Episode 1 : “Stolen!”
Midnight lapped at the Wicked Woman. Her old planks moaned in reply. Viper knew these soft sounds as his own mum’s voice. Salty air nipped at his nose attempting to raise his spirits. Any other night it may have, but not tonight.
The Wicked Woman still thrived despite the siege, the jagged jolly roger was proof of that, but Viper’s spirits sank low…perhaps too low. Thoughts of tying a nipper from the crow’s nest and tossing himself to Davy Jones’s locker fancied his mind.
The booty map had been in his hands! His very hands before those horrid creatures of curves and candy snatched it away.
“Be ye thinkin’ what me be, Cap’n Viper?”
“Strudel?” he asked without looking from the sea.
“Strudel, nay now.” The brute never shut up. Strudel had been thrown to the kraken dozens of times. If it hadn’t been for the once in a century brilliance possessing the monkey’s mind, Viper would have left him to annoy the fish.
“Aye, Cap’n, but I be jus’ thinking-”
“I don’t want t’ hear yer monkey bile thoughts, I jus’ want t’ hear mine.”
A spew of laughter bellowed behind them.
Viper clenched the deck rail until his chapped fingers burned. His words came out low and strained. “Strudel, fetch me a grog.” He ignored the laughter. The lazy dogs would pay for it later. What bothered him the most were the women. It had been women who’d stolen his treasure map. Damn women.
Strudel appeared with a chipped crude cup.
Viper grabbed the black jack and gulped. He felt something soft and chunky catch in his throat. He gagged, turned to Strudel.
“Forgives me, Cap’n. Thar be not a clist cup in th’ galley, but I didn’t think ye’d be a mindin.”
Viper spit into the wind. “Damn ye, Strudel. Ye know how I be about that.” He threw the black jack at the deck. It bounced, and Strudel scurried to catch it.
Viper leaned against the rail.
“I be thinkin’,” said Strudel cozing up beside him, “we shouldn’t let them lasses get a way with it. It be ours, Cap’n. Treasure map and th’ cave of Ali Baba be all ours fer th’ takin, an them damn frogslingin’ lasses-“
“They be called women ‘ere I be from.”
Strudel lowered his voice to a whisper. “An ‘ere be that, Cap’n? Me knows ye be not who ye says ye be.”
Viper grabbed the butt of his gun and turned. “Shut that bung hole o’ yers, it makes no difference were I be from. ‘Tis me ship,” he spread his arms, “Me Wicked Woman. Ye say lass all ye want, but ye won’t be tellin’ me secrets.” Viper pointed the gun at Strudel’s underbelly.
Strudel wrapped his arms about his chest and backed off. “They be calling th’ lass who stole it thar god’ess.”
“God’ess?” In his mind’s eye, Viper could see her glorious vision of skin, tight rags, and freckles. It gave him rise. The woman was every bit as clever and shrewd he wished he was.
“Ye want th’ lass?”
Viper shackled his gun and brought his fingers to his glass eye. He felt the life striking at the inside of the sphere. The snake lied dormant most days. It only awoke to Viper’s wrath. He thought about removing the eye and letting it strike at Strudel, then decided against it. Viper had a better idea.
Strudel giggled, then straightened his voice. “Cap’n, if ye’d jus’ let me speak.”
“Strudel, do ye wish me t’ order ye overboard?” Viper paused. “Again.”
Strudel glanced away, hesitated.
“This time th’ great’st idea in th’ world won’t save ye. I’ll leave ye to th’ sharks, to th’ kraken, to th’…”
Strudel tucked his red and white shirt into his high-waisted britches. He saluted. “’Tis a chance I’m willin t’ take, Cap’n.”
“Fair enough.” Viper lifted his voice. “Big Bob! Toss Strudel to th’ sea.”
Strudel spoke, “Listen, these frogslingers. Thar hair be green. Ye ever guess where that be comin from? Pois’n. Them frogs in th’ Amazon be mighty poisonous. Th’ slingers inject them’selfs with wee bits o’ poison t’ make theyself immune.” Strudel’s eyes grew large. “It turns them half frog, Cap’n.”
Big Bob strode upon the deck. He stood as tall as the masts, or at least appeared too. He cracked his knuckles and smiled at Strudel.
Strudel leaned against the deck rail. “Please, Cap’n Viper, call th’ lad off.”
Big Bob grabbed Strudel by the waist, and hiked him upon his shoulders.
Viper stayed Big Bob, and rolled up his cotton sleeves. “Ye’re telling me they be half frog?”
Strudel squirmed on Bob’s shoulders like fish. “Aye, Cap’n. Tis th’ very poison th’ lasses put on their darts.”
Viper turned toward the sea. The goddess’ emerald green hair teased his mind. “Knowin’ they be half frog doesn’t bring back th’ booty map. They be ages away now. Damn that ship.”
The Amazon was loaded with darts, cannonballs, hundreds of poisonous frogs and yet had slipped along the sea like a vessel on clouds. The Wicked Woman, swift as she was, hadn’t a hope to catch them. “Toss ‘im, Big Bob.”
“Nay, nay again!”
Bob lifted Strudel and went to heave him overboard. Strudel clung to the strong lad’s waist. “Cap’n! What I’m tryin’ to say is,” he wrapped his scrawny arms about Big Bob’s arm, ”we can catch up t’ ‘em.”
Big Bob peeled back Strudel’s hands and tilted him over the rail. Strudel shrieked and wrapped his legs around Big Bob’s neck. “Maybe e’en tonight, Cap’n!”
Viper put a hand on Big Bob’s arm, halting the lad. “How be that?”
“They-“ Strudel dangled from the deck now. Held only by Big Bob’s hand. “They get cold like at night, ye see. Like ‘em frogs. And they be havin’ to sleep ‘cause thar ain’t no choice. An’ they don’t wake up till…”
“Big Bob, pull ‘im up, ye ugly mutt!”
Big Bob hefted him to the deck. Viper grabbed Strudel by the shoulders and lifted him to his feet. “Shiver me timbers! Ye best be not lyin’ t’ me or I’ll gut ye quicker than a shark rip’n ‘is d’nner.”
“Nay, Cap’n. They don’t wake up til th’ sunshine gets ‘em all nice an’ warm.” Strudel smiled, a rowdy glint in his eye.
“Where ye be hearing this?”
“Oh, I don’t know. ‘Ere an’ thar, before me joined th’ crew.”
“Tis almost makes sense.”
Viper let loose of Strudel. “Which way did they go?”
“I don’t know, “ said Strudel.
“Ogre ‘ll know, Cap’n. He be at th’ wheel at th’ time.”
“Go ask, then.”
Viper turned back to the sea. Water murmured at the ship. It was a perfect evening for sneaking up on the enemy, those thieving Amazon Frogslinger Women. His lads would be happy, plundering and seeking their revenge. Viper smiled at the thought.
The night silenced, and as it did at these times, Wisteria happened upon Viper’s thoughts. She’d not approve, but he was doing this all for her. The treasures of Ali Baba’s cave would be his. Viper would soon have whatever he wished, including Wisteria’s hand – kicking and screaming though she’d surely be.
Ogre’s gruff voice broke through his thoughts. “Cap’n, they be headin’ East!”
Viper whooped into the wind. “Then East we go, me buccaneers. High Sails! We’ll get ‘em before th’ sun does, lads.”
To be Cont’d …