Mirror, Mirror: Dark Voyage

Shipwrecked by a rogue storm, Sylvie was vastly relieved to be rescued by John Friday, captain of the sailing ship, Friday the 13th.

Sylvie was fascinated by the idea of ghost ships sailing the seas, but she didn’t believe she’d been rescued by one. Ridiculous! Captain John Friday and his crew were as real as she was!

 

Reissue Date: 10/2014
Length: Short Story
Word Count: 10,304
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Rating: Spicy
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)

MMD30414MAD112414

 

Dark Voyage
By
Leslie Washington
( c) copyright by Leslie Washington, Oct. 2013
Cover Art by Jenny Dixon 2013
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636

This is a work of fiction.  All characters, events, and places are of the author’s imagination and not to be confused with fact.  Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.

Prologue – 1783

“You’re naming it what?”

Josiah Whittlestone turned away from the drawing room window and regarded his wife with a cold eye and drawing up his substantial body to its full height, he said evenly, “I think you heard me, Millie.”

“Well, mayhap I did, but I couldn’t believe my ears.”

“And why not? Am I in the habit of saying ridiculous things or things I don’t mean?”

“No, of course not, Mr. Whittlestone,” replied Millie, having taken fright at the look in her husband’s eye.  “It’s just that it seems like such a foolish thing to do, and I’ve not known you to be foolish.”

“And what, my dear, do you regard a foolish thing to do?”

“Why naming your new ship in such a contrary way, of course. I can’t think what megrim made you want to do so.”

“And contrary to what, exactly, my dear, is the name you refer to?”

“Why, contrary to common sense, for one thing, and public opinion for another.” Millie only very rarely felt bold enough to address her husband so directly, but she was both horrified and frightened.

“And have you ever known me to run away in the face of public opinion, Millie?”

“No, and you know that in most cases I admire that you don’t, though it often makes things uncomfortable for me in society.  But this time it seems quite unnecessary. Surely there’s no good reason to name your ship ‘Friday the 13th’, flying in the face of convention and trampling on your friends’ sensibilities!”

Josiah turned to scan his family: his young sons, his wife’s mother, his sister and her baby in arms. “And you? Do you agree with my wife?”  There was silence, and he could tell from the frozen look in their eyes that they did but were too frightened of him to say so.

“Well, then, the consensus among the women and infants is that I’m being foolish. My surprise is not overwhelming.  In fact I expected it.  It is exactly because of the foolish superstition of women, children, and men with the minds of children that I have done what I’ve done.  It behooves me to announce that the idea that a ship’s name can have any effect on its success is rank superstition, balderdash, and codswallop.  It defies the merest examination of the laws of nature or an even momentary application of reason.  I have named my ship ‘Friday the 13th’ precisely to prove to all that it is so.”

“If you say so, my dear,” said Millie meekly. “I’m sure that you know best.”  That she was lying did not cross Millie’s mind, so used she was to letting truth take second place to peace in the family and repose in her husband’s mind.

“I’m glad you agree, my dear.  Tomorrow is Friday the 13th and the christening will be at sunrise, to allow for the ship to be launched at high tide. I expect you’ll want to be there.”

“Of course, my dear.”  Turning to the family, she said brightly, “I’m sure we’ll all want to be there.”

“Oh, yes!” they replied with one voice. “We all want to be there.”

“Very good. I’ll look forward to your joining me.  And by the way, I’ve engaged a captain. He’ll be joining us for the evening meal tonight, so please be in the drawing room promptly at 9:00 P.M. to greet him before we go in. His name is John Friday.”  Josiah turned on his heel and left, too quickly to see the appalled glances the women in the family exchanged.

 As they drew breath to utter all sorts of complaints, Millie held up her hand. “Not a word from anybody! I’m sure Mr. Whittlestone knows best.”

The next morning the family was gathered as ordered at the shipyard where ‘Friday the 13th’ was on the slipway ready to begin its maiden voyage.   It was a substantial and majestic ship, a three masted barque.  The fore and main mast, each with six sails square rigged, towered seventy feet over the onlookers. The mizzen mast was several feet shorter and rigged fore and aft, the sails making graceful skirts to its height.   The sails, flaming yellow rose from the sun, just rising behind them, were a beautiful sight that caught the breath in one’s throat.  The ship seemed blessed with the radiance of God. Surely nothing could be amiss with it.

When the mayor’s wife, who had been given the honor, smashed a bottle of champagne against the prow of the ship and loudly proclaimed, “I christen thee, ‘Friday the 13th’, the crew, assembled on the deck cheered loudly, ‘Hip hip hurrah!’ and again ‘Hip hip hurrah!’  There was a dreadful screech as the sailors began to turn the capstan pulling out the chocks that kept the barque on the slipway and then very slowly it began to move into the sea, a huge splash signaling when it was finally free and on its own. The breeze was brisk and off land, filling the sails, and the ship, after a very few minutes, disappeared over the horizon.

 That was the last any of the folk standing there ever saw of it.  It had disappeared not only over the horizon, but apparently into thin air.  There was much speculation as to what had happened to it. Some postulated a sea monster, others a freak storm out at sea. There were those who strongly believed that the oddly named captain was in fact a pirate who had changed the name of the ship as soon as it was out of sight and was plying the seas as a predator.  They offered as proof the fact, which now seemed sinister, that a number of the men whom the captain had chosen had come from other places and even spoken foreign languages.  Millie was certain that her husband’s hubris in choosing the bizarre name of the ship was the root cause, whatever the mechanism had been. He had gotten his just deserts in her opinion. Naturally, she never said that to her husband, who despite any secret doubts he might have had, loudly maintained just the opposite.

Present day

Sylvie turned her nearly naked body over to tan the other side. She was enjoying a spring break from Wellesley on the sands of Ft. Lauderdale.  Well, she thought to herself, I’m enjoying the glorious warmth of Florida after frigid Massachusetts and sun after the eternal cloud of a New England winter. And I suppose I’m enjoying the ability to party anytime or all the time and the chance to get stoned in one way or another whenever I might want to. But if I’m honest with myself, I’m kind’ve bored with all that.  I haven’t met anybody I had the slightest real interest in or had a conversation that meant anything to anybody. I’ve had sex with some really cool bodies but only once with a body whose name I knew – and that was somebody I was having sex with in Massachusetts. 

What I really want is somebody I can get to know and have a relationship with, somebody I like when we’re not having sex, someone who could tell me once in a while something I don’t already know, somebody it’d be cool to sleep with when we weren’t talking or having sex. But I suppose Ft. Lauderdale at spring break time isn’t the place to go for that. My bad choice.

Just at that moment, something came between her and the sun, and a voice said, “You’re alone, and that’s a crying shame whether you want to be alone or not.”

Sylvie opened her eyes and looked straight into the most intensely blue eyes she’d ever seen. Even with the sun behind his head, they glowed.  The sun was turning his hair into a halo like some Pre-Raphaelite St. Michael’s.  From the ground he looked like he was about ten feet tall.  The sun in her eyes kept her from knowing whether he was almost naked or completely naked, but she thought it was probably the former. He looked like he might be an Arab or a Red Indian except for the eyes. With his face in shadow, it was hard to read his expression but she thought he was grinning. At least she thought she had glimpsed a flash of teeth.

“Do I have to stand here for an hour while your do your inspection, or can I sit down so you can have a closer look?”

Sylvie blushed, not that it was all that apparent under her sunburn. “I’m sorry. It’s just that you startled me when my mind was miles away, and it took me a minute to come back to reality. Please do sit down.”

“Thanks,” he said, and sank to the sand cross-legged like a ballet dancer. “Do you want to be or not?”

“Do I want to be what?”

“Alone.”

Mirror, Mirror
DARK VOYAGE
By
Leslie Washington

 

© Copyright by Leslie Washington, October 2013
© Cover Art by Jenny Dixon, October 2013
ISBN 978-1-60394-
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636

 

This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.

 

“You’re naming it what?”

Josiah Whittlestone turned away from the drawing room window and regarded his wife with a cold eye and drawing up his substantial body to its full height, he said evenly, “I think you heard me, Millie.”

“Well, mayhap I did, but I couldn’t believe my ears.”

“And why not? Am I in the habit of saying ridiculous things or things I don’t mean?”

“No, of course not, Mr. Whittlestone,” replied Millie, having taken fright at the look in her husband’s eye. “It’s just that it seems like such a foolish thing to do, and I’ve not known you to be foolish.”

“And what, my dear, do you regard a foolish thing to do?”

“Why naming your new ship in such a contrary way, of course. I can’t think what megrim made you want to do so.”

“And contrary to what, exactly, my dear, is the name you refer to?”

“Why, contrary to common sense, for one thing, and public opinion for another.” Millie only very rarely felt bold enough to address her husband so directly, but she was both horrified and frightened.

“And have you ever known me to run away in the face of public opinion, Millie?”

“No, and you know that in most cases I admire that you don’t, though it often makes things uncomfortable for me in society. But this time it seems quite unnecessary. Surely there’s no good reason to name your ship ‘Friday the 13th’, flying in the face of convention and trampling on your friends’ sensibilities!”

Josiah turned to scan his family: his young sons, his wife’s mother, his sister and her baby in arms. “And you? Do you agree with my wife?” There was silence, and he could tell from the frozen look in their eyes that they did but were too frightened of him to say so.

“Well, then, the consensus among the women and infants is that I’m being foolish. My surprise is not overwhelming. In fact I expected it. It is exactly because of the foolish superstition of women, children, and men with the minds of children that I have done what I’ve done. It behooves me to announce that the idea that a ship’s name can have any effect on its success is rank superstition, balderdash, and codswallop. It defies the merest examination of the laws of nature or an even momentary application of reason. I have named my ship ‘Friday the 13th’ precisely to prove to all that it is so.”

“If you say so, my dear,” said Millie meekly. “I’m sure that you know best.” That she was lying did not cross Millie’s mind, so used she was to letting truth take second place to peace in the family and repose in her husband’s mind.

“I’m glad you agree, my dear. Tomorrow is Friday the 13th and the christening will be at sunrise, to allow for the ship to be launched at high tide. I expect you’ll want to be there.”

“Of course, my dear.” Turning to the family, she said brightly, “I’m sure we’ll all want to be there.”

“Oh, yes!” they replied with one voice. “We all want to be there.”

“Very good. I’ll look forward to your joining me. And by the way, I’ve engaged a captain. He’ll be joining us for the evening meal tonight, so please be in the drawing room promptly at 9:00 P.M. to greet him before we go in. His name is John Friday.” Josiah turned on his heel and left, too quickly to see the appalled glances the women in the family exchanged.

As they drew breath to utter all sorts of complaints, Millie held up her hand. “Not a word from anybody! I’m sure Mr. Whittlestone knows best.”

The next morning the family was gathered as ordered at the shipyard where ‘Friday the 13th’ was on the slipway ready to begin its maiden voyage. It was a substantial and majestic ship, a three masted barque. The fore and main mast, each with six sails square rigged, towered seventy feet over the onlookers. The mizzen mast was several feet shorter and rigged fore and aft, the sails making graceful skirts to its height. The sails, flaming yellow rose from the sun, just rising behind them, were a beautiful sight that caught the breath in one’s throat. The ship seemed blessed with the radiance of God. Surely nothing could be amiss with it.

When the mayor’s wife, who had been given the honor, smashed a bottle of champagne against the prow of the ship and loudly proclaimed, “I christen thee, ‘Friday the 13th’, the crew, assembled on the deck cheered loudly, ‘Hip hip hurrah!’ and again ‘Hip hip hurrah!’ There was a dreadful screech as the sailors began to turn the capstan pulling out the chocks that kept the barque on the slipway and then very slowly it began to move into the sea, a huge splash signaling when it was finally free and on its own. The breeze was brisk and off land, filling the sails, and the ship, after a very few minutes, disappeared over the horizon.

That was the last any of the folk standing there ever saw of it. It had disappeared not only over the horizon, but apparently into thin air.