The Misty Professor
Some people have a knack for finding strange things; strange things seem to always find Zane Legends. And some things can be much stranger than others. Some stories are in fact so strange that most people try to forget they ever happened. This is that kind of story.
Late one night, beneath an enormous full moon, Zane found himself clinging desperately to a large piece of wood in the middle of the ocean. The waves crashed upon him, forcing him under. Every time he fought his way to the surface, sputtering and coughing once he reached it. He suffered through that agony for what seemed like hours, and he was beginning to wonder if he would survive.
How he found himself in such a predicament he was not entirely certain. He had been crossing the ocean in a rather nice passenger ship, and the price of passage had not been cheap. He had lain down one night after a marvelous meal and had fallen fast asleep. The next thing he knew, he was wet, shivering, and surrounded by miles and miles of water with nothing else in sight.
He was reminiscing about that wonderful meal he’d had when he suddenly became aware of a ship passing nearby. The full moon lit up the ship, and he could see it almost as well as he would have been able to during the day. His first thought was, sausages, that is certainly an ugly ship, but then he realized that perhaps he would not die after all.
He began to cry hoarsely in hopes that someone would be able to hear him. “Help! Help! Man overboard!”
The salt water had a nasty effect on his throat, and barely a croak escaped his mouth. However, it seemed like somebody must have heard him, because the boat slowly turned to move in his direction and when it neared a rope ladder was thrown over the side. He grabbed the bottom rung and began to climb the ladder. As he did, he noticed the words written in faded red paint on the side of the ship, The Misty Professor. Thinking that was certainly an odd name for a ship, he continued his climb until he pulled himself over the rail and fell onto the deck.
Standing there waiting for him was a strange, balding man, with a torn brown hat and a rough, unshaven face. Zane looked up at the man and, not knowing what else to say, said, “Hello.”
“Hello there, laddie,” responded the man in a rather scraggly voice. “Welcome aboard The Misty Professor. The name’s Captain Rogers. Who might you be?”
Captain Rogers looked down at him with an unblinking stare, and Zane quickly responded, “I am Zane Legends.”
“Well lad, get yourself off your back, and let’s go find ya some dry clothes.”
Zane scrambled to his feet and followed Rogers across the deck. As they walked, Rogers continued his questioning.
“So, lad, how’d you find yourself drowning in the middle of the ocean on a stormy night like this one? And where do you be headed?”
“Well, sir, I was in a ship bound for the New World, but I truly do not know how I left it,” Zane answered.
“Ah, you be headed for the New World then. There be interestin’ folk there. Interestin’ indeed….” He remained silent for a few moments after they entered his cabin. He began rummaging through a closet, and asked, “And how did you come by that unusual scar on your forehead there? Be shaped almost like an anchor. Your weren’t born on the ocean, were you?”
“Well, sir, that is an interesting question, actually. You see…”
“Ah, here it is,” Rogers interrupted, holding up a pair of pants and a pitch black cloak. “It don’t be much, but it will keep you warm.”
Zane gratefully accepted the clothing. As he changed, he asked, “Sir, why is your ship called The Misty Professor?”
“Well, lad, I do be a teacher of sorts.”
“Really? What do you teach?”
“Lotsa things, lad. I teach about life, and death, and all the steps in between.”’
Zane paused in the middle of shrugging on the black cloak. That seemed an odd thing to say. “What do you mean?”
“Well, there do be people who are living, and there be people who are dead. I just teach people the steps from one to the other, and help them along.”
Zane began to wonder if perhaps he was safer in the sea. This man did not seem to be entirely normal. Suddenly, a curious thought struck him. “Captain, where is the rest of your crew?”
“Ah, that be an excellent question, lad. And the answer be simple: this ship does not need a crew.”
Zane began to worry. “If there is no crew, who is steering? And where are we going?”
“The ship steers itself lad, straight into the Passage of Despair.”
“The Passage of Despair?” Zane cried. “No ship can pass through there!”
“That do be true lad, indeed. Why do you think you be dressed in black? It is time to prepare for your funeral.”
Zane suddenly noticed that Captain Rogers’s eyes were not a normal color, but instead glowed bright red. He did not respond, but bolted from the cabin as quickly as he could, intending to jump off the ship before the insane man could kill him. The man called after him.
“Wait, lad! There do be a grand banquet prepared for the occasion!”
Zane stopped and turned around, “A banquet?”
“A banquet indeed,” Captain Rogers responded with a smile. Zane suddenly realized that there was a large table in the captain’s cabin, and it was filled with dishes and dishes of delicious-looking food. He did not think it was there before, but was not sure.
“Perhaps I could stay, just for a moment,” he said.
“Of course you can, laddie.”
Zane began walking slowly back toward the cabin, his eyes mesmerized by the large assortment of food laid out so carefully on that table. There was pork, chicken, bread, apples, wine, and countless others. It was a feast fit for a king.
Captain Rogers pulled out a chair and motioned for Zane to sit. He was about to, but then suddenly realized what he was doing, and shouted, “No!” He again bolted from the room, ran across the deck, and threw himself from the ship. It was a good thing to, the ship entered the passage just a few minutes later, and Zane watched as it crashed into the sharp rocks and sunk to the bottom of the sea.
Zane congratulated himself on surviving that encounter, but he was still in trouble. He was still floating in the sea with no idea where he was, though at least land was in sight. The he noticed a small boat moving toward him from the shore. When the boat got nearer, he could make out the man on board, a man with glowing red eyes.