19 Nov The Painted Voyage
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"The Painted Voyage"Written by
Estimated reading time — 15 minutes
Sometimes I’ll just stare out the window and think about it. I’ll think about it long and hard. While it happened decades ago and I have moved on with my life, I still get the biggest chills when I remind myself of it. I tell myself all the time that it must have been an illusion or some wicked dream. But it wasn’t. It really wasn’t.
I was ten years old at the time, and I still remember all the exciting commotion from everyone boarding the ship. For many, this ship was a symbol of everything good. The smell, the visuals, and the feel of it were all remarkable. I thought of this upcoming voyage as a new chapter in my life. America was waiting for me, and I was looking forward to living there.
All I wanted to do was have some fun during the voyage itself. I quickly befriended a wealthy kid my age who resided in the first class. His name was Edison. Many of the first class kids ignored me because I was third class, but Edison was the exception. He was just like me. We would run around and be those two ‘know it all’ kids that would annoy all the adults with the mischief we’d get in. We would pull so many pranks and then laugh until we couldn’t any longer. It was awesome. Unfortunately, that lasted for the first few days.
I had slept over in his room, and we woke up the next morning feeling good about the day that was to come.
“Do you wanna meet up with some of the other kids today?” He asked me the following morning as we both woke up rubbing our eyes.
“Sure, I guess,” I replied. I was a bit hesitant to meet other first class kids because I thought of them as brats. But if Edison was friends with them, then I was open to the idea.
We walked out into the hallway, and a girl our age immediately greeted us.
“Edison! What a pleasant surprise!” she said. She tried to make it seem accidental, but it felt as if she was purposely waiting for us.
“Oh, hi there?” Edison replied. He apparently did not know her.
“You’re funny!” she said, giggling in a sophisticated manner. She had a huge smile on her face, with big blue eyes. She had on a fancy white dress along with a fancy hat, so I knew she was first class. She was way too enthusiastic for my taste.
“We’ve met before?” Edison asked.
“Of course!” she said. “My name is Martha, remember? Anyways, what are you up too?”
“Um, Charlie and I were just about to-”
“Oh yes, Charlie! My dear, how do you do?” She reached out her hand for a handshake.
“Um, fine I guess,” I responded, shaking her hand. While she seemed friendly, she was also very suspicious. Her cheeriness seemed forced and unnatural.
“I was just about to go to my room. You guys should come with me! I have breakfast if you two are hungry!” she said.
“Oh, that’s ok. We have other plans,” Edison said.
“Oh boo,” Martha said. “Won’t you two please come with me? I get really lonesome around here.”
Edison and I looked at each other once more. Not wanting to hurt her feelings, we both agreed.
“Splendid!” she said. “This way we go!”
We followed her down the hallway and entered her room. The paintings on the bright red walls immediately caught my eye. There was an absurd amount of them, each depicting various disasters. The strange part was that there was a figure in each and every one of them, and it was downright creepy. It was someone with long black hair and a long black cloak. The figure also had a large black hat, one that President Abraham Lincoln would wear. The shade from the hat obscured the entire face, so I couldn’t tell if it was a male or a female. Upon closer inspection of all these pictures, I noticed that each of them had random names signed in the corner.
The locations that this figure inhabited were especially interesting. They were all shown in a night setting, and disasters ranged from burning houses, crossfires, severe car crashes, tsunami’s, wars, and various explosions. Indeed, most of them had fires or fights, each with this creature lingering on the side. One painting that I specifically remembered had two towers, with one of them having an explosion near the top. The corner of the picture was labeled 911.
“So I see you’re taking an interest in these paintings,” Martha said. “May I ask your opinion?”
“Well, they’re interesting,” I replied back. I wish she would stop talking like she was so fancy and sophisticated.
“Why thank you, sir. I drew them,” she said.
I was surprised. She didn’t seem like she’d draw scary paintings at all. I was genuinely curious about the black figure, so I decided to ask her about it. “Who is the, um, fella wearing all black, in all your paintings?”
“Oh, it’s just for art. That is all. Anyways I’m glad you took a liking to them,” she said, giggling.
I turned to Edison and used my eyes to signal him that we should leave this girl alone, but he didn’t look at me. His eyes were just on Martha the whole time. And oddly enough, he kept silent. He was usually someone to talk and give his opinions whenever he could.
“Well, you have talent,” I said. “I think I better be going actually. Mom’s probably worried sick.”
“Oh, but you just got here! Please stay for a bit. Please, oh please oh please?” she asked.
I reluctantly agreed.
“Oh, splendid! Tell you what guys; I have leftover cookies from breakfast this morning. Super delicious. You two wait here. Don’t you dare leave,” she said. She walked away to enter the kitchen. It was then just Edison and me with all these paintings surrounding us.
“What do you think about these paintings?” I asked him.
“Charlie,” Edison said. He had a solemn tone, which was unusual for him. He also held still, like a statue. “Did you not see it?”
“See what?” I asked him.
He didn’t look at me nor did he respond. Martha later came back with some cookies and directed us to the dining table. We sat there and talked about our experiences we have had for the past few days. Well, at least Martha and I was. Edison didn’t say much. Martha blabbered about how she didn’t like the other kids. She kept on insisting that we were the only ‘intriguing’ ones.
“Anyways you guys,” Martha said after finishing her cookie. “Tonight is the big night!”
“What is the big night?” I asked.
“It’s a surprise. You’ll see,” she replied. “But first, I’ll be right back. Let me show you guys something!” She walked over to the kitchen.
While Martha was nothing but weird, I found Edison’s behavior to be even odder. He would only speak when asked a question. It was not like him at all.
Martha came back with a canvas in her hand. It was another painting. She turned it over to show me. “Do you like it?”
One look at the painting and I became deeply concerned. It depicted a ship. Sinking. Not surprisingly, it was a night setting. It was at a fair distance, with the water being splashed about everywhere due to people drowning in it. The ship itself seemed as if it was about to break from all the physical damage. Everyone had facial expressions that were full of fear. Why would she draw something like this when we were in a ship ourselves?
But the best part? That figure. That same black figure. It was on the left side of the painting, looking at the ship itself at an oblique angle. I told her I didn’t like the painting.
“Really? Oh, rats. I worked on it for hours. You don’t find this art pleasant? My feelings are hurt, Charlie,” she said.
“Charlie,” Edison said out of nowhere. “Tell her you like her painting. Now.”
I looked at Edison with astonishment. I could not believe that he would demand me to do something with such a serious tone. I began to worry about his insanity.
“Martha,” I said. “Your paintings are creepy, but I do admit you’re a good artist,” I said.
“I didn’t ask you to tell her that she’s a good artist,” Edison said. He didn’t look at me, as his eyes were strictly on the painting. “Tell her you like the actual painting itself.”
“I like your painting,” I finally said. I couldn’t stop thinking about Edison’s behavior.
“Oh thank you, Charlie!” She said. “And one more thing. Do you mind signing your name on it?”
My heart dropped. Sign my name? Why on earth would she want my signature on her painting? She was truly not like any other girl I have met. She held out a charcoal pencil right in front of me.
“Sign it,” Edison said.
“Are you sure?” I asked Martha.
“Yes,” she said. “You see Charlie, I have chosen you for a reason. I like you a lot. I hope you can respect my culture in signing this painting? Just sign it anywhere. It doesn’t need to be fancy. I will appreciate it, and well, so will everyone else involved.”
I had no idea what she was talking about, but at that point, I did not care. I grabbed the pencil and looked at the painting. For an odd reason, I felt repelled to sign my name anywhere near that black figure, so I signed it on the opposing side.
“Charlie, thank you,” Martha said. “You made this whole thing possible.”
“You’re welcome,” I said. I got up and walked toward the exit door. “I’ll see you guys around.” I received no response.
As soon as my hand touched the doorknob, the lights went out. The room was pitch black. Worried, I called out for Martha and Edison. Again, no response. I tried opening the door, but it was locked. I was afraid at this point, and so I held my hand on the doorknob firmly and did not let go of it. I was in a room with no light, trapped with a strange girl and strange paintings. Not an ideal situation by any means. I called out their names yet again. Nothing.
The room started shaking. It was gentle at first, but then the shaking became intense. I grabbed the doorknob with my other hand and held it tightly. I was not religious by any means, but I began to pray. The chandeliers shook violently as if someone intentionally kept shaking them just to make this scenario all the more dramatic. I felt like I was being mocked. Some of the chandeliers fell to the ground. At one point, I heard the table flip over, with the glass cups and vases shattering on the floor. All I could do was hope that everything would be okay.
The shaking eventually stopped. I tried to calm down my heavy breathing, wiping off some sweat from my forehead at the same time. It was still as dark as ever. I tried opening the door again, but no luck. Seconds later, the lights came back on.
My back was facing Martha and Edison, and I was terrified to turn around. After a few deep breaths, I calmed myself down. Nervously, I turned around.
There was no physical damage. The chandeliers were hanging from the ceiling, having never fallen to the ground. The table I had also heard fall was back in its regular position. Even stranger, the paintings that were on the wall beforehand were now gone. Martha herself was standing in the same spot. She was rubbing her hand gently on the painting as if it was everything she ever cared about. She was giggling so maliciously that it was a disgusting sight to see. She acted as if nothing had happened whatsoever.
Edison was nowhere to be found. I became downright scared. Martha seemed absolutely insane. It took every ounce of bravery to speak.
“Martha, what happened? Where is Edison?” I asked.
She completely ignored me as she continued to stroke the painting. She then picked up the painting, turned around, and hung it on the wall. She again looked at the painting and laughed continuously. A part of me had a strong desire to confront her about her behavior, but I was too scared to do anything.
She then proceeded to skip to the kitchen, continuing to laugh. She entered another room, and as soon as the door shut, her laughing ceased. Of course, the light had to turn off again. I couldn’t see a thing and now I was back to step one. The only thing that was going for me was that the door I held on to was finally unlocked. Anxious about what might be on the other side, I slowly opened the door and walked out into the dark hallway.
Although I couldn’t see anything, I felt like I just walked into a large vacant room. I called out for help. Nobody. I walked around while extending my arms, trying to figure out where I was. After a few minutes, I stopped walking and sat on the floor. I held my knees close to my chin, hugging my legs tightly. I started to cry.
A few minutes later, I felt a sudden intensity of heat. It felt as if something was burning a few feet away from me. I didn’t want to let go from the fetal position I was in, but the temperature rise was so intense that I had to look to see what the cause of it was.
I turned to my right to see a small area with a red light shining on it. It was at a distance, perhaps a bit less than a quarter mile away. I wiped my eyes to take a closer look. The red lighted area was the only area visible in the pure darkness. It was like I was on stage for a play, but the spotlight was shining on the other side of the stage. In this spotlight, I saw what looked to be large lit candles on long sticks and black objects on the floor.
I walked there slowly. Every step I took, my heart rate increased. My adrenaline was at an all-time high. As I got closer, I realized that these black objects were kids dressed in black cloaks, all sitting in a circle. They all had a hood covering their heads, so I was not able to see their faces. The children were surrounding something. I couldn’t tell what it was at first until I got even closer and realized that it was a painting hanging from the ceiling. It was swinging back and forth like a pendulum. The painting was.. the painting was…
It was the one I signed back in Martha’s room. The one depicting a sinking ship.
I was now only a few yards away from the children. They didn’t notice me, so I was relieved by that. I watched these kids just sit there in front of the swinging painting. I closed my fists as hard as I could and tried my best not to make even the slightest of noise.
The sound of a piano broke my concentration. It was playing in a loud yet eerie way. It was like someone got to a piano just in time and started playing it so that the ‘play’ on stage would continue. The children then began to sing softly.
“There is no other way, they all fall down. There is no other way, they all fall down. There is no other way, they all fall down.”
I wanted to die. I was so terrified that I couldn’t even think straight. It was when the children removed their hoods that my adrenaline exponentially skyrocketed. Amongst all the kids, one of them stood out to me. Edison was present.
Out of nowhere, a figure entered the red spotlight from the black darkness surrounding it. It was a figure that must have been about eight feet tall. It too had a long black cloak covering its entire body. It had long black hair, along with a black hat – one that President Lincoln would wear. I didn’t want to believe it. But there it was. It wasn’t even walking. It was levitating. It hovered so slowly as if it had all the time in the world. It always had a slight white mist revolving around it.
The figure stopped right in front of the painting. The sound of the piano and the singing from the children ceased. The tall figure proceeded to remove the painting from the rope. Immediately, in the corner of the red area, a fire spawned. The figure took the painting and placed it in the fire. The creature then picked up the burning picture, and with what I assumed to be its hands, rubbed the canvas in a gentle manner.
In the most dramatic way possible, it immediately looked at my direction. Whoever was at the ‘piano’ decided to play it again, this time much more furiously. I was paralyzed from the neck down and my eyes refused to blink. My body was undergoing physiological changes that I don’t even think any expert in the field of physiology could explain.
The children got up and started laughing. They began to run towards me, each passing me one by one and still laughing endlessly as if this was a friendly game of tag.
Edison was the only one to stop running and stare at me. He was a few feet away from me with a frozen face. He didn’t look real at all. He appeared very ghost-like, which was of high contrast to the darkness surrounding him. What scared me the most were his eyes. They were nothing but robotic. It was like he was staring through me rather than at me.
He proceeded to blink tightly. When he opened his eyes again, they became different. This time, he was actually looking at me. His ghost-like appearance disappeared. His eyes became filled with many tears.
“Charlie! Charlie!” he yelled at the top of his lungs. I could tell he was terrified just as much as I was.
“Edison?” I whispered softly. I couldn’t scream. I was too scared.
“Help! Please, Charlie, help!” he kept yelling. He was crying violently in the process.
My heart sank. I didn’t know what to do, so I just stared at him while crying myself. I then realized that the tall black figure was no longer in the red spotlight area. It was officially empty. When I turned my attention to Edison again, I gasped in horror. His mouth was covered by something that belonged to the figure. His eyes, still filled with tears, had signs of hopelessness. I didn’t blame him; I had lost all hope myself.
The figure looked at me and smiled. It didn’t even have teeth. Its mouth was just…red. A complete red void. The shadow of the hat still covered its eyes, and it was still hovering. Just watching this figure felt like someone was physically stabbing me with needles all over my body. Truly abominable.
I watched as Edison’s eyes became robotic-like again. He stared in my direction, again as if he was looking through me rather than at me. He became ghost-like again, and I did nothing but cry as he fell victim to this sinister figure. Darkness immediately obscured Edison, appearing as if he was sucked inside the cloak of the figure.
An abrupt wind occurred out of nowhere. The wind became so intense that I couldn’t help but to squint my eyes. The figure then extended its neck a few feet towards me and screeched a loud groan. I am not sure what happened next, but a sudden white flash blinded me.
The noise I heard from this thing was not human. I repeat, it was not human. The closest detail I can get to describe the noise is to imagine the sound of a thousand ambulances times the sound of nails scratching an old chalkboard times the sound of bomb explosions everywhere, plus more. But one thing that was clear about this noise was that it was full of hatred.
After I had adjusted my eyes from the bright white flash, I looked at the figure again. The wind was so strong that the cloak of the figure was flying in the air. This thing…it had no body. It seemed as if a cloak, a hat, and a red smile were all there was to this creature, just hovering in the air.
With this wind, noise, and an all-powerful demonic creature in front of me, I thought it was all over. However, for some reason, I felt like whatever force there was to get me kept failing. This creature continued to scream aggressively. It then began to fly at me with no hesitation. With no time to waste, I turned around and ran for my life. I was running in a complete dark void, with something inhuman chasing me.
My fear turned into motivation as I ran in the pitch black. I had no idea where I was going, but I knew I just needed to run. With the wind against me, I contracted every single muscle fiber in my entire body to move as fast as I could.
I saw Edison again. He was running alongside me, but this time, he didn’t acknowledge me. He was too busy laughing hysterically. He ran past me and vanished into the dark distance ahead of me. That was the last time I ever saw him.
Everything after was a blur. I don’t remember much after this point. All I remember was that in the next moment, the noise and wind came to a halt. I took a moment to look around – I was instantly back on the deck of the ship. I was no longer in a dark void. I was finally back in the real world.
It didn’t take me long to realize that the ship I boarded just a few days ago was now sinking. I had no idea why or even how. I looked at my hands while many people ran past me in fear. I wiggled my fingers. I placed my hand on my chest and I felt my heart beat. I felt the cold wind hit hard against my skin. I had somehow made it. But the journey was far from over.
Everybody around me was panicking. The ship was at an angle. It was oddly night time. I looked down to see the bow of the ship not even visible because the water had already covered it. People were falling. People were screaming. I saw that there were already many people in the water, crying for help that was clearly not there. I saw the half-filled small lifeboats rowing away. I felt like I could see those cliche timers above people’s heads that signaled their time of death. For many, it was only a matter of minutes. I could see that despair had entirely filled the atmosphere of the deck. The humanity of those around me was falling exponentially as the ship continued to self-destruct.
I somehow managed to get in a lifeboat after everything. Just when the crew members were about to send down the boat into the ocean, I saw her. Martha. She was skipping down the ship, laughing at the misery of others. She was also singing a tune. For some odd reason, even with all the loud commotion of the people in between us, I could hear what she was singing.
“There is no other way, they all fall down. There is no other way, they all fall down. There is no other way, they all fall down.”
Nobody seemed to notice her at all. When she reached the part of the deck that was near me, she moved slower and looked at me. She gave me the most sinister smile I had ever seen. I hated her. To this day, I still refuse to believe she was an actual girl. It must have been something else that took the form of a girl. After looking at me for a few seconds with that ugly smile, she continued to skip happily down the ship singing. She eventually faded into the crowd and I never saw her since. The crying and yelling of the soon-to-die passengers overtook my consciousness.
The sounds of everybody slowly died out as my lifeboat moved away. The ship had broke in half. I watched in despair as the ship said its final goodbye to the world. I whispered goodbye to my mother, as I had this feeling that she didn’t make it. Everything was just awful. Truly, truly awful.
On the early morning of April 15, 1912, the Titanic had officially sunk. All of us in the lifeboats quietly waited in the middle of the freezing Atlantic Ocean. Thankfully, the RMS Carpathia arrived soon to save all of us.
It was when I was boarding the rescue ship named Carpathia that something caught my attention. Something was in the water floating nearby. I rubbed my eyes and took a closer look. It was the painting I signed in Martha’s room only hours before, still in perfect condition.
Ever since then, I always question if any tragic event I have heard on the news was because of this creature and its paintings. There is something out there just lurking about, playing with the lives of human beings as if it is all a game. One day, I will come across it. Yes, I feel it. I never thought I’d say this, but I want this creature to visit me. I want to confront it. I want to know the fate of Edison. I want to learn more about those paintings. I am tired of having to live with this all these questions. I am sick of having nightmares and anxiety. I need to know. I need answers. I want my closure. No – I will get my closure.
Credit: Jordan B