Augustus felt frozen, engulfed by darkness and oblivion. He could see nothing, hear nothing, do nothing, feel nothing but terror, as he sensed something approach him. Something familiar, and unholy.
From the darkness began to emerge something. A face? No, a skull. Red stars shimmering violently in its eyes. Blue clouds of smoke expanding out of its nostrils. Jaws stretched to an unnatural distance, as if to form a grin.
“You know where ye are, yes?” He spoke in a guttural, penetrating voice, without moving his bony jaw.
Suddenly all the senses rushed back into Augustus, and he consumed all his strength to utter: “Hell?”
“Aye,” The devil replied. “Your hell. My locker. An eternal nightmare forged from your failures.” He cackled loudly.
“I’m sorry,” Augustus said, breaking down. “God, I’m so sorry.”
“He will not help you now.” The skull slowly tilted to the left, examining the English captain in front of him. “Ye see, I normally don’t take much interest in the poor fools who end up here. But you…” A bony hand suddenly gripped the sailor’s throat tightly, crushing his windpipe. He tried to resist but couldn’t move his arms. “You almost escaped once before. And I can’t let you do that again.”
“Oh, trouble remembering, eh? Let me help jolt your memory!”
Jones’ hand slowly lifted Augustus up, the bright red stars gazing intensely into his eyes. The devil hurled him far away, and the darkness quickly began to fade.
The black was now replaced by blue. Clear sky, endless sea, and the wheel in front of the captain as his crew walked around the ship. In some distance was another ship; fairly large, but not larger than Augustus’ ship, HMS Unity. Beside Augustus was his quartermaster, Edward.
Augustus steered the wheel, but at the same time he didn’t. He was trapped in this memory, in this earlier body of his; completely unable to control it. After all, these events had already happened; he was simply reliving them. And while being unable to control his own body, he could still feel everything.
He took out a piece of paper from his outer vest pocket and unfolded it. It was written in his brother’s handwriting. It said: ‘Seek the ones who passed, claimed by the sea. That is the key.’ It seemed like gibberish to him, but it was the last memory of his brother, and he held on to it.
“We’ve been following them for a while now, sir,” Edward said. “What is our goal here?”
He gave his quartermaster a condescending look. Edward was waiting for his answer.
“Well, isn’t it obvious?” Augustus replied. “We’re going to destroy that ship and capture everyone aboard.”
“What do you think why? They’re pirates!”
“But that island to larboard is Dutch. We can't take them in Dutch seas. And they haven’t attacked us yet.”
Another crew member piped in, “They must know by now we’re following them.”
“Of course they do. And aren’t you supposed to be manning the swivel?”
He hurried back to the gun to the left of the captain.
“Be ready for anything!” He shouted to the rest of his crew. “What these pirates lack in intelligence, they make up for in sheer madness!”
“What if they’re leading us into a trap, sir?” Edward said as he stroke his beard. “What if there’s a fleet-”
“Don’t be foolish, man. Where could they hide a fleet? Behind those rocks? At best they have one or two more ships waiting, and they don’t stand a chance against us.” The captain looked into the distance and took a deep breath.
“That’s enough, Edward.”
“It’s dangerous. You’re being reckless.”
“And you are getting in my way,” Augustus sneered. They both stared at each other. “I’m the captain here. You follow my orders. You do as I say. Or I’ll have you thrown into the waters below. You understand?”
He sighed with resignation. “I understand.”
The pirates headed towards a narrow gap between two giant rocks and HMS Unity followed viciously.
“Loose all sails!” The captain ordered while steering his ship. “They will drink damnation!”
The crew cheered as the winds pushed the sails ferociously, and the captain put all his strength and focus into moving the wheel.
“Fire the chain-shots!”
Two iron balls joined together with a chain launched from the ship and attacked the enemy, ripping the enemy sails and slowing them down.
The English crew waited for the pirates to fire back. Everyone was frozen, tense. They waited for a few more seconds.
“They’re not firing back, sir,” Edward said. “They’re rushing through the rocks!”
“If they think they can escape, they’re dumber than I thought,” Augustus said with a smile. “Keep chasing them through the rocks! Ready the chain-shots!”
The pirate ship headed straight through the large boulders, carefully steering so as to not crash against them. Their ship was smaller and faster. As the HMS Unity steered left, towards the enemy, the crew grabbed whatever they could nearby to avoid toppling off the ship.
Chain-shots soared in the air, and most of them managed to land on the pirate ship, slowing them down and killing some of their crew. They still didn’t fire back.
“What is their goal here?” Augustus said to himself in the memory, as the present Augustus waited with dread.
The pirate ship was now past the narrow waters, and the English ship was heading into it. The loud firing continued.
Now that Unity was between the two boulders, the pirate ship made its move.
From the stern of their ship, the pirates threw barrels of explosives, gunpowder and rum into the water. They slowly drifted towards the pursuers.
Some of the crew members gathered to check out the floating objects in the water. Once they figured out the pirates were dropping explosives, panic ensued.
Some of the crew hurried to the back of the ship, leaving the weapons unoccupied. Augustus instinctively thought of steering away, but quickly abandoned that thought. They were trapped from all sides.
“What are your orders, captain?” Edward asked with sharp breaths and sweat dripping down his face.
The captain thought for a second. Realizing he had no other options, he ordered, “Trim us off the wind! Hurry men!”
Some of the braver crew quickly pulled the ropes with all their might. The ship began to slow down.
The marine commander gathered every redcoat who wasn't focused on the sails and tried to fire at the barrels before they got too close.
It was pointless.
The blue sea turned orange and yellow. Fiery flames rose and spread everywhere. The noise was deafening, and could be heard for miles. The front of the ship turned into a confusing large explosion of wood and flames, and the impact shook the entire ship. Most of the crew had fallen to the floor; Augustus managed to hold the wheel for support. The scout on top of the mast had fallen to his death.
“Get to your positions, you fools!” the captain yelled. “Hurry! Now! All sails!”
“What are you doing captain?” The quartermaster yelled. “The ship’s falling apart and we’re dropping like flies!”
“If you have a better idea, now’s the time to speak!”
“I did! I told you not to chase them!”
“That was never an option!”
The large white sails opened and the ship quickly began gaining speed, while the enemy ship slowed down and rotated until its portside was facing the front of HMS Unity. Gunports opened, and cannons peeked out.
“Sir, we can’t ram them!” Edward argued. “The front of the ship is too damaged! They’re going to fire on us!”
“Let them,” Augustus said with determination. “We’re taking their ship.”
“Prepare to board!” He ordered the crew, who reluctantly readied the grapples. “This ship isn’t going to make it, so we’ll take theirs!”
The English ship sailed through the dense, suffocating smoke left from the explosions. Once the two ships were close enough, the English soldiers hurled the grapples towards the pirate ship, locking the two together. Unity headed full speed into the left of the enemy ship. The pirates began firing their cannons. Cannon balls collided with the front of the ship, creating ferocious explosions that sent debris and wooden splinters flying everywhere. Giant pieces of sharp wood swarmed the crewmen on deck. Some were thrown back due to the force; many were ripped apart in sprays of red. The entire ship was thrown into chaos. Just when the enemy fire ended, HMS Unity rammed into the pirate ship. Its front began to collapse creating a flurry of broken wooden pieces. The Phoenix figurehead at the front broke off and fell into the sea.
“Board!” The captain commanded and drew his cutlass. The rest of the soldiers followed his example, yelling loudly, drawing their weapons and jumping towards the enemy ship. The pirates yelled louder and prepared for battle. Some crewmen on both ships aimed with their muskets and fired from a distance. The pirate captain yelled orders, and his quartermaster echoed his orders, with some colorful words thrown in for encouragement. Augustus and Edward charged together and jumped to the enemy ship.
The air was now filled with the sound of swords clashing and the smell of gunpowder. Fighting acted as an equalizer; the soldiers who considered themselves civil and the mad, barbaric pirates were both equals now. The floor was covered with blood. Through the chaos, Augustus made his way towards his real target; the captain.
He avoided fighting, occasionally impaling two pirates and shooting one with a flintlock pistol when they got in the way. As he headed towards the stern, Edward tried to come after him but was starting to get overpowered by the pirates. He weaved through them, slicing and hacking with his cutlass, but more surrounded him. The rest of the crew were too busy fighting others.
“Augustus!” Edward cried. He immediately halted and turned. His quartermaster was holding his ground against four enemies, and losing. Blood was trickling down his left arm.
“Augustus, help! Agh!” A pirate sliced his belly, causing him to kneel down. Augustus wanted badly to help, but he couldn’t let the captain get away.
He took out his pistol; but one bullet couldn’t kill four. Unless he shot the barrel of gunpowder; but Edward would die too.
It would be a quick death, he said to himself. I’m sorry. God, I’m so sorry.
He braced and tried to shield himself from the bright explosion that ensued.
Hurrying up the stern, he finally found the captain, standing next to a dead redcoat. He wore a hat, and had a long brown beard; exactly how Augustus remembered him.
“Augustus?” He said. “Well, I’ll be damned!”
“You’ll pay for what you did, Jonathan,” He yelled. “You’ll pay for killing my brother!”
“Your brother? I never killed him!”
“What the hell do you mean?”
Jonathan bellowed with laughter. “He killed himself!”
That froze Augustus in his place. “Don’t you dare lie to me, you bloody pirate!”
Their swords clashed. The English captain was on the offensive, overcome with rage, while the pirate captain dodged and parried, using his environment to his advantage. He led the fight near the wheel, where he quickly turned the wheel to block Augustus’ sword, then pushed him back. He scrambled to the ground, towards a nearby dead soldier and immediately grabbed his sword. They stood at a distance, holding their swords in front of each other in a guard position.
“He knew it was suicide!” The pirate said. “He went against four of our ships at once!”
“I don’t believe you!”
“He wanted death! To be claimed by the sea! Him and his entire mad crew!” More pirates joined the captain, and redcoats followed. The two captains again engaged in combat.
“Ha! They embraced death. Did your crew seek the death you gave them?”
A sudden piercing pain stopped Augustus in his place. The pirate captain walked back, laughing. As he looked down, a dark trail of blood streamed down from his stomach, over his light red coat.
His hand failed to hold the sword. His vision began to double. The pain was unbearable. No words could come out of his mouth. He doubled over, groaning in pain and shock. Shadows surrounded him on the bloodied ground.
“I admire your persistence, man,” Jonathan said, panting and holding his wounds. “I’ll let you share the same fate as your beloved brother.”
“Ahh… No…” He spoke feebly. The pirates carried his near lifeless body to the back of the stern.
“Let Davy Jones claim your soul,” Jonathan said with laughter. That was the last thing he heard before his body plummeted into the depths below.
Before he hit the water, present Augustus heard the pirate’s laughter slowly turn into Jones’.
Once the instinctive panic of drowning was over and most of his blood had spilled into the sea, his mind became lost in the thoughts of his brother. He sought death. His entire crew sought death.
Augustus’ crew didn’t deserve the fate they got.
Seek the ones who passed, claimed by the sea. His brother’s last message before he left to fight the pirates. To die at the hands of pirates.
The image of Edward begging for him to help lingered in his mind.
He couldn’t avenge his brother. He couldn’t keep his crew alive. What did he achieve?
Why would his brother die?
Seek the ones who passed.
Claimed by the sea.
That is the key.
Key to the locker.
His soul entered the locker. But it wasn’t all darkness. A blue shimmering figure hovered in front of him, and somehow he immediately knew it was his brother.
The blue figure raised his hand. Augustus grabbed it.
His brother pulled him, guided him towards a bright light. Augustus followed.
Suddenly something started slowing him down. He looked to his left. A bright red figure was pulling his other hand.
His brother pulled harder. It didn’t work. More and more red figures began pulling him back.
The blue figure tried its best, but it wasn’t enough. Guilt pulled him down, back into the locker. His brother disappeared, in death the same as in life. Faded away.
Augustus felt frozen, engulfed by darkness and oblivion. He could see nothing, hear nothing, do nothing, feel nothing but terror, as he sensed something approach towards him. Something familiar, and unholy.