SHIPWRECKED by Cameron Hatheway
Sorry I haven't updated recently, I'm hard at work writing my next story, THE PATCH. In the meantime, enjoy this short story for free! I had the opportunity to adapt it to the comic book medium a few years back (still have the script and everything), but it ultimately didn't happen, and I'm okay with that (the publisher wasn't the most trustworthy).
If you want to help support my writing, feel free to share this link on social media, purchase it on Amazon, or even write a review! Heck, do all three and I'll love you forever!
Water filled Walter’s lungs as he struggled to the surface for air. The freezing water had soaked him to the bone as he flailed about, attempting to swim to shore. Although it was night, he could see the beach in between bobs and gasps for air, coughing up the wretched-tasting water. The sandy shore was his only salvation, for Walter was never a decent swimmer at any point of his life. It didn’t help that he was incredibly intoxicated before he fell overboard from the Constance. Perhaps that’s why the captain had strictly prohibited any alcohol aboard his vessel. Walter silently prayed that if he managed to survive the night, he would stop drinking for the rest of his life.
Lightning illuminated the beach, followed by a deafening roar of thunder over the violent howls of the wind. A sharp reef had cut Walter’s legs as he approached the beach, and he could feel his skin being slashed as he kicked about scared and confused. Once past the reef, land was a mere few feet away. “Oh thank Christ!” he yelled as he made his way ashore. Down on his hands and bloody knees, Walter bent down and kissed the sand, on the verge of tears. He quickly lost his balance from the alcohol and crashed face-first into the sand, unaware of his new surroundings. It wasn’t the sea, so Walter could care less what accompanied him the beach.
As he looked around through blurred vision, Walter started to make out what appeared to be bunches of white reeds amongst the sandy dunes. Upon closer inspection, dread took over all senses as he came to the realization that these weren’t white reeds, but rather skeletons of people long forgotten. Walter shrieked and fell backwards into the sand. Drunkenly staggering to his feet, he tried to collect himself as best he could before inspecting his newfound unsettling company. The skeletons were nothing but bones and bits of tattered rags, half-buried in the sand from several years of the unrelenting elements. Some of them clung to swords and others empty bottles of beer, and it wasn’t until Walter spied an eye patch on one of them that he realized these were the remains of pirates from centuries ago.
While he was slightly calmed by that fact, he was also freaked out that of all the islands he washed up on, he had to be on the one with pirates. Then another fear gripped Walter; if he was the first person to discover these remains, that meant no one else in all this time had discovered the island since. Would he be stuck on this island forever, one day dying alongside his pirate brethren? Nauseous from this sudden realization, Walter fell to his knees and threw up. After spewing long and hard, he rolled over onto the sand to rest and think. The lightning and thunder still echoed all around him, but he couldn’t feel the rain upon his face. Maybe he had grown numb from the alcohol, or maybe he was still drenched from the sea to feel any new wetness upon his body.
“Lord help me, I’m doomed to die on this island!” Walter wailed at the sky. He could suddenly feel his knees throbbing in pain, and looked down to see that the sand around him had become soaked with his blood. Clumsily ripping off his shirt, Walter attempted to tie the wet cloth around his right knee and apply pressure to the wound. He prayed he didn’t get an infection from the reef, for he could somewhat remember the Ken Burns documentary about the Civil War, and the soldiers who had their limbs painfully removed because of gangrene.
Determined to live, Walter slowly began to crawl up the beach and towards the sandy dunes, carefully avoiding the pirate corpses. Past the skulls and bones were remnants of a wrecked wooden ship, half of the vessel submerged in the sand. Scattered around the ship were broken treasure chests of gold coins and jewels of several different cultures. Walter gave a drunken laugh at the find. He may die cold and alone on this island, but at least he would die a king.
As he approached one of the overflowing chests, he reached down to pick up an emerald as big as his fist. “Dead men tell no tales,” an eerie voice whispered from off in the distance. Walter panicked when he heard the voice, falling down on his bottom. Scrambling for a place to hide, he accidentally ran head-first into the wooden ship and knocked himself out.
Dazed and bewildered when he came to, Walter laid in the sand defeated. His eyes slowly blinked open and shut as the pounding in his head grew louder. “I shouldn’t have drunk that much before the cruise,” he thought. It was supposed to be a pleasant cruise around the Caribbean islands, but turned sour when the combination of the storm and alcohol took over. He was lost and alone on some uninhabited haunted island, forever cutoff from civilization. Walter was now in so much pain that all he could do was weep.
Walter couldn’t keep track of the time. For all he knew, hours, days, or months could have passed since his arrival to the shore. He continued to lay there in his pitiful purgatory and wait until the end. And yet the storm still raged on, and Walter’s entire body continued to silently scream in agony.
Suddenly, the storm had stopped. Night had become day and a bright orb in the sky blinded Walter as he struggled to cover his face from the harsh light. Human voices were close by, growing louder as Walter attempted to look around to find the sources. “Is it a rescue party?” he wondered to himself. “Did the captain realize I fell overboard during the storm?” With all his remaining strength, Walter shouted and waved his arms in the air for help. “I’m over here! Somebody save me! Help! Help! SOS!”
The voices grew louder and soon Walter heard footsteps quickly approaching his position. Finally, a black man emerged from the bushes, wearing navy blue pants and a white buttoned shirt. Armed with a flashlight and a walkie-talkie, he knelt down to Walter’s position.
“Oh thank heavens you’ve found me! I’m saved! Saved!” shouted Walter with tears in his eyes. “I’ll never drink again!”
“SIR!” shouted the man, pointing his flashlight in Walter’s face. “You cannot leave the boat during the Pirates of the Caribbean ride!”
SHIPWRECKED can be purchased on Amazon, along with Cameron's other works.