Old Bill is a scary ghost story set at sea. It is based on an old ghost story related by Sir Walter Scott in his book Demonology and Witchcraft. A version of this story appeared in Whistle in the Graveyard with the title “Bill is With Me Now”.
Many years ago, there was a ship that set sail from Liverpool, England. The captain of the ship was a mean and vicious man with a violent temper. He ruled the ship with and iron fist and treated his men with nastiness and cruelty.
One of the ship’s crew was an man named Bill. He old and fat and found it hard to keep up with all the work. As soon as the captain set eyes on Old Bill, he took an instant dislike to him. He was always shouting at Bill and calling him names.
One day, Bill was swabbing the deck, as usual. He was feeling very tired and he was moving even slower than usual. The Captain hurled abuse at Bill, calling him a fat rascal, a no-good lazy pig and various other things that can’t be repeated.
Eventually, Old Bill couldn’t take the abuse any longer. He dropped his mop, turned to the captain and said, “Why don’t you shut your big mouth?”
At this, the captain flew into a rage. He ran down to his cabin and when he came back, he was holding a gun. Before Old Bill had a chance to react, the furious Captain pointed the gun at him and shot the old man right in the chest.
Old Bill collapsed on the deck and lay there as a pool of blood spread out around him. The crewmen gathered around him, but there was nothing they could do. He was dying.
The old man looked up and fixed his eyes on the captain.
“You’ve killed me,” he gasped, “but I’ll never leave you…”
The captain just laughed as Old Bill drew his last breath. Then, he ordered the crew to toss the old man’s body overboard.
There was no funeral service. Old Bill’s corpse was just callously thrown into the sea. The captain warned every member of the crew that if they ever breathed a word about what happened, he would kill them too.
A few days later, rumors began floating around among the crew. Some of them said they had seen the ghost of Old Bill wandering around at night. As time went on, more and more crewmen were convinced they had seen him. They were afraid to tell the captain about it, so they kept their mouths shut. There was a great tension on the ship and a lot of the men were afraid that something terrible was going to happen.
One morning, the captain didn’t come out of his cabin. After a while, the first mate went down to see what was wrong. The captain was lying in bed with the sheets wrapped around him. He was trembling and he had a look of terror on his face.
“What’s wrong, Captain?” the first mate asked.
“It’s Old Bill,” the captain hissed. “You remember what he said with his dying breath, don’t you? He told me he would never leave me and he has kept his word. You only see him now and then, but he is always with me. He never leaves my sight. There he is right now!”
The first mate looked around, but he didn’t see anyone.
“I can’t bear it any longer,” said the captain. “I’m leaving!”
“But you can’t leave, Captain,” said the first mate. “We’re in the middle of the ocean.”
“Yes, I can,” said the captain and with that, he opened the porthole beside his bed and jumped out. The first mate tried to grab him, but he was too slow. He heard a loud splash and looked out the porthole.
The captain was sinking into the sea and disappearing among the waves.
“Old Bill is with me now!” the captain cried out and then, he sank down below the waves and was never seen again.