This story is by Michael Roy and was part of our 2020 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Captain Jeff was submerged 65-feet below clear blue water, blissfully unaware his brother was dealing with a mutiny. The choice of these old diving suits combined with the two new hires was concerning, Jeff knew the treasure was an evil temptress.
“Where the hell is my air supply?” Jeff was cursing both choices now. “I am not going to die down here like Captain Ron. Gripping my treasure, admiring the blue sky.” He yanked the air and communication tubes like a fish on the line.
“My air is malfunctioning. Any issues up there, should I surface?”
His brother Eric should be on the lines and in open communication. Instead, he was pleading with their new deckhands and now captors, Fat Bob and Steve. While Jeff was worried about these two down below, Eric was dealing with that worry above.
Fat Bob, in his crackly smoker’s voice, “We will be taking that treasure or you and you’re brother will get nothin, you understand me?”
“I do Bob, just don’t hurt us. You can take the damn treasure.” His eyes and body begging.
Bob wryly smirked, “This fool don’t know what’s coming.”
“I’ll tell you what Eric, we don’t plan on killing ya. You boys are going to bring us up that treasure. Now go ahead and tell your brother everything is ok and to surface.”
Eric would obey Fat Bob until Jeff was safely aboard. The brothers always knew what the other was thinking and could anticipate movements, actions, and most pressing currently, situations.
As a boy, Captain Ron’s adventure stories inspired Jeff. Stories of treasure, pirates, and exploits his granddad would tell to calm the boys when they were not in the water. True or not, grandad’s stories pulled Jeff to the water, called by adventure and treasure. The opportunity which lurks under every turned rock or storm-ravaged seafloor, Jeff relished turning chance into opportunity.
At the enthusiastic age of 11, he informed his older brother, “Eric, I will be a captain one day. And I will find the lost treasure of Captain Ron. Mark my words!”
To his delight, Eric smiled, “I believe little brother, I believe. Not only that, but I’ll also be your first mate when the day comes.” True to his word, the day Jeff purchased his boat, Captain Ron, Eric was there ready to serve as his first mate.
Currently, Jeff was on the edge of blacking out. It had been over a minute without air in the heavy dive suit and still no response from topside.
Eric heeded Fat Bob’s advice, breathing deep to lower his heart rate before responding to his brother. “A few mechanical issues we are fixing but all is good now. Come on up though, Bob will be waiting for you.”
With labored breaths between every few words, Jeff responded, “Makes sense, I have air now, but I’ll surface, not taking, another chance, with these damn old suits.”
Moments later, Steve crossed the tube again to the sound of Captain Jeff’s gasps echoing through the radio.
This worried Fat Bob, “Steve! What the hell you doin?”
“Relax, this will help him not get the better of you big boy. You ain’t as fast and strong as you think.” Steve laughed uncontrollably, nothing better than a good ribbing of Fat Bob.
Fat Bob spits on the floor then yelled, “Screw you, you’re slower and older. Don’t get too cocky or kill the bastard. They both can make this easier. Now let em up, no more messin!” A flushed Bob was ready to explode, adding “get the hell to the bow and get prepared you fool.”
Captain Jeff was struggling. He knew his brother was no longer in control and this was no mechanical error. The air supply would not sputter, there would simply be no air. These thoughts surged adrenaline through his body.
Performing a quick calming meditation, “Keep under control, don’t lock up. Stay calm and we get out of this mess.” Jeff knew the treasure had won, these were weak men. He and Eric would be used and discarded once they delivered the loot. Suddenly, Jeff was forcefully pulled from the water by the winch and dropped to the deck. Fat Bob then kicked him in the ribs, adding to his pain.
Showing fear instead of fight, Captain Jeff was given a chance to respond, “Wow Bob, what the hell? The machine cut my air supply. Let me catch my breath and then tell me why the heck you’re kicking me. And where the hell is my brother?”
A confused Bob stammered but finally found his voice, “Shut the hell up, your brother is fine. Don’t give me no lip. We are taking this treasure. Now take off that gear and head to the bow.” This part of Fat Bob’s plan called for threats and fear. The brothers must think they are going to die to help bring up the treasure for them.
After unlatching and taking off his diving helmet, Jeff smelled the chum and heard his brother begging, “Man Steve, like I said no need for this, just take the treasure. You have the coordinates just take it and let us go!”
Steve mocked Eric but gave him a slimmer of hope, “Son, you ain’t got nothing to worry about from us. You need to worry about them there sharks, unless, you both come to your senses.”
With the vile smell of chum and kick to the stomach, Captain Jeff vomited across the starboard walkway. Ensuring Fat Bob would cross on the port side and loud enough for the entire boat to hear. Jeff prayed his brother would anticipate the next move.
Just then, Eric convulsed into an asthma attack. Steve knelt to assist him while Fat Bob and Jeff made their way toward the bow. Fat Bob breathed easy when he turned the corner seeing Eric on the ground, lowering his weapon to bark an order, “Steve, get him,”
The last dry words Fat Bob wheezed. Captain Jeff abruptly turned, ramming him into the chummed waters with his shoulder. The attack forced Steve into action, now rushing Jeff with his knife yelling, “We was only gonna scare you, now I’ ma,!”
Just before striking Captain Jeff with his knife, an oar slammed into Steve’s temple and ear. Blinding pain streaked down his body, limply slamming into the railing. Without hesitation, Captain Jeff grabbed Steve’s greasy long blond hair and dirty trousers, tossing him into the frenzied water with Fat Bob.
The pull of treasure had won over the swimming duo, while the Captain and Eric’s connection proved solid gold. Relieving his lungs of stressed oxygen, Jeff looked at his brother, “Eric you ok, they hurt you?”
“Don’t worry about me little brother, you were closer to the end, you ok? And what are we going to do with these two fools?”
After some phony contemplation and loud enough to be overheard, “Well, with the chum we can leave them for the sharks. Or, we can pull them up, I’m leaning towards the sharks.”
Eric chuckled, looking directly at Fat Bob. “You can’t be serious. I would let the sharks have em or let em drown but, let’s call the authorities. Grandpop raised us better.”
“Eric, I did not say that, you know I was kidding. I’m not,”
Now Eric’s belly and shoulders were rumbling with joy, “C’mon son. I can read you like a book. Why don’t we go fetch those two fools out of the water before the sharks take a piece? I would still like to get out of here.”
That was when they heard the scream, Fat Bob vanished under the chummed red water. Steve streaked towards the brothers like Michael Phelps, nearly on the boat before Bob surfaced screaming again, this time for the last time.
“Get me up, we was just tryin to scare you!” A terrified Steve shrieked.
Hesitantly, Captain Jeff plucked him out of the water while Eric called the Coast Guard, not even a scratch on the would-be pirate.
There was no sign of Fat Bob, he was now part of the sea like the treasure he could not conquer. Captain Jeff shackled Steve to the starboard railing, leaving him to wait in vomit allowing the Coast Guard to fetch him upon arrival.
On dry land the brothers muscled through the paperwork, leaving the treasure out of their reports. Captain Jeff would not give the temptress another opportunity. The pull of treasure was immeasurable over a weak soul.
The next morning the first mate exclaimed in his trademark enthusiasm and toothy smile, “Now, how about we go get our treasure Captain!”
Captain Jeff gushed with pride, “This is possible because of the faith you always had in me big brother, thank you. As for the treasure, I believe we will, I believe we will brother.”