James Creole peered through his binoculars into the darkness. The lights were out on the bridge; all instruments were lit in dim red and his eyes had adjusted for the night.
James was acting on a rumour of a sighting of lost ship called the Orlova. The value in scrap would be more than enough to pay off his investors.
Nearby this millennial brat pointed a night-vision camera at his face. His name was Winston Harp; they were streaming live.
James looked into camera. “I know it’s out here. I can feel it.” He looked again into the binoculars at the dark horizon where the starry sky met the water. “I know that ship is out here. … There!”
He had sighted a large, vague object just over the edge of the horizon. He explained the angle to his navigator, and estimated the distance, and his navigator confirmed that no ship on public record was supposed out there.
They set their course.
“We’re going to find that lost ship,” James said. “They’ll put us on Wikipedia.”
But as they made their approach the ship did not become clearer. He rubbed his eyes. “No way,” he said. He looked into the camera. “Do you see this?”
Winston steered the camera toward the ship. “It’s glowing bright,” Winston said.
The ship was the pale and translucent image of a seventeenth century pirate ship; James was the image of a pale and enraged sea captain.
“The mic’s picking up this fizzing sound. I can feel it, like a subwoofer.”
“Goddamnit,” James said. “Not again!”
“It’s a ghost ship.”
“Isn’t that what we’re looking for?”
“Not a literal ghost ship. This is the fourth goddamn time!”
“It’s not cool. If we don’t scrap a ship I’ll be living in a refrigerator box.”
“Are there like … Ghosts over there?”
James sighed and shrugged. “Yeah, sometimes. They usually want you to find some ghost treasure, but when you find it it’s ghost gold or war bonds or whatever.”
“We should go over there. At least try to capture some audio. Dude. Our audience says we should go.”
“We’re streaming,” Winston said.
“Oh yes of course. Well, if strangers on the internet say so … I guess it can’t hurt to go look. Since we’re here.”
James, Winston and others leaned against the safety rail on the portside deck while their ship kept pace and alignment with the glowing white pirate ship.
On the other deck numerous pirates took combat positions with swords and muskets in their ghostly hands.
“You’ll never take us alive!” their captain shouted.
“We’re a little late for that!” Winston said, laughing.
“We’re hunting a ship to scrap it,” James said.
“Not ours, ya’ scurvy-shit!” the other captain said.
“No, sir!” James said. “It’s long and metal. Like ours. Bigger. The Orlova. Have you seen it?”
“Davy Jones’ locker!”
The pirates laughed. Winston laughed. James did not laugh. James stuck a smoke in his mouth and lit up. Puff puff.
“There,” he said. “You seen ghosts.”
“I seen the ship,” another pirate said.
“Shut yer mouth!” the pirate captain said.
“Tell us,” James said.
“Not for free,” the pirate captain said.
“Name your price,” James said.
“I want yer names.”
“We just have you give you our names?” Winston said.
“Aye, lad,” the pirate captain said, pinching his curly mustache.
“Don’t give them our names,” James said.
“No man, I got this. It’s a deal, bro!” Winston said.
“Aye!” The other captain said. “Now go ahead and tell them where’s the ship.”
The other pirate explained; “It’s about eight hundred fathoms directly below us.”
“Are you sure?” James said.
“I am!” the pirate said.
“I see. Well, I suppose we should give our names then,” James said.
“We already have them,” the pirate captain said, and he made a little salute. “Farewell.”
The ship vanished. They were alone.
The cameraman looked at the Captain and said, “I don’t get it.”
The Captain shrugged. “Well,” he said, “we should at least verify the claim. If we can go back with a location than at least we’ll have something. So, …” He looked at his sonar operator. “What’s your name again?”
The sonar operator looked suddenly flummoxed, and thought a minute, as though he’d been given a rather twisted riddle.
After along silence the Captain finally said; “goddamnit.”