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Image by Max Gotts
‘The Caribbean Specter’
According to legend, the man drowned above the ocean while passing through the Caribbean. This occurred in the cruise ship pool. Some say he passed before his time. Some say you shouldn’t take legends seriously. Some are wrong.
The incident went unnoticed for long enough, as the man had no family or friends to garner the attention that a death deserves. A blurry high school photo and a hasty article in his hometown paper sufficed. It wasn’t until a year later when a ship of equal stature passed through the exact location that the sightings began.
For just as long as it took for the ship to pass through the same stretch of water as occupied by the first vessel, passengers reported seeing a man float among them. As quickly as he appeared he was gone, but the curiosity remained. Several photographs were taken, more than any in his lifetime.
A sensation erupted from the sighting and people claimed without a doubt that they recognized the man. Coincidentally, all the photos of this supposed encounter were clouded. Nonetheless, this brought further attention to the momentary encounters. People from his hometown rushed to claim that they knew him when he was alive. The original ship where the death took place was overtaken by a frenzy of tourists, but no traces of the apparition could be found there.
It wasn’t long after that another ship passed through, one much larger, through the same territory that the apparition was sighted again. The apparition wasn’t sighted near the swimming pool, however, but in a cabin, wading through the walls as if they were nothing but water. He merely repeated the same actions, casually pacing in astral trunks and diving deliberately into the ground, surfacing a few times before disappearing completely.
People tried conversing with the apparition for what brief time he remained on board the ship, but he never responded. His image passed by like any section of the horizon, any stationary cloud.
More and more ships passed through the same route, hoping to elicit some reaction. Visitors played on every theory of specters and paranormal activity in hopes to uncover his “unfinished business.” They dug into the man’s life, finding little worth noting. Investigators grew increasingly conscious of where they would die, worried they’d be confined to such a pitiful, inconvenient location.
The waters around the man’s single greatest accomplishment eventually calmed. The stretch of space dangling below the departed’s spectral glass floor quieted at last as the frenzy waned. Stragglers continued to watch from below, hoping to glance at some humorous image of the man diving a hundred feet above the water, but no projection appeared. Don’t be fooled. There he remains, playing out his last moments for eternity. His whole life unknowingly pointed toward the same trivial frames of existence.
Despite the favors of time and his phantasmal mystique, this passenger was never special.
Any one of us could end up swimming forever.
Christian Barragan is a graduate from California State University Northridge. Raised in Riverside, CA, he aims to become a novelist or literary editor. He’s previously read submissions for Open Ceilings Magazine and the Northridge Review. His work has appeared in the Raven Review, Moria Magazine, and Coffin Bell, among others.