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|The Hephaistions engines hissed to a halt as the freighter drew up alongside the desolate galleon.
Theo peered down at the ghostly ship in awe and trepidation,his mind reeling for a rational explaination at what he was seeing before him.
There was silence among the crew as they stared in awe and fear at the empty,lifeless deck below.
Dimitri came close to Theo and spoke with a low voice.
"Permission to board the ship,Captain?".
Theo stood for a few moments in contemplation. "Perhaps i will go with you.." He was thinking more along the lines of claiming any salvage that might be found on the old ship,or even hauling the old ship back into the nearest port and claiming at all for himself.
The clanking of the gangwalk down onto the Marie Clestes creaking deck startled Theo back to his senses as he watched Dimitri head for the gangwalk,signalling for two other of the crew,Vitaly and Alexei, to bring torches and any provisions they might need for the exploration of the deserted ship.
Theo sighed deeply and shifted his portly weight after Dimitri and the guys.
As they clambered onto the deck,almost deliberately hesitant,Vitaly and Alexei began to mutter amongst themselves voicing their unease upon boarding such a creepy ghostly vessel.Dimitri barked out a command in Russian which quietened the two crewmen,assuring them that there was nothing to be afraid of,even though his own heart was beating very fast.
Dimitri stood by on the main deck as the old ship heaved ever so slightly on the ocean swell,its damp wooden boarding creaking ominously with each slight roll and the sails of the two grandly masts flowing weakly in a gentle breeze.
Theo was breathing hard,as if he was worn out by the simple descent down the gangwalk.But it was his cancer that was leaving him listless,not just being out of physical shape,yet he did not want to let on to his crew of his terminal illness.
"Be careful of your footing,Captain.The Deck is slippery in places." said Dimitri as he held out his hand to support his Captain,visibly struggling to retain his composure.
As Theo set foot on the deck,a sudden hard wind caught the foresail and the foreboom creaked and swung hard towards Theo, and Dimitri,who had his back to the boom. Despite his listlessness,Theo summoned enough strength and lunged forward and tackled Dimitri to the deck just as the foreboom swung over their heads.
Dimitri lay on the damp deck, flustered and shocked by the potentially fatal blow they had just avoided,Theo's ungainly belly atop him.
Theo could not avoid gazing into the turquoise blue of Dimitri's eyes,and he felt his cock stir an erection in the confines of his pants,trying hard not to lose himself in the beauty of his first officer. Dimitri sensed the look in his captains eyes,and despite the fact that he had just saved his life,he felt uncomfortable at the captains prolonging gaze..and the alarming hardness in the captains crotch against his thigh.
Alexei came bounding over to the prone pair,rescuing both from the awkward moment.
"Captain,commander Zhukov, are you alright?", helping them get to their feet.
"No,we're not bloody alright.We nearly got our heads lobbed off by some creaky old boom-post!" barked Theo angrily.
Alexei looked sheepish,which made Theo feel apologetic for his sudden outburst.
"Sorry,crewman,i apologise for my snapping at you.Please secure the foreboom so we don't get a repeat of what just happened..and do the same with the main boom."
Alexei and Vitaly took off to their tasks to both masts.
Dimtri stood beside his captain,brushing himself down and regaining his composure. "So what do you make of this ship then,captain..?" "I see it as a potential profit.."
The mist floated around the ship,adding a sense of foreboding to their presence.
Dimitri wandered slowly towards the forecastle deck."I thought that the Marie Celeste was found deserted just off the Azores back in..when was it?" "1872" replied Theo heading the opposite way towards the quarterdeck and where he thought the Marie Celestes captains cabin would be. "The Dei Gratia,a British ship, found it drifting aimlessly not far from Santa Maria islands..and towed it back to its country of departure....Portugal" Dimitri raised an eyebrow at the captains mention of its point of origin as being Portugal. "Well, i hope we don't follow in its footsteps!" he joked weakly. "So why do you reckon its here like it had never been found?"
Theo shrugged. "I do not know?" "You seem to know more about this ship than i do,captain!" said Dimitri,watching the rigging on the mast swaying gently,almost hypnotically.
Theo had reached the door next to steps that went up to the open quarterdeck."I've read up a lot on sea lore and myths.It gives me something to while away the hours when i am in my cabin".
Dimitri had his back to Theo again.He saw an unsheathed cutlass sword on the ground close to his feet,its blade about two feet long and rusted a deep red,almost like it was blood.Un-noticed by the captain,or by Alexei and Vitaly,he reached down and picked it up,studying it and then tucking it under his jacket. 'Finders keepers!' he thought to himself,turning back to the captain as he creaked open the cabin door. "So why do you reckon they abandoned this ship then,captain?"
Holding open the cabin door,Theo turned to look at Dimitri, twitching his nose to indicate he smelt something. "Do you smell that strong overbearing odour that wafts this way now and again?" Dimitri nodded. "Yes,its alcohol." "This ship was carrying, 'is' carrying, hundreds of barrels of neat and grain alcohol across to New York.My guess is that the crew got caught in a storm or maybe even a seaquake,which is prone in and around the Azores..and they freaked out thinking that the violent shifting of the ship might cause a fire in the galley and lead to an explosion,ripping apart this grand old lady.."
Dimitri interjected.."So you reckon they took to the lifeboats and ditched this ship?" Theo shrugged,again. "Yeah..and my guess is they got lost out at sea and perished." He turned and left Dimitri to ponder the thoughts.
The creaking of the decks seemed more noticeable as Theo entered the empty captains cabin. A mariners chart was sprawled open across a large oak desk,beside it a broken oil lamp. Books were lined up on a small rack behind the desk,and upon a small cabinet nearby was a sextant,an old navigational instrument used to map the position of the sun and stars. Theo gazed around the room in quiet awe,and wandered across to the bookshelf,noticing the pages of the books had yellowed with age but remarkable remained in good condition.There was Dickens Pickwick Papers,a book on the American Civil War,a thick chunky book on the Crimean War and others. Theo mused to himself. 'Perhaps these books are worth some money by now!'
Suddenly,there was a low but eeiry howl of wind blowing through the cracks in the decking and under the door,and it un-nerved Theo. The wind howled softly again. Theo thought his ears to be playing tricks as he thought he heard a long low drawn whisper of a mans voice carry on the wind. "You have come at last to free me".
Theo spun around and gazed wide eyed around the cabin,but found himself alone in the room.
"Now,now Theo..theres no such things as ghosts.." he said to himself,trying to calm his nerves.
His eyes fell onto a dusty old mirror the size of an A4 sheet of paper,hanging up on the wall less than a foot from him. He thought he saw someone elses face leering back at him..Now his eyes were playing tricks on him, and that made his heart beat faster like a drum.
Swallowing hard,he wiped the dust from the mirror and sighed with relief at the sight of his own face.
"God,it must be the medication i'm taking!" he said,rubbing his eyes.
Then he looked back up at the mirror and almost fell over backwards...
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