Midnight was approaching fast, but we were all so full of energy as if it was still three in the afternoon. I was on the beach with my four best friends, and we decided it was a good idea to camp there on the weekend and so far it was great – until we started sharing horror stories around the campfire.
Joe was the oldest one of us; he was having the time of his life scaring everyone else. He was a tough guy, except for the fact that he got sunburn and now we couldn’t quite take him seriously. Then there was Patrick, who was almost the entire opposite. He was visibly shaking! Watching him scream in the middle of the stories was just as entertaining as the stories themselves. The only thing funnier was Abby, out youngest friend, who had, I swear, already pissed her pants after the scariest story. Beside her was Cate, she didn’t care, she could’ve fallen asleep, but she was too cool for that. I was the last one.
“As the full moon shined on the sea and the desperate screams of all the sailors filled the air, the flames continued to grow and grow, eating the entire ship. The pirates, who had attacked, left them to die without looking back. If there was a man alive in their path… they killed them! A sword through their chest! Their heads would fall off!” – I shouted the last words and in exchange Patrick, and Abby let out screams and held each other tightly.
Joe’s thunderous laugh interrupted the moment.
“Don’t leave out the best part! Tell them the curse! The curse!”
He said as excited as a little kid. But I didn’t know that part of the story. The confusion must have shown on my face because a second later it was Cate who started talking.
“Deep inside the ship that the pirates attacked was a woman, a witch! She was a prisoner, and they never found her, so she sunk, slowly, with the ship. Legend says she never died, and she waits in the depths of the oceans for the pirates to come rescue her…”
Cate’s voice trailed off, and she smiled a smug grin, aware that she had silenced us all. In just that small intervention she had scared us more than any other story did. Our friends didn’t scream, and this was a different kind of fear.
“How stupid, right?” – Joe said, terror clear in his voice.
“Are you scared?” – Patrick questioned him, suddenly confident. – “I dare you to take the jet boat and go look for the witch.”
He wore a devilish grin, and we all watched in awe how he tested the brave guy in the group.
“Only if you come!” – Joe said, trying to act up though.
He didn’t expect that Patrick would immediately nod, accepting the dare.
“Oh, I don’t want to miss this!” – Cate laughed with a satisfied smile on her face.
“Then I’m going, too” – I said, jokingly raising my hand.
“And I obviously won’t stay here alone so guess we’re going witch hunting!”
Abby accepted, rolling her eyes but secretly loving our strange adventures. That’s how the five of us got quickly into the jet boat, not allowing any of us to think twice or we wouldn’t have made it. We barely took the safety measures necessary, other than that we might as well have gone naked into the sea. It was as if we carried with us a flag that said “Young and Stupid.”
At first, we were having fun, and the jet boat was taking us full speed across the waves; we jumped and joyfully screamed into the night. The boat was moving like a wild animal chasing prey, and we were enjoying the ride on its back. Cate and Joe were taking turns driving and Abby, the cutest girl in the world, was having the time of her life, singing and spreading her arms taking in the midnight breeze.
Meanwhile, I discussed the story and the old legend with Patrick, who out of the blue seemed so self-assured.
“My grandfather used to tell me that legend all the time! I remember every detail. We have to reach that lighthouse, move east, parallel to the beach. Right in the middle, that’s where the ship sank!”
“So that part was real?” – I ask him, suddenly not so certain of this adventure of ours.
Patrick simply smiled in response, his eyes twinkling mischievously. Slowly but surely, as we followed his instructions, the rest of us lost all our courage. Abby requested to go back three times, by the third attempt Joe and I already were supporting her. Even Cate, all high and mighty behind the wheel of the boat had started moving the thing slowly. The jet boat now moved carefully, turning into a scared pray instead of the brave predator it once appeared to be.
When we reached the infamous spot in the sea, midnight was heavy on us, our lovely moon, selfishly decided to hide behind the clouds, taking the last of our audacity with her. Abby looked like she might faint, Joe was threatening to jump off the boat and return swimming to the beach, Patrick looked like he was losing his mind, overreacting to every little thing he saw moving in the water. I had to drag Cate away of the wheel and bring her to us; maybe she could calm everybody with her natural overconfident and relaxed attitude. I was standing there, holding Cate’s hand when she pointed out in front of us and screamed.
“Oh my God!” – Her high pitched scream was so unlike herself.
We all jumped towards her and turned around screaming in fright, making the jet boat shake dangerously and therefore frightening us even more. We all hugged each other and fell to the floor, still screaming as if we were being murdered… when we caught sight of a huge spider on one corner of the boat. Cate is scared of spiders.