Episode #4 Cook’s Hook and the Ice Metal Dragon
“Hook! Hook! Hook!” cried the crew.
Albie handed Viper the hook. He admired the silver sheen, and touched the sharp point. “A beauty!” At the base of the hook, sat a long twisted screw, a forearms length.
“Hook!” cried the rabid throng.
Viper put a hand on Cook’s forehead and wiped the sweat on his pant leg. “We need t’ get on wi’ it. Cook be workin’ up a fever. Put th’ rag back in his mouth, mateys. He’s gonna need it.”
Viper popped the pipe into his own mouth. The drug did its magic and he relaxed. He felt the tiny viper behind his wooden eye coil, and fall back asleep. He leaned into Cook’s arm, pinning his elbow and stump to his own knee.
“Hook! Hook! Hook!” chanted the crew.
“Fine, fine.” Viper brought the screw close, and aimed it for the middle of Cook’s burned stump. The flesh had melted into a monsterish nightmare of skin, blood and bone.
He felt the men brace behind him. “Here we go, me lily livered curs!”
Viper plunged the sharp point of the screw into flesh near the bone. Blood poured anew. The rusty stench filled the air. Cook shrieked and tried to jump from the floor.
“Hold’em!” Viper continued to twist, twist, and just at the right point, angled up towards the bone.
“Hook!” sang the crew. “Hook!”
Cook yelled a muffled, “Mama!”
Viper twisted the screw again. Again. “Sing ‘im a shanty!”
Every buccaneer knew of which one Viper spoke. The crew rang out in unison:
“Give me a dirty dog on th’ sea
Beat ‘im wi’ iron an’ set his sins free.
“Nay sorrows be had when he’s a’plundered
Give ‘em ‘is gold and ‘is grogg ablundered.
“Nay mistaken a wench’s crass
When th’ royal high arse
Take th’ lad fer pleasin’ th’ lass.
“An’ when th’ law cuts off ‘is hand
All bloody an’ ripped, shredded an’ canned.
“We wrap it up an’ pin th’ lad down,
give’em fire, roast ‘em t’ his crown!
In ‘ell he be soaked
We slap on th’ bloke!”
Cook yelled as if he’d kissed the ugly gunman’s daughter, then fell to the side silent. Viper twisted one last time and inspected his work. He held up Cook’s arm fitted with a shiny silver hook.
“Arrrrr!” yelled the men.
“Take care o’ this here, corsair, and give th’ lad me best rum and hag’s broth when he awakes.” Viper ripped the rag out of Cook’s lolling mouth. “And be savin’ this fer sewing back on me britches.”
He stood and turned. Strudel had a bucket of water waiting. He scrubbed his arms, then splashed his face. Albie tossed him his shirt and Viper climbed the ladder to the main deck.
The sun was setting. He smiled about Cook, proud of his crew, then remembered his map. He rushed to the High Log throne. The map was gone.
He felt a tap on his shoulder. “Cap’n?”
Big Bob stood there in his filthy white and red shirt, his blonde hair bunched in a rat’s nest behind his head, a big stupid smile on his face. “Ye be droppin’ this, Cap’n.” He handed Viper the map.
Viper smiled, his heart throbbing about his chest. For a moment he just about keeled from relief. “Thank ye, Big Bob.”
He turned away, felt the tap again. “Aye, Big Bob, what be it?”
“The Sea O’ Imagination be beyond the Invisible Islands.”
Viper glanced back at Bob, raised a brow. “This be so?”
Big Bob nodded his chin to the west and they both looked. In the twilight, Viper couldn’t see a thing. But he knew everything wasn’t always as it seemed, and sometimes only some could see where others couldn’t.
“Ye be reassigned from th’ crow’s nest. Me be wanting ye t’ take th’ wheel, Big Bob.”
Disbelief, then realization filled Big Bob’s blue eyes. “Flap jawed monkeys– aye, aye, Cap’n!”
Viper rolled the scroll and tucked into his shirt as he watched Big Bob scurry to the wheel and shout orders to head west. Big Bob pointed. “To the Invisible Islands!”
“I don’t be seein’ any island,” said a greasy bloke.
A thin, bean pole man nudged his shoulder with his elbow. “That’s cos they be invisible, and we ain’t got nuttin’ but a bunch of deadlights.”
“If ye be askin’ me, Big Bob be th’ one wi’ th’ deadlights.”
The crew laughed. Big Bob continued to point West, and they looked off into the distant hills of waves, then glanced back at Viper.
Viper drew his pistol and cocked it. “A dead man tells no tales.”
The greasy bloke quieted.
Viper spat at the dirty boards. “Do it, ye poxed shark bait.”
The crew snapped into action.
“Smartly!” cried Viper, and slipped his gun in its holster.
Another big wind blasted them, keeling the ship. Icicles formed on the ropes, cutting the men’s hands.
“Begads, ‘t be cold! ‘Ere it be comin’ from?” yelled one.
“And what th’ bloody hell be that noise?” cried another.
Viper turned his ear towards the heavens. He swore he heard strings and chords like music, only it wasn’t. It was as if the head of a fiddle had been chopped and someone was whacking at the strings. The beat of drums crashed with the waves, and a loud voice like god shook The Wicked Woman. “Thunder!”
“Sink me!” Viper and Big Bob turned to each other.
Big Bob’s eyes were the size of doubloons. “Tis th’ Ice Metal Dragon.”
“The metal what?”
“It be told, it guards th’ seas o’ imagination. He scales th’ icy cliffs, breathin’ ice an heavy metal. No one be get’n in,” he shook his head, “and no one be get’n out.”
A blast of music rained from above, and Big Bob covered his ears until a pause.
Viper yelled, “How do ye know o’ this?”
Big Bob’s eyes grew even wider. “That hairy bastard.”
“Th’ hairy son o’ a biscuit eater that be screwin’ wit our ship, our fate. He ordered our fate t’ be written, and he be drivin’ the dragon o’ metal!” He pointed up and they both searched the clouds for the creature.
“THUNDER!” screamed the voice from the clouds.
Strudel cupped his hand to Viper’s ear and pointed at Big Bob. “He’s addled, Cap’n. He be th’ blackspot o’ us all!”
Another icy breath rocked the ship and blew Strudel backwards. Big Bob motioned to Viper. “See thar!” Viper turned, and there in plain view not a bucketful of knots from The Wicked Woman, stood an ice wall rising straight to the climbing moon. Its color was silvery like a mirror, reflecting the water, sky, and moon, making it impossible to see from a distance. Icicles like sharpened spears jutted out from the silver-ice wall.
The crew scrambled in all directions.
“Ahoy!” screamed Albie from the crow’s nest. In one moment of silence, all stilled and gaped in awe at the wall.
Another blast of ice tossed the ship closer to the spears. Heavy sheets of metal roared from the clouds, loud enough to pop an eardrum. Looking to the skies, they saw a flap of wings the color of ice, pulsing with red lightning.
“THUNDER!” The creature howled at them.
The Wicked Woman shivered under the metal music. Viper grabbed his pistol and placed it under Big Bob’s chin. “Strudel be right. Ye be leadin’ us to the fiddlers green! Ye best be tellin’ me wh’ to do smartly ‘afore ye meet Davy Jones ‘imself.”
Skulker grabbed both men by the collar and separated them. An odd instrument hollowed out with strings hung by a strap about his chest. “Calm down, me hearties. Big Bob be guidin’ us on our way.” He let them go.
The ice beast dove from the clouds. “THUNDER!”
Viper turned his gun from Big Bob and shot at the beast. The bullet drowned in the violet colors of the storm.
Skulker nodded to the clouds. “AC/DC.”
“What?!” Viper looked at Skulker.
Ice froze a man on the ropes. He fell to the deck an ice cube.
Skulker whistled, slapped both men on the back and unstrapped his guitar. “Time t’ rock.”
Big Bob nodded at Skulker. Strudel, scrambling to the men from his last roll, caught Skulker’s jacket as he tossed it off. “But what will ye be doin’?”
Skulker grinned and looked at Big Bob, his pigtail mustache two frozen icicles.
“Sabbath?” Bib Bob asked.
Skulker shook his head. “Nah, tis wouldn’t do it.” He strummed the strings, and looked at Big Bob. “Slay-arrrrr.”
He and Big Bob made fists and slapped them together, then Skulker was off scrambling up the crow’s nest.
Viper shouted over the chaos, “What th’ bloody ‘ell?”
Big Bob nodded. “Tis’ll stall th’ beast from rockin’ th’ brains from our skulls, but it be doin’ nothin’ fer when Th’ Wicked Woman be freezin’ an sinkin’ like metal.”
Viper looked at him, yelled, “Ice floats.”
“Nay this kind. Besides, we’ll be swashbucklin’ no more when th’ bloody spikes be gougin’ our squiffy flesh.” He nodded at the spears jutting out from the ice wall. It would be minutes before they’d all be impaled.
The viper awoke and flexed behind the captain’s wooden eye. It struck out. Viper grabbed at his face, then his pistol as the ice metal dragon reappeared.
Above the metal and ice, he heard Big Bog yell, “Blimey! He be playin’ Raining Blood!”
The ocean erupted into a whirlwind of frosty waves when Skulker thrummed the first few chords, blasting Viper off The Wicked Woman.
To be continued…