Isle of Eternal Torment

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Review Chain
1000 word short story about a marooned pirate.

Submitted: July 07, 2019

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 07, 2019



Take heart, dear reader, knowing that damnation is an island, and I its sole inhabitant.

Waking from my nightmare, I began to walk one, feeling sand between my toes. The water would have been beautiful, if not for bobbing bodies, and pieces of bodies that came in with the tide, obscuring the sun’s glimmer from teal waters. Never had my fellow pirates been so lazy than when they were limply riding the crimson, frothing waves that hissed upon the moor. For the first time I became envious of Jim Bawker, as he washed ashore at my feet. His fingers, rigid by his breast, seemed yet to play his famous accordion tunes. No longer did his gentle smile light his face, it had turned wild and blue with hypoxia.

I dragged his lifeless corpse past the shoreline, and went back for the captain who, even in death, looked to call for help with gaping mouth and raised hand. Captain Hunter always said I hadn’t the guts of half a man. Perhaps I proved him right as my hands trembled on his soggy coat.

Twelve of my comrades I pulled beneath the palm fronds, each one more tattered by coral and hungry fish than the last. I lay, too, at their shoulders, with many hours of fatigue, duly satisfied that I had done more for them in a single morning than they had done for me in sixty. I intended to die beneath the shade of swaying leaves.

But fate is not so kind.

I heard the jubilation of finches somewhere near. They would have a source of freshwater further inland. If not for apoplectic thirst, I would have stayed. How fitting that the storm-mangled ship that bore me hence was aptly named, The Resolve.

It was less than a trickle that dripped down the boulder’s hairline crack. I licked the stone, and only then did I realize the drought that had been suffused throughout my body by saltwater, hot sun, and my own hard labors. As I dragged my lips across the coarse gravel, I incessantly wept releasing multitudes more rivers than I was capable of lapping up from the jagged stone.

As I returned to the beach of lifeless men, I found an army of gulls slaking their hunger, piteously plucking wayward eyes, saving the dead from seeing further conjurations of listless evil. My stomach cramped. I licked my grated, bleeding lips, wondering what raw flesh would taste like. But I would not become a cannibal.

With a stray board being offered by the broken remains of The Resolve, I tirelessly dug a trench and made a graveyard. My hunger’s satisfaction now lay just beyond an arm’s reach in a shallow grave. It was time for another visit to the weeping stone.

At night, I sat upon the freshly filled mound, staring out to sea as the ceaseless waves reminded me of my torment. I could not escape. Fragments of my ship taunted me with every ebb, but without rope, I could not string a raft together from its remains. Hunger would take me, if not thirst, and I felt at peace for it.

As my mind wandered in the passing hours, I recalled when my father took me on his hunting trips. After slaying and stripping a buck of his meat, he bleached the bones to use as pins and medicine. The intestines he used for rope.

Begging god to take this vision from my mind and strike me with amnesia was fruitless. The greatest knowledge I have ever feared was that of cold, calculated truth. Below my knees was one-hundred and twenty feet of usable cord.

That very hour I became a cannibal, harvesting their bodieis for usable parts. I began with Jim Bawker, his tunes playing merrily as I unearthed his crooked fingers. A rusted nail, torn from my makeshift shovel, spilled his stinking bowels on the sand. What little substance I had in my own stomach burst from my mouth. I continued my heinous work.

With each member of my crew, the task became simpler, and I began to question my own sanity as I devised new methods for this ungodly task. My methodic hand cut through their bellies, and plundered their slimy treasure out of their chests. A rinse in the ocean made handling the entrails easier, and two by two, I twisted my mates' innerds together. We had always been stronger when we worked in pairs. I was altogether pleased with my ingenuity.

The island sun worked quickly, drying the hanging insides of my friends. I, too, made haste by gathering any usable plank and beam. I did not entomb what was left of my mates; men should only be buried once.

By next morning, starved and sleep deprived, I had constructed my vessel. If only my captain could have seen me then, lashed afloat with the guts of a dozen men. A spare plank was my oar as I shoved off the shallow bottom of the sea. I did not know where I was going, except that I escaped eternal torment, leaving behind all sense of my own humanity to rot alongside the discarded men.

Not a hundred feet out, a fin pierced the surface of the water. Enticed by the wretched stench of decaying flesh, now ordinary to my senses, the grey specter sniffed below my craft. As water rose between the shafts, and rinsed my feet, I prayed that the dead did not linger on me.

The monstrous shark broke the surface from behind and bit my raft. With the nail-prodded end of my plank, I beat the monster’s eye. It let go, turned in the water and came again.

Inch by receding inch of my keel we dueled until the beast fell far below, lifeless into the deep, and I clung helplessly to a single timber. The island was gone from sight, and for this, and eventual death, I rejoiced. I had lived out my resolve.

Adrift, dehydrated and in the throes of starvation, I lifted my head with the rise of the new sun in time to have been tumbled by thrashing waves. Delirious, laying meekly on scorching sand, I looked aside to find the carcass of a giant shark in my company; an ample food source, to my demise. Standing, I discovered the horror of a dozen disemboweled men, festering in the placid sun with crabs eating their cheeks. Jim Bawker welcomed me home with frivolous tunes.

If this letter finds you, dear reader, wrapped inside the marrow of dead man’s leg, come and find me on this desolate isle so that you may place a leaden shot inside my breast, ending this eternal torment.

© Copyright 2019 C. S. Spence. All rights reserved.

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