The Captain didn’t rest at Massacre Pond.
His body was buried there and a monument erected, memorializing the tragic day the good Captain and his valiant men were culled from this earth by my people, the Micmac.
Yet still he roams.
Some say he lost his wife and child to a raid. Others say his widow married twice after. Whatever the reason, it is certain that he spent much of his life killing Indians, innocent or otherwise. He once decapitated a man and left his head on a spike as a warning to the other savages. That warning proved an invitation to his murder. He lingers there now.
Sightings of the gangly settler covered in blood surfaced every few years. His notoriety was renewed by the ghost buzz each Halloween. The most recent tale featured an evil specter hoisting the blinking head of his last victim. A local firefighter encountered the Captain at the edge of his 300 year old residence, now the local tavern.
Ghost stories were not told at our dinner table. Mom warned discussing the dead would open a doorway into our home. In the case of the Captain, it would be sending an engraved invitation to the worst hell could offer. Just the same, his legend was known in my household. His haunts were personal not random. He was more than folklore for the descendants of his executioners. I knew something the townspeople didn’t.
He still hunts us, the savages.
I was twelve when I first encountered the Captain. He stood there in plain sight. His tattered clothing touted stains from the blood of his victims. The red grime seemed to gleam as if freshly showered on his person. There was old blood as well, the black kind that looked more like mechanic’s grease, smeared on his arms and neck. The reality of him was much worse than any fable circling the town.
I saw him from a short distance as dusk settled on the marsh. He was bold. He counted on my recognition. His appearance was intentionally hideous, a wretched sight. The snowy egret drew my eyes to his as it took flight. I couldn’t look away. Something passed between us even at that distance. My body shuddered without warning, suspension of disbelief. His gruesome countenance compelled everything in my being to run. Fight or flight; no just flight. In shocked protest at my hesitation, my jelly legs faltered then failed, spilling me to the ground.
His sneer was triumphant. His pitch eyes and black hole mouth gaped at me. He was closer now. The edge of the marsh contained him. My parking lot seemed a false sanctuary as I reached for mom’s car door. Hurry! Oh please hurry. She saw nothing. I am not sure which was more frightening, his appearance or her indifference.
I said nothing to her. How could I? She didn’t see him. She looked right through him. I spent the ride home trembling and praying to the Creator for protection. I also watched the horizon behind us with diligence for the bloody hunter.
In my dreams, he chased me through the Scarborough Salt Marsh screaming and howling that he would end my life. I woke in a sweat, terrorized and sore, ragged when my mom saw me. She was concerned. “He got to you; didn’t he?” She knew the answer. She had seen him. She reached around her neck. With a white face and trembling hands, she passed her necklace to me; a small dream catcher. “He has been chasing our family for centuries. There is no Micmac tribesman in Maine safe from this vengeful monster.” We sat facing. She rested her hands on my arm after fastening the catch. “We wear these to protect us from more than bad dreams. You can’t leave it over your bed. You must wear it at all times.”
I didn’t speak. For once, I just listened. She told his familiar tale. “He waits until we see him, until he connects. He uses our dreams to extinguish us. You will see him. He is here. He remains. He can’t touch you, though. Not if you wear this. You must wear your dream catcher.”
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