Monday, March 28, 2005


A pirate Tale - 61

“Thank you for waiting! Our operators are standing by!” Admiral Tharp chattered.

“What is he talking about?” one of the marines asked in a frightened voice.

“I’m not sure,” said Jezebel.

“YOUR CALL IS IMPORTANT TO US!” Tharp shrieked. Then the admiral’s eyes rolled back in his head and he crumpled back to the floor. The four Royal Marines, Jezebel and Liz rushed to the admiral, who was still breathing but showed no sign of waking.

“I think we should get him out of here right now,” one of the marines said and his companions moved to the admiral’s side as if to pick him back up.

“Wait just a moment longer,” Jezebel said. “Whatever’s been done to him has already been done so I don’t think staying here a little longer will hurt anything. Make him comfortable and we’ll do a little more investigating.”

Jezebel resumed her place before the two pillars and seemed to consider for a moment. But before she could say anything, one of the marines rushed over to her.

“Maybe this can tell us where the other ships in our fleet are – you know, the ships that got caught in the storm after we left Madagascar,” he said.

Jezebel hesitated, knowing they wouldn’t like the answers.

“That’s why we came here, to see if we can find the ships,” but the marine insisted.

Jezebel turned back to the pillars.

“If you’re sure. Let’s see. I wonder where HMS Dauntlessly Brave is,” Jezebel said. The space between the two pillars seemed to hum, and suddenly an image swam into view.

Swam into view was an apt metaphor, as it turned out, because after some peering the onlookers realized they were getting a fish-eye view of an underwater scene. Their piscatorial guide swam through an underwater forest of kelp, with rocky crags rising on either side.

Suddenly, a hulk appeared on the edge of the scene. It was hard to estimate distances under water but it seemed to be a hundred feet or so off. As the fish got closer, the people in the cave realized with horror what they were seeing, an upturned hull on the bottom of the ocean.

“Stop!” shouted the marine, shaken. The scene went blank.

“I don’t know what kind of black magic this is, but I don’t like it,” he said angrily to Jezebel.

“You must have known that was at least a possibility,” she said gently. “Do you want to look for the others?”

“I want to see my ma,” said a second marine, suddenly. “If that can show us anything ...”

“Anywhere there are animals, apparently,” Jezebel reminded him.

“Not a problem. My dear old mum was always kind to animals and they loved her and were always hangin’ around her. She kept budgies in cages all around the house. I haven’t seen her sweet face in almost four years, since I enlisted. I wonder what me dear old mum is doing right now.”

Another clang. Lights swirled, then coalesced and began forming into a picture. The first part they were able to see was a face, certainly an older face, and one that in other circumstances might be considered sweet, although now it was bent in some intense look they couldn’t fathom.

The reason became clear as the picture finally resolved itself. Seen through the bars of a bird cage, the viewers were greeted by the sight of the older woman, although hardly old, in bed, ridden by an energetic man some 10 years younger than her. They could hear nothing, but her lips seemed to be mouthing the words, “Oh Alfie, oh Alfie oh god oh god oh ...”

“MUM!” shrieked the marine, and the picture shut off.

“Yer dad seems a quite virile man, and so youthful,” one of the marines commented with a smirk.

“You don’t say one blessed word about what we just saw or so help me I’ll cut those ears off and feed ‘em to you!” the marine said. “There’s somethin’ evil about this place. That couldn’t a’ been me mother. She’s a saint.”

“She’s a goer, is what she is,” one of his fellows whispered to another.

“I heard that Tom Black!” the marine shouted and leaped upon his mate. The other two marines had to pull them apart. The fracas was suddenly broken up by a gasp from Liz, who was pointing.

“Where’s the admiral gone?” she asked.

Shocked heads looked to the place where they had laid the admiral, then swiveled around the room. They suddenly saw him standing near the entrance to the cave. He was standing, facing them, his arms pulled in to his sides, his hands held loosely in front of his belt. His lip was turned up in an unusual manner as he gazed at them through heavily lidded eyes.

“All right, shweetheart,” he said. “I won’t play the sap for you. When a man’s partner is killed, he’s supposed to do something about it. It doesn’t matter what you thought of him, you’re supposed to do something.”

“Bogie?” Jezebel said. “But how ...”

“Play it, Sam. If she can stand it, I can stand it ...”

Jezebel walked up to the admiral and took him firmly by the elbow. “Mandrake, I think you should sleep again.”

He looked at her in confusion for a moment, then said softly, “We’ll always have Paris,” and sank to the ground.

“Now that is odd. There’s no way at all he could have known that. Apparently, this cave, somehow or other, shows us more than what’s happening, but perhaps can show us what’s going to happen.”

She turned decisively. “You four get the admiral out of here. His weakened and dehydrated condition must make him more susceptible to whatever power this place possesses. Take him back to the ship at once. Liz, I want you to accompany them, then go aboard the Sea Witch and make ready to sail. I’ll be down shortly. I want to investigate just a little further. I won’t be more than an hour.”

The others complied and began carrying the admiral down the hillside. But it was much less than an hour – not longer than 15 minutes – before Jezebel caught up to them, moving faster than anyone, including Liz, had ever seen her move.

“Double time, gentlemen, there’s not a moment to lose,” she said.

“What ...”

“No time to talk right now,” Jezebel said. “I’ll fill you in later.”

They hurried down the path and in a short time were able to see the bay where the two ships lay at anchor. It wouldn’t take more than another two hours to reach them, although with the heat growing the marines would probably have to rest. Jezebel noticed that the farther away from the cave they got, the more relaxed Tharp’s state seemed to be, and soon she heard him talking fitfully, issuing nautical orders. After a half an hour of forced march Jezebel called a halt for a short rest, and the marines gratefully set down their burden.

“Where are we?” Tharp called out weakly.

“First, who are you,” Jezebel asked.

“What an utterly absurd question, especially coming from you,” he said. “I’m Admiral Percival Winthorpe Mandrake Tharp. The last thing I remember is passing out in this damned jungle. Where are we?”

“Almost back to the ships. We should reach them before nightfall. Then we’re going to have to put out to sea, and quickly,” she said.

“Why are you in such a hurry?” Tharp asked. “I want tot get to the top of this hill and find my ships.”

The marines eyed each other uneasily.

“Time to discuss that later, Mandrake. We will return, I’m certain. There’s much to be explored here. But for now we have to hurry.”

“But why?”

“Yes,” Liz interjected. “Certainly there’s time while we’re resting to explain.”

Jezebel glanced at Tharp, then took a deep breath. Quickly, she outlined what had occurred since he fell to the ground with heat stroke, and explained about the cave. He, of course, didn’t believe a word of it, but with his marines corroborating her tale, he had to concede that SOMETHING unusual had happened.

“This sounds like something I need to see for myself,” he said.

“Not right now. We have to hurry.”

“But why?”

“Your experience as a 20th Century movie star made me think maybe the cavern could show us the future, so I tested it. I asked the cavern what would happen with our friends on the Festering Boil and La Herida que Filtra de la Cabeza. It showed me much, some strange things I don’t understand, including horrid sails on Cabeza. And it showed me that the sudden appearance of another couple of ships would be a good thing.”

Tharp got to his feet. “Then perhaps I’d better get back to my ship.”

“That’s not all, is it?” Liz said,

“No. I wish it were. There was a terrific battle on the deck of the Festering Boil. And I saw Ol’ Chumbucket. He had just dispatched a Spanish sailor with his cutlass, and turned at a cry from the bridge where Slappy was fighting with three other Spaniards. And suddenly he fell with a pistol ball between his eyes.”

“Chumbucket was wounded?” Liz asked.

“No. Dead. Definitely dead.”

(Authors' note: Thanks for your patience. We both feel rested and ready to take the story where ever it goes. And the volleyball was incredible. Congratulations to Guam, winner of the beach volleyball competition, to runner up Estonia, and all the beauti .... I mean, athletic girls who competed. Special congrats to Leftenant Keeling, who won gold not only in free-form flogging (his fifth medal in five years) but the coveted all-around medal for outstanding discipline. Way to go, Keeling!)

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?