I Don't Want to Be a Pirate: Part Three
Gerald’s jaw dropped. Was his food really so awful that the Captain was throwing him off the ship? It couldn’t be! He had followed the instructions as best he could. He thought he had been doing things correctly, but apparently, he was mistaken.
Gerald had a sinking feeling that the ship was far from shore as well. It would be quite a swim back avoiding Giant Squid and Jetsams. Would he be able to survive a swim like the one the captain was preparing him for?
Captain Bloodscar kept his finger pointed at Gerald, and the pirate crew collectively stood from their seats. Gerald closed his eyes in fear and anticipation. But then the Captain let out a mighty guffaw, and the crew burst out into fits of laughter.
“Hahaha! You should have seen your face,” announced the Captain. “It’s a ritual amongst pirates, boy. Break in the new crew member, ya know. That’s great.” Captain Bloodscar sat back down, tears in his eyes from the laughter. “The food’s good,” he said to the crew. “Let’s eat.”
Without waiting for further instruction, the crew passed the bowl of stew around the table, each one sloshing a bit into his bowl and eating hungrily. Gerald was still upset about the ordeal, especially since he hadn’t received an apology for their behavior. He had expected no less, however, from a crew full of bloodthirsty pirates. Had a bunch of pirates ever apologized for anything at all?
As the crew ate heartily, Gerald decided to grab himself a bit of the stew and perhaps talk to Pella, his only friend on this entire ship. He carefully ladled some of the stew into a bowl that wasn’t being used by anyone else and sat next to Pella at the far end of the table away from the Captain. She was eating like the rest of the crew, as if she hadn’t eaten in days. It was quite odd. She was the only female in the whole crew, but she didn’t act like a typical female. She acted as if she were one of the guys.
“Pella, can I ask you a few questions?” Gerald was a bit apprehensive about their journey.
“Good stew, Gerry. Glad you followed the directions. What type of questions do you have?” Instead of using a spoon, Pella lifted the bowl to her mouth. This Acara had no shame.
“Well, I know you said pirates search for treasure and all. I can respect that. But where are we headed that we are going to find it now? Where are we going?”
Suddenly, everyone stopped their raucous laughter and joking and the table became very quiet as if everyone had been listening to Gerald’s question. No one spoke, and a few of the crew members looked at the Captain, the only pirate who was still eating as if nothing had happened.
After a full minute passed with no one touching their stew besides Bloodscar, the Captain finally decided it was an issue he could no longer ignore. He stood from his chair and faced the crew. “Gerald, is it? I hardly think that the cook needs to know our destination. After all, we are pirates. Does it matter where we go to do our jobs?”
“But, Captain, sir, we don’t know either.” An Aisha in the crew had spoken up. Apparently, Captain Bloodscar had not informed anyone about the current mission, not just Gerald.
The Captain gave the Aisha a harsh glare, but then he shrugged as if this was not an argument he cared much for. “Well, if you all must know, we are headed for a great treasure. If the legends are true, we will all be rich beyond our wildest dreams.” He continued to eat his stew.
The crew looked at each other in excitement, but there were a few members who looked even more worried. Including the Aisha.
“But, sir, I am no fool. I know the way the world works. Nothing is for free. I’ve done this long enough to know that a big payoff comes with big danger. If I may ask, sir, where exactly are we headed?”
The Captain glared even more harshly at the Aisha. Even though Gerald had taken him for a violent Krawk, the Captain did not make a move to approach or injure the Aisha. Instead, Gerald was pleasantly surprised at Bloodscar’s excellent skills in diplomacy.
“Well, if you must know, then I will tell you. We are headed for Maraqua.”
Suddenly, the demeanor of the entire crew changed. Instead of the excitement seen earlier, many of the pirates were now exchanging looks of horror. Gerald was a bit confused. He gingerly leaned over to Pella. “What’s the problem?” he whispered, his voice barely audible in the rather silent mess hall.
However, it seemed that everyone had heard him yet again. Even the Aisha who had been asking the captain for more information.
“The problem, cook, is that Maraqua is at the bottom of the Neopian ocean. It is a dangerous place to dive to as well with the threat of treacherous creatures, not to mention the problem that most of us cannot breathe underwater.”
“Speak for yourself, Aisha,” said a Peophin with an attitude.
“My point stands,” the Aisha continued. “How can we risk our lives for a treasure that may or may not exist in the first place? Why were we not informed? And how are we supposed to be ready for a trip like this?”
The captain, though diplomatic, was not going to let a mutiny occur on his ship. “I have taken the necessary precautions,” he said in a strong voice. “We will be prepared for our journey to the city of Maraqua. And we will find the hidden treasure because I have sources telling me where it is located.”
The Aisha was tenacious and obviously brave. “What source? What source could be so concrete that it would lead the entire crew to the bottom of the ocean?”
However, Captain Bloodscar had had enough. “Stolarto! I answer to no one, including you!” The Aisha shrank when he heard his name. His earlier bravery was completely gone now that the Captain was addressing him directly. “Some of you seemed to have forgotten that I am the captain of this ship. Insubordination will not be tolerated from any of you. As I have stated, I have my sources. That is all. End of story.”
Everyone was still completely silent. The tension in the room was becoming unbearable. Captain Bloodscar was the only one speaking. “Dinner is over. Crew, head to the barracks immediately. Lights out in ten.”
The crew scrambled to exit the mess hall. A few of them tried to desperately finish their meals by gulping down the last bits of the stew in their bowls, but the majority didn’t even try lest they test the captain further. Soon, the mess hall was completely empty except for Pella, Gerald, and Captain Bloodscar.
The captain stood from his chair and approached Gerald. The curious Shoyru winced, fearing the captain would teach him a lesson or two, but instead, the Captain continued past Gerald, heading towards the door of the mess hall. However, he stopped at the threshold without turning around to face Gerald or Pella. “It would do better if you were not so curious, cook. Don’t test my patience again.” And he exited.
Neither Pella nor Gerald spoke. They sat in silence, and they were both rather tense as they stared at the exit which the Captain had just used.
A few minutes passed before Pella relaxed her muscles and fixed her eyes on Gerald. “Gerry, you have to be a bit more private than that. Your whisper is more like a bellow. If you have any questions, ask me alone. And especially not in front of the captain. Now, I have to go to the crow’s nest for lookout. You’d better get ready for bed. The cook sleeps on a cot in the kitchen.”
Gerald nodded. He had seen the cot while he had been preparing the stew. “I’m sorry,” he said.
“Pirates don’t feel sorry, Gerry. We just move on.”
“But I don’t want to be a pirate.”
“Gerry, that’s just too bad. You are one now, whether you like it or not. Head to bed. You have a big breakfast to fix for the crew tomorrow morning to make up for a lot of them missing their dinners.” Pella left Gerald in the Mess Hall to himself. He sat at the table a bit more pondering his own future.
The benefit about being the cook was that he wouldn’t have to actually venture down to Maraqua, right? His only job was to prepare the food for the crew. But he did have a nagging feeling. Pella had said something that irritated him. It made him feel like he was destined to do more than cook for this ship. She said that he was a pirate.
And this nagging feeling followed him all the way to his cot in the kitchen. And it followed him all the way until he fell asleep and dreamt of pirates and scalawags. And he even dreamt of himself, dressed in pirate garb... at the bottom of the ocean.
To be continued...