I could barely hear the wood creaking with every wave over the stomping of the dirty men around me. They were still celebrating from last evening when they seized my father’s ship, killing everyone onboard except myself . Sure I miss my father and the crew, but being dead by the quick swipe of a sword would be better than being here, being told I have to wait to die the most painful of deaths. For on a ship the only way to die is to walk the plank.
The ship we were on before the brutal attack was quite large and packed. We had just made it off the coast of India on our way home from a very monumental trade. We never even saw their ship coming through the thick, eerie fog. All of a sudden we felt a massive force push against the side of the boat sending some crew members overboard.
Rising up over the sides were hooks and rope flying everywhere. The worst part of all was that connected to those ropes were the most scariest men I had ever laid my eyes upon. Men that wanted to do harm.
Before anybody even had time to react there were swords glistening in the evening sunset right before they became stained with red. One of the men came up behind me and grabbed me, pushing a blood covered knife to my throat,
“Let go of me!” I demanded.
Before he could take the swipe and end my life right there, another man, who looked young, more clean and respectful, paused him and said,
“Wait!” Let’s keep her alive for now. We can kill her on the ship later.”
He had a saddened look in his face when he met my eyes, but he kept flinging all of our trade goods over the side of the boat in a careless fashion, as if it was the only thing he could do with his impressive strength.
As soon as he had appeared behind me, I was picked up and thrown overboard, expecting to soon be deep in the ocean, but I instead hit seawater damp wood. I was put on the aggressor’s pirate’s ‘Home, Sweet Home’. And it didn’t look so appealing to me.
When the attack was finally over and my father’s ship was sunk in the blood of its inhabitants, the roar of the pirates was almost louder than the shrieks and cries of the battle. They had thrown me into a small closet like place with bars instead of doors. I’m almost positive its a makeshift prison for people like me, which I guess means I was now their prisoner.
They were singing songs and gulping down pints of rum, as if it had been the last drops of water on this earth. Some were even passed out on the ground. Their drool cascading from their mouths and their loud snores filling the ship with ridiculousness.
Then a clearly drunk man started wobbling his way over to my 5 Star Suite. He took one look at me, then looked at his rum, took a sip, peered back at me and in a flash, spat it through the bars at me.
“Garbage! What’s the point of keeping ye if we are just gonna make ye walk the plank?”
He said this in an aggressive tone, but that was probably just a result of the booze… They really are going to kill me, I thought. I really have to walk the plank. My heart sank and I began feeling anxious. I’m not sure what for. Maybe I just really wanted to get out of there, or maybe I just wanted to hurry up and die to end all of this noise and trouble.
Just as the tipsy giant was about to start cursing at me again, the pirate who saved my life during the battle came over and whispered something in his ear. The look on the drunkard’s face suggested that he was told something that sounded better than tormenting me. He wobbled off and after one more big gulp, he became spread out on the floor from dropping like a dead body. The nicer looking pirate planted himself on the floor right in front of my cell.
“So, do you speak, I haven’t heard you speak once since… well you know?” He tucked a piece of his fairly lengthy hair behind his ear.
I gave him a thoughtful look while deciding whether or not to reply.
“It’s alright, it's not like I’m forcing you.”
When he spoke, it sounded as if he has had an education, compared to the other pirates who had made up words that didn’t make sense. I finally decided to speak, considering that he has shown he actually wouldn’t neglect my answer.
“I’m sorry, I’m just- Why would you save my life just so I can be brought aboard this devil’s lair and be killed?”
He looked down when he heard me speak and didn’t look up until I was finished.
“I just couldn’t watch you die. I couldn’t watch another person die because of what I’m doing.”
He said all of this in a hushed tone and looked around to see if anyone had heard him. Depending on how drunk the rest of the pirates were, I assumed he was fine.
“Then why do you do it… this. Stealing people’s boats and goods, and even lives. What do you get out of this?”I was almost screaming at him, so confused and enraged all at the same time.
“I do it because I have to. They did to me what happened to you. They stole my ship they killed my family, and they were going to kill me to. I convinced them I could be of use, I told them I would help them in exchange for a life. My life. Unless I wanted to die, I have no choice but to do this.”
The way he said all of this, it was clear to understand he didn’t really like telling the story of having to beg for his life.3Taking all of this in was extremely overwhelming. Seeing what he was doing just to stay alive was terrifying and heart breaking. I was speechless, I didn’t know how any person could respond to that. My green eyes stuck to the floor between us instead of looking at him.
“I-I’m sorry, I didn’t know… How long have you been here, Helping these men and living on the ship?”
“About three months, but I’m not sure how much longer I can take of this.”
He spoke so quietly I could barely hear him. His voice was already naturally low so he became harder to hear.
“I’ve been trying to find a way to get off this boat and escape, but I don’t even know where we are and how close we are to any coasts.”
I realized how bad my situation is… our situation is. We are stuck on a boat with pirates, in the middle of the ocean, with no way out. It felt as if Death himself had just snuck into my body and stolen all hope I still had left in my heart.
I never fell asleep that night. My tired body told me I wanted to, but my racing mind felt as if I could stay awake a million years.
In the morning the boat was still and quiet. All of the men were still asleep and I assumed they wouldn’t be waking up anytime soon after the night they had prior. Judging from where the blinding sun was in the blue sky it was probably close to eleven o’clock. I took advantage of the deafening sound of quiet to think of my way off the ship. I thought back to last night when I was talking to the nice one… I haven’t even learned his name yet. I began looking for a way out of the cell. I was beginning to feel closed in and cramped, not being able to stretch your legs out is the worst feeling, well besides almost dying. All I had was a bucket and an old raggedy pillow. The lock on the bars was very rusty, probably from the mild sea air. Taking the bucket I began to hit the latch as hard as I could. The sound it made sounded like an entire army firing their guns all in harmony. I took the pillow and shook out the mouse bedded inside of it before stuffing it in the bucket, I was hoping it would make the sound quieter. I tested it out and It wasn’t as obvious as it was before. I began smashing the bucket into the latch and soon enough the latch was loose enough for me to kick the cell door open… I was finally free, but I was still trapped on the boat.
Looking around, I noticed a heavy man dressed in the most colorful attire I had seen yet on this ship, passed out on the wood floor. He had a gun on his left side and a knife on his right. Not knowing how to fire a gun, I took the knife for protection. I slowly stepped to the side of the boat and looked over the edge, we were about fifteen feet up and there was no coast in sight. I figured that if I jumped and tried swimming I wouldn’t make it three hours. And even if I did, where would I be going? In all the time that they have had me here, they have neglected to feed me. If they don’t hurry up and kill me now, I might die of starvation first. Just as the thought of nice, warm home cooked meals crossed my mind, I heard a groaning sound behind me and I felt the floorboards be relieved of heavy weight under my feet. I turned around as slow as I could and witnessed the man I took the knife from getting up. I tried to remain as still as possible so he didn’t see me, but that was no use. He got up faster than I had ever seen any man his size do so, (especially taking into effect all of the rum he probably consumed last night) and backed me up to the side of the boat. I held my knife out to protect me, but he snatched it by the blade not even letting the small but deep cut bother him.
“Ahoy men,” he hollard. “It seems as if we have ourselves a jail break.”
The men started slowly piling out from under the main deck and circling around me. Most of them looked confused about all the yelling and others just wanted to go back to bed.
“What should we do with Scallywag?”
There were various replies all at once, some were, “Feed her to the sharks!” or “Make her walk the plank now!” and even “Let’s shoot her off the side of the boat!”
Out of all these answers I only really listened for one person in particular.
“We should make her be our slave! She could cook, and clean for us- why should we let perfectly good boat hand go to waste?”
His answer shocked me, but at least it would keep me alive. I know he was trying to help me.
“Alright, ye has a point, but ye’s in charge of her. Go show the lady the food room and bunks. And don’t let us regret this decision.”
And with that he pushed me into the man I know I can trust.
He grabbed my tiny hand and lead me to the food room. It looked like a kitchen to me but it was the smelliest room on the whole ship with a little stove in the corner that looked like it cooked more mold than food. Everywhere else was covered in bread, bagels, and biscuits from top to bottom, probably stolen from other ships. There were also some large jugs in front of the stove, containing fresh water. It surprised me that they weren't more sanitary, but I don't think they cared about hard bread and moldy pots.
“When we get hungry we just come in and grab what we want. There's nothing really to do for us or you in here.”
He grabbed my hand and proceeded to lead me to the bunks. I was confused on why we didn't immediately start making a plan to get off of the boat, so I confronted him.
“So when are we going to make a plan?” I asked him in a hushed tone in fear of one of the pirates lurking by.
“What are you talking about? A plan for what? You're job is to cook and clean for us. And when you're not doing that you will make yourself busy with something useful.”
His answer shocked me, I thought he was keeping me alive so we could get off of this vessel.
“Wait,” I stopped him in the doorway of the bunks and pulled him in and closed the door behind him so nobody could see or hear us.
“I thought we were going to get off of this boat! You don't want to be here and neither do I, we could make a plan and get out of here!”
He was giving me a sad expression while I was talking and it looked as if he was going to agree with me, but he finally spoke.
“I do want to get off this boat, but with that little stunt you just pulled, all eyes are on you now. If I want to get out of here, I can't have you tagging along behind me, we would surely get caught. I want to help you, but I can’t. I kept you alive so far, isn't that enough?”
I was speechless. I started feeling a stir of emotions including anger, sorrow, and misery. I was mad because I thought I could trust him, but also sad that I have made it so much harder for him. The misery was for me, knowing I will be a slave to these disgusting, inhumane people for the rest of my life.
“I’m sorry, I didn't know it would hurt you like that. I was just trying to get out of here and I did the first thing that came to mind.”
I said those words carefully hoping he would reconsider taking me with him.
“I plan to leave in three days… If you can find a way to meet me by the plank at midnight without letting anybody know you're there, you can come. I’m making a raft tonight after everyone’s asleep. I’m so close to getting off of here, so don’t screw this up for me.”
I was overcome with joy which is odd because joy just seems like an antonym for this entire ship
“Thank you!” I screamed jumping into his arms for a hug, “You won't regret this!”
In all of this excitement I remembered something,
“Wait, I still haven't learned your name. What is it?”
He gave me a gleeful and surprised look and said, “My name is Peter Baker. What's yours?”
“My name is Lauren, Lauren White.” I said through small giggles.
“Its nice to meet you Peter Baker.” As joyus as he was, I was now ten times more to have officially met someone I can relate with.
The night of the plan was finally here, and in the past three days I’ve kept my head low and my hands busy. Also, yesterday evening, one of the pirates was scoping around looking for anything and they caught sight of land! I wanted to jump around and laugh and cry tears of joy, but I held it in even though it was painful. The pirates no longer felt the need to watch me at every moment so that was an advantage for my escape. I haven’t seen Peter since yesterday when I bumped into him in the bunks. We paused when we caught sight of each other but he just smiled, winked at me, and went along with his business. I was hoping we would talk more, but unfortunately we never got the chance. I was beginning to take a rather large liking to him.
I was right in the middle of scrubbing the main deck when two pirates walked right on the slippery wood and fell down with a loud thud. One of the men got up and got the suds off of his shoulder then gave me a dirty look, but the other remained on the floor motionless. The other pirate had already stormed off probably embarrassed from his fall, and I was getting more curious of why the other one was still on the floor. I got up from off my knees and dropped my scrub brush in the bucket of yellow soapy water and made my way over to the still pirate. The first thing I noticed was a little stream of red liquid following the cracks in the wood floor, coming from his body. He lay on his stomach and with all of my strength and power I rolled him over onto his back. It appeared as if when the pirate fell, his knife had made its way into his beholders stomach… the pirate was dead. Unsure of what to do, I slowly pulled the knife out of his body. The feeling of the warm blood dripping onto my hand made me feel queasy. I then heard a door slam and behind me emerged the pirate who was walking with the dead one in front of me a moment ago. He saw me with the bloody knife in my hand and his friend sprawled out on the floor with his ragged clothes stained red. The look in the pirates eye was mad and made me scared for my life. He started running as fast as his giant feet could carry him.
“Wait, please don’t hurt me! This isn’t what it looks like! I didn’t kill him, he fell and the-”
He grabbed me by the throat which felt like a noose being put around my neck before being hung, and it prevented me from saying anymore. I dropped the bloody knife to the floor and it clattered on the wood and the blade broke away from the handle.
“I should just kill ye right now!” he said his voice raspy and intimidating.
Just then I heard a voice behind him shouting, but everything went quiet and looked fuzzy, probably from my lack of much needed oxygen. The last thing I heard was,
“Let me be the one to kill her.”
And it came from the last person I would have never thought to say it.
All I could see was black, I could feel my body moving, but I couldn’t see anything.
Is this what it feels like to be dead? I thought.
But that thought was interrupted by the blinding of white light, which soon concentrated into the blue ocean. I regained all of my senses and understanding the situation I was in, I wish I hadn’t. My arms were tied tightly behind my back and my feet were very close together. I looked down and I realized why the were so close together. If I took even the slightest step to the side I would fall into the deep and dark ocean. Then I finally realized. I was on the plank, one tiny step away from the edge. Behind me, pushing me off the end was Peter, and he had a dutiful look on his face as if he must do this.
“Peter, don’t! Stop, Peter! Please!” I pleaded with all the words I knew how to, but he continued to hold tight.
I really thought I could trust him, the only person I have put all of my trust into, and he betrayed me.
“Please,” I begged one last time, “Don’t do this!”
He whispered in my ear, “Just land on your back.”
And with one small but sturdy shove, I was free falling.
As I was falling I could hear my heart pounding like the giant boom of thunder rolling in the biggest storm to scrape the atmosphere of this Earth. My thoughts were racing, questioning why Peter would do something like this, questioning how I ended up in this situation, but most of all asking myself what I should have done with my life before I was to die young. Remembering what Peter had told me to do before I hit water, I tried turning my body to land on my back. Excepting the fall to hurt less,but instead it hurt more. It felt like hitting a hard pile of sharp, crumbly stone. I stayed still for a moment, but then I realized I wasn’t wet. I opened my eyes, still breathing in the crisp ocean air and found myself on a small raft. Almost like clockwork, Peter plunged into the water next to the raft spraying me with the cold water. I heard shouting and screaming as he started climbing over the side of the raft. We were so close to the side of the boat, the pirates couldn’t see us. After Peter made his way over the side and was sitting in soggy clothes in front of me, he whispered,
“We have to remain here until dark. The pirates can’t see us at the moment. After dark comes we will break away from the ship and-” I cut him off leaping on him with a hug. He hugged me back and as he did so he told me,
“I would never let you die, I’m sorry for even letting the thought of leaving you with those men cross my mind. You can trust me, you will always be able to trust me.” You could tell he meant what he said, every word of it.I hugged him tighter and started crying into his shoulder. There were no words I could say to him. So we just held each other. We had both just escaped the clutch of death and we couldn’t be happier.
As dusk approached we could feel cold creeping up on us. Peter had filled the raft with three loafs of bread, two jugs of freshwater, and old smelly blankets from off the beds in the bunks. He put one around my shoulders and put another one around himself. The land we had caught sight of was still directly in front of us. The only light we had was the silvery glow of the moon.
“Do you know what country that is?” I asked, we were about three miles off the coast now.
“The last country we were close to was Australia, but that was easily a month and a half ago.” he said this with hope but you could tell there wasn’t much of it, “Wherever we end up, it will be better than that ship.” and with that he put his arm around me and gave me a reassuring hug.
Twenty minutes later Peter passed out and was sleeping like a baby. He must feel it was safe enough to do so, so I closed my eyes and tried to drift off also. But as soon as my eyelids grazed each other, there was a very forceful bump that came from under the boat. The boat was lifted a few feet into the air and came down with a giant splash, which made Peter startle awake.
“What happened? What was that?” he eyes were the size of baseballs and he was panicked.
“I have no idea, but something just pushed us out of the water!” I was almost as scared as from when the pirates attacked my father’s ship.
We looked around and at each other in the dim glow. We were quiet and the only thing we could hear were the waves forming and moving with their energy through the water. Then it happened again. We shot out of the water and when we came crashing down all of our supplies went overboard. Peter tried grabbing a jug of water that was a few feet from the raft but he couldn’t reach. All of a sudden he pulled his arm back, as fast as lightning, and if hadn’t his arm would have been bitten off by the enormous shark that emerged from the dark water and swallowed the jug whole. I screamed, he screamed.
“What do we do? How do we get rid of it?” I was crying so hard by now these questions were coming out in gasps for air.
“Can you swim?” he looked at the coast which was probably a good two miles away now, and then back at me.
“Are you serious?” How does he expect me to swim so far in shark infested water?
“Do you trust me, I promise we can-” his voice was cut off by the big splash that attacked us from the side of the boat. The shark was underneath us now. The raft was starting to fill with water, the shark must have hit us too hard.
“Do you trust me?” he asked again, this time looking me in the eyes with his hand held out to me.
I thought hard about the outcomes of staying here and swimming to shore. I didn’t have much time because the raft was now partially sunk in the ocean. I knew that if I stayed here, I wouldn’t live till morning.
“I trust you!” I shouted grabbing his hand and jumping past him into the water, pulling him in behind me.
We swam as hard as we could. Feeling the distance grow between myself and the raft made me want to stop and say I’m far enough to quit, but seeing the distance shrink between myself and the coast made me want to swim harder. We swam straight for about twenty minutes without interruption, but when we were a mile away from land I heard a scream and then lots of splashing. I turned around to see Peter with his arm out stretched to the surface bobbing up and down. The shark had hold of him. And it wasn’t letting go.
I swam over to him and grabbed his hand. I could see the dark water around him becoming darker with blood but that just made the shark seem invisible. The splashing stopped for a second and Peter had grown fairly quiet, but I took the opportunity to get away. I still had hold of his hand so I put his arm around my shoulder and grabbed his waist keeping his head above water. I don’t know how I swam so far, with the weight I had to carry. Within 10 Minutes we were close enough to the shore where I could touch the sea floor and wade in. Peter still looked lifeless but I could feel him breathing. The shark clearly had enough to eat for one night and didn’t bother us the rest of the swim in.
“Peter! Peter, wake up! You’re okay, you’re going to be fine.” I was shaking his arm and getting the wet pieces of sloppy hair out of his face. “Peter, please don’t die! I need you!”
Something inside of me just clicked and I knew I had to save Peter. He saved my life, and I wasn’t going to watch his be over. I pulled him up onto the sand and started screaming for help when I saw the wound. In the ten minutes we were swimming to shore, he had probably lost more than half of his blood. He looked pale and about to give himself over to the hands of death. I started screaming and yelling while taking off my top shirt to put over his stub. Half of his right leg was missing. I couldn’t look at it without crying harder so I looked at his white face. I’ve never noticed his features as well as I had right then, seeing his sharp jaw bone and smooth skin made me want to stare at him forever. But I knew I wouldn’t have forever with him if I didn’t help him now. I screamed again for help and this time a house on the beach had lights that turned on a few seconds after I did. Out came running a man and his wife, and the woman was already on the phone talking to police. Everything that happened next was a blur, and I remember men in paramedic’s uniform taking Peter to the ambulance. They put him on the stretcher and loaded him up into the back. They did it fast and flawless never letting his body drop or twist. And the last time I saw him that night was through the smudged window on the back of the van. One of the paramedics stayed with me while they called for another ambulance, but I passed out before it got there.
A week later I woke up in a bright white room with dozens of wires around me. I figured I was in the hospital. Just then a woman in a coat as white as the room walked in and asked me how I was doing.
“Where is Peter?” I asked, not caring about anything else.
She had a disturbed look on her face and she looked down at her feet and then back up at me.
“I’m sorry.” she said, “Your friend lost too much blood. He never made it out of the ambulance.”
My whole body went numb. My mind went blank. My heart felt like it stopped beating. But my eyes still worked. They became overflowed with tears. A flow as heavy as a river was pouring from my eyes. Peter was my dam, but my dam was gone, and I knew that the river would never stop.