The Docks

This is a Story that is directly connected to my other stories - Inspired by a picture of a dock.

Have you ever felt the ocean calling to you? Like, really calling out to you, screaming your name; requesting your presence, asking you to join it in the unknown as you sail away from any and all problems that may exist in your life? I have, frequently. To me, the ocean is like a mother that calls for her kin to come home, exclaiming that it’s getting late and they need to return to the safety of her arms. I’ve seen the ocean waters literally every day of my life, and each morning they try to pull me into their depths. So far, I’ve managed to ignore them, and live my life in a humbling manner.

I’ve lived on a dock my entire life; I actually inherited the house that connects to the dock from my father, who inherited it from his father, and so on. The home has been in my family for more generations than I could possibly count, but each of the recent new owners has come into possession of the home under what have been claimed as ‘mysterious circumstances’. Allow me to explain that more thoroughly. It started when my great grandfather owned the house. The day my father was born, both of them seemingly vanished in the middle of the night. This was a long time ago, so if they had to leave, it wasn’t like they could send a text or an email or anything, but to just disappear with no one in the family knowing where they could have gone was obviously unusual. Nonetheless, no foul play was ever discovered, and my grandfather took ownership of the home.

While this may sound like the thing that urban legends are made of, it wasn’t the only time this happened. It actually occurred again, the day that I was born. Both of my grandparents disappeared from existence on that day, never to be seen again. After happening to two separate generations of our family, my father begged me to not have children until after he and my mother passed away; I took this a step further and simply told him that I would end our family line with me. Not having children is a fairly common thing in our modern world, right? So, if it meant saving my parents from whatever supernatural thing had cursed our bloodline, so be it; I would be the last born Van Amstel, and my parents would get to see their golden years.

Or so that’s what we thought. Whatever entity cursed our family was not satisfied with our plan. We thought we had created a loophole to something that didn’t even exist in our corporeal world, but in reality we had simply angered it. Where my grandparents and great grandparents had simply vanished in the night, my parents were not afforded such a luxury. Instead, On my eighteenth birthday, I came home from a day in town to find them both brutally murdered. Their bodies were horribly mangled, as if attacked by rabid wolves, and their faces barely recognizable. The only thing I could be certain of when I saw them was that their death was not peaceful. I phoned the police, obviously; but nothing ever came of their investigation, they never found what or who had slaughtered my beloved mother and father. Hell, they never even gave me as much as a courtesy call to see how I was holding up after finding them.

On this day, I inherited the boat house, the dock, and the land that extended on the shoreline. There was no money owed on any of it; several generations of my family had lived there, and had an agreement that the property was basically detached from any town or government. While the home was old and the planks that held it together most likely decrepit, and while every room was lined with a thin layer of salt from the air wafting off the ocean; this was my home. I was then the proud owner of a cursed house and a crime scene. And let me tell you, I wanted to leave. I immediately called a realtor and set up a time for them to come out so we could get an estimate on how much cash I could make off the property.

The day after I had put the home up for sale, I received a letter. I nearly threw it in the bin with the rest of the junkmail, until something about it caught my eye. The envelope was crusty, yellowed with age, and stained with god knows what. As I examined the filthy exterior, it was then that I noticed that the letter had no postage, which meant it would have had to have been hand delivered. Furthermore, while the letter was addressed to me by name, the return section had no address, it was simply labelled “Charles Van Amstel”; my great grandfather’s name. I was certain it was someone messing with me, but then I read what the note actually said.

“My dearest great-grandson, end of the Van Amstel Line. I am writing to implore you to reconsider selling the land that has been in our family for so many generations. The land that my great-great-grandfather inherited from his father, the house that he built with his own hands, the home that you grew up in, it doesn’t belong to you, nor our family. It belongs solely to the depths of the ocean. When my father claimed the land, he was forced to make a pact with an entity that dwells within the cold waters around our home, an entity that promised protection to him and his kin. He has kept that home standing, he has kept all intruders off the land, and he has kept our family safe for hundreds of years. The pact between them stated that we would hold the land as ours until our bloodline ended, then the ocean would reclaim it all. Your parents convinced you to end the family name, a decision that means you are the last caretaker of the property. Your parents, my grandchildren, attempted to give the land to someone else as well, and you know their fate. They tried to break the promises of those before them, and we cannot let you try to do the same. I beg of you, please, do not follow in their footsteps. Keep the house in your name until the end of your days, and I promise you, you will find salvation.”

The letter ended with a loving note and a signature that I was certain to be my great grandfathers. I had to assume that this letter from the other side was real, that he had written this warning, which meant I had to heed it. I contacted the realtor and informed them that I had changed my mind, I delisted the home entirely, and for some reason that defied logic, I accepted that my long dead relative had written me this letter from beyond the grave to help me. A notion that was confirmed by the second letter, this one also from my great-grandfather. This letter simply stated; “You’ve done the right thing. He will be watching to make sure you continue to do so. Keep him happy, and you will be rewarded.”

This letter took a much more ominous turn than I had hoped for. How was I supposed to keep him happy? Was living in the house until I died of old age enough for this entity, or would he want more? All of these questions floated in the back of my mind as I contemplated whether or not death would be the easier way out of this whole situation.

The next morning, I stepped out of the house to the thickest fog that I had ever seen. To say visibility was next to nothing would be an understatement, I could barely see the dock from the front door. The fog remained steadfast, as if it was not a rolling cover, but a stationary one that held its grip on my home. I don’t know how I knew it, but I knew that this fog was sent by the sea, by the entity that I was to keep happy. I walked slowly out onto the dock, my feet carrying me without any conscious thought, and I stared out onto the water. I stood in place for several moments, just staring at where the haze met the waters of the ocean, and for a moment, I swear that I saw something staring back. The outline of eyes that burned crimson glowed faintly, almost as if they were a beacon shining to guide me the right way. I wanted to scream, I felt as if the stare of this being was enough to drive me to insanity, but it also felt familiar. It was almost as if that familiarity kept my heart from exploding out of my chest, and my mind from melting.

As the glow of the eyes dimmed, and I could no longer feel the stare of this being, I noticed that the fog lifted almost immediately. This was the first morning that I felt the pull of the ocean, that I felt like this was my fate. It was one that I didn’t expect, one that I didn’t necessarily want, but it was a path I had to follow.

The second morning of the fog occurred approximately a week or so later. Once more I walked out onto the old boards of the dock, once more I stared into the eyes that held their focus on me. This time, however, the creature was not the only thing in the fog; my attention was pulled away from the thing in front of me, and to what appeared to be a small fishing boat slowly drifting toward the side of the dock. As it slowed to a stop, I noticed that there was a man lying on the deck of the boat; he appeared to be badly beaten and completely unconscious. I pulled him from the ship and carried him into my home, placing him in my spare bedroom as gently as I could.

The next morning when he awoke, he slowly crept down the stairs and asked me where he was. I explained to him that I found him on a boat that had floated onto my shore. At first, he seemed a bit cautious with me, but after looking around and seeing that it was only me in the house he relaxed slightly. I offered to make him breakfast, asked him if he wanted anything in particular, and then joined him for a meal at the dining room table. I watched him as he ate the food I had prepared, all of his concern had been clearly thrown out the window as he wolfed it all down like he hadn’t eaten in a long time. When he finished, I decided it was time to see if I could get any information out of him; I asked him what he remembered, if anything.

He initially held himself in a rather obstinate manner; refusing to discuss anything. I pressed him further, requesting anything he felt he could tell me. After a bit of back and forth he started talking. He said that he and a small crew of his friends had gone out on his fishing boat, that they were supposed to only be out for a day or two, and then would be returning home. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, on the morning of that second day, a thick fog rolled in over the water, and they had floated off course. He said that, while the fog was a problem and they were floating blind, he was initially confident that they were going to be alright as long as they kept a calm head and waited it out. As he mentioned this, he seemingly veered off track and went quiet.

I mentioned that he was the only one left on the boat when it reached my dock, and then asked him where the rest of his crew was. He then told me that they had gone insane; that they claimed there was a being in the fog that was watching them, and they all abandoned ship. He said that they all just jumped overboard, and never came back up. There were no bodies, there was no trace of them after they dove in- they just simply stopped existing. He attempted to drop the fishing nets into the water to pull them back up, but no matter what he did, they weren’t there. It was then that he had lost hope; he fell to the floor of the boat and just stared up at the grey sky, and the next thing he knew, he was waking up in my bedroom. I accepted his explanation, there was no reason to question him. Part of me had a feeling that I was supposed to help this man, that this was part of keeping that thing out there happy, and I was happy to nurse him back to health. Once he felt up to it, he bid me farewell, and he took a cab back to town.

This happened several more time; I would wake up to an impossibly thick fog. I would stare at the glowing red eyes, and then my attention would be drawn toward strangers floating toward my dock and I would give them a place to sleep. I would feed them, I would discuss what happened to them. In almost every single instance, there would always be mention of the crimson eyes, of that being. I started to feel curious about whether or not that thing was causing the horrible things that were happening, if it was taking those that it wanted, and leaving the others to me to take care of. In the end, it didn’t matter, I did what it wanted.

This morning, however, the call of the ocean was stronger than it had ever been. I couldn’t sleep, I could barely even close my eyes as the night dragged on. Something in my mind was telling me that something more was going to happen, and it did. This morning I woke up to that same blinding fog; to that same cold, salty breeze blowing in my window. I stepped through the same routine I had several dozen other times; I walked outside, I stepped over onto my dock and I stared up into the fog. This time, the stare that the crimson eyes held over me was placated, something about the way it looked at me was no longer threatening. It was… inviting. That morning I felt the ocean calling to me, really calling out to me, screaming my name and requesting my presence. It was asking me to join it in the unknown, he was asking me to join him.

On this morning, the boat that slowly drifted in my direction had no occupants. The small craft that was in front of me was devoid of life; there was no one to help this time. It was a small sailboat, well built, and designed for one person. This boat was for me, this was my chance to leave. The entity that had been watching me for several years, that had kept my family safe for generations, had decided that I had paid my debt. I had shown it my loyalty, and It was time for me to join this being out in the depths of the ocean.

My eyes watched as the small boat rocked in the waves that were cutting away at the shoreline. Through the thick fog I could make out the one word that had been painted on the side of the boat in a coarse, red paint.