"You're a dead man Mayo. A dead man walking, a dead man talking."

Ponga Jim Mayo was silent. The words hung in the air, cold and deadly. Mayo watched the barrel of the gun, rain dripping from the black muzzle and he wondered if he truly was about to take his last breath. He shifted his feet in the mud and ran his tongue over his lips which felt dry despite the downpour.

"You got the wrong man." Mayo said. The barrel did not waver. Jim watched the mans eyes, fixated and empty, staring back with a reflection of the cold damp gray that shut out the hot south pacific sun. The rain continued to fall, humidity sending beads of sweat racing the droplets of rainwater running down the back of his neck.

The mans finger tightened on the trigger.

The gun belched flame and smoke. Ponga Jim Mayo felt the punch of the bullet, the burning in his gut, the tearing pain that ripped through his body, he fell to his knees. He pressed his hands against his abdomen and felt the warmth of his blood seeping through his fingers. Was this how it was going to end? Here in this mud, killed by a two bit thug for something he had never done? He slumped forward, his face splashing in a shallow pool of rainwater.

He could see the shadow of the man turn and walk slowly away, each footfall wet, the boots sucking in the mud as he disappeared in the thick foliage. The shock was wearing and the real pain hit him. He let out a low groan as blackness began to descend. His hand flitted out and grabbed at a handful of mud and then, mercifully, relaxed.

In the heat they danced. Dust lifted and swirled around the stomping feet. The heavy chant filled the thick night air as the flames danced and cast lazy shadows on the milk white faces that watched.

A shrill scream, red eyes, blood. A foul stench permeated the darkness and ripped at the senses. Eyes wide, terror. Naked bodies twisted and turned, blades flashed.

Their faces held blank expressions, their eyes looked upon nothing and yet they danced. Evil.

On his knees he prayed, but God did not hear. On his hands he pleaded but no one cared. He begged, dead eyes stared back.

His eyes flashed open to dark steel and the heavy motion of the sea. Ponga Jim mayo blinked at the sweat in his eyes and tried to forget the dream, the nightmare. He was alive.

He knew where he was, in his bunk aboard his own ship in the captains cabin. How long? He was still alive but would he recover?

He tried to move, but his body did not resond. Everything between his neck and hips felt as though it had been stomped by a bull. His throat was raw, his mouth thick. He'd been shot. His mind raced through the last few minutes before he passed out. The thug, the gun, the rain. It was there, some of it anyway.

Again he tried to move, push his feet to the floor but nothing seemed to work. God, what he would give for some water. Some food. Food? Hunger was good. Hunger could mean you were getting better, healing. Next time someone came he would get food, food and water.

He pushed his head back into the sweat soaked pillow and listened to the engines hum. The low vibration felt good. He felt good, despite the pain. His hand pushed gently at the wound, fingers probing cautiously at the clean cotton that covered his midsection.

Low and to the left. Missed all the vitals. He'd been gut shot and left to die. They wanted him dead, but not just dead, they wanted him to suffer first. It could have taken hours if the bullet had gone through the right places. He had gotten off lucky. He tried to laugh at that, but he knew it could have been worse. Instead of lying here in his own bunk he could have had a wet hole in the ground with a piece of wood to memorialize all that was Ponga Jim Mayo: He died. That was it, your entire legacy summed up right there: He died.

Well he hadn't. Lucky for him, unlucky for the poor bastard that shot him. And those that paid for the bullet? He would find them too.