It’s dark out. The moon barely shining through the clouds.
Tonight, the graves aren’t in our favor. We few dumb teenagers who dare traipse through rows of the dead.
Tonight we have no favor.
I hear it somewhere deep in the bowels of the graveyard. A tomb is opening. A coffin creaks. And I know.
“We shouldn’t be here,” one of the kids says again.
I say “kids” like I’m not one of them. Funny, isn’t it? To be honest, I’m the youngest one here.
Maybe it’s because I’m not as dumb as they are.
Well, not anymore.
“This way,” I call back to them.
They wanted to see the grave. The grave of Captain Cormick, the Bloodsail Pirate. Legendary evil lies in his tomb. Supposedly. The ghosts of over a thousand vessels dwell in his resting place along with him. Angry, malicious spirits, buried too soon.
Oh, and there’s supposedly a treasure map there too.
I’m not sure which really drew these dumb teens in, but they follow me willingly enough. We make our way through the copse of dead quietly. The moon hiding from what it knows is lurking here.
Honestly, I wish I could hide too.
But I don’t. I have to lead them to the grave.
“Hey, how much farther?” the leader-like kid asks.
There’s four of them, each playing their part. Arrogant leader. Bluffing right hand man. Comic relief third wheel. Scaredy cat in last. I didn’t mean to get a complete set, but I suppose that that’s how these things must work. It wouldn’t play out the same in every other horror movie otherwise, right?
“We’re almost there,” I say amicably. “Captain’s grave is the oldest in the whole place. So it’s at the very back of the graveyard.”
“Oh, that makes sense,” the right hand says.
It does make sense, because it’s true. Not once have I lied to these guys. Not when they asked about the evil, the captain, or the grave.
Not even when I told them they wouldn’t make it out alive.
Though, I’d said it with a playful grin, so they probably assumed I was kidding.
I might be a kid, but I was still a stranger. And I was leading them into a graveyard. What kind of morons just go with this sort of thing?
As we walk, I pause for just a moment. Only one. Right as I feel it.
It’s the most annoying thing about this whole situation. The tomb opens and I feel it. Doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, I feel it. Sometimes it wakes me up in the middle of the night, or I startle in class over seemingly nothing, or I slip in the shower because I know.
My part is almost over.
“This way,” I urge them, moving a bit faster.
We move deeper into the graveyard.
I’m the first to notice Scaredy Cat missing. Though I say nothing as we continue along. He’s gone three minutes or more when Third Wheel notices.
“Hey, where’d Josh go?”
The newly cut trio stops walking. They turn and look around a bit and then look at me.
I stop too.
I mean, why not? It’s not like it matters if we go any further. He’s already hunting.
“Hey kid,” Leader says, “where exactly are you leading us?”
“To the captain’s grave,” I reply truthfully.
They seem disbelieving so I point to a large building about two hundred yards away made out of marble. Clearly, it’s old, and very ornate. All over the marble are pictures, carved right into the stones. Depicting how treacherous and terrible the captain was.
Or is, depending on what you know.
Above the grave is a stone model of the captain’s ship. It’s looming over us, even from this distance. Just as treacherous looking as the waves it rides. The sails are seeping with red liquid.
Fresh blood, too.
The figurehead is ominous as well. Horrid. A skeletal creature stretches its arms outward, reaching toward us. I’ve always sort of thought it looked pitiful. Perhaps it’s a depiction of the captain’s lost soul. But it isn’t the skeleton’s skull that I see at the head of the skeleton.
It’s Scaredy Cat’s freshly severed head.
They scream before I do.
After all, it isn’t something new to me. And he’s their friend. Who wouldn’t scream about that?
Fear finally having arrived, the trio take off back through the graveyard.
“Running only makes him more determined,” I call out to them.
Of course, they don’t listen. They never do.
Ten minutes later, I see him.
His hat is covered in blood. It drips onto his vest, his shirt, his leather pants, his black boots. I see his cutlass, which is never in a sheath, trailing blood behind him as well. The only thing untouched by blood is his pistol, which I’ve never known him to use.
He’s dragging a bloodied stump along with him.
It’s the body of the leader.
Unceremoniously, he drops it in front of me.
Glowing yellow eyes fix on me. Blood dribbles into the captain’s wiry beard. I also happen to notice his fangs piercing his lips. A sure sign that he’s just fed.
He looks a bit… fuller than the last time I saw him. More human, less like a sack of bones.
“Good work boy,” Captain growls at me. “Young, full of blood. Vitality. Very nice meal.”
The first time something like this had happened, my stomach couldn’t take it. I’d thrown up.
Well, after this past year, I’d gotten used to it. Captain’s current appearance made it a lot easier on me too. When I’d first opened his coffin, he was bones and bat ears and fangs in a skull and empty eye sockets.
Luckily for me, when I woke him, he’d thought I was his loyal cabin boy come to rescue him.
Seriously, I can’t imagine anyone being loyal to this guy. Not when they have the choice to run away.
But, whatever. Some people are into the whole “becoming a vampire” thing. They cozy up to vamps just for the slightest chance at immortality.
I only did this to stay alive.
Every night, the captain sought me out.
And if he was hungry, he would feed.
The first night, he’d almost killed me. I’d woken up in his tomb next to him, panicking and scrambling to get away. Sure that it was halfway a dream. The next night, he went out and found himself a snack, then he came and visited me. Sucking out half of the blood I’d recovered. The next night, he gave me the lowdown:
Bring me something good to eat, and you get to keep your blood as a treat.
How nice of him.
The moon attempts to shine through the clouds, but it just can’t find the energy it needs to favor me with some light.
Not like the night has ever favored me anyhow.
“Boy, drag this carcass into my tomb. I want to make a new chandelier out of the bones,” Captain Cormick orders.
“Yes Captain,” I reply.
Grabbing the boy’s bloodied and mangled arm, I begin dragging him into the tomb.
Why couldn’t I have met a werewolf instead?