The island began to shake violently as if something was slamming into it. There was a roar, not one of the Sky Kraken, but something just as large. I exited the church and looked towards the dais, the dragon food dish. The pirates had moved further inland, but even they had turned as the massive head and clawed hands of the big female dragon was climbing up the side of the island. She roared again and I put my hands over my ears, I could’ve sworn I’d heard the tormented screams of many mixed in with her bellow.
She turned and with a swipe of one huge paw, broke off the bow of the Deceit of Trinity. It splintered under her attack. The mast cracked and fell over.
“No! No! No!” The Captain was shouting running towards his ship as the dragon reached down and bit into and shook it like a dog with a rat in its jaws. Pirates and wood planks flew through the air, cannons fell from holes in the decks. The dragon clawed at the pirate ship in her mouth, breaking it into even smaller pieces. She finally flung the remains of the ship off the edge of the island. The Deceit of Trinity was gone forever, destroyed by a dragon. Tears welled up in my eyes. I had like that ship, she’d served us well, and she’d been my home for the past three years.
The dragon suddenly turned towards the pirates who had been spared simply because they had been the landing party. She leaned down and roared at them again.
“YOU HAVE DOOMED YOUR RACE,” spoke the dragon. Even I was surprised. I really hadn’t thought it to be sentient, more or less a giant red scaled beast of burden that was chained to an island to drag it around. “WE WERE YOUR GUARDIANS, WE PROTECTED YOU FROM THE DEATH BELOW. NOW THEY WILL COME FOR YOU, EVERY MAN, WOMAN, CHILD, UNTIL EVERY LAST HUMAN IS DEAD AND EATEN.”
Suddenly there was the screeching bellow from below, a sound we all knew too well. We knew it, we feared it, and it was coming for us. The dragon, dragging its heavy chain, turned and rose up on her hind legs. She was a magnificent creature, red like rubies, winged, long necked, stout and yet agile. She wore a heavy collar around her neck that seemed to settle onto her shoulders. A massive chain, with links larger than a person, was hooked to the collar and the other end disappeared over the edge of the island.
Tentacles slowly crept up over the edge of the titled island, they were feeling around, exploring, touching, suckers sticking to whatever it touched, sometimes bringing up clods of dirt or a stone cobble. The dragon swiped at one of the tentacles, black blood squirted and the Sky Kraken screamed in pain. It suddenly launched over the edge of the island, attacking the dragon full force. The pirates were staring in awe and I realized how they felt. They were seeing the Sky Kraken for the first time in its entirety. I had held the same scared awe when I’d seen it move along the surface.
The Sky Kraken and the dragon battled like two behemoths, as they stumbled from each other’s blows, buildings were destroyed, and people were crushed. Most of the people were already trying to rush to safety, but on a sky island the only safety was just to keep moving out of the way of the dragon and the Sky Kraken.
For a moment it looked like the dragon was going to win, and I felt myself cheering for it. If the dragon defeated the Sky Kraken then we would have a life free of living in fear of it. Then I remembered Mitch, or the thing that was Mitch. The surface was a breeding ground of Sky Kraken spawn, granted we had only ever thought there was just one Sky Kraken, and while I had been down there, had only ever seen the one, but I’d see the spawn, what stopped them from growing up into the monster that was now on the island? We would have to go to the surface and destroy all the spawn, it was the only way to save ourselves. I suddenly wanted to talk to Sam. There was a mystery about him that had never been solved.
I reached into my pocket and withdrew my fork. Perhaps Josiah and Maud had left it there, thinking it was just an eating utensil. The pirates had scattered, but the Captain and Sam had remained together. I circled behind them, they had not entered any of the buildings, feeling it was safer to watch the battle and it appeared one of the beasts were about to be thrown in your direction, to move out of the way rather than to just hide in a building and take your chances with fate about getting crushed.
I came up behind Sam, threw my arm around his shoulders. As soon as I put the points of my fork into his throat he stopped struggling. The Captain had turned and pulled his cutlass, I assumed he hadn’t had time to reload the musket.
“You don’t know what you’re doing, Honesty,” Sam said trying not to make his Adam’s apple bob too much or else it would suddenly look like a bloody olive on the end of my fork.
“Where did you get the scars, Sam? From the surface?” I asked him.
“Let him go, Honesty,” the Captain ordered me.
“Not until he explains everything,” I shouted back at him. I almost rammed the fork into Sam’s neck in my agitation.
“There is so much more going on here that you understand,” the Captain stated.
“The scars, Sam, answer my question,” I demanded ignoring the Captain.
“You could’ve just asked me,” the Captain stated and he removed a wide cuffed bracelet from his wrist. Around his wrist, hidden by the bracelet, were the three scars, same as Sam’s, same as mine.
“What do they mean?” I asked, still holding the fork to Sam’s throat, but my question had been directed to the Captain.
“It means you’re dead,” the Captain replied calmly for delivering such grave news.
“Dead?” I gave a rather lunatic sounding twitter of a laugh.
“You’re one of us, now,” Sam tried to say, trying not to gulp. The Captain suddenly convulsed and blurred, and after a moment, there stood Mitch.
“Would you believe me instead?” Mitch asked.
“You’re Sky Kraken spawn,” I gasped, not realizing my grip on Sam had relaxed in my surprise. Suddenly Sam elbowed me in the gut and all the air whooshed out of my lungs, I doubled over and when I looked up, I was looking at Sam and the Captain. Mitch was gone. Maybe he was a figment of my imagination. Maybe he’d never been there.
“We’re not spawn,” the Captain began, holding his cutlass to my chin. “We were created to be the collectors of creation. Unfortunately, when collecting human samples, the mind or soul if you wish, gets preserved. Sometimes those minds are powerful enough to take control of the collector. The strongest minds are those that have accepted what they are, but won’t disappear into the ocean of voices. I was Sean McCormac,” the Captain suddenly flickered, and I could see a tentacle holding the cutlass to my throat. Then the image of him was gone. What stood next to Sam holding a cutlass with a tentacle was Sky Kraken spawn.
“But now I’m so much more,” whispered the Captain’s voice in in my ear as if he was standing behind me. I didn’t bother to turn, I kept staring at the spawn, the squid that had hovered before me. Suddenly it flickered and for some reason I wasn’t looking at the creature, but once again, the Captain, tall, slender, brown eyed, dressed in all his pirate garb. I looked to Sam.
“You too?” I asked and Sam nodded. I felt defeated. “Go ahead, run me through.” The Captain didn’t have time as we’d forgotten all about the roaring battle not far away. I had almost blocked out the entire thing so intent in learning answers. The dragon’s tail sliced through a building behind us. Part of the façade fell forward onto the already destroyed cobbled street. The Captain and Sam instinctively ducked their heads.
The dragon was not winning the battle with the Sky Kraken. It was bloody and looked exhausted, a wing was mangled, the other had been torn off and flung away. The Sky Kraken didn’t look much better, some of its tentacles were just stumps where the dragon had either bitten or torn them off. The Sky Kraken made one last lunge and I watched as the beak like mouth of the Sky Kraken bit into the neck of the dragon. The dragon had been roaring in anger before, now it screamed in pain. The beak crunched down, the dragon’s scream became a gurgle and black blood spurted around the beak, drenching the Sky Kraken. The dragon spasmed and then hung limp from the Sky Kraken’s mouth. Suddenly the dragon began to collapse, not just limp, but fall apart, as if it was a building of bricks and suddenly all the bricks fell down. I didn’t understand what I was looking at. The dragon seemed to have been made from hundreds of Sky Kraken spawn. I noticed the tentacles that had been removed from the Sky Kraken, also suddenly break down into dozens of Sky Kraken spawn.
“We’re not spawn,” I heard Mitch’s whisper in my ear. It was clear, like he was standing behind me. I actually turned to look for him. The person standing behind me was my husband, Paul Huckabee.
“Paul?” I asked, surprised to see him. My last encounter with him had led to his slapping me and Mitch shoving a spear into him.
“Oh sweet, Louella,” he breathed as he embraced me. He was happy to see me, he acted like he had missed me. He seemed like is old normal easy going self. He kissed me, deeply, longingly.
“Is it really you?” I asked. I had been going insane for the past three days. Being in his arms made the world right again. I had so much to tell him. He didn’t even know that he’d been a father, even as short lived as our infant son had been. He’d been missing for five years.
“It is most of me,” he replied, “I can’t stay long.” He glanced up at the Sky Kraken who just seemed to be resting. People were slowly coming out of their homes and buildings they had been hiding in.
“What do you mean you can’t stay long? I’ve just found you,” I protested. He kissed my forehead, holding me to him.
“Louella, there is so much to explain and I don’t have the time to explain it,” he said and let me go. He walked unafraid towards the Sky Kraken where it seemed to be sitting or lying near the remains of the body of the dragon. I tried to follow him.
“Paul!” I shouted and hands grabbed my arms. I had my fork out, but it was knocked away. I looked at my captors, the Captain and Sam. “Let me go!”
“You don’t understand,” Sam stated. “Your husband is the Sky Kraken.” I stopped struggling.
“No, that can’t be,” I whispered with hitched breaths as I watched Paul’s image suddenly flicker and was what moving towards the Sky Kraken was a spawn that crawled right onto its body and basically merged with the larger creature. The Sky Kraken came alive again, it stood up, and I had the feeling was looking down at me. I tugged my arms from the Captain and Sam’s grasp. They let me go.
“Because that is your husband, we had hoped you might be able to stop his attacks. We knew he’d been following the Deceit of Trinity. That is why we put you in the shark cage that is why we cut the cord. We thought he’d rescue you,” the Captain explained. I looked at them with anger on my face and hurt in my soul.
“He didn’t,” Sam stated, “You died in the cage crash, and you were eaten by a collector, what you think of as Sky Kraken spawn.”