Writing prompt taken from WritersDigest.com:
X Marks the Spot: You’re a pirate on a small pirate ship, that consists of only you, one other pirate and a captain. Recently you ransacked another ship and found a treasure map. After weeks of following it, you’ve finally found the island where “X” marks the spot. Write a scene where you find the buried treasure, only it’s not exactly the treasure you expected to find.
Never Trust a Pirate
I pulled my sword out of the last beating heart on the ship. Everyone was dead and decorated with multiple stab wounds and crimson blood, include the dreaded Captain John Remmington, the most feared and most ruthless pirate on the Seven Seas. I chuckled in disbelief that our small crew of three could take on and commandeer a now dead crew of at least a hundred. I wiped my brow as I looked at the spectacle of dead bodies on Neptune’s Blade.
“Search the ship,” our captain commanded from helm. “Take anything of value.”
Quickly, we searched the ship for anything that shined, gold or silver. We found Remmington’s quarters, expecting to find an abundance of gauntlets, coins, necklaces, and rings that were polished enough to blind a man, but his room was unexpectedly quaint. It was plain, just a bed and desk. Nicer than any other man’s quarters on the ship, but where was the gold? Where were the treasures we had heard about in stories?
The other crew member, Swally, pointed at the desk, instructing me to search, as he walked towards the bed, pulling off the mattress and the sheets. I pulled out every drawer, only to find them empty, except for the top one containing a silly piece of ragged string. I thought, I might as well clean up for the dead captain. It’s the least I could do after brutally stabbing him in the heart.
“Whoa,” I yelped, as I pulled the string opening a hidden compartment containing a yellowed scroll.
Swally scampered over to me loudly, the cabin creaking with every step, hoping to see gold, but deeply disappointed. “It’s a bloody scroll!” he complained, getting excited for nothing.
“But what if it contains secrets or valuable information?” I thought, “Let’s bring this to the captain.”
“Are you insane?” Swally asked. “He’ll hang us from the masts if we don’t bring him gold!”
I gazed the room quickly, looking one last time for something to glimmer. “This is the best we’ve got,” I said, patting Swally on the back, and leaving the quarters for the blazing hot deck. “Captain,” I cried, once out in the sunlight. “We found this.” He turned to me, shocked that I was presenting him with paper.
“Hmmm,” he hummed, disappointed that the scroll wasn’t presented along with a treasure chest. “What is it?” he asked, as if it weren’t obvious.
“It’s the only thing we found.”
“She found it!” Swally added, suddenly behind me, so he could keep his life.
Slowly, the captain untied the string, matching the one opening the hidden drawer compartment, and unrolled the perfect cylinder. His eyes scanned the paper quickly and widened at the end.
“Good find,” he nodded to me, rolling up the scroll. “It’s a map to Remmington’s treasure.” I clapped with excitement as Swally glared at me. That map is far more valuable than any gold we would’ve found. “We aren’t too far from the island, a fortnight at best,” the captain added, surveying the blue sea around us. “Let’s bring ‘er a row!” he commanded with the flick of his wrist.
Quickly, I manned the masts while Swally steered the ship. “Put your backs into it, lads!” the captain screamed. I shot him a glare. “And lady,” he said, while mockingly curtsying to me and pretending to sip some tea.
Captain was right; it took us two weeks to finally drop anchor just outside of the mysterious island, but it looked like all the rest: golden sand along the shore, with a line of palm trees protecting the heart of the island. The sun was hot on our backs as Swally and I paddled our captain quickly to the island. Once on the sand, he quickly headed in.
“C’mon lads, this way!” he called from the palm tree forest.
“How can he be so sure this is the way?” Swally whispered as we obediently followed.
I shrugged. “He’s our captain,” I whispered back, as I quickened my pace. Swally stayed behind.
The captain’s eyes were glued to the map as we weaved between trees and passed sand dunes and wild creatures. It had been four hours and the captain had stopped six times already, exclaiming, “It should be here! Why isn’t it here?” He’d stomp on the ground in greedy disbelief.
“Captain,” Swally chirped. I looked at him wide-eyed. Swally was never this outspoken.
The captain slowly turned to face the fat oaf. “What?” he sneered back at him, frustrated for the sixth time.
“We’ve been walking on this island in circles. Just give it up!”
“I’m the captain of this crew!” he shouted, stomping towards Swally as if he were an enemy. “What I say goes, Swally!”
“There probably isn’t even any treasure!” Swally cried, and turned his back to shout towards the sea, for all of the island to hear. “Mutiny! Mutiny! Muti–”
Swally never got to finish his chant as the captain’s sword pierced through his back and into his heart. He quickly pulled out the bloody blade, as Swally’s body fell face first to the sand, and cleaned it with a crisp white handkerchief, now stained red. Terrified, I stood there shaking.
“Would you be a good dear and show me the way?” the captain asked, holding the map out for me grab. My gaze quickly darted from the captain to the map back to the captain to the map. My breath quickened. “Well, you found it,” he added, pushing his sword up against my throat. “Now take it.”
My trembling hands grabbed the map, and the captain lowered his sword, pleased at my obedience. He kicked about Swally’s body as I analyzed the map, trying to remember our path.
“We made a wrong turn here,” I pointed, as the captain quickly turned from Swally’s body to face the map. “We need to go back this way.”
Within a half hour of retracing our foot steps and setting foot on a new path, the captain and I came across a cave. The dew dripped, within the cave, loudly enough for us to hear and brought on a sudden fear I hadn’t felt in a long time.
“It’s here!” I exclaimed, pointing, “The treasure’s inside the cave.”
“How can you be so sure?” the captain asked, analyzing the opening. I pointed up. At the top of the tunnel were two twigs tied into an “X,” using the same twine that was around the map and in the drawer. “Oh, quite right,” the captain scratched his head, his cheeks colored red. I’d never seen him embarrassed before, but he shook it off quickly. “Carry on then!”
We made our journey into the cave through the winding tunnels of sparkling rock and rotten skulls of pirates and explorers. The captain gulped as we passed the rotting bones of my the men before us. Eventually, we came across a wide opening with staggered rocks and opening of light at the top. In the middle, there it was, the chest we had been searching for. We stood in the opening, just staring at it, as if it were a booby trap, ready to explode if we went any closer to it, but the captain pushed me in, too afraid to approach it himself, but also too greedy to die in the pursuit of treasure.
“Go,” he instructed, pointing to the chest, and I slowly tiptoed towards it.
As I approached the wooden box, I patted it down with my hands, feeling for anything sharp that could pierce me, but it was just a chest, no gimmicks, no traps.
“Open it!” the captain shouted, as he hurried towards me with delight.
Slowly, I lifted the heavy lid, expecting to be blinded by all the precious gold and silver of the world that Remmington had collected over the years. I squinted, preparing for the treasure, but there was no need. Surprised, again, I found another scroll and presented it to the captain.
I caught the captain squinting in anticipation, too, but once he saw another scroll, he crossed his arms, displeased again at what I had to present him. “Read it to me.”
I gulped and slowly unraveled the damp yellow paper and read:
To the crew that ransacked Neptune’s Blade,
You win, but surely you didn’t think my treasure would be this easy to find! Better luck next time.
Remember, never trust a pirate.
-Captain John Remmington-
As I looked up from the old note, I saw the captain’s eyes, mad with greed and fury as his sword came towards my rapidly beating heart before I could even apologize.