Rivulets, miniature streams, tiny beads of water, all of these things run down the windowpane. Each chases the other distorted by lead glass. Outside the waves batter themselves against the cliffs. The howling wind carries the sounds of bones snapping and the soft thud of flesh against rock. The impact of the waves reverberates through the floorboards of the old house, timbers creek, tiny moans of protest from a century of storms. In candlelight, the house is transported to its youth, to a time it stood in defiance of the waves, instead of this worn out husk.
Dead sailors sit with you in the drawing room. They keep to themselves for the most part. Foul men tempered by whiskey and salt. Wet rotting wood and seaweed has become the smell you associate with the old sailors. It permeates the house.
The dampness is working itself beneath the blanket you’re wrapped in. You brace yourself as spray slaps the windowpane. When was the last time you saw the sun? This morning, last week? The storm has blurred time together. You close your eyes. Soft yellow light flickers against your eyelids. Clutching at the worn blanket, another bout of fevered tremors run through your body. Hot-cold, alive-dead, what is the difference at the moment?
One of the sailors has pushed his chair back. His pale blue eyes have fixed themselves on you. Can you feel your hands? You clamp your teeth in an effort to stop the chattering. He is massive. Moving in a slow liquid pace, he crosses the floor. His hands are black, stained with pitch, fingers the size of small tree branches. Are you awake? His face is swimming in front of you now. Blue eyes surrounded by craggy folds of skin. His eyebrows wild masses of white. You feel him staring into you. His eyes glow; ice, blue, cold, cold, cold… Open your eyes! You are unable to move. He leans into you. His face is perfectly framed by a shock of white hair; it floats around his head like fog. He is close enough that you can smell the breath escaping from his dry cracked lips. Whiskey and the ocean bottom, fetid vegetation soaked in brine. His mouth begins to move. The house is shaking. Can you see me? His eyes begin to glow as his mouth opens. Your screams are drowned out by the gale that escapes from between his teeth. The sound tears into you, nails ripping from wood, the wind whipping through tree branches. Waves crash into your body. Then all is quiet as you watch the waves bury you, and you are surrounded by darkness.