Welcome to Beware! Dark Seas Halloween showcase, an annual author & artist showcase that features talented creators. Come back each day, the entire month of October for a scare! Prepare for dark stories, myths & legends, and creepy creations that will make the hair on the nape of your neck stand up straight. May the water have mercy on your soul.
BY rH TUCKER
It’s been one month since I saw her last. Selene.
Taking a year off of school, before starting my first semester of college, I took a job at Lou’s Board Shop and give surfing lessons on the weekend. I’ve seen my fair share of incredible beauties who stroll the beach, but when I saw Selene, it was something else. There was this incredible allure. I’ve never believed in love at first sight, but that’s the only way to describe it when I saw her.
When I first met her, three months ago, she said she worked on a ship. It’s a cruise ship that travels from Alaska all the way down to Cape Horn. We walked around the boardwalk until midnight, and then she was gone. She said her ship was only in port for a few hours but that she’d be back in a month. She was, and we talked for hours. I made a move over on Scripps Pier and even though she left an hour later, I can still remember her smell. She asked me to meet her on Mission Beach Boardwalk, and t hat’s why I’m here. She told me tonight she’d finally tell me why she’s been so secretive. All I know is that I can’t let her leave tonight without figuring out a way to keep another month from going by before seeing her.
Leaning against a barrier separating the beach sand from the boardwalk, I watch the tide roll in.
“Well, look who it is,” a voice says behind me. The smile on my face is instant.
Selene stands behind me, fair skinned and her platinum blonde hair shines white under the moonlight. She’s worn the same thing every time I’ve seen her, and while it looks modern, it reminds me of something from the past. Dark brown sailor pants that are wrapped under calf high boots. Her top is billowy, and while nothing on her shows off any type of figure that a guy notices typically, she looks incredible. Timeless.
“Did you think I wouldn’t show?”
She leans back, her hands holding mine. “I wasn’t sure. I know this hasn’t been normal.”
“If you would’ve told me I’d feel like this after only a couple months, I would’ve called you crazy. But I don’t know … this feels like nothing I’ve ever experienced.” Her hazel eyes meet mine, along with a fleeting smile. “What’s wrong?”
“This … this is going to be the last time you see me.”
My gaze burrows into hers, trying to figure out if she’s serious. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m sorry, I can’t explain—”
“Yes, you can. You have to. You can’t just show up in my life and suddenly disappear forever.”
“I’m sorry, I never wanted this to happen.”
“What is going on? You’re not making any sense.”
She finally turns around to face me. There aren’t any tears in her eyes, but she looks how I feel. Like her heart is breaking. “Cameron, this was never supposed to happen. And I can’t explain this. I can’t. It won’t make any sense, or even worse, you’ll think I’m crazy.”
“At least give me a chance. At least trust me enough to decide for myself.” I reach out and grab her hand. She’s cold. She’s always been cold, but I just attributed it to staying out so late on the beach. She feels colder tonight. “Please, whatever it is, it can’t be something we can’t overcome. We can’t end.”
“I … I can’t tell you. You wouldn’t believe me.” I stand there, waiting patiently. Ever since that first night I met her, there’s been a calling. A pulling that I can’t fight, nor do I want to. She can’t leave me now, she can’t. “Have you ever heard of the Moon’s Whisper?”
“The Moon’s Whisper?” My brow knits together, trying to figure out her question. “Yeah, every surfer has.”
“What do you know?”
“Selene, what is this? It’s a stupid ghost tale. A warning parents give their kids. My mom used to try and scare me when I was little into making sure I made curfew.”
“What do you know, Cameron?”
She’s serious. Much more serious than I’ve ever seen her. Her face stoic, her eyes determined. I repeat the poetic warning that I’ve known since I was five. “Beware the Moon’s Whisper, and caution the siren’s cry. For the siren sings, her lips do sting, and those who hear the whisper are slaves until they die. It’s just an old wives’ tale.”
“It’s not. It’s real.”
My eyes narrow. “Excuse me?”
“A ghost ship’s warning.”
There’s no sound between us except the waves breaking along the beach. Finally, I raise an eyebrow. “What?”
She turns to walk away, but I grab her wrist, stopping her. “You’re talking about a ghost ship, Selene. A scary story I told my friends when we’d sneak out and night surf. How do you expect me to react?”
“Just forget it. Let me go.”
Her eyes penetrate mine. “I’ve been bound to that ship for years. Decades.”
“I may look like I’m your age, but I’m much, much older. And the crew? We are all bound to the ship because they heard the whisper. That’s why, Cameron. That’s why we can’t be together.”
“Look, if you want to leave … if you want to make up some lame ass excuse to get out of this, fine. Whatever. I don’t know why, because we barely know each other, but I thought there was something here. Something I’d never felt with anyone else, but whatever.”
“If you want to see for yourself, be at Pier 93 tonight just after midnight. My ship will pass by. If you’re not there, I’ll understand. But if you are … you’ll understand.”
I’ve been holding her wrist, keeping her close to me, but she pulls away and runs toward a crowd of people.
I go after her, but as I break through the crowd, I don’t see her anywhere. Letting out a confused and defeated sigh, I turn and look down the beach. I can’t see it from here, but I know where Pier 93 is. And I know no ships are allowed that close to the pier. She has to be making this up. It has to be some stupid, lame excuse because she’s not feeling what I’m feeling. Right?
Hours pass, and I tried to ignore what she told me. I tried to tell myself that there was never anything between us, but I’m compelled to go to the pier. Whether it’s to prove to myself how full of crap she is or just to torture myself and pretend like there is going to be a ship pulling up next to the pier, I go.
Nothing happens when midnight hits.
A brisk breeze hits my back, but it’s unlike anything I’ve ever felt. It’s not a usual nighttime chill with the ocean spray. This is something different. Goosebumps run along my arms. My head twitches To the side, and I see a shadow. A huge shadow. When I turn around, that’s when I see it.
An enormous ship.
It’s dark. It looks like the wooden sides are made of black marble, and dungy sails run high into the moonlit sky, the clouds forming a curtain backdrop that looks like smoke. My face drops and my eyes widen. Looking off to the back of it, where it must have sailed from through the waves, I find the surfers still wading on their boards to catch the next wave. I see waves that look like they should be crashing against the ship, but they don’t. They roll right through it.
“What the …”
“No.” Her eyes finally look up and stare at the ship behind me. I turn and gaze at it again. “That’s just the warning. The ship is actually called Eos’ Gift.”
“This … this can’t be real.”
“It is,” she says, finally meeting my eyes again. “I’m sorry, but there is nothing I can do. Nothing we can do. I’ve been on Eos’ Gift for years, and there is no way off.”
“Selene, no. There has to be a way. There has to be. I didn’t think this could be true, but it is. And now I know. I know I’m in love with you. I thought that was impossible after meeting with you only a few times, but this,” I wave at the ship behind me, “this disproves everything I ever thought I knew. Please, there has to be a way.”
“There isn’t.” She raises a hand to my cheek. It’s even colder than when I felt it earlier, and now I know why. She’s a ghost. Or a slave. Or something. This is all impossible, but it’s happening. “I’m sorry, Cameron. Like I said, I never wanted this to happen.”
She walks past me to the end of the pier. Running after her, I keep my eyes solely locked on her, trying to ignore the massive ship just out of reach. “But it did happen. There has to be something we can do. Is it a curse? Some type of enchantment or some type of … I don’t know, something you can fight out of. There has to be something. Please!”
“There’s not. There’s only been one person to ever leave the ship and he … no. We can’t.”
“What is it?”
“No, it’s too dangerous. You’d be confronting the first mate. He doesn’t take kindly to challenges.”
“What’s the challenge? What would we have to do?”
“It’s an ancient game, centuries old. You cast lots. If you win against the first mate, you win your freedom, but it’s almost certainly rigged. You just have to call out Helio to make the challenge.”
“I’ll do it.” I turn and face the ship.
“No. No, Cameron, don’t do this.” Her hands grab my arm, the chill of them running through me.
“I’m doing it. We’re getting you off that ship.”
“Please, Cameron, don’t—”
“Helio!” I scream out. The ship seems to answer me back, creaking in the night air. “I challenge Helio for—”
Before I can finish, a furious gust of air whips around me. I squint my eyes as the ocean sprays and can’t see Selene anywhere. It feels like my body moves, but my feet still feel planted on the pier below me. I clench my eyes shut, raising an arm to my face, the stinging of the water slapping against my skin.
Suddenly, the flurry of water and wind stops. I peak over my arm, and I’m on the ship. Just like down below, everything looks dark, and feels so cold. Frigid. The ship rocks slowly, side to side, and that’s when I see them. Crew members.
They’re all male. And they’re all dressed in clothes which looks like from the time they lived. Someone’s wearing a denim jacket and has a mohawk. Another one has on bellbottoms. Another has a shirt like he lived during the eighteen hundreds, complete with long mustache. But one thing connects them all. They all have sea creatures, shells, barnacles and other sea life on them. One has a small octopus attached to his shoulder. Another has coral reef wrapped around his head. After a taking a moment longer, staring at them all and all of them staring back at me, it’s then I start to hear the whispers.
“Not another one.”
“Silence!” a menacing scream rings out.
My head snaps to the side, and I see a massive man, nearing seven feet tall. Seashells stick to his chest, barnacle over his left shoulder. A starfish covers his right eye. And in his left hand he carries a trident.
“What is this?” he grumbles, his voice lower and threatening.
I swallow the lump that’s formed in my throat. “You’re Helio?”
He scowls, and though he’s twenty feet away, he takes one step and is right in front of me, staring down at me. “Don’t you dare speak my name as if you know me. How did you get on this ship?”
“I—” the lump returns, but I power through it. “I’ve come to challenge the first mate. For Selene’s freedom.”
His eyebrow perks up. He stands up straight and seems to scan the crowd of onlookers on the deck. Looking back down on me, he cracks a smirk, a small tentacle crawling up from behind his head, edging toward the corner of his mouth.
Then I hear more whispers.
“It never ends.”
“I said, SILENCE!” Helio screams, and the whispers stop.
I can feel the wind on the deck, but don’t hear it. He looks back down at me, and this time his smirk is a full-blown smile.
Then I hear a giggle.
“Sister, what have you done? Must you keep playing these games?”
I turn and see Selene, but it’s not the same girl. Not my Selene.
She’s covered in barnacle and sea life. Her hair, the same hair that shined in the moonlight, now glows green, with what looks like tentacles and eels wrapped around her. She strides forward, stopping in front of me, and raises a finger to my chin. I feel the gravelly texture of scales on her finger.
“I liked him. I wanted him,” she says quietly, staring at me.
“Shh,” she places her finger over my lips. “It’s okay, Cameron.”
I hear another whisper. “Why does she keep—”
The voice is cut off with a gurgling sound. Snapping my head to the side, I see the trident Helio was holding, stabbing into a man’s stomach. “You dare question your captain’s motives?” Helio hisses, holding the man’s face while jabbing the trident deeper into him.
“Captain?” I whisper, turning back to Selene, my gaze locked on her.
“To the brig with you, you piece of garbage,” Helio tells him. “Two decades for being insubordinate. Anyone else have something to say?” A hush falls over everyone. “Then back to work, you chum bags.”
“Selene, I don’t understand. I thought you—”
“Shh,” she cuts me off again, replacing the finger to my lips. She leans in closer, her lips grazing my ear. I feel her coldness, but it’s more than just on my skin. It runs through my body, and I shiver. “Beware the Moon’s Whisper, Cameron. You should’ve listened to your mother, poor boy.”
“But you said …” I can’t finish. Helio comes over and stands next to her, handing her the trident.
“Selene, must you pick up more crew members? We’re already full of deckhands.”
“I wanted this one, Helio. Besides, we can sell some of the others once we reach Catsblood.”
He grunts and walks away. I can feel my blood running colder. And there’s something else. It’s a pulling. It’s like I’m being beckoned to the ship. It’s the same feeling I had about her. Like I was being called to her. I look down at my feet and scan the area again. The crew members that were watching before have gone back to work.
“I really do like you, Cameron. That first night I saw you, I knew I had to have you.” She walks behind me and I feel the eels in her hair, sliding over my shoulders, as she leans closer to my ear. “And I was so happy when my lips met your ear that first night, my whispers finding you. Calling to you.” She steps back in front of me, placing a hand on my chest. I can’t nod. I can’t move. All I can do is stare back into those eyes I was drawn to. I’m still drawn to them, but now a terror runs through my veins. “You never heard the other part of the warning, did you?”
“Other part?” I’m able to whisper.
She leans in closer, and I can the feel the chill emitting from her. “Beware the Moon’s Whisper …” She circles back around, a finger running over my chest, then up and around my neck. “Once the Moon’s lips find your ear, the shiver runs down your spine. Your will soon gone, but her call remains because now you know the moon’s name.” Her finger slides under my chin, her lips grazing my ear, as the chill hits me again.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR rh tucker
RH Tucker lives in Southern California and writes character-driven stories with people who have real heart. At least, he tries to. He also consumes too much caffeine, eats too much pizza, and firmly believes Rocky Road is the best flavor of ice cream. He’s currently writing the YA series, Rumor Has It. For more info you can visit his website, rhtuckerbooks.com