Sailing towards Sunrise

A Pirates of the Caribbean Story by Tina Price



It promised to be a rough night. The waves pounded the ship, spraying across the deck and threatening to wash any who lost their respect for the sea. It was just an hour after sunset and King Triton was promising a taste of hell before ere the Sun was again seen…

He leaned his lanky form against the rigging, securing his position with a grip on a pinion. Yes, a long night, t'would be… E'en now Boson's baritone voice could be heard bellowing out orders to those crew members taking first watch.

He had some time to himself for the moment. For now his orders were being seen to and there was no need to issue new ones as yet. And so he could spend a moment on deck while his busy crew went about their business, oblivious to his presence.

His thoughts drifted back to what once had been: he had once been considered handsome in a rugged way. His eyes had been a piercing blue, his lips full and his jaw strong. His nose, though large had once had a good shape to it and it had suited his face well. His teeth had been in better shape than the average man's and white and straight to boot.

But ten years of living from hour to hour, consumed by obsession had managed to change him, un-aging though he currently was. His eyes were reduced to a perpetual, suspicious squint. His mouth was set in a permanent scowl and somehow his nose seemed to have grown larger. Or was it that his face had thinned out? His teeth... Ah, but it made him shudder to think of them! They looked like those of an old man's corpse! It was the reason he kept no looking glass in his cabin these days.

Once again he reflected upon how different his life would now be had he only had an once of faith in the mystical back then…

The ship lurched suddenly as it slammed into a tall wave and he felt the blow of the salt water across his face. His clothes were soaked and he should now be chilled to the marrow. The spray in his face should have left his skin stinging and red. But there was no such sensation. Nothing at all, in fact. All he could feel was the physical pressure of the wave's contact against his skin. No cold, no pain, no sting…

Nothing.

His nostrils flared as he sucked in a great lungful of air. It had no scent. No saltiness. No tang.

Nothing.

With an uncharacteristic sigh, he let go the rigging and slowly made his way across the swaying deck to his cabin. At the threshold, he stripped off his soaked outer coat and hung it on the peg near the door. The room was softly lit by one lone hurricane lamp.

Carefully, quietly, he made his way to his favorite chair, then settled himself in it and put his feet up on the table. His hand automatically found its way to the bowl of apples he always kept on hand and plucked one out. He held it up before his eyes and admired it: it's color, it's shape, even the speckles on it's skin. He tried to sniff it, though he knew it was a hopeless ritual. Then he licked it and with a small sigh, sank his teeth in. The apple made a most satisfying crunch - and that was the only satisfying thing about it.

He tried to remember how they tasted: the tartness, the sweetness, the texture.. as he slowly chewed the bite, pretending to savor it. Yet within seconds the usual despair settled upon him and he let the fruit drop from his nerveless fingers. His feet left the table as he leaned forward and buried his face in his hands.

"Ten years," he whispered into them. "Ten years of pain and suffering as no mortal man should. We did not deserve this… it is a punishment far beyond the crime."

"I agree," came a quiet voice from behind him as the girl dropped a blanket about his shoulders. He had almost forgotten her presence, so caught up in his nightly ritual was he. Yet he had thought her asleep when he had entered. Although, in hindsight he should have known she would not truly sleep after all she had seen earlier this night.

"What know you of it?" he asked belligerently.

She hesitated a moment. "I've seen men executed for stealing," she whispered. "and it seems to be a far kinder fate than the one you have found."

"We've suffered…" he admitted. "but the end is nigh. We've only to survive this storm and I've little doubt that the Pearl will prevail against the sea. Tomorrow or mayhap the day after we shall undo the curse and be ourselves again! I owe it all to you, missy." He swung his chair about and saw that she had backed up a step or two.

"I wonder if you've learned anything at all," Elizabeth said, her voice wavering.

"Oh ay!" he sneered. "You'd be surprised what I've learned." Just then he noted how she was swaying on her feet, how pale her face was and he barely managed to snag her as she crumpled in a faint. Quickly he wrapped the blanket about her, and leaning back in the chair, he shook her gently. "Ere now!" he chided. "No use in fading away on me now. I'll be having need o' ye on the morrow."

He was gazing at her with some concern when her eyes fluttered open a few minutes later and met his.

In them he saw his own lost youth, his lost dreams and innocence. It was life he saw in them, something he had not gazed upon in a long while.

Words failed him.

"I'm sorry," she mumbled wearily.

"What for?"

Her hand left the folds of the blanket and one finger came to light between the folds of his shirt, upon his bare chest, in the very place where a fresh wound still gaped open.

"For trying to kill you," she replied. "I was frightened. I did not really mean to strike a killing blow. I only wished to get away."

Still speechless, he could only nod. She walked in daylight whilst he was trapped in the never-ending dark, he realized.

"You don't feel like a skeleton," the girl finally said, as she regained her composure and sat up, attempting to remove herself from his lap.

"Tis a strange curse," he said, with a shake of his head. "It warps our appearance and even that of the clothes we wear. Best not to think of it. It's driven us near to mad attempting at reason it out." With a push he helped her regain her feet, then handed her the blanket. "Get some sleep if ye can. The storm is worsening and you'll be hard put to sleep when it rages at full force. Worry not about the crew. They be too busy to be bother'n you. Besides which, I've given orders that none are to enter this cabin without me permission."

It was apparent to him that she was still too faint to make it across the rolling deck without help, so he steadied her with a hand on her arm. Thrusting her into his bunk, he tossed the blanket atop her.

"Best have some o' this, missy" he grumbled, handing her an apple. "You never did get ought but a bite or two for dinner."

Warily, she accepted the fruit and bit into it.

As a pang of jealousy stabbed him, Barbossa turned and quickly left the cabin.

***************

A day and a night later Elizabeth was truly amazed when the man "whom hell had spat back out" as the legend went, slit not her neck, but her palm.

"Waste not!" he gleefully informed her as he wrapped his own hand around her own and pressed her palm around the gold medallion before dropping it into the Aztec chest.

'He spared me!' she thought in amazement even as he leaned in close and whispered for her ears only," I told ya, you'd be surprised what I've learned!"