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Halloween Writting Contest Entry 01

The following story was submitted as an entry in The Wanderer second annual Halloween Writing Contest.
The winner will be announced in the October 30, 2008 edition.
Stories will be posted on-line as they are available in print.

The Legend of Captain Blackmore

"Are you sure it's letting up, my dear Horace? The wind seems to be getting more fierce by the minute." Mrs. Edith Blackmore looked at her husband Horace, then turned her eyes toward the rain-streaked window of their stately home that looked out over the darkening waters of Buzzards Bay. It was October 30, 1892, and the folks that lived along the shores of Buzzards Bay were once again enduring one of those brutally cold nor'easters, the kind of storm that chills you to the bone. The wind gusts rattled the large windows of the Blackmore manse, causing the white lace curtains to puff and ripple around the window frames.

"Elizabeth, you know I've been out in much worse than this. The storm is passing and by nightfall, the rain will have stopped. I assure you." Captain Blackmore had indeed been out in much worse storms. His reputation on the docks was well known -- he was often the only schooner captain to set out in the midst of storms that others would rather wait to pass.

"I do worry about you, Horace," replied Mrs. Blackmore, her bright blue eyes showing her worry. "Benjamin does too." She glanced over at their infant son, tucked warmly beneath a light blue quilt and fast asleep in his cradle. Elizabeth stared at her husband, making sure Captain Blackmore understood just how concerned she was for his safety.

"I've never not returned from a trip, now have I Lizzie?" Captain Blackmore wasn't interested in engaging in this conversation. He wanted to get down to the docks and head out on his voyage as quickly as possible. "I promise you I'll be back in a week's time. We're only headed to New York and if I don't have my cargo delivered on time, they'll find someone else who will."

Captain Blackmore pulled on his heavy wool coat, picked up his canvas bag, and kissed his young wife on the cheek. "I'll be home by Sunday, I promise." He hurried through the front door and closed it quickly, trying to keep the wind and rain from blowing through the house.

Captain Blackmore pulled his cap down low, leaned into the gusting wind, and made the short walk to the docks. The cold rain pelted him as he trudged to the dory that was tied up at the end of the wooden pier. The schooner was anchored nearly 500 yards out in the harbor and with the seas pitching and spraying, this would not be as easy a row as it usually was.

Dropping his bag on the old wooden dock, Captain Blackmore grabbed the pail that was floating in the dory and bailed out the rain that had started to fill the small boat. Locking the oars into place, he untied the boat from the dock cleat and began rowing toward the ship.

The wind was now howling with a renewed ferocity and the rain and salt spray blew nearly horizontal. Captain Blackmore strained to keep the small boat on course toward the schooner. Wave after wave smashed against the dory. Blackmore's arms ached as he tried to make it to the schooner. He looked over his shoulder to locate the ship. The spray from the waves stung his eyes. As he pulled his oars to turn the skiff, a large swell swamped the boat, sending Captain Blackmore over the side. The coldness of the water shocked his body. He tried to grab hold of the boat, but the turbulent seas and raging winds quickly sank it. He looked around frantically to see how close he was to shore, to another vessel, to anything, but he could see nothing, only dark water and waves. He tried to swim, but his wool coat was fully saturated and his leather boots were filled with water, making it impossible to float or move. He thrashed about in the foaming waves. His thoughts turned to his wife Elizabeth and his baby son Benjamin. Why didn't he stay home as she had implored him to do? How would she carry on? Would she ever forgive him?

Within seconds, the raging storm dragged Captain Blackmore down. He was never to be seen again, and his body was never found.

Legend has it that on dark and stormy October nights, when the cold winds blow in from the northeast and the seas of Buzzards Bay churn with black, frothy waves, you can hear the anguished cries of Captain Horace Blackmore from the islands to the shores of the bay as he calls out to his wife and child. Some even claim to have seen the ghostly shadows of the captain rowing aimlessly in the harbor, trying to find his way back to Elizabeth and Benjamin. So the next time a storm rolls in just before Halloween, remember the legend of Captain Blackmore.