So there I was, dude, me and two of my mates heading to this wedding – my bro's, as it happens, and me a groomsman, just looking to get in there and party. You know what bridesmaids are like at a wedding, yo? I was hoping for some sweet, sweet action. When out of nowhere this gnarly old dude appears and starts yammering on about some ship. I guessed he wanted some cash, so I dug out a few dollars but he wouldn't take it, shook his head and said he had to tell his story. I tell ya, bro, he had eyes like, well, like you wouldn't believe, man. Unnerving they were, spooked me real good. But hey, like I say, he was an old dude – ancient, really – and I wasn't going to let him put the frighteners on me, nomasayin? So I says to him "Chill, man. Gimme back my hand!" Did I mention he had grabbed my hand? Aw no, dude, I forgot: he had grabbed my hand, and his grip was real strong for a guy who had to be ninety if he was a day, and, yeah, cold too, you know? Like holding a dead fish or something. Kinda gave me the shits, ain't gonna lie.

So anyway, he looks at me for another second or two and then eftsoons he drops my hand. What? Eftsoons? It's a word, man. Heard it once. Liked it. Using it more in general conversation, you know? What? Nah, ain't got a clue what it means, dude, just like the sound of it. Guess it means like, very soon or something. Eftsoons. Eft-soons. Yeah. So where was I? Oh shit right; eftsoons he drops my hand, and I says to him "Look dude, all I wanna do is get in there to the party, do my bit for my bro, then get wasted and find a nice chick, okay? I don't wanna hear your story. I ain't interested."

But you know, dude, I suddenly realised I was lying. Not only was I interested but – what's that word they use when someone has you in their power, when you can do nothing but what they want? Spellchecked? Spellbound? Yeah, that's it. Dude had me totally spellchecked. So I move with him to a nearby rock and sit down, cos I can see this is going to take a while, and he starts telling me this story about a ship he was on that got caught in a big storm and driven south till they got stuck in ice. Ship can't go forward, can't go back. They're trapped, man. Trapped. Yeah, I know that look dude: it's the same one was on my face when he told me the story. You're hooked now, yeah? Got to know what happened? Hell dude, story is only beginning. You will not believe this. Uh, throat's a bit dusty, bro, you feel me? All this talkin' - could do with some, ah, lubrication, you get me? Thanks. Mine's a pint. Cheers.

Your very good health, dude. So where was I? Oh yeah, the ice. So there's this ship, stuck in the ice – tall pillars of the stuff on every side, the cold leeching into the bones of the sailors, the wind freezing the sails of the ship, when suddenly this big-ass bird flies by. Yeah, but bigger. Can't remember what he said it was... albatross? Think that was it. Big wingspan, like this wide – oh shit, man! Sorry dude! My bad! Let me buy you another.

Yo, I'd better remember to keep my arms to myself in future. Did not like the look of that guy's tattoos! Anyway... what was I saying? Oh yeah. Big bird. Albatross. Flies in and the sailors go well hell dude, this is a good omen – sailors are superstitious that way; won't have chicks on board, never rename a ship, all that kind of stuff and nonsense. So behind us my bro's wife-to-be comes into the hall and I can hear the minstrels rockin' out, and for a moment I wanna leave, go and join them.. Everyone seems to be having a good time, and I should go, but something stops me. This story, man, it's, well, it's got me. I have to know how it turns out.

Yo dude, you got a light? What? You can't? Since when? Man, I been out of the game for a long time. Yeah, been travelling. Come halfway across the continent now. Have this weird compulsion to tell the old guy's story, like I'm, I don't know, under some sort of obligation or something. All right then, I guess I'll save it for later. So anyway, turns out the bird was a good omen, cos the ice starts to crack and the ship is able to escape. But then – never understood why – this old dude shoots the bird down. Yeah, I know. His buddies aren't too happy, as – yeah you guessed it, they're superstitious about this too, but here's where it gets weird. Well, no, it gets a lot weirder, but here's when it starts to get weird. For no reason, his pals decide you know what, old dude was right, cos they figure maybe it was the bird that was keeping the winds from blowing... what? I didn't? Oh. Sorry. Well, yeah, the reason they were stuck there, apparently, was that the wind had dropped and they couldn't sail out of the ice. Plus of course, the ice had solidified around the ship. And there was, like, fog and mist and shit too. Hell what do I know? Do I look like I've ever set foot on the deck of a ship? I get seasick in the bath! Like I say, just telling you what I heard from the old guy.

Right. Cough cough, throat's getting a bit dusty... ah cheers man. Nice one. Back to the ice then. Having had this, like, total change of heart, man, the sailors all decide the old guy did the right thing shooting down the bird, cos then the wind starts to blow and off they head. But as the saying goes, they sort of jump from the frying pan into the fire, cos next thing they're in this sea that don't move. No wind, nothing to lift the sails, and they're stuck again, though this time it's not cold but bakingly hot. Now they're up shit creek without a paddle and so they go and hang the albatross around the old dude's neck. Heck, I don't know why, guy. I'm just telling you the story as he told it to me. Probably a punishment, mark of dishonour – who knows with these crazy sailors? Hey that reminds me of a joke. Why aren't chicks allowed on board ships? Cos women and seamen don't mix! Get it? Seamen – semen... ah forget it. Where was I? Oh. Right.

They all start to get real thirsty, cos there's only salt water and they can't drink that – what? Good point, dude. I would have thought they'd have supplies of water on board too. I mean, even if you're in the friendliest seas, even I know you can't drink seawater. So why it made any difference that they were here, in the "silent sea", as the old guy called it, beats me. Maybe it was cause they were there so long. What? I don't know. Don't think the old dude had a watch. Don't think anyone did. Anyway eventually they see a sail, and they're pretty stoked man. Rescue at last.

Except it ain't. It ain't rescue at all, dude. Nah. It's Death. Death, dude, the big guy. The Grim Reaper, you know? Sailing this ship he is – huh? I don't know dude. I don't know how it sailed without wind. It's Death, innit? Guess he can do what he likes. Anyway he's not on his own; he's brought his old lady on the trip, and they divide up the crew, Death taking all except the old guy and his old lady taking him. How the fuck should I know, man? Maybe she liked the look of him. Maybe she's into older guys. Who knows? Point is, she decides to let him live while Death goes nah sorry honey I gots to work, and proceeds to kill all the rest of the crew. Yeah. I know. And he has to watch them all die, knowing he's responsible for bringing them to this horrible place, being as he went and killed that bird. I mean, if you're a superstitious sailor, that is. Me, I just think they got real unlucky.

Anyway, Death and his wife sod off, and leave the old dude the only one alive. He's left on the ship with a bunch of dead men, and I guess he goes a bit mad – wouldn't blame him – and now the story turns even weirder. Listen to this. Left with only the sea creatures to accompany him, he watches them and then starts to bless them. According to him, once he does, that albatross bird slips from his neck, all by itself, and falls overboard into the sea. Then he catches some zees and when he wakes up it's raining but – here's the scary shit; you believe it or not, up to you, but when he told me I fucking well believed it – the crew come back to life and start piloting the ship away from the silent sea! I kid you not! They bring it all the way back home almost, where he meets a pilot and then the zombie dudes – man, he said they were angels, that he saw them rise out of the bodies of the dead men, heard them talking about him  – go down with the ship as it sinks, and he's rescued.

Seems then he's under this, I don't know, compulsion I guess, to tell people about his adventure, and to teach everyone he talks to to love all creatures. Hey, you know, all taken in all, it's not a bad lesson is it dude? Be excellent to everyone, including the animals. Me? Used to be a hunter, used to go duck shooting with my old man, but since I talked to this guy I ain't shot a living thing. Won't even swat a fly. Yeah, he has that effect on you. I don't know: maybe the story, you know, has its own power, but I feel like he must: got to go tell the story, got to convince folks not to kill living things. You'll find yourself doing the same thing, dude, I promise. You just wait: you'll wake up tomorrow a sadder and wiser dude. I did.