The Terrible Voyage on the Rough Seas—A Dead Man’s Confession
Was it for this, I flowered forth
Burst blinded from dusty earth, to seek
My doom on the waves of that unreached berth
O! Did I appear for so short a time
Like a bubble on the air’s screen
Or a ripple on a pond’s mien
Only to be swallowed by the shivering
Deep, to cough fitfully before
The Long Choke, before the once life-giver
Became the death-maker.
We set out from Portsmouth. Our chests held bravely in the raging air. The mood delirious of sailors too drunk or proud to care. Tearing our shirts from the left shoulder to the right hip, we bore the clothes-less cross. A sign of solemnity, of forsaking forever the accursed land-dwellers. Their laws, their customs, their sickening conformity to temporary and fleeting idols, we despised. Out onto the Great Unknown, out onto the rolling, ever-rolling waves of azure infinity, beyond the fugitive horizon was our destination. We cared not where, faith enough that our hearts would fill with water before they stopped pumping from cowardly living.
Not long after losing sight of the Cliffs when our boat skimped lazily in the water’s darkening shadows the moon spied its fantastical torch, blanching our souls. Pure, blinding white as though we had been spotted by something or someone. “We will never surrender,” I screamed back at the moon, beating my chest furiously. “The gods cannot halt or sway a man who has nothing more to lose.”
“Onwards,” I beckoned to the cowered coxswain. The sailors shuddered. Never before had anything so strange or mystical happened on previous journeys. These men had not seen the concealed horrors of the ocean as I had. Had not witnessed the monstrous beings of the deep or the furies of the winds. The moon’s anger was not new to me.
For months I patrolled the icy reaches of the North, the furthest parts of earth we dare to travel. For months the moon mocked our journey. When we needed light most, in our darkest of hours, when Jack Stoneshore was thrown overboard, we searched for days for him or his body yet the moon hid deceptively. Not once during our desperate cries for light would he shine. Instead the clouds gathered and clothed the moon, concealing the only hope of finding our seamate. For three months afterwards, after we had surrendered Jack to his icy and lonely death, the moon appeared only during daytime. His light unnecessary and eclipsed by the sun. A purposeful taunt to us mere mortals; a constant reminder of the fragility of our lives and the cruel dependence on circumstances beyond our control and in the hands of uncaring gods.
It was then I swore my fateful revenge, that if ever the moon dared his trickery on me again, I would challenge him. “I’m not afraid of you! I am man! I have conquered the earth and subdued the beasts. Who are you but a coward of the night. The winds howled and the waters rose, knocking the ship enough to sweep several of the sailors off their feet. The moon disappeared, temporarily, behind a carpet of clouds. And then all of a sudden, the moon reappeared monstrously huge and red. The winds raged even more furiously, ripping the timbers of the boat, nearly breaching the hull. The boat crested a wave, only to find itself at the bottom of water-trench, or so it seemed, so enormous was the approaching wave.
All chaos broke loose on the boat. Men desperately recited their prayers. A few panic-stricken sailors threw themselves off into the frigid waters, not brave enough to face the oncoming onslaught. “We should have never left land, “ cried a sailor. “No, he is the cause of our misfortune. Let us throw him off and appease the moon. The moon will be merciful if we kill the man who has angered him so.” The sailors agreed. I was to be sacrificed.
They surrounded me, pointing their pistols towards my head. “Move,” cried the sailors, gesturing me to the edge. I laughed. “The end has come for me as much as for you. There is no escape.” “Shut up, shut up,” cried desperately a hysterical sailor, not prepared to face death. “Shoot him,” screamed the same sailor. No one had the courage. They pushed me into the waters, and I drowned.
I perished with a smile. Out of the corner of my brine-soaked eyes, while sinking to the depths, I gleaned the wave’s destruction.