Date: November 12, 2006
Restate the prompt: Write a story about an empty glass.
Hollin was in the crow's nest, still.
He'd been there for six days straight; never coming down, even to eat. He leaned far over the edge, his greasy hair fluttering in the slight breezes, his hollow eyes squinting in the artificial murk. He spoke to no one save himself. He'd gone mad, he knew, and no number of words could help him now. The captain sat in his cabin, perpetually staring at his maps. The bosun slouched on the deck, the cat o' nine tails tight in his grip. The wind sighed through the tattered sails and did not part the fog.
Fog. It overtook them after the storm, shrouding their vessel in smoky twilight. The wind still blew, howling all around them, but the shredded sails flipped mournfully and the ship glided on, in the grip of an unknown current.
"There's nothing in the glass," Hollin whispered, staring past the yardarm. His eyes were tired, and ringed with bruises. He pressed the spyglass closer, harder against his skull, hoping that perhaps he could spot a friendly mast, a saving coast, a lone gull.
There was nothing, always nothing. "Why have they not come to force me down," he said, "to give the captain back his spyglass? I stole it from his hand, the spyglass given him by his grandfather the general, and yet he sits, staring at his maps, never glancing up. The bosun hasn't come to whip me and send me back to my post. They're down there, on the deck, or in the bunks, and they pay me no mind!"
"No one cares for poor Hollin," he muttered, scanning the curtains enclosing them. Nothing but grey, grey forever. Perhaps there was no land at all, he thought. "What is land but the shallowest sea?" He leaned further out, hoping that he could get a better view. The glass was empty, always empty, just like the neverending sea. He ground the eyepiece against his brow, praying that he was wrong.
A sudden gust of wind, a banshee's breath, caught his emaciated frame. He was tumbling, tumbling down to the deck, to the algaed, salt-slick wood. He closed his eyes and clutched the spyglass close.
There was nothing. He opened his eyes, and he was on the deck, unhurt. But wait, not unscathed: his body was bloodied and broken, and his skull was shattered, mixing with the salt and splinters. The spyglass was broken, the lens having cracked when he fell. He looked over, at the man beside him. The bosun's eyes saw nothing, clouded over by the fog that is Death. All of them, all of them, empty as the spyglass, broken as the lens; dead.
"The fog has not WON!" Hollin screamed, in a voice thickened by blood. "DEATH has won! Death always wins!"
He felt his sight leaving him, the mist of his soul frosting them in its passing. Perpetual grey now, and forevermore.
A light flashed on a shard of glass, and a ray of light broke through the fog as the ship floated up to shore, one moment too late.