A terrifying encounter on his favorite boat.
Voice AgeMiddle Aged (35-54)
Note: Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and may contain errors.
Gravel crunched beneath Leland Parsons boots as he crossed the harbor yard in the early morning mist, eager to get a look at his boat. This was by far his favorite moment of the year when the ice had thawed and he could inspect his precious sailboat for the first time since the winter and prepared to launch her in the water. He increased his pace, hands trembling with excitement, already imagining the smooth rolling motion of the boat riding the water. The first sale of the season always felt like a maiden voyage, and there was nothing else like it on earth. For Leland sailing was freedom away to escape the small main town in which he had spent his entire life anchored there by his mother's failing health, and his own fear of abandoning the only life he had ever known all through the long winter as the snow piled high against the walls of his house and tuning him in its frigid stillness. He had anticipated getting back out on the water and now the day was finally here. Leyland rounded the corner and his eyes lit up. There She was! The sea nymph! She may not have been his first love, but she had certainly been his most faithful. He had sailed her for eight years now and he knew all her curves, all her sleek lines on this boat. He felt free. She was his home away from home. The one place where he felt at peace. The boat was shrink wrapped, covered in a tight, protective cocoon as it awaited its new birth. He ran his hands over the film murmur into the boat that she would soon be free again as would he. He located the ladder and climbed up to the deck, eager to smell the interior of his boat to get a good look at her for the first time in months, unzipping the small door in the rap, he descended the narrow staircase into the cabin. It was dark, lit only by the faint glow of early daylight coming through the shrink wrap above and behind him. But he did not worry about turning on a flashlight. Why would he need one? He knew this boat as well as he knew his own bed. Its darkness was comforting like that of a womb. Only. What was that smell? Something dank and oily, like the smell of a dead fish in the sand had something spoiled. He was sure he had emptied the meat cooler before leaving the boat. It was one of the first things he did, as he prepared to vote for winter. Maybe I didn't clean it properly. He thought, trying to come up with some explanation for the unusual smell, could have left a bit of spilled blood somewhere. Yes, there was that smell to the minerals scent of blood. He must simply have failed to clean up properly after one of his meals. It was unusual since he was generally so careful to keep his boat tidy, but everyone made mistakes now and then, didn't I? He would simply have to clean up the blood, and suddenly he froze. There was a shape hanging in front of him, a large shape that ought not to have been. There had something been left there by the harbor crew, had wrapped up the boat. If so, what could they have possibly left? That was so large! Hello! He said in a small, almost childhood voice. He felt very much like a child just then, caught up in a world full of strange and terrible possibilities he had never imagined before. His eyes shifted to the right to the switch that controlled the overhead light. He did not need to see that switch to know exactly where it was. His heart crawled into his throat as he lurched across the room. All sense of composure forgotten. His fingers scratched at the plastic for a few seconds before finding the knob of the switch and flicking it on to his relief, the light worked. The battery had not died over the course of the cold winter, which was a good sign. And the cabin glowed suddenly warm and yellow. There were the sink and stove, the stainless steel clean and cheery. The couches flanking the pull down table, the prize marlin dominating the wall. A pleasant reminder of his ceiling days with his father and something else did not belong there. A broad inky shadow coming from behind Leland. He stood still for a few seconds not wishing to turn around. Then a gust of wind struck the side of the boat, and the shadow began to tip minutely side to side, swinging like a pendulum Leland turned, and a cold, fleshy hand brushed his elbow, A scream that had been simmering deep inside. Leland now boiled up and burst from his lips. He made a clumsy shove at the arm and the body, for he could see now that it was a body, a man's body hanging there from the rafters, like some carnival scare swung away from him. He dashed for the stairs, since the only that he needed to get out out into the sunlight out into the fresh air, and he stepped forward, however, the body came swinging back toward him, The chest bumped into him, causing him to stagger, and the two arms swung forward in a phantom and brace. With a choked cry, Leland struggled past the swinging body that smelled of death and decay, and bounded up the stairs, moving with such a spring in his step that he struck his head on the ceiling as he went. He didn't even feel the pain. He went on screaming as he pushed through the shrink wrap and emerged like a man escaping his tomb after he had been buried alive. But on that lonely main morning no reply came except the cry of a seagull as dim and distant as a star. At break of day