“The ocean rolls and bubbles and foams. I look over the edge of the deck, all alone. All alone. I told everyone I would be back. That radio keeps crackling and crackling. I look over the side of the deck, and to the water, the waves rising and falling. The ones under the water look up at me. A figure looks over at me. A black shape set stationary against the water. And he is watching me. And he is getting closer. The waves rise. He disappears. The wave falls. And he is closer.
He whispers and calls. His wet hair matted against his face and lips. Mumbling. Mumbling. I try the radio again, and he screams. I ignore him, and try it again. But it is broken. It is broken. And it keeps crackling and going silent. I try to reach help, but they won't find me. I don't even know where I am. I look back to the deck. The lights on the deck have dimmed. I look off into the storm. The waves rise and fall. He disappears. Then he is on the deck of the ship. He smells of black clay under the sand. He is mumbling.
I am tired. Tired of trying to keep all this together. To keep all this together. He doesn't want me to do this alone. The sky sinks to a deeper gray, and the storm grows, the rain falling as sheets across the steel deck. And the figure of black stands on the deck and looks at me. The rest of the crew have already joined him. They are under the water, looking up at me, waiting for me over the railing. They couldn't find a reason to say no.
I am forgetting. There is a picture in my hand and I am forgetting. A woman. I don't remember why she is important. She is lovely. She is smiling. She is smiling. And the man on the deck keeps telling me to give him the picture. But I won't. The picture is important. I need to keep it. The storm will pass. It will pass and then I can go home. I can go back to port. Just have to wait out the storm. There is hail now, pattering on the deck. The dark void looks at me, little red eyes set far into his sockets.
I need the picture. He wants the picture. My mind feels distracted. I can't focus. I keep looking at the picture. It is all I have left. The only thing holding any of this together. I can't remember anything else. But I know she is important. He wouldn't want it otherwise. I can see the storm fading. The hail has stopped. The clouds are lightening. I just need to hold onto the photo.
But my knuckles are white. My hands are shaking.
And I am tired.”
It is late. It's another nightmare. No one is up right now except those with something wrong. Some people are working right now. It's unnatural, but they make it work. My dad did that for years. It eventually burnt him to a crisp. He is the strongest man I know, but you look behind the eyes and you can see the years you won't get back.
Loyd went out a little while ago. He will be back. Hopefully without bringing back something. There is a storm outside my window. In the distance. It isn't here yet. May not get here. Been quiet the last few weeks. Ever since they found the body on the tracks. I promised Margaret I wouldn't drink anymore, but I didn't say anything about smoking. Feels like it is supposed to relax me some. It kinda does. But I keep it outside. No need to keep her thinking about it.
Loyd is back. He is wet. Seems to be just water.
The lights are on in the neighbors house. That man from the train with the messed up face and his wife are sitting around the table. Marital problems probably. No one talks to their wife in the middle of the night at the kitchen table. No one with good news. I like these new neighbors mostly. Besides tonight they are mostly unobtrusive. Now that damn light from the kitchen is glaring. My head hurts.
Margaret is sleeping soundly. She started taking sleeping pills. In between my nightmares and her infrequent night terrors it became needed. My therapist says that is just stuff coming up. Making progress often brings up some of the things that have been hidden. Guess Margaret used to have night terrors as a kid. The attack by the Surgeon triggered something. Now she takes pills to sleep. She never told me about the night terrors.
Rain finally got here. The light in the neighbors kitchen is out.
We have to try hard to avoid stagnation. You would think that with all the strange things that have been going on that it would be hard for things to get stale. But when you spend time apart and don't get much time to connect it happens. Especially when things are wrong. The stuff that normally gets worked out gets put to the side. Until things are fixed. Her and I. We are good together. We just need to get through this. We just need to get better. To remember to not forget why we are there in the first place. We will go to a movie or something this weekend. I'll make it happen. Something funny.
Someone is knocking on the door. Who the hell would be knocking on the door at this time of night? Whoever it is they can go bother the neighbor. I don't care.
I went ahead and checked. Some guy in a hat. Looks like he is homeless. Lot's of those around here. He seems to be saying something, but I keep the light off and make sure he doesn't know I am watching.
Finally stopped knocking. He is leaving.
I was walking home today when a plastic bag got caught on my leg.
It is raining harder now.
Margaret talks in her sleep.