By Frampton Jones
Like many people who find themselves unexpectedly shipwrecked onto our island, Steve Tanner was sure he could leave. It invariably leads to trouble, and frequently to death, which is of itself no guarantee of leaving, as our many ghosts can testify.
Steve Tanner is effectively dead. Some weeks ago, he took a boat out with the intention of trying to catch up with a ship just visible on the horizon. I personally do not think those ships are always real. I think many of them are illusions created for the express purpose of adding to our collective misery. Anything that gets close to us but does not break up on the rocks should not be trusted, in my opinion.
It was the sort of day when taking a small boat out did not seem wholly reckless. Again, this is something to treat with suspicion. If the waters are gentle, it is only ever to lure us into a false sense of security. As is usually the way of it, a small party of onlookers gathered to spectate and place bets. Steve rowed manfully towards the distant ship. Not a single tentacle came up to try and dissuade him – it was as if they knew. I expect they knew.
He was still in plain sight when the boat stopped dead in the waters. He did not sink. He did not progress, nor yet was he flung back towards the land. There he remains. Stuck. A few intrepid fishermen have been out for a look and tell me that the boat cannot be touched. However close you get, it remains forever out of arm’s reach and things thrown at it simply miss. Time seems to be operating differently in the boat – it may be day or night there, and Steve has apparently grown a beard. How he continues to live, what he eats, how he sources fresh water – none can say. Whether he truly lives at all, or has become some strange unliving thing I do not know.
Certainly, he serves as a warning to us all.
Although Steve is now amongst the ranks of the uncertain, it doesn’t feel quite right to shout his name at the sea.