The hot sun beat down on the peeling mess of skin on Dave’s face. His short, light brown hair felt as if it were on fire, and the soft sand melted under his blistering, tough feet as he staggered to the shade of a palm tree. The blue, tropical sky burned in his brown eyes as they searched for any sign of clouds. The ocean surf echoed in his ears as he plopped down under the palm tree.
“I don’t know how much longer I can last,” Dave said to no one in particular.
“I can’t believe I’ve lost my third ship this week. Maybe I should just give up tryin’ to be a pirate.”
As if in answer, a faint cannonball blast echoed in the vast emptiness.
“Why, that sounded like it came from the other side o’ the island,” Dave said as he stood up.
Suddenly with renewed energy, Dave rustled his way across the jungle to the other side of the island. A massive Spanish ship sat just off the coast.
“Looks like trainin’ exercises. This could be my ticket off o’ this island.”
Dave made his way through the lush jungle, back to the sand and towards the shore, where several Spanish sailors were training. All at once, the sailors stopped what they were doing and stared at Dave.
“My goodness, Señor. You look like you’ve been stuck out here for months! Your face is horribly peeling!” One of the sailors said.
“Uh, well, actually I just got here this mornin’. As for me face, well, it’s a skin condition, and somethin’ I don’t like to be speakin’ of.” Dave said.
The Spanish sailors continued to stare as if waiting for more. When they realized Dave wasn’t going to say anything else, they went back to their training.
The leader of the group approached Dave. “Senor, perhaps we can take you on our ship back to our port in exchange for a service?”
“Of course! Dave’s my name, but my fellow pirates call me Dead Skin Dave,” Dave said, extending a hand.
The Spaniard gingerly accepted the handshake, only touching Dave with two fingers. “Very well, Dave. You see, we are here for not just a training mission. I have here a treasure map recently obtained from a filthy pirate. Our training exercises are merely a cover for a treasure expedition. If you were to retrieve this treasure for us, we would be willing to give you transport on our ship and a pardon for any wrongdoings you surely have committed to have been stranded on this island.”
“A treasure hunt, eh? I’ve always loved the thrill of a treasure hunt. I’ve never actually found any meself. Of course I would be willin’ to locate yer treasure for ye,” Dave said, his chest puffed in the air, his hands on his hips and confidence swelling in his voice.
“Very well, Dead Skin Dave. Now, we’ve had a bit of trouble getting to the treasure. There is talk among the crew of a curse and no one wants to volunteer. Unfortunately, we lost two men earlier this morning to a booby trap, and we have reason to believe that this will most likely be a very dangerous trip, and you may very well lose your life. Now, here’s the map, and good luck to you, sir!” The Spaniard said as he handed Dave the map and beckoned for two sailors to come over.
Dave’s chest sunk in, his hands fell limp to his side and his head sagged as flecks of dead skin fell to the sand. “D-did you say, death?” Dave’s voice quivered.
“Senor, you will be fine!” the Spaniard turned his back to Dave and walked away, leaving two muscular Spanish sailors standing in front of Dave.
“Well, it looks like it’s just the three of us, eh?” Dave said.
“We are not going after that treasure. It be cursed, señor. We will escort you to jungle and wait for you,” the tall one on the left said.
“What will your commander think of ye if ya do that? Besides, I am Dead Skin Dave, fearsome pirate! You will do as I say or, er, terrible things will happen.”
The sailors stared at Dave for a moment, and then burst out laughing. “Senor,” the smaller one on the right said, “you are about as scary as my grandmother – and you’re about her height, too!”
Dave slumped his shoulders, turned around, and started to head for the jungle. Once inside, he unfolded the map. “It says here the treasure is buried under a big W?”
“No, Senor. You are holding it upside down.”
“Oh! It’s buried under a big M? How for did the other two men get?”
“They made to about here,” the tall one said as he pointed to a spot on the map. “It is just a few meters ahead. Good luck, señor!”
“You sure I can’t convince ye to come with me? What if I just take the treasure for meself?” Dave asked.
“We are your only way off the island. We will find you and then kill you.”
“Ah. Fair enough,” Dave said as he headed into the jungle, turning one last time to see the Spanish sailors resting on a fallen palm tree.
* * *
Well, Dave. Ye always wanted to be a real pirate. Now’s yer chance! Dave thought as he continued through the jungle, pushing vines and tree branches out of his way. He felt something squishy under his foot, followed by a clicking noise. Dave looked to his left just in time to see an arrow headed straight for him. He quickly fell to the floor as he heard the whooshing sound of the arrow pass overhead. Dave picked himself up, shook off the leaves and dirt from his tattered rag of a shirt, and continued on.
That was close. I’ll have ta be more careful from now on. Dave paused to look at the map and noticed a similar rock formation just ahead of him. Aye, there’s the rock formation on me map. I’ll have to climb over the top of the rock and there should be a waterfall near by. Ha ha! This is actually going well. I am a much better treasure hunter than I thought. And with that thought, Dave felt the ground give out from underneath him. The next thing he knew, he was free-falling and the hot sun gave way to a damp, dark layer of dirt, and then everything was black.
Dave startled awake with leaves covering his face. He brushed them away and looked around to orient himself. Ugh. What happened. I’m layin’ on me back and I’m surrounded by dirt. Argh, I must have fallen into a pit trap! Dave lifted himself up off the ground and looked up towards the sky. He could barely make out the sun filtering through the dense cover of palm trees, bushes and vines. There must be a way out. Think, Dave! A rush of excitement came over Dave just as he looked up to see someone standing at the top of the pit, silhouetted by the sun above.
“So, yer after me treasure, are ye?” A voice as rough as sandpaper said to Dave.
“Who are you?”
“I be the pirate that those Spaniards stole the map from. I just landed me ship on the other side o’ the island to ambush them.”
“Well, then, could ye get me out o’ this pit? I’m on yer side, mate. I am Dead Skin Dave, the Pirate!” Dave shielded his eyes with hands to get a better view of the pirate.
“Dead Skin Dave? Har har har! Aren’t ye the worst pirate ever?”
“Oh. So ya heard o’ me, eh?”
“It figures I’d find ye at the bottom of my pit trap. Just another story to tell the mates back at the Rusty Barrel Tavern, eh? I’ll help ye only because I feel sorry for ya,” the pirate said as he leaned into the pit and extended his hand to Dave.
Dave grabbed hold and was slowly lifted out of the pit, his legs frantically scraping the edge of the pit for support. Dave sprawled across the leafy floor of the jungle and then stood up to face the pirate.
“Blackbeard’s ghost! The stories about yer face are true. You are hideous! Now then, what’re ye doin’ on Isla Dente with me treasure map?” the pirate asked.
“You don’t look so good yerself with yer torn up Captain’s hat and weatherbeaten hair. Besides, I have a skin condition and I don’t like to talk about it. Alas, I washed up ashore here earlier in the day, and then I found the Spanish and they asked me to get their treasure for them. It seems those sailors weren’t cut out for treasure huntin’ like us pirates.” Dave said.
“Ah, Dave, ye can hardly call yerself a pirate, mate. Everyone knows you’ve never even had yer own crew. However, I shall take pity on ye and allow you to join me in runnin’ the Spanish off o’ this island.”
“Well if we’ll be workin’ together, I’d like to get yer name,” Dave said.
“Ye can call me Captain Tobias Bridge. Now then, if we’re done with pleasantries, I’d like ta get me treasure and escape off o’ this island.”
“Lead the way,” Dave said.
Dave and Tobias walked through the jungle for several hours until finally Dave saw a rock formation in the shape of an M covered by several tree branches and vines.
“Ah, there’s the giant M! This is so exciting!” Dave said.
“You’ve never recovered a treasure, eh?” Tobias asked.
“Uh, yes… Yes! Of course I have.”
“Save it for the boys back at the pub, Dave. Now then, I shall just removes these vines and get these rocks out o’ the way and claim my treasure,” Tobias said as he began to clear the vines from the rocks.
Dave watched in frozen excitement. His eyes couldn’t move from the stack of rocks, and his entire body was frozen as if this was the greatest moment of his life. The vines were torn from the rocks, and then Dave watched Tobias knock the stack of rocks over with one fell swoop. Dave looked at the ground where the rocks were and saw … a small bone.
“That’s it? A bone?” Dave asked in astonishment.
“Just wait,” Tobias said as he slowly lifted the bone off the ground. A small string was attached to the end of it, and as Tobias lifted, Dave saw the string tighten, and then heard a small click.
The ground below Dave slowly began to rumble and gave way to a hidden path cut deep into the ground. Tobias motioned Dave to follow as he descended into the cave. The hot sun of the island quickly gave way to the damp, cool, moist air of the cave.
“Just a little ways down this path, and we’ll be there, mate,” Tobias said.
“An actual treasure. I can’t wait!” Dave’s excitement took hold. He no longer cared if he didn’t sound like a real pirate. This was too exciting to keep his guard up.
A few feet down the dark, damp cave led Dave into a massive underground cavern made entirely of monkey bones.
“Well shiver me timbers, this is sure as amazin’ sight,” Dave said, looking all around the room and seeing piles of gold, rubies, diamonds, and rare weapons from all over the world.
“Aye. I never quite get tired o’ it meself. This room was constructed by the original inhabitants o’ this island. It was some sort of religious buildin’. Not really sure o’ the exact use, as the inhabitants of this island all died out o’ the plague. Now, I use it to store me treasure.”
“And a lovely treasure it is,” a voice said from behind Dave.
Dave turned around to see the leader of the Spanish army standing at the entrance above him.
“How did ya get here?” Dave asked with a look of astonishment. “I thought you were all terrified o’ the curse of the treasure?”
“Aye, señor. My men are, but I am not. When I learned the two men I sent with you had left you on your own, I felt compelled to make sure you followed our agreement.”
“Har! Ye shall never get yer hands on me treasure,” Tobias said, grabbing a cutlass from the floor and pointing it straight at the Spaniard.
“Ah, my friend. You have just pointed a weapon at a Spanish Commander. Such a treacherous deed is punishable by hanging, and I will personally see you to your execution.” The Spaniard pulled his sword from its sheath, jumped down to the ground floor of the cavern, and pointed his sword straight at Tobias.
“Well, then, I’ll just be goin'”, Dave said as he slowly started to back out of the cavern.
“Oh, you stay right there, filthy pirate. I shall deal with you next,” the Spaniard said, and began dueling with Tobias.
Dave froze. Here we go again. Wussing out when the pressure gets tough. This is why I’ll never be a real captain of me own ship. Dave made his way to a dusty corner of the treasure room and sat down on a large rock. Dave felt the rock slowly sink. Dave watched Tobias lunge at the Spaniard, almost hitting him with his sword. The Spaniard quickly struck back with another swing of his sword, but missed Tobias. The sword fighting continued all over the cavern, as Dave continued to slowly sink into the ground. He looked behind him to see a small doorway open up through some of the bones. Must be a secret room, and that rock must’ve been a trigger. Dave quietly snuck into the doorway. Once inside, his eyes took a few seconds to adjust to the darkness of the cave. He smelled a faint odor that could have almost been salt. The room opened up into a tunnel made of rocks. Dave continued on his way, the smell of salt growing stronger. A few steps further and the tunnel gave way to the mouth of a cavern with a cove that connected to the ocean. On the shoreline, a box made of monkey bones was delicately placed onto a small pedestal in the sand. Dave wandered over to it, his gaze transfixed.
Dave’s rough hands grabbed the lid of the box and slowly pulled the lid up. A swirl of dust rose and cleared to reveal an ancient voodoo rattle made of human bone and hair. It was old and weathered looking, and the hair had all but dissolved.
“Well, that’s not what I was expectin'”, Dave said. “Must be part o’ the religious ceremony Tobias was talkin’ about. Maybe he’ll know what to do with it.”
Dave grabbed the rattle and headed back through the tunnel towards the cave of bones. He entered the cavern to see Tobias surrendered in front fo the Spaniard.
“Ah, I was looking for you, Dead Skin Dave. Your friend here has just surrendered. I will take his life and then do the same to you. Kindly wait there, this time,” the Spaniard said.
“Oh yeah, well I’ve got this!” Dave said as he held the voodoo rattle up.
“And what, may I ask, is that?” The Spaniard turned his nose up at Dave.
“Oh, just the ancient voodoo rattle that will activate the curse o’ this treasure,” Dave said, smiling. He saw Tobias turn his head towards him and wink.
“I- I told you. I don’t belive in c-curses,” the Spaniard’s refined speech started to shake.
It was all the distraction that Tobias needed. Dave’s eyes grew large in anticipation as he saw Tobias go for the Spaniard’s sword, grabbed it out of his hand and turned it on him.
“Now then, ye Spanish scum. Ye will leave this island with yer crew or Dead Skin Dave will recite the spell that will activate the curse, an’ ye all will perish!” Tobias said.
“I will? Yes, I will! Har har! Dont’ mess with pirates ya scallywag!” Dave said, holding the rattle high in the air.
“You are both very lucky that my army is not here. Mark my word, I will return to my ship and come back to plunder this cave of every last piece of eight. Besides, Senors, I call a bluff on your curse. If Dead Skin Dave knew how to use that rattle, he would have already. Look at him, he is a joke. Now then, I shall return with my army very soon and we will continue the conditions of your surrender.” The Spaniard said as he made his way out of the cave.
“Now what do we do?” Dave asked.
“Dave, ye found the cursed voodoo rattle. I have been searchin’ for that for many a years. I never woulda guessed it was right here in me treasure room in a secret tunnel! Inside o’ this room when I first discovered it was this ancient scroll,” Tobias said as he removed an tattered piece of parchment from a sack on his belt.
“The scroll had a drawin’ of that rattle with an incantation next to it. I’ll let ye read it since ye discovered it.”
“Should we really be recitin’ some strange incantation? What if there is a curse and we be stricken with illness?”
“Aye, that’s why aren’t goin’ to read it until we are takin’ prisoner on the Spaniards ship.”
“Prisoner? What do ya mean?”
“Here’s my plan, mate. I’ll make a pirate out o’ you yet.We let the Spanish take us prisoner. I’ll tell them they can’t kill us because I know where the rest o’ me treasure lies. Once we’re on board and they have my treasure, we put the curse on ’em and sail off. The time has come to reclaim me treasure, and I shall grant you a cut if ye help me with this plan.”
“Of course I will help. A pirate will always help out his fellow mates,” Dave said.
“That’s what I like to hear. Now, we’ll wait for them to return.”
“Know any good piratey songs while we wait?” Dave asked. He was returned with a blank stare.
* * *
“Make sure you get every last ounce of treasure. I want it all on my ship by sundown! Move it!” The Spanish Captain barked orders to his men, who were lugging giant bags of treasure back to the Spanish ship.
Dave stood next to Tobias, shackles around their arms and legs. He watched a Spanish sailor approach the captain.
“Captain, we have finished loading the ship. Your orders, sir?”
“Prepare to set sail for home and escort these two pirates to the brig,” the captain said.
The sailor approached Dave and Tobias grabbed them and forced them off towards the ship. Once down in the brig, Dave felt a sense of relief flood over him as the shackles were removed.
“It’s nice to move my limbs again,” Dave said as he rubbed his ankles and wrists.
Dave watched the sailor leave the brig, closing the creaky wooden door behind him. The smell of mildew and rotten wood overtook Dave’s nostrils. The rusty iron gate that held him and Tobias looked like it wouldn’t last too much longer.
“We’ll use the rattle as soon as the ship gets out to open sea. We want to make sure that we won’t drift into a sandbar or rock formation after the curse goes into effect,” Tobias said.
“What exactly is this curse goin’ to do?” Dave asked.
“That, me matey, we shall find out together.”
“So ya have no idea? What if nothin’ happens and we’re stuck on this ship with the Spanish? Oh, I knew I was gettin’ in over me head.”
“Calm yer nerves, pirate. In the scroll, it clearly mentions a curse of transformation. I’m suspectin’ that we won’t recognize these scallywags once the curse has taken hold o’ them.”
“So as long as we’re both holdin’ on to this rattle thingy, then we’ll be safe?” Dave asked.
“I’m assuming so. Now, we’ve got a few hours before we reach open sea. Get some shut eye fer the trip ahead.”
* * *
Dave awoke to Tobias’ giant tangled mess of a beard in his face.
“Ah! What is it?” Dave asked.
“‘Tis time, mate.”
“Well, all right then,” Dave said as he got up off of the splintery, damp wooden floor.
“Let’s bust this gate open before we begin,” Tobias said as he kicked the bottom of the rusty gate, breaking it immediately. “Now, as soon as yer done readin’ the incantation, I’ll head up to steer the ship and you make sure that everyone on board has been transformed by the curse.”
“No problem! So, we just hold this rattle like this and say ‘Upsom Certi Waja Nali’ and then it should work, right?” Dave said.
Tobias stared back at him in shock as he slowly contorted and fell to the floor, turning into a monkey.
“Oh, shoot,” Dave said, as the cries of monkeys echoed around the entire ship.
Catch the continuing adventure with Dead Skin Dave, the Pirate coming late 2012!