Free Story–Prologue: Fears of a Fisherman

Fears of a Fisherman

 © Copyright 2010, Tilly Rivers™ Inc.

Prologue

 January, 1812

 The small wooden vessel cut through the waves as if hell itself was before the mast.  Darkness shadowed the water in a thick fog-covered veil.  The moon cast no light against the impenetrable blackness of the night. 

Alone, Benjamin Gray, a British seaman, was entering a “dead spot,” an area on the dark bog where he could not hear the somber warning tones of the bronze bell from the lighthouse on the island ahead.  The configuration of the waters around the island caused these “dead spots” where skeletal frames of gutted ships lay in ruin, destroyed by unseen rocks. Here countless crews perished, not hearing the resonant warning tones of the huge bronze bell. 

Gray’s mind was not on his journey, but on the dead Americans in the belly of the boat.  He had been ordered to take the bodies swathed in canvas shrouds across the bog to a swampy spit.  This was not the first time he had been to the island, where he would hastily bury the bodies, recent causalities of the war of 1812 in shallow graves–in unhallowed ground.  Gray detested burying these men in unmarked mass graves where they were to lie rotting in the damp forsaken ground for eternity.  He had been a member of the clergy, and had never intended to be in the Royal British Navy.  Pressmen had taken him at a port in Liverpool and forced him into involuntary service.  He had no choice and he prayed when it was his turn to meet his maker that they would forgive him.

He was the sole witness to the location of the bodies of these unfortunate men, he became their sexton, recording names, causes of death, and location of burial in his small leather bound journal which he fearfully hid in the center of his old Bible. It was the least he could do, his way he supposed of honoring the lost souls in some small way.

Gray did not take the deed lightly he would go to the gallows if caught, a risk however that he was willing to take. Had to take!  He had become a man obsessed with making right the frightful wrong he had done in the shameful disposal of the bodies of these men, his brothers in Christ. 

With each regretful visit to the miserable island, Gray could not help but feel the most disquieting aloneness, a sadness for those forgotten, buried here for all time where families or friends would never pay their respects.  Gray had a premonition that was upon him this night like a creeping disease—revenge for the dead… would have its day…

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