By: Somiya Brown and Keona Polhamus
Esmeralda Velazquez gazed out of the grime filled window, of the top floor of her parents’ inn. She looked out expectantly, but all she could see were the shacks and shops of her dirty street. Since the inn was taller than the other homes, she was privileged with a better view than most of if not all of the people in her town. She turned her attention to the long dock of the ship port, which was quickly coming to life in the light of the rising sun. Most of the men in this small English settlement in Jamaica were fishermen or merchants or shopkeepers of some trade. And already, before the sun's light, they could be seen moving about the long docks. The pale calm sea was streaked with the pale pinks and oranges of the early morning sky, and a wispy mist was swirling from around the docks. Then, there it was. The sun, big and glowing and red. Like a magnificent fireball, it cast its red and orange light across the sky and sea, creating a fire-like effect. Yes, it was beautiful, but to the sailors it was a bad omen. There was an old saying among fishermen that went something like this," Red night, sailors delight; red morning, sailors warning." A red morning would be a major setback. It meant a storm was coming; and it was never wrong. She would have to warn him, but she doubted her would listen. Any foolish man, who would regard this as a superstition, would find himself at the bottom of the ocean. Few if not any of the fishermen in their small sloops, would try to brave the upcoming storm; today would be a day for checking the nets, or buying new merchandise, or visiting one of the many inns in the town. Today would be a busy day for her parents.... Speaking of her parents, Esmeralda could already smell the fresh aroma of the breakfast her mother had started, her mother would probably be calling her down soon to help serve the boarders. He better arrive soon.
She decided to look out the window just for a minute longer, and then she would help her mother. Much to her dismay, the street was still empty.... No! Wait! Yes, there he was just rounding the corner now. Caspian Smith. He had a weird name for a British subject, but it suited him. Long-ish dark brown hair, light caramel skin, and mysterious silvery blue eyes to match his quiet, mysterious demeanor. He is late again, she mused with a smile. She opened the window and waved, he gave her one of his rare small smiles and ducked his head inside the door of the inn. Before leaving, she quickly ran to her cracked looking glass. She ran her fingers quickly through her long mass of curly dark hair. She was pleased with her appearance. She inherited her dark hair and small figure from her mother's Spanish side. Her greenish-hazel eyes and light skin were from her father's British side. Some people looked down on "mixed" people, but she was proud of her family heritage. She gathered up the skirt of her brown dress, and flew down the stairs, wishing for the freedom of trousers. She peaked through the kitchen, and slowly tip-toed by in her bare feet, hoping her mother wouldn't notice. "Esmeralda?" she turned around," Ah, there you are, I need your help, the inn is full." Esmeralda tried to smile," Two minutes, please, ma’ma?" Her mother raised an eyebrow, then looked into the dining room, and saw Caspian casually leaning against the door frame. "Ah,' she said while smiling, then she walked over and handed Esmeralda a plate of hot cakes," Go see him."
"Thank you!" she said while grabbing Caspian's hand and tugging him outside. Her mother shook her head and smiled, then went back to work. Caspian sat on the steps stuffing his face with the hot cakes, while Esmeralda tried to warn him of the upcoming storm. "You can't go out there today, see the sky!" she urged.
He shook his head and began to laugh softly," You can't stop me; it’s my first day on the job. Esmeralda, you know I need the money." She shook her head; Esmeralda knew this to be true, for Caspian's parents were merchants who had been killed by a pirate attack. Caspian didn't like to talk about, but the only thing he ever told her was," Esmeralda, if you ever see a ship called the Maelstrom, get out of here as fast as you can." The very name gave her shivers. "There is going to be a storm," she urged. He stood up and grabbed her shoulders lightly," I promise you, I will be fine, it is not like I don't know the sea." She had to agree with him on that one. "Fine,” she said while punching his shoulder," But you have to let me walk you down to the merchant docks."
He agreed, and the two best friends made there way to the docks. By the time they arrived the sun was fully risen. They made their way to the large merchant ship Cleopatra docked there. "Um...Hello, sir," said Caspian," Are you Captain Nicholson?" "Yes, that would be me lad...Are you ready to set out, they say there is going to be a storm, but that won't stop me." "Yes, sir,” said Caspian," that won't stop me either."
"Good!” said the Captain with a smile," You can start by loading these crates into the ship."
The Captain walked away, and Caspian walked back to Esmeralda. He gave her a quick hug.
"Bye," he said," Expect me back in a week!"
She knew she couldn't convince him not to leave so she went along with it," Ok." she said," Don't run into any pirates."
"I won't," he said. And with that he walked up the gangplank. Esmeralda quickly made her way back to their inn to help her mother. She slid into the kitchen just in time to do the dishes. "He's gone?" her mother asked.
"Yes, he'll be back in a week," she replied.
Meanwhile, Caspian had been sailing on the Caribbean for three days. There had been the large storm, but they had braved it with ease. The merchant ship had already visited so many places, he had seen so much. He couldn't wait to go back and tell Esmeralda. He looked out gazing on the horizon, and saw a small speck in the distance.
"Captain!" he called," There is another merchant ship on the horizon!"
The captain came up beside him, his face grave," Aye, that is no merchant ship, lad."
Caspian looked at the captain," You mean...."
"Pirates!" said the Captain," Raise the sails, we have to get out of its canon range."
Caspian watched as the galleon got closer and closer, and then he recognized the man at the helm. Captain Malcolm Skulken.
This was not just any pirate ship. It was the Maelstrom.
The week had passed so slowly for Esmeralda, and she ran to the merchant docks. She sat with her feet dangling in the water, waiting for the Cleopatra to arrive. She waited all afternoon, but it never came...
Finally, a merchant ship docked, a man came off pale and weak. Soon a crowd had gathered around him, the captain of that merchant ship had found him half drowned on a plank in the water. "He said that he came from the Cleopatra." Esmeralda went pale and ran up to the man. "What happened?" she pleaded. He looked up at her with his glassy eyes and uttered one word before he died. "Maelstrom."