Davy Jones' Lament

Davy Jones' Lament

A Story by Matthew Green
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A story inspired by Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean. Note that it is set before Davy Jones abandoned his duty; when he still looked human.

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Rotten timbers creaked, the sound supernaturally loud in the liquid darkness. Sodden cloth flapped, catching the current as easily as it had once caught the wind. The ship sailed the ocean’s depths, utterly alone.

Worn hands rested on the equally worn wheel, effortlessly turning the ship against the deep sea current. Booted feet stood firmly on the greyed and growth-encrusted deck, a thick cloak flapping around them. A bushy beard and a shock of brown hair writhed in the water, weightless. A craggy face stared straight ahead, expressionless. But behind that mask, two eyes also looked out. They were the eyes of a much older man than his body; a man who was ancient, tired and lonely.

The crew scurried around the ship, like fish in a disturbed patch of seaweed. The bos’n strode amongst them, whip curling through the water. Occasionally, a crewman would stop and gaze into the distance, for a second seeming almost to fade into the background. Then the lash of the bos’n’s whip would startle him back into action.

The captain watched, with the eyes of someone who had seen it all before. So many times before. Was there nothing new in the world?

He sighed, emptying his lungs of water, only to have it flow back in when he drew breath. It didn’t matter that there was nothing new for him to find, didn’t matter that he was sick of life, sick of the tiredness and the loneliness... Nothing mattered, except his job.

Speaking of which...

“Lower the anchor!” he roared, his cry echoed by the bos’n a second later. There was a thunk as the heavy metal anchor buried itself in the seabed. When he was sure she was secure, he turned and leapt over the side, drifting gently down to the sea bed.

The other boat sat close by, half buried in silt. It was a fishing boat, with room for perhaps two people. Its hull had split like a melon, and the roof had collapsed. From the coral growths on it, he guessed it had been here for decades.

He crouched down and squeezed into what was left of the cabin. Another man was already inside. He was crouched down as well, muttering indistinctly and rocking backwards and forwards. He was very feint; what little light filtered down through the water above them passed straight through him. He was clutching at a piece of the collapsed roof, trying to move what his hands could no longer affect.

Gently, the captain laid a hand on his shoulder. “It’s okay,” he said, his voice rough, yet understanding. “There’s nothing you can do now. Just let it go.”

The man turned halfway towards him, still mumbling. The captain stared at him, pity blossoming in his heart. How long had this man been here? Long enough for his speech to desert him, at least. Did he realise? Did he know that it was water, not air, that curled around and through him? Had he known, in whatever storm had sent him down here, that the blue darkness around him would be the last thing he would feel, and the water in his lungs the last his beating heart would know?

The man turned away from him, tugging fruitlessly again at the fallen timbers. He hadn’t really noticed him at all. He was too far gone to notice anything, now.

There was another sound, beside the man’s mumbling. Someone was whimpering, and it sounded to be coming from the wreckage the man was obsessing over. The captain reached out and, effortlessly, pulled it aside.

A figure lay in the wreckage. A girl, of about fifteen. Her eyes flickered open, she yawned, then climbed from the wreckage, leaving her body behind. She too was slightly insubstantial, but she was more solid than the man. When she saw him, a relieved grin split her face, and the two hugged tightly. “Dad,” she whispered, and he mumbled something happily in return.

Then she turned to the captain, the man who had freed her. “Thank you,” she said. “From both of us.” Her father nodded emphatically.

The captain smiled. “You know the way?” he asked. They nodded, and began to drift away. Before they had gone more than a few feet, they had faded from view.

The captain watched them leave, his smile fading. He was happy for them; happy that they had found peace. But beneath that, he was sad. How he would love to have a daughter, like that man had. But he didn’t. He couldn’t.

His eyes fell back on the girl’s body. She had been so young. Her whole life ahead of her, before some storm had snatched it away. Life was cruel; but death was so much more so.

In that moment, he wanted to die. To end. He wished the water in his lungs could choke him, steal his life away like it had that girl’s, and her father’s, and everyone else he had put to rest.

But he couldn't die. He could only run.

He swam back to the ship, climbing back over the side to the poop-deck. “Bos’n!” he yelled. “Ready her for the surface!”

The bos’n jerked his head, startled. “Where are we bound?” he called, making his way towards the captain.

“Away!” screamed the captain. Away, he repeated to himself. Away from all this death, this suffering. It didn't matter where they went, as long as it was away.

However, his destiny wasn't to flee death, but to be drawn to it. Even as he tried to leave the job he had been charged with, he came upon it again up ahead. A ship, blasted by pirates and left, burning, listing onto one side. His crew watched him, waiting for him to go aboard the wreckage as he always did.

But his mood had soured. “Board her yourselves!” he yelled at the deckhands. “Bring me the survivors!”

The crew scurried to obey, leaving the captain alone on the deck. He began to pace, running his hands through his beard. It was slimy, pieces of seaweed tangled up in it. How could that be?

It was a long time before the crew came back, dragging two sailors behind them. The sailors, sensing an aura of power from the captain, sank to their knees. The captain continued to pace around them. This was different to the other times. He was the captain now, in control, not just a man with soft, meaningless words of comfort.

“You are dead, or dying,” he said to the men. One of them, the shorter, whimpered. “Now you must move on, to the next life. If you know the way, you may go now. If not -”

“Please,” said one of the sailors. The captain stopped abruptly. Anger welled inside him. He had never been interrupted before.

“Please,” repeated the sailor. “I-I don't want to die. I fear death. Please, I-I'll do anything...”

His expression was pitiful. The captain felt some of his anger melt away. “You fear death?” he repeated. The shape of the words fell from his tongue in a satisfying way. He turned to the other man. “And you?” he said to him. “Do you fear death, too?”

The dead man nodded wordlessly. The captain continued to pace, thinking. Habit told him he should send these men to the afterlife, as was his duty. But why? He was captain, he was in control.

He reached a decision. “Then I will spare you,” he said. “You will survive.”

The two men breathed out and jumped to their feet, stammering heartfelt thanks.

But the captain hadn't finished. “But,” he said, and the men fell silent. “In return, you must help me. You must do service aboard my ship.” He paused. “One hundred years service.”

He smiled, satisfied. He had done a good thing; he'd saved two people's lives. But he'd also made it clear that he was in control.

The bos'n, however, wasn't satisfied. “Captain!” he called, striding forward. “I must protest! We have a job, a duty -”

The captain struck out, grabbing the bos'n by the throat and slamming him into the mast. “Do you question my orders?” he breathed, his voice full of menace.

Even though he was having difficulty breathing, the bos'n still spoke. “We must escort the dead to the next life. It is our duty -”

The captain tightened his already pincer-like grip. “Not anymore,” he said. “I am the captain. Their fate is my choice.”

“But they are meant to be dead,” the bos'n choked. “They would be happier. It is cruel to extend their lives any longer!”

The captain released him, turning away. “Life is cruel,” he said, almost to himself. “Why should the afterlife be any different?”

 

© 2009 Matthew Green


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Added on May 17, 2009
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Author

Matthew Green
Matthew Green

St Ives, United Kingdom



About
I am a sixteen-year-old boy in the South-East of England, where I live with my parents, brother, cat, dog and thirty or so fish more..

Writing