The faces flash by me too fast to make out any features. The sun blasts down through the trees. One face stands out. Shifting patterns. Reminds me of a test I took in the clink.
I hear laughter and a punch in the leg wakes me with a jolt. The grinning nightmare in the front seat informs me that I have been dreaming. He’s still laughing. He laughs at everything these days. One big joke.
I watch him as we drive along the great snake. Watch him as he watches those same faces. He sees more than i do. All of their pain and suffering.
Loves and joys. He feels everything they feel. He knows what makes their hearts pump faster. And he loves them for it. Almost as much as he hates them.
I look down at my once blue jeans. Now blackened and stained with beer and blood and ash and i shudder to think what else. I let a stream of spit drop slowly from my lips and it hangs for a moment before breaking. This elicits another giggle from the front seat. I look at him in the mirror and the bastard is still smiling. If you could call it that. But his eyes don’t smile. They only hate. Hate me most of all i think. Last of the great misanthropes. And he looks back at me and knows I hate him too.
“We’re here” he says.
“Thats good " I reply. And my best friend Joe pulls into the Harbor were we wait in silence.
His name is Joe Eblis. “The Clot”. Not the most endearing of nicknames but he seemed happy enough with it. The papers decided long ago that we all needed a title. He can control blood. make it do whatever he damn well pleases. Ask him, Im sure he’ll show you. Unfortunately more often than not it pleased him to make it spray from the pores of innocent people when they got in his way. Or if the TV was broke. That was a sight. Not something you ever really get used to.
They never gave me a name. Maybe I scared them too much to think about. Maybe I didnt scare them enough. Who knows. One Newspaper called me “Mr Midnight” but it never stuck. Too bad, I liked it. Sounded classy. Too classy for a guy like me. It was just so easy. We took what we needed, What we wanted. I never enjoyed the violence but sometimes people just wont mind their own business. I did what i had to. Or what I thought I had to. Makes no difference to the broken trail of corpses does it? Do they know that I think about them sometimes. At night. When the Demons come. Eblis got off on it I think. It’s hard to tell with him. At the very least he thought no more of it than stepping on an ant. Its funny, I always loved animals, never could hurt them.
So here we are. I can’t begin to explain why. Maybe there is still some small part of us that can see through the slime and the filth and the tar that seeps through the fabric of our being. If we have souls they never belonged to us. As I look out over the calm nightime waters and I see the vast black sail grow closer. I fancy I can hear voices in the distance, and I feel something I have not felt before — but its strangely familiar, Like a long lost memory.
I look at Joe and he’s not smiling now. I think he feels it too and understands. We are going home.
A (very) short story I wrote a few years ago. Its based on the idea that The Black Freighter, the ghost ship from the side story in Alan Moore’s Watchmen, seeks out the souls of the damned to man her crew.