A/N: Ha. Told you I wouldn't give up. Sorry for the crap cliffhanger. BURP.
The ground was trying to throw her into the air, tilting and wobbling all over the place. The world seemed to have lost all its solidity and she was surely floating, spinning amongst a whirl of colors. A groan escaped her lips. She blinked several times, helping the face looming above her come into focus against the black sky behind it. Jack's lovely, shaggy head was recognizable even while he was still a bit blurry. She sat up a little, feeling woozy. She never really fainted much until she met Jack. At this point she was almost used to this hazy waking up feeling she always seemed to get afterwards. "Jack?" she said vaguely. Her voice sounded so far away.
"Sh, don't worry, love," Jack said in a strained tone. He was clutching his side, and his expression was one of pain and frustration.
"Are you alright, Captain?"
"You are ridiculous, lassie," he scoffed. "I should be askin' ye that question, not th' other way 'round." He smiled, and she couldn't help but smile with him, even though his was more of a grimace. "Now," he said, standing up and extending his hand to her, "on yer feet, milady." She took his hand and was pulled upright. As she righted herself, she noticed the whispering still in her head, though it was much fainter now.
She shut her eyes and clutched his hand tightly to her. "I can still hear him!" she cried. "What is going on, Jack? Make it stop!"
"'Fraid I can't do that, Carla, m'dear." He looked solemn. "We've found it."
Carlotta took a glance around, still holding his hand as though it were precious and would keep her safe. There were other unconscious figures strewn across the sandy earth. Some were sitting in fetal position, fully conscious but terrified. They were on a beach—a long, empty beach with a nearby forest that was shadowy and foreboding, its trees' branches hanging and gnarled like great arms reaching for them, luring and also warning them. "This is the place?" Her voice was quiet and trembled a little.
"Sure is," he confirmed with a shaky nod.
She looked around at their comrades again. "Y'know, Jack, this doesn't look like everyone here." She glanced back at him. His eyes seemed for a moment more sunken than usual.
"Jumpers," he snapped. "Couldn't 'andle the madness. Funny how I manage it every day o' me life." He grinned that golden and yellow-toothed grin of his, and Carlotta laughed awkwardly. Her heart sunk deep in her chest. Some of their shipmates had thrown themselves overboard to escape the maddening voices. She could hardly imagine what else was in store for them on this island.
As though he was reading her mind, Jack cleared his throat. "Oh, missy Carla, there are so many more things here that'll be far worse than that maddening fog, I expect. And in fact, I look forward to the challenge."
She shook her head at him urgently, a surge of fear suddenly pumping through her hot veins. "You're mad!"
His eyes twinkled at her. "So I've 'eard, love. So I've 'eard."
A shadow flitted by someplace in the corner of her eye. She jumped closer to her Captain. "Jack," she whispered. "I think I saw something." She pointed in the direction the shape had slithered by, but he seemed lost in his own world, suddenly. Jack was looking at the sky with a look of apprehension. "What is it, Jack?"
He shook his head, then suddenly his hand away from her and began swatting at something around his head that she could not see. Had he finally lost it?
Just as she reached out to him and was about to ask him what was going on, she felt an eerie tickle on her arm. She scratched it without looking, and felt something crawling along her skin. She looked down, and saw several red ants inching along her forearm. She screamed, and brushed them away quickly. She did a stupid sort of jig out of sheer horror, feeling like her skin was bubbling with disgust. Someone around them screamed, too. He was shouting, "Help me! Oh god, please help me! No, don't! Please don't hurt me! Leave me alone, please! Just leave me alone!" It was horrible. When she looked around for the shouter, however, she saw no one. The other shipmates had disappeared. It was just her and Jack.
She let out a yell of anguish. "Jack!" Her voice was high-pitched but extremely shaky. "Where did they go?"
He narrowed his eyes at her, batting away some invisible creature from near his head. "What are you talking about?" His focus then wandered off into the air again, swatting at nothing and looking perplexed. He started to walk away from her.
"Jack! Don't go!" She walked after him.
She followed him into the woodsy area nearby, feeling light headed. As unreal as her time with Jack Sparrow had seemed, nothing had ever felt as surreal as this past hour. Fog that made her hear voices in her head, and at the moment she wasn't sure what was real and what wasn't: those ants, how quickly the shipmates disappeared, Jack's behavior—even odder than usual. She felt so disconnected. "Jack!" she called, but he did not look at her. When he suddenly stopped walking, she was able to catch up to him. She stopped at his side and rested her hands on her knees, bending to catch her breath. They were in a clearing, she realized when she looked around. "Jack," she said. "Jack?" He was not looking at her. He was muttering to himself. "Jack, can you hear me?" She waved a hand in front of her Captain's face, hut his black shining eyes were glossed over and unfocused. He did not even flinch. "Jack!" she cried. "Can't you hear me? Please!" She was starting to really panic now. "Why can't you hear me?!"
"Carlotta." Her heart stopped for a second as the voice echoed around her. She spun around, and saw a man standing in the shadows.
"What—who's there?" she called. Her entire body was in tremors of fear. As she took a step closer, the silhouette vanished. She turned back to Jack, only to discover with a pang of disbelief and horror that he was gone. She was all alone. She could only see trees every which way she looked, and there seemed to be no way out. She couldn't even remember which way they'd come from. Every tree looked the same to her, and the stars looked so uniform she wasn't sure she could recognize any to lead her anywhere. She felt so lost and so alone, every vein in her felt on fire. Every heartbeat hurt her ribs and was deafening in the surrounding silence. "Jack?" she whispered in her meekest little squeak of a voice. She was so afraid, she could have fainted again, but this time she held herself up.
Another uncomfortable tickle on her arm again made her heart jump. Looking down, she saw those damn ants again. She squealed and leapt into the air, brushing them off. But there were more—hundreds more, climbing up her legs onto her torso as though she were their anthill. She started to scream, her skin burning as they bit through her clothes and gnawed at her. She ran as fast as she could, trying to shake off the ants that were eating her alive. Fear was burning in her throat as she screamed at the ants, screamed to the dark, empty wood for these ants to get off of her! "Get off!" she screeched. "Please!" As she ran, her foot snagged on a root and she tumbled forward with a painful yelp. Her face hit the earth and her cheek scratched. Her palms were raw and red from trying to catch the fall. The ants were in her hair, under her clothes. She could not take it any more, pushed herself up a little— and wretched in the dirt. Tears were pouring down her face, and her stomach was turning so thoroughly she didn't think she'd ever stop throwing up. She vomited again, and cried a bit more as some ants reached her face. "PLEASE!" she shouted. "STOP!"
And to her great surprise, the ants vanished. They just disappeared, as though they had never been there. She lifted herself onto her shaking knees and looked down at herself, wiping sick from her chin and tears from her cheeks. There were no rips in her clothing, no more uncomfortable crawling sensations on her scalp or anywhere else on her body. She was alone again.
Not for long, though. Another shadowy figure crossed her vision. "Hello?" she called to it, glancing around for where it might have gone. "Is someone there? Jack?" A spooky wind made the dead branches around her sway and creak, and she shivered, holding herself tightly. The dark figure stood hauntingly beyond some trees, staring at her. Well, she assumed he was staring at her, but she could not be sure because she could not see his face. "Hello?" she called again. She got up slowly, all her limbs feeling like they were not attached to her torso. Everything felt light. She started to move towards the figure, and as she did she felt a tap on her shoulder. Her heart jumped into her throat, she leapt into the air, and spun around as fast as she could, coming face to face with the man who haunted her past. His wide bloodshot eyes were gleaming right in her face, and that old familiar smell hit her for the first time since she'd finally left him. She screamed and tried to run away, but he appeared in front of her again out of thin air, staring and smiling that disgusting smile she feared so much.
She tried to back away slowly, but she tripped and found herself on the hard ground again. "Leave me alone," she whispered. "You can't be real. This is a hallucination. It must be. Jack said…"
"What did that little good-for-nothing lay about say to you, eh, girl?" He started to advance towards her, and she cowered.
"He what? You stupid girl! So afraid you can barely speak! So afraid of everything! You are worthless! So pathetic and frightful, I never knew what to do with you, growing up! And what have you become? Nothing more than just what you always were!"
Carlotta let out a single great sob, and looked up, right into that big ugly face. Even as she watched, he transformed. He collapsed, his face melting, decaying and rotting right in front of her. She put a hand to her mouth in horror as he completely changed and became a dead body with a familiar face. She tilted her head a little, trying to recognize that horribly disfigured body.
With a terrible jolt, she realized it, and almost threw up again. The dead form of her mother lay before her, wide eyes staring straight at her. She couldn't take it anymore. She stood up, and ran. She ran as fast as was possible on her wobbly legs, and she didn't stop. Trees flew by her like tall dark blurs, and some branches nicked her as she ran. Her injured shoulder was searing. She needed to find Jack. They needed to get away from this place—this horrible place—and get back onto the Pearl and onto the waters Jack loved so much. Lord only knew where Jack was, or the rest of the crew for that matter! Where was Gibbs? Where had everyone gone? And where was she?
A single glance over her shoulder caused a collision. She hit something hard, but not like a tree. It was a human body, and as she smashed into it, the two of them went rolling to the ground.
She panted heavily on the stained yellowing shirt in her face, catching the scent of rum and sweat with every deep inhale she took. She knew that smell.
"Jack!" she cried happily. She had never been so happy to see him as she lay there on top of him hugging him like there was no tomorrow. "Jack! I was so scared! Why did you leave me? This place… it's no good! I can't be here! No one ever should! We must go!"
"Sh, be calm now, Carlotta, dear." He held her close.
"Carlotta? You… called me Carlotta." She looked up at his face, giving his tear-stained chest a break. To her great surprise, Jack touched her face with a gentleness she didn't know those rough fingers had. His callous, ringed thumbs stroked away a tear from her bleeding cheek. She smiled weakly. "What happened to you? Where did you go, Jack? And where is everyone else? We need to find them." She started to get up, but he stopped her with a hand around her small, dirty wrist. "What is it?" she asked. Their eyes were connected. She felt so strangely grounded when she looked into those eyes, feeling like she'd just lived through a nightmare and just woke up to find the man she...
Was that her first thought? Really? So happy to see him again, her heart felt inflated and her eyes felt ready to burst with tears of pure joy. It felt like love. But knowing who he was, when she tried hard to remember the way things were before this place. It seemed so long ago after all this horror, even though it had only been probably 30 minutes or less.
But right now, she didn't care. Maybe she did love him. What did it matter as long as she could be free and feel like her own independent person in Captain Jack Sparrow's crew? What did her feelings for him matter, really?
He still had not looked away or pushed her off of him. In fact, he was tugging her closer, and she felt something hard against her hips as she pressed near. Her cheeks went bright red. God, that face of his—there had never been anything more beautiful, of that she felt certain. His body against hers was making every inch of her sweat. But it was such a relief, such an amazing feeling to not be absolutely terrified. The contrast between this and that horror was intense, and she was surprised at how relaxed she felt in the situation at hand. Jack's hands were roaming downward toward her backside, and she did not stop him. She was so happy, so elated in this moment that she took her chance and leaned closer to his face.
And oh! He completed the space between them! He did it for her so she didn't have to, as though he'd read her mind! And goodness, his mouth was so warm! She didn't think anything could ever be so warm or so soft, despite how rotten his teeth were and how strongly his breath smelled of rum. He still felt beautiful to her, and his tongue still made her sigh with ecstasy. What could she do? She was helpless. She had given in, and she loved it. This is what it must feel like to be a free human being. This is what it must feel like to really be happy. Now she knew.
He rolled her over, and she let him. She was crushed into the dirt under his weight, and she could hardly get enough of the feeling of having him on top of her. Why had she waited so long to give in to his advances? Why?
Quite suddenly, with no warning, he pulled back. His face went cold, his hand reached out of sight, and with a gesture so quick she never saw him do it, brought a dagger to her throat. It glistened in the dark, and she did not dare even to swallow beneath its threat. The tragic fear returned, and she was hopeless. Stunned and helpless, Carlotta did not know what to do. This surely, she thought, must be what it feels like to have one's heart broken.