Skull and Crossbones

Here is my microfiction for June. The theme is ‘Ghost Stories’… enjoy!


“There it is,” Skull whispered, pointing at the dilapidated house. Nighthaven was built high on the bluff, overlooking Eyrie Cove. He looked at his friend, whose eyes were wide with fear… or maybe just apprehension. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“It’s just one cranky old man, guarding the treasure,” Crossbones sniggered, playfully digging his elbow into his friend’s ribs. “I’m game if you are!”

The two childhood friends cautiously made their way towards the derelict building, starting at every noise that escaped from the scrub surrounding them.

“Why are we doing this, again?” Skull took Crossbone’s arm and spun him around, standing face to face with his old friend to look him in the eye.

“You know the legend as well as I do,” Crossbones sighed. “The ashes of the Necromancer have magical powers, and we are going to steal them.”

Crossbones turned towards the manor house and started moving again, but Skull stood his ground.

“You saw what happened to Master Bates,” Skull said. “He failed, miserably. Now all he does is rock back and forth on the boat, moaning incoherently.”

“To be fair, he was never the shiniest doubloon in the treasure chest.” Crossbones put his hand on Skull’s shoulder. “Come on… sack up! Pretend you’re that brave, testosterone-laden teenager I once knew.”

Skull shrugged his acceptance, and the two friends slowly crept towards the house on the hill. They listened intently for the slightest sound as they made their way up the front stairs and through the front door.

“Where now?” Skull mouthed, soundlessly. Crossbones pointed up the grand internal staircase. Skull nodded and motioned for Crossbones to go first.

As they climbed the staircase, Skull and Crossbones listened intently for any sign of detection. With each step, their confidence grew.

“Nobody’s ever made it this far,” Crossbones whispered.

“Shhh!” Skull punched his friend in the shoulder. “Arrogance begets a fall!”

Crossbones grinned as they reached the top of the staircase. He looked around, trying to decide which direction to go next. “Your turn to decide,” he said to Skull.

Skull pulled an indecisive face, then pointed to the left. Crossbones nodded and they headed to the open doorway, but all traces of cockiness fled as a decrepit old man appeared in front of them.

The old man screamed incoherently at Skull and Crossbones, brandishing a poker from a fireplace as the two friends fled across the landing and back to the stairs. They were fast, but the old man was faster. He swung the poker wildly, flailing it around. As it passed through Skull and Crossbones, they dissipated… dissolving into white wisps of smoke.

“No wailing wisps are going to steal my treasure,” the old man muttered to himself, as he hobbled back to his reading room.


Skull and Crossbones coalesced back at their place of death. They were in the galley of the ship where they’d drowned, over 200 years earlier. Rough seas had sunk the sloop during a freak storm.

“Son of a syphilitic whore!” Crossbones cried, his sentiment carrying effortlessly through the seawater. “That hurt! Let’s try again, in another fifty years. That old bastard should be dead by then!”

Skull wordlessly collapsed to the floor which, by now, had been mostly dissolved by time and saltwater and was covered with seaweed and sand. He curled into the foetal position and looked up accusingly at Crossbones, watching as his friend danced a painful jig.

The ocean’s current flowed through the rotting carcass of the ship that was lodged sideways on the seabed, creating an eddy of jetsam and small marine life.

Master Bates looked up at them from the corner of the galley. “Arrrr,” he said, rocking back and forth. 

Author: Brett Holzhauser

Speculative fiction to die for

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