Welcome to the October edition of First Monday Free Fiction. To recap, inspired by Kristine Kathryn Rusch who posts a free short story every week on her blog, I’ll post a free story on every first Monday of the month. It will remain free to read on this blog for one month, then I’ll take it down and post another story.
Because October is a spooky month, what would fit better than a spooky story? And so this month’s free story is The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock, the first story in the Hallowind Cove series about a permanently fog-shrouded seaside town, where strange things happen.
The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock was originally written for a shared world which fell through. About a year later, I pulled out the story again, removed all links to the shared world setting and published it. And because I liked the quaint seaside town Hallowind Cove, also known as the harbour of the weird, I eventually wrote four more stories set there.
The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock introduces Paul MacQuarie, a newcomer to Hallowind Cove who moves to the town, when he inherits the house of a distant uncle. Alas, things are never quite as simple as they seem in Hallowind Cove and so Paul has inherited not just a crumbling mansion, but also a family curse and a vengeful zombie – pardon revenant – who wants to kill him.
So accompany Paul, as he faces…
The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock
Paul pulled up the collar of his coat against the ever-present fog that enveloped the town of Hallowind Cove. His hair was damp, his skin clammy, every bone in his body ached and the cough he’d developed shortly after coming to Hallowind Cove was back, worse than ever.
One day, this town was gonna be the death of him.
He turned onto Wrecker’s Dock in Hallowind Cove harbour or what passed for it, cause these days, the docks were mostly deserted with only the occasional fishing boat moored at the quay.
The fog was even thicker here, rolling in from the sea in waves of white. Walking along the seafront probably wasn’t the best of ideas, considering that the fog was making him sick. But Paul did not care. He was headed for The Croaking Foghorn, a harbourside pub that offered beer and stronger drinks as well as some of the best and freshest seafood dishes Paul had ever seen.
A raven set perched on one of the tar-covered bollards along the quay, fixing Paul with unnerving eyes.
“Wa-atch out,” the raven croaked, “Wa-atch out!”
Or at least that’s what it sounded like. For of course birds couldn’t talk, even though this one gave a pretty good impression of it. Paul had seen the raven before, hanging around town and emitting croaks that sounded uncannily like words.
He’d once asked Ian, landlord of The Croaking Foghorn and the closest thing Paul had to a friend here in Hallowind Cove, about the raven.
“Oh, that’s just Hugo,” Ian had said, “Never mind him. He likes to pretend he’s a harbinger of doom, but he’s really quite harmless.”
“Wa-atch out,” Hugo croaked again, “Wa-atch out.”
“Shut up, Hugo,” Paul said good-naturedly, “I’m no longer a newbie. I won’t fall into the harbour basin.”
“Wa-arned you,” the raven croaked.
Paul shook his head. “I’m really going crazy,” he thought, “Hell, I’m talking to a bird.”
He held on steady towards the lights of The Croaking Foghorn, blurred by the dense fog. A dark figure stumbled towards him, emerging from the mist and gradually coalescing into a solid form. The figure was clad in a seaman’s oilskin jacket and sou’wester.
Probably a fisherman headed out to sea, Paul thought. He shouted a friendly greeting as he passed the stranger, but then his words caught in his throat, as he got a closer look at the dark figure.
For the dark figure’s oilskin jacket and sou’wester were encrusted with molluscs and draped with seaweed. Its skin had a pallid and faintly greenish cast, the sort of look that only the long dead should have. And where its eyes should be, there were only two black holes.
“Murrrderrr,” the figure moaned, its voice sounding as if it came straight from the bottom of the sea, “Deathhh. Deceit.”
The creature reached out for Paul and where its hand should be, there was only a hook, a rusty iron hook.
This story was available for free on this blog for one month only, but you can still read it in The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock. And if you click on the First Monday Free Fiction tag, you can read this month’s free story.
Check back next month, when there will be a new story available.