Happy Saturday Readers,
Joining in with What Pegman Saw, which brings us to the Florida Keys for this week’s challenge.
Here is the photo prompt for today’s fiction:
Ghost Laid At Last
(fiction word count: 150)
“It’s all in your mind. You see what you expect to see,” Edward replied as flames grew higher, lighting up the night’s sky.
“Hundreds of people can’t be wrong,” replied Samuel, trembling. “They all saw ghosts on her. A ghost was even seen the first day that eye sore became stuck at the harbor’s entrance. And before that, sailors steered clear of Nancy Hanks as an unholy schooner – an enigma of the sea.”
“People become primed from superstitious beliefs,” Edward calmly replied as the vessel fell in and the stern, which overhung into the water, crashed hissing into the bay.
“Look there,” said Samuel, as he pointed to the sky.
A ghastly distorted human figure, anguished and fearful, was dancing up and down on the tongues of flame that licked skyward.
Edward’s eyes widened.
He stood taller. Shocked.
His voice trembled as he replied, “Look there indeed. She was haunted.”
My muse led me to Singer’s (1988) book, Shipwrecks of Florida: A Comprehensive Listing, which provides information about hundreds of shipwrecks. I almost wrote about the vessel Lady Franklin, but then found the Nancy Hanks Schooner: built in 1918, weighed 1,100 tons, stretched 204 feet, and became stuck in south Florida.
Most vessels that had trouble in that Florida Keys area sunk and became a complete loss. Many of those sunken vessels still provide fodder for treasure hunters today (Singer’s book had a photo of treasure hunter and author Bob Weller, and I almost went with the treasure hunter idea, but it became a dead end). However, the Nancy Hanks schooner was unusual because she did NOT sink; instead, she became stuck and then abandoned. There were so many ghost stories about this “enigma at sea” that sailors refused to board her – even if it meant losing work. This schooner was also believed to be haunted by John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. This vessel was named for Abraham Lincoln’s mother,
The vessel was towed to Miami where it was eventually burned away in 1929. When they finally burned her flames could be seen throughout the Florida keys and my two characters today were in the keys when they witnessed the flames in the sky.
My character, Edward, did not believe in ghosts, but BECAME A BELIEVER after he saw the figure in the flames, which was inspired by this part of the newspaper article:
“One old sea dog on the waterfront, his eyes probably distorted by superstition and the smoke banks, said he saw a ghastly figure, anguished and fearful, dancing up and down on the tongues of flame that linked skyward” (Frampton, 1929, para. 6).
(c) priorhouse blog 2019