With a back drop of the rising sun the small ship sailed westward, alone on a waveless ocean, pushed along only by the strong currents that ran beneath it’s hull. The movement barely enough to billow the small tri-colour flag flying where once a pirate ensign might have flown. Masts stood bare, sails rolled and tied neatly to the lower yard arm, with no wind, there was no need for sails.
The ship was no more than forty feet in length and to the naked eye for the most part she appeared to be abandoned, little more than a ghost ship upon an idle sea. But the naked eye can be deceiving for of course the ship was crewed, just not by an army of men. It’s true, the ship was not overly large and there was no need for a crew of hundreds for her to be manned, but she still needed a crew.
That crew was but one man. Those who knew him today knew him as Barracuda Rattlebones, but those people numbered less than twenty. His previous name, a name that was feared across all seven seas for many years was once known by a hundred times that number, but after his disappearance more than thirty years ago it was a name that was eventually forgotten the less it was spoken.
What the naked eye did not reveal from afar was the ship’s one crew member, it’s captain, standing at the front of the ship like a oddly placed figurehead. That figurehead stood dead still on the moving ship but without a soul near him he could not be heard.
“I stand here alone on th’ bow o’ th’ ship, countin’ th’ hours ’til I die. Abandoned t’ a fate I can nah change, I sail ahead wit’ no chance o’ return.”
Alone Barracuda had been sailing for neigh on three days and alone he would continue sailing, his course a charted and plotted course he knew like the back of his hand. Lesser men could not complete the journey alone, especially in such a large ship, but for Barracuda the ship did seem to sail itself.
His final journey was one he knew he could not complete until this day, no matter how many times throughout the years he’s wanted too. Even through his years commanding one of the most feared pirate ships on the ocean, a ship so large, so powerful and armed with such a strong arsenal of weapons that no pirate ship dared initiate a battle, he could not complete such a journey.
For many a year at sea Barracuda was driven by fear, a fear so strong that it kept him from making such a journey. Then in his years as a drunken down and out landlubber he had simply given up. Given up his ship, give up his captaincy, given up his life and given up his fears. If they could not be thought about they could not control his life.
“Th’ hands o’ fate did once slay me crew, me only friends they all did die, ‘n soon this doom that I know so well shall come lookin’ fer me ‘n I shall nah be afeared.”
How Barracuda knew his time on this earth was nearly to it’s end was something he did not share with anyone. Truth was there was not enough people in this world that cared enough about ol’ Barracuda to be interested in such a story. Sure the bartender asked where it was he was headed when he settled his bill, but that was only because with Barracuda leaving there would be an empty bar stool in his tavern. Even the sailor he’d bought his latest ship from, the ship he paid for with the last of his gold, gold from his early pirating days, might have asked where Ol’ Barracuda was planning to sail, but he did not care. Nor did anyone care about the reasons for his journey.
Had someone been watching on Barracuda’s final day on dry land they might have seen him following the drunken pirate crew from the tavern to their ships in the wee hours of the morning. They might have seen him eyeballing the captain, they might even have seen his staring at the letters R E V E N G E emblazoned across the back of the ship but alas no one cared enough to notice O’l Barracuda unless he was in their way, something he’d learnt long ago how to avoid.
It was early morning when Barracuda saw the Revenge leaving, early enough that the port had been void of nearly all it’s usual people. What that meant for Barracuda was that he wasn’t immediately able to make his purchase and follow the ship, he had to wait for day break. While he waited he settled his bill at the tavern, the same tavern the pirate crew had not long ago left, and discreetly asked as many questions as he could about the ship and it’s crew.
The information Barracuda received was only enough to tell him the direction the ship was headed in but it was all he needed. His ship would be slower, his journey longer but it did not matter because it would be his last and his time would be at an end when he next saw port again.
How the ship was steering itself on the glassy ocean would have been a mystery to anyone who could see it, but there was not a ship in sight. The journey had begun, the chase was under way and there Ol’ Barracuda stood on the bow of his ship taking to his long gone crew.
“I look back in wonder at th’ times we did share ‘n I know they were th’ best o’ our lives. Nothin’ ‘n no one can loot that away now. So when I too am dead we shall all meet again ‘n fight t’ th’ end o’ our days!’
Previous Pirate story here.