Matt Dooley
5 min readAug 21, 2020


The Vessel

My life has been a series of events leading between vessels. Always travelling, never arriving.

Don't ask what I seek. I do hate it so. Your incessant questions will only make this boat ride all the more intolerable. But if you remain quiet, and listen, there is a piece of spiced chocolate from the east I will reward you with.

First let me rid you of the false assumptions of our primitive collective memory. The seas are not the danger we made them out to be. I saw you clinging to the ropes before at the slightest turbulence. There is no shame in fear. But there are other things you should fear more than the water.

Monsters? Of course there are monsters in the sea. Do you see how vast the water is? We will see more of the stars above long before we make sense of the sea below.

I know what I said, child. Its not the seas you should worry about, but the vessels upon which we traverse them. Think on it.

What's that? Yes, the boat. Do you want that chocolate or not? Then be quiet and think on the power of the mind.

We, humans, imagined great and terrible things. Monuments, war machines, art and atrocities. These things and more were once simple figments of our imaginations. Through will and belief and application, we brought them into the world. Hear that hollow thump when I slam my heel on the deck? That is exactly how they start. Empty.

Be quiet a moment. Let me listen to the waves. I'll continue in my own time.

I am...I was. Someone else. We are never who we were and who we are is never who we'll be. Do you know about the Secret Laws? Shame. Maybe when you're older you can look up the Awatu Manuscripts. They will thoroughly ruin you, if you have a taste for life. Cure you of that pesky hope that grips our souls so tight.

You're shaking. Are you afraid? I see. Where would you go? If I am what you fear then deeper in the boat is hardly an escape. Perhaps the water then. Do you see those shadows just beneath the surface? Maybe they're just a trick of the light. I'm just teasing. Besides I've yet to teach you the most important thing and tell you why I'm here.

Vessels, child. Fucking gods damned VESSELS. You're damn right I'm stomping in the deck. I hope the boat feels it too.

Don't look at me like I'm a madman. Children are supposed to have malleable minds open to the truths. We pour all this time and energy into creating these things that carry us about the world, and then bestow them with our faith that they will perform their tasks.

Yes, I'm saying the boat is alive. It can also make choices. Such as never letting me reach the damn place I want to go. They take us where we think we want to go most readily. But they are intuitive and know where we should go better than we do. They just don't like to take us there.

We're their masters, are we? We do not see them as feeling things and so they do not feel. We blame an all knowing entity when something goes wrong. It's funny, right? How we rage and shout at the unfairness of it all when it does because everything is always happening to us. And how dare the world do such a thing! How dare our wood and metal beasts of transport break down on us, the Architects of the World!

All of it done to us!

Did my laughter frighten you? So sorry. But you see what I mean. How ridiculous it is for us to take credit for all the good and shift blame for all the bad, even to the tools who could not possibly have chosen to be or do anything else. Yet...and yet...

What agency they have in the world is our own direct interference in the false perception of their purpose and what they are.

What can we do? Nothing. It's too ingrained in us now. We are at their mercy. Oh we can tear them apart and make new ones. But as I said, we imbued them with an inherent lack of care for their own existence and without the understanding of pain to use as a motivator. They have their duty and they are at random assigned blame that doesn't apply. Think about a human with such an emotional disconnect. We cannot fix the pseudo-sentience issue without fixing what it is in ourselves that causes it in the first place.

The buck stops with us.

Here is your chocolate. I'm tired and want to end this soon. Spicy, right? Unusual I know but I quite like it. I hope you learned something. Though if I half cared about you I'd hope you forget everything I said.

Where am I going? Same place you were headed. Home, child. Where we are all going, even if we're taking the long way around. And I have been going...for so long. These damn things wont take me the right fucking direction.

You don't want to know that. Get any map you like. Because it's not on any of your maps. Vessels aren't the only things with bestowed pseudo-sentience after all. Monuments, some temples, and don't get me started on Lighthouses, those terrible menaces to the fabric of our realities.

Where I'm heading is an Obelisk. It can take me home, quick as you can snatch this other piece chocolate from my hand. Too slow. Have it anyway. This obelisk is in the middle of the ocean and very tall. A king of the sea comes to it sometimes and sings, though you would go mad to hear it. But when I came here from my home, it was an accident. I should never have been here and now nothing will let me leave.

At least, not yet.

Gotcha! Stop struggling. I promise this will only be worse if you keep trying to pull away. You were supposed to gobble the other chocolate down before you started to get drowsy. Guess I prattled on a bit too much.

There. We're in the hold now and you wont have the strength to scream.

I will get home. It may change your world when I do. Not a lot that you would notice, but the stars are important and some things may awaken. I simply don't care about this place. I need to get home to make sure that very thing didn't happen to mine. I have what came for. The Traveler was quite informative, and eager to see what I knew. And I suppose, what I would do.

That should probably give me pause. He has his own machinations, always. Ah well, any good that may have done is long behind me now.

What's that? Why am i doing this? Vessels are like any faith imbued archon of our own making; to make then listen, you must sacrifice.

Id say you wont feel a thing but i dont know that for sure. To be honest, I dont care. For what its worth, the nature of consumption is entirely dependent on the nature if the archon. Perhaps when the ship eats you, it will take you somewhere else.

Thats a nice throught, isn't it?

Hold still. You're too big to fit so some adjustments will need to be made. Mostly to your limbs. Have you ever folded a shirt? It will be something like that.

Think sunny things. This is gonna hurt.



Matt Dooley

Irish. Love horror. Philosophical conundrums are fun.