The smoke from the open treasure chest rose slowly into the air until it was caught on the breeze and gently swept away. When the final small plume of smoke cleared Captain Blackscuttle was left bent over and staring into the chest. It took a moment or two for his eyes to adjust but when they did he was surprised by what he saw, or more accurately what he didn’t see because he saw nothing but black.
It was the strangest thing he’d seen in a very long time. He wasn’t just looking at a darkness, void of anything to the bottom of the chest he was looking at blackness. A black void where nothing at all existed. If he moved his head in any direction he could see down the outside of the chest, see the timbers it was constructed with, the colours, the hue and the roughness. But inside he could see nothing. No corners, no edges, no lines but most of all no bottom.
The sense of the unknown disturbed him quite a bit until he remembered where he was. On the Island of Gold nothing had seemed quiet as it should have been. From the weird battles creatures that seemed easy to defeat given their size, to the identical pirates and the stockade wall, even the trip he’d had to find the treasure chest. Everything seemed like a hurdle put in his path to stop him, yet it was easily defeated.
Was the treasure chest just something put before him to make him stumble, get up and then move on to something else? That did seem unlikely. Just like every pirate knew that ‘X’ marked the spot and treasure was always to be found where there was an ‘X’, a treasure chest held wealth and the bigger the chest was the more wealth it held. By that reasoning what waited for Captain Blackscuttle was enormous because he could easily hide himself within the chest he had discovered.
Not finding any satisfactory answers within the chest Captain Blackscuttle lifted his head. His plan had been to stand up, clear his head then have another look inside to see if things had changed, like what he didn’t know. But he didn’t get a chance to do that for his vision was distracted by something.
If he was asked he would swear on a stack of treasure maps that what he was looking at was not there when the smoke first cleared and he looked down into the depths of the chest. Yet as he stood there it was plain as day.
A wad of paper pinned to the lid of the chest.
He couldn’t believe it. How had he missed something so plain and so obvious? The paper itself was discoloured with age but it was still quite obvious that it was there.
Tentatively Captain Blackscuttle reached forward and grasped the pin that held the papers to the lid between the forefinger and thumb of his right hand. Applying firm pressure he pulled on the pin, it didn’t move, he tried again and got the same result, the pin had obviously been driving into the timber with force. Thinking the timber might release its hold on the pin if he was able to turn it in its hole Captain Blackscuttle tried twisting the pin.
It took a little effort but the in turned forty five degrees in the hole. The captain turned the pin back feeling it looser in the hole. He then tried to pull it out with a repeated process from his first effort. The first tug didn’t yield any results so he tried again. The second was more successful and the pin came out in one swift movement.
Immediately as the pin came free the paper began to fall. Captain Blackscuttle flinched and moved quickly to stop the paper falling into the darkness of the chest where he was sure he wouldn’t be able to retrieve it from. His first grab flicked the paper and missed but his second grab, after he dropped the pin, was successful.
Without conscious thought that he actually had the papers in his hand he watched the pin fall into the chest. Within a fraction of a second the pin had disappeared into the blackness and Captain Blackscuttle could not see it. Although that was that he expected to happen it was still a shock to his system and he stood up immediately.
Stepping back from the chest to avoid something as silly as dropping something into it and having it disappear like the pin the captain looked at what was in his hand. The wad of paper was folded in half, the ragged edges and the curled corners, that were left, said the paper was old, as did the discolouration, but it’s exact age was impossible to tell.
When he turned the wad over and inspected the side that had been pinned against the lid of the chest he nearly dropped it to the sand. There written across the middle of the folded square in the darkest of dark black inks and in the tall flowing scripture he saw two words.
The captain blinked, rubbed his eyes, blinked again and looked at the page, the words, or more accurately his name, was still there clear as anything.
Despite so much of the Island of gold being specific to Captain Blackscuttle he was still taken aback by what he saw on the paper. There was no mistaking the chest was for him, just like there was no mistaking that the wad of paper with the ragged edges was for him. There was also no mistaking, thanks to the heavy handed scripture which left small indentations in the paper, that what he was holding was a message of some kind. A message to him.
Slipping his thumb into the centre of the wad Captain Blackscuttle started to unfold the paper to read its message.
Previous Pirate story here.