"Walk the plank..."
I feel my heart racing. Holystone is ready to kill me right here and now. They put a plank out over the end of the ship and I am being forced at knife point to walk further and further off the plank. Holystone himself takes the tasks of forcing me down the plank.
"What are you doing? We need him!" Bello is shouting.
I look back. Bello eyes me. He's scared to death. He's more scared than I am it seems like. Sweat is rolling down his forehead. I've never seen him so publicly afraid as he is now. I'm shocked at the fact that Ashton was the one who sold me out. Bello has been strapped to the main mast using heavy rope. This is Holystone's punishment for Bello deciding to no longer be with him. He's punishing Bello to watch me die.
I look over at the water. It's so deep. I won't be washed away to some magical island again. If I did this...I would die.
The entire ship is quiet. I'm surprised. Usually people would be excited about something like this going on but the boys on the ship are looking at Holystone like he is a mad man.
"Captain...we do need him," Billy Big Balls states, "To sacrifice."
Blood magic. That's what got me into this mess in the first place. Sacrificing me would finally break the curse for the boys on the Screaming Dagger. Looking at the boys I think it is becoming very clear to them that Holystone could give two fucks about breaking the curse of the Screaming Dagger. He wants to kill me now because of his passion and his own selflessness.
"Fuck the sacrifice..." Holystone responds spitting on the ground, "He fucked the Sea Wolf. He stole him from me. He has to die now."
"No..." someone says.
I turn and see that it's Skyrat. Of all people the youngest on the ship is standing up for me. Then I realize that he isn't the only one. The other boys on the ship seem to be just as mad. They seem to be just as pissed as Skyrat is.
"He doesn't care about us," another boy shouts.
"He never did."
The screams get louder and louder. A chorus of chants rise up on the ship. I look at Holystone's face. It's the moment when he realizes that his entire crew has just turned on him within the drop of a dime. He attempts to say something and calm them down but the chants are so loud. They drown out everything that Holystone is trying to say.
Holystone turns to me. I can see the desperation in his voice. He's losing control of the Screaming Dagger. People are turning on him.
"You DID this. I should have never brought you on this ship. You're a curse. You've been a curse since the beginning," he tells me.
He expects me to be scared Lafayette.
He expects me to beg for my life.
I look at him. I look at his sword. Something has changed though. I've been on more adventures on this boat than I could ever imagine and I had found the love of my life. If I died here and now I would have no regrets at all.
"Do it..." I tell him.
"Not afraid to die boy?"
"You'll be next."
This seems to piss him off even more. He swings his sword. My heart drops and I prepare myself to die but then I hear a clash of steel instead. Someone has jumped up on the plank. Before I know it I open my eyes to a sword fight.
The plank rattles. I feel myself slipping and I'm holding on for dear life. The plank flips and I swear I'm going to fall.
Someone does fall.
I look down and I see Holystone. He falls down into the water. All I hear is this terrible scream that I've never heard before as he hits the bottom. I am going to be next to fall but a hand catches me just in time.
I look up and see Ashton...
He's saved me.
"This was your plan all along?" I ask Ashton.
We are in the captain's quarters. Ashton is looking through Holystone's things. After Holystone died everyone seems to be on edge. We need answers. We need to know what Holystone had planned. With Holystone gone we are literally on our own now. I can see the fear in everyone's eyes and Ashton was the only one who had it in him to act immediately.
"I had to piss off the crew enough so that they would turn on Holystone. I figured that him threatening to kill you after all you've been through would piss them off enough."
"I didn't realize I'm so special."
Ashton smiles at me, "You're special to a lot of people."
I was cursed. I was cursed but I was blessed as well. My mother may have been a bitch but a least she cared enough at some point to put a spell on me that would make me undeniable to men my age. That spell had come in handy. It had saved my life in the end.
"So you weren't really mad at me?" I ask, "It was just an act?"
He crosses his arms, "Oh no. I was heated. But at the end of the day I'm happy to be in your life even if it's not as a lover. Even if it's as your brother I want to make sure that I'm there for you. I want to make sure that I protect you. I think we all do on this ship now..."
For the first time ever I felt wanted.
My father only wanted to use me. My mother only wanted to use me. The boys on this ship cared about me though. They actually wanted to make sure that I was taken care of.
He reaches over and hugs me. The hugs feel real. Sometimes you meet someone and you know they are meant to be in your life. Somehow you don't know how they are meant to be in it but you know they belong with you. Ashton and I had that connection. I knew that connection would never change.
As we're hugging there is a knock on the door. The door opens and Bello is standing behind the door.
Bello sees me and Ashton hugging and his face seems...serious...to say the least.
"I don't regret doing what I did to Holystone," Ashton explains to Bello.
"He was the closest thing I had to love," Bello explains, "Holystone found me when I had hit rock bottom and when I thought nothing mattered in life. I had no purpose. I had no meaning. He gave me all of those things and you killed him. What should I do about our little situation."
Him and Bello face off.
"Would you suggest a duel?" Ashton asks, "To the death?"
Bello thinks about it.
"No. I would say thank you."
"Holystone was the closest thing that I knew to love but it wasn't love. It was some sort of sick attachment. Some sort of meaning that I clenched onto to keep me alive. Through him I put all my anger and disappointment on the world. It wasn't real though. It wasn't love. I found love. I found the real thing. I found that with your brother, here. And because you saved this true love of mine I wanted to thank you...sincerely."
Bello reaches out and shakes Ashton's hand. He looks at me. There is respect here. It's strong and clear. It's full of compromise.
"I appreciate it from you, Sea Wolf."
"You should get out there. The men mean to name you the new Captain after you stood up to Holystone," Bello explains.
Ashton wasn't expecting that. Hell, neither was I. He was a Baptiste and for the majority of the time, the boys on this ship treated him like he was some kind of curse. They didn't respect him. Now things had changed. The respect was clear now.
"I don't think anyone would make a better captain," I tell my brother.
He smiles. His smile is legit. It's warm. It's strong. It's everything that Holystone wasn't. I knew that Ashton would make a good Captain of the Screaming Dagger.
Ashton is so confused, "What's next?"
"You have to decide. Are we going to keep on track to sacrifice Lafayette and break this curse or are we going to forever be stuck on this ship together?"
Ashton looks over at me. His eyes are gleaming. He seems confused and lost.
"How am I supposed to make that decision?" he asks.
I was his brother but at the same time unless I was sacrificed these boys would have to dwell on this ship forever not knowing how it ever felt like to truly be on dry land for too long. The curse wouldn't go away. I was the only thing keeping them here.
I knew Ashton wasn't going to make this decision but I knew that in order for him to stay Captain of this ship he would have to make the right decision.
"You have to put the crew first," I tell Ashton, "Take me. Take me to hell."
Days go by. The course on the map leads us through rugged seas. It's the 7th day when we are scheduled to arrive and I'm in Bello's private chambers. He's kept me to himself for the most part and even though Ashton has made Bello his Quartermaster, Bello ignores his duties to spend time with me. Ashton doesn't mind. No one else does either. I think everyone knows that I may not have that much time left in this world.
"I don't know if I can let them do this," Bello explains to me.
I'm laying on his chest. I've never seen the Sea Wolf cry before but now he is crying. Tears are rolling down his eyes. I curl my fingers between his silver locks feeling his hair up against my body. I have never felt so comfortable in my life. I look over at him.
"You'll have a mutiny on your hands if you don't..."
I mean it as a joke but the Sea Wolf doesn't laugh.
"I'll kill every last one of them for you..." he tells me.
I shake my head.
"No. I want you to get off this ship. I want you to go out and live a normal life on dry land. I want to break this curse for Ashton, for Black Jack, for O'Malley and even Skyrat. I want you to live a normal life, Bello."
"You don't get it. There is no normal life without you."
He grabs me and pulls me close.
I look into his eyes of those. They are like sea gems. He wants me to know how serious he is with this and I understand. I honestly find myself falling for this man all over again.
"You'll be happy. You'll raise children. You'll grow old. You'll die."
"I won't. Not without you..."
"You don't have a choice."
"I'll move heaven and hell to find a choice," he explains to me, "I'll find a way to be with you. Nothing will separate us. Nothing. Never. I don't care if it takes a million years. We will survive. We'll survive and I'll find you."
"You'll find me when the storm has passed. When the sky is no longer blue, when the sand is no longer tan and when the fire is no longer red...I'll be waiting for you when all the colors have escaped the world and nothing is left."
"Yes. When the world is colorless...I'll be waiting for you always. You'll find me."
The emotion in his voice takes over. He kisses me. His soft lips smack up against mine. We kiss for a moment in the silence.
"Do you feel that?" I ask him.
The gate. The gate was near.
"We're close..." I tell him.
"I need more time," Bello argues.
I shake my head and give him another kiss. I let it linger. I don't know how many more kisses we will be able to get. I want to make every one of them count.
"It's time," I tell him.
I climb out on the deck to cheers. Everyone knows what I'm doing. They realize I am giving the ultimate sacrifice willingly for the other boys on this ship. I am doing it with a smile on my face.
Storms surround the cave but for some oddity, the ocean is completely still. It's so still that we need to get every man on deck to use the gigantic oars and row like in the old dates.
I look over at my lover. The Sea Wolf. I can see the fear in his eyes.
"Remember what I said?"
"When there are no colors...you'll be my colorless king," I remember.
I look to my right and see my friends. They are standing with Ashton. Ashton grabs me by my hand. He holds it up in the air. In the distance we can see a cave. It's a cave sitting just in the middle of the ocean. It just sits there.
"The Devil whispered to us saying that we cannot survive the upcoming storm," the Captain tells us, "We whispered back to the devil telling him that we are the storm."
The men rally. Fear is in their eyes. There is sweat dripping down their backs. The main mast scrapes across the top of the cave. There is a creaking in the hull that sounds like someone running their nails against a stone. Billy Big Balls is on the crow's nest. He has a telescope out and he seems to be the only one who is unmoved by the screeching noise of the hull and the impending doom.
"Hell ahead!" he screams out.
The Sea Wolf looks over at me, "You ready for this baby?"
He sits next to me. He doesn't have a shirt on. Sweat is dripping down his abs. They glisten against his hairy chest. I notice the tent in his pants. He gets hard when things get tense. It's a habit of his. Danger excites him. I know that if we survive this that he'll take me into the lower quarters and fuck me until I can't walk. I'd have to use Drunk Sam's cane for a week based on how big his manhood has grown. I watch as he smiles, licking his hair back and grappling the oars.
His muscles move, stretching and showing off just how tight his body is. There is not an ounce of fat in sight. Most of the men on board our ship are muscular, but none are even close to the Sea Wolf. No one could ever be the Sea Wolf. He was my lover. He was my soulmate. He was the most beautiful man in the world.
I'm not ready. I want to piss myself. I want to just piss myself right there at that moment but I know the boys will never let me live it down if I do.
He puts his hands in my hands, "I love you. You know that right? I told you that for the first time last night for a reason. We may not come back."
"You know where the word Matey comes from?"
I'm scared, "No..."
My words are almost stuck in my throat.
"Matey comes from matelotage. It's like marriage between two male pirates. In this institution we share everything. I want that for us. I want matelotage."
I knew the Sea Wolf would never ask me to marry him but this was different. This was something just between pirates. This was something beautiful. This was something pure. This was something great and I was the happiest man in the world.
"Yes. I'll do it."
"Then I'll need you to survive with me," he tells me, "Promise."
He looks at me. He grabs me by the hand. He holds it. He gives it a hard squeeze.
"Then sound the siren."
"Hell ahead!" I scream out, repeating Billy's siren.
We go. We enter the gate. I want to explain it but I can't. I feel the Sea Wolf at my side. He is holding my hand. He grasps onto my fingers. He doesn't want to let go. I look in his eyes one last time and I feel this presence around me. It's this evil presence. It's stronger than anything I've ever felt in my life.
"Forever..." the Sea Wolf whispers to me.
Tears are rolling down my eyes. I look at my friends. Black Jack has cuddled up close to Skyrat who is shaking from fear of this presence surrounding us. None of us know what this presence is but we know it is the most powerful thing we've ever experienced in our lifetimes. O'Malley is tearing up. I'm not sure if he is upset that he would be losing me or if he is just scared.
I look over at Ashton.
My captain. My brother. My friend.
He stays strong for me. He stands knowing that he would have to deal with this crew after this sacrifice. He would have to pick up the pieces. He would have to be there for them. So he had to stay strong. He couldn't cry like the others.
Lastly, I take a look at my love.
HIM...a voice says.
The deep presence grabs me. It pulls me. I'm being taken off of the ship.
Darkness surrounds me. Pure darkness. And then there is light. Blues. Reds. Whites. Greens. Yellows. Soon there is nothing. No noise. No crying. No shouts. No color. The sacrifice has been made and there is no color left...
The last thing I see is my friends. I realize how happy I am in this moment. I was so afraid this whole time of dying that I realize that sacrificing isn't about what you lost. My mother had explained that to me. I should have listened to her then. Sacrifice was about what you gained. Sacrifice was about being able to truly appreciate something that was gained, even if you lost blood to attain it. I finally gained love, I finally gained belonging and I finally gained a sense of purpose.
I was willing to sacrifice everything for that.
Please remember to donate and read the next story by Staten Krown on Nifty known as the Straight Agenda ... coming soon.