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 The Loot Box
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 Posted: Oct 20 2017, 06:00 AM
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The freshly soaked vegetation of the jungle was an intoxicating alternative to the putrid scent of forty-odd buccaneers a month at sea. Caleb Lynch, the youngest of them, stood for a moment inhaling it through his nostrils, closing his hazel eyes and filling his lungs until he received an unwelcome nudge in the back. “Quit dallyin’ highlander! This chest ain’t gonna bury itself,” Durand barked. Never one to be rushed, the lad lingered for a moment longer before setting off after Durand and the other two pirates in their party. 

The night was one set about the spring of 1717, according to the Captain’s bearings - inland of Brazil. It had all been rather hastily executed when the Royal Navy attacked the buccaneers’ ship two miles off the coast, scuppering the intended plan of sailing around the Horn to bury their loot away from any eagle-eyed Brethren of the Coast. Caleb may have been too occupied taking in his surroundings but his comrades were more concerned with getting the chest safely beneath the earth. Neither of the other three men wanted the task Captain Roberts had saddled upon them nor did they trust his intentions. 

Llewelyn, longest serving among them, had met Durand and Wilkes with a knowing glance more than once the deeper they tread into the jungle. No words were spoken on account of the young blonde tagging along at their backs. Durand who had been something akin to a friend of Caleb’s was sure to maintain an angle that allowed him to keep an eye on his mate in the dim light of the moon as it crept through the trees above. “This’ll do,” he remarked when they reached an opening. The heavy wooden chest hit the jungle floor with a clunk as the three pirates continued to look at each other. 

Caleb put it down to the general mistrust surrounding the task they’d been charged with. “Durand, me and you will start the diggin’,” he suggested in a bid to break the ice.

“Afore or after ye stab us in the back?” Wilkes snapped.

Caleb narrowed his eyes glaring at the rotund pirate through the thick of darkness. “Shut yer gob and get a torch lit Wilkes, lest ye put any ideas in my head,” he warned his mate.

“Ideas is it? Who’s to say the skipper ain’t put ‘em there already?” Llewelyn added. 

Caleb hopped off the rock he was stood atop of and placed his hands on his hips; a move which edged the other mens hands closer to their blades. “What’s all this now?” Caleb inquired, his bare feet slowly padding toward them across the cool, damp terrain. “If there be somethin’ ye want to say lads then be out with it.” He looked toward Durand who he was most familiar with, urging him to speak up. 

“…We thought maybe the Cap’n wanted only himself and you knowin’ where his loot was laid to rest…” Durand suggested. Caleb stood tall and silent, the darkness making his expression imperceptible which didn’t help matters.

“Bollocks!” blurted Wilkes who immediately pulled his pistol on the lad. Caleb was as quick if not more so and the two men soon had their weapons primed and trained on one another. He anticipated what would transpire next and pulled his other pistol on Llewelyn. “Ha! Ye see lads?” Wilkes spat, “he means to off us the greedy fuckin lapdog!”

“I’m only coverin’ my arse on account of yer treacherous actions ye fat swine!” Caleb retorted. 

The tense standoff persisted in silence for a moment before Durand made his decision. With a modicum of regret he pulled his own pistol and trained it on Caleb. “Désolé l’ami,” he said in his native tongue, “I don’t wish to be the only man to return to the skipper, highlander.” 

“Lads,” Caleb gasped with a twisted sort of chuckle, “we all return when the loot is buried. There’s no need for this folly.” It was a desperate attempt at correcting his unforeseen error. There was no way any of the men could have known that Roberts had indeed ordered him to bury them all alongside the treasure. “If yer shooting me Durand, I’ll be takin’ this pair of bilge rats with me,” he concluded with an eerie coolness. 

“Non, no one needs to shoot anyone mon ami,” Durand reasoned. “Come men, lower your weapons.” 

“Fuck that!” Wilkes spewed. His grip was slippery with how much his palm had been sweating. Llewelyn was no less intent on keeping his pistol on Caleb, but his eyes soon slid to the Frenchman to his left.

“Him first!” Llewelyn demanded.

“In yer dreams ye Welsh sheep shagger,” Caleb taunted. Llewelyn’s grip tightened around the weapon once more and he growled at Caleb like a cornered beast. With the situation spiralling out of control, the experienced head of Durand took the initiative and stepped forward, pressing the cold metal of his barrel against Caleb’s forehead. “To live or die, highlander…that is your only choice!” 

It was not much of a choice but the young Irishman’s only chance lay in the hand’s of Durand. Relinquishing one of his pistols to the Frenchman, Caleb kept hold of the other until Durand held the two in his own possession against Wilkes and Llewelyn. “If you please, gentlemen,” he urged. Llewelyn was first to toss his on the ground and Wilkes reluctantly followed suit. All three of the pirates looked towards the hazel eyes starring back at them defiantly. Eventually, with a sardonic smirk, Caleb dropped his weapon.

Durand collected the rest of the pistols and went about cutting the end off a length of rope which he handed to Wilkes. Soon thereafter Caleb sat against a tree watching the three pirates perched around the chest discussing their next move. He tugged at the rope binding his wrists behind the trunk, cursing the fact the knots had been tied by sailors. Being no stranger to a tight spot, he’d slipped the bonds secured by many a soldier who could barely tie the ribbons in their hair let alone a prisoner. He had botched this particular task at the worst possible time. Captain Roberts was in the process of raiding a local village they had happened upon and once that was done there would be questions asked as to the whereabouts of the mens loot. 

Why hadn’t they just killed him and gotten it over with? That’s what he wondered as he tried to maintain his calm and relax his muscles. There would be time to take back the initiative he told himself, just so long as they didn’t cut his throat first. 
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