Beneath the Sea

“Enough already, ya damn fool! Go on and jump! Don’t be lily-livered! Die with some dignity, damn you!” The Captain pushed the point of his sword harder against the back of Thompson, propelling him forward another step toward the end of the board.

The crew, riled and rowdy for this spectacle, hollered and jeered. They called out “the plank, the plank! walk the plank!” Others stood in silence in the chill breeze, ready to watch one who had a mere day ago be one of their own plunge to his death in the icy waters of the merciless sea.

Thompson swiveled his head back toward the gathered crew of The Bastard’s Wish, half-turning as much as his bound hands and narrow walkway would allow.

“I warned you,” he shouted. “We cannot go after the Bounty of the Black Dog! He guards it from beyond the grave! You’re leading us all to our deaths! Our deaths!”

“Aye, well, you I is,” laughed The Captain. The crew hooted and hollered. “I shan’t have no men stirring up mutiny on my watch, Mr. Thompson, ‘specially not from ghost stories and old wives’ tales. Go join ‘im ya bloody bilge rat! Off the plank with ya! Go see The Black Dog an’ his men ‘neath the waters of Poseidon! GO!”

And with the last word The Captain gave Thompson one final push with the point of his sword, and the men watched him fall, a stone, a dead man, into the cold waters of the ocean.

The Captain went to bed that night with a clear conscience, a man who knew his place in the wheelhouse, steering his men to glory, to riches, to the annals of the history books; until at the darkest stroke of midnight he awoke with a start.

All was black in the cabin. The smell of seawater was everywhere, the sharp brine smell of the ocean mixed with something fetid. He looked out the window and saw dark shapes moving, slow shuffling shapes that looked like men.

Outside on the deck, the night watch cried out as the shuffling figures surrounded him. They covered him with their reaching hands and his cries died against the black night of the open seas.

There came a thumping at the door of the cabin. The thumping became louder, louder and faster, and from beneath his door The Captain heard groaning. The noise crescendoed, louder and faster still, until finally the door burst open with the sound of wood breaking. That smell, that salty wet smell of the sea and something rotting, grew stronger still and flooded the air of the cabin.

The Captain made to rise for his sword, but before he could act the things were upon him, wet, sludgy hands holding him down. He struggled and screamed but he could feel the shapes surround him in the darkness, as more wet hands pinned him to his bed. Something slimy and rotten pushed his head down, and another entered his mouth. He gagged. As The Captain writhed and struggled to take his last breaths, he heard, from out on the deck, the sounds of men singing a sea chanty:

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Blackdog and his men do come
Fifteen men on a Dead Man’s Chest
You and your crew ‘ll join the rest

If his treasure hid you seek
Your words ‘ll die before you speak
Fifteen men on a Dead Man’s Chest
Beneath the sea is where ‘ll rest

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