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 the first Monday of every month. At the end of the month, I’ll take the story down and post another.
The foggy season is beginning, so it’s an excellent time to visit the quaint little seaside town of Hallowind Cove, where it’s foggy some 340 days of the year (the other twenty-five days are lovely and sunny). However, that’s not the only problem Hallowind Cove has, for the town is also known as “the Harbour of the Weird”, because strange things keep happening there.
The first Hallowind Cove story The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock was originally written for a shared world anthology that fell through, so I scrubbed off the shared world serial numbers and self-published it. Afterwards, I’ve revisited Hallowind Cove and its equally quirkey inhabitants a number of times and there’s at least one more story coming in the series.
So accompany Paul MacQuarie, a newcomer to Hallowind Cove, as he spends an evening at The Croaking Foghorn pub and 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.”
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.