Another month, another prompt. Its fun to watch the Castaways board grow larger, from one, to whatever number we're at now.
Disclaimer Batteries not included.
Just a Ghost Story
Written for Castaway's Kingdom Monthly Prompt ~ October~ Ghosts
Moonlight flooded through the bare trees, illuminating the entire forest floor; slanting downwards to form a mighty hill with a small stream meandering at the bottom of it. A boy and dog trekked upwards, having just quenched their thirst from the ice-cold water below.
The light emanating from the full Harvest moon gave the impression that every shadow was alive with the swaying of trees. Each twig gave a distinct form and each boulder (for the hillside was dotted with them) looked like an ancient gnarled face looming in the night.
Despite the Autumn chill casting it's eerie spell, the forest was alive with sound, even in the dead of night. An owl hooted somewhere in the trees and the wind gave a strange howl, while the leaves it blew rustled in their clumps. There was one more sound; coming from atop of the hill. Laughter. It was this sound, from so many others, that drew the two beings up the hill. That, and a soft orange light that suggested a fire was close by.
As a cloud drifted over the moon, the wood was cast in darkness and the dog, a big black Labrador, seemed to become one with the shadows and disappear from site. The boy, a blond headed youth, did not worry. He knew the dog would not go far.
Treading silently, he advanced up the hill until the ground became level and he could see the source of the noise, and the light. A group of boys, teenagers on a camping trip he assumed, were gathered round a campfire in the middle of a clearing. One of the boys told a joke causing the others to laugh loudly, unaware that they had caught the attention of two of the world's oldest living beings.
The boy titled his head slightly as a smell wafted towards him. Ah! He thought as he watched one of the boys taking a hotdog off a stick and onto a bun. Food! He watched quietly for a little longer, and the conversation turned from jokes to dirty jokes and then to ghost stories.
The stories at best were rather pathetic, and the teens seemed to realize this as they're stories became more and more wild with each telling, and that the eves dropping boy couldn't help but stifle a snicker. The ghost stories he could tell! An idea began forming in his mind and a small smile appeared on his lips.
Striding into the edge of the firelight, he became visible to everyone seated in the clearing. The group fell silent, watching the newcomer warily. From being this close, the blond boy could see tents and other objects people of this century used when camping.
"I hear you guy's like ghost stories. I have one that's pretty good. Wanna hear it?"
The group visibly relaxed. One of the teen's even passed him an already cooked hotdog. Once seated on the ground with his back to a log, he stared at the fire for a minute before beginning.
"This is an old legend, that comes from my home town, believe it or not. It is the legend of the Flying Dutchman."
It was over an hour until he was done telling his tale. He had told them of the mute boy Neb, and his faithful dog Denmark. Of the evil captain Vanderdecken, and how it was he who was responsible for damning the ship to sail the seven seas for eternity. And how the boy and dog found refuge with Luis the shepherd, until it was time to move on.
In all this time, no one had spoken. The only time anyone moved, was to hand over another hotdog, or when a log shifted and fell, causing someone to jump in surprise. It wasn't until after the boy had finished telling his story did the dog showed up.
He appeared wraith-like, silent and dark. His appearance caused some raised eyebrows and chuckles from the group, amused at the Labrador's like fullness of the noble Denmark. The dog moved about the circle, snapping up bits of hotdog they fed him. "What's his name?" asked one of the younger looking teens.
"Ned." Answered the teller of the tale, "He's a really good travel companion."
He stood, stretching from sitting on the ground for so long. "My name's Ben, and it's about time I get going. Places to see, people to meet and all that good stuff."
If the teens seemed slightly shocked at his sudden wish to leave, they didn't speak of it. They told him and Ned good night, and safe travel, and to watch out for the Flying Dutchman and the boy smiled, promising he would. Then, with a gust of wind and billow of leaves, the pair turned, and was gone.
It was soon after that that the group turned in for the night. After kicking dirt on the fire to extinguish it, they left off to their respectful tents, biding each-other goodnight. It wasn't until a couple of minute's silence had been achieved when someone spoke out.
"I just thought of something!"
"Bout time." Muttered a voice from the same tent. "I was beginning to wonder if your mother dropped you on your head."
Snickers erupted from some of the tents, but the first voice continued. "The dog's name was Ned right?
"Yeah, that's what the boy said. What about it?"
The voice was now hesitant now. "Well, Ned backwards is Den."
The original speaker could tell by the silence around him that everyone was listening to him now. He continued. "Den's short for Denmark."
Another gust of wind shook the tents, then, "And Ben backwards is Neb."
No one spoke.
"You don't think…"
"Shut it will you? I'm trying to get some sleep here! It was just a ghost story. He probably did the name thing on purpose!"
No one else spoke again that night, but all of them were thinking the same thing. It was just a ghost story. Wasn't it?
Nope. All real. Too bad they'll never know! I hope you enjoyed this October special!