On the Dock

Night, the air turning cool. Stars bright in the west, but dim in the east where the glow of the city diffuses their radiance. Water laps softly against the dock, a gentle distraction from the conversation lull. It is past midnight now, and talk has turned to other things.

“How do you feel about ghosts?”
“Comfortable, I think. Like, if I saw one now, I’d probably be okay with it. I wouldn’t scream, I wouldn’t run.”
“You think so? I think we’re all inherently afraid of that which we don’t understand and ghosts, especially for us heathens, are far from easily understood.”
“I mean, they’re just the restless dead, right? That’s my understanding.”
“But if you were to see one, the first thing that pops into your mind isn’t going to be, ‘Oh, it’s just the restless dead.’ It’s going to be, ‘What the hell is that?!'”
“Maybe we need to clarify – what kind of ghosts are talking here? Apparitions that resemble humans or some Slimer kind of thing straight out of Ghostbusters?”
“Who knows? That’s the kicker, right? You see that floating thing, that indistinct miasma – hell, it doesn’t even have to float! That’s just what Hollywood tells us.”
“So, we’re not talking Hollywood ghosts. We’re talking…the unknown.”
“Precisely.”
“Well, I’m not sure I’d classify that as a ghost then. When I think ‘ghost,’ I think restless dead, I think see-through humanoid floating around miserably. I’m not thinking – I don’t know. I’m not thinking of something I don’t have a preconceived notion of.”
“All right, I guess you’re right, it’s hard to have an opinion about something you’re not sure you can understand. But you have to admit – the unknown scares you.”
“Sure, a little, I guess. But not in that screaming way, just a general unease.”
“Agreed. But still, let’s say a real ghost, the kind we can all picture, that floating old woman with sunken cheekbones and grasping arms, floats towards us across the lake.”
“Definitely be weird.”
“…And terrifying, right? Come on. You’re looking out there into the dark, the water so eeriely still, just admiring the reflection of the stars on the lake and suddenly there’s this glow. Dull at first, but building, seemingly rising out of the water. Far out, though, so it’s hard to tell if it’s just a star reflection or something different. A fish maybe, a light from the shore, a piece of drifting garbage caught in the moonlight. But it continues rising, growing, forming into something more distinct, something less like a reflection and more like a thing you might recognize. But you don’t want to recognize it, not at first. You don’t want to acknowledge that you’re seeing something unusual, something you wouldn’t expect at this time of night – especially at this time of night! You don’t want to admit that this is strange, even as the glow coalesces, begins to draw together wisps of light into arms and legs, features even, a sharp nose, a small chin, a tall forehead above two dark, strangely dark eyes. Eyes, you think, eyes, why am I seeing eyes, this was nothing but a glow moments ago, the reflection of a star, just a dancing light on the water, and now I’m seeing eyes in a face on a body and it’s moving towards me.”
“…”
“Tell me you wouldn’t be afraid of that.”

  1 comment for “On the Dock

  1. anonymous
    December 7, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    That would certainly scare me – I’d be screaming then running!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *