Monday, July 11, 2016
(After playing the original Call of Cthulhu scenario â€œForbidden Cargoâ€ Sunday from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Ashton LeBlanc and Collin Townsend.)
The Golden Age of Piracy beckoned many a man. The Caribbean of the 17th century was a wild, free place, for the most part. Port Royal was a hive of pirates, Henry Morgan was the pirate king, King Charles II was on the throne of England, and everyone hated the Spanish. There was still much money to be made from both trading and raiding, either as a free-roaming pirate band or with a Letter of Marque to deal with whomever England was presently at war with (the Dutch - at least last word from Europe said).
The Sweet Vengeance was one such ship. The 24-gun frigate was once the Swiftwood of the British navy but six months before, her vicious captain was deposed by a mutiny, the crew took over, and renamed her, killing the officers. Her captain, Malik Chaney, had been marooned on a rock the size of a dining table with only a pistol, which was not even loaded. Arriving in the Caribbean, the crew made some money pirating, trading, smuggling, and the like. Her crew compliment was 175 men. Though there was no surgeon on board, they did have a good cook.
On April 18, 1667, word spread in Port Royal that a treasure ship sailed from the Spanish Main, laden with gold and jewels. The rumor claimed the galleon had set forth from Panama with a load of goods from the Far East, bound for Spain. If the ship could be taken, itâ€™d be a great deal of money for the whole crew - perhaps even enough to retire with.
The captain of the Sweet Vengeance was Cameron Whitewall. He was very tall and had long dark hair, pulled back in a pony tail. He wore a patch over his left eye, which had been smashed by Captain Chaney when he was being disciplined, one of the reasons for the mutiny aboard the Swiftwood. His remaining eye was a piercing blue. He carried a cutlass and preferred a musket. He had led the mutiny and been voted captain soon after.
The Sweet Vengeanceâ€™s quartermaster was â€œRedâ€ Robert Burrows, a mountain of a man whose nickname came from the fact that his face was a flushed red. He had stubble on his face but never grew a full beard. His hair was sandy brown and he ran the ship well. He carried a cutlass and a brace of three pistols. He was the one who had handed over the empty pistol to Captain Chaney.
The weather was lovely in the Caribbean. Warm during the day but cooling in the evenings, it was usually fine. The rumor of the treasure ship had sent many other pirates out of Port Royal. The city was at the height of its power with a drinking house for every 10 residents. The rest of the city was filled with brothels, gambling houses, and the like. Some 4,000 people lived there and it served as the capital of Jamaica.
Captain Whitewall had kept his ear to the ground and heard a few rumors. One noted the plague had killed tens of thousands in London the year before and many had fled the country, possibly to Jamaica. Another claimed the mad Captain Harry Cromwell of the Stars Are Right had left Port Royal some days before, so it was likely he was not after the Spanish ship unless he had somehow heard the rumor before anyone else.
The Sweet Vengeance set sail with the tide and headed northeast of Jamaica where Mr. Burrows decided would be their best chance of spotting the ship. They circled the area between Cuba and Hispaniola in hopes of intercepting it. Storms threatened on the horizon to the northeast but never came close. Some of the crew grumbled it was a bad sign and a few worried the rainy season was coming early. That night, the moon seemed red and threatening in the sky above.
Mr. Burrows had a terrible dream that night about a strange city deep under water where fish worshipped at altars in strange buildings with terrible shapes. Captain Whitewall woke from his own sleep disturbed but couldnâ€™t remember what he dreamt about.
* * *
On Tuesday, April 19, the ship plowed through a part of the sea that seemed laden with floating dead fish and birds. It stank of putrid and rotten meat. The sea of death lasted for a few miles before the ship was past it. More of the officers and crew had terrible dreams that night.
* * *
On Wednesday, April 20, a cry of â€œShip ho!â€ came from the masthead. The crewman there pointed north by northwest of their present location and they made sail. Soon they spotted a ship on the horizon. She didnâ€™t fly any colors but she looked like she was in a sad state of affairs. Captain Whitewall ordered they make course for the ship and for the crew to arm themselves and the cannons. The wind was on their aft quarter enabling them to make good time to intercept the other ship, which turned away from them.
They soon saw the other ship flew a Spanish flag and was in a sad state. She appeared to be badly damaged. The mainmast had been blasted away and the sails were roughly repaired. A makeshift sail had been erected and the ship was obviously struggling and probably taking on water. Once they got within a mile, they could see the ship had obviously been in a battle of some kind. Great rents were visible across the bow and the gun ports were all closed, though a few were missing. The few men they saw were trying to get more sail up.
â€œHoist the colors, boys!â€ Captain Whitewall cried.
One of the crew hastened to do so. The black flag with the one-eyed skeleton armed with a cutlass soon flew at the top of the mast. Almost immediately, the Spaniards struck their own colors and began to reef their sails, surrendering.
The Sweet Vengeance pulled up alongside the other vessel, which was named the Paloma Azul. Grappling hooks and boarding pikes latched onto the Spanish ship. Though there were only a few men on board, one well-dressed Spanish captain stood among about 20 Spanish soldiers armed with muskets. The captain held a rapier in his hand and glared at the pirates. None of the armed men aimed at the ship though the pirates pointed muskets and pistols at them all.
Mr. Burrows noticed a lot of the men on the Spanish ship looked malnourished and haggard, including the armed men and the captain of the vessel.
â€œThis doesnâ€™t look like our ship,â€ Captain Whitewall mumbled.
â€œWhatâ€™re yer orders, captain?â€ one of the men growled.
â€œPut down your weapons or weâ€™ll blow you out of the water!â€ Captain Whitewall called to the Spanish.
The captain of the Paloma Azul strode to the gunwale, his men close behind.
â€œAre you going to kill us like those others?â€ the man called. â€œAre you going to leave us without food or water or even a compass? Because, if so, I will fight to the death!â€
He pointed his rapier in Captain Whitewallâ€™s direction. Captain Whitewall noticed then how haggard the Spaniards looked.
â€œThey donâ€™t have anything left,â€ Captain Whitewall said to Mr. Burrows.
He looked at the starving crew.
â€œLower your weapons or weâ€™ll blow you out of the water!â€ he called again.
â€œI will ask you the question again!â€ the Spanish captain called impertinently. â€œAre you merely going to leave us at sea to die? Or in the name of all mercy and for the love of God, will you help us, pirate though you may be?â€
â€œWhat do we get in exchange?â€
â€œWhat do you want? There is nothing left on board! They took it all! All of it!â€
â€œAre you sure about that?â€
â€œYou are free to come aboard and look, mon captain. But bring barrels of water! At least water my crew! We have not had fresh water in over a week!â€
â€œWhy? Did the last people take your water?â€
â€œThey took everything! Everything that was on board that was not nailed down. You may have my sword!â€
He dropped the rapier to the deck.
â€œThatâ€™s all I still have!â€ he called.
The armed Spaniards looked at their captain and each other nervously.
â€œWell, maybe you have some information!â€ Captain Whitewall said.
â€œWill you bring us food and water?â€ the other captain called. â€œWill you tell us where we are? I will tell you anything you wish to know!â€
Captain Whitewall walked to the gunwale and reached over, picking up the Spaniardâ€™s sword and handing it back to him.
â€œIâ€™ll give you water and a compass in exchange for information,â€ he said.
â€œVery well,â€ the Spanish captain replied.
He sheathed his sword and turned to his men.
â€œThey will bring you water!â€ he said.
He climbed over the gunwale and crossed, following Captain Whitewall. Some of the men complained of the lack of treasure.
â€œAre there any Spanish beauties on board?â€ one of the men, Thomas, said.
Another man slapped him in the back of the head.
â€œThere never are!â€ he said.
Captain Whitewall ordered water taken to the other ship and took the Spanish captain to his cabin. The man sat down heavily in one of the chairs there. Mr. Burrows, the other officers, and a couple of mates followed them in. Captain Whitewall offered the man a drink of water and he was happy to take the cup and drink it down.
â€œGracias,â€ he said. â€œWhat do you wish to know?â€
â€œWe were at Port Royal and we heard rumors of a Spanish galleon full of gold heading to Spain,â€ Captain Whitewall said.
The other captain laughed.
â€œFull of gold,â€ he said. â€œWe had gold, yes. Iâ€™m Captain Montenegro Salguero. Who are you?â€
â€œCaptain Cameron Whitewall,â€ Captain Whitewall said.
â€œWe set sail from Porto Bello with a full cargo hold and a crew of 300, bound for Spain,â€ Captain Salguero said. â€œWe had treasures from the Orient - brought from Panama - as well as gold, silver, jewels â€¦ and a horrible statue captured from somewhere on the Pacific coast. From what I understood, the mule train between the two cities was plagued with bad luck. Men complained of huge black mosquitoes even in the mountains and many men and mules died or disappeared on the way across the isthmus. The mule train was even attacked by a group of men one night but drove them off or killed them.
â€œWe set sail from Porto Bello on April 8. What day is this?â€
â€œApril 20th,â€ Captain Whitewall said.
â€œHm,â€ Captain Salguero said. â€œWe have been lost longer than I thought. Almost immediately, things began to go wrong. The very first night, during a light storm, several barrels broke loose below decks. A sailor was crushed to death against the golden statue and not found until morning. Every night after that, at least one crewman, and sometimes more, died. It was always the helmsman and, when the body was discovered, only at the changing of the watch, the ship was always off course by several degrees. However, until the changing, none of the crew noticed anything wrong with the man, as if he had been standing watch, dead, the entire time.
â€œOur food spoiled very quickly, much more quickly than is normal. Many of the crew began to mutter about a curse and the terrible statue in the hold. Over the next days, several crewmen disappeared altogether and sometimes things seemed strange for all of us, not to mention the terrible dreams everyone had.â€
â€œWell,â€ Mr. Burrows said, nudging his captain.
â€œOnce, the sky and ocean seemed to merge together and the horizon disappeared completely,â€ Captain Salguero went on. â€œOne night, none of the stars seemed familiar, as if we were on some different sea altogether. Sometimes lights were seen up in the masts or deep in the sea. Some of the crew claimed to see terrible faces in the waves, watching and following the ship. One man was certain the statue in the hold had moved. Several crewmen disappeared entirely and three men went completely mad over the course of a few days. One smashed several water barrels. Another flung the navigation charts and equipment overboard, screaming that the sky was watching him. Yet a third simply withered, grew sick, and died.
â€œOne night, the full moon seemed impossibly large and red and the shipâ€™s rigging made us all think of bones. Some of the men claimed to have seen something white and fishlike trying to climb over the side of the ship, clinging to the side of the hull like a leech. The next morning, five more of my crew were missing.
â€œWe wandered for more than a week, lost, adrift, the wind often abandoning us. Then, we finally saw another ship on April 18, three days ago, but she was one of you damnable English pirates. She ran up her flag, a skull-like face with tentacles or worms coming from the front of it over crossed bones. We were desperate, especially when we found our powder was mostly wet and ruined. We fought back as best we could but soon surrendered, striking our colors.
â€œThe man who came aboard was a monster. His men called him Captain Cromwell and he was escorted by another man, his mate, who looked Spanish, damn his blood, and a negress who cackled and hooted at us. Cromwell was angry we had fought back and had half my crew, already suffering from starvation, clapped in irons and taken aboard his own ship.
â€œThey plundered my ship. You are welcome to go aboard and inspect it. They took everything that wasnâ€™t nailed down. They took most of my cannon and all of the powder and shot that wasnâ€™t ruined by seawater. But at least they took that terrible statue.
â€œI begged them for aid - for a chart or map or even our location. They left us naught but wet powder and spiked guns. Then they turned and raked us with cannon fire as a final insult, sailing off to leave us to our fate. That was three days ago. Are you going to do the same?â€
Captain Whitewall only replied by handing the man a compass. He looked at it.
â€œGracias,â€ Captain Salguero said, putting it in his jacket pocket.
A few of the other officers and mates in the wide cabin looked nervous. Most had been more intrigued by the golden statue the Spaniard had spoken of and looked on him only with greed in their eyes.
â€œWas there anything besides the statue?â€ Captain Whitewall asked.
â€œGoods from the far east,â€ Captain Salguero said. â€œRare woods. Spices.â€
He named a few other rare items that would fetch a pretty penny in Port Royal.
â€œPlunder,â€ he continued. â€œJewels from the Aztecs and the Mayans. Gold. Silver. Gems.â€
Captain Whitewood told his sailing master to show Captain Salguero the charts. The captain looked them over, comparing them with the compass Captain Whitewall had given him. Then a banging came from the door, which flew open. One of the crewmen ran into the cabin.
â€œWe heard the most horrible sound from down below decks on that other ship!â€ the man cried. â€œScreaming.â€
â€œLike people screaming?â€ Captain Whitewall said.
â€œYes!â€ the crewman said. â€œWhat else â€¦ what?â€
â€œThat is Manuel,â€ Captain Salguero said. â€œHeâ€™s the only helmsman who didnâ€™t die on the night watch while we had that accursed statue on board. Something â€¦ he saw something and it drove him completely mad. We locked him up to protect him. When Cromwell saw him, he just laughed and laughed â€¦ it was the most disturbing and terrible sight. â€˜He knows whatâ€™s the truth,â€™ he said. â€˜You just ask him what happened to your missing crew. He can tell you.â€™â€
They all looked at him in silence for a moment.
â€œI could go talk with â€¦ what was it? Manuel?â€ Mr. Burrows said.
Captain Salguero led the man back to the Paloma Azul. Mr. Burrows saw several barrels of water had been taken to the deck and the Spaniards drank thirstily from them. Two of the Spaniards armed with muskets fell into step behind Captain Salguero and Mr. Burrows. The captain led them into the bowels of the ship. There was a great deal of damage and the few remaining cannons on board had all been spiked.
Deep in the forward hold was a tiny brig. Water sloshed around on the deck below the cell, which was situated above it. There was a door with bars on the tiny window.
â€œHis name is Manuel,â€ Captain Salguero said as they approached the door. â€œHeâ€™s from Barcelona.â€
He gestured towards the tiny window and Mr. Burrows stepped forward and looked in. In the dim light, Mr. Burrows saw that Manuel de Barcelona wore the ragged remains of crewmanâ€™s clothing. He was in his 40s with a thick mustache, ragged facial hair, and a mop of hair on his head. There was almost no light in the cell and only the candle that one of the other crewmen carried lit the interior of the ship at all. Manuel didnâ€™t seem to notice. When the light was shined in the room, it appeared the man has been very busy. His hands were bloodied and his fingernails cracked and broken as he had been using them to carve a symbol into most of the floor of the cell. The large symbol was a star with a flame in the center. Manuel sat in the middle of the symbol.
â€œDo you wish to speak to him?â€ Captain Salguero asked.
â€œYes,â€ Mr. Burrows said.
Captain Salguero banged on the door.
â€œManuel!â€ he called. â€œ Manuel!â€
The man finally looked up and Captain Salguero stood back.
â€œThey tell me that you saw something,â€ Mr. Burrows said.
â€œWhat did you see?â€ Mr. Burrows went on.
â€œVoices,â€ Manuel said in broken English.
â€œYou saw voices.â€
â€œThe voices came that night to me at the helm. I did not see them. I heard them. They told me I was to change my course if I wished to live. Well, Iâ€™ve never been one to put my own life last, so I obeyed. They told me much - they told me about this sign and how to make it, they told me they were taking me to the island - where they belonged and we would all go there with them forever and serve them, serve Great Kâ€™Tulu and his kind. Serve Rayla and the outer gods. I listened. In his house in Rayla, dead Kâ€™Tulu waits â€¦ dreaming.
â€œThe others didnâ€™t listen. The others fought the voices, at least that is what they said to me. And in the end they were broken and used anyway, but there was nothing left of them once the voices were done with them. Nothing alive, at least.â€
â€œBecause that is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die,â€ he said. â€œThey still call to me, especially at night. They still want me to come to the island, wherever it might be. They still want me to serve them. â€˜I would!â€™ I tell them. â€˜I would serve if I could.â€™ At least thatâ€™s what they told me before I made this. Now Iâ€™m safe from the voices. Itâ€™s mine and you cannot have it!â€
He gestured at the blood-covered, awful mess of a symbol and laughed again.
â€œYou said they told you â€¦â€ Mr. Burrows said.
â€œYes!â€ Manuel said.
â€œâ€¦ to change course. Who are they?â€
â€œThey! Them! The voices!â€
â€œThe voices! Yes!â€
â€œThe terrible voices from out of the blue. They come from the sky and the stars.â€
â€œI hear them. They say â€˜Go this way.â€™ I say â€˜I will do as you say.â€™ And then they will not kill me. Like they killed Phillipe and they killed â€¦ uh â€¦ Little Manuel â€¦ and they killed â€¦â€
The man rattled off a few other names. Captain Salguero told Mr. Burrows they were the names of the other helmsmen who died on their watches, even though their bodies stood at the helm even after they were dead.
â€œDid the statue ever speak to you?â€ Mr. Burrows asked. â€œDid you hear anything from the statue?â€
â€œNo!â€Manuel said. â€œNo. The voices, they come at night. They come and say â€˜Come this way. Come Manuel, we show you the way to the island.â€™â€
â€œWhich way did they tell you to go?â€
â€œThey â€¦ they told â€¦ I donâ€™t know that. They tell me when I was steering.â€
He giggled maniacally.
â€œI steered the ship and then we go,â€ Manuel said.
â€œYou said the voices stopped when you made that circle,â€ Mr. Burrows said. â€œWhat does that circle do?â€
â€œStops the voices!â€
â€œStops the â€¦ is that all it does?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know. They told me how to make it but they did not know I would use it against them!â€
He laughed loudly.
â€œOh, Manuel, you are so clever,â€ he said to himself.
â€œI need to go converse with my captain,â€ Burrows said to Captain Salguero.
They left the hold.
* * *
Some of the other officers spoke with Captain Whitewall, trying to convince him to send men over to search the Spanish ship. The sailing master, Phillip Glasgow, was a terribly greedy man and suggested they rip up the ship apart to look for the gold that must certainly be there. The other men rolled their eyes.
â€œShut up Phillip!â€ someone said.
â€œYouâ€™re all so mean to me!â€ Mr. Glasgow said.
Captain Whitewall asked the men where they thought the Stars Are Right might have gone.
Mr. Glasgow was of the opinion they would have returned to Port Royal to sell everything. He thought they had no chance to catch them as they had raided the Spanish treasure ship three days before. He wailed in grief at the loss of the gold. The master carpenter, Terrance Cleese, had heard of Captain Cromwell and knew he was based in Port Royal, but had no idea where else the man might have gone. He suggested he might have gone to the Bahamas or perhaps Tortuga to get a better price.
â€œHe was damned lucky to even be able to find the ship,â€ the Welshman said. â€œThey were lost at sea. We only stumbled across them out of pure, blind luck. If he was looking for them, and found them â€¦ God knows where â€¦ they might not even have been anywhere near here. They could have come â€¦ three days? They could have come thirty or forty miles or more, even in that wreck of a rig.â€
Mr. Glasgow agreed and guessed they could have made three knots in that ship.
â€œNo food and water?â€ Mr. Cleese said.
â€œYeah,â€ Captain Whitewall said.
â€œWeâ€™d have been at each otherâ€™s throats in â€¦ half the time. Well â€¦ Phillip would.â€
â€œTheyâ€™re also short of crew.â€
â€œRight. They took half the crew as slaves. They could sell them â€¦ in Port Royal or Tortuga. They wouldnâ€™t go to a Spanish port, not with Spanish slaves.â€
Mr. Burrows and Captain Salguero entered the captainâ€™s cabin once again.
â€œWhat have you learned?â€ Captain Whitewall asked.
â€œThat man is completely out of his mind,â€ Mr. Burrows said. â€œHeâ€™s barking mad. He keeps screaming about voices coming from the sky telling him to go somewhere, coming to live with him on some island. I donâ€™t know. I could hardly understand any of it.â€
â€œAnd he didnâ€™t name the island?â€
â€œNo. He wouldnâ€™t.â€
â€œHe has been raving about such things for days,â€ Captain Salguero said. â€œHe claims there is an island where his voices want him to go. The thing he drew on the floor - carved or whatever. Thatâ€™s new. I had never seen that before.â€
He told Captain Whitewall everything Manuel had said, even describing the strange symbol.
They discussed going back to Port Royal to look for more information. However, both Captain Whitewall and Mr. Burrows realized Manuel might be able to steer them towards Cromwell and the island. Captain Whitewall had Mr. Burrows draw the symbol heâ€™d seen. He asked if it looked familiar to anyone but none of the officers or mates had ever seen the like. They talked about using Manuel to pilot the ship or even of having him pilot for a little while, take a bearing, and follow that course for some time before letting him pilot again. Captain Whitewall noted it was his only idea.
â€œWell, maybe weâ€™ll find someone to plunder while weâ€™re looking,â€ Mr. Glasgow said.
The other men were fine with the plan. Captain Salguero didnâ€™t mind leaving them his madman, though he noted he hoped the Englishmen wouldnâ€™t just murder Manuel.
They transferred Manuel to the Sweet Vengeance. The man made a huge fuss and they had to drag him from one ship to the other as he didnâ€™t want to leave without the floor of his cell. He begged them to leave him on board The Paloma Azul, screaming he needed the horrible symbol.
â€œI donâ€™t want to hear the voices again!â€ he cried. â€œI donâ€™t want to hear the voices again! No! Please!â€
It took several Spaniards, one on each limb, to drag him to the Sweet Vengeance.
They cut the Paloma Azul free of Sweet Vengeance and the Spaniards made their way north.
Captain Whitewall told Manuel he would man the helm at certain times under their supervision. He didnâ€™t want to do it but was willing. The man cried and looked upwards as if someone were guiding him. He did not seem to like it. Captain Whitewall took the rough symbol Mr. Burrows and gave it to Manuel once the navigator had the course. The Spaniard slapped the paper out of his hand.
â€œItâ€™s useless!â€ he cried. â€œItâ€™s useless!â€
He was thrown in irons below.
â€œThat gets us through the straits!â€ he cried as he was dragged below. â€œBut it wonâ€™t take us straight there!â€
Mr. Glasgow noted the course set by the man took them northeast, which would take them through the straits between Cuba and Hispaniola.
Their course took them northwest towards the Bahamas. Soon after they set their first course, the sea took on a strange sheen and seemed to go more flat that would be expected. The winds continued to blow, however. The strange sea lasted until nightfall.
Every few hours, they dragged Manuel out of the hold back to the helm and set him there to get their new bearing. He cursed them and cried constantly, but did as he was told. In the hold, he tried to scratch a new symbol but he didnâ€™t even have fingernails to scratch it out again so it would take a while. When Captain Whitewall went down and tried to carve it with a knife, Manuel screamed at the Englishman.
â€œItâ€™s wrong!â€ he cried in despair. â€œItâ€™s wrong!â€
Captain Whitewall left him.
* * *
Captain Whitewall was woken during the night by a crewman on watch who claimed there were faces in the waves following the ship. He swore he saw wide-eyed and terrible faces with wide mouths peering out of the sea. He had banged on the manâ€™s door, threw it open, and ran in to tell the terrible tail. Captain Whitewall told the man to go back to sleep and then barred his door.
A crewman later woke Mr. Burrows to report the terrible faces.
â€œAre they still there?â€ Mr. Burrows said.
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ the crewman said. â€œI ran to tell you! It was horrible-looking! It was horrible!â€
â€œJust go back to watch and if you see it again, just come and tell me,â€ Mr. Burrows said.
The man woke him an hour or so later.
â€œI see them again!â€ he cried.
â€œAll right fine,â€ Mr. Burrows said. â€œFine. Just show me.â€
He went onto deck with the crewman and they scanned the water. There was nothing there.
â€œI swear!â€ the crewman said. â€œI swear, Mr. Burrows, it was â€¦ it was swimminâ€™ as fast as weâ€™re sailing!â€
Mr. Burrows looked down at the water moving past the ship. He shook his head.
â€œWell, you just stay on your watch,â€ he said sleepily. â€œIâ€™m going to go back to sleep.â€
â€œVery reassuring, Mr. Burrows,â€ the man said. â€œThank you.â€
â€œUnless youâ€™re absolutely sure you see them, donâ€™t wake me up again,â€ Mr. Burrows said.
â€œI was!â€ the man said as he walked away. â€œI saw them!â€
He thought he heard a few other crewmen muttered to each other that it was a terrible omen, a bad sign, and they were doomed.
* * *
Thursday, April 21, was sunny again and the Sweet Vengeance made good time. Both Captain Whitewall and Mr. Burrows awoke from their sleep in a cold sweat but neither could remember what theyâ€™d dreamt about. They were in the straits of the Bahamas and crewmen were on edge. Talk about the ship was that many of the men were having nightmares of terrible things. Manuel didnâ€™t seem to be getting much sleep either.
A crewman approached Mr. Burrows that day.
â€œThereâ€™s a shark following the ship,â€ he said.
â€œA shark?â€ Mr. Burrows said.
â€œThatâ€™s bad. Thatâ€™s bad. Itâ€™s a sign of inevitable death.â€
Mr. Burrows knew of the superstition. The crewman took him to the quarterdeck and pointed out the large fin following the Sweet Vengeance. It was not a good sign. Captain Whitewall heard John Burgess has spotted a shark following the ship. He was unmoved and didnâ€™t particularly care. However, it filled the men with trepidation.
â€œRun him off,â€ Mr. Burrows told Burgess. â€œWe donâ€™t want the crewâ€™s morale going any further down.â€
Burgess gathered two other crewmen, each of them armed with muskets and they made for the quarterdeck. There, they fired at the shark. Burgessâ€™ shot it and it vanished under the water. Captain Whitewall arrived at the quarterdeck just after they had shot it. Unfortunately, an hour later, two sharks followed the Sweet Vengeance. They decided to leave them be. There was some grumbling amongst the crew.
Some crewmen fished off the side of the ship constantly, trying to bring fresh meat on board for Mr. Patience West, the shipâ€™s cook. One of the men fishing screamed and dropped his pole and line onto deck not far from Mr. Burrows. Something flopped on the deck and the sailor screamed and backed away from it.
â€œWhat is it, man?â€ Mr. Burrows said.
The man screamed and pointed at the fish flopping on the deck.
â€œWhat is that?â€ he cried. â€œWhat is that?â€
The thing looked like a fish but had tentacles and feelers. It had no eyes but the beaked mouth on the face of the horrible thing was broken and bloody. It didnâ€™t look natural at all and it breathed heavily as it flopped around the deck in its death throes.
â€œWhat is happening, Burrows?â€ Captain Whitewall called, exiting his cabin.
â€œCaptain! Look!â€ the crewman said. â€œWhat is that thing?â€
â€œItâ€™s a fish,â€ Captain Whitewall said. â€œJust throw it in the pot.â€
â€œNo! Look at it! Iâ€™m not eating that. If we eat that, Iâ€™m not! Iâ€™m not!â€
Captain Whitewall walked over to the horrible fish and looked at it. He found it very disturbing and didnâ€™t want to eat it. It was hard to tell if it was a fish or some kind of strange, terrible jellyfish. Mr. Burrows tried to kick it towards the gunwale.
â€œWhat are you doing, Burrows?â€ Captain Whitewall said.
â€œGetting it off the ship!â€ Mr. Burrows said in a strained voice.
Captain Whitewall picked the horrible thing up and flung it back into the sea.
â€œWhat was it?â€ the crewman asked, finally calming down.
* * *