Three pirates sat idle in their quarters below deck sipping the little amount of liquor that was left. To their dismay, getting drunk was currently not an option. “Arrr, Tobias! Be ye’ inclined to sharpen me dirk? ‘Tis been a’while since it’s cut ripe, ye’ see.” The pirate across from him crossed his arms and rolled his eyes. “Ye’ dirk couldn’t cut wind, let alone flesh. Mad, ye’ arr.” The first pirate stood up enraged, removing his tiny knife from his holster. “Say once more, and ye’ be dead! Ye’ hear?!” The second sat back in his wooden chair and laughed hysterically. The third pirate, with one real eye, joined into the humor and laughed as well.
The pirate standing sighed in frustration and clumsily sat back down, lazily dropping his tiny knife to the table in the midst of them. A calmness mixed with awkward silence swept over the three as the laughter died down. After a few seconds of this, the third pirate piped up and said, “Eh, mine be bigger.” The second pirate raised an eye brow as if to say, “Oh, so ye’ say?” Standing up, the third pirate drew his giant cutlass and dropped it to the table. He leaned into the other two and said with a deep growl, “Ninety-two, be the number of souls added to Davy Jones’ locker, thanks here to this beauty.” The second ominously stood up and said in a slow, prideful tone, “Anstis, ye be fit for not but the Lazaretto. Mine!” he shouted as he drew his even bigger rapier and dropped it to the table, “owns two-hundred and twenty-nine!” The first rose quickly and said in a loud gravelly voice, “Arrr! Mine be.. b-.. mine’s ki-..” he awkwardly sat back down as he stared at his tiny knife. The others leaned in closer to hear his proud claim. “Mi-mine.. Grrr, forget the dirk!” he quickly rose up once more. “strangled, these hands have, hundreds more than ye’ ever seen! Dare ye’ not challenge these logs of appendages, ye’ see.” After a momentary pause, the third pointed to the second and shouted, “Ye’ can’t even count that high! I don’t believe ye!” A tumult of anger arose among the three, and before long, an all out brawl had broken out; they leaped and pounced on each other, wrangling on the floorboards in fury.
The captain walked through the broken door and shouted, “What be the matter, ye’ scurvy sea dogs?!” The first pirate, in anger, whispered to the third, “I thought ye’ locked the door.” The captain responded, “Stupid! Stupid ye’ be. I have a key.” The second muffled a laugh and mumbled to himself, “I thought rhyming t’was extinct.” A scowl blazed across the captain’s face. “Grrr, I require something of ye’ three.” The three pirates stood up, only to see the captain pull out a little boy from behind his back. “A stow-a-away, he be, and time runs short for me to keep an eye on our new prisoner.” The three pirates let out a hearty laugh, “Harrr! A prisoner!” The captain picked the little boy up and threw him to the feet of the three. The little boy slowly gazed up to his new captors with his deep blue eyes, slightly covered by his worn, thin brown hair. “Keep him out of trouble; do whatever ye’ deem fit. I couldn’t care less.” And with that being said, the captain walked out and slammed the door behind him. The door creaked open for a second or so, and then fell inwards to the wooden floor.
As the three pirates stood in shock at the door falling to the ground, the little boy tried to crawl around them and out the back door. “Where be ye’ going?!” Laughed the second pirate, grabbing the little boy by the rags on his back. “What’s yur name?!” The little boy opened his mouth halfway as his tongue twitched fervently as if he was trying to speak. His face hardened and his eye brows squinted as his mouth desperately tried to get words out. The first pirate nudged the second in laughter as he said, “Mute, he be!” A morose, guilty look spread across the boy’s face. His mouth closed as if to surrender. “Useless! Utterly useless!” said the three pirates among themselves. “To the brig!” they all agreed.
The second pirate, still having a firm grip on the little boy’s back, dragged him across the ship and threw him into one of the ship’s many jail cells. “Ye’ be worse than me children back home.” The third pirate, standing nearby, nudged the second saying, “What home?” In response, the second said, “Harrr! What children?!” Laughter broke out among the two. The second pirate, infuriated, after closing the little boy’s jail cell, chased them all the way up to the main deck. It was then that a loud splash was heard, followed by a gunshot. Laughter ensued among the whole crew.
The little boy crawled to the nearby wooden wall, and huddled his knees up against his chest, burying his sobbing eyes between them. Growing up, his parents had quickly learned that he could not speak, so they simply left him in a back ally for him to fend for himself. His dream was to be a sailor or explorer, so as the years went by, he was eventually recruited to be the cabin boy for one of his country’s battle ships (no need to speak; only to obey captain’s orders). However, their ship was soon attacked by the pirates to whom he is now captive, and as his ship was sinking, his only option was to sneak on to the pirate ship and hide. This has all led to where he is now.
“Pssst,” whispered a voice from the other side of the hall. “pssst, boy!” The little boy, ever so slightly, raised his eyes to look around but saw nothing, so once again, he buried them between his knees. “Over here!” This time, the little boy was sure that he heard something, so he lifted his head and looked to his side. “What are you doing in a place like this?” a dark figure asked from behind bars on the other side of the hall. Little did he know, the little boy couldn’t speak. He crawled up to the bars and asked once more, “Why are you here?” At this point, the little boy could see him, so the little boy pointed to his mouth, slightly opened it, and shook his head. The man gave a large, slow nod as he said, “Oooh, I see.” The little boy nodded and looked away. “Well, I can understand,” said the man in dismay. The little boy looked at him and scowled.The man laid his hands on the jail cell bars and then used all of his forearm muscles to push down on the bars to lift himself up. However, his strength was not enough, and he crashed to the wooden floor in defeat. He then turned his eyes to the little boy and glumly said, “Believe me, I understand.” The little boy’s face showed of sympathy, which soon turned into a nod which meant, “I believe you.” In a similar fashion to the little boy, the man sat against his jail cell wall, staring at the other side.
“I have been down here for years, and every day, I wonder why I am still alive. They are pirates so you would think that they would just kill me, but they do not. I think they find it funny to keep just one man alive, barely hanging on to life, at least what is left of it.” He slowly continued, “and you can only be the prisoner of a pirate ship for so long before you overhear a few things, strange things, and even unspoken things.” The man smiled through his grief and then laughed, “They have taken over so many ships and ‘ruled’ the sea for so many years, you would think they were fearless and unstoppable,” his face suddenly returned to seriousness, “but believe me, they are not.” The little boy looked over at him as if to say, “Please, sir, explain.” The man continued on, “They have looted so many ships, they have every kind of weapon, firearm, and cannon imaginable, and they have added on to their ship, time and time again, reinforcing its strength and durability. They could care less about the ships which sail the sea, but that is not what worries them.” The little boy lowered his head and squinted his eyes as a form of saying, “So then, what does?”
The man lowered his voice to a deep, ominous tone to whisper, “The Ghost Ship of Zion.” The little boy’s eyes widen in wonder and horror, visually asking, “And what, sir, is that?” The man shook his head and softly said, “It is only seen in the worst of storms. It sails where no one thinks it will sail and appears when least expected. But there is a catch to it,” he stopped to take a deep breath, “it is only ever seen when one is in the water.” The little boy tilted his head and slightly glanced away as if to ponder what was said, putting the pieces together. The man looked even more intensely at the little boy and then said, “Not: in the boat, which is in the water. But: overboard, in the water. The only pirates (or sailors and passengers) to ever see The Ghost Ship of Zion are those who fall overboard in the darkest and strongest of storms, which is when either one of two things happens.” The little boy raised his eyes brows in wonder. “They either swim back to their ship and are hoisted up onto the main deck, or they swim towards what they think they see,” the man paused to squint, “and vanish.”
A loud boom of thunder exploded from the sky, and suddenly the ship began to sway back and forth more and more intensely. Rain began to hammer against the side of the ship. The man clung to his jail cell bars, as well as the little boy, to keep from rolling back and forth with the boat. Voices could be heard from above deck, commanding each other to man the sails and take positions to battle the waves. Suddenly, a strange clinking sound could be heard. The little boy looked up to his jail cell lock, which was barely keeping the barred-door closed. It was loosely swaying in opposite rhythms as the ship. The pirate had closed the jail cell, but in the heat of the moment, he had neglected to lock it. Soon after, the swaying of the ship became so intense, the lock rose in an upward motion, which left the little boy’s jail cell door swaying back and forth. He shot a worried look at the man. “Go!” said the man. The little boy quickly stood up and ran across the hall to grab the keys, and then he came back to unlock the man’s jail cell. The man clung on to the little boy and tried to stand up, but then fell down and rolled over to the opposite side of his jail cell. He looked up at the little boy and said, “I was a dead man anyway.” The little boy ran to him and tried lifting him up, but the man said once more, “I can’t walk, or even stand. Please, just go!” The little boy, realizing the circumstances, gave a respectful and understanding nod and then ran out of his jail cell and up the stairs at the end of the hall.
When he had reached the top of the stairs, he opened the brig hatch and climbed out onto the main deck. Rain was pouring at an unbelievable rate, which made the floorboards extremely slippery. Men were running back and forth, trying to maintain their duties. This made it very easy for the little boy to move about unnoticed. He knew very well that he needed to find a safe place to hide, for when the storm was over, they would think that he had escaped and maybe fallen overboard. As the tumult of rain doused him, he moved as fast as he could through the chaos of men to find a hiding spot. The more in the open his hiding place was, the least likely they would look there. As he fervently searched the main deck, he pondered whether he should have stayed or not, however, if he had stayed in his cell, they would have returned and found it unlocked, which would have caused them to lock it, consequently making any chance of escape impossible.
But then it happened, as he was searching the other end of the main, he found himself face to face with the captain. “Ye’ made a big mistake, scurvy lad. I’ve had enough!” He reached for the little boy, but the little boy began sprinting in the opposite direction. The captain ran after him. As this chase pursued, the pirates began to catch on to what was happening, and soon every pirate watched in awe of what was to happen next. The little boy ran to the head of the ship, where a pole extended outwards in front of the ship. As the captain walked closer and closer, the little boy began to back onto the pole. The ship’s sway made it almost impossible to keep balance, when the captain shouted, “Tell Davy Jones I said, ‘Hello!'” And with that, the little boy stepped backward, but his foot felt nothing…
From a view of the entire ship in the midst of the storm, the little boy could be seen falling backward off the head of the ship. Time eased to molasses as he watched the ship grow farther and farther away. The tragedy of the moment was that nothing could flash before his eyes. He had no home, and he had no family. He had nothing. What felt like concrete hit his back, or vice-versa, and his shocked, frail, body disappeared beneath the dark waters. As he began to sink, his arms and legs kicked into reflex, and soon he began to swim upwards, against the flowing monstrous waves.
But then he saw a shadow in the distance: something extremely large and bulky. A giant lightning flash illuminated a large ship with a pearl white flag cutting bravely through the storm. Acknowledging this as his last hope, the little boy began to swim towards the ship. His strength was almost completely diminished, but with his final moments, he knew that if he could shout loud enough, that ship would come to save him, so he summed up every last bit of energy that he had left and shouted,
His tongue could form no words. Neither could his arms paddle any longer and soon his legs gave way to the undertow of the current. Water surrounded him completely, and soon he stared up at the surface at the water. Every few seconds, lightning would illuminate the giant waves which grew smaller and smaller. And so, with the little boy’s final seconds, he reached upwards one last, final time and mouthed what he could never say,
“Help (oh Zion).”
His eyes closed shut to welcome death into vision when he felt a firm grip on his wrist. Suddenly, a strong pull began to drag him upwards, towards the surface of the water. Time began to blur as the little boy’s lungs felt the threat of collapse. Next thing he knew, he felt a rope being strapped around his waist which lifted him out of the water. Wood gave full impact to his head as he could feel the sensation of solid foundation beneath his limp body. Words hung in the air around him, as he could faintly hear sailors shouting,
“Captain overboard! Captain overboard! He’s drowning! Can anyone see him above water?!” “Halt! Captains orders: hold the life boats! It’ll be a three day’s journey back!” “Follow commands! He said what He said!” “Aye, aye!”
A sailor picked up the little boy and carried him into closed quarters. The last words the little boy could hear while being conscious, were that of a man looking at him in the eyes, saying,
“He jumped overboard for you..”
This shocked the little boy as darkness encased his vision.
The little boy’s eyes opened to see a bright room, illuminated by sunlight. The bed was still, so still that he knew that he was on land. The swaying of lush trees could be heard in the distance from an open window on another side of the room. He struggled to sit up due to soreness, but after rubbing his eyes, he saw a broad man sitting on the end of his bed, dressed in fine Captain’s apparel. A confused look crossed the little boy’s countenance as a grand smile glazed the Captain’s face. Soon, the Captain began to laugh a joyful laugh, and not too long after, the little boy joined into the laughing as well. The Captain stood up, and walked to the little boy, gently picking up his wrist with a firm grip. A tear rolled down his cheek as he softly said,
“You were worth it.”
Recognizing the firm grip on his wrist, the little boy smiled and with moist eyes, said the words,