A Violent Haunting
It ended in the mess hall on board the U.S.S Cheska. It was Saturday evening, October 31, 1961. The cook held himself still in the face of a violent haunting and he hoped his subordinates would take his prudent lead. He and his assistant along with the prep cooks and dish washers stood surrounded by haunting entities, a swarm of pasty gray faces with hollowed eyes, clothed in enemy uniforms, had become emblematic of heartless, vulgar violence.
One of the ghosts was covered in chains; he even clattered when he hit the floor. The cook bent forward, wanting to roll back the past few hours, so to anticipate the violent haunting. Fear gripped his spine. He knew that the ship’s crew had gone mad and had taken their own lives. Images of that mass suicide haunted him. Helplessness clawed its way into his heart.
The violent haunting started with the appearance of a ghost ship. It came out of no where and began firing cannonballs. That strange ship’s cannons blasted at the Cheska, targeting the aft deck and the engineering sections. It was hell bent on stopping the Cheska dead in its tracks. The U.S.S Cheska trembled under the pounding as throughout the ship, crewmen tumbled to the deck and some even rolled off the ship into a watery grave. The ocean smacked against the hull of the ship, faster and faster as it too was bellowing a challenge to the Cheska. The sea appeared to be taking sides as it was relentlessly pounding violently against the hopeless ship.
As the ghost in chains rumbled forward he glanced at the horrified faces of all the men left on board. He laughed a hollow laugh that just sent chills through the air like vapor. He gestured to the other ghosts to move back, with a collective grunt they obeyed.
Why was there so much destruction? Ghosts, they were only ghosts. The cook saw the images of the captain’s face floating away into a void. Sweat was pouring down his face, even though it was a cool October night. He couldn’t understand why his kitchen crew or he was spared. The cook remembered the captain as a man who always laughed; now his face was carved in somber, unyielding lines.
The U.S.S Cheska’s interior was bleak and barren. The chained ghost stood motionless with empty eyes and it betrayed any sign of recognition. The cook felt the terror on his face as he knew his fate would be settled by dusk.
The cook leaned back against the pantry wall, his heading spinning like a child’s top. His fear thickened as the chained ghost approached. There was an odd wind picking up. It lifted his hair like static, which was long in the first place and he left it unbraided. When the chained ghost touched him several months have gone by, just like that. The time that they missed drove some of the men in the room mad, and others died because they neither ate nor slept. The cook’s mind had long settled into the rhythm of the ghost’s progress. He was simply trying to avoid anything so painful which included his own thoughts. Day turned into night, night became day, and he barely noticed. The ghosts remained still, haunting him from a distance. They made no attempts to overtake him as he was not in a clear state of mind, nor did they try to speak.
Suddenly, it was October 31st 1962, midnight. The chained ghost stared into the cook’s shriveling face. What greeted the cook’s eyes was a slaughterhouse. His own shipmates flashed into his memory. There were lifeless bodies, fleshless torsos and spirits floating into the skies like steam rising. It was at that moment when contemplation of his own life no longer frightened him. The moon was a fingers width from the horizon when the cook felt his spirit leaving his body. On shaky uncertain legs he moved forward trying to become one with his spirit. That failed as he collapsed to the floor.
His spirit floated up and when it looked down at the bridge of the Cheska it noticed that it was alive with sound and movement of a ship restored to good health. Every station was fully manned and brightly lit; crew members marched briskly back and forth across the deck from one station to another; and minute by minute, everything was returning back to normal. So even though the U.S.S Cheska was pronounced lost at sea, that ship was thriving but its future remained cloaked in mystery…
© 2013 Frank Atanacio
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