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He stood on the dock as the ship came in. It had been his ship, once upon a time, and he still thought of himself as her captain. He watched critically as they steered her in. He could tell that the man at the wheel- he couldn’t bring himself to say captain, not of this ship – didn’t know her as he did. With him, it had been a dance. He would waltz his Lady Anne home across the waves. This man was fighting with her.

He sighed. As the men disembarked, they walked past him without a glance. How cold they could be, to the man they once called Captain.

He followed them, drawn inexorably along with them by ties unseen. He had once called them his crew; he would never be far away.

He sat beside them as they huddled in the darkest corners of dingy taverns, whispering paranoia and suspicion into their ears. They slept fitfully as he stood beside their beds, casting dreams like nets. They dreamed of him as they had last seen him, bloody, battered, screaming curses at the men who destroyed him, the men who dared disobey him, as he sank beneath the waves.

This was their punishment, and his. He tormented those who had conspired against him, those who had killed him, but his spirit knew no rest. He was vaguely aware that he could free himself, that a single act of forgiveness was all it would take, but he was not a forgiving man. He was a Captain, as ruthless as the seas on which he sailed.

So he tormented the conspirators in their dreams, followed them and their ship – his ship – until the last of them expired, and none of them knew joy, peace, or rest.

© Kari Fay