The Curse of Willow Haven

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
An old man and his untrustworthy partner seek a legendary treasure shrouded by a ghostly legend.

Submitted: July 07, 2019

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Submitted: July 07, 2019

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The Wind was unpleasantly chilly as the Alice moved over the water, and on the deck of the ship was a man in a long, trashy looking overcoat and a battered leather hat.  He was working with a machine which he occasionally rocked and popped on the front with his hand.  He was studying it’s face carefully as he conducted the Alice, an old wood and metal ship that was for recovering things.
 
The ship was crackled and old, with rusty metal parts and the windows and decks were crusted with salt from the sea.  The man on the deck had a rough beard and long hair from not taking care of himself.  He was soon joined by a young man in tall boots with a bandana.
 
“Hey Ed, anything yet?”  The young man asked.
“Nothing, but that don’t prove nuthin, this piece of junk is leftover.”

“Do you think it’s accurate?” 

“Yep.  It just takes longer.  One of these days this thing is going to make  rich man out of me.”

Ed looked up at the gray clouds and his assistant looked up at them also.  “Say Ed, we goin to stay out here if it rains”  Ed looked up.  “You better believe it.  If the Alice doesn’t turn over in a storm I’m staying out here.  I’ve been searching for the Venture for too long to quit now.  If this machine cuts out before I find the venture I’ll never find her.”
 
“That’s your ticket out huh, Ed.”  The young man asked.  Ed nodded.  “Yep.  You don’t know what it’s like having to live poor yer whole life, Jimmy.  Besides, it would be fun to be the guy who brought the legend up.  There is supposed to be a curse.”
 
Jimmy pulled a small bottle from his back pocket and took a drink, and asked what the legend was.  Ed looked around at the horizon and cleared his throat.
 
  “Well supposedly there was a guy named William Vincent who invested in a bunch of stuff till he was rich enough to buy a ship named the Venture and he sailed to various islands, including what at that time was America with no major settlements.  He had a lot of money and according to legend, he sailed with his wife and brother to the Colonies, did some business and his crew mutinied on the way back to Europe.  They got into a fight and lanterns broke, setting the ship on fire.  The ship crew left the four dying people below, or killed them first, and took the long boat and life boat with the money in it and went overboard.”
 
  “So what is the curse?”  Jimmy asked.
 
“They say that the ship rises once in a while and floats down the coast into the bay and the ghosts come after anyone related to the men who mutinied, among other folk legends, like people vanishing and going nuts.  It always associates with a storm.  According to the legend there was a storm going on and the boats overturned as the ship burned.  The greedy crew hung on to the boat and tried to save it but of course it sank with them.  S’posedly the boat, ship and all that money are still out here.  It would make a man rich beyond belief to have all that money.”
 
  “And you believe the legend?”  Jimmy asked.  Ed gave him a very serious look.  “A few pieces of that gold and silver money from the 16th century have been found on the beach.  There’s something out there, but no one else is using machines to try and find it.  My brother let me have this piece of junk, and I hope it will last long enough to…” 
 
Ed suddenly got quiet and looked at the screen.  “There’s the outline of a ship, and it’s right in the line of Vincent’s landing!”  Ed secured the machine and went into the cabin.  “I’m going down, Jimmy.  You know what to do.”
 
Ed took off his ragged clothes and put on scuba gear, strapped on a set of tanks and secured his outfit in every way he could think of, then as Jimmy lowered the anchor he tipped overboard and vanished into the water. 
 
Willow Haven did not have very deep water just a mile or so out, and over the years many people had dove in search of treasure from old ship wrecks.  Some of them had found trinkets, gold and silver, but many of them had found nothing and dismissed it all as legend. 
 
Ed dove deep into the black water and shined his flashlight around. He liked the green growth of the ocean and he began to look around as he swam, going in a small pattern so as to keep from getting lost.He was examining the sand and the greenery of the bottom of the ocean, and he decided to shine his flashlight upward and around to see if there was any trace of the ship his machine had told him was there.
 
Ed let out a bubbly yell of shock.  Right in front of his face was the ribbing of a rotting ship that towered above him.  He was very surprised that the machine had been so accurate when it was only a throwaway his brother had given him. 

Ed swam down the side of the ship and saw it’s rounded body imbedded in the sand with growth all over it.  The masts had fallen down around it and were in rotting heaps.
 
  Ed swam all the way around the ship before he found the hole again with the ribs exposed, amazed at how small it actually was.  He then swam inside of it and looked around the space under the decks. 
 
  Ed was very excited about his find, and he swam up toward the Alice and came out of the water.  He yelled to Jimmy.  “Get on some gear!”  I found a ship!  Help me out and we’ll see what we take home.”
 
Jimmy drank one more shot from his bottle and suited up. Within a short time both of them were going down into the darkness and searching the rotting wood.  Jimmy was wondering how Ed could think this pile of decayed wood was the ship he was looking for.  At length he saw Ed in the dark light under the water and he was pointing excitedly to the front of the ship. 
 
Jimmy swam closer and looked into the beam of the flashlight.  He almost dropped his light in surprise when the rotten wood bore the carved letters that spelled VENTURE.  “At least that much of the legend was true. 

Ed and Jimmy began to explore the old ship, and Ed seemed fascinated with what he was seeing.  Ed  Ran his hands over the wood like a boy with a toy, and Jimmy looked at the wreckage and wondered if it had any secrets worth taking home.
 
Jimmy didn’t care at all, he just wanted to collect his wages from being Ed’s helper and go home.  He was trying to work his way out of his mother’s house where he had a pesty sister that was driving him crazy.  Ed was in a room in the ship and made a noise, as bubbles gurgled out of his suit. 
 
Jimmy came over and found Ed shining his flashlight on the remains of two very old corpses below a deck.  One of them was a man, in clothing that dated back so far Ed and Jimmy could not recognize it.  The bodies were largely bones with some hard flesh still clinging to them.  The man had a hole in his skull as if he had been struck with a sword, and he had holes in his clothes from both time and wounds.
 
The other body was a woman and they were close together.  Ed suspected this was William Vincent and his wife, who’s name was lost to history, as often happened to women in those days. 
 
Ed began searching the rest of the room as Jimmy stared at the ancient corpses, hundreds of years in this spot. As he stared, Jimmy’s light caught a shiny gleam and he aimed it down.  In the slime and sand of the bottom of the ship lay the bones and arms of the woman and on her ancient finger was a ring with a dark blue stone. 
 
Jimmy turned to make sure Ed was not watching and he reached down to the hand and pulled the finger and the ring loose, stuffing it away in his wet suit.  At least he’d get something for his trouble.
 
Ed searched around the room which must have been the captain’s cabin, but any interesting artifacts had long since been destroyed by time.  Ed and Jimmy returned to the sea outside and Jimmy was tired of the fruitless search as well as being anxious to go out and see if the ring he had found was worth anything.
 
  Ed signaled him that he could return to the surface while he took another quick run around.  Jimmy came up and broke through the surface of the water, climbing onto Alice and taking off his suit.  He turned on the radio and pulled the finger out of his suit.  It was crusted and frozen in position, but he took a set of channel locks and with mild effort he got the ring off the shrunken flesh.
 
Jimmy dropped the finger into the trash and put the ring under a bright light.  He worked it with a knife and whatever it was made of did not hold to crust and scum very well.  It crackled and broke off till the ring looked tarnished, but clean and wearable.  It had a silvery band with a ring of blue jewels and a very big, gorgeous jewel in the center.  It had scum over the jewel but Jimmy could still tell it had been a nice ring in it’s time. 
 
As Jimmy examined the ring and wondered what he would get for it, Ed suddenly exploded out of the water and drug himself happily onto Alice.  He tore off his face mask and was shouting grandly that his efforts were rewarded.  Jimmy came out and looked at Ed’s treasures as he opened his suit and spilled some old gold and silver coins on the ground. 
 
“The whole legend was true.  There is a rotten old lifeboat down there falling apart.  We can go down and grab a ton of this stuff.  I already have a salvage license.  The stuff is mine.  We’ll divide it up!”  Ed smacked Jimmy on the shoulder.  “Let’s go get rich!”  He said.  Jimmy turned around and smiled.  “What about the curse?”
 
Ed laughed.  “I ain’t worried about a curse. If the ghosties haven’t managed to get anyone in a few hunnerd years they won’t be getting me.  Besides, I’m not related to any scumbag thieves.
 
Jimmy resuited and as the storm clouds swirled overhead they dove down into the blackness of the water.  They went down and down, then into bunches of growth where they found the remains of an old boat.  But the boat was not the most interesting part.  Amid little thin strands of greenery were a handful of skeletal men, their flesh completely gone, their arms in boney collections of white scattered over the boat, with the remains of rotten chests filled with various items that at one time had been arranged neatly around money and gold bars.
 
Ed began to arrange some of the treasure into a bucket and he would send Jimmy up with the buckets to the surface to dump it in the cabin.  At one point his tank became low so he had Jimmy bring another. 
 
They were going to do one more load when Jimmy looked at the pile of metal on the cabin floor.  It was incredible.  Jimmy looked at the money and he began to think.  Ed had no wife or kids, he was just an old man in ragged clothes with a shack in the country and just enough income to have an assistant to help run his rusty boat.No one would even notice if he didn’t come home.  Jimmy thought about how easy it would be to get rid of the old man. 
 
Jimmy walked to the edge of the boat and thought hard about what to do.  It would be so easy.  Ed would never make it back to land on the tank he had.  It would look like an accident. 
 
  Jimmy took the air tank that he was supposed to have refilled and he went back into the water.  He dove down and handed the empty tank to Ed.  He then took the last bucket of treasure and swam up with it.  He went over the edge of Alice and sat for a moment.  It would take just a few minutes for Ed to try and shift to his other tank and when it was empty…he would not last long. 
 
Jimmy was struggling with his decision and he kept looking at the pile of treasure as he turned the ignition key.  The engine roared to life and Jimmy took off.  He felt guilty, heavy, and shocked inside that he had driven off and left Ed with the empty tank. 
 
  Minutes passed, and Jimmy realized that it was nearly too late to change his mind, then at last there was no going back.  He sat and rang his hands thinking of what he had done, and he paced, felt his heart race and his mouth go dry, then he finally began to feel the anxiety subside. 
 
He had done it.  He turned Alice toward the edge of Vincent’s Landing and drove into the cove, and over the next hour he reloaded the treasure into his car trunk and turned Alice toward the sea starting the engine and letting it take off on it’s own.  He watched as Alice vanished into nothing away from him.
 
Jimmy opened his trunk and looked at the treasure there.  For a moment he felt guilty again, using Ed to help him remove the treasure then deserting him to die in the sea.  He mouthed “sorry old man.” Then got into his car and drove off. 
 
  Jimmy cleaned up and shaved, and over the next several days he went down town and spoke to some different men he knew in the exchange business.  He managed to get several thousand dollars of the gold turned in to them and decided that he would take off and start a new life where he could turn the rest into millions. Too many people in Willow Haven knew Jimmy and they might ask questions.
 
Jimmy saw his young sister come home that evening and he secretly put his things into three cases and put them in his truck.  He didn’t really care for her so he stayed away from her as he prepared to vanish later that evening. 
 
  Jimmy took the ring out of his things and looked at it.  This alone must be worth a fortune.  Jimmy had started to come to terms with his actions and all he could see now was wealth in his future. 
 
It was nine O’clock at night on a very chilly Saturday when Jimmy walked down the stairs to where his mother was watching television and his sister was getting ready for bed. 
 
“Just so you know, mom, I’m going to Albert Donlee’s tomorrow.  He has a new job available.”  Mother turned and looked at Jimmy.  She looked tired.  “Ok.  I still think you should get into college and do something with your life.”  Jimmy turned to walk away.  “Yeah whatever.”  Jimmy said.  He knew she was as tired of him living there just burning up time as he was of having her in charge of him. 
 
Jimmy didn’t care anymore.He doubled out the front door and saw a big full moon over the water.  He fired up his car engine and took off down the road.  He was driving along thinking of the wealth hidden in his trunk when he felt very strange.  He realized that somehow he had turned the wrong way and was driving toward Willow Haven Bay and not the other direction. 
 
Jimmy swung the car around and sped up again. He turned on the radio and was listening to music when the news came on.  Jimmy was smiling to himself.  He had not had a good relationship with his mother in a long time and felt happier being relieved of her and his sister.
 
Suddenly a bolt of shock went through Jimmy as the news played.
 
  “In local news, a man from Vincent’s Landing, Edward Hardnutt was found floating outside of the bay with a scuba suit and drained air tank.  His boat, Alice was found a short distance away, out of fuel but in tact.  Edward is listed in stable condition in the Vincent’s Landing Hospital.  How he became separated from his boat is not yet known.”Jimmy felt a knot of dread in his stomach.
 
Jimmy was so horrified that he pulled his car over and got out.  He walked toward the water and looked at the full moon.  His heart was racing.  He felt panic and tears welled up.  He had tried to Kill Ed.  Not only did the horror of it strike him hard but the fact that Ed had trusted him.  Ed had actually been his friend and wanted to split the treasure with him. 

Jimmy was still panicking when he realized that he was going the wrong way……….again.
 
He was facing toward the bay rather than leaving it.  Jimmy was about to turn to run to his car when the wind began to blow hard and he fell onto the sand.  The panic he had experienced had drained his strength and he could not stand up.  But that was soon the last thing that concerned him.
 
As Jimmy lay on the sand, he heard a sound behind him and turned, his eyes widening in shock and horror.  There was a sound of rushing water, and Jimmy saw a flag, then a mast, then a rotted sail, rising with spray from the water about four hundred feet from where he was. Jimmy let out a sound and felt his stomach knot as he struggled to move backward up the beach but was too weak to move.  As he watched the sail was followed by a full ship which rose into the moonlight and stood among the small boats docked in Willow Haven Bay, moving gently along the water.  There was light shining from oil lamps on it’s stern and Jimmy was so terrified he began to cry out uncontrollably.
 
Suddenly the water parted again and four figures rose gently out of the water, four rotting, boney people, one of them in a watery dress with long, tangled hair hanging down.  Jimmy knew it was William Vincent and his wife, brother and his brother’s wife. 
 
Suddenly nothing mattered to Jimmy except for the terrifying sight in front of him.  He remembered what Ed had said about the curse, of the ship owners coming back for anyone related to the thieving mutineers.  Jimmy was breathing hard and fast, trying to rise to his unsteady feet.  He was not related to any of the thieves, so far as he knew…….but the treasure was in his car.
 
  Jimmy was trying to run, but his panic was so great he stumbled along the beach, seeing the skeletal bride gaining on him.  Jimmy’s hair turned white from fright and as he struggled along he turned, and found the dead woman…right behind him. 
 
Jimmy could see into her face and he saw her stop and raise a hand, that was missing a finger.  Jimmy began to use all his strength to reach his car, and he got to the driver door, fought it open and reached into his luggage with hands shaking furiously.  He pulled the ring out and stumbled to the waiting ghostly figure.  “T-t-take it!”  He stammered. 
 
Jimmy saw her hand reach up and felt the cold wetness as she retrieved her stolen ring.  Jimmy turned to run and found William Vincent standing behind him, his rotting clothes sagging from his bleached white bones.Vincent grabbed Jimmy by the hand and began to drag him toward the water and the waiting Venture.  Through his decayed mouth Vincent heard two words gurgle forth, “thief…murderer.”
 
  Jimmy fought and struggled but he was drug over the sand, into the water and out to the sea.  In moments the Venture descended slowly back under the sea, back into it’s dark resting place.
 
Ed was sitting in a chair in the impound lot in Willow Haven when the clerk came out and handed him the keys to the little car.  “I’ll get your registration to you in a second.  Do you have any idea why your friend might have deserted the car?”
 
Ed smiled in a mischievous way.  “He probably felt guilty about driving off with it.  I loaned it to him about a year ago and he didn’t take good care of it.”
 
  Ed strolled outside and gave the last cash he had to the cab driver.  He then walked into the impound lot and went up to Jimmy’s car.  “Ungrateful little twit.”  He said.  He fired the engine up and drove out of the lot, down the road, and parked.  Ed got out and looked around, then popped the trunk.  Inside was the treasure, scattered but undisturbed. Jimmy’s things had been sent home since no one could find him.  Ed looked at the treasure and ran his fingers through it.  He laughed a little.  The ship had been there, the boat, and the treasure, so why would the curse not be true.  What else could have happened to Jimmy?
 
  Ed wasn’t concerned.  He pulled an ad out of his shirt that showed new cars.  Time to go start a new life.  As he got back into the car he blew a kiss to the memory of the fisherman who had found him floating and kindly brought him in. 
 
 
 
 


© Copyright 2019 Gennae. All rights reserved.

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