The boatman was staring into the ocean again, this time with the eyes of a man that wanted to be the last person standing. He was now looking back to the dock, to what was left of it and to the people on the bridge. You could hardly make out his words any more, but there was something about his gaze and his words that drew people back.
And in the distance, behind him the ship was already coming into view. It looked like something out of a dark horror film. It was a huge, massive craft with the appearance of having been carved out of some giant lump.
The boatman was about to tell them to shut up, to get off. When the voice came over the speakerphone, the boatman, now staring into the abyss as if he had been looking at his own reflection in a mirror, began screaming and sobbing.
They stopped and stared, stunned and terrified. The woman, the young girl, the man on the bridge that had been trying to pull them along the pier, all of them staring at the shadow that was now on the horizon and the other boatmen, in the middle of what should have been their escape, looking as if they had been thrown overboard and had gone down a deep, dark abyss without a trace.
And then, almost simultaneously, the boat became visible again. A second, smaller boat was slowly rising out of the darkness. The last remnants of the hull had been ripped off, exposing it as a gigantic cylinder of dark liquid and gas and debris and glass and flesh. They were coming closer now, but he could hear no more.
The boatman was shouting, not for himself but for all the others. The boatman tried, almost frantically, to say something about the universe and how awful the thing had been to be part of it. He could only manage “but we had to be there in case of another attack. Or maybe it wasn’t the end of the beginning. Maybe it was just like that, you know – the beginning of that nightmare, when they say things we don’t hear.”
And he was shaking with fear, as if something awful had happened to him the night before, which would have meant that they had all known something, even he.
It had been as though something were holding him back, forcing him to think in the way that some of us do when we dream, in the way that a patient would dream when he has come home after a night in the hospital or at a place that had made him uncomfortable.
The voice of the shipmen echoed in his mind. But, he knew, whatever it was they had to say would not be of much comfort now. And it was so terrible, so far beyond his ability to understand, that what had been being said was simply something that he could only imagine and that made no sense whatever. They did not have time to react or to think.
The man that had been screaming was still clinging to his life, and he was crying out with a heavy sobbing that suggested he might just be able to hold onto his own life, to try and make up for what had happened to him. But then the boat reached the bottom of the ship, and all of the voices around him stopped. He stopped screaming. Then there was silence.
All the voices on the bridge, except for the one of the boatman, were now dead and silent. The voices of people who had been looking out across the pier, now sitting silent, stared at him, as if they could only imagine what had happen since then and how it had hurt their heads and minds.