Written by DJ Corisis
For all those who still have a dream, and continue to dream it with vigor.
"My friend, bravery is not doing something you don't want to do, or that you are forced to do. Bravery is doing something on your own will, knowing that you may fail in the process."
Life Before the Pirates
As the waves lightly lapped the side of the small rowboat, Xavier was starting to doze off. He had been out in the bay fishing for salmon all day with not a single nibble. However, it was not the fish he had come for. It was the silence and tranquility. That and the sight of the sun setting that drew him in every Sunday. Tomorrow he would have to return to school and begin work again, the black smith he apprenticed to had taken the kind liberty of giving him an education through his wife, who was the teacher. Xavier's employer did not want an uneducated apprentice.
Xavier was a seventeen-year-old boy had reddish-sandy colored hair, and was about six and a half feet tall. He had brown eyes, and a small beginning of a beard (he had not shaved for the past few days). In addition, a perfect smile, but he did have one missing tooth in the back of his mouth that his employer had pulled with a pair of pliers when Xavier had had a toothache once. He worked for a middle-aged man that was named Garif.
He stared at the sunset as he started to doze off slowly, but then was awakened by a sea gull that had decided to land on the bow of his rowboat in hopes of finding some free food scraps or bait.
"Sorry my little friend." Said Xavier. The seagull squawked in disapproval and then flew away. He watched as it flew off into the shrinking sunset, and then decided to try to go to sleep again, only to be stopped by the sound of what seemed to be a pebble hitting the water. He opened his eyes, and looked at the water in time to see hundreds of drops of water hit the surface of the water and send out ripples of water in all directions.
He jolted up right, and began rowing back towards the shipyard for fear of getting soaked to the bone. Once he was entering the docks, he started to see other tall ships with crew members scrambling every where to get the sails down, or to hoist anchor or do what ever chores it was they had, and then take cover in the near by tavern.
Xavier was thinking about what it would be like to have a life at sea. Then the bow of the small sailboat hit the end of the dock. He jumped out of the boat, secured it to a barnacle-encrusted post on the corner of the deck with a thick rope, and rushed off home up the soaking wet docks.
As he ran, the rain started to pelt down harder and harder, until within minutes his entire body was soaked. He looked towards the sky in hopes of seeing some hint of blue sky, but there was none to be seen. It was truly a winter rainstorm. As he left the dock and started to run on the cobblestone road, his house came into view. His house was only one story. It had a chimney, four rooms and one bath in the living room. Xavier never did like to take a bath in front of every one, so he always waited for when he was alone in the house.
Xavier had his own room, his two smaller brothers shared the room next to his, and his mom had the last room. The room in the middle of the house was the living-bath room-kitchen-furnace room.
It was true; his family was one of the lower class families in the village. Every since Xavier was eleven years old, he had to work as the black smiths apprentice to earn money for his family. His father had left to fight a war out at sea when he was only ten. Xavier had just woken up on morning, and he was gone. He did not even say good-bye. Xavier had guessed that he had fallen in battle. These days you never know what you might come across in the dense fog when at war. It could be a marauding band of pirates, or jagged rocks, or even another enemy ship that was in the same predicament as you. That was what Xavier was always thinking to him self, what had his father run into while in the fog?
His two younger brothers were named Darius and Luther. They were twins that were at the very annoying age of six. They were the two kinds of brothers that would always hang around each other, and pull pranks on other people and then run away before any one would find them, or threaten to throw them in the bay, or worse, tell their mother.
Xavier's' mother was named Sophie, and was around 40 years old, Xavier did not know for sure, his mother would just always say, "Lets just call it forty." She is at that, 'I am not as old as I look and act' stage he always thought to himself.
He was nearing the house now. As he ran up the cracked sidewalk, lined with dead flowers that had been over grown and choked by weeds, he finally reached the door to the house, and burst through the door into a house that was being warmed by a wood burning furnace in the corner. He looked around the room and saw Darius and Luther taking a bath together in the tub.
That is disgusting! I cannot believe I used to do that with my father when I was little! He thought to himself. Just then, his mother walked into the room.
"Don't look so surprised Xavier." She said, "I have told you a million times, you did the same thing when you were little with your father."
"True, but I was too young to know what I was doing. If I had known I had a choice to take a bath when I chose to, I would have taken it on my own time." Xavier informed.
"Well never the less, you did it, and it is time to eat." Just then, she noticed that his hands were empty. "Honey, where is our fish?"
"I didn't catch any today."
"He was to busy sleeping!" yelled Luther from the bathtub.
"We spied on him through Mr. Posaids' brass telescope." Said Darius.
Mr. Posaid was the town's chubby mayor. Why he favored Darius and Luther, Xavier will never know.
"Xavier Spridenel! How many times have I told not to fall asleep while fishing for our dinner?!" his mother yelled, while the two little boys in the bath tub started giggling and chanting, 'Xavier's in trouble, Xavier's in trouble'.
"I'm sorry mom; it is just so boring out there."
"Well while you were bored and sleeping, who knows how many bites you had?! Who knows how many fish we could be eating?!"
"I sorry mom, it wont happen again."
"I should think not. Well boys, looks like there is no dinner tonight."
"But we're hungry!" cried the boys from the bathtub.
"Well, maybe our hunger will drive Xavier to stay awake next time he is catching our dinner." Said his mother. Then she left the room.
"Read us a story Xavier?" called Darius from the tub.
"Yea, read us a story Xavier. Please?" chimed in Luther.
"Ok." Said Xavier. He walked over to the bathtub, grabbing a small storybook with aging yellow pages on the way.
"Once upon a time, there was a brave knight. Then he got old and died. The end" He read.
"That's not how the story goes!" yelled Luther.
"Well that is how it goes when you rat me out to mom." Said Xavier. And he stood up from the stool, placed the book in his place, and walked off into the quiet solitude of his room.
"No fair." Mumbled Darius from the tub.
After Xavier had entered his room, he took off his shirt, throwing it in the corner of his room, laid down onto his extremely lumpy straw bed, and shut out the rest of the world.
Later that night, there were pirates invading the whole town. The pirates were terrifying. They were skeletons, with bits of flesh hanging off them, their clothes ragged, and daggers being held in their mouths as they climbed into the windows of houses and then ransacked the place for any thing of value they could find. Then once they were done, they would throw a flaming stick through the windows and set the house a flame the women and children inside crying out in terror.
Xavier knew he had to do something, so sneaking over to the pirate ship to burn it seemed good. It had torn sails, its anchor was encrusted with head sized barnacles along with seaweed, and the very wood of the ship seemed to be rotting with worms and termites. It seemed almost ghostly in the black water, and the pale light of the full moon. Xavier also noticed that the ships name was The Death Gaze.
Then over the edge of the ship came down the last pirate. He shimmied down the side of the ship on a long rope, and he looked as if he was the captain. Xavier ducked down low in fright of the pirate seeing him. Then, as the captain drew his sword and readied for plundering, he said,
"Be off and be speed! Cock your pistol and draw your sword! Tonight the pirates will come out on top! Tear the place apart! Leave no house unturned, and no wood unburnt! We sail at dawn!" then he turned to Xavier's' direction and seemed to lock eyes with him through the darkness. That was when Xavier knew who he was. The pirate captain was his father. He looked just as his mother described him, and as he remembered him, except he was a rotting, walking skeleton corpse now.
Then the captain grinned a wide rotten grin and ran off into the distance. Then all of the sudden, there was an explosion over Xavier's head. He looked up at the ship and saw the cannons being fired from the ship at the town!
That's when Xavier woke up. He was covered in sweat with his hair matted down, and his sheets were sticking to him. He looked at his door, and then around the room that was swamped in darkness except for the faint, ghostly white flow of light from the moon streaming through his window.
He looked around the room little more just to be sure. There were no pirates, or father-captains in his room. There was his leather and wood chest in the corner, his wooden fishing pole propped against it, and his nightstand with his candle on it, snuff still on the wick.
He knew there was nothing to be scared of, but he still wanted to check under the bed. He leaned over the edge, and peered underneath. There was only emptiness, except for a pair of yellow eyes staring back at him. He recoiled from fear and anxiety and fell off his bed. Then he realized it was only Bengoy, his families alley cat that would hide under his bed twenty-four seven. It had just wondered in the house one day, and his brothers were intent on keeping it. his mother gave in, and they named it Bengoy.
Xavier climbed back onto his bed, and mumbled to him self,
"Why would they name him Bengoy? What kind of name is that for a cat?!"
He settled back into his bed, ignoring the straw poking through the thin bed cover, and left for dreamland.
Not a moment after he had closed his eyes had he heard a crash from the main room of the house. It had sounded like a window breaking. He bolted out of bed, pulled his shirt on, and sprinted out of his room.
Rowwwww! Cried Bengoy from underneath his bed.
Shh. Shushed Xavier, as he left the room closing the door behind him, leaving Bengoy to hop onto his bed and curl up on his pillow purring.
As Xavier searched around the room for the source of the crash, his eyes were filled with a bright light. He looked to his left and saw a broken window at the end of the room with a flaming piece of wood below it. It had just caught fire to a puddle of lamp oil that had spilled because of the crash.
"Every one wake up!" he yelled at the top of his lungs, "We are under attack!"
Slowly the house started to come alive. The fire was starting to spread on to the wooden floor, and every one was coming out of their rooms. His mother was the first to come out, with her eyes still cloudy from sleep. However, they were lit up as soon as they saw the floor on fire.
"Xavier! What is going on?!" she yelled.
"I don't know for sure." He said.
"I will wake the boys and try and stop the fire. You go into town and see if any one else needs help!" Xavier obeyed, and rushed out of the door.
Out side was in pandemonium. People were running everywhere yelling at every one to get buckets of water, and others saying that pirates, or the British were attacking them.
Then Xavier saw a pregnant woman he knew as Ruby yelling to all of the men to help her children. All of them said his house was on fire, and he needed to help his family. Then she saw Xavier and came to him pleaded before him.
"Xavier! Please, my two daughters are trapped in the fire! Save them please!" she pleaded. Xavier looked at her smoke-smudged face, and at her red blonde hair that was tangled from stress. Then he saw her eyes that started to well up with tears.
Xavier just nodded; he did not feel the need to reply, so he just burst out into a run towards her burning house.
When he reached the house, his first thought was to wrench the door open, but then his hand stopped as it reached for the handle. He realized it was a metal handle, and it was probably burning hot from the fire on the other side. He decided to just kick the door. It gave way easily from age and fire damage.
Once inside the house, it was like living in an inferno. Everything was on fire, and the roof was groaning from the stress as if it might collapse at any minute.
"Anna! Ophelia!" he yelled into the house. He heard to girls yell, and then he heard them scream,
"We're in here! Hurry!" Xavier understood where the voices were coming from for he had been in the house many times as a babysitter for the two girls. Ruby had no money to pay him with, but she was a great cook.
He ran through the house dodging fallen wood pieces that had been burnt down, until he finally reached the room where they were yelling. As soon as he entered the door, he heard the roof groan and creak from fire damage. He looked around the room, and then saw the two girls in their nightgowns huddled and hugging each other for life together on a bed. Just then, the bedstraw caught fire and it startled the two little girls. Ophelia jumped off the bed, and landed on the floor. The other one was startled a little more. She fell off the other side of the bed, and fell on to a small patch of floor that was a flame. Xavier remembered it as one of the weak spots in the floor that always had a creak to step on when bored as Ophelia had once described it as to Xavier.
Anna fell on top of the floor, it groaned and creaked, and then it gave way from old wood, and fire damage. She fell through the floor, and landed down in the cellar, motionless.
Xavier quickly lunged and grabbed for Ophelia and grabbed her hand. He quickly led her out of the inferno-house and to her mother. He mother were relieved, and then realized there was only one daughter in her hands.
"Where is Anna?!" she screamed in agony. However, Xavier was all ready back into the house. The mother bent down and hugged Ophelia.
Once inside the house, he found the stairs for the cellar. He heard the roof give one final groan, and lunged down into the cellar and closed the door behind him just in time to avoid the roof caving in. But the bad news was that he was now trapped in the cellar with no way out, he had never been in the cellar before. He looked around in the only light that was coming from the fire between the floorboards above his head. Then he spied Anna lying motionless on the floor. He quickly gabbed her, and cradled her in his arms, inspecting her for any damage. She had a broken arm and a few scrapes. He began searching for an outside exit from the cellar. He found what he was looking for. It was a narrow passage going up from the cellar that ended with double doors that opened to the smoky night air outside.
He ran to the door and pushed on it. It would not budge. He realized it was locked on the other side, and did not know what to do. There was no room to ram it, or kick it open, so all he could do was bang on it in hopes of someone hearing it and helping him. When no one came, he started to silently pray. His prayers were answered.
All of the sudden a blacksmiths hammer shattered the door. He looked up and saw Garif staring down at him,
"Cant lose my apprentice now, can I?" said Garif.
Xavier clambered out of the hole carrying Anna, and then saw her mother and Ophelia telling her,
"See mommy? She did fall into the cellar! I told you!"
Xavier ran over to her and laid her on the ground.
"She has a broken arm. I think she has only passed out from the pain. She should be fine." Said Xavier.
"Thank you, thank you Xavier!" cried the mother as tears of joy streamed down her face.
Xavier stood up and began to run to his own house. When he had run for about ten meters, he crossed paths with a doctor, and he said,
"There is a little nine year old girl over there with a broken arm. Could you please tend to her?"
"That's what I'm here for." He replied and he rushed over to her.
Xavier looked around, and spied a ship in the bay. It had a Jolly Roger flag flapping at its mast- a pirate ship.
It was just as big as the one he had seen in his dream, but not as ragged. His first thought was to climb aboard, seek out the gunpowder it had stowed down in the cargo hold, and ignite it. Then he realized how foolish it would be for him to ignite the gunpowder with him still on the ship.
He thought for a minute, knowing that he could not just let these pirates get away with plundering his village. He looked around at what he had to work with, and noticed a half empty bottle of rum on the ground one of the pirates probably dropped while getting off the ship. Then he had an idea. He grabbed his shirtsleeve, and ripped it off. He uncorked the rum bottle, and stuffed part of the sleeve into it. He was going to set fire to their ship, just as they had done to his town. He looked for a source to light it with, and then remembered that he was amongst a flaming town! He ram to the nearest building, which was a conveniently located tavern about twenty feet away.
He ran to the tavern, touched the sleeve to the tongues of fire that were encircling the building, ran back with it aflame, and was just about to hurtle it onto the ship, when he heard some one say behind him,
Xavier was hit on his head and blacked out before he ever had a chance to throw the flaming bottle of rum.