gun away, slowly.
“Ghosts aren’t real. Spirits do not exist.” I said, whispering.
The pirate ghost moved closer, gliding over the floor. “Then how would you explain what you just saw? Magic? Witchcraft?”
He mocked me, floating closer with every word until he was mere inches away. “Perhaps it was a trick of the light. Perhaps you’re hallucinating. Are you ill? You must be terribly ill to be seeing such nonsense.”
Up close, he looked sharp and fierce. He had the look of a bold soldier with all the battle scars to match. He looked so real.
Without thinking, I tried to shove him. My hand went right through him, as expected. But instead of feeling a cold sensation envelop my hand like it does in fairy tales, I felt the warmth I felt before. It sent tingles shooting up my arm as hot water would. It was like dipping my hand into a bubbling spring.
I jerked it away, grimacing at the ripples it sent across his ghostly body. He didn’t feel misty and fog-like. It was more like a thick soup. I bet if I had closed my hand into a fist, I would have been able to tear a decent chunk out of him…not that I wanted to.
“Not exactly what you were expecting, eh?” he asked, leaning forward.
I shook my head and changed the subject. I felt like I was going crazy.
“Are you Spanish?” His accent was obviously Spanish and his green eyes were large and searching. They widened slightly when I asked this. His smile melted into a frown.
“Then what are you?” I asked, folding my arms. “Besides a ghost, I mean.”
He avoided answering me. He tilted his head and his smile returned. “Speaking of Spain, is it still around?”
I nodded. “Last time I checked, it was there.”
“And what about the Ottoman Empire? Still strong?”
“No. It died out a while ago.”
“It’s one nation now.”
“Germany hasn’t unified has it?”
“What? What do you mean ‘Prussia’s gone’?”
“It was dissolved. It doesn’t exist anymore. It’s part of Germany.”
“And what of that new land they discovered? What was it called?”
“Ah, yes, America. What about it? How are the colonies?”
“They fought a war with England and won their freedom. America is its own nation now.”
“No. It has its own constitution and president and everything.”
He folded his arms and sat down on the ground, crossing his legs. I expected him to go right through the floor, but he remained seated on top. He patted a spot next to him and smiled at me.
“Come sit. You have a lot to tell me.”