A/N: Inspired by the upcoming holiday season, and written in the tradition of A Christmas Carol, this is a little tale about getting a second chance. While Dickens' famous work is concerned exclusively with the month of December, this story is more concerned with May...
This is what happens when you combine an obsession with Hector Barbossa, too much caffeine and too little sleep. How could I resist the chance to write Barbossa into the role of Scrooge, and several of the other characters we know into the roles of Jacob Marley and the spirits from the Caribbean Past, Caribbean Present, and Caribbean Yet to Come? Hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it!
A Caribbean Carol
Barbossa was dead to begin with, there was no doubt about that.
Shot by Jack Sparrow...(Captain Jack Sparrow, at close range with the one bullet he'd kept on his very person for ten years,) through his black heart at the moment the wretched Turner whelp carved his own flesh and added his blood to that of so many others within the accursed chest.
Ten years he'd waited, searched, sought, and suffered.
Ten years he'd longed, lamented and lusted- his desires remaining unfulfilled.
And now, at the end of a decade of bearing the smothering, endless curse of heathen gods, without so much as a second breath or a bite of apple, he'd fallen; exhaling the one breath of life he'd inhaled with a gasp at the cold that coursed through his limbs even as his blood spilled upon the ground.
Deader than a doornail he was, so why he should be contemplating his own fate remained a mystery to Barbossa as he thought back upon it.
Where he was, other than in the dark, was also mystery to Barbossa, and he was content to let it remain that way for a good long while. Whether or not that meant minutes or hours, he had no way of telling, and he determined that he would not concern himself with such trivial matters as time. After all, he felt he had more pressing matters to concern himself with.
Such as being dead, for instance.
After a time he decided that he must be lying down, although it had been difficult to tell in his altered state and the darkness. Wondering whether or not he could still do it as a deceased entity, he sat up, and marveled at that fact.
Just as one sits in a completely darkened room for any length of time, and discovers after a period, that as dark as one thought the room to be at first, when the eyes have adjusted it appears not to be so dark as first thought, so Barbossa became more aware of the bit of light that suffused his environment, and discovered after he'd acclimated, that he was in a room of sorts.
Light - the faintest sliver of light, seemed to be squeezing under a door, and after sitting for a while longer in the dark, Barbossa found that he'd discovered something else in addition to the room.
Death, so far, was pretty boring.
He stood with the thought of going to the door. Mayhap whatever part of death lay on the other side was more interesting than the dark square room he was in at the moment. Interestingly enough, despite the fact that standing in itself was not all that fascinating, he found no pain upon gaining his feet, and realized at least one thing that was considerably better than his existence a short while ago.
Pain had been his constant companion for decades, for nearly as long as he could remember, ever since the injuries he'd sustained in the fateful storm all those years ago. While he grew better at adapting and hiding the aches that normally accompanied such a simple act as standing, he was constantly plagued by stiffness and discomfort from the same trauma that had given him the uneven step he'd walked upon God's green earth and the decks of great sailing ships with these past twenty years and more.
And while it was true that the curse of the heathen gods had prevented him from feeling cold or warmth, the spray of the sea, or the softness of a woman's skin –even the feel of his own clothes upon his back, it had not erased the constant pain he'd borne since before taking the first coin out of Cortez's chest.
Went with the territory covered by being cursed, he supposed.
How much time elapsed between his first thoughts of going to the door, and the ringing in the distance of what sounded like a ship's bell, Barbossa didn't know, but after four bells – middle watch or the end of first dog watch, he thought to himself, the ringing was succeeded by a clanking noise.
It sounded like someone was dragging a heavy chain, followed by a rumbling, scraping sound, and Barbossa frowned as he contemplated what it might mean. The noise repeated itself, and in that next moment, Barbossa became aware that the door he'd been facing had a handle, as that handle in fact, was now turning.
Eerie dim light spread across the room as the door swung open, and a figure stood outlined in the doorway, silhouetted against the faintly brighter light from beyond the door. Barbossa couldn't tell much about the backlit person until his eyes adjusted again, but it was more what accompanied that person that brought him to recognition of the individual, rather than any other singular feature.
Clanking and dragging his way slowly into the room with Barbossa, was a tall man who shuffled along, his feet bound by a chain to the cannon he pulled as he stepped.
Barbossa peered more closely, neither trusting his eyes, nor his voice, but in fact the latter did work when he spoke the name that instantly came to mind.
"Bootstrap?" he asked.
"Aye," the figure before him answered- his voice a coarse rumble.
"Are ye really here?" Barbossa asked, still disbelieving what he was seeing.
"Aye. I'm here, alright. Real enough as anything else around here," he replied in the same gravelly manner.
"Bill," Barbossa began, "there's not been anythin' else around here 'cept you," he said, glancing at the small, blank, dimly lit space in which they stood.
"Oh," Bootstrap grunted, looking about the barren room until his eyes came to rest on the cannon just behind him. "Well, that's real enough," he said, gesturing vaguely at the gun.
"Yes, well...Bill," Barbossa began uncomfortably, "about the gun..."
"Water under the bridge, mate," Turner grumbled, "although what yeh did to Jack still doesn't sit right with me."
"Bill, ye have to admit that sendin' that coin off to England and cursin' fifty men for ten years might be considered overreactin'," Barbossa admonished, "bit excessive, even. I treated Jack more honorably when I left him on that spit of land with a pistol and a chance, than he did me when he left me on that island with a bullet in me heart."
"I suppose," Bootstrap replied, frowning as he thought it over. He raised one pasty gray finger to the side of his head, and scratched absently by the starfish that was plastered along his temple.
"So, where am I," Barbossa asked after a moment, "and why might ye be here?"
"I can't tell you all that I might," Bootstrap answered, clanking another step or two closer. "I'm not permitted."
He turned rheumy distant eyes to meet Barbossa's. "As for why I'm here?" he replied in his gravelly voice, "that would be to make up for what I did ten years ago."
"Well, 'tis a bit late to make amends now, Bill," Barbossa replied without malice, and indicated the barren, dark, purgatorial room around them.
"Not to you," Turner growled. "To my son...the others...what they've been through because I sent that blasted coin away." He grew quiet for a moment.
"It's as I've said, Bill," Barbossa answered. "Ye always were a bit rash, and mayhap things would have worked out fer everyone neater and tidier if ye hadn't...."
"Don't you think I know that?" Bootstrap demanded, now growing a bit agitated. He shuffled forward another clank, and Barbossa took an involuntary step back.
"Well, then what's yer business got to do with me?" Barbossa asked warily.
"I've come to warn you...and to help you, so you can help the others," Turner answered. "My fate is sealed, and my own sentence in progress aboard the Dutchman. Ninety years I have left ahead of me, but at least when that's over, it'll be done and I can move on."
He glanced around the darkened empty space. "Can't say how long you might be here, Hector, but it's a fair sight longer than ninety years."
Barbossa frowned heavily at the thought of spending that much time in this senseless space. Ten years without sensation had been long enough, but at least sailing on the Pearl had been better than sitting in a dark room.
"You must know that no space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunities misused," Bootstrap said ominously, "but if you had the chance for fewer regrets..."
"I'm giving you an opportunity," Bootstrap continued with a meaningful look.
"An opportunity?" Barbossa asked, wondering if Turner could possibly mean what he could scarcely hope he did.
"Aye. An opportunity to right your wrongs and shorten your sentence," Bootstrap explained. "You're getting the chance to go back."
Barbossa's eyebrows shot toward the brim of his hat. "Truly?" His first thoughts were of food and drink and a woman, and.....Sparrow. He'd have the chance to right that little wrong. "Alright," he said, "let's go, then."
"Not as simple as that, Hector," Bootstrap said, "especially if your first thoughts are of revenge.
Technically his first thoughts had been of an apple and rum and sex, but Barbossa took Turner's meaning as it was apparent that the man knew what he'd been contemplating.
"You shall be visited by three spirits," Bootstrap growled. "Without their visits you cannot hope to shun the path you tread now."
He began clanking and dragging his way back toward the door. "Expect the second at second dog watch, and the third at first watch," he said over his shoulder.
"And the first?" Barbossa asked, as Turner started to close the door.
"He comes now," Bootstrap replied, and then all was dark in the room once more.
A/N: My Thanks to FreedomOftheSeas for her input on this story! Thankee, lass!
If you're familiar with A Christmas Carol, you'll notice an occasional line that has been taken and modified slightly to fit this story. The opening line about Barbossa being dead is one such line, similar to the opening line about Jacob Marley in the original.