On a trip to the beach, young Oscar finds a peculiar stone that turns out to be the glass eye of a pirate. Now, having come between the pirates and their treasure, he is in for a bizarre adventure. He will just have to keep his wits about him to emerge unscathed from in between the pages of his storybooks.
Hunting for Treasure
by Gabriel Merithew
Stooping down and smiling excitedly, Oscar picked a small shiny object from in between the rocks. He’d been searching for the better part of an hour and his hard work had finally paid off. He thrust the object triumphantly into the air, clenching it tightly in his fist. Far below, the crashing waves applauded him and sent gusts of salty sea air up to the boulder field where he now stood, whipping his shaggy blonde hair this way and that. Oscar was a treasure hunter. He’d decided as much that morning when he and his mother arrived at the beach. She’d reminded him to stay close, but all he heard was an invitation to disappear around the bend, for he’d been sure that that was where the treasure was… And he’d been right!
Oscar lowered his treasure to within an inch of his nose and inspected it carefully. It was almost perfectly round and smooth to the touch. Cold and spherical like a marble, but bigger. He turned it over slowly in his tiny hands and his heart jumped with delight when he noticed a distinctive round protrusion on the other side. “No way.” He breathed. “A glass eye!” And it was.
Stowing the glass eye carefully in his pocket, Oscar scrambled to the top of the nearest large boulder and plopped down onto his bottom, not caring that one misstep would send him falling down onto the jagged rocks ten feet below. The last time he’d come to the beach he had become a professional mountain climber, so he was more than qualified to scale tall objects.
Not taking even a second to appreciate his view of the ocean that spread out, sparkling with the intensity of a thousand diamonds in front of him, Oscar reached into his pocket and drew out the glass eye. He wondered how it wound up tucked between the boulders in the boulder field, but then he remembered that much like his favorite character in one of his favorite books, he was also a seasoned investigator, and he would get to the bottom of this fascinating mystery.
The glass eye had belonged to a pirate. He knew that much right away. One perilous afternoon, much like this one, the pirate crew had anchored their massive creaking ship and taken a rowboat ashore, braving the ferocious waves that threatened many times to sink their small craft. But they’d made it, hadn’t they? Otherwise, the glass eye wouldn’t have gotten this far ashore. Yes, propelled by the waves, the rowboat finally bumped its hull against the grinding rocks, and the soggy pirates dragged it ashore, away from the merrily crashing waves, fully aware that without it they had no means of returning to their ship. The crew was accustomed to danger though. Oscar knew that every day of a pirate’s life was fraught with peril, but that way of life was certainly not without reward. And even as they set off in search of more, treasure was plentiful even then below the deck of their ship, weighing it down so much that one large wave might’ve been enough to sink her. But this wasn’t going to stop them from picking up a few more chests before heading back to the mainland to spend it all.
Oscar could see them winding their way through the boulders and up towards where he sat, occasionally looking back at their ship as if they feared it might suddenly disappear. There were four of them. The largest who must’ve been the captain, walked in front of the rest, sporting a thick leather coat the same color as his thick strands of greasy hair, a great deal of which lay plastered to his left cheek. He whistled a little tune as he walked, every other footfall giving away a distinctive “CLUNK” of wood on stone. The second and smallest pirate, dressed only in baggy cloth trousers, was making an effort to not get too close to the first and looked quite frightened when the third pirate would shove him forward every so often. The third pirate was the only female of the group and wore her fiery red hair in the messiest of buns atop her head. She had the same weathered red skin as the others and was dressed in the same baggy cloth trousers. But besides the trousers, she also wore an oversize tunic that flapped about like a ship’s sail and was accompanied by a large red leather belt with a massive shiny buckle.
But it was the last pirate that intrigued Oscar. He was neither the largest nor the smallest and had the same pirate-y disposition about him. He smiled his crooked smile and cheerfully kept trying to join in with the tune that the captain one was whistling, though it was obvious he hadn’t yet figured out how to whistle properly, only managing a few short notes that were all out of tune. But it was his arms and legs, or lack thereof, that sparked Oscar’s curiosity. Judging by the long sleeve whipping about like a flag in the wind, this man had absolutely no left arm. He still had most of his right arm though, but it appeared to stop abruptly above his wrist and below that, a gleaming hook protruded from his sleeve. He did have a whole, normal-looking right leg, but the left one ended in a thick wooden peg that left him looking humorously lopsided. And his eye… Yes, he had to be him! One of his eyes was larger than the other and protruding a bit too much from the socket to pass a normal one. It was a glass eye. The same glass eye that Oscar had found all these years later, but how had he been separated from it?
As the pirates drew nearer, Oscar heard the tiny man speak in a timid squeaky voice. “Um… Where did you say the chests were buried?”
“Right up ahead.” The captain said gruffly. “Almost there. Right, Tom?”
The lopsided one, Tom, pointed further inland with his hook and drawled, “Yeah, right up there.”
The captain grunted his approval and the crew continued winding their way through the boulders until they reached the one where Oscar sat, watching the story unfold in awe.
“Here, ya?” The captain asked.
Without letting Tom answer, the female pirate interjected impatiently. “Enough o’ the chit chat! Let’s get to diggin’!” She knelt down on the rocks and began moving them away. The tiny man, not wanting to be branded unhelpful, joined in, and within a minute they’d cleared away the rocks, revealing a black patch of sand.
“Let me in there.” The captain said, pushing the two aside and retrieving a small spade that had been strapped to his back. He plunged the spade into the soft black sand over and over again, tossing the spadefuls over his shoulder and sending showers of sand onto the rocks behind him.
He dug so long that Oscar was getting a bit bored, but then all of a sudden, once he’d dug a hole deep enough that he was now standing in it up to his waist, the captain stopped digging and let out an involuntary shout of frustration. “YAARRGGHH! Where is it you good-for-nothin’, yellow-bellied swine?!” He leaped out of the hole and in one swift motion, roughly grabbed the pirate named Tom and brought his sweat-stained face within inches of Tom’s, glowering down at him. “You said it would be here!”
Oscar was awfully glad that he wasn’t in Tom’s shoes at this moment. Not only did the captain seem to be quite crazy, but his breath must’ve been something awful judging by the poorly disguised look of disgust on Tom’s face.
“Uhhh, I overheard a bloke mention somethin’ bout’ buried treasure, like I told ye’ before…” Tom began, his crooked smile no longer gracing his face. “I inquired of him further and he drew me out this here map!”
Tom made to free his hook from the captain’s grasp to dig into his pockets for the map, but the captain didn’t let go and continued to breathe heavily from between clenched teeth. “A map?!” The captain began, his face quickly bypassing red and turning maroon. “You made us come all this way to search for treasure marked on a map that you got off some bloke in the pub?!”
“Isn’t that what pirates are supposed to do?” Tom asked quietly. “Pursue treasure marked on treasure maps?”
“Maybe some pirates do, but maybe you’re too stupid to remember that when you joined this crew, you were specifically told that we always prefer to steal treasure from other pirates unless you know for certain, CERTAIN, where the treasure is! Bah! When you tell me you know where to find treasure, there had better be some goddamn treasure where you told me where to find it!”
“Understood sir,” Tom said in a small voice. “I was just trying to fit in.”
“In the last year since you joined this crew you’ve already lost an eye, an arm, a part of another arm, and yer leg, so I’ll tell you right here and now Tommy Lad… The only way you’ll ever fit in… is in appearance!” The captain growled, grabbing a fistful of Tom’s shirt and actually lifting him a couple of inches off the ground. “Let’s get out of here matey-s!”
“Wait, wait, wait,” Tom begged, his tone growing urgent. “Please wait a second sir, I beg of ye’. Let me just take a look at my map to see if we’re in the right place!”
The captain didn’t let go of his fistful of Tom’s shirt, but dropped his hooked hand and reached into Tom’s pocket, pulling out a crumpled lump of parchment. He thrust the map at the tiny man who carefully unfolded it, looked around nervously, and said, “Looks like we’re standing right on top of it, captain.”
“He says we’re standing right on top of it.” The captain whispered gravel in Tom’s ear. “But I don’t see no treasure. Do you?”
“There it is!” Tom shouted, pointing his hook behind the captain’s shoulder.
When the captain said “Huh?” and turned around to look where Tom had pointed, Tom shook and wiggled himself free of the captain’s grasp and flung himself into the hole. He landed on the sandy bottom of the hole with a thud and awkwardly tried to push himself up by using only his leg and partial arm and hook. Quickly giving up on his flailing tactic, Tom laid on his side, face pressed awkwardly into the sand and desperately dug with his hook. It was quite an inefficient method of digging.
“Get yer outta there!” The captain fumed, leaping down into the hole beside the flailing man. He knelt down, grabbed Tom around the waist, and hoisted him out of the hole.
“No, p… My eye!” Tom shouted desperately. “My glass eye dropped down there.”
“Silence!” The captain shouted. He then knelt down once more in the hole, so that he was now face-to-face with Tom who lay on the ground above, his cheek pressed painfully into the coarse sand. “Losing your eye is your punishment for causing your crew to waste half a day! I suggest that you think long and hard in your bunk tonight and come up with a plan to get some treasure for your crew! Unless of course, you’d rather walk the plank!”
“I didn’t know we had a plank…” Tom said softly, his voice slightly garbled by his face pressed into the sand. “We do? Cool.”
The captain grunted angrily and hopped out of the hole. Together he and the red-haired pirate grabbed Tom and lifted him to his foot and peg. The captain fastened his spade to his back once more and the pirates left the hole and wound their way back down to the beach in uneasy silence.
Oscar watched them go, then hopped down as soon as the coast was clear and was already scrambling over, under, and between the boulders, back to the beach where his mom was. She was already walking towards him, a look of relief on her face.
“Mummy! Mummy! I just found a pirate’s glass eye!” Oscar told her ecstatically, holding out his hand to show her the smooth spherical stone.
“Oh my goodness! Where did you find such a treasure?” She asked him.
Oscar proceeded to tell his mother everything, leaving out no detail about the pirates and their unsuccessful voyage. When he finished, his mother congratulated him on his treasure hunting skills and asked if he was ready to go home as the sun was now beginning to set.
“No, just a little longer!” Oscar handed the stone to his mother for safekeeping, then, with all thought of pirates gone completely from his mind, ran off as fast as his little legs could carry him, his curly blonde hair bouncing up and down. And as he ran, he yelled excitedly over his shoulder. “I wonder if there are any dinosaur bones buried over there! I’m gonna become a professional archaeologist!”