You must be joking, Grandfather. I can't imagine you on an actual sailing ship.
I tell you, child, it happened! I wouldn't joke about something like that.
Are you sure it was a pirate vessel?
Are you doubting my memory?
No, I was just---
Do you want to hear the story or not?
Then hush up and let me speak!
Now, where was I? Oh, yes! The pirate ship. Quite a beautiful ship it was, too. Long, and sleek, made for quick speed, with black sails that could catch the slightest whisper of a breeze. Fastest ship anyone had ever seen, which was good, too, because it was captained by the most devious and dangerous man I had ever met in my lifetime.
Was it really?
I met this man at Port Royale. I had been purchasing a new cane, at some point just prior to having picked you up, actually. I remember it was very hot. Always seemed to be rather muggy around that area of the planet, and I was fanning myself with a handkerchief, trying to keep the bugs away and the sweat from blinding these old eyes.
I needed a ship. You see, the TARDIS was camoflauged as a very large chest, and had subsequently been taken by a group of pirates to some location I'd never heard of. Tortuga, I think. It's been a terribly long time. I inquired as to a ship that could take me there, but a place such as Tortuga, a place of criminals and squalor, was not one most captains would be willing to take even the most well-paying of customers. And, of course, there was always the danger of getting one's throat cut if the captain decided you had too much money, mhmmm?
I was directed to the ship I mentioned before, it was supposedly sailing to Tortuga, and for a price I might be able to fetch myself a ride. I followed the instructions and went to the dock.
And that, my dear, is when I saw him. The most infamous and dangerous pirate along the whole of the equator of Earth.
What was he doing?
Yes. Apparently, along with being the most infamous of pirates, he was also the most infamous of alcoholics, or something along those lines. The poor bloke was facefirst in a pile of muck, with an empty bottle of rum.
What is rum?
It is a vile drink, Susan. Made for madmen and idiots who can't think to put sugar in tea, so they process it into alcohol.
I was fed up with waiting in the heat for this disgusting, unwashed heap of a man to wake up, so I retrieved a glass of seawater and dumped it on the man's head. He immediately roused, drawing his cutlass and looking quite unhappy with having been woken.
"Wha!" he barked, "Wha' was tha' for? Don' ya know it's bad luck to wake a sleepin' man?"
"Yes, well," I said, in my most patient of voices, leaning over the pirate and looking down at him over my cane, "The bad luck can be reversed if the man who did the waking buys the man who was woken a drink, while offering him a business proposal, don't you think?"
The man seemed to be both understanding and highly confused. As, really, is the way with most humans, Susan. They don't even know their own superstitions. The man blinked up at me behind his wet dreadlocks and smeared kohl eye makeup, and nodded.
He glanced back at the bottle in his hand and sighed. "Why's the rum always gone?"
He seemed to be rather confused.
I'm fairly sure the man was quite mad. I bought him a glass of rum, and offered him a good sum of money for passage to Tortuga. I had knowledge of a great amount of gold coinage that had been deposited by some Time Agents hundreds of years earlier, something about a curse, it didn't matter. I knew where it was. In return for the man's help in getting my chest back, he would gain the knowledge where to find the coins.
Where did you get this knowledge, Grandfather?
My dear child, what stories would I have if I were to tell you all of my secrets, hmm?
Needless to say, the man accepted my offer, and took me aboard his ship the next day. The crew was an awful lot, and I made sure to tell the captain I thought so. The first mate, especially, with his very large, feathered hat, always seemed to be looking at the captain like he'd rather slice his throat than take another order.
Understandable, I suppose, as I said before, Susan, the captain was quite mad. Often contradicting himself, or barking orders and then wondering why things were done. It was both dizzying and frustrating. And, while a beautiful ship that sped through the water, the boat itself did nothing for my stomach, and I spent a good deal of the trip leaning over the side, emptying the contents of my stomach.
A gentleman with a wooden eye approached me, tilting his head a bit and looking me over as I straightened myself up from the side of the ship.
"Ain't you a bit old to be sailing, mate?"
"I say, boy," I said, "Aren't you a bit young to be telling me whether or not I should be sailing?"
"You don't got no sea legs," the wooden-eyed man said.
"My boy, I'm quite aware as to which legs I do or do not have. And there are no such things as 'sea legs'. Don't exist."
"Beggin' yer pardon, m'lord, but Sea Legs is—"
"Ragetti!" The voice that barked behind us was that of the first mate. Peg leg to the stairs, he hobbled down and glared at the wooden-eyed man. "I think you've been botherin' the good Doctor long enough, don't ya think?"
I doubt I've seen fear in a human the way it manifested itself in the wood-eyed man. "Y-Y-Yes, Barbossa, I-I-I think that---"
"Aye, ya think that ya ought ta go scrub the deck now, hmm? Leave the good Doctor's legs alone an' get ta yer duties?" The way that the first mate spoke, it was obvious, to me, that he held more authority over the crew than even the infamous captain did. The wooden-eyed man scurried away, leaving me with the first mate.
I wasn't intimidated. No matter his strength of ego, he is still but a boy to me.
"The good captian's been talkin'," the first mate said, leaning against the rail next to me, "Says you've got a locale on some Aztec gold, buried out on an uncharted map."
"Yes, I have," I said, my voice annoyed at the man. I have seen too much, Susan, not to know a mutineer when I see one, and this first mate, this Barbossa fellow, he was thinking only of himself.
How did you know that, Grandfather? He was a pirate, perhaps he was simply surly.
I am telling you, child, there are things you can simply tell about a person! Now, be quiet so I can finish my story!
"This gold's got a hefty curse on it, eh?" the first mate asked me.
"So goes the legend," I replied, "But I've never been one to follow legends, my boy."
"Aye. They don't be fillin' pockets or supplyin' ships," the first mate agreed, "Ya see, the captain there, he thinks we ought to get you to Tortuga an' be lettin' you go, ignorin' the treasure an' its curse."
The first mate took a few more steps towards me, and tried, with all his unwashed might, to startle me with his presence. I pushed him back with my cane, and he relented.
"I'm sayin' that we here, we need a heading, we need some treasure an' we'll be needin' a new captain, soon. So I'm thinkin' you ought to be givin' the map and locale to me as opposed to our soon-to-be-dispatched."
So he was a mutineer!
Yes, that is what I said, Susan.
"You're planning on dispatching the good Captain, then?" I raised my eyebrow. I could've pressed the matter further, or gone to the captain himself, but that would've most likely ended me in walking the plank rather than getting back to the TARDIS.
"Ooooh, no, we be pirates, good Doctor," the first mate said, grinning a gap-toothed smile, "But we don't be murderers. We'll be tossin' him off Sandy-Rock creek, let him bake in the sun a while. We're bein' merciful, good Doctor, don't you worry. We'll be givin' him a pistol with one shot, should the heat madden him."
My eyes narrowed, and I crossed my arms.
"That is murder, Sir and I won't stand---"
This is, of course, the point in which the lookout cried out that they had spotted Tortuga. The first mate pointed his finger in my direction and told me if I spoke a word, he'd toss me over as well.
We landed in Tortuga not more than a few hours later. I had much on my mind, not the least of which was the map in my pocket and the knowledge that the captain that had offered me a ride on his ship, on his Black Pearl, was about to be dispatched by his own crew.
We made landfall, and easily discovered the bumbling crew with my TARDIS. By "we", of course, I mean the crew of the Pearl, while I perused the untidy and rather raucous world of Tortuga. I made well with a man and a pig---please, Susan, don't ask me to elaborate---who told me a good deal about Sandy-Rock creek, which was not a creek as the name suggested, but a small, uninhabited island.
Why would they call it a creek then?
How should I know, child? The story's nearly done, so stop with your squirming.
The chest recovered to me, the captain offered me his hand and asked for the map to the gold. I looked to the first mate, whose hand twitched on his gun, and sighed, handing over the paper as promised. The captain grinned and slipped the paper into his breast pocket before leaving me and my chest on Tortuga, sailing off into the proverbial sunset.
Oh, but Grandfather, that's terrible. You left a man to be murdered by his own crew.
Ah, you might think that, child. But contained along with the map to the location was the information I had gathered from the man with the pig. Sandy-Rock creek may have been overheated and uninhabited, but it was a runner-island for rum smugglers, and if the now-defunct captain could survive several days at most, then he would have passage away from it. To seek revenge, find redemption, perhaps stop his pirating ways.
And all the while the first mate would never know you were the one to tip him off!
Yes, you see, your old Grandfather knows what he's doing. Now, pass me that water, would you? This heat is positively draining me.
How long do you think it will be before someone finds us?
Ooooh, not too long, now, I imagine? These are pirate waters, after all. A pirate doesn't make landfall for long before he's back on the sea.
Much like us and the TARDIS, Grandfather?
Yes, Susan, my dear. Much like us and the TARDIS.
Yo ho yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,924