Only two of us manned the ship, the captain and I. He set course, gave directions, and planned our journeys. I never once envied him for his fortunes, never lusted for his women, never maddened at his commands. Though, I must tell you, leading up to the discovery of “Blue Eye’s Chest”, I had never been a more suitable mate for the captain. I tell you this because I have a sense, a feeling, for things which we ought to come across. The captain may take pride in his discoveries, but without me, he would have no such prizes. His brilliant narcissism and unforgiving confidence were unmatched by any captain I had seen or traveled with before. But do you think for a moment he could man a ship by himself? Do you think it possible that he would find these fortunes without a man aboard who had the keenest of senses? The sharpest of intellect? I could tell you it was my envy of his respect and fame that led me to kill the captain, but that would be dishonest. I am not a dishonest man. I took the life of the captain in order to preserve the sanctity of the chest. I will prove to you my honesty, for the events leading up to our discovery show how much I cared for, how much I respected the captain.
He said we would head east, off the coast of our most recent port, and not stop until we hit land again. His directions were vague and unsatisfying, but confidence soaring, I trusted the captain. He hadn’t wronged me before, and it was to him I owed my life’s earnings. We traveled eastward, heading for the place rumored to be sunken miles beneath the ocean’s surface. The captain said it would take seven days by his count, to reach the island. I had patience. I was always patient with the captain. Even as he lay in drunken stupors in his quarters, unable to stand properly, sea legs long forgotten, I waited for him and his instruction.
On the first night of our journey, the rain proved relentless. The captain took a moment from his busy drinking schedule to aid in the upkeep of the ship. He shouted commands at me through the downpour. I could not hear him. Instead, I attempted to sense what he was saying, giving nods and shouts of approval, showing no hesitancy. My efforts proved worthy as we kept the ship upright. The storm subsided, but its footprint still lingered. The air felt thick, too dense to breathe. Skies abandoned the bright blue of a happy day, traded it for the mind-numbing grey. I could feel the captain getting irritated at the uncooperating weather. On the morning of the second day, he retreated to his quarters, where I would not see him for many hours.
In those times, when the captain slept or passed out, I would keep the ship steady. If you think the captain to be selfish or greedy or perhaps even lazy, I can tell you he is not. He is a gracious man, although firm. He has always let me work on his ship. He has always shared, to an extent, his riches.
By the second night of our journey, my senses, these feelings I have, started to prickle. First, I felt it in the hairs on my arm. They shivered, like each hair was its own being. My bones vibrated next. Then, against the muggy weather, my head felt cold, like I was leaning my face against a glacier. Lost in my own thoughts, I found my way to the door of the captain’s quarters, where he rested. The door was adorned with a stained glass creation of a pig and a chicken. The pig, chunky and serene, looked like it was smiling at me. It appeared much more optimistic than his chicken brethren, who peered off to the side of the room, not catching my eye, nor paying any attention to me. I looked through the pig’s pink body to see the captain.
He lay there in his fatigues, sleeping with a sullen look, a near-empty pint of rum dangling from his hand. What I did next was of no intent of mine. The coldness in my head and influence on all of the little beings on my arms made me do it. I opened the door slowly, ever so slowly, so as not to disturb the captain. The weather had steadied but remained dreary, and the ship flowed across the top of the ocean without interruption. I tried to move as gently as I could, but the slight sway of the ship on the water made every movement unsteady. I halted next to the captain, and from my pocket retrieved a small vial with a clear liquid inside. I removed the cork stopper, and let two drops of liquid fall out.
I returned to the ship’s deck without a sound, waiting to hear something from the captain. For a long while, the day remained silent. We continued eastward, toward the land which might not be. All the while my senses were hysterical. With each passing breeze, I felt the tingles in my bones and the sliding of my skin quicken, deepen, intensify. I felt strong, though my head was airy and ill-equipped for conscious decision making. I thought I may be going mad.
On the third day, the captain worked livelier than normal. He moved with a grace I hadn’t seen before. While he busied himself near the bow, I snuck back into his quarters to see if he finished the drink from the night before. There it sat, unfinished, stuck between a few loose boards. I asked the captain about it, but was casual in my tone. He said he was “giving it up”, which I had heard him say many times before. However, I noticed something different in his voice: certainty. Like something else was making the decision for him. I felt something then, like my senses were regulating themselves. My head felt hot to match the weather, my hairs returned to being hairs.
The rest of the day passed without much interference. So did the next. And the next. The captain didn’t drink, and I did not interfere with his new choices. I began to despise the captain for his behavior. I hated him when he didn’t sleep. I hated him when he told me that I should get some rest. I hated it when he didn’t command me. On our sixth day of travel, the weather cleared. The grey, depressing clouds abandoned the sky and left nothing but the pale blue of relief. The captain noted the miraculous change in weather, and in waiting for my response, I merely smirked. It was not his change in attitude that I disdained so, but his entire change in being. This was a new man, one whom I didn’t want to be around. I watched him live fully, taking in the salt smells of the water, basking in the radiant sun that was finally showing its face. That should be me, I thought.
That night, while the captain worked tirelessly to keep course for the unknown island, I stepped into his quarters once more, to see if he truly hadn’t drunk in the passing days. The chicken and the pig still looked like opponents in a fight that would only commence with the ship’s demise. The crook in the boards where his near-empty bottle had sat before was bare. I casually glanced my head around the small room, seeing nothing save for a chair, desk, and a cot that the captain had used to collapse onto after too much rum. I watched him do this many times.
That night there was no rest for either of us. We stared towards the bow, longing to see some type of foliage, some type of rest from the ailment of sailing a ship with only two people. The night passed, and as dawn broke, when the sun’s radiance hit the water for the first time, it spotlighted a dark, but nonetheless apparent island. The captain and I rejoiced and embraced each other. We had never done so before. I gave him a long look of disgust after he let me go. He continued to stare straight ahead while I glared at him. I glared at his transformation, at this new man who meant nothing to me. I attempted to pierce his heart with my eyes.
The ship kept on. By midday, we laid anchor and used the dinghy to finally reach this land. This land which until now, was thought to be imagined. If I am to be an honest man, I must tell you that what I did in the next few moments was out of the control of the captain and of myself.
The dinghy hit the sand and the captain and I looked at what was beyond us: a sprawling forest of palm trees, but indistinguishable in size. It was massive but cozy. It invited us in. The captain was the first to step foot on the island. When he did, he scolded me. Something about bringing the dinghy up far enough on the land. I took a foot out and let it touch the scorching sand.
The honest man in me will tell you that in a gasp of breath, my head iced over and my hairs flared as before. My bones vibrated. The clouds of the past week, which had flown away, now appeared suddenly in my mind. I couldn’t discern from the weather outside and the storm raging in my head. I left the dinghy where it was and followed the captain into the density of the palms.
I heard the captain continue to complain and groan as we made our way deeper and deeper into the forest. I looked behind me and saw nothing but the tall trunks of the trees. I looked towards the sky, expecting to see the blue relief of before, but the leaves of the palm trees seemed to be expanding and blocking more and more of the sky and the sun. I quickened my pace and walked alongside the captain.
I cannot tell you how long we walked. I am an honest man, and I would be lying to give you an exact amount of time. But we walked and walked and neither of us said a word to each other, though the captain could not seem to stop whispering mild, mostly incoherent obscenities under his breath.
The sun was our spotlight. Up ahead, with just enough break through the leaves, it beat down upon a chest. A chest great in size that would take several men to carry. We had not seen it before. Then it was there, 100 paces ahead. The captain didn’t even look my way and sprinted - he really sprinted - to the expansive, sunlit chest. I followed him. The chest was golden, with delicate carvings of animals and people and trees and ships along its base. Its hinges were smooth. The captain opened it without hesitation, the chest silent with its movement.
Inside, a burgundy felt covered the walls and floor, and on a bed of seagull feathers lay an eye. A replica of a human eye, but much too large. Encrusted with diamonds and pearls and in the center lay the biggest sapphire I have ever seen. My head grew colder than I thought possible. It now lived inside of the glacier it once sat against. I could not willfully look away from the glorious eye. The captain’s mutterings ceased, his hands gripped the side of the chest so tight it looked like his knuckles might burst. The island sat quietly, disturbingly quiet. There was no breeze to catch the leaves or insects buzzing about. There was nothing.
I felt my eyes start to get heavy as I watched the captain. He released his death grip from the side of the chest. With exaggerated slowness, he crept his hands forwards toward the eye. My mind stopped all reasonable solutions. I retrieved the vial of clear liquid from my coat pocket and uncorked the top. Then I leaped behind the captain, yanked at his neck with my forearm and all of my tiny soldiers. I shoved the entire vial into his mouth. He struggled against me for just a moment. Then he seized, seafoam spit from his mouth and he convulsed. He shook for so long, but I held him in my arms while he did. The seizing stopped. I felt his presence abandon the body and go limp. I sat there a while, wide-eyed and out of breath. But the sunlight caught me and led me back to the eye.
Much like the captain had just done, I drifted my hands toward the jewel, my heart thumping so hard I could feel it in my fingers. I grabbed the eye.
I heard a sound, the first sound I had heard since we came to the island. There was the rustle of leaves and the voices of distant folk coming nearer. My decisions were not of my own, you must believe me. In order to rid myself of the treachery I had just committed, something came over me to hide the body. I started to dig into the dirt and sand with my bare hands. The blue eye sitting gently on a fallen tree watched my every move. I dug deeper. Dirt and gravel filled my fingernails, the skin on my hands started to crack and tear. The little army on my arms seemed to move my muscles for me. I dug deeper. A hole in the earth deep enough for a body. The eye watched and I watched the eye. My hands and arms worked but I never took my gaze off of the eye. It watched me and it judged me. I dug deeper. The sounds of the people were louder, twigs snapped under their feet and their voices grew. I heard the wind pick up through the trees, but still I kept my eyes fixed on the blue jewel.
I climbed out of the hole. For how long I dug, I don’t know, but the voices only grew louder. I grabbed the captain's limp body and dragged it across the dirt and sand, then I let it plop down into the earth. While the eye watched me, and I watched the eye, the hole was filled.
Where could I hide? I looked about me for a place to go when the others arrived, their voices now upon me. I searched for signs of them, breaking branches or even a glimpse of the people, but still I could not see them. I heard them but could not make out their language or their words. I must tell you this was not a decision of my own.
Whatever controlled my body and my thoughts made me snatch the eye off of the log, and sprint back through the forest and to the ship. I started to sprint like the captain. The voices were somehow deafening. I moved through the forest against the direction from which they came, but they followed my steps. Twigs, I could hear, snapped behind me at an impossible rate. Tens, no, hundreds of twigs crackled burst behind me like I was being chased by an angry mob. I could see no one. I kept running towards the edge of this tiny island, but could find no water.
“Take it! Take it! Take it!” I screeched while I took the blue eye and heaved it with all my might into the abyss of the forest. The silence returned. The dead, relentless silence of the forest which was just inhabited by hurds of men, returned. I kept my pace, trying to find the beach. And as I tell you this now, I continue to walk, with an unwavering pace.
If you think I am being punished for the ill deed bestowed upon the captain, you have been wronged, for I have paid my consequences. Now, it's just the two of us: you and eye.