Viper’s aim proved true.
Skulker’s guitar exploded. The icy wrath of the beast blew Skulker from the fore mast.
Viper winced as Skulker hit the deck, and rolled face first into the butt of an axe. Better that end than the other. Time was running out, he kicked over the opened barrels of kerosene as ice coated the Wicked Woman. When he finished, he ran to where Skulker lay in a heap.
“Garrr!” Skulker sprang up like a jack in the box doll and threw a punch that would have knocked Viper back to the sea nymphs if he hadn’t ducked.
“Me had to ye numbskull!” Viper grabbed Skulker as if in an embrace and wrapped them both in the bearskin. The ship sank into the waves, weighted down with the Ice Metal dragon’s breath. A barrel rolled their way.
A gnarled ice spear poked into an eye of the Wicked Woman’s figurehead giving her a lobotomy.
Skulker growled. He lifted the bearskin and held it like an umbrella hood over he and Viper. A purple shiner already rose just below his eye where the ax handle struck. “A warnin wouldda ben nice.”
Viper coughed up some phlegm and spat at Skulker’s boot. “Yer Magesty, thar be nay rules ‘ere gentlemen o’ fortune tread.”
Their eyes met.
Skulker’s pigtail mustache twitched.
Viper grinned, then brought a match between their faces. He kissed it, scraped it across his gruff chin. It lit aflame. “A lil’ bit o’ heaven,” he whispered, and tossed the match at the barrel of kerosene.
“An a whole lotta hell,” said Skulker. He grabbed Viper, wrapping them both in the bearskin, just as the Wicked Woman rocked in an explosion of flames. The last strings of ‘Raining Blood’ drowned in a mushroom cloud of ice and fire.
The Wicked Woman burned in hellish licks of fiery flames. Skeins of ice melted away, falling from masts and tackle. Avalanches of water fell from the poopdeck pooling around the hatch, bubbling like hag’s broth, almost tipping the ship, only to evaporate into filthy, oily pillars of smoke dark as Blackbeard’s heart, rest his plunderin soul! Big Bob’s plan was working. The kerosene explosion had been enough to melt the ice, but leave the Wicked Woman intact.
Viper peeked from beneath the bearskin. The fire melted a large tear in the cheek of the division between worlds. Spikes dissipated into slush. The stormy oceans from their world were pushing them through into the next. And before one could say, **”Barnacle on leviathan’s arse!” the forecastle of the Wicked Woman sailed into the sea of imagination.
It was as if an invisible seamstress was threading the tear in the ice wall closed. Closer, closer the seam sealed, healing the wall. The Wicked Woman bobbed between worlds, bumping into clumps of strewn ice and spears. The passage was sealing around them.
Viper watched in horror. His thoughts ran away with the ice, flames, and waves. If they didn’t make it and the wall closed around the Wicked Woman, they would be trapped half in half out as a warning, a crossbone and skulls. Their souls wandering in despair too dark for Davy Jones himself, and certainly a place where Wisteria could never find him, even if her Daddy bribed Hades himself.
One last roar of the Ice Metal dragon blasted overhead, Viper watched in awe. A huge wave spanked the arse of the Wicked Woman, crashing over her stern and pushing her through the portal. The main boom sailed through with the last of the choppy waves behind them. The mirror wall sealed. Spikes already formed, cold and harsh.
Once on the other side, the moon resurrected herself against the calm sky above the easy waves of the Sea of Imagination… one last blast of thunder crept over the wall like a purr.
Aboard the Wicked Woman, the fire had come and gone quickly as gunfire. Viper and Skulker tossed off the seared bearskin and looked at each other.
Skulker’s pigtail mustache fell to ash at his feet. “Bloody hell!”
They looked at the smiling moon and laughed.
Behind them, the hatch raised. Albie’s small head popped out. His eyes were huge at the calmness of the sea. He opened his mouth to speak and that is when they all heard the hushed whisper.
They looked at each other, then around at the quiet night sky, and silent waters.
Albie whispered, “Did ye be hearin–“
A slight breeze blew. Skulker elbowed Viper and nodded towards the wall. Already they were miles away. Impossible. And it was disappearing into a shimmer. No seadog would have seen it, let alone a landlubber.
The breeze felt like warm breath, its whisper a tickle. Viper said, “We be lettin ‘er take the Wicked Woman wi’ th’ tide. Me thinks thar be land not far off.”
Albie said,“Cap’n, that’s what me be tryin’ ta tell ye. Big Bob…” He shook his head.
A long mournful tune howled from far away. A lonely dog’s cry. It suited the death of a fine buccaneer. It also meant there was, indeed, an island near by.
They dropped their heads in silence. Inside, a gnawing ate at Viper’s gut like a rat. The rat’s name was Guilt. Big Bob had led the way to the sea of imagination, had saved him from the sea nymphs, had saved them all from the Ice Metal dragon and the gnarled popsicle spikes of the mirror wall, yet he had repaid him with… That damn viper! The truth was, the captain acknowledged, he was a bloody love crazed bastard playing pirate. He was the one who deserved to die. And yet here he was.
The dragon’s cry could be heard over the mirror wall. Strong as ever. They couldn’t see the wall, but that didn’t prevent them from hearing the dragon’s wrath, even from this distance.
Skulker said, “Tis be the frog lasses. They be meetin’ their tomb.”
A flail of guitar rose up to meet the dragon.
“Or not, “ said Skulker, perking his ear. “And that be Joan Jette.”
Viper glanced up. “Joan Jette?”
“Aye. Bad Reputation.”
Viper didn’t respond. The symbols on the wings of the Ice Metal dragon meant something. He could feel the treasure map inside his shirt, close to his heart. Big Bob’s death would not be in vain. He’d make sure of it.
“A bottle o’ rum fer th’ captain!” cried Skulker.
“Nah,” said Viper, shaking his head. “Big Bob first.”
And then, when The Amazon endowed with giant legs of a frog leapt over the mirror wall, Viper couldn’t help but laugh out loud with the rest of the crew. It sailed miles away from the Wicked Woman, and in the opposite direction. How G and the Amazon Frogslingers had pulled it off, Viper didn’t know. How Skulker and Big Bob knew of what they did, Viper didn’t know. But does a scallywog need to know everything to get to where a scallywog needs to go? No. Sometimes trust is enough. Answers come in due time.
Viper knew that G and her frogwomen, cold, slept and dreamed their Amazon dreams. And by the time the sun licked their skin warm, perhaps they’d be on opposite sides of the sea. Viper patted the treasure map under his shirt.
The voice drew the Wicked Woman to a shore. He didn’t know what awaited them there, but they would bury Big Bob proper, whether it was custom or not. He watched the smiling moon, the voice teasing at his ears. He supposed, on the sea of imagination, anything was possible. He shivered.
To be continued….
**quote (slightly mutilated) accredited to Jason Michel
Jodi blogs here