Read this classic horror story of 1907 by William Hope Hodgson, a forgotten writer inspired by authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Arthur Conan Doyle (bio) as an eBook published by the University of Adelaide. A great Halloween read!
It was a dark, starless night. We were becalmed in the Northern Pacific. Our exact position I do not know; for the sun had been hidden during the course of a weary, breathless week, by a thin haze which had seemed to float above us, about the height of our mastheads, at whiles descending and shrouding the surrounding sea.
With there being no wind, we had steadied the tiller, and I was the only man on deck. The crew, consisting of two men and a boy, were sleeping forrard in their den; while Will — my friend, and the master of our little craft — was aft in his bunk on the port side of the little cabin.
Suddenly, from out of the surrounding darkness, there came a hail:
The cry was so unexpected that I gave no immediate answer, because of my surprise.
It came again — a voice curiously throaty and inhuman, calling from somewhere upon the dark sea away on our port broadside:
“Hullo!” I sung out, having gathered my wits somewhat. “What are you? What do you want?”
“You need not be afraid,” answered the queer voice, having probably noticed some trace of confusion in my tone. “I am only an old man.”
The pause sounded oddly; but it was only afterwards that it came back to me with any significance.
“Why don’t you come alongside, then?” I queried somewhat snappishly; for I liked not his hinting at my having been a trifle shaken.