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Hook's Hand

by Devin Downing 19 days ago in Fantasy · updated 19 days ago
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A Captain Hook Origin Story

James Bartholomew Hook stood at the helm, watching as the ship grew larger on the horizon. His first mate stood at his side, squinting through the spyglass.

“Pirates, by the looks of it,” the first mate announced. “I can see their flag. Skull and crossbones… except this one’s different. The skull has a crown on it.”

Captain James Hook frowned, his stomach sinking deep into his gut. “Queen Anne’s Revenge,” he whispered.

“You know them?”

“I’ve heard rumors,” James said. “They’re no ordinary pirate crew.”

“How so?” the first mate wondered.

“They follow the Law of Succession. They believe Queen Anne killed her husband, taking the throne in his place. They live by the same ideology. Whoever kills their captain claims the right to his crew.”

“Hmmm, sounds pretty civil for pirates.”

“Civil is hardly the word,” James hissed. “Blackbeard was only a gunner till he stabbed his own captain in his sleep. Skewered the man straight through the heart before eating it raw.”

“He ate his captain’s heart?”

James shrugs. “Allegedly. Rumor has it he’s a cannibal. He prefers prisoners to pork. They say he eats everything from the eyeballs to the piss-pipe."

The first mate shivered. “You believe them?”

James paused before slowly shaking his head. “It’s nothing but propaganda.”

All pirates had their tall-tales. According to the legends, Captain Kidd had impregnated a siren. Barbarossa defeated a Kraken. They were outright lies, designed to strike fear and awe into their enemies. Blackbeard was no different. He was no god.

“I hope you're right,” the first mate muttered.

For the next hour, they watched in silence as the distance disappeared between the two warships.

5 nautical miles away.

1 nautical mile away.

James spun the helm, pitching the Wasp starboard. Then, he leaned over the edge of the poop deck and shouted at the men below. “Ready the cannons!”

He held his breath as the pirate ship approached, waiting for the perfect moment.

100 fathoms away.

50 fathoms away.

“Aim… fire!”

The ship shuddered as a volley of cannonballs shot toward the oncoming pirate ship. Unfortunately, each and every projectile splashed harmlessly into the stormy sea. Meanwhile, Queen Anne’s Revenge continued to sail closer.

James waited for the men to reload, then gave the commands. Another volley of cannonballs launched into the air. One cannon went high, ripping a small hole in the pirates’ sail. The rest missed their target, dipping into the sea, swallowed by the waves.

As the powder boys reloaded, the pirate ship began to turn, showing its starboard side to the Wasp.

BOOM!!!

Cannonballs rained down, smashing several craters in the Wasp’s hull. Splinters of wooden shrapnel sprayed through the air, embedding themselves in the scrambling crew.

“Ready…” James called to his men.

The Wasp lurched as more cannonballs ripped through the Wasp's wooden frame. Some men screamed, their wails quickly silenced by another volley of cannonballs. One struck the main mast, obliterating the base of the beam and killing any men unfortunate enough to be standing nearby.

“Aim!”

At that moment, a gust of wind caught the sail. The main mast teetered, tipped, and came crashing through the deck, crushing the gunners who still manned the cannons.

“Fire!” James screamed.

Nothing… Not a single blast erupted from below the deck.

Captain James Hook watched as his men began to leap overboard. His ship was sinking, after all. At that very moment, water was pouring into the bilge and sloshing its contents like peas in a pot.

The Wasp’s wound was mortal. Soon, she’d be buried beneath the waves.

If he was smart, James, too, would jump ship. He could take hold of the shattered planks and hide among the wreckage. If he got lucky, they might not spot him. He may even drift ashore. At least he’d have a chance.

A good Captain goes down with the ship, he thought to himself. For some reason, the saying gave him comfort. At least his death would be noble… respectable. Yes, he was young, but he had served his country well.

His first mate wasn’t so calm. His hands shook as he cocked the flintlock on his pistol. “God, forgive me of my sins!” He shoved the barrel between his teeth and grimaced as he pulled the trigger. A splash of blood, like sea mist, sprayed the Captain’s face.

James casually wiped the blood from his cheek with his handkerchief. He couldn’t blame the man. Death was much preferred to the alternative… especially if the rumors were true.

James Hook stood alone at the helm as the pirate ship approached. Yes, things looked grim, but James had a plan. Technically, he didn’t have to kill the entire crew to survive; he only had to kill their captain.

James clutched his pistol as pirates threw the boarding plank onto his sinking ship. The thin stretch of wood was nearly 20 feet long, creating a teetering walkway above the churning sea. One by one, the pirates scrambled across the plank and onto the sinking Wasp. One misstep, and they’d tumble into the waves below, but their sea legs didn’t betray them. Not one pirate so much as stumbled.

Once aboard, the pirates gathered on the main deck, avoiding the massive hole where the mast had landed. They didn’t attack, and neither did James. He kept his distance, remaining at the helm.

His hand tightened on his pistol. Any second now…

Finally, Blackbeard stepped into view, hobbling slowly across the boarding blank. He was a big man—a massive man even—and the plank sagged beneath his feet.

James drew his pistol, pulling back the hammer and aligning the sights. The boat swayed and heaved, yet James was confident in his shot. It didn’t need to be lethal. It only needed to make the man fall. Rumor had it, the Captain couldn’t swim.

James pulled the trigger and was immediately blinded by the flash of gunpowder.

BANG!

“ARRGH!” Blackbeard roared as the lead ball pierced his shoulder. The Captain stumbled on the plank, teetered, and waved his uninjured arm like a windmill. Just when James was sure he would fall into the seething sea, Blackbeard somehow managed to regain his balance.

I’m a dead man, James thought.

As Blackbeard’s boots landed on the deck of the Wasp, James expected his eyes to be ablaze… his face inflamed and furious, but the pirate only seemed amused. Clutching his wounded shoulder, Blackbeard strutted up the steps toward the helm. His crew followed like ducks behind their mother.

Now that Blackbeard was close, James was shocked by what he saw. Despite his name, Blackbeard had lustrous blonde hair. The pirate’s curls were long and knotted, stretching past his shoulders in tangled clumps. But his beard… his beard was a deep, purplish black. What should have been blonde was stained by… well… by what appeared to be congealed blood.

Could it be true?

“This? This is the man they sent to kill me?” Blackbeard bellowed, gesturing at James as he climbed the final steps to the bridge. He stopped a few feet in front of James and squinted in disbelief. “The lad’s a wee baby. They sent a baby to kill the great Blackbeard! How old arrya, boy? I betcha don’t have a single hair on yer ass.”

“Old enough to die with honor. Do your worst!” James spat.

But Blackbeard didn’t strike. He looked around the ship as the deck slowly tilted to the side. “I’m curious. Why not flee with yer men? Surely ya’ve heard what we do to our prisoners?” He smiled, revealing a mouthful of missing teeth.

James tried to keep his hands from shaking. “A good captain goes down with the ship,” he announced, hoping his men could hear him from the sea. They’d share his story. Soon, he’d be a legend.

“A good captain?” Blackbeard laughed looking around at his men. “Bwuah! A Good captain don’t let his ship sink in da first place. Yer no captain anymore. Now yer me dinner. I’ma enjoy every b—”

Before Blackbeard could finish the sentence, James cleared as much phlegm as he could, and spat it into Blackbeard's face.

At first, Blackbeard was stunned. Then, he erupted into laughter, his men following suit.

“Ya may be a child,” Blackbeard chuckled, “but at least ya have balls.” He licked his lips. “That’s good. They're me favorite cut of meat.”

At that, James lunged, drawing a hidden dagger from his waistband. He thrust the knife at Blackbeard’s chest, but the hefty man twisted out of the way, drawing his own blade in the blink of an eye.

Shlink!

Blackbeard's blade whistled through the air, cutting clean through James’ wrist. The severed hand—still clutching his dagger—plopped onto the deck.

“AHHH!” James didn’t mean to scream, but he couldn’t suppress the sound that was erupting from his throat. He fell to his knees and clawed at his wrist as the blood began to drool onto the deck.

Blackbeard kept smiling as he bent over and retrieved the hand. After removing the knife, he held the hand in the air and waved his prize for his crew to see. “This… is the first of many feasts. I’ll grow fat on your flesh, Hook. But don’t worry. You won’t die today. I like my meat fresh.”

Using James’ own severed hand, he slowly dragged a fingernail across James’ cheek in a delicate caress. Lastly, he leaned in, whispering in James’ ear.

“Welcome to the crew.”

With that, something hard struck James in the back of the head, and the world went dark.

— — —

James awoke to the smell of frying beef and the taste of blood. Pain seemed to permeate his entire body, radiating from his right arm.

The memories came rushing back. Someone struck him in the head… right after Blackbeared chopped off his hand.

James looked down at his stump of an arm. To his surprise, the wound had been cauterized, saving him from bleeding out. Still, he was lightheaded and weak. Experience told him he wouldn’t last long… not as a prisoner.

James struggled to sit up. A metal collar pinched his throat—a leash of shackles chaining him to the wall. Yet oddly, his cell was somewhat luxurious. It had a hammock hanging from the ceiling and a small dining table by the port-side window. Two wooden chairs sat at opposite ends of the table.

James’ stomach rumbled, and he found himself salivating. The smell of beef was permeating the cell… or maybe it was pork?

Suddenly, a pirate bustled into the room, carrying two empty plates. He was a small man with a protruding pot-belly. The pirate set the plates onto the table, one for each chair, before retreating to the door. At the threshold, he paused.

“I’ve stopped the bleeding best I can. If it starts up again, just holler for me.”

“Why?” James croaked. “Why save me?”

“Blackbeard orders,” the pirate sighed. “Nothing more. If it were up to me, you’d have a quick death.”

James’ throat was raw, and the room was spinning, but he had to know. “Tell me… if I had killed him… would you be serving me right now?”

The pirate nodded. “Aye, I wish he had fallen. If I weren't so weak, I’d kill’m meself.” With that, the pirate waddled out of the room.

The next footsteps to approach were much heavier. Blackbeard could be heard from across the ship. His stomping shook the very walls.

Blackbeard was smiling as he entered. He hung his coat on the chair closest to the door, then took a seat. For a pirate, he was oddly composed.

Finally, he glanced at James. “We’ll? Don’t keep me waiting, boy. Take a seat.”

James did as commanded. His leash had just enough slack to reach the empty chair. If he so much as leaned forward in his seat, the weight of the chains would choke him.

“Wonderful,” Blackbeard beamed, placing his hands patiently in his lap. “It’s time we had a proper meal.” He lifted his chin and shouted at the ceiling. “Smee! Bring in the meat!”

The pot-bellied pirate waltzed in carrying a cast iron pan. He gave an odd look to James—almost an apologetic look—then placed the pan on the table.

At the sight of it, Jame’s retched. It wasn’t so much the appearance of it, but rather the concept. His own severed hand lay in the center of the pan, seasoned and seared on both sides. The skin was charred and peeling, flaky muscle fibers visible underneath.

James looked away, swallowing his stomach acid. It was his hand he had been smelling… his hand that had been making his mouth water.

Blackbeard licked his lips. He didn’t have any silverware, but he didn’t seem to mind. He reached into the pot and grabbed the fried index finger. He bent it back, and with a pop, the finger came loose.

As soon as he heard the sound, James vomited on the floor. Mustering what remained of his strength, he spat, sat up, and retched again. This time, he had nothing left to spew.

From that point forward, James kept his eyes averted. He could hear Blackbeard gnawing on the bones—his bones—but he couldn’t bear to see it.

“I’ve got to warn you,” Blackbeard muttered, “hands aren’t the most savory. I prefer to eat them first, get them out of the way. Not much meat, to be honest. Too many tendons.”

“Then why eat them, for God’s sake? No one’s making you!”

Blackbeard paused, as if he’d never given it much thought. He raised an eyebrow before fixating on James. “What have ya touched in yer lifetime?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“It’s a simple question,” Blackbeard insisted. “What have ya touched? What hands have ya shook? What weapons have ya wielded? How many men have ya killed with that hand of yers? How many women have ya held? Ya see, my boy, yer body is yer power. It is the vessel in which we live. And now, it’ll be a part of me. Yer flesh will become me muscle. Yer strength will become me own strength. It’s almost beautiful, ain’t it. True prey becomes part of the predator.”

Suddenly, he stopped chewing and motioned at the pan. “Ya know, you can have some if ya like.”

“You're sick!”

Blackbeard waved a cooked pinky finger in the air, smiling victoriously. “Oh, shush. Meat be meat. Answer me this, what really makes us better than swine? Hell, they treat each other better than we do.” He sighed, taking another bite. “Give it a few days; you’ll join in eventually… they always do. Hunger be hunger… and food be food.”

James said nothing, gritting his teeth so hard they threatened to shatter.

Blackbeard shrugged. “Suit yerself. For the record, I normally prefer me meat rare, but the hands are tricky… burn real easy.”

“What would your mother think?” James spat. “I bet she’d be rolling in her grave!” It was the only thing that came to mind. He wanted Balckbeard to feel shame—to recognize this for the crime it was.

A gaping grin slowly grew on Blackbeard's face. “Funny you should mention it. T’was her idea in the first place,” Blackbeard wiped his mouth, smearing blood into his beard. “Don’t ya know, her dying wish was that I make good use of her flesh.”

James was speechless. He stared at Blackbeard, mouth agape.

“BWUAH!!!” Blackbeard burst into trumpetous laughter. “I’m joking! Davy Jones! You should’ve seen tha look on yer face.” He doubled over, still unable to control his amusement. “I can’t believe ya believed it. Me own mother? What kind of monster do ya take me for?”

“You’ll burn for this!” James hissed. “You’ll burn in hell!”

Blackbeard grabbed the thumb and took a bite. “Me own mother! Ya really thought— BWUAH!” The laughter overtook him again. He sucked in air as he laughed.

“THWUAK.”

Blackbeard’s eyes bulged as the thumb was sucked into his trachea. His chest seized, but no air came in or out. He stumbled from his chair, leaning forward and clawing at his throat. He stood there for nearly a minute, his chest heaving, yet the food didn’t budge.

James couldn’t believe his eyes as Blackbeard’s face slowly turned bright red. The giant leaned on the back of his chair. His mouth opened and closed as he tried and failed to cough. Slowly, his face transformed a deeper red… then purple.

Suddenly, Blackbeard looked up at James, accusation and fury in his gaze. He knew he was dying, and his priorities had shifted. More than survival, he wanted revenge.

Falling to his knees, Blackbeard reached into his coat—the one he had hung on the chair—and pulled out a flintlock pistol. Somehow, he mustered the strength to stand. He looked like a monster—face violet, eyes bulging. He raised the pistol and aimed it at James’ chest.

With a shaky hand, he pulled back the hammer.

SHLINK!

A sword, seemingly from nowhere, erupted from the front of Blackbeards chest. Then, the blade twisted.

Balckbeards didn’t make a sound as the blood began to seep. The pistol tumbled from his hand. Then, as if in slow motion, Blackbeard tipped to the side, taking the sword with him. The floorboards shook with impact. Then, silence…

Smee stood over Blackbeard, looking down at the man he just murdered.

“You… you killed him,” James gasped.

Smee bent over and yanked the sword from Blackbeard’s back. “No! You killed him, Cap’n.” Smee placed the sword hand in Jame’s hand. “T'was all you.”

“What are you saying?”

Smee leaned forward, speaking quietly and quickly. “Listen to me. I wouldn't make a good Cap’n. I’m small, and I’m afraid. I was never meant to lead. T’was you that killed him. The crew has to believe it.”

“But…”

“No!” Smee begged. “Don’t argue. Please. I need this. I need a captain I can trust. A good man. Please!” As he spoke, Smee removed a key from his pocket and unlocked the iron collar. A cascade of clanking metal echoed through the cell as the chains fell to the floor.

James stood a bit taller, looking down at the dead body. Slowly, he nodded. “Alright… I’ll do it, on one condition. I want you as my first mate.”

Smee sighed, relief replacing panic. “Aye, Cap’n. Anything you wish, Cap’n.”

“What now?” James asked, glancing once more at Blackbeard’s lifeless body.

“Whatever you’d like,” Smee sang. “What’s your first order, Cap’n?”

James looked down at his bloody wrist, examining the stump. “First, I need a replacement, it doesn’t have to be fancy.”

“Like what, Cap’n?”

James smiled, suddenly struck with inspiration. “Find me a hook.”

Fantasy

About the author

Devin Downing

Medical student and self-published author of contemporary fantasy. You can trust my wound descriptions to be pathophysiologicaly accurate.

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (17)

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  • Tabitha Kristy Spearsa day ago

    At first, I was a little weary as to which way this story was going to go by looking at the picture. After reading the story, I found it very interesting and well written.

  • Annelise Lords3 days ago

    James shrugs. “Allegedly. Rumor has it he’s a cannibal. He prefers prisoners to pork. They say he eats everything from the eyeballs to the piss-pipe." Yuck!

  • Absolutely fantastic!!! Peter Pan was a childhood favorite of mine! Such a well-written, reimagined origin story of Captain Hook! Keep up the good work! Would totally read the rest of the story if you continue toward a novel!

  • fatima dalani10 days ago

    Such beautiful writing this is. I appreciate your talent.

  • Maxwell Online11 days ago

    Nice story. Keep it up Check out this story it's very interesting. https://vocal.media/humans/instructions-to-dazzle-your-better-half-5-methods-for-making-him-love-you-much-more

  • Great story and well put together

  • Christine Meush14 days ago

    Loved the dark and sinister tone of your Hook's origin story! Not a crocodile or clock in sight haha Well done!

  • Cole Hinshaw15 days ago

    Beautifully written and imagination gripping from start to finish! Absolutely enjoyed this! Thank you!

  • Villa16 days ago

    your story very best please read my story & share https://vocal.media/journal/the-accounts-that-don-t-get-perused

  • Peter Thompson17 days ago

    It's a great story.

  • Cathy holmes18 days ago

    Fantastic! Had me hooked from beginning to end.

  • Babs Iverson18 days ago

    Outstanding fantasy💕

  • Laura Gray18 days ago

    What an excellent read! I was on the edge of my seat barely breathing!

  • Julie Shetler18 days ago

    Loved reading this, thank you for sharing.

  • I liked it, very exciting!

  • Atlantic drift19 days ago

    The title worked so well with this seafaring story. Captain Hook of Peter Pan fame first drew my attention to this swashbuckling tale....Enjoyable with a great twist to the ending,

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