Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!
Last week I wrote a story about a ghostly young woman who returned home to find her family had been murdered by pirates. This is a mini sequel from the point of view of the pirate captain, but it can also stand alone.
Onto the story!
Tossed overboard like the dead weight of a crew member lost at sea. Only Captain James wasn’t lost. No, his fate was far worse. Betrayed by the very crew he cultivated with his brother, and led by said brother to raise arms against their captain.
His own brother, elder by only a few minutes as James was always quick to remind him. He’d thought he could trust his second in command with his life. Condemned to the swirling currents of the ocean whilst his brother sailed into the sunset with his ship, James knew he’d got it wrong, and now he paid the ultimate price for his poor judgement.
He twisted and turned as he struggled against the current, but his heavy coat weighed him down. It’d been a gift from his brother all those years ago, after the last time he’d nearly drowned at sea. The irony wasn’t lost on him that it would now take him to his grave.
No. He couldn’t die here. His brother had to pay for what he’d done. James tugged at the coat, and a few bubbles escaped his mouth as he plied the heavy material from his shoulders. The coat sunk to the bottom of the ocean, but his eyes were slipping closed and his limbs felt so heavy. This was it. There would be no salvation for the pirate captain who’d murdered so many.
Unfocused eyes picked up movement in the murky waters, and a ghostly figure flitted in front of him. Salvation? No. The figure was an ethereal vision to tempt him to his fate. But why would he see a woman in his final breaths? There had been none of significance, unless… Perhaps it was the spirit of his mother, vengeful and full of anger, here to ensure his fate?
It didn’t matter. His lungs burned, and his mouth slipped open. He took in water, but when he tried to cough it up he only took in more. He was done for. He might as well accept it. James’ eyes slid shut, and his limbs splayed as he let the ocean carry him to his grave…
When he came to James laughed as he took in the sprawling ocean from his position on the beach, but he soon broke off into a cough as he choked up water. He was alive, somehow, and despite the searing pain in his chest he grinned. Pain was good. It meant he was alive.
He raised a hand to shield his eyes against the bright sunlight. The seas were calm, and the waters clear, but there were no ships in sight. He’d lost the night unconscious on the beach, and his brother would be long gone by now. James stood to survey his surroundings. No sense sitting around. The longer he moped, the less chance he had of survival. He had to move.
First step, shelter. He squinted at the sun. It wasn’t yet midday, ample time to find a good spot to camp and plot his next moves. The rocky outcrop in the centre of the island would be perfect. He strode into the trees and cut through the undergrowth with his cutlass. It didn’t take long to reach the rocks, and he grinned when he spotted a crystal pool full of fish at the base. Perfect.
He clambered onto the rocks and found a good, flat, location for a base. One way up, and a sheer drop around him. As he clambered down again to gather materials, he felt a shiver run down his spine. He was sure someone was watching him. It was just a matter of when, or if, they made themselves known. He clutched his cutlass tight and headed into the trees.
Ferns were the first to be gathered, to line the base of the rock, and after that branches to lean together to make a small shelter. It was nothing compared to the captain’s cabin back at his ship, but it would do until he got her back. He used a few loose stones, gathered from the base of the rock, to make a fire pit, and by the time the sun began to set he had a functional camp.
Grateful for the days he and his brother spent alone, fending for themselves and spear fishing at the river, he headed for the pool of water. Trousers rolled up, he waited, makeshift spear in hand. It was all a matter of patience and skill, and after a few attempts he caught his dinner. It was after he’d cooked the fish and settled down to eat that he caught a glimpse of her.
She was a vision, he’d give her that, shimmering and ghostly in the rocks high above him, and her voice sang a haunting melody similar to a sea shanty. When she beckoned him he knew he had to follow her. As he scaled the cliff and got closer to the woman, she smiled. She was, quite possibly, the most beautiful woman he’d ever laid eyes on, yet he’d seen her before…
He pulled himself up onto the tallest rock and grit his teeth as he glimpsed the forest below him. They were so high up… He tore his eyes away to meet hers instead, and took a step towards her. She giggled and beckoned him, and floated backwards to hover at the edge of the cliff.
He stopped a few feet away and raised an eyebrow. ‘Why save me from the depths of the ocean if you planned to lure me to my death here?’
The ghostly woman blinked. ‘You’re supposed to be under my spell! The witch said-‘
‘Ah, the witch. So that’s where you disappeared to when we last made port.’
‘You knew I was on your ship?’
James smirked and nodded. ‘Have to keep track of my crew lass, especially those who weren’t invited aboard.’
She sank to her knees on the rock. ‘I don’t understand. I did everything right, to make you pay for what you did. Why didn’t it work?’
‘The call of the siren’s a funny thing. Only works if the victim’s genuinely interested in what you’ve got to offer. You’re beautiful, but I prefer my partners less curvy.’
Her head shot up, and her wide eyes fixed on him. ‘But if you weren’t lured by my siren call, why did you follow me?’
James shrugged. ‘I’ve been seeing apparitions since I was a lad, but I’ve never seen one so angry.’ He ran a hand through his hair and glanced over the darkened sea. ‘I saw you, you know. When you tried to grab my neck before we set sail. What did I do to deserve your ire?’
Fire sparked behind her ghostly eyes. ‘You killed my family.’
‘Your family?’ His eyes widened. ‘The family who owned our base before we… acquired it? But there were only three of them.’
James nodded. ‘The pictures, in every room of that place. Not a daughter in sight.’
She sighed. ‘They never forgave me… I thought after all this time they would’ve.’
‘Ah. Estranged daughter. I did you a favour then.’
She flew forward, and to his surprise ghostly hands clutched his neck. ‘My parents may have been vile at times, but they didn’t deserve… My little brother didn’t deserve…’
James choked, and through shallow gasps said, ‘Your brother made the right choice. Joined my crew. I gave them all a chance you know, and he was most keen.’
‘Of course he was, the alternative was death!’
He sighed and met her eyes. ‘I’m not a monster. I gave them the option to pack up and leave. They refused, and so I had no choice. I have a reputation to maintain you know.’
Her eyes flashed and she threw him to the floor. ‘Damn your reputation! They were my family!’
‘Are they still family if they betray you, erase all trace of you?’ he asked, with a glare into the distance where his ship had long since disappeared under his brother’s orders. ‘Trust me, they’re nothing but a burden anyway. You’re better off without them.’
She glared at him, but wrapped her arms around herself as she floated back and forth along the rock. ‘What of my brother? Is he back on your ship?’
James shook his head and got to his feet. ‘He runs my operation on the other side of the ocean. A good lad. Holds as much distaste for your parents as you seem to.’
‘He’s alive,’ she said, and for the first time since she tried to lure him to his death she smiled.
‘Hmm,’ he replied with a frown, ‘Although I fear for how long. With my brother in charge of the crew, this mutiny, who knows what might happen?’
She stopped and floated in front of him, finger pointed at his chest. ‘We have to save him!’
‘In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re stranded. I can fashion a raft but it’ll take time.’
‘Best get to it then,’ she replied with a glare.
James blinked and looked up at the moon. ‘Aye. I’ll get started tomorrow.’
She floated beside him as he climbed down the cliff towards his makeshift camp with a small frown on her lips. ‘No protest? Just like that, you’ll help me? I tried to kill you.’
‘You also saved my life when my brother betrayed me. I owe you a debt, and I always repay those.’
‘Oh.’ She sank to sit by the fire and looked up at the sky. ‘Thank you.’
He sat beside her and tilted his head. ‘So why did you save me?’
‘I wanted my revenge to be personal,’ she replied in a whisper. ‘Couldn’t have that if you drowned at the hands of another.’
James thought of his brother and scowled. ‘I can understand that. I tell you what, let’s make a deal. Leave your vendetta behind when we leave this island, but once your brother’s safe you can do what you will with me. If you can catch me.’
She looked down, deep in thought, and when she looked up to meet his eyes her gaze was determined. ‘Okay. Deal.’
James grinned and poked the dying fire with his cutlass. His brother would pay soon enough, just as soon as he got off this bloody island.
Thanks for reading!
I have a bit of an obsession with pirates at the moment and I want to make a series out of this, so I’ve added it to the towering pile of ideas I have!
Why not write a short story or poem based on a prompt?
The prompts for May are:
One word not enough? I post expanded prompts weekly on Pinterest:
Following him was the hardest thing I ever did, but I had no choice. It was the only way to save my brother.
If you use one of the prompts, feel free to share your story links below.
Feeling creative? I also run a weekly hashtag game on Twitter, #sunscribbles, where you can share one-off lines or quotes from a #WIP around the weekly prompt!
See you next week!