John is a freelance writer, ghost-writer, storyteller, and poet. He always tries to include a message or social commentary in his writing
The Story Concludes
This short story began as part of my response to a word prompt "treasure" provided by Brenda Arledge. My article containing the opening chapter was called "The Treasures We Seek."
I then published both the first and second parts of the story together under the title "The Treasure of Calibishie ~ A Short Story." If you came to this article without reading the story up to this point, just click on the link and read those parts first.
It has taken me a little while to complete the final chapter, but here it is, hopefully for your enjoyment, and so you aren't left hanging any longer.
The Treasure of Calibishie ~ Final Chapter
Rising early the next morning. I was in competition with the Sun as to who could rise and shine first - let’s call it a draw. My dreams during the night had been filled with pirates or buccaneers and their buried treasures. I’d tossed and turned all night. I had to get this over and done with.
Stuffing my backpack with anything and everything I may need for a day of exploring - water, protein bars, first aid kit, towel, and pocket knife, I locked the door and began my short trek down to the beach. About halfway there I heard a car approaching slowly from behind, but when I turned my head it sped up and shot past. I raised my hand to wave, but I doubt the driver saw. Just another early riser, I thought.
Arriving at the beach, I felt invigorated by the fresh morning air, and the walk had been downhill all the way so that was also a plus. I strolled across the sand towards the cliffs, scanning the craggy surface for caves and crevices worth exploring. There were tracks or ridges running semi-horizontally along the cliff face. Naturally eroded from weather and water over the years or worn into the rocks from regular foot traffic, I wasn’t sure - probably a bit of both, but I made my way left to right along one of them.
Most caves were shallow and I had to duck low to enter, but a couple were more substantial pushing 30 or 40 feet into the rock face. Big enough, I imagined, to provide a temporary hide-out for a pirate crew. At least for a couple of days. However, other than the odd empty drink can, cigarette packet or other rubbish, I found nothing of interest.
Time flies when you are having fun, or searching for treasure, and I was surprised when I looked at my watch and saw two hours had passed. On a couple of occasions, I had had the feeling of being watched, but that was just me being paranoid as, looking around, I couldn’t see a single soul in the vicinity.
The tide had started to recede and that allowed me easy access to the base of the cliff where one of the waterfalls normally overflowed into the sea. I made my way there, and braving the falling water, pushed my way under the falls. To my surprise there was a hollow opening behind it - or grotto of sorts. I stood there, dripping wet, but in awe and gazing around at the high, wide expanse I found myself it. The crashing water had completely blocked the entrance from view.
I was anxious to explore this hidden cavern, but first I’d take a short break and relax, re-hydrate, and have a protein bar to restore some energy. I removed my backpack and sat down on a smooth, moss-covered rock. Funny though … this rock felt strange, somehow too flat and symmetrical. Standing up, I flicked my pocket knife open and began to scrape away some of the moss. This was no rock - it was wooden!
Intrigued, I increased my efforts and soon stared excitedly. I’d been sitting on an old weathered chest. Further to my surprise - it wasn’t even locked. I pried the latch open and tried to lift the lid. The hinges were rusted and it had obviously sat unopened for so long that the suction aided by the moist environment helped it remain sealed. After some struggle, however, it creaked open.
Wide-eyed and in disbelief, I just stared for a moment. Stories may be exciting, but most often they are just tall tales, growing and changing in intrigue as they are passed down the generations. But, this particular pirate story had been true. Standing right before me was a chest full of treasure. Jewellery, pearls, silver goblets, and hundreds if not thousands of gold coins..Spanish doubloons, I imagine..filled it to the brim.
I knelt down and reached my hands inside. A veritable fortune ran through my fingers. I picked up one of the coins to examine it closer. One side bore the face of some king or queen, I couldn’t tell, but the year was clear 1708.
Suddenly, I gasped…
Smoke rose from between my fingers, and I suppressed a cry of pain, as the golden doubloon smouldered and burnt into my closed palm.
And from behind me …
“Ah my friend, we meet again! I am glad you took my tales of pirates and their plunders seriously. You saved me much time and effort searching for it myself.”
I immediately recognized the mesmerizing voice of Ostin Rodriguez and turned around to see him pointing a gun in my direction.
Without pausing to think, my reflexes took over, and I tossed the red-hot doubloon straight at the face of my adversary. I had no doubt I’d hit the mark at close range either. My years as a star pitcher for my college baseball team had finally paid off .. in spades.
The doubloon scored a direct hit with Ostin’s right eye, embedding itself and making a sizzling sound. Suddenly, there was a distinct “POP!” and his eyeball exploded, oozing horrible blood and goo all over his cheek. The man screamed, clutching at his disfigured face, and dropping the gun in the process.
I wasn’t stopping to see the outcome, but grabbed my backpack and raced out of the grotto without looking back. Let him have the treasure. His story of the curse placed on it by Calico Jack Rackham was obviously real, whether he actually believed it or not. Well, he would now - if he got out alive. If I was thankful to Ostin Rodriguez for anything, it was for interrupting me.
A cruel thought caused me to grin. If he did get out of there alive, in future he’d be walking around looking like a modern day pirate, probably with a patch covering the socket where his eye had once been. But I doubted his greed would have let him leave the treasure behind, or that the curse would allow him to remove it, so that was all conjecture.
I didn’t have a pirate treasure to make me an instant millionaire either, but I did at least have proof I found it. I took the phone out of my pocket and clicked on “photo album” - there it was, a crystal clear pic of the chest overflowing with treasure. That would sure add a nice touch of credibility to the pirate story I’d be telling my kids and grand-kids.
© 2022 John Hansen