We could finally see the islands in the distance, and for the first time in weeks, the captain was speechless. It felt like we'd been stuck on this boat for ages, but the wretched smell, the freezing nights, the ocean storms, they'd actually been worth it. Even the boat had made it, although we'd sunk nearly three times and the damn engine, man, that thing was just temperamental. I was surprised it'd actually got us here alive.
It'd taken me a whole three years to find a captain willing to travel to an island that wasn't on the map, and who was also willing to take me all the way there instead of dumping me half way, so I couldn't really argue when he showed me his boat. I didn't have anyone else to choose from.
I couldn't see it then, but now I could see why he used it. They were like two sides of a coin, old and broken in looks, but hard as steel and absolutely fearless. The captain I found was called Ronald Murphy, and his fishing resumé might not have been able to beat the pirates, that supposedly ran the island, but he was always ready for an adventure.
He also never asked the questions that everyone else wanted answers too. He had his reasons, and I had mine. He also never asked how I knew the way. He didn't even argue that there was nothing there on the map, like most of the other captains had. I didn't have to mention that I'd been born on Rook. He didn't need to know and he didn't seem to care.
"I didn't expect it to be that beautiful" the captain broke the beautiful silence that had engulfed us, and all I could do was smile. The sun was starting to set, and the moon was rising behind the island, illuminating the sands and the jungle and just the sheer beauty of everything around it.
Somehow, I pulled myself away from the scene and made my way down in to the cabin. It was was a decent size for such a small boat. It looked like it'd been painted some sort of mustardy colour, but I was sure that was from the years of cigars and cigarettes the captain kept hidden in the cupboard above his bed. The cabin was big enough to fit two small beds, a wooden set of drawers and a wardrobe that was slowly falling apart.
I sat down on my bed and pulled the steel container out from under it. I unlocked it and took out the revolver the captain had given me a few weeks in to the trip, making sure I loaded it before sticking it in my front pocket.
Neither of us were actually betting on the rumors of slave trading pirates to be true, but we'd both decided to be safe than sorry, and from the stories we'd heard at the last port, for all we knew, we could have been walking in to a sea of madman.
When I got back up on the deck, the captain was heading to a small, weather beaten dock, just off the beach.
"We can set up camp for the night" he told me as I stood next to him, entranced with the paradise that was now at our fingertips, "Tomorrow, we can find some natives and hope they don't kill us". I wish I could of said that he sounded sarcastic, but he didn't. There was something in the air, something bad, we could feel it, but the beauty overshadowed the fear, and made everything feel a little better.
Once we were parked, I jumped off the boat and went straight to the sand. The day I'd left, I'd had no time to say goodbye, so it just felt nice to be home again. Everything was like I remembered, an undisturbed paradise. It was also nice to be back on dry land, I wasn't the best of sea passengers.
Whilst I was enjoying the view, the captain had been investigating the small dock hut that looked in better shape than the dock itself. He came out with a lantern and lit it up with a match. He placed it on the window ledge of the hut and started to unwrap the rope he had on his arm.
"I'm just gonna make sure there's no tigers", I told him as I walked to the edge of the jungle, I heard him laugh as he started to tie up the boat. I decided to follow the edge of the shrubs, my gun in my hand just in case I did stumble on to some unwanted welcomers.
I kept walking along the sand, listening to the ocean and the sounds of the island before coming to some sort of path that led in to the jungle. I looked back at the captain to find him gazing in to the jungle.
One look couldn't hurt...
I walked down it and fell completely in love with it all over again. Everything about this place was absolutely breathtaking. The wild flowers, the way the moon light shone through the tree's, the small of the jungle. It stirred a part of me I thought I'd lost, but then I spotted something. At first my mind dismissed it, but then I saw a vulture fly down on to the ground, completely unfazed by my prescence. The sand was stained a dark colour of red, and the way it shone in the moon light, I knew it was fresh. I was just about to investigate, but then everything went quiet.
The gun shot made me jump.
Fuck, fuck, fuck!
I turned and run, a feeling of dread reigning upon me as I came back in to view of the boat. The captain was on his knees, holding his stomach, whilst two men stood above him, pointing their assault rifles at him.
I crouched in to the shrubbery. The men were dressed symmetrically, both wearing red tank tops, black khaki pants, and balaclava's that covered the bottom of their faces.
My hands shook as I took out my revolver, pulled the hammer back and aimed. I had to do it. I couldn't even think. I pulled the trigger and the bullet shot the one closest to me right in the back of the head. He fell straight to the ground, making the other fly round, his eyes catching sight of me before he was tackled to the ground by the captain. After the initial wrestle, the captain rolled off him, a knife plunged in to the pirates neck.
In no more than ten seconds, the two of them were dead. I ran towards the boat as the captain managed to roll himself on, making a series of grunts and groans as he held on to his stomach. Gun shots came from within the jungle, and somehow, I managed to yank the knife from the dead guys neck, causing blood to spurt all over my hand and cut the rope before I threw myself in to the boat, trying to dodge the bullets that were coming in my direction.
The sight of the blood was making my stomach turn. I'd never shot anyone before. I'd shot a deer, even a dingo, but never another person... The scene kept running through my head, over and over again, but then I heard the gun shots getting closer. and I knew I'd I just have to man up and deal with it. I didn't have a choice.
"Renae, their pirates" the captain yelled to me as I went to the ignition, "There really are pirates", I don't know whether he was shouting to dull the pain or if the loss of blood was turning him mad...
I pressed the button, but it didn't switch on.
Of all the fucking times!
I started jamming it, even though I could hear the captain was protesting about it in the background,
"Shut up" I screamed at him, I really didn't need this right now. I looked back and froze, a convoy of pirates had just turned up on the beach. The captains shouting brought me back as I banged the control panel with my fist and without warning, we jerked forward, the engine finally deciding to listen. I pressed another couple of buttons, trying to remember the order that Murphy would use and all of a sudden, we were on our way.
I'd never been able to steer the boat, so I left the wheel, hoping to god that the pirates didn't catch up with us. I rushed over to the captain and kneeled down next to him. He was lying on the deck, holding his stomach, rocking back and forth, trying to subdue the pain.
"What can I do?",
"Aid kit" Murphy groaned, "Cabin",
I could hear a motorboat coming towards us. I saw the bullets fly inches away from me as I went to the stairs and down in to the cabin. As I reached the bottom, I stepped in to the water that was seeping it's way through the bullet holes in the boat. There was nothing I could do whilst the captain was still in danger, so I ignored it, hoping the water would reserve itself a bit until we got farer away from the pirates.
I went to the cupboard that hung loosely above Murphy's bed and pulled the aid kit out, but suddenly everything else fell out as the boat started to rock back and forth, the engine failing.
I rushed back up on to the deck, but on the last step, I slipped, fell, and smacked my head on the fish cage. I rolled around and for a second, I just stared up at the sky. I could hear the captain moaning in pain beside me and I think the guilty feeling was the only thing that motivated me to crawl over to him. I pulled the bandage out of the bag as I reached him, but suddenly the boat started to rock even more. I knew they'd caught us and the smack on the back of the head knocked me unconscious.
I'm really bad at writing opening scenes... I can never really get my head around them..
Thank you for reading :)