CRASH! My not-so-deep slumber had been interrupted by a heavy hit to the back of my skull. I awoke fallen on the wet floorboards, and immediately gave a groan. The past few weeks had been harsh on the crew, no fish had been caught, the food had turned soggy and the rum supply had gone dry. Couple that with the constant rain and storms and we were at each others throats. We were upset, grumpy, and just plain out tired. The downpour had gotten really bad over the last day or so, and we had been forced to take shelter in the depths of the vessel. But we couldn't hide forever, not from the rain, not from the eventual disaster and definitely not from fate.
When I finally had gathered my senses and the pounding turned into a dull throb, I opened my eyes to a frantic sight. Everybody was out of their hammocks, putting on boots and jackets in a feverish manner, including Edgar, who was managing to pull his pantaloons up while holding a dagger in his teeth. Still, he managed to push out, "Our aft mast was struck by a lighting bolt earlier and was set a aflame. Somehow it's still hanging on to the ship by a few ropes, So I and some other has to cut it. We have a bunch of other problems besides that as well, so you should go check with David on what you can do to help."
I nodded my head and scurried to get dressed. By the time I was finished the whole cargo hold was barren, so I didn't spare any time heading up on deck. The rain was coming down in buckets, and the whole ship was in chaos. Left and right people were flying across the deck trying to do their respective duties. The ship was swaying back and forth to the point of knocking the feet out from under many-a men, but each had the strength to push themselves back up quickly, although there was a few close calls. David was hollering at his First Mate and Navigator when he noticed me and walked on over. "Jack, glad I found you. Look, I need you to held Edgar cut down the mast. I have no others who are brave enough and small enough to do it," he told me.
I nodded and he continued, "Here take this dagger," He said while handing me an ornate small sword, "Go and find Robert, my Third-in-command. He'll lower you down."
I nodded again and started running to the aft when David took ahold of my arm and added, "Don't look down when your scaling the sides, and most importantly, Don't slip."
"No problem sir," I responded, then sprinted to the burning mast.
There I found Robert with a rope wrapped around his arm and a look of concern on his face. I saw that another was already grasping onto a rope and knew that Edgar had started down the ships side. Robert looked me up and down before remarking, "You're a little small for a task of such responsibility, but David has spoken highly of you. Alright, David has briefed you on all the dangers I suppose, so you should be very careful climbing down there. Wrap this rope around your waist tightly."
I caught the end of the rope and did as told. Robert then preceded, "I'm going to hold the other end of the rope and lower you down. There's 5 ropes that need cutting, and you have to make sure that you don't drop your dagger. Edgar is on the far left, you'll be on the far right, and you mates will meet in the middle. Good? Okay, head over to the edge and hang down the side, when I shout go, you start scaling."
I gulped one last time before I started over to the rails and looked over the side. The mast was truly ablaze. It was almost completely engulfed in fire, including some of the ropes I had to cut. I looked down to the side and saw Edgar fighting fiercely with a rope trying to cut it off before the flames became to hot. It was a fearful sight, but I stood calm, I had to do this quickly, but I had to do it carefully.
I took a deep breath before hauling myself over the side and putting my fingertips on top of the rails. I managed to grab a foothold against one of the windowsills to the captain's quarters and hung there. I listened intently over the roaring of the ocean and the crackling of the fire for Robert's booming voice. "GO!" I finally heard.
I let go of my grasp on the rails and quickly grabbed onto the rope. I made sure that it was sturdy and firm before letting it gently run through my hold, letting me go slowly down the side. I began to feel the heat of the blaze and grew somewhat frightened, but held my composure. I lowered myself to the first rope, took my dagger and began slicing through the thick beams. These ropes were much thicker and firmer than regular rope so that it could hold the mast straight and keep it in place, which right then, we didn't need. Barely but a moment past by before I heard Edgar shout, "JACK? WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE!"
I responded in kind, "TRYING TO SAVE YOU A TON OF WORK!"
I had to strain my ears to hear Edgar's laughter over the splash of the waves on the Victory Explorer, but eventually he said, " GOOD! WE BETTER HURRY UP OR WE MAY HAVE MORE THAN JUST HARD WORK TO WORRY ABOUT!"
I grinned at his remark and continued to cut through the ropes.
Minutes passed before I heard a sharp twang of snapping twine and saw the rope break away from the ship. Edgar had finished his by then and had already started on his second rope by that time, So I hurried to keep up. We continued this job for another few minutes before we both finished our second rope. The flame had grown even more hot by then though, and had engulfed the middle rope.
" WE BEST TRY SMALL CUTS ON THIS ONE, DON'T BURN YOUR HAND!" Edgar yelled.
We commenced at once, working feverishly to get through the rope beam. Sweat had drenched both our backs by then, and we grunted on every swing we took. It was the hardest rope, and took us twice as long as the others did, but finally, it snapped. The rope and the mast went tumbling down to the depths of the seas and the flames were extinguished. Both Edgar and I were rejoicing with cries of jubilation when a shout came above all of the cries from the crew.
"A SHIP ON OUR AFT! IT'S RAMMING US!"
I turned around just in time to see a jet black ship with tattered pure black sails ram the Victory Explorer and send a shockwave through the hull. The rope around my waste slackened and finally untied itself. I then was sent spiraling backwards into the deep dark Caribbean waters.
To be continued...
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