As the light faded away, she was able to open her eyes, but the monster was no longer there. In fact, neither was the forest or the moon. She was sitting on a white-sanded beach, with the sun rising in the distance.
A black ship with three masts was anchored a ways off shore. Its sails were red and two large flags flew from the middle mast; one was pitch black and the other was (sign for danger here). Eana had a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach as she observed it. A long, loud blast of sound, not unlike a trumpet, came from the ship and, from her point of view, many colored dots swarmed over the sides into little boats.
With fascinating speed, the boats came closer and the colored dots turned into men wearing ragged clothing. Eana’s conscience told her to run, but her limbs didn’t want to move. By the time she had pulled herself to her feet, they had circled around her. Many of them had scraggly beards and various defects, such as missing teeth, limbs, eyes, and so forth. All of them had drawn curved scimitars or straight, thick swords. Pirates!
One side of the circle parted to admit a tall, well dressed pirate with a barrel chest. On his head was a black three-pointed hat and a black patch covered his right eye. “Who, may I ask, are you?” he said politely, but as stared down at Eana, the vibes he gave off were anything but nice.
Eana’s feeling grew worse and she sensed danger; as if pirates’ surrounding her wasn’t enough of a sign. “I’m Arlene,” she said, giving them her middle name.
He gestured to someone behind her. “You are not who we are looking for, my dear.”
A sharp pain fell upon her head and she spiraled down into unconsciousness.
Eana awoke with a pain in her back as well as her head. Someone was prodding it with a pole of some sort. “Wakey up, liddle girlie.” Whoever was doing it wasn’t planning on stopping. Still, Eana refused to open her eyes.
“Wakey up or I’ll cutcha down an’ make ya wake up.”
Eana sat up awkwardly. She was restrained in a bag of sorts made of a rope net hanging from the forward mast. Down below her, a pirate missing several teeth and an ear grinned up at her. He poked the pole up through the net and poked her with it. She glared down at him. “I dare you to do that again.” she said hatefully.
He did so, and she grabbed her end of it and pulled it sharply toward her, as if it were a lever. The other end smacked the pirate in the jaw. She watched him fall foolishly over and dropped the pole contemptuously. A few pirates lounging about the deck pointed at their fallen comrade and laughed.
She crossed her arms and leaned back. A disapproving shower of meows erupted from her backpack. She shot upright again and unzipped the back pocket. PrettyPaws looked up at her scornfully, Puffball was whining pitifully, but Panther was still asleep. Eana pulled them out one at a time and placed them in the little pockets on the front that she had made especially for them. Each pocket had a name written on the front, and a strap that went about their middle so they wouldn’t fall out.
“Bad kitties,” she scolded, “Why’d you climb in my bag? Now you’re in for it.” She pulled her backpack into her lap and leaned back again with her hand over her eyes. “Pirates. Pirates don’t even exist like this anymore. This is the Blackbeard/Captain Hook sort thing.” She sighed and needles pricked the back of her eyes when she thought of what might be done to her.
Panther woke up slowly and peered up at Eana with a “Merow?”
Eana shrugged as if she understood. “How should I know where we are? In the slight chance that we managed to travel the couple hundred miles to the west coast, why the heck is the sand white? We’re not even in
, are we? Where’re the rocks?” Washington
A passing pirate shook his fist at her. “Shut y’ yap!”
“Shut your own.” Eana scowled down at him. From the look on his face, no one had talked to him like that in a while. “Sorry, did I surprise you? Huh, you’d think you’d hear a simple retort every once in a while on a stinkin’ pirate ship!”
He growled, but continued to where ever he was going. Then, quite suddenly, it dawned on Eana that she still had her backpack. “Man,” she muttered, “These pirates aren’t very bright.”
She fished around for her matches and a water bottle. She poured as much water as she dared onto the hem of her shirt and held the water spot from the inside with her left hand. With her right, she lit a match and held it close to one of the ropes in front of her. She let it burn until the rope snapped, then she grabbed it with her soaking shirt hem and it went out. That’s when she found her pocket knife. She groaned. “Wasted a perfectly good match and perfectly good water.”
She whipped out her pocket knife and cut through more of the ropes to make a hole big enough to squeeze through. She put everything back into her backpack and slipped it on over her shoulders. She climbed out of the hole and used the rope as a ladder until she reached the mast.
Once on top of the mast, Eana peered down. Most of the pirates had gone below deck, and the few that were still up were either asleep or drunk. Only one person was looking up at her; a boy who looked about sixteen or seventeen. He was wearing black boots, brown pants, and a white shirt made of sail cloth. He tipped an imaginary hat at her and she raised her eyebrow, waiting.
Okay, she decided, if he were to blow the whistle, he would’ve done it already. She still kept a cautious eye on him as she made her way down the mast. More than once, she found herself dangling, holding on just with her arms. She stared uncertainly at him when she was on the dock.
He nodded and pointed to the side of the boat. She backed up to the side without looking away; she didn’t think it would be this easy. She tripped over a scabbard and the pirate it belonged to woke up. He blinked and stared down at her. She scrambled away, but he just looked at her.
“What?” she whispered unbelievably. The boy waved his hand to get her attention and pointed at the pirate. He made a cup with his hand and held it up to his lips.
Oh, she thought with relief. She walked slowly back to the pirate and said in a sickly sweet voice, “Hello. Do you mind if I borrow your sword for a moment?”
Dutifully, the pirate drew his sword and pointed it at Eana. She pushed the point away gently and took the hilt. “Thank you.” She smiled in that sickly way and knocked him hard over the head with the hilt. The boy’s hand clapped over his mouth and his face turned red; with laughter, she hoped. She saluted him and slid over the side into a boat.
She pulled the lever that dropped her into the water, cut away the ropes, and rowed quickly to shore. It was a lot harder than it looked, and the oars slipped away from her often. Eventually she made it to shore, but a shout echoed angrily across the water and the trumpet blared again. This time, Eana ran. She was deep inland and in a thick forest by the time the pirates made it to shore.