23:43 Fri 27 Jul 2007. Updated: 01:45 28 Jul 2007
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From a distance, all looks well. Peaceful, serene. The ship floats, its sails unfurled, ready to depart.

Looking more closely, the sails are worn, tattered. The hull, while intact, is old and rotten, the wood having been left untreated. The ropes are decayed, the metal rusted, the flag is in shreds.

There are no crew, at least no crew still alive. Inside, there are bodies. Some hanged, some yet locked in combat, some sitting sadly with bottles in hand.

In the captain’s cabin, his hand still grips the pistol he used to end his earthly torment.

The logs are there, but torn and decayed, and evidence of madness is splashed across the pages. Prayers, curses, predictions, farewells, questions. Above all, incomprehension and disbelief.

The sails move not at all. The bodies on deck wear rags that could be sculpted from marble. The ship does not shift from side to side with wave or current. There are no insects, there are no noises.

The last ripples to hit the hull were centuries ago, from the oars of crewmen desperate enough to take rowboats into the ocean.

The sea surrounds the ship like glass, miles of salt water unbroken by any imperfection.

(200 words)

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