On the wind blew, on the waves trembled, creeping on the sides of the ship, fading its bottom into oblivion. We just threw two lifeless humans in the water, one beheaded, one legless. It’s a game we play, taught to us by a mysterious nomad. We got acquainted with him, in an Italian port, although acquainted is too strong a word. A tall, broad man with ambiguous facial features. His mustache, black and thick, felt Italian; it was just a guess. He did speak English but in an accent unknown to all of the ship mates. His name was something we never learned, or maybe we weren’t allowed to learn. He sat at our usual in the corner of the bar. Being men of the sea we didn’t fear conflicts with anyone, even huge figures like this fellow. What we didn’t know was that this man was not about to offer a fist, he was going to offer an entertainment, later turned to a deadly curse.
He was serious yet amusing, we ended spending most of the night together. He later stated that he was going to an island that was our destination as well. Maybe it was coincidence, but I don’t believe it was. We greeted our new comrade with cheers and another shot of vodka. We mounted the ship at dawn, and just as we were wandering about the whereabouts of our new friend, he emerged from the white fog. He waved his hand to us, and some of the fog cleared, as if he could control it, as if he had created it.
The days were normal, but the gloomy nights were interesting. I believe our friend was a descendant of some Roman god; something in him suggested noble blood; the language he spoke at times seemed ancient, and the games he taught us felt like something that happened before the birth of Jesus Christ.
The most special game had Roman numerals that were written on papers and distributed among us. Our friend would sit facing a corner, talk to himself, make the strangest of noises, then would growl a number. The number he chose would be the captain; the captain would then choose seven comrades who had the seven deadly sins. They would fight one another, and then when one would fall, the captain would decide his fate. A thumb up would let him crawl out of the fighting hole, a thumb down would make him stay in the hole, get stumbled on, and at the end of the fight we could do whatever the captain allowed us to do with him. The winner of all the seven men would decide whether the guy lives or dies. At first, we didn’t kill anyone, but a fire started raging in our bosoms. Even the most peaceful of us thirsted for blood.
One fighting night, we beheaded the first man. On that night I saw our friend smiling. That was the last anyone saw of him. Our ritual continued without our priest, and through time it got bloodier and bloodier. Seasons passed. Our body count grew. The game started to have another motive: Revenge. The ship sailed through infinite night. God said: “Let there be light”, but God’s word couldn’t be applied in here. As we threw two more men I realized that all of us have lost our humanity; it’s just a matter of time until this becomes a ghost ship, led by our Roman friend.