My name's Blackheart and I am the Captain of
the ship, the Treasure Hunter. I've been a pirate most of my life.
When I was but a lad of ten, my father, a drunkard, sold me to a pirate
for a keg of Tortuga Rum. I don't think my mother worried too much. She
took the first swig from the keg. Captain Bloodsword put me to work right
away. If I wasn't swabbing the deck, I was fetching his grub and picking
the maggots out of it. He wasn't all that bad. He taught me how to pillage
and plunder and rifle and loot and kidnap and ravage and all the other
things that pirates do. By the time I was fourteen years old, I had my own
eye patch, dagger, and knew how to curse with the best of them.
I sailed the seas with Cap'n Bloodsword for
ten years, until he died when the British ship, the HRM Seven Wives
blasted a hole in the side of our ship. I managed to swim away. I found a
small island and lived on coconuts, raw fish and rainwater for a few
months. One cloudless morning another pirate ship, the Red Cloud,
stopped by to bury stolen crates of rum. Captain Goldtooth took me on and
I stayed with him until I got my own ship, the Treasure Hunter,
twenty years ago. He made sure I received an education. He always told me
a captain must be educated, above his crew. I owe a lot to Goldtooth. A
fine captain he was.
I've got a fine crew of pirates. They're
faithful and stalwart and can handle the rigging during the worst storms
the seas can dish out. We've been hunted by the British Navy for as long
as I can remember. They nearly caught us once, but we escaped by the hair
of a stray dog.
That same small island I was marooned on,
well, I've buried my treasure there, not far from the booty of rum. I call
it Skulltooth Island. It's not shaped like a skull, or even a tooth; I
just happen to like the name. My crew and I have enough buried treasure to
keep us in the lap of luxury for the rest of our lives. If only we could
get back to it. That's my problem. You see, about two years ago a group of
settlers from Polynesia rowed over and built a village. There's a hill in
the middle of the island and they can see any ship that comes within five
miles. Every time I try to fetch my treasure, the islanders fight us off
with fiery arrows and not only that, they control sharks. Do not doubt
me. I swear on the Jolly Roger himself that whenever we get near, the
sharks attack our ship. Some of them are so big that when they charge the
Treasure Hunter, they break the wooden slats with their snouts; but
I and my mates have a plan, we do. Argh! (I threw that in for effect)
We're going after our treasure and those islanders are not going to stop
us this time.
* * *
The ship bobbed up and down on the rough sea.
The sun, hidden by massive gray clouds, hadn't shown itself for three
days. Me and the crew stayed in our cabins, or below deck, avoiding the
swells that sloshed over the decks, wiping away everything in their path.
Everything that could be tied down had been.
The night lingered far too long for most of
us. Though they had their sea legs, the rolling action of the ocean
brought even the toughest sailor to his knees. They slept when they could,
praying for the night to end. I had to endure an endless night of
listening to their moans and groans.
“Ahoy! Land ho!” Silverear shouted. “It's
Skulltooth Island. Cap'n Blackheart, should I weigh anchor?”
I opened the cabin door. The fresh sea air
whipped the sails, but I enjoyed it and took a few deep breaths before
answering. “Drop anchor. The storm's past. I thought we'd end up in Davy
Jones' Locker this time. Worst storm I've seen in years.”
“Ahoy, Cap'n Blackheart.” Silverear called
down from the crow's nest.
I looked up to see which direction my first
mate pointed. “Land ho! Skulltooth Island? Are you sure?”
“Aye, Cap'n. It's Skulltooth. I'll never
forget that sight. I'm coming down.” The earrings under Silverear's
sweat-stained scarf caught a glimmer of light as the sun's rays burst
through the clouds. (Rather poetic of me, isn’t it?)
“When are you going to get rid of those fool
earrings? You've got enough silver in your ears to buy yourself your own
ship.” He ignored me. I stood at the railing, mumbling to myself while the
crew cleaned up the disarray from the storm's fury. “I know you're out
there sharks. You'll not stop us this time. I want my treasure and I'm
going to get it. I've had enough adventures. It's time to settle down.”
“Pardon me, Cap'n, but we've come a bit close.
The sharks will soon be attacking our ship, if the arrows of fire don’t
get us first.” Silverear moved in closer to the rail.
“I've got a plan, Silverear. I want you and
Grub to put the nets over the side and catch us a good supply of fish.
When you've caught enough, I want you to pulverize them.” I looked down at
the waves; my eyes open for signs of a fin.
“Cap'n? Then what?”
“Sweep it all into one of the lifeboats and
put it over the side. Make sure you punch a small hole in the bottom of it
so the blood seeps into the sea. The sharks will sense the blood and go
after it, while we take the ship to Skulltooth Island. I think it will
work.” When I grinned, Silverear backed up. I knew my rotting,
plaque-covered teeth sent a foul odor with each word spoken. His mouth
smelled as putrid as mine. It's one of the hazards of a pirate's life.
“Aye, aye, Cap'n. Grub and I will get on it
right away.” Silverear rushed to the back of the ship to obey my orders.
At least I didn't have to worry about mutiny.
“That will take care of those sharks. Now to
put my next plan in order.” I glanced at the wheel. “Nims! Come here.”
The eye-patched pirate waved an
acknowledgment, jumped down the steps and stopped in front of me. “Aye,
Cap'n. What can I do for ye?”
“You and I are going to row over to Skulltooth.
Silverear is creating a diversion for the sharks and the others will sail
the ship around to the bay. You and I will row to the north side.”
“Cap'n, we'll need more than the two of us to
row that far. Why, it's nearly 5 miles. I'm getting old and my arms can't
take that.” Nims sighed and wiped his forehead with the tail of his shirt.
Gray, wispy hairs, coated with rime and grease poked out from under a
black scarf. A knot at the back kept it on his head during the worst
“We're going. It's my plan. Ready a boat and
as soon as Silverear sets the other boat in the water, we're off. Those
are my orders. You need a bath, Nims. You stink.”
“Yes, Cap'n.” The grumbling and offended
pirate shuffled off to lower the boat into the water.
“I'll feed him to the sharks after we get
back.” I shouted, “Bring a shovel too, Nims.” The scent of plumeria,
jasmine and honeysuckle floated across the waves to the ship. Even from
that distance the island called to me; or was it my treasure?
My plan went accordingly. The boat of fish
dropped into the water and once I saw the blood dripping, I knew Nims and
I would make it. Silverear lowered us and when our boat hit the waves, we
bobbed up and down on the swells. I untied the ropes and off we went. Nims
and I rowed hard, we did. Our arms ached after the first mile, but I
wanted my treasure.
Nims tapped me on the shoulder. “Cap'n, the
sharks. Look at 'em all.”
I gulped in horror as fifty to sixty gray fins
appeared, swimming towards the ship. “They'll not harm us. They're doing
just as I planned.” We watched as the sharks rammed the small boat, trying
to turn it over. “Let's row a little faster, Nims.”
An hour later we jumped from the water,
dragging the boat onto the sand. The Treasure Hunter made sail and
headed for the bay in the center of the island.
“Cap'n, what do you have in mind, sir?” Nims
squeezed the sea water from his loose-fitting pants.
“We're going to get my treasure and get out of
here before those islanders can catch us. I'm sure one of them saw us
rowing in.” I grabbed the shovel out of the boat and rushed off with Nims
right behind me. “By the way, Nims, you look like a bag of potatoes!”
“Right, Cap’n.” He completely ignored the
insult. “Where is it buried, Cap'n?”
In return, I ignored him and walked on. I knew
exactly where the treasure was. We stopped at the base of a bent over palm
tree. “Right here, Nims.” I threw the shovel at him. He didn't argue with
me. He simply took the shovel and dug, stopping every few minutes to wipe
his brow. I pulled a bottle of rum out of my coat pocket and took a swig
when Nims wasn't looking.
“Cap'n,” he said, stopping to sniff the air.
“The flowers here sure smell like rum. Oh, what I wouldn't give for a swig
of the stuff right now. How deep do I have to dig?”
I shook my head. “Dig until I say to stop.”
A noise caught my attention. The thick jungle
of vines and leafy trees presented a haven for anyone who wanted to sneak
up and rob me of my treasure. I turned. “Stay here and keep digging, Nims.
I think we've got company.” Before I left I took another glance at the
Treasure Hunter. She was near enough to the island for me to see the
crew on board. Silverear spotted me and waved. The fool!
I crept into the trees, my ears alert for any
unfamiliar noises. A branch cracked. I swiftly turned and saw a monkey
running up a tree with some soft of fruit in his hand. “A bloody monkey.”
Embarrassed that I'd worried for nothing, I headed back to the beach.
“I've got it, Cap'n. Your treasure chest is
right here. Could ye give me a hand?” Nims tossed the shovel out of the
I jumped in with him and the two of us lifted
it up onto the beach. My heart raced with anticipation. Gold! Jewels!
Riches! And they're all mine. A rusted iron lock held heavy chains in
place, wrapped tightly around the chest. I pulled the pistol from inside
the waistband of my pants and aimed.
“Wait, Cap'n. If you shoot the gun, the
islanders will hear it.” Nims grabbed my arm.
“You're right, Nims. What am I thinking? Find
a large stone. We'll beat it apart. It's only iron and rusting at that.” I
headed into the trees, leaving Nims to search on the beach. I'd only gone
a few yards when I heard that same rustling sound in the trees above me. I
looked up to see a huge coconut heading for my face. Blackness whirled
around me as I fell to the ground.
My head throbbed. I opened my eyes. An
olive-skinned face gazed at me. I rolled over on my side, not sure of my
surroundings. Ten men stood around me, their spears pointed at my throat.
They at least allowed me the dignity of standing. “Hello, gents. I suppose
you saw us rowing in. Ah well.”
“You are Captain Blackheart?” One of the
islanders spoke English, much to my relief.
“Aye, that’s who I be.” I removed my hat and
bowed, adding a few illiterate words for their benefit.
The leader stepped forward. “What do you want?
Why do you keep coming back to the Island of Fragrant Flowers?”
I nearly burst out laughing, but instead I
kept it to a choking cough. “Island of Fragrant Flowers? What sort of
sissy name is that? It’s Skulltooth Island, you fools. Fragrant Flowers.
The islanders looked at each other and mumbled
something in their native language. “Your ship has been captured and is
anchored in the Bay of Flying Fish. Your crew are tied up and surrounded
by more of our people, all armed with spears.”
I lifted my eye patch and looked these men
over. They wore only a small animal skin tied around their waist. Somehow
I didn’t think my crew would be afraid of them. “Why don’t you let us get
what we came for and leave? You’ll never see us again. You’ve got me word
on it.” I had to make them believe I was stupid, hence the odd word again.
“Follow me.” He nudged me with the sharp tip
of the spear.
I glanced in the bushes and saw Nims
squatting. At least one of us was free. I hoped Nims would come up with a
plan to rescue us.
My crew sat in the sand with wrists bound and
backs together. Waves lapped at their bottoms and crabs crawled all over
their legs. The leader, Gopher, as I named him, pushed me into the circle.
One of the other natives bound my wrists with palm frond strips. I must
admit they were tight. We had no way of escaping them without our knives.
The others gathered around Gopher. I counted
twenty-two of them. No women were in sight.
“Say, Cap’n,” Silverear whispered. “How are we
going to get out of this mess and where’s Nims?
The other crew members heard and turned to
look at me. “He’s hiding. I’m sure he’ll come up with a plan to rescue
us.” I saw the look for hopelessness on their faces. Even I knew Nims was
worthless. To think of him as a gallant knight coming to our rescue was
Gopher ordered one of his men to start a fire.
Within minutes the flames burst from the dried wood and brush.
“They’re not going to eat us, are they, Cap’n?”
Jigsaw nudged me with his elbow.
“I don’t think so. They’re not cannibals.” I
scoffed and spat in the sand.
Gopher walked over to me, kicking granules of
wet sand in our direction. “Captain Blackheart, what is it that you came
to find and where is the other man?”
I gave him a dumb look. “What other man? I
rowed here alone. As for what I came to find, it’s a chest of old papers.”
I had to think fast. He wasn’t falling for it. “The papers show I own
land. They’re deeds. Yes, deeds for land in Tortuga.”
“Tortuga? I am not familiar with that place.”
Gopher stared with eyes of stony gray.
“It is not in these here parts. It’s in the
Caribbean. It’s an island. That’s why we want to get the chest and leave.”
I tried to keep eye contact with him so he’d believe me.
“And where is this chest?”
“Back where you captured me. Say, you’re not
planning on eating us, are you?” I watched as the flames roared higher.
Gopher laughed. His buck teeth jostled up and
down. I found it strange that he had all of his teeth. “The fire is to
roast a turtle. We will escort you and your crew to the chest and then
make sure it gets on your boat. You must make an oath with us that you
will never return to your Skulltooth Island.”
“Deal! You’ve got my word. What sort of oath?”
“Each of you must perform a ritual.”
I didn’t like the way Gopher said the last
word. “A ritual? Is that some sort of Polynesian thing? You don’t expect
us to summons some ancient dead tiki god, do you?”
Gopher glared at me. “Don’t mock me, Captain
Blackheart. I would rather cut all your tongues out and feed them to our
wild dogs than have to listen to your lies one moment longer. However, if
you succeed at the ritual, you can have your freedom.”
Silverear bashed me in the side with his
elbow. “Cap’n; we’ll do it, whatever it is. I want the deeds from the
chest and to be on our way.”
“Very well. What is your name, sir?” I knew it
“You can call me Dakini. I am leader of the
Puulami tribe. Stand, all of you.”
A spear thrust in my face, barely missing my
nose. As we struggled to stand, several islanders walked past dragging a
giant sea turtle.
I followed Dakini through the trees to the
spot where he’d captured me. Praying that Nims was smart enough to stay
hidden, I took them to the chest. I noticed Nims had put it back in the
hole. “There it is. Now, if you’ll help me get it out of the hole, we’ll
be on our way. Once the chest is on the ship, safe and secure, we’ll do
your native ritual.”
Dakini ordered Chappy and Zeedal to lift the
chest out of the hole.
Relief washed over me when they set it on the
sand without bursting the lock. “Thank you, mates. Now, if we can get it
to our ship?” I nodded with arched eyebrows.
“Carry it!” Dakini commanded my men. Chappy
and Zeedal handled it, though a few times they tripped.
I knew if the chest burst open and the natives
saw the gold, we were dead men.
Dakini allowed Silverear and Chappy to row the
chest to the ship, accompanied by two spear-holding natives. Once it was
safely stowed in our hold, they rowed back.
“Now, Captain Blackheart, it is time for the
The turtle had been thoroughly gutted. The
shell lay to the side. One of the men sat polishing it with a thick leaf.
The meat was being skewered and prepared to roast.
“What do you want us to do with a turtle
shell, mate?” Amused by the sight, I let out a chuckle.
“You, Captain Blackheart, and your men, are
going to do the first task in our ritual. We are taking you up to the top
of the mountain in the center of the island. There you will slide down the
mountainside.” Dakini scowled. “And let me make this perfectly clear; you
are not my mate.”
“Slide? On the shell? What sort of joke is
this?” I shook my head back and forth.
“This is no joke. There are three pits; you
either swerve around them, or you go so fast that you fly over the top of
“What exactly is in these three pits?” I
glanced at Silverear.
“The first pit is full of bamboo canes that
have been sharpened to points. I’d do my best to avoid that pit. The
second one is full of snakes.”
“Snakes? What sort of snakes? Poisonous?”
Chappy’s eyes darted back and forth in anxiousness.
“One could say there were slightly poisonous.
I think it’s best you try to avoid that pit too.”
“And the third?” Silverear asked before I
opened my mouth.
“The third pit holds a rare treat. A rare
plant grows on this island. It’s not an ordinary plant. The sap is made of
androxious miglianton, otherwise known as ‘pirate killer’.” Dakini laughed
“And what does this ‘pirate killer’ do?”
Zeedal’s voice quaked with fear.
“One drop on your skin and it bubbles and
boils in agonizing pain. We’ve filled the entire pit to the top with it.
Any other questions?” Dakini looked at each one of us.
Silverear snapped with sarcasm. “I suppose we
should avoid this pit too?” Instead of getting an answer, he received a
sharp jab in his lower back.
“You say this is a ritual. That would mean
you’ve all done this before, am I right?” I felt my legs shaking.
“You are right. We natives, as you call us,
used our skills to survive the ritual. If you survive, you will move on to
the next part of the ritual.” Dakini turned to one of the other natives.
“Take them up the mountain. Have Captain Blackheart go last so he can
watch his crew.” He climbed into a chair and four of the strongest natives
carried him up the mountainside.
Spears were shoved into our backs, forcing us
to move through the jungle towards the mountain. Grub and Jigsaw were
nearly in tears. Zeedal wet his pants. Silverear and Chappy snarled at the
natives. I kept my eye on the path, ever watchful for an escape route and
wondering where Nims had hidden himself
Once we reached the top, I had to agree it was
a grand view of the island and offered a clear view of all approaching
ships. The Treasure Hunter looked like a pile of tiny sticks from
Dakini arrived with his entourage, climbed
from his throne and pushed Zeedal forward. “You will go first. Down at the
bottom, if you make it alive, awaits Ribani. He will escort you back to
our village and then bring the shell here so the next pirate can take
“Cap’n? Do something. Help me. I can’t do
this.” Zeedal squealed in terror.
I walked over to him and placed my hand on his
back. “Zeedal, do your best, mate. Think of the treasure on the ship and
what you can buy once we get back to the Caribbean. Spiced rum, honeycakes,
stuffed hens, meat pies smothered in stew…” I had to lick my lips. I was
making myself hungry. “Hang in there, mate.
Zeedal sat on the shell. Instantly Dakini
pushed him off. I looked to the bottom of the mountain, if you want to
call it that. I’d call it a large hill. I saw the three pits and cringed
when I heard Zeedal’s screams roar back to us.
“Swerve to the left, Zeedal!” Silverear cupped
his mouth and shouted. “Now to the right.”
I watched as my crewman survived all three
pits and disappeared into the jungle. “He made it! I knew he could do it.
That’s my mate, Zeedal.” I slapped hands with my crew and we laughed with
“Don’t get too excited. There are still five
of you left. The next one might not be so lucky,” Dakini said, grinning.
Ten minutes later Ribani appeared with the
shell. He and Dakini mumbled whispers and then Ribani grabbed Jigsaw and
threw him onto the shell.
Jigsaw turned to me, but didn’t say a word.
His eyeballs nearly bulged out of their sockets. He reminded me of a
cornered rat. When Dakini pushed him off, Jigsaw didn’t let out a peep. He
raced down the mountain, heading straight for the first pit.
“Swerve, mate, swerve!” Silverear shouted, but
Jigsaw headed straight forward.
I nearly swallowed me tongue when the shell,
with Jigsaw holding on, went straight into the first pit. Ribani ran down
the hill and stood at the rim. I heard laughter. He waved to Dakini.
“It seems your friend is lucky. He went into
the first pit, but the shell protected him from being impaled by the
bamboo. By doing this, he’s avoided the second and third pit. I wouldn’t
try it, if I were you. He was very lucky.” Dakini scowled at me crew.
We stood in silence watching Jigsaw climb out
of the pit. Aside from a few splinters, he was unharmed. Ribani delivered
him to the village and came back with the turtle shell.
Grub went next. After watching his first two
mates go down, he knew how to steer the shell and missed all three holes.
When he disappeared into the rainforest, I saw a blur move to the side. “Nims.”
I whispered into the trade winds and no others heard me.
That left Chappy, Silverear and myself. As
expected, the three of us passed the so-called ritual without any problem.
At the bottom of the hill, I walked back over to the three pits. I nearly
wet my pants when I saw there was nothing inside any of them, except a few
pieces of bamboo lying in the bottom of the first pit.
“What’s this? You were joking with us, ye
were.” Silverear stood next to me. “That’s unfair. Even we pirates have a
code of honor. Enough of this trickery.”
Spears lunged at us and stuck in our backs
forcing us all the way to the village. There sat Zeedal, Jigsaw and Grub,
sitting around the fire eating roasted turtle. After we’d had our fill,
Dakini announced, “Time for the second ritual.”
“And what would that be, mate?” I ripped off a
piece of meaty flesh with my teeth.
“Anxious? Ah, well. Each of you will be hung
by your ankles from the tallest palm on the island.”
“That doesn’t sound so bad,” Silverear said,
swallowing a sizzling bite of blubber.
“You’ve not let me finish. The tree has been
coated with bee’s honey. In just a short while, hundreds of thousands of
vampire ants will be climbing the tree, devouring the honey. Oh, did I
mention you will be doused in honey too?” Dakini snickered. “Did I mention
that vampire ants are particularly fond of human blood?”
“Ye forgot to mention both those things,
conveniently. If ye’ve all passed this ritual before, how did ye survive?
Surely ye can give us clues,” Chappy said.
I heard the bushes rustling behind us.
Unfortunately, so did some of the tribe. They ran off and a few moments
later they came back to the village with Nims.
“Nims, you fool of a pirate. You could have
stayed hidden. Why didn’t you go to the ship and hide, or come up with a
plan for our rescue? Now you’re in as much danger as the rest of us.”
“Sorry, Cap’n,” was all he could say.
“Finish eating. Vampire ants love the smell of
roasted turtle.” Dakini taunted us.
I threw my meat back into the fire, as did the
rest of the crew.
“Take off your clothes.” Dakini stood with his
hands on his hips. “They’ll probably fall apart. Have any of you ever
washed your clothes, or yourselves?”
“Take off our clothes? For what reason?” I
wasn’t about to cooperate without a fight.
“Do you want them to get dirtier when we douse
you in honey?” Dakini chuckled.
We stripped down to our skivvies and stood
naked, putting up with sneers and jests from the Puulami. Seven natives
came towards us, each carrying a wooden bucket of honey. The first one,
Caroo, barked a few commands in his native tongue. I didn’t understand a
word, but knew what he wanted us to do. We followed about a hundred yards
into the jungle and stopped in front of a palm. Dakini was right. It was a
tall tree. Caroo took Nims, who cried and whimpered like a blubbering
infant, and tied a rope around his ankles. One of the other natives
climbed the palm and wrapped the rope around the fronds and then came back
down with the end of the rope in his hand.
Dakini pulled at it and Nims inched off the
ground. When he was level with my chest, Caroo poured the bucket of honey
on Nims. It was thick and amber-colored and oozed all over his body. Nims
continued to waller.
“Shut up, mate. You’re making a rotter out of
yourself. Pirates do not whine.” My temper flared.
Once Nims was thoroughly covered, Dakini
pulled the rope again. Up Nims went, until his feet touched the palm
fronds. Caroo did a little dance and then pulled a box from the bushes. He
opened the lid and tipped the box over. Thousands of black ants, the size
of my thumb, raced over to the tree and started eating the honey.
“Your friend, Nims, as you call him, is lucky
to be going first. The only ants he has to deal with are these. By the
time the last of you has their turn, you’ll have seven boxes of ants. I
wonder who I should save until last.” Dakini’s gaze wandered from me, to
Grub, to Jigsaw. “I think it will be,” the man said, stalling, “you.” He
slapped Chappy on the back.
“Me? Why me? I don’t even like honey.”
Chappy’s legs nearly gave out on him.
Nobody listened to his complaints. Our eyes
focused on the hungry ants. In that short of a time, they had licked the
entire bottom half of the tree clean of honey and were moving up to the
top. Nims swung back and forth, trying to shake as much honey off as he
could. Blobs of it plopped near our feet. A few stray vampire ants ran
over to the golden nectar and ate it. That’s when I noticed their fangs.
“They’ve got teeth! Sharp teeth at that! You don’t live by the code,
“A pirate’s code is no code of mine. The
Puulami have their own code. This is one of our rituals and your only way
of survival.” Dakini folded his arms across his bronzed chest.
My mind wandered in silence. “Dakini, you’ve
only lived on this island for say, two years? How much of a ritual could
it possibly be after that short of a time? How long does my mate have to
stay up there, hanging upside down, bare-bottomed? When does the ritual
end? Does he have to die?”
“The ritual ends when he is cleaned of the
honey. We hope to get him down before the vampire ants begin to eat his
flesh. As for the rest of your nonsense, how dare you question the Puulami
customs! You pirates are nothing but scallywags.”
“You speak very good English for a Puulami
native. Is there something you’d like to share with us? Why is it that the
others can’t speak anything put their native language? Come to think of
it, you look familiar. I’ve been searching my thoughts since I first saw
you. I know I’ve seen you before. I don’t think you’re a Puulami native at
all. Are ye? Argh! Me thinks me smells a rat.” (More pirate slang)
I saw Dakini’s eyes dart from side to side. I
was about to say something when a loud scream came from above. All gazes
turned to Nims. The vampire ants had reached him. They swarmed all over
his feet, eating the honey.
“Get them off me!” Nims shook and squirmed in
horror, but couldn’t help but laugh. “The bloody ants are tickling me to
“I can’t stand this any more.” I reached over
and hit Dakini’s hand. He let go of the rope and after it unwound from the
palm fronds, Nims came crashing to the ground.
“I’ll catch you,” shouted Silverear. He and
the others raised their arms in hopes of stopping Nims from getting
killed. All that was accomplished was that he crashed into them and
knocked all to the ground. The honey spread over them, sending the ants
crawling in every direction. They jumped up and brushed the ants off.
By now Dakini had his wits about him once
again. Before he could order us speared, we ran off into the forest. None
of us had on a stitch of clothing, or shoes, but we kept running, heading
for the beach with myself leading the way. “Come on, mates. To the beach!
We’ll swim to the ship and make sail.”
Like a row of hippopotamus, we raced across
the sand with the lions (natives) in chase behind us. Being leaner and
fitter than we pirates, the natives closed in fast. I leaped into the
water and my mates followed. I didn’t look back, but swam to the ship.
Spears splashed around us, but for some reason the Puulami didn’t enter
the water. I was soon to find out the reason for that choice.
“Sharks!” Grub’s shriek echoed across the
water. “Sharks! They’re coming for us. We’re gonna die, Cap’n.”
I stopped and turned. At least a hundred gray
fins jutted from the water. “Keep swimming. We can make it. Go!” I reached
the ship first, grabbed the rope and pulled myself up on to the deck.
Silverear, Nims, Jigsaw and Chappy followed, plopping themselves on the
wood in exhaustion. I looked over. Zeedal and Grub were still in the
water. “They’ll never make it. Get the cannons ready.”
I turned to give orders to me crew. There were
four pirates, running about the slippery deck naked and dripping wet. I
had to control myself not to laugh.
Silverear aimed the cannon at the sharks.
BOOM! The cannonball roared towards the demonfish. Zeedal had hold of the
rope. Only Grub was still in the sea. BOOM! Another cannonball sliced
through the air into the water. The sharks, instead of in a mass, swam
off, away from each other, forming a circle around Grub. “Smart sharks!” I
pulled my eye patch back.
“What’ll we do now, Cap’n?” Jigsaw bumped into
me. “They’ve surrounded him. This reminds me of the time I served on the
Bearded Maiden. We docked at Oak Island. Ten British ships surrounded us.
All seemed lost and hopeless. Just then the Hempen Jig appeared out
of nowhere. The Jolly Roger waved in the wind and I knew we’d be all
right. If it hadn’t been for the bravery of Cap’n Dungbie, we’d have all
died in British dungeons.”
“What did you say, Jigsaw?”
“I said it reminded me…”
“No, Captain who?”
“Cap’n Dungbie, of the Hempen Jig. Do
you know him?” Jigsaw jumped when the cannon fired again.
“Swim Grub. Swim!” Silverear shouted, leaning
over the railing.
“That’s it! That’s who he is. I knew that I
knew him. Get Grub on board and prepare a rowboat to take me back to the
island.” I saw the look on Jigsaw’s face.
“What? Are ye mad, Cap’n? Back to the island?
They’ll boil you in hot oil and eat you for grub.” Jigsaw slobbered as he
“Go and get some clothes on. I’m beginning to
feel nauseous looking at you.” I felt a gag in my throat. “Bring me some
clothes too. All of you, except Silverear, go and put some clothes on.”
“He’s got the rope, Cap’n,” Silverear said. He
pulled the last of my crew up and over.
Grub collapsed, vomiting water. I saw the
blood on his leg. “One of those sharks started taking a bite out of me,
Cap’n. I kicked it in the eye and it let go. That gave me a chance and I
reached the rope in the nick of time. I can still feel the jaws snapping
shut behind me.” Grub gasped for breath between each word.
Jigsaw showed up with clothes on and a clean
set for me.
“Cap’n, what are you doing?” Silverear saw
Jigsaw lowering in the rowboat.
“I’m going back to the island. You and Grub
get dressed. Take care of his wound and stay here. I’ll take Jigsaw with
me. If we’re not back in an hour, sail on. You’ve got the gold.”
“We’ve not opened the chest yet, Cap’n,”
Silverear reminded me.
“Wait until I get back before you do, or I’ll
make you walk the plank.” I sighed and slid down the rope into the small
boat. Both Jigsaw and I rowed to the island. I saw the natives lining up
on the beach, their faces registering disbelief. When we neared the beach
I climbed out into the water and sloshed to the sand. “Dakini, may I have
a word with you, please.”
“Came back for more? That can be arranged. If
you think I’m letting you and your pirate friend go again, you’re sadly
I ignored Dakini and walked into a hedge of
bushes. “Dakini. Please.” I waited for him. He put out his arm and urged
his fellow natives to stay in place.
“What is going on, scallywag?” Dakini held a
spear in his hand, ready to pierce my heart.
“I’ll tell you what’s going on, Captain
Dungbie of the Hempen Jig.” I saw the look of shock on his face.
“Who? What is all this about?” He turned for a
quick glance at the islanders.
I was surprised to see how quickly he
collected himself. “Enough of the pretense, Captain. So this is where you
ended up. I’d heard you vanished into thin air. You heard about my
treasure, didn’t you? You came here hoping to find it and never could,
until we arrived. You convinced these uneducated natives that you’re some
sort of god and they made you their leader. Very good, Captain. Island of
Fragrant Flowers? Bay of Flying Fish? A bit feminine for a pirate captain,
isn’t it, Dungbie? And why did you let us load the chest into our hold?”
He realized he’d been caught. “As for the
gold, my natives will simply kill you all and take it back. Isn’t it nice
that the natives can’t understand English. There’s no way they’ll ever
“I’ll know.” Ribani stepped out from one of
the bushes. “You see, Captain Dungbie, I was one of your crew.” Dungbie
gawked at the native. “Yes, you see now, don’t you? I was sent to find
you. I came across this island and made sure my skin got dark before I
joined you. You never suspected and neither did I of you. Now what shall
we ever do, Captain.” Madness reeked in his voice.
I looked from one fraud to the other. “Well,
well, well. You do have a predicament here, don’t you? The way I see it is
that you have two choices. You can come and join me and my crew, sail the
seven seas, pillage, plunder and all that nonsense, or you can stay here
and keep up your game. My guess is that you’re both tired of eating turtle
meat and coconuts. Come with me and you can feast on some good
old-fashioned pirate food.”
It took about two seconds for them to make a
decision. After coming up with a trumped-up excuse to satisfy the natives,
they left Caroo in charge and came back on the rowboat with us.
“Crew, I’d like you to meet our two newest
crewmen. This is Dungheap and this is Ribeye. Give them some clothes and
put them to work swabbing the decks.” I glanced at Dungheap. His glare was
ice cold. “Well, you didn’t think I was going to let you off easy, did
you? I hope you enjoy your new names. By the way, do those vampire ants…”
Dungheap shook his head back and forth.
“I thought so,” I scoffed at his gall.
Nims dragged them down into the hold and put
them to work. Silverear and the others gathered around the chest. I took
my gun and shot the lock off. With slobber drooling from his mouth, Chappy
lifted the lid. Thousands of doubloons, golden and shiny and jewels of
every color in the rainbow sparkled and glimmered in the midday sun. “My
treasure, at last.” I picked a few up and let them slide through my
The ship shook with a thunderous boom.
Silverear ran to the railing and looked over. “It’s the sharks sir.
They’re trying to sink us.”
“Make sail, mateys. Avast! Let’s be on our
way.” We ran around like chickens without heads until we were under way.
A breeze blew from the south, carrying us northward, away from Skulltooth
Island and the sharks.
So there you have it. I’ve got my gold,
jewels, two new crew members and a stiff wind taking us home to Tortuga.
What more could a pirate ask for? (Besides a keg of rum. that is)
Log entry – January 6, 1825 – by Captain
Andrew John Thomas Blackheart.