“And that, Captain William Sark, is how you will die.” The fish man muttered. The world swirled around like that giant whirlpool, and suddenly everything came into focus. Here I was, sitting in the fish man’s stinking little hut, that entire ordeal forgotten, and there was no bloody way that all that was real. As if my lungs were itching to disagree with me, I immediately coughed up a throat full of dirty sea water and I noticed that I was soaked to my bones.
The fish man regarded me silently over the small fire that burned in a pit dug in the floor between us. His gills lazily flapped in and out, making that disgusting and annoying sucking sound as they turned the outside air into something that they could somehow breathe. The fire made him smell like he was cooking and I wondered how he could stand the heat and stench, it was unbearable!
He repeated himself, as if he was bothered that I wasn’t more impressed by his peculiar display of utter bollocks.
“That is how you will die.”
“I heard you the first time” I muttered, flexing my hand and leg, and rolling my eye that I once again had. The feeling of them returning, as if my missing bits had came back from a long shore leave.
“Aren’t you afraid? Don’t you fear your impending suffering and death?” His gills pulled in and out in a wheezing imitation laugh. I hated it when fish-folk tried to laugh, it was just plain spooky.
“I’m afraid that you smell delicious right now, that’s about it. How long do you take to cook?”
His expression soured, and he spat back,
“How dare you, show me some respect in my own home.”
“Show ME some respect, and don’t show me a load of nonsense when I ask to see my future.”
This was the strange thing about all the fish-folk, they all had this weirdo mumbo jumbo special spiritual powers that they got from eternities of meditation and communing with the powers of nature or something blah blah blah who cares. I’m here to try and see my future because I am just that kind of person. I am Captain William Sark, Billy Sark to my best friends, Bull Shark to my enemies, and I want to see how I will die so I can stop it.
“You can’t stop this Captain, your destiny is set.”
Oh, and they can read minds too. What a pain these stinking fish are.
“I am not a stinking fish, my name is Sage Sabadha.”
“Don’t care, show me how I really die.”
“No you didn’t.”
“I really did.”
This went on for quite a while, until I got to the crux of the point, in quite a mature and balanced way I dare say.
“How in the name of Neptune do I get attacked by a giant baby, then by clockwork sharks, and then killed with a giant wench pulls the plug on the entire world?”
I had my sword to his throat at this point.
“I already told you! The lost ocean is a mysterious place.” He stammered.
“Yes you said that before, but what does that even mean? How can an entire ocean be lost? We have maps!”
He seemed to consider this, and calm down a bit. This calmed me down a bit, and also the stench was making my stomach churn up this close so I backed off and sheathed my sword.
“Your crude human maps are full of lies and half truths, I will show you the true way the land lies.”
He walked into the small back room of his tiny hut, pulling back a curtain that seemed to be made of small beads of coral woven into strings, and he came out with a piece of seaweed parchment rolled up and tied with a piece of string. Spreading it out on the table next to the fire, I saw the light dance across it and I was more than a little bit amazed at how old it looked, and also how wrong.
“Ar, hold up a minute here.” I hated talking like a pirate but it just slipped out sometimes. According to his vision it’s all I do in the future, what a pain in the booty. He looked up at me with a small scaly smirk on his fishy little face.
“What is it?”
“This is all wrong, there’s no land over there, it’s just open sea, and beyond that lays the end of the earth.”
He threw back his head and howled that creepy imitation laughter and it made me want to cut his throat. I think he picked up this thought because he stopped laughing quite abruptly and looked down at the map, his pale scales turning even paler.
“You humans have it all wrong. The only reason you think nothing lies out there is because no one ever comes back out of it alive. The ends of the earth is just a myth, beyond there lies the Lost Ocean. This is where you die.”
It sounded like a load of nonsense, but he didn’t really have any reason to lie (he nodded as I thought this, Neptune’s beard that is annoying) and what he said about no one making it back alive was true. My father disappeared out there, though I often thought he just ran away from his family and got eaten by sharks or something, but who knows? Maybe he got eaten by those clockwork sharks.
“Righto, if you’re telling the truth, why on earth would I travel to this ‘Lost Ocean’ knowing all the horrors that lie there?” The way he smiled to himself as I asked this made me uncomfortable. Wish I could read his mind, and see how he likes it.
“Because I showed you your death, and you went running right into it to prove destiny wrong.”
A lesser man probably would have got shivers or something at this epic and grandiose statement, I think I just got a little bit of gas.
“That seems like the kind of stupid and stubborn thing I would do. Tell me this, what if I avoid the kraken, the sharks, the loss of my limbs, the lost ocean, and everything else?”
“You can’t.” He said, with absolute certainty.
“Like hell I can’t.” I said, also with absolute certainty.
He laughed at this, and I started grinding my teeth together, suddenly missing that hook hand I had for a little bit during that vision. Or time travel, or whatever it was, I could have fun with it.
“It was what my people call a spirit swim.” He butted in, somewhat nervously.
“That sounds stupid, stay out of my head.”
“My apologies, but you cannot change your destiny, circumstance will lead you to all these situations and places no matter how hard you try to run.”
“I paid you to show me my future, not for a lecture on destiny and the intricate webs of fate woven throughout this great world.”
He looked gobsmacked at this. Who says a pirate can’t be educated? I stood up from crouching over the map, stretching and yawning. Despite the heat from the fire I was still damp and my throat was raw from sea water. I also felt stiff and sore all over, and I realised I was lucky I didn’t feel much worse if I had really lived everything that happened to me. I tossed the fish man a small brown bag filled with gold coins and tied with a bit of string.
“Here’s your payment. What you showed me wasn’t what I expected but I’m an honest man, sort of… and I pay for what I am given, usually…” This was mostly a lie.
“Thank you Captain, I hope you use the knowledge you have gained wisely. Most men are driven mad by what they see.”
He also stood up and he offered his strange half fin hand to me, with flaps of scales and flesh stretching between the fingers like little wings.
“You could have told me that before the ‘spirit swim’.” I shook his hand.
He laughed, “That would have spoiled the entertainment, do you not think?”
“I like you Sabadha, for a fish, you’ve got backbone.”
“Captain, fish DO have backbones.”
“That is irrelevant, good day to you.”
As I headed out the door of his dank wooden hut, he called after me,
“May Neptune have mercy on you!”
“Shut up fish face.” I muttered under my breath. He probably read it in my mind but he didn’t say anything about it.