the Sweet Lady of Twylight
Sitting at the helm of the Maximum, Justin was rather surprised at his own growing unease. Initially, irritated that Shades had so smoothly written him out of this little expedition, he soon found himself torn between feeling left out, and the distinct notion that there was something wrong with this picture. It must surely be all those tales of ghost ships he overheard as a kid, he told himself, the dark side of seafaring lore.
That, and nothing more.
Still, he wondered if this derelict would make him even the slightest bit nervous if it had chosen to make its appearance in broad daylight. Even on an ordinary night, it still wouldn’t be as… creepy. After all, in this fog, what were the odds?
In spite of the mysterious anxiety clinging to his mind as the mist drifting by his window, as he listened to his friends’ running account of their exploration, he found it hard to remain on-edge with such a dry, uneventful conversation. But in spite of their descriptions, he just couldn’t help picturing them wandering the passages and corridors of the Skerry, wishing he could remember it in greater detail.
In the midst of his mental meanderings, he spotted a flicker of movement in on of the portholes along the derelict’s hull.
It was difficult to tell for sure in this haze, but he was half certain he had seen the face of a little girl. One whose face seemed awfully familiar to him, from the oldest, most faded memories of his childhood. Eleanor. For a moment, he was oddly chagrined at the thought that he might have actually said that out-loud, but since no one said anything he was fairly sure he hadn’t.
Whoever was peering out of that opening, assuming his weren’t just playing tricks on him, ducked out of sight almost the exact second he laid eyes on her, that fleeting glimpse just looked so much like the little girl who seemed like a perpetual passenger aboard the Skerry all those years ago. Aside from Mr Morgan, the only constant on that vague voyage.
That was when he realized that his friends were no longer paying attention to hear him mumbling names from his past anyway, as he heard Shades demanding, “Max! What’s going on back there?”
This snapped him back to attention, and he was about to break in with a few questions of his own, when he saw it.
Even in the midst of this abruptly alarming exchange, his eye still lingered on that porthole, and this time he saw a face he knew he recognized. A face he would never forget as long as he lived, Those faded words of warning, Beware NK-525!, flashed before his eyes as he beheld the crumbling visage behind the glass. A face belonging to one of two nameless souls long dead in the stark, forbidding halls of Tranz-D, and his tongue froze in terror rather than unleash his mind’s horrified cry at memories flooding into his head like icy water.
Then it was gone.
He gasped for a moment at how a little eerie atmosphere could make him see things like that. As he sat there, pulling himself back together, a stray puff of breeze blew through, making eddies and swirls in the fog in its passing, and flapping aside the banner draped across the bow for a moment, revealing the entire name of the ship.
Sweet Lady of Twylight.
“Aw shit…” And this time, Justin knew he was speaking aloud as he felt the hackles stand straight up at that name. A name that drifted through his mind like the same creepy mist that brought this derelict. One of the most haunting legends of the sea, and floating right before their eyes all along.
“No way… It can’t be…”
He had no idea what Max and Shades’ alarmed conversation was about, but he was sure it couldn’t be good, so all he could think of to do was warn them before anything else could happen.
“Guys!” he broke in, startled at how frantic his own voice sounded to his own ears. “You gotta get off that ship! Now! It’s the Twylight!”
Yet even as he blurted his warning, his voice was drowned out by a blast of static, and some sound that he would swear up and down consisted of a chorus of voices moaning into that static.