skull-and-crossbones-794825_960_720Kelpie lounged in his deck chair on the Lanai sipping his chilled mint tea. His long face and thick black mane of shoulder-length hair gave him the semblance of a wild stallion resting languidly before the race.

Below him, palm trees dotted the golden sand beach for miles along the shoreline. Their emerald green fronds swayed gently in the breeze of the early morning trade winds. He gazed out at the cerulean blue sea where his keen eye saw the body of a man floating face down a hundred yards out from shore. The man was bloated, and alabaster white, from spending so much time in the water.

“Another day in paradise.” Kelpie thought.

With a smile, he rose and went inside to change from his crushed velvet robe into a hand-tailored Caraceni suit for the day. The suit was expensive, but merchants of death payed him obscene sums of money for his unique services, and they had made him very wealthy.

He moved from room to room, past rare art, walking over hand-made silk rugs. He strolled through the two-story library before going upstairs to his personal chambers.

Heavy tapestries depicting ancient sea battles hung on the walls of his anteroom. His horseshoes lay on an ivory table, inlaid with silver filigree that spiraled down its polished ebony legs. Kelpie walked into his bedroom where he paused. He sensed a weaker presence nearby.

He walked over to the closed and opened the door. Inside stood a dirty-boned skeleton of a man long since dead. The skeleton stood motionless, gazing down at the red stone floor through empty, eyeless sockets.

“Howell Greaves.” Kelpie said.

Howell Greaves shivered with fear from the malice in Kelpie’s voice. He shifted the bones of his feet farther apart to keep his knees from knocking together.

“What are you doing in my closet?” Kelpie asked.

Kelpie’s eyes glowed deep red in the dim light of the bedroom, like coals that burned unquenched. His voice was laced with cruelty, and the grim smile on his lips showed no warmth towards his visitor.

“Mercy my lord!” pleaded Howell Greaves.

The skeleton spoke with the thick accent of a Sloop pirate. He had died in the dark waters of the Atlantic, falling in battle with his ship to the ocean’s bottom. A century later, his bones were lifted up into the servitude of the Kelpie. He toiled, killing again and again, enforcing the will of his master. The bones of his hands were stained blood-red.

“I grow weary from the slaughter, my lord, and I’ve come to ask for my release. I come to ask for death.” Howell Greaves said.

With the mischievous intelligence of his kind, Kelpie contemplated the request. His eyes burned a deeper red from which the skeleton retreated in fear.

“What need have I of you, Howell Greaves? The modern world deals death so willingly. So many ways to kill. So many ways to die. Your request is granted, but if ever the need arises for your services then so shall you, to do my bidding and kill for me once again.”

Howell Greaves bowed his skull in acceptance. Kelpie laughed and the skeleton collapsed onto the red stone floor where its bones crumbled into dust. A strong wind blew into the chamber and carried the  dust out to sea, where Howell Greaves joined the blissful sleep of the dead.

Happy Halloween!