Day 433 Captain’s Log
I’ve been traveling the great seas with my crew. We’ve severely depreciated in numbers. One crew mate found another barrel of food we can share. I don’t know how long it will live on the ship, most of us haven’t had much to eat since early September. The ship itself is surviving the bashful waves of the dark ocean. We have been struck hard by the lack of land. We have several weeks left in us, but without food, we won’t last any longer than twenty dark, hungry, sleepless, protracted nights.
I start to doubt my reasons to record the expedition any longer, as there is no more movement in the waters. Do we stand still? There is no way to know, we have no point of reference. I left everything to explore the unknown ocean only to get stuck in what seems like a treacherous storm undercover. I regret my departure. We have reached no new perspectives in our ocean research. But I now don’t regret leaving my love, my wife and my life, my children. I pray they’re secure on land, in my hometown of Paris. I would die before letting them suffer this lengthy cruise that seems like a never-ending execution of my sanity. I fear no longer for my mother. I received a letter from my love informing me that my mother had become ill not a day after I left on this curseful ship. I hope when I die on this ship that I may join her on the other side of nature. God forbid my children weren’t by her side when she left. My oldest, Nicholas, named after myself, was her dearest grandchild, she funded his entire trip to the university of Paris. I leave now to watch the empty, dark and still water, waiting for the lord to take me in his hand, and meet my mother and father in the heavens.
Day 437-Early October 1984
The spirit of the lord has not yet left this ship. As of last night, we have a new member of our crew. A man who claimed to be on the ship as a runaway. He looked bony, pale, and had purple hues under his skin around his eyes. The crew did not take his hiding in the storage very lightly. Some even wanted to use him as sustenance. But he wasn’t well and he was bound to die on the ship anyway, so I couldn’t live with a man dying like this. I asked for his name, and took him to my cabin. He told me “Jack” as I helped him to lay comfortably in my bed. As he shut his eyes, he told me he had to run. He speaks like he’s gone insane, speaking of a “thing” who is haunting him. He believes that it is not on the ship, but before falling into a deep sleep, he whispered at me to “stay awake”. I consider myself a man of honor, but out of curiosity of this strange “runaway”, I searched his pockets. I then found a letter:
November 27th 1984
My dearest Marie,
I write to you now because I don’t have the liberty of time you possess. I hear the evil sounds in the dark of my mind, and the hairs on my neck rise. I hate yet I fear the thing unknown. I dread leaving you, for you will no longer have me to protect you from things that may come. Save yourself while you have time and freedom to do so. I love you always.
The way he spoke of his situation frightened me. I felt my heartbeat through my skin, and the hairs on my arms rose when I reread the line describing the evil sounds in the dark of his mind. What frightens me is the relatability of that line. More chilling than that was the date on the letter. Was it a mistake? Was it written almost a month from now? Despite my extended time on the ship, I know it is October, not late November. What brought this man to flee onto my ship? Worse yet, what has this man brought onto my ship?
I decided to wake the stranger this morning, I planned to ask about the inexplicable letter. When I did, he swiped the letter from my grip. He sighed and explained in a whisper that he didn’t want to speak of it. I assumed “it” was the unknown thing following him. I reached for a paper on the desk, holding it out towards him, gesturing to write his story. He nodded slowly, taking a hold of the thin sheet. Reading the story haunts me, but whomever may discover my dead, lifeless body, this dreaded ship and this cursed book, I can only assume you may feel inclined to know his life. Here is the paper on which he wrote:
My name is Jackson Heinrich Janssens. I am 25 years old. I was born in the city of Bruxelles. My childhood was like every other’s, besides the fact that I had no father. No, I had a father, but he wasn’t home. When I was a child, he left me, my mother, and my older brother, Maxime. That was a disastrous day I will never forget. Maxime was gone to school for the day, and I was home with my mother and father. That day, I was meant to go to school as well. But my mother kept me home because I had been doing terribly in my education. She had intentions to try to teach me herself, but my father didn’t like this. That morning my mother told my father that she had lost her job, so now she could homeschool me. He yelled at me and hit my mother.
I had disappointed him, even as a small innocent child. I wasn’t smart like the other children. He was meant to have an intelligent child like him. When he left that day, I remember seeing my mother cry for the first and only time. She held me until Maxime came home. From then on, she proceeded to teach me from home. But when she wasn’t acting as my teacher, she was working tremendously hard. She was an indefatigable mother and she soon became my greatest role model. But, like any other human, she was not immortally strong. She grew tired. I lacked much education in those years, but around my 18th birthday, I started working with her at a little bakery downtown, and she rested instead of proceeding to be my teacher. Her and Maxime were the only things of much importance to me. But that soon changed for the better.
One June morning, I met a wonderful woman at the bakery. She had shiny, smooth, wavy yellow hair down to her upper chest. Her soft dark green eyes had hints of brown and gold, and shone in the morning light when she walked into the store. She wore a summer dress down to below her knees. The light green on the dress brought out the yellow in her eyes. She spoke, her voice was soft yet expressive. She had a gregarious feel to her stance and speech. I had no choice but to look into her likeness and be with her.
We became close very quickly. I knew from the second I met her that she was the love of my miserable life. But how could someone so astounding fall in love with a man so poor, traumatized, and broken? That’s a question I will never know the answer to.
We both fell in love, and it was a love like no other. When she looked into my eyes I saw her mind, her wonderful, explorative, extraordinary mind. When she lay asleep next to me it was like I was in a dream. Her golden hair glowed in the evening light through the window. Her rosy cheeks were smooth yet firm, and she had a sweet innocent smile when she dreamt.
I felt content with my life. I had my wonderful wife, Marie. But as I’ve learned, bliss is only temporary. I awoke one night to a knock on my front door. Maxime was on my doorstep, crying on his knees. He brought me to our childhood home in his car, on the other side of town. I still can’t remember the way I really felt walking into my mother’s room. Her inanimate, lifeless, pale-yellow body laying on the bed. When I see my mother, just as I had done last evening, my first instinct is to embrace her tightly. But this time I couldn’t bring myself to do so. It was not my mother. My mother was already gone without warning or goodbyes. I lost myself that day. That was the spark that started the forest fire. But what I now prepare to explain to you, you must know; is chilling. Horrifying. Something that haunts my every waking and sleeping moment on this hell we call Earth.
That night; naturally, I had no urge to fall asleep when it came time. I was tired, in fact all I felt that day was fatigue, but I could not sleep. I sat at my kitchen table with a mug of dark coffee, staring at the burning candle in front of me that was the only thing keeping the room dimly lit. After long, the fatigue got to me. I started to feel some kind of connection to the candle. I wasn’t sure why, but I felt that I was represented as the fire, burning the wax.
As my mind pondered pointless things, I all of a sudden felt a chilling breeze down my neck and arms that extinguished the candle. I looked up, startled by the breeze. The candle re-lit itself, and I saw an enormous, dark shadow in front of me, with faded, angry, red-orange eyes. I dropped my coffee and vaulted from the wooden chair. I sprinted out the door, with not a thing on my mind except what I had just seen. There was not a doubt in my mind that it was real. The fatigue in my eyes left and filled with adrenaline as I continued to sprint down the street. I reached the end of the town and stopped at the woods. Breathless, I looked behind me. It wasn’t there anymore, but I was still shaken. I walked into the forest, away from my hometown.
I ended up coming to the conclusion that I needed to go to my family’s cabin in Marseille. The farthest away from the wretched thing I had just seen with my own two eyes. A very long time ago, my father built a cabin in the southern land of Marseille.
As the sun rose, I arrived in Waterloo. There, I found a man driving to Paris that very day. He was a nice man, probably around 55, had kids and a wife. I remember wanting to tell the man everything I had just experienced, but restraining myself. He would kick me out of the truck. I would sound like a madman speaking of a shadow with fire in its eyes that I saw in my kitchen. But I was no madman. I still feared the thing chasing my thoughts, and couldn’t find any sleep even in the four hour drive to Paris. Instead, I spent the drive thinking of my next maneuver to run. I thought of a friend of my mother’s in Paris, whom my mother used to have over when I was a child. He has a second home in Clermont-Ferrand, between Paris and Marseille. If I could convince him to drive me from Paris to Clermont-Ferrand, I would then only have to find the last 500 km to Marseille.
Once I arrived in Paris, I thanked the driver and made my way to Philippe’s abode. Walking down the busy streets of Paris, I feared that the terrifying shadow had followed me, and that all these people were in danger because of my presence. I still didn’t know why this thing was after me, but it is to this day my greatest fear.
I made it to Philippe’s apartment, and I asked him desperately to take me, or lend his car to me. Oh how tired I felt that day. I remember crying at Philippe’s dining room table, his confused face trying to reassure me. I thank that I didn’t blurt anything stupid, releasing my true motive to go to Marseille. He ended up taking me out to his car and driving me. Despite my best efforts, my eyelids felt the weight of my fear, and shut before I could jolt myself awake. I slept the entire way, but when I awoke, he hadn’t brought me only to Clermont-Ferrand. He had driven all the way to Marseille. I still wonder to this day why he did such a kind thing for me. Had it been in memory of my poor mother? Did he pity me? I was a sad, afraid man. I didn’t deserve any of this.
That moment was the first time I’d thought of my Marie at home. At first, I wondered if I hadn’t left her alone with the creature. I feared the worst, and decided I had to write to her as soon as I possibly could. I thanked Philippe and told him he didn’t have to go any further to the cabin with me. I wrote to my Marie and told her I was in Marseille. But other things, I didn’t tell her. I couldn’t. I didn’t want to cause her to fret about me or herself. I only told her not to worry, and that she hadn’t done anything wrong. I then sent the letter and walked down south through Marseille. I reached the coast, and the cabin my father built. It looked in shape, but dusty. From the information I had as a child, He had built it 22 years ago, but never went back after.
Waiting for my Marie’s response, I lived within the nature of the area. I fed on its fish and greens, and every day, I felt the connection to those awful eyes getting further and further away. I always thought humans were connected to nature, but I observed the connection of nature to nature. The grass that grows in the soil to feed the animals, and the animals who ate the grass became the food to the bigger animals. It was all connected, and I felt not connected, but a part nonetheless.
After long, the shadow was no longer a fear of mine, and a man brought me a letter from Marie. The letter was not full of worry, but of reassurance. She said she’d meet me in Marseille, and assuming she sent it multiple days ago, she wouldn’t be much longer. Excited, I cleaned up the cabin, made a fire and went to bed for the night.
The next morning when I awoke, there she was. The gorgeous woman I fell in love with, sipping her tea in the morning sun. We lived happily in the nature for a while, she enjoyed the mediterranean waters. I had no fear, no sadness. I felt like life was a small cup of dew in my hands, and I was bathing in the water.
We had a child, a wonderful blond young boy, with eyes like my mother’s and had an extraordinary laugh like that of my Marie’s. We played with him in the forest, showing him the way of nature at a young age.
But one night, I had an eerie feeling in my skin. I got up to get water, and he was gone. I awoke Marie and we searched and searched the forest. We had help, but no sign of him. Later they claimed to have found his body in the water, washed up, pale, skinny, his lungs filled with water. I broke again, like what happened with my mother, only worse. I didn’t sleep, and didn’t eat. I couldn’t bring myself to stay alive, when someone so innocent and naive couldn’t. But I thought of my love Marie, and her joyous likeness. I still had her.
Two nights after the death of my young son, I was in the woods collecting firewood, when I felt a chilling breeze. That wasn’t out of the ordinary around the sea, but it wasn’t an ocean breeze. I jolted around to look behind me, and what I saw was just what I feared would return. The lit eyes stared deep into my brain, and I heard it talk:
“Jack, you cannot escape my glare. I know you. I am you. You fear me, and I become alive.” I never understood what that meant. But I didn’t sit and think about it, I ran. I ran into the city. I wasn’t sure why this was my instinct, because I later realized I was endangering everyone near me, and that’s why I didn’t run to the cabin where my lovely wife slept. There, I stole a parked car, jump-started it, and drove over the speed limit the entire drive. I didn’t know where I was going, but I had to keep driving.
Hours and hours later, I found myself at the place where I first saw the monster. My old home. I walked in, and looked at the table where I had run so fast. Everything was empty, lifeless, and I decided to sit in the same spot. I was shaking and sweating profusely, but I stood my ground.
“I’m not afraid!” I yelled, my body shaking. I don’t know why I did that. It was probably the stupidest thing I could’ve done, but I felt compelled to do it. The shadow arose from under the table, slowly and smoothly, I shuddered and gasped. It reached for my forehead, and seemed to plant its finger in my mind. I felt an inanimate force in my body use my corpse of muscles and bones to grab a pen and paper. It was writing a letter. A letter to my Marie. The letter you most likely have read. I shuddered at the confusing accuracy. But when I-or it-wrote the date, it felt as if I had just received the date of my execution.
The shadow finished writing and fled quickly. I read the letter over and over again, but soon came to the conclusion that I had to leave. I folded the letter in four, and put it in my pocket. I pushed in my chair and left the home. When I got in the car, I planned to go back to Marseille. I was not the slightest bit fatigued, because the fear coursing through my veins kept me awake. I drove with nothing on my mind but my Marie. Arriving at Marseille, I left the car where I had found it, and ran down south through the forest.
Arriving at the cabin in the morning, I embraced my Marie. That was the last time I saw my love. The next day I left. I wanted to keep her wonderful soul clean of my dirt. That’s when I boarded this ship where I hid for months. I since haven’t seen the monster, but I think of it, and I shudder and cry. I miss her. Her warm smile is engraved in my memory as the single best thing to exist in this cruel world.
Day 438 Captain’s Log
Jack was an interesting man. After reading his story, I saw him very differently than I had before. Before, I saw him as a lowly, poor man. Maybe even a criminal trying to run by boarding a ship without knowing where it was going. Now I see a broken shell of a man. A man so shattered that he cries at the thought of the love of his life. I am frightened of not this man, but what he entails; the shadow with the fire eyes. I hadn’t seen anything on the ship so far, but the monster spoke saying that his fear created him. How would my new knowledge affect the monster’s possible appearance before me?
I don’t care what day it is. The man whose book this belongs to is gone now. So is his crew. Every last one of them. It was me. I did it. I don’t know why. I don’t know how. One moment I was speaking with Captain Nicholas, the man whose book this is, but then he asked me about my mother. And my son. And my Marie. I broke. The fire rose in my body. I blacked out, and next thing I knew I was in the black storage hatch of the ship. Blood. All over my clothes, face, arms and hands. I walked out to the deck and they were all gone. Lifeless bodies like that of my mother’s and my son’s. I was the candle. They were the wax. The dark navy water surrounding the ship felt like an abyss that went on forever. Like a shadow. The ship sat still in the supernaturally calm sea, like it had nowhere to go, nothing to do but either die or suffer eternally.
My only motive of being on the ship was protecting my Marie. All I wanted was her. But even before I didn’t deserve her, now I deserved her even less. I had murdered two dozen people? Me? It felt so wrong. Why? Was I angry? Was I saving them from an eternity on this cursed ship? I don’t remember. All I know is; I can’t go back to her. A new letter must be sent, one of comfort instead. And I mustn’t return to her.
My wonderful Marie,
I want you to know I love you. You brought joy to my miserable life. The thought of you always and forever will bring joy to my soul. Despite these things, I’ve found another path for me. I must leave. But don’t mistake this for your wrongdoing. You have been the single most extraordinary thing about my life. But it’s best for me and for you that I mustn’t return home. I will miss your sweet sweet smile and your wonderful green eyes, please never fret about me. I will be at peace. I will dream of you every night, my love. Promise me you will do the same, just so that I can see you again.
All my love,