Beware of Ghosts (Story by Risa Peris)

And there was the green ghost. Something was stalking us on the ice but more of the men were scared of the green ghost that stalked us from the sky. We were in the Arctic. The Franklin mission disappeared though bones were found with suggestions of cannibalism. Then Amundsen came through and found, by luck or expertise, the Northwest Passage. Now we were traveling the same waters to reach China. Russia first. We had to buy provisions. Then we would collect, like a grocery list, all the things we needed for China for His Majesty and the traders and insurance men who were counting on our arrival back to home port in England.

But there was the green ghost.

“It’s the Aurora Borealis,” I told the men. “No ghosts.” But with each flash of light, there was a crackling. We were nearly frozen in the ice and the men were depairing. Many went onto to the ice. They fell to their knees goggling at the light show in the sky.

“It’s a ghost,” said a crew member.

“It’s out to ruin us,” said another.

I couldn’t abide by this as Captain. I went onto the ice. “Get back to the ship,” I yelled, “Or you will all get twenty lashings.” The threat did nothing. The men were immovable on their knees. I looked up into the sky and saw beings floating in the air. I had lost both parents and siblings to illness. I thought I saw their likeness in the sky.

“Mother, father….” I said. I stayed on the ice for hours. The cold was incredible and the enamel of one of my teeth exploded. Men came for me. They drug me back to the ship.

“It’ll be alright Captain. It will. Just ghosts. They can’t hurt you.” It was the cook. “Have a warm biscuit.”

“We will die on this ice,” I spoke with a trembling voice. “We will die.”

The leader below me took charge and we reached Alaska. Then we reached Russia. My brain was still numb. I came on deck.

“We’re those ghosts? Back there?”

“Ghosts of your mind captain. But don’t worry. We made it.”

Ghosts of my mind? I suppose many minds are haunted and melting from fear. I made my second in command in charge. But when I looked at his eyes I saw fear. Are all of us haunted?

We sailed to China and my second in command slit his throat at the port. We were all shaken and we all agreed we were haunted. The boat went no further than Shanghai and we all disappeared into China.

My last entry in the ship’s journal: Ghosts killed us and thwarted our goals. Be aware of ghosts.

THE END

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