Author's Note: The dark holiday known as Halloween is nearly upon us, dear children of the internet and children of the pen and paper, and in honor of such a grand holiday, I have decided to post an old story of mine. I do hope you enjoy it, because I had a lot of fun writing it way back, and if it can deliver SOME chills, even a couple, then I am pleased. Enjoy...MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
I have a couple stories I wouldn't mind expanding into novellas or proper books...this is one of them.
The Pirate Lord lay at his mate's feet, a great hole in his jacket and the shirt that lay underneath. The first mate, whose gully dripped a deep crimson, looked down at his captain without any remorse, but rather greedy joy. Outside, the others of the crew were screaming and the air was filled with gunfire from all sides, cannon and pistol alike.
"Mathias!" the dying man wheezed, blood spreading outward from his wound. "Mathias, ye mutinous half-wit, done me in, ye have!"
Mathias licked his lips and wiped the blood from his knife. In his other hand, he held onto a cloth bundle which had a thin chain wrapped around it. "Damn right, I've done ye in, Liam! Ye've had it comin' to ye, for a long time."
Liam, better known throughout the seven seas as Captain Bones or Bloody Bones, coughed violently, freeing a shower of blood from his throat. His eyes wandered from the mate to the bundle in his iron grip and cursed, "Done it fer me chest, have ye, Mathias?"
"Done it for that and more, Liam," Mathias said gleefully as he tucked away the bundle into his own jacket. "I've been wantin' to run ye for many moons, but I've been too afraid of ye to do it, because I know how loyal this crew is to ye. I finally found an opportunity that would give me exactly what I wanted, I just had to wait until the right moment to act on it.
"Remember the port we visited, just before we went off to that little island of yers? There was a small base of soldiers there and as soon as I saw them, this grand scheme of mine popped into me head. I offered ye up, Captain Bones, in exchange for my life and safety."
Bones' face was quickly becoming whiter.
Mathias knelt down and moved to him so that he could lay a hand on his shoulder and whisper in his ear: "What a great prize it would be, one of the seven Pirate Lords! I offered me full cooperation in exchange that I would be pardoned in full and paid a handsome reward, so that I might enjoy a comfortable life of my own choosing. I could have acted on it right then and there, but they said they needed more men, so I told them to get what men they could and follow us. I knew what ye plannin' to do with yer chest of riches, Liam, and I saw it as a bonus for meself.
"Ye did me a favor too, Captain. The men ye took ashore to hide the treasure, ye killed so that they wouldn't go after it because they knew where it was buried. Ye kept the map, of course, so I'll have to find it and dig it up meself, but since ye killed those men, ye've already weakened yer strength in numbers! Can ye hear them now, Liam?" Mathias raised a hand to his ear and cocked his head to the side. "Those are the screams of ye oh so loyal crew, being gunned down where they stand. They will die with ye here and they will accompany ye to Davy Jones Locker when we sink this vessel."
Captain Bones raised his weak, shaking hand and latched onto Mathias' shoulder.
The first mate grinned from ear to ear. The sea-wolf was enjoying this so very much. "What are yer last words, Bones? What do ye say before ye go and make friends with Ol' Lucifer?"
The grip of the Pirate Lord's hand suddenly grew strong and he locked eyes with Mathias. "By the Devil's hoof, Mad Dog-"
"I won't have need of that title anymore, Liam!"
"Damn yer tongue, boy! By the Devil's hoof, Mad Dog, I swear to ye that ye are damned from this day on! Ye may enjoy yer comfortable life, but ye will have pay for what ye have done to me and me crew today. No matter where ye go or what place ye hold in life...we will...f-find...y..." His hand went slack and hit the floor with a dull thud while his eyes stared at Mathias, now void of all life.
"Ye can't do anything to me anymore, Captain Bones," Mad Dog Mathias cackled, looking into the dead eyes. "Not one damn thing!"
Satisfied, he stripped the man of his cutlass. It was a crude, ugly thing with a black blade. Carved from a large chunk of obsidian, the cutlass had a mirrored effect for those who stared at it, admiring the craftsmanship. Mathias slapped the corpse and said, "Ye always did like this wicked sword, Bones, and who can blame ye? The soldiers wanted this as proof that ye were dead, and I'll show it to them, but I'll keep it afterward. After all, I'm getting so much from yer death, why not one more thing?"
The knife and cutlass at his hip and the cloth map that would lead him to Bones' treasure tucked safely away in his jacket, Mathias rose, turned, and left the cabin. The other pirates were dead, sprawled along the deck; a number of them were missing limbs and others were just dead without missing a single digit.
"Mad Dog!" the captain of the lawmen called out to him as soon as he stepped out into the sun. "Is it done?"
"Aye!" Mathias replied with a wave of his hand, gesturing to the cutlass at his hip. "Here is proof, and if ye still doubt me, go and see the body behind me!"
The captain sent a man in only to receive news that Bloody Bones was truly dead. With the Pirate Lord and his crew slain, the officers and Mathias boarded one of the two ships that had opened fire on the pirate ship. With another order, the soldiers from each ship fired another volley of cannonballs, punching more than a dozen holes into the hull. They watched as Bones, his men, and his ship sank beneath the blue waters.
"You've done a grand service," the captain said, clapping Mathias on the shoulder.
"Our deal still stands, I take it?" Mathias asked, watching the jolly roger disappear into the sea.
"Yes, of course. We will set sail to returned home, I will speak on your behalf and by this month's end, you shall have everything in our agreement."
Mathias grinned wolfishly again. He truly did look like a mad dog.
For thirteen years, the former pirate once known as "Mad Dog Mathias" lived very comfortably in a life he had only wished he had. Once he had been pardoned and lived a happy life as an innkeeper on the small piece of earth known as Byrgen Island, somewhere in the Eastern Sea. The inn, one he and the crew had often taken up residency for long periods of time in their dark past, had been a shack at best, but with the reward money for his betrayal of Bones and his fellow shipmates, he was able to not only buy it, but improved it a great deal. That ran him dry, but before the money had gone completely dry, he had chartered a ship and a crew to take him to the island where Bones buried his treasure.
It was simple enough to find and once he had made it clear that it was his and his alone to the men he had hired, he was able to return to his new home and business to enjoy his newly found wealth. Although an innkeeper does not sound like an ideal place in society, it was good enough for Mathias. Here, he was able to be in charge, to be able to accept or deny whoever wanted to stay there, to be in total control. Oh yes, one could do that as a governor or a lord or some other person with a high position, but that had so much pressure! One bad decision could cost you everything, whereas being an innkeeper, the only problems you had were rough-housing customers.
His inn had three levels: he had a bar on the ground floor, the rooms for the customers on the floor above and above that, he had the whole level to himself. In the bar, placed above the counter, like a trophy of his exploits, hung the black cutlass of Captain Bones. Often, he would be asked to recite the tale that led to the Pirate Lord's death and he would hardly refuse such requests. Claiming he was a man who wanted nothing more than redemption and a clean slate in life, so that he may go to God and be at His side when he died, Mathias told an epic tale of how he was forced to be Bones' underling. He told the story saying that he had often tried to defy the captain, but would always get brutally beaten as a result of it. When it came to the point of him killing Bones, he expanded on the details, saying that it was a fierce battle to the death, a fair match of swordsmanship and skill, to which Mathias triumphed in the end. With the captain dead along with his crew, and with the soldiers from before not being on the island nor probably caring how it was retold, who among them could say different? Mathias had gone from pirate to wealthy business owner and hero in many eyes.
It was on one stormy night that Mathias told that tall tale for the final time. His inn empty and his usual bar patrons and employees gone to be with their families and possessions during the storm, Mathias enjoyed solitude behind the counter of his bar by pouring a freshly opened bottle of brandy into his favorite cup and throwing the liquor down his throat. He was just finishing his third glass and feeling tipsy when he heard the door to his inn open behind him.
"Welcome!" he greeted, throwing his arm up at the customer. "There's plenty of room, so sit yer ass down and enjoy our hospitality. Anything ye want, ye may have!" He turned about to look upon the visitor who was foolish enough to walk through such a storm. However, as he turned, he discovered that he was still alone in the bar, although the door was indeed wide open. Mathias stalked around the counter and moved towards the door, mumbling under his breath, "Damn wind blew me door open...stupid wind, makin' me think I got payin' customer..."
He was about to shut the door when he caught sight of something outside the building. Movement on the road, he thought it was, but it was so hard to see thanks to the downpour of rain that was coming down. Throwing on a coat, he took and lit a lantern and walked outside into the storm, lantern held high over his head. "Hello!" he called out. "Is someone there? Hello!"
There was no answer and he saw no one. Again, he cursed to himself. A number of times when he was a sailing man had he beared witness to people who had falsely seen things in bad weather. Once, a shipmate of his had sworn up and down that he had caught sight of a gigantic mermaid when in reality it was nothing more than a whale passing by the ship!
"Damn the booze and damn the rain." He turned on his heel and marched back inside the inn. He doused the fire in the lantern, threw his wet coat onto the rack and anxiously went back to the bar to continue his drinking. He poured himself a fresh glass of brandy, sat back on his chair and looked to the place above the bar to look at his trophy from thirteen years before. Raising the glass to his lips, he paused. Scowling, he lowered the glass and returned to his feet, staring at the empty space.
The cutlass was gone.
"Missin' something?" a black voice hissed from behind him.
Startled, Mathias wheeled about to find a man sitting in the further confines of the bar. He was obscured by shadows, but the innkeeper could see that he had come from outside, as his clothing was dripping wet and had left a trail of muddy boot prints. How he could not have noticed them or him when he came in, he did not know. Another thing that Mathias noticed was that he had a bottle of liquor on the table next to him.
"What are ye doing, scaring a man and intrudin' on his property at this late hour!" Mathias demanded, his pounding heart slowing down. His hands were moving for the rifle he kept under the bar. "It's rude, sir, not to mention dangerous. Ye could've givin' me a heart attack!"
The intruder laughed, sending a chill through Mathias for unknown reasons. "Oh, please do pardon me. To give ye a heart attack is the last thing I want to do, especially since yer a great hero of the seas, Mad Dog Mathias!"
Mathias' hands closed around the rifle. He always kept it loaded and ready, should any trouble arise. Tonight might be one of those times, depending on this man's intention. "Are ye one of me fans? One whose listened to me tale of heroism?"
"Tale of heroism? Do ye mean of how ye single-handedly brought down one of the most bloodthirsty pirates in the world in a contest of strength and skill? Oh aye, I've heard the tale, but I know it's all a lie."
Mathias scoffed. "It's not a lie! I have the sword of Bloody Bones to prove it's all true!"
Again, the man in the shadows laughed. Mathias felt another chill. He wondered why he felt such a thing when this no good sneak did that.
"Were ye the one who took down me sword?" the former pirate demanded. "I'd much like it back, if ye don't mind!"
"Yer sword? That beautiful piece of weaponry is yer sword?"
"Of course it is! Whose else would it be?!"
"Why...mine, of course!"
Lightning flashed at that moment and Mathias was given a most horrifying vision. There, sitting across from him, was not a man at all, but rather a skeleton dressed in the clothing of a sailing man. A scream escaped his throat and he raised the rifle to his shoulder.
"Oh, do not even bother, Mad Dog," the corpse stood up and walked into the better lighting. It was worse in the lights of the lamps. In the lightning flash, he had only seen so much, but now, he saw so much more! It was a gruesome creature, with a great deal of green moss growing on its bones while a few stray pieces of sea-weed clung to its clothing. The eyes, like the flesh of the abomination, had been eaten away long ago by denizens of the deep sea. In life,what was once a mane of black hair, was now only a handful of long strands stayed rooted to its skull. Mathias could see that it carried the black cutlass on it's person. "Ye've killed me once before, ye won't be able to kill me again."
Mathias froze. "...what did ye say?"
"Ye heard me, boy." The dead man reached up and pointed to a large hole in the breast of his coat, then he pulled it open to reveal another hole laying just underneath it. "Ye ran me through with yer gully, right there. Surely, ye remember doing it? Surely, ye remember kneeling before me, telling me how you were scared to do it until the right moment and those soldiers ye struck a deal with were able to distract the crew?"
A spark burst from the barrel of the rifle and a bullet punched through the dead thing's coat. It tore through the clothing and passed right through, exiting the coat from the other side and hitting a support beam behind it. Mathias, scared out of his mind, fired again and again and again until there was nothing left to fire.
Bloody Bones looked down at the bullet holes that riddled his clothing, then he looked up at his former mate with his empty eye sockets. "I told ye, Mad Dog, didn't I? Ye can't kill me again."
Mathias dropped the rifle and backed away as far as he could, though it was not far. "How...how are ye here? How can ye speak with no tongue? How-"
"I told ye, did I not? I told ye that by the Devil's hoof, that no matter where ye went, no matter what place ye held in life, we would find ye!"
If there was any color left in Mathias face, it was drained completely. "W-W-We?"
Bones nodded. "Oh, aye. Me and me shipmates."
As if on cue, the door to the inn burst open and there in the doorway stood a collection of living dead! Looking identical to their captain, save a number of them missing limbs from the battle long since past, the former crew that Mad Dog Mathias once belonged to poured through the doorway, joining their leader and surrounded the bar.
"We've come for ye, mate."
"Ye double-crossin' bastard, Mad Dog!"
Bones raised his once lost blade and ran a bony finger along the edge of the blade, admiring it. "After thirteen years, it still feels as good as it did when I was alive. Have ye been takin' good care of it?" He turned to his men, who all sneered and laughed at some unspoken joke, then he looked to Mad Dog. "Let's see if this blade of mine can still cut as it once did!"
The screams of Mad Dog Mathias was drowned out by the many thunderclaps of the storm. No one in the nearby buildings heard him scream his final scream and no one was a witness to the foul creatures from Hell that had come to take revenge upon their former shipmate. The next morning, the residents of the island found a heart-wrenching sight in the middle of their village.
There was a great cross erected in the street, made from large timber beams that once found a home in Mathias' inn. The former pirate and innkeeper hung from the cross, nailed to the beams with long pieces of iron, but that was not the worst of the treatment he had suffered. His belly was cut wide open so his entrails spilled out and hung like some sort of macabre meat selection in a butcher's shop. His blood, still wet and fresh, mixed with the mud and rainwater that collected at the base of the cross. His tongue, which told the same lie for thirteen years, had been sliced clean out of his mouth. His gully, which had once been used to kill Captain Liam "Bloody" Bones, was now firmly thrust into his own heart.
From that day on, there were frightening rumors floating about the seven seas. Rumors of a derelict ship, propelled by some unseen force, carrying a crew of the damned led by a demonic captain who carried a black cutlass.
Author's Note: Happy Halloween, folks!