The Haunting of Pier 56

Setting my backpack down on the ground, I sat on the riverbank, gazing at the reflections the late afternoon sun cast on the surface of the water.

My friends had warned me not to come here alone. Even my mother, sensible as she was, had told me I was only looking for trouble by coming here.

If you did come here, you didn't come alone. You came with a friend or two, for protection, you know?

Because everybody knew that this place was haunted.

I had come on my own because I had no one to go with. Checking out Pier 56 was a kind of milestone; everybody did it. But I really didn't have any friends to go to Pier 56 with. So I went by myself; just after six o'clock, when everyone said the ghost showed up.

See, something had happened here ten or so years ago—what had exactly had happened, nobody knew, but there had been stories, and these stories had evolved into a bit of a legend.

This place used to be the site of some old, abandoned docks. Even ten years ago, they weren't in the greatest condition. Which is where the mad scientist comes in.

At this point, anyone who hasn't heard the story gets pretty skeptical. "A mad scientist?" they say. "Come on! That's a bunch of bull and you know it!" But it's true. And there's more.

This mad scientist wasn't your average mad scientist. Everybody says that he had four extra mechanical arms that were connected to his spine; making him not only scary, but pretty darn powerful. Creepy, huh? Well, anyway, this is where Spider-man comes in; because the police couldn't take on this guy alone, Spider-man had to handle it. Spider-man and the evil mad scientist had a showdown at the piers here. Apparently, the bad guy, a genius, had built a nuclear bomb and was threatening to blow up the city with it. Spider-man saved the city by dropping the bomb in the water, but the mad scientist didn't get away and died in the ensuing explosion.

However, everybody says that this place is still haunted by his malignant and vengeful spirit. Me? I don't believe in ghosts. But a lot of people believe that this area has a certain eeriness about it; nobody comes here unless you want to be scared. But like I said, I don't believe in the supernatural. It's not rational to even consider that such things are possible; because they're not.

In fact, I had been here nearly and hour and no ghost or evil spirit had showed up. I even didn't even feel a chill, like most people said they did when they came here. It was warm, sunny, and almost peaceful. The waters were calm and the sky was a majestic blue. I shook my head. Nothing haunted this place.

I picked up a few stones and began skipping them across the water.

Splish, splish, splash! I was thinking about how I was going to college that year, how different it would be from the life I was living now.

Splish, splish, splish, splash! I thought about where I was going; even though it was only October, I was already enrolled for the following fall in Empire State University as a biology major.

Splish, splish, splash! Empire State University had been where my father had gone to college. He would have been proud of me.

Dusk was beginning to set in Manhattan. I better get home soon, I thought.

I wrapped my jacket tightly around me. It had gotten really cold all of a sudden. I shivered. The temperature must have dropped twenty degrees in thirty seconds! This wasn't natural.

Suddenly, my shoulders felt as though they had been drenched in icy cold water. I stumbled back, startled out of my wits. What was going on here?

"Just what do you think you're doing here, young man?" a man's voice said from right behind me. I whipped around, looking around for the source of the voice.

There was no one there.

My spine tingled, and I began to sweat. I didn't say a word, but I was terrified. This had to be the ghost that everyone talked about. But it was impossible! Ghosts didn't exist. But there was no other explanation for this phenomenon. I was not insane; I had heard that voice.

It was still freezing cold. I looked around once more, but again saw nothing. Then, I was abruptly pushed by unseen hands, again experiencing the strange icy, soaking sensation that I had felt before. I heard that voice again; the angry, vengeful voice tinged with grief and misery. "Leave," it demanded. "Leave this place now."

There was no doubt that I was leaving—I certainly was not going to be frightened out of my wits any longer. I slung my backpack over my shoulder and began to walk away.

But then I took a moment to think about what was going on here. I knew the stories; I had known what was probably going to happen if I came here. The ghost was only protecting its territory. And besides, the voice had sounded miserable—even if the living person had been evil, he had turned malevolent for a reason. The ghost had lost something dear to him.

I knew what that felt like, and the least I owed the spirit was an apology. "I'm sorry for disturbing you, sir," I said loudly. "I won't come here again." Turning my back, I began to walk the way I had come.

"Wait! Please wait," the voice said urgently. I stopped, glancing around me but still not seeing anything.

"No, no, no," the voice said impatiently. "Behind you."

I turned around. A man stood in front of me. Well, let me stand corrected. He wasn't actually standing; he was floating several feet above the water. The man was of stocky build and quite tall. He wore a long tan trench coat and dark sunglasses. All of his features were blurred, as though someone had smeared them with a giant eraser, and he glowed a little with a blue light. But the most amazing thing about the apparition was the four metal arms that peeked out from behind him. Fascinating and intricately made, they were an incredible sight.

"Thank you," the ghost said.

"For what?" I said, a little confused.

"For respecting me. It's been too long since I have been given any respect."

The ghost, who was several feet away from me, began to float towards me, his feet gliding effortlessly on air. Despite the fact that the ghost was now being somewhat friendly, the guy, ghost or not, was still evil. I had heard the stories of his malevolence. Besides, just the experience of meeting a ghost was terrifying.

The spirit landed lightly in front of me, testing the ground with his translucent feet. He took a step towards me. I took three steps back.

"There's no need to be afraid of me," he said calmly. "I can't hurt you." He looked absentmindedly at his arms. "They can't hurt you," he said, referring to them stoically.

"So, you're the ghost of the mad scientist," I said matter-of-factly.

As soon as the words had left my lips, I regretted them. The ghost scowled, and he scoffed. "So that's what they call me now? The 'mad scientist?'" he asked angrily. "I'm not even good enough to be called Doc Ock?"

"Doc Ock?" I asked, confused.

"Short for Doctor Octopus."

I looked over the apparition and shrugged. "Suits you well enough," I said.

"Thanks," the ghost shot back angrily. He glared at me through his dark sunglasses.

"I'm sorry," I said. "What is your actual name, if you don't mind me asking?"

The ghost scoffed again. "Now you're going to ask, after insulting me? And yet…I suppose I'll tell you."

He rose a few feet into the air. "I," he declared, "am Dr. Otto Octavius."