So galleons, the other day I decided to update the ‘About Me’ section of a social media profile. As all of my ‘About Me’ sections are different, I needed to come up with some (probably not at all) clever new thing to write. What started as a vague idea for a tongue-in-cheek, overly dramatic little paragraph highlighting my fears of rabbits and scurvy instead became a meandering, silly little story.
Sadly, said story blew right past their stupid word limit. And so, I scrapped the idea entirely… but I saved a copy of the story. And because I don’t know if I’ll ever bother rewriting and polishing it to make it anything worthwhile, I’ll post it here.
Truly, this would have been the best ‘About Me’ section ever.
In another life, I ruled as a pirate cat, the lucky charm of The Marybeth. I didn’t have a peg leg or an eyepatch, but I did break into the galley a number of times to get utterly sozzled on the captain’s pilfered rum. A cabin boy named Jimmy kept a pet rabbit aboard the ship. I despised that rabbit. The damn thing would always sneak up on me while I was deep in my cups, materializing out of the shadows, nose twitching, watery eyes staring into my soul. I swatted him a good one once, leaving a scar on his left cheek. Thought that would teach him a lesson about staying in his box ‘neath Jimmy’s bunk and not bothering the ship’s cat.
Instead, it made him more determined.
I didn’t see the rabbit for many’a moon, during which I continued enjoying the fine life of a ship’s lucky cat. Fine silks for a bed, choice bits of meat tossed in a golden bowl plundered from an Arabian prince attempting to escape his burning palace in a hastily constructed dinghy loaded with gold and women from his harem. Ah, the crew was pleased with that haul. In the night, I sat on the rail near the helm, joining my voice to the cries of men and women filling the night as my crew enjoyed their booty.
On the far deck, a glittering set of dark eyes watched me yowl my approval to the seas. The rabbit sniffed once at the air, staring fiercely at me all the while. Despite my earlier elation, I felt a cold wind brush over my spine. My triumphant cries caught in my throat. I gagged, as if on a hairball, but there was nothing there. Just those eyes, burning into me across the ship. A pale hand reached out and pulled the rabbit into the depths of the crew quarters.
It wasn’t Jimmy’s hand.
Three days later, we sailed into a mighty storm. The winds battered the sails, the men were scrambling for purchase on the slick deck as they tried to keep the ship afloat. No matter where I hid, the rain-flecked wind found me, soaking me to the bone. For two days and two nights the storm raged, bringing exhaustion and fear to the crew. One thing was clear to us all- this was no ordinary storm. Through it all, the crew swore they heard the sound of a woman’s voice raised in a fierce, foreign chant. I heard it as well, but every time I attempted to track the sound to its source, I was led in a wide, empty circle.
When the storm broke, we were without our bearings. Unsure where we were, we drifted through the water, the fear the storm inspired giving way to an uneasy dread. Little by little, we used up the ship’s stores. The crew began to sneak looks at me, their eyes glittering with a hunger I had never seen before. The rabbit appeared only at night, slinking out of the shadows as I tossed fitfully in my silk bed, his eyes boring into me. He said nothing, but I saw he looked as plump and lustrous as ever, while I was skin and bones, with sores opening up on my flesh.
Soon, I didn’t have the strength to leave my bed. The hunger in the eyes of the crew now appeared in the eyes of the captain, who sat for long hours in the evening, staring at me. Scurvy ravaged my body. Ants appeared and crawled about in the sores on my legs. I yowled pitfully at my captain, but he simply sat there, staring at me night after night as I got sicker and weaker.
Until one night, when he approached my bed slowly, his eyes burning furiously with desperation and insanity. His mouth stretched into a wide grin as he scooped up my ravaged body and carried me outside. The men hooted, their faces gaunt, their lips twitching, tongues scrabbling. I was carried to the galley, where a pot of seawater and two shriveled carrots sat on the fire. The mouth of the pot seemed to yawn open at my approach, hungry for meat for the stew.
“Not much use for a cat if she ain’t lucky, is there, boys?”
The ants writhed, burrowing into my skin as the hot steam wafting up from the stew pot hit them. I tried to screech, but there was no sound, just a sharp pain and the heat of the steam on the dry, cracked lining of my throat. I looked out at the crew I had sailed with for these last four years, and I saw nothing of them in the haunted corpses clustering round the pot.
In the corner, the rabbit watched, hale and healthy in the lap of one of the harem girls. She looked as lovely as ever, but her smile was vicious. The men seemed not to notice her. I realized then that it was she who had sent the storm. And the witch remained, watching the men suffer.
But it wasn’t her eyes that gleamed with satisfaction as I was dropped into the pot. It was the rabbit’s- cold, hard, and so very pleased.