Captain Smith looked out over the roaring waves of the ocean. His face was still and expressionless, even with the cold sea air blowing fiercely, stinging his cheeks and making his overcoat flap behind him.

The men in the lifeboat rowed and rowed, and their oars plunged into the frothing icy water. Their muscles were burning with exhaustion but still they toiled.

“How much further, Captain?” shouted Winters, the first mate, from Smith’s side, such that the man could hear him over the raging winds. “I fear the men cannot keep up this pace and the storm will never subside. That monster – that thing – that sunk The Imperial must surely be in these waters still and giving us chase!”

The Captain raised the spyglass to his eye again, looking through the raging rains for that far-off piece of land that was to be their salvation.

On the island Smith saw gray trees blowing in the breeze, then rising into the air and twisting, twisting and roiling and elongating into thick black fleshy tendrils, and the rocks of the island shifting. As the leviathan plunged beneath the waves the last thing Smith saw was its giant eye, an eye that must have been as large as The Imperial had been herself, staring back at him through the glass.

“Captain?” Winters shouted again.

Smith lowered the telescope.

“Keep rowing,” he said.

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