ONE: DAY OF DEATH
Cutler Beckett had never wished to die with a... with a... well, a kaboom.
He had always felt that he should die after doing something heroic, lying on his deathbed, surrounded by his friends and comrades, saying famous last words as he slowly left the world. Now, that was an ending! People often said things about going out with a bang, and Beckett could tell them now, that it was far, far overrated. There was nothing fun, nor exciting about going out with a bang.
And anyway, he had died more with a kaboom then a bang. He was fairly definite on that... after all, it had been his death, and so he should know the sound it made. Really.
He felt that his death had been such a waste to the world. His great intellect had been stripped away from a land wide and shining with opportunity! And all because of that big kaboom. Shame. Such a shame. Coughing, he drifted out of his thoughts of the past, and decided that his attention was needed elsewhere... i.e., the present.
His rowing boat drifted through the black waters of the afterlife. He had never believed in life after death—and he felt that he shouldn't start now, simply because he was dead. So, if this wasn't real, he could make mistakes and nobody would really know or care. Not that a person like him made mistakes, of course (apart from one particularly kaboomy one, but he had to be forgiven for that, really, as it wasn't his fault at all).
Through the mist, he could see many other rowing boats, and underwater, shoals of people in what looked like nightshirts languidly drifted past. I don't have a nightshirt, Beckett thought idly, I hope they have some here... blinking, he suddenly noticed a much larger ship come into sight. His boat—as well as all of the others—seemed drawn to it, like some magnetic attraction, and he ended up drifting alongside the Flying Dutchman. However, he couldn't move... which was rather annoying. He simply couldn't.
"Cutler Beckett?" Ah. The confused voice seemed to break whatever spell he was under; now that he had been noticed, his muscles suddenly untensed, and he found that he could move quite normally. He turned to the Dutchman, frowning.
"Am I... oh, it's you, Turner," his voice changed from one of questioning to distaste almost immediately. William Turner stood on deck, looking at him, and seeming—though as dashingly as he could—confused. This was not an unusual state to find him in, so Beckett wasn't unduly worried. Is this hell? He wondered, sailing alongside Will Turner for eternity?
"You've caused a lot of... misery, Beckett," Will said, in his bold voice (he had a bold voice, and didn't feel it right to let it go to waste, so he said everything in his bold voice). He was probably pleased that he had managed a three-syllable word so early in the day. Beckett knew that he should keep the conversation up, in case Will became distracted by something shiny.
"I'm sure I have," Beckett said, "Do you mind if I ask where we're going? Purgatory? Reincarnation? Heaven, or perhaps hell? That sort of thing..." he trailed off as Will's face lost understanding. "You know what purgatory is, don't you?" Beckett asked, pronouncing the word slowly. Will immediately put on his brave face (which was the only one he had, apart from 'confused' and 'Elizabeth-face'). He held said face at what he thought was the most dashing angle.
"Yes, of course I know!" Will said.
"Hmm," Beckett said doubtfully. He, of course, had had the best of the best, educationwise. What was the point in being a lord if you couldn't stun everyone in the room with your superior wit and knowledge of all literature? That was, if everyone in the room actually knew what you were talking about.
Beckett was so intelligent, sometimes not even he understood what he was talking about. And that was skilful, was it not?
"And you went to school, did you?" Beckett asked, and Will did not like the dubious undertones to his voice.
"Of course I did!" Will frowned at him, "I went to school 'til I was eleven... I still can't believe I passed my final test with above average..." he smiled fondly at the memory. His teacher had been so kind—always coming over to help him, and patting him on the leg for reassurance, and helping him change when he got his shorts dirty (which was a privilege, really, because he didn't think any of the other boys got spare shorts if they dirtied theirs).
"Neither can I," Beckett muttered under his breath, and then he coughed, "So you don't know where we're going, at all?" Will nodded. "So where are we going?"
"No... that meant 'yes, I don't know where we're going at all'," Will said. Beckett stared at him for a minute. His thoughts were clear; do you understand the notion of grammar? "You just have to sit along for the ride..." Will shook off his confusion, and pointed a condemning finger at Beckett, getting back into the swing of being bold and brave and dashing, "You will pay for your sins!"
"I'm sure I will," Beckett said boredly, adjusting his slightly singed frockcoat with as much dignity as he could muster (about one kilogram; which is about how much a baboon weighs. However, Beckett did not know about kilograms as his times were those of the imperial units, so he would have known it to be able two-point-two pounds).
"I wouldn't rattle me if I were you, Beckett," Will didn't like the casual tone Beckett spoke back to him in, "You wouldn't like me when I'm rattled!" His vocabulary wasn't too varied. Or his use of metaphors.
"Rattling? Try shaking your head from side to side," Beckett suggested. Will opened his mouth, and then closed it again, processing the information. Beckett realized that there was no point at all in trying to insult him; unless he perhaps came straight out with it and told him that his hair was stupid. That would probably earn him a girly slap around the face and the amount of exactly three-point-eight tantrums (each one going about seven stamps per minute).
Suddenly, a thought struck Will. Usually, this happened with a creak and a dull thud. However, this was a real-life thought... which was a rare event if there ever was one. On average, Will was struck by a thought once every four years and three months... but fortunately, this one had come five weeks early. He looked at Beckett, and then pointed a finger to somewhere behind him.
"You should be going that way. You're not coming to the land of life after death... you're going to hell. The Locker," Will said, triumphantly (which was four whole syllables... but Will didn't think of it). Suddenly, Beckett's boat veered off towards wherever Will had pointed.
"Can't we come to some sort of agreement on this?" Beckett asked, turning around to face Will, who was getting smaller every minute. It wasn't because of some strange growth deficiency, but because he was getting further and further away, and that was how perspectives worked. Tiny-Will waved until he was lost in the mists.
(He really got lost in the mists. His little conversation with Beckett had lost him what little bearings he had had on his location. Tch. First day on the job and all that.)
Beckett sat in thoughtful silence for another half an hour, until his little rowing boat bumped against a sandy white shore. He looked around—so this was the Locker. It was completely deserted. I would have thought Mercer would be here, he thought tiredly, standing up unsteadily in his boat.
"He is. But everyone has d'eir own punishment..." Beckett turned slowly, to face a strange-looking woman with thick dreadlocks, and an odd dress that appeared to be held together solely out of rags, pressed crabs and prayers. She smiled serenely.
"Hmm," Beckett said, examining her closely, "Calypso, I presume?"
"Indeed... just here to witness d'e punishment of certain people who have ruined d'e sea," she shot a rather pointed look in his direction. Beckett, naturally, looked behind him. Then he realized that there was nobody behind him—she meant him.
"Ruined the sea?" Beckett wrinkled his nose, "I was improving it, actually."
"Quiet," Calypso held up a finger, "I am trying to t'ink up an 'ell for you..." Images of no tea, pirates running amok and bad grammar filled Beckett's mind. He realized that he had to do something. He looked around himself.
"Is there anyway to... avoid this hell?" Beckett asked, cautiously. Calypso looked at him, seeming to be waiting for him to go on. "Something I can do to... to avoid hell. Redeeming the sins I have committed, that sort of thing?" Be forgiving, be forgiving, be one of those forgiving deities that we're always hearing about...
"D'ere is... but not a way d'at is possible for you," she gave an ink-stained smile, "No, not for you, of all people."
"I could do it," Beckett immediately said.
"Oh, really?" Calypso's smile was what Beckett imagined a vampire's smile to look like, "Redeeming the sins you have committed, eh? T'ink you can do it?"
"Yes," Beckett nodded, "Of course."
"Everyone you have ever sinned against—you can go back and make it better?" Beckett blinked at her. Then, slowly, he nodded. "Everyone you have ever sinned against..." Calypso reached into the folds of her dress, and brought out a thin, rolled-up piece of parchment. It looked quite, quite long. Beckett had a bad feeling about this.
"I can," he finally said, slowly.
"Everyone you have sinned against..." she let the parchment roll open, and Beckett watched in some level of distress as the roll hit the floor, still not even half-way unfurled. Beckett picked up the bottom of the long list, which was absolutely covered in names, and unrolled it further, his eyes scanning over some names that were semi-familiar, others that he could not remember for the life of him (ironic metaphor... sorry, chum).
"I could, ah, try," Beckett said.
"In five days?" Calypso folded her arms and raised an eyebrow at him.
"Five days?" Beckett yelped involuntarily. He looked at the list. "This piece of parchment is at least thirteen feet long!" He was correct... it was fourteen feet and three inches long (in case you're taking notes).
"So you don't t'ink you can do it?" Calypso asked, innocently, though her gaze pointedly swept around the Locker, as if searching for suitable punishment.
"Uh, well... what do I have to do?" Beckett asked, trying not to become tangled up in the long, long, long list of names that was his mission. Calypso chuckled, and Beckett frowned slightly.
"Go back to the land of the living, as but a ghost," she waved an arm, as if making a point (whatever the point was, she had certainly made it, that was clear), "And make things good."
"Make things good?" Beckett looked at the list, finding a name near the top, "Verna Price?" He asked, incredulously. He looked to Calypso. "I pulled her pigtails!"
"You did," Calypso nodded, "'Tis still a sin."
"I was eight!"
"Age does not matter," Calypso waved a finger, "A sin is a sin. Spite is a sin in my eyes." Beckett was staring at her as if she were crazy.
"So everyone who has ever sinned against anyone goes to the Locker, eh?" Beckett shrugged, "The afterlife must be pretty empty." At least there would be no nosy, annoying neighbours, and nobody to hog the tea.
"Every bad t'ing, you can balance wi'd a good t'ing," Calypso explained, "For every good t'ing someone does, a bad t'ing is wiped away."
"I... see..." Beckett blinked, "So my list was... longer?"
"What have you ever done d'at's good?" Calypso scoffed. Beckett distinctly got the feeling of not liking her. Suddenly, she held out a small, see-through orb; it looked like it was made of glass. Beckett looked at it questioningly, and then took it from her hand to inspect it. "D'at is your conscience," Calypso said.
"It's empty," Beckett said, with more pride then you would expect from such a fact.
"D'e more good you do, the greener the inside becomes," Calypso held a finger up once more, "If you are bad... the green goes again. Once you have redeemed yourself against everyone, d'e inside will be bright green... and you can go to d'at afterlife d'at you are so keen to get to..." she smiled.
"What if the person I have to make happy is dead?" Beckett interjected, looking at a few names. He knew that quite a few of them were dead... after all, he had killed them (or had gotten Mercer to, at any rate).
"D'en you must balance it out wit' a good deed in general," Calypso snapped.
"I see," Beckett said, blankly, "So I go back to the land of the living as a ghost, and then I have five days to make everyone on this list..." he waved the massive list, which was now tangled around one of his arms and trailing on the floor, "...happy? That's impossible..."
"Only for a man who is as much of a sinner as you," Calypso narrowed her eyes.
"Oh, yes," Beckett straightened his wig in a dignified manner, "Well, I suppose I should make a start. But as for five days... well..." he pursed his lips, "You seem much fonder of the number ten. Why don't we bump the number up a little...?"
"You 'ave five days," Calypso snapped, "No more and no less. From sunrise of d'e first day, to sunset of d'e last. Understand?"
"I understand," Beckett said. He had a very bad feeling about this.
"Off you go, d'en," Calypso smiled at him again, her lion-staring-at-a-helpless-baby-gazelle smile. The list in Beckett's hand suddenly rolled up of its own accord, so that he had the rolled-up list in one hand and the orb in the other. "Good luck... you'll need it."
"Thank you," Beckett said weakly, before fading away.
And, somewhere in the land of the living, there was a green flash.
NB: Why do my fictions always turn out crazy? Well, here's another one folks, a nine-chapter series for the fun of it. I just wondered what Beckett would get up to as a ghost, is all... good? Bad? Ok? Must-have-been-out-of-my-mind-and-high-on-crack? I wonder...
Diclaimer:Do not own.