Noonday Sun

His dreams are a madman's dreams, but he only knows it when he dreams. Awake, his thoughts are filled with the feel of his ship and the sound of the wind and the smell of the salt on the air. He fancies that he has a purpose, now that his ship is come back to him. He tells his crew they are going to ravage the world, do as they will, and chance all else.

At night, he dreams, and he blames the dreams on the sun.

It's an easy, reasonable excuse, no one really knows how long he was stranded on the island. No one knows how long he spent afterwards sailing the ocean, without his hat or the sense to go below. He lets them whisper among themselves that his brains are baked.

He's mad, though, and sometimes he knows it. Sometimes he plays it up and he enjoys their reactions. Sometimes he catches himself, and wonders what he's done. At night, the reality of it crawls out, and plays with his mind until he cannot find the helm of his own soul. When he finally wakes, he lies still on his bed and listens to his ship. She speaks to him, but that is no claim of a madman. Any ship's captain will tell the same tale, pirate or no. The creak of the wood and the splash of the waves -- the soul of her whispers to any who pause to hear.

He's missed her, these ten years, and is surprised to find that the mutineers took such good care of her. She hardly complains at all, after they took her into safe -- for them -- harbour and had her seen to. He cursed the cannonfire that left such gaping wounds, but once she was healed she sang clear and sailed true, and his heart felt the freedom he'd thought he'd lost forever.

It's his dreams that remind him he's lost more than freedom. Mad, fevered dreams that tell him he's forgotten something in the daytime.

When he dreams and hears the voice, made indistinct by the depth of water, he knows there is more to fear. He scrambles out of his dream and the voice of his Pearl fills his ears. He listens to her, lets her shut out dark things, and reaches out to caress her and pretends there is nothing else in the world he needs more.

It isn't the sun that makes him dance about on deck, calling back at the seagulls when they near shore. He laughs at his First Mate for calling him mad, and he scurries up to the helm to take a look at the ocean around them. It is a clear, beautiful day, and there is nothing ahead of them but whatever they wish to find.

Behind him, the voice still whispers.

When did he die, Jack?

He forces himself to smile, and he breathes in the rich salt air.

How many years was he below, and was it the breaking of the curse that killed him?

He dreams of the only good man he's ever loved, and the ocean in which he sleeps. He tells himself Bill died that day, but somewhere, behind the frenzied thoughts, he still wonders if the cursed pirate was tied to the ocean floor, waiting for someone to find him.