Author: Patrick Starks
Me and my crew of six were told by other pirates that the tale did not exist. That she didn’t exist. Yet, there she was perched up on a rock amongst the mist, with long luxurious hair, bouncing along with the wind in the moonlit sky. Her hair was dark like the coals used for the boiler that kept our ship moving. Her eyes were as turquoise as the light that reflected from underneath the sea. And her body, half of a woman’s and half of what looked to be that of a whale but, of course, a baby whale.
At the time I was just a young lad. They called me the lobster, for reasons I did not know at the time. But then my best friend, Kendal, had told me that she had overheard one of the men saying something about the way my hands looked. Like the pinchers of a lobster. And ever since then I’ve kept my hands in my pockets, no matter how much she had urged me that they didn’t need to be. If only they knew that it was a birth defect and that my mother had died in the process of bringing me into this life, then they’d probably kept their mouths shut. However, I was a private person, and it was none of their business. But for Kendal, I could tell everything.
Kendal, like myself, was young too. Eighteen years of age. Her hair was short and charcoal, like the mystical woman we’d seen. Her skin was just as dark, complimenting it in ways that seemed impossible, but indeed it was possible. Overtime, we had all nicknamed her ghost, for any shadow on the ship or off the ship she could’ve blended in with ease. Which made her to be the ultimate element of surprise. Although, captain never gave her a sword or anything sharp for that matter. She was his daughter.
Nevertheless, a couple of nights had gone by since we first saw the mysterious woman. A couple of the men still shook in their boots.
“That woman…” hesitated a man. “Her hair. It… it was like a shadow. Translucent in some way. Magic maybe. A witch maybe… Heavens…”
But not all the men shook. Some were infatuated by the beauty she had embedded in their minds. In fact, a beauty they had never seen. But being on a ship for fourteen months, with no woman in sight, did this to a man.
“If you ask me. I’d like to make a woman like that my wife someday,” blushed a different man. He had a patch over his eye. His shirt was completely drenched and then dried in sweat that looked as if it had been so for weeks. He smelt repulsive.
“Yeah mate, and you have better chance being with a dead whale washed up on the sea my friend. And I doubt she’d want any man that smells like it,” a man chortled.
“What do you know about woman?” replied the man, aggressively. “Last time I checked you been through how many wives again? Was it three? Was it four?”
“Why you smelly little…” replied the different man, lunging across the table to wrap his hands around the others neck.
Both men began rolling around. And all me and Kendal could do is laugh about it. It was the life of a pirate after all.
Heavy footsteps then began to approach the cabin. Me and Kendal looked behind, at the stairs. A big heavy boot was the first to appear. Solid black leather, that went all the way up past the calf muscle, along with two buckled straps that went across the top of the foot like an X on a treasure map. By the time the next foot had stepped, half the body was revealed. I chuckled a bit. It was the captain.
“Hey, cut it out…” said Kendal, elbowing me to the side. From the pearly whites that her lips gradually revealed she’d have a hard time holding the laugh in herself.
The captain’s belly was completely round. Up and over the belt we all joked, when he wasn’t around. He had a long dark fiery beard, and eyes dark like Kendal’s, which was the obvious indication that the two were surely related. Well, the eyes that being.
The captain then spoke as he took a seat by the stairs.
“Alright everyone listen up. I just got news from Gold beard that the woman is at Hashima Island, which isn’t too far from where we are now.”
“Japan?” question, the man who reeked. “Really?”
“Yes,” admitted the Captain. “I have already set course. We should be there within the next few hours. Grab everything you need.”
“I’m sorry captain… But I don’t quite understand. You mean to be telling me that a woman with the tale of newborn whale is on that island, just pulling herself around by the arms. I’m sorry captain but if you ask me this is all sounds like a joke, more so, a set up.”
The captain didn’t say a word. In fact, he smiled.
“Oh, if you only knew young one. If you only knew,” he said.
“Shut up!” yelled the captain. “Just shut up or I’ll feed you to the sharks. And please, will you do us all a favor and wash off already. I haven’t even thought of food today, yet I’ve already lost my appetite thanks to you.”
“S-sorry captain,” said the man who reeked, rushing to back of the ship where the showers were.
I looked to my left. Kendal had a glare in her eyes. Her eyes had never left her fathers, and for the first time she hadn’t spoken. It was moments like this, why we had named her ghost. If my eyes had been closed, I’d never suspected her to be beside me. I couldn’t even feel the warmth of her body for how close we sat. She was that gifted with her silence.
The captain had gone back up the stairs and Kendal followed. She had never talked about it around me; however, I could tell she was curious about what her father hid from her. It was already enough that she had never seen her mother, let alone was told little about her, yet her father was driven to seek out a woman, whom he again gave no explanation about. It was… suspicious.
To prepare for the night ahead I headed towards my room in the cabin to grab the things I needed. Although, I wasn’t sure what I needed. Were we to kill her or capture? I pondered. Instead, I just grabbed a flask of fresh water and food. Breads, fruits, the usual.
But then the ship would vibrate like an earthquake. We had made it to our destination. For as fast as we reached it, I was beginning to think we’d been on the course long before captain had given us the news, but… I’d never question him on it. What captain said, goes.
I had then made my way up the stairs. The air was cold, like when we were in the arctic. In front stood a vacant building, rusted with mold and greens that grew within and around it. To my right, Kendal was front and center. I tapped her on the shoulder, but noticed it was somewhat damp. Had she been crying?
“Is everything alright Kendal?” I asked.
But it wasn’t Kendal that I was speaking to. It was still Ghost. And Ghost never talked. But rather she spoke to me or not, I kept by her side.
“Set down the anchors!” roared the Captain. “Best we get moving. Will be dark again soon.”
The rest of the crew members stood in awe. Some with nets, some with javelins. But just like myself, they really had not a clue what they were to do when they found the woman. Kendal, on the other hand, had nothing at all, or at least that was what I thought until she pulled out a picture from her left pocket. It was all shriveled up, as if it been tucked away for ages. I wanted to, but I didn’t dare ask her what it was. But whatever it was, I knew it had something to do with the reason we were there on an abandoned island.
“Alright lads! Let’s begin the search. You two, go right and give us the usual signal if you find something. And you two, go to the left. And Kendal and Baudiris will follow me,” said the captain.
We had all gone our separate ways. For some strange reason, I couldn’t help but feel someone was going to die if not all of us. Chills went up and down the back of my neck but not from the cold. My teeth chattered. With every step that I took the wood creaked for how old it was. Maybe thousands of years, but I wasn’t old enough to know that much about such historical events.
“You know they said that this place used to be an undersea coal mine. But that was a lie,” whispered the captain. “It was actually the place where they made mystical creatures work for the human race. Like slaves, no, they were slaves.”
It was then Kendal had woken from the ghost, looking at her father in dismay.
“What do you mean mystical creatures?” I swallowed.
“Underwater dragons, gigantic and as beautiful as they come, sirens to, but today we call them mermaids,” said the captain, holding his brightly lit torch in the air, as he moved gracefully. For as big a man he was, not a sound was heard. It was apparent where Kendal had gotten her traits from.
“But why? Why use them as, slaves. Is this the reason we’re here? So that we can hold captive a defenseless mermaid,” I questioned.
Again, the captain neither his daughter had said a word. And for the moment, I’d wish that I’d gone with the other members of our crew. At least everyone was clean now.
“Shush boy,” said the captain. “Did you hear that?”
“Over there,” pointed Kendal.
The room suddenly had gotten much colder than what it had already been. A cloud of dust pushed from a dark patch in the corner of the room, slowly revealing legs smooth and as milky as cow milk. We’d never seen the woman this close before. Her smell was fishy but in a good way, like fish that had been sautéed with lemons and mandarin. But her face told it all. I squinted my eyes. She looked just like Kendal. Dark hair but skin not so much. It then dawned on me that her fish tale was gone, but how?
“Ariel,” whispered the captain.
The woman smiled. Her teeth were like Kendal’s, white as the clouds, but for every tooth was an edge sharper than the tip of our spears. Although, neither of the three of us had any.
“Hello Sheamus,” said the woman. “Its been a long time.”
“I… I thought you were dead. All of these years I’ve searched…” said the captain, falling to his knees.
The woman smiled and then through her eyes towards Kendal. It was as if she were trying to look deep into her soul.
“Hello little one,” said the woman. Gradually she’d made her way over to Kendal.
“You have my hair,” she smiled. “But sadly, the rest of your features from your father.”
“Hey…” said the Captain.
The woman laughed.
“Mom,” cried Kendal. “Mom, I… What…”
“There, there little one. I know there is much you want to know. But first let me have a moment with your father okay.”
Kendal then walked back towards me and stood by my side. Together we watched a love rekindle like a bee to a blossomed flower. It was beautiful. Kendal grabbed my hand, and for once I wasn’t cold anymore.
Out of nowhere a net then dropped down on the both of them. A dozen men surrounded us all. And then a man with beard filled with gold appeared.
“Aha! Didn’t I tell ya lad’s!” yelled the man. “Old Sheamus here was given us a run for it the whole time. Isn’t that right Sheamus?”
“Shut up!” smacked the man with gold beard. “Never call me that in front of my men you lying load of sea feces. All this time, and all you were trying to do was get back with your lover. You know just as good as I how much a creature like that cost. And now that I know she’s what birth the little ghost in the shadow over there, yeah, I see you little plum. I’ll now have a bonus. A two for one special.”
Being haste, I pulled Kendal’s arm and then pulled us both through a window, not knowing where we would fall. Thankfully there had been patches of green below us or else we would have died.
“Well what are ya all doing standing around with your parts in your hands, go get em already,” yelled Gold Beard.
Both Kendall and I ran like the wind. We’d lost them. But we needed to keep moving. We needed to find the rest of the crew members. And on the tiny snake pathway we traveled, we’d stumbled upon one of them. He was weak and blue like violet roses.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Sn… Snake bite,” the man choked. “Bastard just left me hear. Said I was dead weight…”
I’d asked him where the others were, but the man had faded before I would have the chance to do so. Kendal had walked ahead. The sounds of snakes echoed around her. Yet, not once did I see her drop a sweat. She was determined to get back to her parents any means necessary. Not far from her was a log as tall as I was at the time. She crawled up and then reached out her hand to pull me. I reached, and on the way up had nearly been bitten by the same snake that I presumed had bitten the man I had last spoke to. There were more logs, even boulders ahead, and so, we jumped to each one of them until we reached the end of the trail.
We entered inside another building. And immediately we could smell iron in the air. The more we walked the stronger the smell. In front of us sat another one of our men. A pool of blood flowed from underneath him, all while a javelin remained lodged in between his sternum. Kendal now shivered as I did once. She was afraid. All motivation was gone. But then another one of our men had showed up.
“Your alive!” he yelled. “I can’t believe it! Your still alive! Where’s the captain?”
Kendal stood silenced by the dead body next to us.
“Oh, I see…” said the man, discouraged. “Is he dead?”
I shook my head. “No, but he’s been captured as well as the woman. Well…”
Kendal then grabbed my arm, shaking her head. For some reason she didn’t want to say anything about it yet.
“Nevermind… But what happened to you? Where is your friend?” I asked.
“Well… You see, we got chased by these men from Gold Beards crew, and then not paying attention like he’d always done, the poor bastard fell from one of the buildings we were evading through,” said the man. Sweat dripped down his forehead to his chin.
“B-but… Its good you two showed up, we’ll find the captain much faster now with three pairs of eyes.”
“I know where they are,” said Kendal. “They’re there.”
It was at the highest point of the island. The highest building.
“Alright then let’s get going,” said the man, eagerly.
We all hiked our way up towards the highest point of the island. We climbed, we crawled, we jumped. Anything one could do physically in an exercise we just about did. It was a surprise that any of us were built for it. I know that I wasn’t.
At the top Gold Beard waited. Both Kendal’s parents were tied to a tree that of which grew within in the building. It was like the story of jack and the beanstalk, my dad read to me long ago before both he and my mother passed. He always said that it was her favorite, and that how much she would’ve loved to read it to me herself. But… Let’s not get to emotional here.
“Well, well, well. Finally decided to show up,” smiled Gold Beard.
Not one of us said a word. Yet, we all stood alert and ready. Without weapons, I swallowed.
“Yeah that’s right,” Gold Beard grinned. “Tell ya how this is going to go. Little ghost over there is going to come over this way and join her mother, Ariel was it? Yeah, Ariel was the name. And the captain and the rest of you are going to stay here on this island until ya starve to death. And if not that, the snakes will sure get ya sooner or later.”
Kendal took a few steps back and blended into a shadow.
“My god this again… Uhm! Now my friend,” said Gold Beard, snapping his fingers.
“You… I knew it was one of you,” said the captain.
“Yeah, just didn’t know it was me did you captain,” laughed the man. The man had a snaggle tooth and his breath was as hot as the torches that burned around.
“Let me go!” yelled Kendal. “I knew you’d do this. I could smell it on you. You stink.”
“Yeah, like I ain’t heard that one before little bird.”
“So, what you told us before, it was all just a lie wasn’t it?” I asked.
“Ah, children,” spat the man. “Still wet behind the ears. Of course, I lied. My friend didn’t fall, he was pushed. By the hands of yours truly.”
Gold Beard and the rest of the men laughed, and their laughs carried throughout the seascape.
“Alright let’s get on with it then. Bring her hear,” demanded Gold Beard. He pinched her cheeks. He smelt her hair. Looked deep within her eyes.
“Hmmm. Don’t know if I won’t to sell this one. Could make this one my bride,” he smiled.
“Damn you Gold beard!” yelled the Captain. “If you lay a hair on her, I swear!”
It was then I did the most courageous thing. No one had saw
him but in the corner of the room where an emerald bush grew, hid one of our crew
mates. The one that had fallen I presumed. To buy him time, I began singing a
song I’d written for Kendal. It wasn’t ready, but that was just my excuse to
not sing it in front of her.
Ohhhhhhh, she’s something mystical, sailed across the sea on giant icicle.
Hair like the night, teeth that are bright, loving you has never felt so right.
“Ha has he gone mad,” chortled Gold Beard. “The boys delusional.”
Sooooo, I’ll tell her all that I’m gonna do, take her to place where always the skies are blue.
Sheeee’s the only one for me, and as beautiful as can be. So, I take this toast for a girl name ghost. Toast, toast, all for the beauty name ghost. Roast, roast, roast, the pig for the girl name ghost.
Gold beard had bought into the song. He was clapping all while his man danced in circles around a fire. Kendal was smiling somewhat, eyes staring at me with love I’d never known existed. The man in the bush then made his move and through a javelin at the portrayer. He fell to the ground, and then all claps and dancing had stopped.
“Guard yourselves!’ yelled the captain. “Come out coward!”
But then four if not five more Javelins emerged from the shadows taking down the rest. It was just Gold Beard and me.
“Alright then, so that’s how ya wanna play it” said Gold Beard, pulling out a sword, that looked freshly made, and specially made for the occasion.
He charged me but before he’d reach me a javelin had gone through his back and out of his chest. He fell to the ground and all who stood after that was Kendal. Slowly she stepped over Gold Beards body and walked towards me. I couldn’t move. She kissed me and immediately I went into a trans. But then I could taste blood.
We both opened our eyes.
“No!” sobbed Kendal’s mom.
A javelin was exposed from her stomach. She fell into my arms.
“Why!” roared the captain. “Why did you? Show yourself!”
The man from the bush then replied.
“For months I haven’t seen my family. Nor my children. And all this time, we were chasing your family, instead of being with our own. Tell me captain, did you know that my wife died on the night you told us that we needed to turn back around. Did you know that she was murdered on that night we were supposed to return home! I… I should’ve been there! But I guess we are even now, aren’t we,” said the man.
“No, no, no…” sobbed the woman. “My little one…”
“Ahhh!!!!” roared the captain, struggling to get of his ropes.
After that the man had disappeared, with not a trace. He’d taken our boat but thankfully we had Gold Beards still. On that night we had to burry what was precious to us all.
Ever since then I’ve been on the search for the man that took all ever knew away from me. The captain, and his now wife, of course, had urged me to stop and let it go. In their words, it’s what she would’ve wanted. But again, they didn’t know Kendal like I did. How could I forget that night? The touch of her lips, and then the taste of her blood. No, I was far from letting it go.
“Ghost,” yelled a man. “Where do we sell to now?”
“Venice,” I replied, wind blowing in the beard I’d grown. Apparently, that was thing that just happened when you were promoted captain.
“To Venice!” the man shouted.
“Venice?” replied another man, face covered in coal.
“Yes! Now don’t give me that look! Get moving ya lazy bum or there will be no more rum for you!”
Venice it is indeed.
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