Thursday, October 14, 2010

Charnel Ship

Okay, we're trying a video again. Here's my version of "Charnel Ship" which I just finished writing so I can review before programming. Oh, fyi, that's usually what I do. I try - now at least - to read over whatever stories I'm going to present. Doesn't mean I actually perform them just like that, but I do get a good sense of what to remember. Peace, Sheila. (p.s. My upload didn't work and my beautiful formatting of the story was lost as well. - any suggestions?)

The Charnel Ship
As told by Sheila Arnold

The waters of Virginia can sometimes be bitter cold and there are many reasons for that. While working at the tavern, I met men that come from all sorts of walks of life, and there was Jack, he was a sailing man, he actually worked on whaling ships. He would often come into the tavern on cold evens and he would tell the story, the story of Captain Webb. Captain Webb was a kindly captain, but he was a captain that was caught with a curiosity. He told of how Captain Webb loved to travel and visit and see new places. Although, he was the Captain of a whaling ship, he loved to go to places where others had not gone before. One day he decided to sail north and he sailed further north than he had sailed before. And he soon found himself, he and his men, surrounded by icebergs. Now I have never seen an iceberg, but I have heard they are as tall as a mountain and underneath the water, as long as the very whales they seek, and cold, a cold that would make the dead shiver. There was naught they could do but sit and wait. There was an old sailor, and there not be many of these, and he told stories about how the icebergs would surround a ship and crush it, crashing it in the water, making a watery grave for supplies and men together. Yeah, there was naught they could do except sit, wait…and pray. Jack was called to look out through the even, high above in the sails. Come morning, Captain Webb rose and his eyes were as red as if he had not slept a thousand years. And then Captain Webb heard Jack yell, “Open route, sir, open route for sea, sir.” Now Captain Webb called all hands on deck, the sails were raised and they made their way to the open route with great haste and they passed from the iceberg just as it closed. As the sailed to slightly warmer waters, the sun rose in the sky. When the sun rose straight above them, Captain Webb looked onto the horizon and thought he had seen a ship. But his eyes were bleary, and he called to Jack. “Do you see a ship, Jack?” “Yes, sir.” “Bring me the glass.” And Jack handed the Captain the spyglass and looking through the Captain did see a ship and it was in seemed in sore disrepair. He called for the ship to come close to the one on the horizon. As they came close they saw the ship was in great disrepair. The sails were tattered and in rags. The rigging was rusted and mildewed, torn and strewn about. The hull was worn and looked like it should have floated on the water. Then Captain Webb’s “cat ways” took the best of him and he called for Jack and some of the sailors to join him in the long boat, the very boat they use to chase and kill the whales, and they sailed to the other ship. They came abreast of the ship and Captain Webb stood and shouted the greeting, “Ahoy there.” There was no answer. “Ahoy there.” Again, nothing. “Ahoy there.” And they were greeted only with silence. Then Jack looked into the porthole and saw, “Sir, there’s someone sitting at a desk.” Captain Webb called for the longboat to come close and he, and the sailor climbed aboard. Then went below stairs and walked the corridor looking for the room of the porthole. When they found it, Captain Webb saw the main, he put out his hand to shake and…….. …he stopped. The man before him was covered with a dark, green mold. A slickness covered the mold dripping ever so lightly. The man’s was holding a pen and his hand was raised. His flesh hung in tatters off the arm. The men backed out of the room in fear, but the Captain could not resist but to read the man’s last words. There is no more food. There is no more warmth. The iceberg still hems us in. We have no…. And with the pen raised the hope of the man froze. “Captain, Captain”, yelled his sailors, and the Captain picked up the log book and went into the hall. The sailors stood in front of room. Captain Webb looked and there he saw a beautiful woman. A woman, sleeping. A woman, pale and at peace, looking as if she only wanted a man to ask for her hand to dance. And as the Captain bent over her to smile….he saw that the only dance she would ever have would be the dance of the dead. Then over in the corner, they saw a young man with flint and steel in hand. The young man looked as if he was striking for warmth, but…the…ice…stopped…him…. Captain and sailors, along with Jack backed out of the room, and as they did they saw appearing before them more and more bodies. All of the covered with the same green mold. All of them with the slick slime of puss. All of them with same scent of death. And then they heard it – grinding, crashing, moving – the iceberg. The Captain and the sailors ran above deck towards the long boat, and all climbed in, but Jack was last. And Jack said that he turned a moment, and when he did he looked under the gang plank and he could see…..the cabin boy. The cabin boy sat with knees to chin and arms around knees and Jack swore, yes, he swore, he could feel the cabin boy….shiver…in death! “Jack, come aboard.” And the grinding came again and they looked as the iceberg came closer and faster. Jack hopped into the longboat and they rowed quickly back to their ship, watching as the iceberg surrounded the one in disrepair. But the iceberg did not take the ship, surround it and crash it into the ocean….no, it seemed to surround the ship and hold onto it like was a treasure to be possessed. When the crew had returned to England’s shores, Captain Webb took the log book and searched for answers. And he found it. That ship has sailed some 15 years before into cold waters and had never been heard of again. And Jack would say, if you were near our waters and they were bitterly cold – if you looked toward the horizon you could see a ship – filled with the meat of flesh. And Jack would say, yes, he would even swear, that if you looked close enough you could even see the….shiver….of the cabin boy. Written September 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Scary Tales

So tonight I will be doing Scary Tales at Crowne Plaza, Williamsburg, VA, 8:30 - 9:30 pm. This is a program done as a trade. Quick sidenote for business: Sometimes trade is good. You and whom you trade with get exposure from audiences you may not regularly meet. Meeting an new audience has great marketing potential. Trade also means saving money for both sides. Make sure your trade has a real market value. For instance, I am trading the cost of the meeting room for the cost of my performance. They actually get the better deal, however, keeping extra money in my pocket is great as well.

Telling Scary Stories is not my thing. I don't really like doing it and it doesn't feel comfortable to me. I get too carried away trying to make the "effect" of the story happen, rather than telling the story. This is actually a crazy thought, since I really don't like movies that focus more on the "effects" and "gore" than on the substance of the story, which, if done well, makes you think it "could" happen.

Tonight I'll be telling "Little Johnny Eight" (see Virginia Hamiliton's "And the People Could Fly"), "The Potato Story, or Voices in the Graveyard (see Zora Neale Hurston's "Mules and Men"), "Mr. Fox" (I have forgotten who wrote that, but I think it's Grimms) and "The Charnel Ship" (which I learned years ago at Colonial Williamsburg and although it was approved for telling, I still can't find documentation of it being told in the 18th-century.)

What are your favorite scary stories to tell? and to hear?