Disclaimer: This story is based on both the TV show "Surface" and the movie "Pirates of the Carribean". I don't own the characters in this story. The story line of the first two pages transpires exactly as in "Surface", except it is written to Nimrod's point of view.
Rating: K+ (mild coarse language and action violence)
"Go, Nimrod!" Miles urged me, motioning out to the open ocean. I stared up at him in disbelief. Miles was only a young adolescent human, but he had been my caretaker ever since I had hatched from the egg he had slipped into his family's aquarium. He was the only parent I had ever known, and my only friend. I stayed in the shallow water, staring at him wide-eyed with panic. It was a bad dream, all a bad dream. This couldn't be happening!
"Go, Nim!" Miles begged again. "I can't protect you anymore. They're going to kill you!"
Kill me? Why? Did the other humans want to eat me, or did they consider me a threat? Given my ability to electrocute people, I decided I was probably considered a threat.
"Go, Nim," Miles pleaded plaintively. I shook my head, trying to wake myself up from the nightmare, but it was no nightmare. It was reality. Miles was genuinely concerned for my safety, as he always was, and thought I would be better off away from the other humans, who didn't like me. Given our recent experiences, he was probably right. I gave Miles a last sad look and sunk dejectedly beneath the lapping waves. Where was I supposed to go now?
A passing school of silver fish soon distracted me temporarily from my misery. "Yummy!" I thought, darting after them. I zapped a foursome of fish, one after the other, and since I was quite hungry, I gobbled them down. It felt good to have a full stomach again, but my thoughts soon returned to Miles. Would he miss me? Would he forget me? Would he be alright?
The touch of a rough rope on the spikes of my tail snapped me out of my reverie. I was caught in a net! Even though the net was full of fish, I was not happy about that. I became panicked as the net began pulling the fish and me to the surface. The fish became pressed tightly around me as they swam downward to stay in the water. Soon, I couldn't breathe with my gills or lungs through the blanket of wriggling fish. I passed out, partly from fear, but mostly from oxygen deprivation.
When I came to, I heard voices:
"Huh. What's happening to all the fish?"
"There's so few this time!"
"What the hell is that?"
"Whoa, I'll bet that is what's been eating all the fish!"
"Let's lock him up in a box and take him down to animal control when we're done."
I suspect those last three statements were about me, because I soon felt large, leathery hands closing around me and depositing my still-limp body into a wooden crate.
"Is he dead?" one of the voices asked. I was now alert enough to identify the voice as that of an adult human man.
"Poke him with a stick," another man suggested. "Maybe he'll wake up."
I felt a sharp jab in my side and jolted awake with a nasal screech of pain. Reflexively, uncontrollably, I zapped. The pale blue, dancing stream of energy arched around the stick to the hand of the human holding the stick. He gave a startled yell as his muscles spasmed.
As soon as I stopped zapping, he jerked his hand away, cursing violently. "The damn thing zapped me!" the fisherman shrieked.
"Throw him down below," the second man growled.
The next thing I knew, the crate was careening down a flight of stairs, rudely bumping and jolting me against its sides as it tumbled. I hissed angrily, screeching with pain at each crash of the crate, but the only reply I received was the unsympathetic slam of the hatch behind me.
All was dark in the room below deck, but although I couldn't see, my senses of smell and touch were working just fine. An enticing aroma of fresh fish wafted around me, soothing my anger and awakening my appetite. I found that the wood of the crate was brittle enough to flake apart with my claws, and I scratched my way out of the crate, wriggled out onto the metal floor, and followed my nose to a large plastic container. As I crawled up the rough sides of the container, I noticed that it felt much like the large rectangular cooler that Miles kept me in when I first hatched. This cooler was so full that as I tried to climb over the edge into it, my face hit a fish. The fish were already dead, but they were very fresh and had probably been still swimming less than an hour ago. I bit, filling my mouth with cool, smooth, tender fish meat. It was a big fish, much bigger than anything I could have caught on my own, and its flavor was heavenly. The first bite hadn't even penetrated to the guts!
I kept on eating the fish, eyeballs, intestines, and all, leaving only the skeleton and the cartilaginous fins. When I finished the first fish, I moved on to the next one. I ate another… and another… and still another until I had eaten all the darn fish in the whole darn cooler! I climbed out of the cooler and looked for more fish, and when I found another whole cooler, I climbed inside thinking there would be more fish. However, all I found inside were ice cubes and cold glass bottles filled with some sort of liquid. Out of curiosity, I cracked a bottle open by slamming a front foot down on its neck and lapped up some of the liquid inside. It had a rich bread-like taste with a fiery tingliness about it, and although it was unlike anything I had ever tasted, it was delicious! I wanted more, so I cracked open another bottle and drank all of the liquid inside it, too. I finished the cooler full of fiery bread-flavored liquid just as I had done with the cooler of fish.
By the time I finished the large meal, I was feeling quite sleepy. I stood up and tried to climb out of the cooler, but I felt so wobbly and lightheaded that I fell back to the icy bottom. It was true that I was torpid from the cold drinks and cold ice, but this was ridiculous! Perhaps the drinks were poisoned! In a panic, I took a running leap at the side of the cooler, and this time I managed to clear the top. I landed on the floor with a splat as the force of my landing on the cold metal lurched the contents of my stomach unpleasantly upward. Suddenly conscious of how nauseous I felt, I began wretching and vomiting all over the floor. I heard a hissing noise and smelled a metallic acridness in the air as my strong digestive juices ate through the floor.
Now that my stomach felt much better having been rid of the poison in the fiery bread-flavored drink, I turned my attention to finding a place to sleep. That wasn't hard; there was a pile of clothes and blankets in the corner. However, as soon as I settled down into it, I noticed that my bladder was rather full. I got out of my make-shift bed, and with a smirk, decided on a urine deposition site. After crawling over to the bottom of the stairs, I gummed up the floor with my mucous secretions from the skin of my feet just for good measure before relieving myself on the same spot. Then I crawled back to the pile of clothes and lay back down on it. The whole pile smelled strongly of various humans- unfamiliar humans. I didn't mind human scent; after all, I had slept in Miles' bed up until now. However, being in an unfamiliar place full of strange smells and hostile humans made me realize how small and vulnerable I was. As I fell asleep, I fervently wished that at least one item of clothing in the pile would smell like Miles.
I awoke to the touch of rough hands depositing me into a wicker cage. I had a throbbing headache, probably a result of last night's intoxication, and being brought up the stairs into full sunlight hurt my eyes and made the headache worse. The bearer of the cage came up the stairs, howling with rage to his companions. "The damn monster ate all our fish and drank all the beer!" he roared. "He completely trashed the galley!"
I heard footsteps tromping down into the galley and an exclamation of, "Good Lord! What is that horrid stink?" followed by a loud crash and "Ugh! What is this crap?"
I gave a raspy, nasal snort of laughter. It was clear to me what had happened: the fisherman had slipped in the little surprise I had left at the bottom of the stairs last night.
"Oh, nasty!" the fisherman continued. "His vomit ate right through the floor!" The big, burly man came tromping up the stairs, and I noticed his face was flushed and his nostrils were flaring with rage. "That little thing is nothing but trouble!" he howled. "Get rid of it!"
"Let's throw him overboard!" a lean, fit, blond-haired fisherman called out.
"What if he comes back?" a beefy man with a thick, red moustache asked.
"Let's make sure he doesn't," the burly fisherman leered, pulling a sharp menacing fishing knife out of a holster in his pocket. He opened the wicker basket and lifted me out, none too gently.
Well aware of the fisherman's intentions, I zapped him with all of my might. "Yeowch!" he cried, letting me fall to the deck. I scrambled across the floor to the edge and climbed up the railing frantically. I catapulted myself off the top wooden ledge into the water. All I heard before splashing beneath the waves was, "Damn! He got away!"
Being caught by the fishermen had been rough, but at least all the cages, tossings, and death threats had kept my mind off of how much I missed Miles. Now that I was safe in the ocean again, I kept mentally picturing the way from the far-away beach where Miles had left me back to his house. The fishing boat had carried me far away from any recognizable surroundings, and I had no idea how to get back to Miles' house. To compound the problem, Miles had warned me that someone might kill me if I stayed among humans. Now here I was, banished from the only place I called home and far away from the only friend I had ever known. I swam aimlessly along, wondering, "Now what?"
As though in response to my question, a school of fish came swimming past me. I didn't see them at first, but I caught their scent. They were swimming directly overhead near the surface, and although their light blue bellies disguised them against the sky above, I could see the dark outline of their dorsal surfaces. Although I had devoured all of the fishermen's catch last night, I was hungry again, so I zapped and ate three fish that were swimming particularly close to me.
After I was done eating, I noticed a large, dark shape a little to my left gliding just below the surface of the water. At first I was alarmed; a creature that size could easily make a meal of me. However, it was readily obvious upon inspection that the large shape was no living being but rather a large wooden boat that was black from having been sealed with tar.
It was hard to tell what the thing was without inspecting it closely because the bottom of the boat was encrusted with huge barnacles, giant starfish, enormous mussels, and long tendrils of seaweed. The boat was clearly very old, and probably abandoned. I poked my head above the surface briefly to check: sure enough, the masts and cabin were old and dilapidated, and the sails were black and tattered. The only living souls aboard that boat were probably birds and seals that had stopped to rest during long oceanic journeys. I decided to stop and rest there myself.
I swam up to the boat, climbed aboard using the barnacles on the sides as footholds, and flopped onto the warm, tar-coated deck. Up close, the boat looked even more run-down. It was a wonder the thing hadn't sunk during a storm yet!
A human voice from directly behind me startled me: "Hi, there, little lizard creature." Before I could fully register the person's general appearance, I saw a hand reaching toward me to pick me up. That startled me even more, so much more that I zapped the hand.
"Whoa!" the human exclaimed, letting go of me and tumbling over backwards. "You're a zappy lizard creature!"
Now that I felt safe again, I took a good look at my new acquaintance. Judging by the deep voice and facial hair, he was definitely male. His skin was darker than Miles', and looked as though it had been tinted with coffee. He wore his thick, black hair in long dreadlocks adorned with big, brightly colored beads, and he kept it tied back with a red handkerchief that he had wrapped over the top of his head and tied behind his neck. He had warm, gentle dark eyes heavily rimmed with black eyeliner, a medium sized moustache, and a goatee about four inches long that he had braided into two thin braids on either side of his face. The reminded me of the fleshy, sensitive, pale green tendrils that hung from my own chin.
"Don't worry, little fellow," the man soothed me. "Old Jack won't hurt you."
He sat back up, and I continued to study him. Jack's clothes were old and tattered, but his face looked youthful and his body was lean and muscular. He probably had no trouble finding mates. At first, I had been disinclined to trust him because of my bad experience with the fishermen, but Jack was acting in such a gentle, friendly manner that I couldn't help but like him. I reached out my front foot and etched a message in the tar coating on the deck with one of my claws:
My name is Nimrod.
Jack was speechless. Apparently, no being other than a human had ever written him a message. In order to try to make up for having zapped him earlier, I leaned my head on his leg. I started purring to further emphasize my good will. Jack responded by gingerly patting me on the head, so in order to prove that I wasn't going to zap again, I climbed up into Jack's lap. He laughed and started petting me as though I was a cat. Although he looked happy enough at the moment, there was a sadness about him, as though he had lived much longer than his young, healthy body would indicate.
"Nimrod, what sort of creature are you?" Jack asked me. "How long does your species generally live?"
I leapt back down to the deck and wrote,
I don't know.
Jack looked startled. As for me, I was wondering why he wanted to know what I was and how long I would probably live. Did Jack want to be my caretaker?
"I'll tell you what I am, then," Jack said with a friendly grin. "I was once an average human, but I have become immortal now. It happened when I was thirty-two years old and low on booty with which to pay my crew. I'm a pirate captain, you see: Captain Jack Sparrow. Anyway, I was looking for a chest of treasure I had buried on an obscure island in the Bermuda Triangle several years ago. The trees and landscape of the island had changed somewhat from when I was last there, and I had a little trouble finding the cave where I had hidden my hoard of treasure. When I finally got there and dug up the chest, I heard the gurgling of a spring at the back of the cave. I was quite thirsty after the work of searching and digging, so I ventured there and took a drink.
"It wasn't until several years later when I was in my late forties that I realized what had happened that day. I overheard a group of my crew noting the wrinkles and grey hairs they had all developed since first coming aboard this ship, the Black Pearl. My crewman Bootstrap Bill piped up, "Have you noticed that Captain Jack has no grey hairs or wrinkles? He hasn't aged a day since digging up his treasure on that god-forsaken island in the Bermuda Triangle. He is inordinately strong, his wounds heal too quickly for a mortal man, and I swear doors open for him before he even touches them. Mark my words, something happened to Jack on that island, and I intend to find out what.'
"I realized that Bootstrap was right. As I recalled the events of my little trip on the island, I remembered the spring at the back of the cave, and the truth dawned on me. That spring had been the Fountain of Youth. I had indeed changed: I was immortal!
"At first, I was happy about being Jack Sparrow the Immortal. I would live forever, eternally enjoying the pleasures of life, and never fearing death, hell, or Davy Jones' locker. But eventually, the world began to change. One by one, everyone I knew and loved passed away. At first, I managed to make new acquaintances, friends, and lovers, but they too were eventually claimed by death's cruel hand. In the long years of immortality, life and time lost all meaning. All my old pleasures of treasure, rum, and women now serve mainly to dull the pain of loss.
"Even the boundaries of human achievement as I knew them changed. Soon, the whole world was mapped and explored, including many of my most treasured hiding places. Sooty factories that belched noxious fumes sprang up in the cities. With them came filthy, run-down, depressing slums where poor factory workers lived. Yet after several decades, new labor laws raised the standard of living for the common people, and the factory owners installed filters to control the nauseating pollution. The stark trappings of industry gave way to a more humane landscape of shopping centers, well-maintained painted houses and apartment complexes, and towering buildings of glass and steel that glimmer with light in the evening, probably much like what you're used to seeing.
"However, all was not well for me. Humanity has begun to explore the depths of the ocean and even the vastness of space. As we speak, their satellites watch every square kilometer of Earth's surface. Mortals today can map virtually every place the Pearl makes berth, and even view the exact locations of my hiding spots on their computers in the comfort of their private homes. In a nutshell, I'm no longer safe… Savvy?"
I tried to comprehend all that Jack had just said. It was all so sad, fascinating, and bewildering. I had never dreamt that the humans had such a complex and lively history. Now that I knew Jack was immortal, I wanted to try something. Miles had once read a book to me about vampires, immortal beings who fed on the blood of mortals and could communicate telepathically. Obviously, Jack wasn't a vampire; he was sitting on the deck of his ship in full sunlight. However, he had mentioned that he had unusual abilities, namely telekinesis. Perhaps he was also telepathic.
I squeaked to get Jack's full attention, focused my mind on his mind, and thought, Can you hear me?
Jack gasped. "Is that you, Nimrod?" he queried in disbelief.
Yes, I answered him mentally. I read in a book that many immortals are telepathic, so I thought you might be, too.
Jack said nothing, but looked at me quizzically, probably summing up what I had just said.
So you can't die? I continued. Nothing kills you?
"It's been 324 years, and I still haven't found anything that can kill me permanently," I answered. "I've died before, but I always regenerate and come back to life. I've been shot eleven times, hanged seven times, and swallowed by Davy Jones' kraken once."
What does that mean? Nimrod asked. What does it mean to be shot or hanged? What is a kraken?
Jack winced noticeably. "The kraken is Davy Jones' terrible beastie that devours all he commands it to kill," he answered. "It's basically a giant squid, and an overgrown one at that. It can drag the Pearlhere down to the depths and shatter it into a million pieces. As for shooting and hanging, they are horrible things that human beings sometimes do to each other. Shooting is hurting or killing someone by launching a metal projectile through his body. Hanging is tying a rope around a man's neck, dropping the floor out from under him, and if his neck does not break first, letting him dangle while painfully suspended by his neck until he suffocates to death."
Yikes! I exclaimed. That sucks! Does it hurt you?
For some odd reason, Jack laughed. "Aye, it hurts me as much as anybody," he answered. "The only difference is that if I die, I come back to life afterwards, but what's worse is when I don't die at all. I just stay alive and keep on suffering, which sucks, savvy?"
I squeaked in agreement. That sounds a lot like me, I said. I heal quickly, also. Some fishermen found me a day or two ago in their catch of fish, and since I was unconscious from being smothered by the fish, they locked me in a bamboo cage. When I came to, it was nighttime. I realized with terror that I was trapped… I told Jack the rest of my story exactly as it had transpired.
That's why I shocked you when you first tried to pick me up, I finished. I was afraid you would be mean to me just like the fishermen.
"That's alright," Jack laughed. "It's perfectly understandable. Besides, I've felt worse."
From all the shootings, hangings, and kraken swallowings? I inferred.
"Aye, mate," I answered him. "Nothing has happened recently, though. I'm currently wanted by nearly every government in the western hemisphere, but no one has been able to catch me yet. I find that if I stay close enough to the Bermuda Triangle, no one dares to come after me. I only leave these waters if I want to trade, engage in piracy, or meet some pretty ladies, savvy?"
I gave a squeaky laugh. Miles liked pretty girls, too. I had never seen a female of my species, but I thought to myself that if I did, I would like that very much. Heck, I would like to meet any member of my species, but the more I swam around the ocean, the more it looked like I was the only one of my kind.
As though he had read my mind, which was entirely possible, Jack piped up, "Hey, Nimrod, I thought I saw a pod of your kind swimming of the coast of Cuba the other day. At first I thought they were whales because they ranged from 100 to 200 feet in length, but they were too green and lizardy to be whales. I also saw a flash of lightning in the sky above where they were, so I figured a storm was coming, but there was not a cloud in the sky. The big lizards must have been zapping a big bird or something else they wanted to eat."