Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 96,313,980 Issue: 190 | 13th day of Hunting, Y7
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The Sea


by orginalcliche

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Authors Note: Thank you Rose for the wonderful idea for this story.

Monday is a day for remembering. I had labeled each week in my delirium a few days ago and the names haven't left my conscience since then. On Mondays I would search for my memories amid wherever I sought to ramble. I look to the shore now, past the foolish neopet who been delegated to the task of interviewing me. The beach is splendid in its horror, though it only looked like that to me. To another it could have been a peaceful scene.

      "Why are you so afraid?" the Grundo asks me. Her question is harsh and demanding like a small child.

      "Of what?" I am paying attention but I can sense her insecurity at my sad demeanor.

      "Water," she is heavy with the look of feigned maturity. Beneath her glossed mannerisms there is a tremble of interest, but I take no heed to it, or maybe I don't notice it. I don't notice anything about her.

      "Another question," I prompt.

      "What's your favorite color?" she says, her eyes straying to Garin who is being interviewed by a friend of hers.

      She is still looking at Garin but I am looking beyond him, at the shore. The teacher of these pets class decided to have our interviews on the beach, for scenery affect. Why did I agree to this? Here I am standing right next to death. It's lapping against the shores. The ocean, oh Fyora, the ocean, it calls my name. It's waiting for me, the moment I slip up it will grab me. Oh and then it won't let go. I can't stay here, not now. I back up.

      "Where are you going?" the Grundo reprimands me, as if I'm a lost petpet. I may not be the best pirate to interview but I still am a pirate, a pirate that is part of her grade.

      "Away from ye," I mutter looking to the water. It's creeping up to me, the waves like hands, grabbing at me, tearing me. Then a large swell crashes, sending me flying into memory. I struggle. I have to get away from here. I tear my gaze from the sea, and run. My legs are strong; I run a lot, so I'm fast. However the Grundo has wings, she is painted faerie.

      She catches up to me easily. She looks slightly offended as if my remark was directed to her. "Wait I have to interview you, dofus!" She accuses me easily, as if she knows nothing, as if she can't see anything but her own petty worries.

      "The water, I can't be stayin' at the beach. I be talking to ye over here if that's what ye be wishin'," I state pointing to a rock; we are pretty far away from the ocean now. The loud roar is now only a dull whimper in the distance. The sparse trees give little coverage from the sun, so I can feel its searing heat. I am content, if only for a little while.

      "So why are you so afraid of water?" she questions again, brushing off the rock disdainfully.

      "Ask me another one," I command. I don't want to talk about that. I don't want to talk at all, but I did sign up for this. I begin to draw into my self, putting legs up to my chest. My legs are so much stronger than my chest.

      "No, I want to know about something interesting," she whines, looking over at the beach longingly. She does not like the sun as I do. She would rather be near the fresh sea, the breeze cooling her off. I never want to be cool again.

      "Fine ye want me to tell ye. Be prepared," I whisper ominously, looking at the girl with fire in my eyes.

      She doesn't notice the difference my tone or she is just too impatient to care. "Yes, yes just get on with it."

      "It was years ago, before ye even were alive." I am lost in memory.

      I was young then, but not just young, I was brave. You laugh now to think that Bug Eyed McGee could ever be brave, but you know nothing. It was a not a cruel day in the beginning. The rain fell down slowly, and pelted against the entire ship, but it wasn't a threat, just a condition. I was inside playing Bilge dice with a couple of my friends.

      "I know your cheatin' McGee, come on you scallywag!" George, a short pirate Lupe accused.

      "Me, Cheat?" I feigned innocence badly; we all had a laugh for it. I grinned tipping back my chair. I loved knowing that the sea was so close to me then, she was like a mother to me. The creaky sound of the wood was a comfort, I never liked being stable. Stability was something only Landlubbers should want.

      "You cannot cheat nature," it was Henry. Henry had been hired to quite Captain Quist's foolish worries, the skunk Lupe wasn't actually at all useful. He could have done quite a lot, he was strong enough, but he just lounged lazily around. We all resented him for that. What a fool, I had thought he was. He was always proclaiming foreboding prophecies. So far we had escaped the doom that he seemed determine to peg on us, though most of the time only narrowly.

      "Oh shut yer trap, yer never be thinkin' about the sunlight Henry. You never do a spot of work in your life," George accused, his eyes not leaving his cards. We had had this conversation many times before.

      "You know why Captain Quist wants me here. I tell him what's going to happen," he hisses, retreating back into shadow.

      I knew why he spent so much time in shadow, his whole face was covered in scars. They say he had been beautiful once, the most renowned pirate in all of Neopia. Now he wasn't, and I laughed at him, closing my eyes in false mirth. "Henry, Captain Quist's the most superstitious green Quiggle I 'ave ever met. You can't be telling me that the fact that he wants you for anything ups your self worth. Yer able enough, come out of the shadows Henry. Come out!" What had began as malicious teasing ended in a threat, a challenge. There was no response from the darkness. "Lost yer nerve, eh?"

      And then he sprang on me, his face was a writhing mass of scar tissue. It wasn't even breaking a sweat. A dagger was at my throat, teasing my veins from there secure position in life. For all of my talk, I took life for granted. Looking upon the shining metal, I was ready to know no more, and then the presence of the knife was gone.

      "They'll need all hands on deck on deck for tonight's storm, not that ye'll be of much use," he muttered fading into the darkness.

      Neither George nor I spoke; we just looked at each other. My hand didn't leave my throat for the next hour, and I played bilge dice as if I had lost a limb. The rain continued to poor for a while, and we were content to play. We didn't even notice as the rocking of the ship became harder and quicker.

      The light boring rain was turning into a storm. "It's a storm," I whispered, looking out through one of the portholes. I could see nothing beyond the endless midnight. I consulted the old portly clock on the side of the small recreational cabin, it was only three in the afternoon and already night was enveloping us. This was going to be a bad one.

      "Their gunna need all hands on deck," stated George, unknowingly repeating Henry's words. I cursed that foul cleric before heading up to face the storm.

      It was worse than I had originally thought. The wind seemed to be blowing from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It tore at the sails like they were leaves from late autumn. The rain was a different matter entirely; it pounded on me, and the ship like a drum. Nature angrily banged me about, the rain her hand and the wind her unkind words. Then came the waves, where the rain and the wind were constant the waves were unpredictable. The waves sometimes were tame enough to only lap against the side of the boat, and other times they would toss the boat around like it was a ball and they were playing catch. Sometimes she (our boat) would be completely submerged, only to barely break the surface, spluttering and out of breath. Just as the waves began to subside the wind picked up. I was flung about like a rag; hitting so many parts of the ship I couldn't identify them all. I found my footing after being slammed against a large box of stolen gold. It was over, but the worst was about to begin. The cool feeling of the gold reminded me of another cool feeling of metal, that of Henry's dagger. Remembering the crew I turned around to look for them.

      "Man, the wheel!" someone cried, I couldn't tell who, the rain and wind distorted their voice into a thin whisper.

      As I made my way through the rain, I noticed I couldn't discern anything. I thought my eyes were closed, but I realized they were open. I didn't know if it was just because of the terrible wind and endless darkness, or if my fall had rendered me blind, I didn't have time to think. I was almost to the wheel. Desperately I grabbed onto it. I couldn't see anything so I had to make a wild guess at which way to turn. I thrust my weight to the left. The ship lurched teetering against the fanatical waves. I felt myself drenched in cold; I had made the wrong choice. Hastily I spun the wheel around, only to find another wave. It tugged at my arms and pulled me from the wheel. I heard a loud string of curses meet the air of the storm, and they weren't from my mouth. Someone was going to save us. I almost laughed before I let the storm consume me.

      When I woke up I was not met with the rough sheets of my cabin bed, but the cool feel of water stained sand. I coughed and felt my lungs release salty water. I was leaving death, slowly, slowly. I tried to push up from the sand, but I felt the sea wrap over me. This caused me, with strength I didn't have to push up and meet the glaring light of day. My whole body ached and stung, I had quite a few cuts and bruises, all of which had salt in them. "Uhhh," I moaned, not wanting to get up.

      "Get up," someone ordered gruffly, if I hadn't been so delirious I would have recognized the voice as Henry.

      "What arrre yer doing here?" I asked looking at Henry while shielding my eyes from the blinding sunlight. I could see, I registered dimly.

      "The ship crashed," Henry stated firmly.

      I laughed then; it wasn't even a bitter laugh. I been waiting to see life in Henry, some retaliation for all my taunting, this must be a practical joke. "Henry, I didn't know ye would be gettin' a sprit. I thought ye would just be letting me tease yeh," I prodded gently.

      I hated the compassion that I saw in his eyes. It confirmed my nightmares. "The ship is gone, so are the Captain and George." His words were quite. He didn't put any emotion into his words just stared out upon the sea, that wretched sea. It had taken everything from me. "Let's build a shelter," Henry commented quickly, seeing the rage developing in my eyes.

      It had been a couple of days since the wreckage, and already I was beginning to tire of the island. Henry seemed strangely content. "I think we should be tryin' to get out of here," I commented one day. We were on the beach, the faint strains of blue beginning to fade from the pinking sky.

      "It's peaceful," he remarked for once looking content. He was glad for my company and I glad for his. He knew that the moment we returned to shore I would be off again with my younger companions. I would quickly fill the gap George had left.

      "But we can't just stay here, heck; we haven't even started a signal fire!" I quieted. He was silent. After the sun had set and we headed back to our makeshift shelter our conversation began again.

      "Please can we start on a raft in the morning," I whined. I don't know why I did it, I didn't need his approval he was old and I was young. I could have built it by myself, but I couldn't leave him alone. We had to work together to survive.

      "Another day, please," Henry whimpered, and headed off to bed, the conversation was done.

      I didn't mention the raft the next day, or even for a couple of weeks. We had a sort of peaceful existence and Henry seemed truly happy. However I wasn't content, I needed to be with people other than this crazed madman. It was when I was climbing up a tree that I brought up the topic of the raft again. I slid down the trunk of the palm effortlessly. We had just gotten up from bed, having lounged around for most of the day. I was bursting with energy and I had just the idea of how to use it. "Henrrry we should probably be starin' to be buildin' a raft."

      He had been lying in the sun, soaking up rays. "What?" he exclaimed, lifting his head slightly.

      "A raft Henrrry, a raft," I chided. "There are some sticks here, and coconuts for food supplies and-"

      "McGee, are you asking me to leave paradise?" he asked wearily. He didn't want to return to the sea, it had destroyed everything you had.

      "Don't tell me yer afraid of the sea Henry?" I asked incredulously, already gathering the supplies for the ship.

      "McGee, I'm worried. I'm not really sure about my predictions anymore, the sea did something to 'em, that evil creature, but I think we might want to wait a bit at least."

      "Don't be mate, it all be fine!" I exclaimed, and with that we went to build the raft, me leading the way

      "It's a beauty." It wasn't at all pretty, Henry had hurt his arm in the crash so his work had been sloppy, but I hadn't the heart to redo it. It was a small vessel and didn't look at all sea worthy. It was heavily laden with coconuts and already fried shrimp.

      "I don't know McGee, arrr yeh sure?" he said looking up to the sky, which was clean and clear despite his doubts.

      "Let's just git rollin'" I proclaimed thrusting our small boat out into the surf , sending a pointed glare for him to join me. He did.

      The first couple of hours went on pointlessly, we didn't really know where we were going, but the sea was cool and the sky warm. We had enough shrimp and coconuts to get on for a while. It was after the third day that we were beginning to get tired; it was Henry who spoke first. " Yeh really have no idea where we are going do ye?"

      "No," I mumbled into a half eaten coconut. Then I saw it, in the distance, a small black dot on the horizon. For all I knew it could be another deserted island, but we would have to try to reach land. The shrimp was beginning to taste a little odd.

      "It should be takin' us a 'bout a day to reach it," Henry commented, and just then I looked up.

      The first thing I felt when I saw the sky was dread. It wasn't that it was dark and dismal, or even the beginnings of rain, but of its color. There was a saying in Neopia that every sailor knew, it was: "If the sky be the color of electric pet's coat, than both pirates and merchants best dock their boat." It was exactly that color, the dark blue of midnight infringed upon by lighter stripes of azure.

      "We better be goin' to sleep and just be seein' what the morning brings." Henry had noticed the sky too, his eyes drifting to it. I knew it was serious the moment he didn't utter, "I told you so." Our very lives were at stake again, against out eternal enemy, the sea.

      The wind came first this time, a herald before the rain. It whipped up our fur. We didn't have any sales only two roughly made paddles. Then it whipped up the sea churning it. It rolled us around in long swells, not at all choppy. It was smooth danger. I looked to Henry and he recognized the look of fear in my eyes, but did not comfort me. He nodded, and looked to the graying sky. The sky as if in response to our fear began to drizzle. It was that same cool rain that came down slow, just like the night of the crash. "Grab the wheel!" I thought I heard someone yell, but I saw that Henry's mouth was in a thin line. He had not said anything, but I had to be sure. " 'Enry there is no wheel on this ship," I blubbered, the rain coming down harder. Henry was silent, he knew my terror.

      Then came the waves. They were different than last time or maybe it was we that were changed. Instead of roughly tossing the boat around and eventually sinking her, they made no pretences. After a couple of small swells we were consumed by the sea once more.

      The Grundo is looking at me with wide eyes, her hand not writing any notes in her notebook. "And," she prods.

      "And I bein' woken up agin," I yell, frustrated with her curiosity. I just told this ignorant little idiot more than I had ever told anyone of my life, even Henry. She of course repays me with more questions. I look at her still curious eyes. I sigh. "I never saw Henry again, he could be alive, or something else, I don't know." I am so tired of being afraid.

      "Come down with me to the beach, I think my teacher would like to hear your story," she commands. She grabs my hand without asking, and I don't mind. I don't at all mind.

The End

 
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