A Warning to Thinkers

The other was a middle aged man who’d purchased his way on board with a very large bag of coins. It had been clear to our shrewd and calculating captain that he wanted to be out of England and in the Americas no matter the cost, and the captain had ensured that he exacted the very highest price from the poor wretch. He called himself a philosopher and a writer, hoping to find an audience in the New World for his thoughts and revelations deemed too radical for that of the Old. Looking back, I sorely wish I had pressed him on what it was he wrote and preached, for it would serve as a useful enumeration of what to avoid for those whom I am attempting to warn.

In any case, the going was good for some weeks. The seas were fair and the wind was favourable, and the captain and officers needed little from me besides my usual routines. So it was that one day, having idly wandered below decks during a point when I seemed not to be needed, I came to a sudden stop, straining my ears to hear more clearly the peculiar chanting which was echoing around the dark wooden passage. The fear it struck into my heart was enough to blind my senses to the movement of the wooden floor, betraying a suddenly tempestuous sea.

I grew more frightened as I approached the room in which I knew the priests were staying, and the chanting grew louder. Candlelight flickered under the door, casting long shadows along the floor. It was then that I heard the muffled whimpering which could only be a man restrained and in distress. My fingers strayed to the hilt of my little blade, but my courage failed me even at its reassuring touch. I feared to approach the door, and so I fled, back up the stairs, hoping to reach the captain’s cabin where he was holding court with his officers. The movement of the floor beneath my feet was now far more alarming, and I stumbled more than once.

Emerging on deck I found myself in the teeth of a gale, rain lashing at the sails and clouds blackening overhead. The storm had come out of nowhere, rocking the ship against great swirling waves the like of which I had never before seen. The captain and officers appeared shortly, and ran about shouting to the men as I stood staring up at the incomprehensible tempest. I managed to catch a junior officer, and shouting above the howl of the still-rising winds, which sounded increasingly like the screams of the damned, I informed him of the unholy chants and fearful whimpers below decks. Casting a look amongst the activity on deck to make sure his absence would not imperil the ship, the officer turned to follow me even as the darkness of night descended and baleful red stars began to burn overhead, though such should have been impossible with the rain harrying us with such fury even had it not been midday.

I led the terrified officer below decks, certain that the Hellish events must be the work of the black-robed ‘priests’ and determined to thwart them if such could be done by mortal men. The scene which greeted us as we entered was one which I have since seen many times. The priests stood in a triangle around the bound form of the philosopher, whose eyes bulged at the sight of us which must to him have seemed miraculous. The priests each held knives upwards in an attitude of supplication, as though entreating some spirit to attend their foul works. Such could not have been taken for anything but devil worship by any god-fearing Christian, and the officer did not hesitate. Two priests were dead before I had cut the philosopher loose with my blade, falling to swift and sure strokes of the officer’s sabre hefted with all the conviction of righteous outrage. The third escaped, ducking below the swiping blade and following the erstwhile prisoner as he ran for the stairs.

Following the two, the officer and I returned to the lurching deck, emerging into a nightmare landscape I fear is beyond my powers of description but which I must, to my horror, attempt to relate to you.

About me

This is me: home-writer, book-reader, dog-lover and occasional poet. I make this website to share my and my friends texts with You, dear Reader. Please: read carefully, don't be scary, upgrade your mood and be king and leave your comment. :)