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by KH Obergfoll about a year ago · updated 4 months ago
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Lana Reyes pushed through the crowd on Fifty-Seventh and First Street in the bustling town-square as she passed under faded green arches. The vining trails of jasmine and honeysuckle clung to the cracked stucco as she took in the scents of her seaside garden wanting to remember every second of peace before full chaos ensued. She was only a few hundred feet away from the docks as she ran quickly down the stone encased steps making her way over to the dry wooden structure that jutted out along the coastline.

Her once vibrant city was in shambles as townsfolk tried their best to recover what had been lost in the recent attack on their port. It was evidenced that their worst fears had come true; shells of dark ships with hole-filled hulls had swept in with the tides that Saturday morning—their tattered flags were all the sign of life that remained on board as locals scattered from the beached vessels and covered their eyes. It was in that desecrated washing, a slew of armored ships were seen inching their way in from the distant horizon—a sign for the masses that trouble was brewing. The harrowing stories went something like this—it was rumored that if a city was to get a visit from an unmanned ship, or in this case, if that ship was to wash up on shore, a swift mark of death would be placed on all who had seen it.

Normally this wouldn’t bother someone like Lana Reyes who was always up to her own adventures but she had to wonder if the stories were true, she had to know. After witnessing hundreds of people she knew die at the hands of unseen attackers, bringers of death that rolled in the unsettled fog carrying large balls of fiery liquid to hurl at the sides of her coastal fortress, intent on killing all who lie inside.


In the frenzy, Lana had managed to burrow behind a couple of barrels as she did her best to remain hidden. When she awoke the next morning, it was to a deafening silence. The town was filled with the musty scent of gun-powder and sea-salt. She sat up realizing the ghostly pirates hadn’t claimed her life, at least not yet. This notion gave her pause, filling her with more questions than doubts. After all, she had listened to those around her be killed off one-by-one only hours before, why was she spared?

As Lana ran along the creaking boards out to the furthermost point of the docks, she stopped just short of the last plank. Her eyes focused intently on the distance as she scanned the horizon for any sign of movement. It was only a matter of time before the ships returned and she wondered what they would take next. Lana sat on the edge of the dock as she watched pieces of shipwreck floating just yards away. She knew the ships weren’t from her city but she knew someone somewhere was missing their crew –and as her father always said—that was just the unfortunate nature of the beast.


These ghost ships and their pirate crew invasions were never something reported or discussed in the traveling paper but amongst the town folks it was surely seen as a sign of defeat, a nightly pummeling of savage attacks that would take place from dawn to dusk until the last of the ships pieces had sunk to their watery graves. Daylight brought little peace as the blackened tides recoiled and the imposing pirate ships slinked back into the erupting sunrise, it was merely a chance for the towns-folks to regroup and collect their dead and injured, and then, to count their blessings...for they, they had survived.

They, like Lana had been given another day to live.

Of course some thought this was how the ghost ship brigade grew in numbers, taking the lives from each port city. The missing had to go somewhere; something about these ominous ships—clad heavily in thickly bolted black steel with black and gold dipped flags got Lana’s attention.

These were unlike any ship or fleet she had seen in all her years of helping her father work abroad. These ships moved as one, silently gliding through the water casting large rolling waves of black inky water towards their destination. It seemed no one had lived long enough to report back about encounters with the captain or the crew but it was rumored to be manned by the soulless ghosts of pirates past, or in the least, those were the stories Lana had been told by her father’s crew.

Naturally Lana scoffed at the idea of unmanned pirate ships, ghost ships or deadly fogs. She brushed them off as old-wives tales or something meant to keep kids from picking pieces of shipwrecked wood out of the water for fear of having them fall in and getting sucked into the dark waters below. It was never anything Lana put much thought in, that was, until the ships started inching their way closer to her port.


She could feel the air changing as the water became choppier and the breeze crashed into her skin, cutting and whipping around her like hundreds of barnacles.

In the distance, the skies grew immobile as thick fog seeped out of the wall of ships, climbing atop the waves as she watched, frozen. It was then Lana turned back only to realize she was the last one on the forlorn dock; the city had all but closed up behind her as she made the mad dash back to safety, but there was no way in.

She looked up hill towards the edge of the fort; the smouldering hole-filled rock walls were barely standing. It was too late, she would have to save herself.


Lana scrambled up the grassy embankment, she was running out of time; the normally hot and humid air was dense and difficult to inhale the closer she got to the water. Each breath felt like a sharp glacial burn deep in the pit of her stomach as she raced along the edge of the water nearest the fortress walls. Occasionally she would glance up at the twenty foot high stone towers and jig-saw like embrasures at the top of the barriers that once held her safe but now she was all alone and needed to think fast. She soon was out of the clearing and nearing the woods. A set of caves were nearby and she needed to get as far away from the Fort as she could.

This was the only way she thought she could survive this newest set of attacks and all she had to do was make it through the next several hours until the fort re-opened the main gates at sunrise. That was when the last of the ghost ships would retreat into the horizon but as she neared the first set of caves it soon became clear that something wasn't right.

In the choppy water below, a large ship—barely able to fit in the tight alcove— bobbed furiously as she watched smaller ships lining up on the other side to begin their barrage of attacks on her home. Lana crawled along the edge of the tree-lined cliff trying her best not to be seen. It appeared that the larger ship was the leader of this pirated group of misfits but it wasn't actually doing anything. Lana could have sworn the larger ship was controlling the rest of the fleet.

From her vantage point Lana could see hazy clouds of ghostly pirates—skeletonized and unkempt—drifting over the edge of the fort as musket balls and other makeshift weapons tore through their translucent bodies in several unsuccessful attempts to rebuff them but it only seemed to anger them more. In response the ghostly front-lines pulled fiery swords and incendiaries out of thin air, summoning the signal to invade as they swarmed together like a mob of angry wasps gearing up for the kill. Her city stood no match.

She knew the only way to stop this savagery was in her hands. She had to get down to that ship somehow and see if she could persuade the captain to cease his bloodshed. As she was about to make her move hundreds of pirate ghosts swarmed around the cliff flitting past her with their mist-like tails barely grazing the top of her head. She held her breath and clung to the tree roots as she felt the icy air sting her skin, whipping around her body like a tornado. Once she was sure they were all but gone, she slowly descended the Cliff-side. As she neared the halfway point where the cliff edge met the beached ship she was once again face to face with one of the pirate ghosts. She dared not to breathe as she felt his gaze and then as if she wasn’t there, he passed completely through her. Startled Lana wondered why these ghostly pirates didn’t seem to notice her.


Lana ran past the rushing tides as she grabbed on to the sand-logged anchor and climbed her way up to the ships side. It was nothing more than a surprise once she boarded and realized no one was stopping her. And as if carried by the wind, she heard a voice rush past her ears—“I have been waiting for you” the Captain snarled, his deep and haunting voice barely an octave over the churning water below. Lana stood before him, her legs held strongly as the boat rocked from side to side.

“What do you want from me, from us” she yelled back in defiance. On the top deck a well-dressed man with blood-red regalia and an oversized black leather hat came down the stairs taking each step one-by-one, his bejeweled hand gently grazed the handrail as he floated down in front of her, the tips of his fingers capped in a dark powdery-film.

She wasn’t sure what exactly she was looking at but he seemed to know her. “I want nothing” he smiled tauntingly, “I am Captain Hector Reynaldo Villanueva and this is my ship—The Black Revenge,” he stopped circling Lana, his piercing eyes gazing through her as he stood inches from her face.

He paused, smiled again, this time more gently.

"But the real question is, do you know who you are” he inquired as he continued pacing around her unfazed by the ships constant and unrelenting movement.

This was a stupid question. Lana stood silently before reciting her name—“I am Lana Maria Reyes, daughter of Manuel Luis Reyes and Ava Sophia-Lorraine Reyes, keeper of the Port of St. John” she declared.

“Correct my dear, that you are, but did you know you are also a pirate’s daughter” the forlorn Captain continued. “Why do you think you haven’t been killed? Your father was one of my best men. I remember you from many years ago but his recent refusal to join back into my ranks has brought havoc onto your portly city. Now it is time to merge again and re-enter a better world. I want to make a peace offering, all of the pillaging and plundering is wearing my ash-less bones to pieces. I need someone to take over and man the seas in my absence. Relinquish your monotonous life in the port and rule the fleet until my return. Your acceptance of this offer means many years of peace and prosperity for what is left of your town, your family, your father and yourself”. As Captain Villanueva made his way around the deck, he held his arms out wide, “this ship, The Black Revenge as well as all the ghostly fleet can be yours…”

“What do you say” Captain Villanueva sneered, “do you accept?”

Lana paused to stare at his filthy outstretched hand, a feeling of dread welled up in the back of her throat. She knew this was the only way, her father would have to understand and with that, they shook. A feeling of disgust flooded her body as the ghosts began to drain back into the ship beneath her feet. A low growing rumble shook the vessel as it began to take on power and with that Lana realized they were headed back out into deeper waters.

About the author

KH Obergfoll

Mid thirties--Writing my way through life, looking for the next great adventure!!!

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