Playa de Los Muertos
By: J.C. Eickelberg
In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, we have a great Guest Blog about Pirates.
“Row, damn you. Put your backs into it,” Captain Scythe demanded. He was paranoid to get his plunder buried. It couldn’t disappear fast enough. No one was going to take it from him. His ship nearly emptied of loot, sat out in the sheltered bay bordering Puerta Vallarta to the west. The crew strained at the oars to keep their crazed captain happy. Each boat was heavily loaded with precious cargo plundered from the Spanish fleet.
Few pirates knew of this sheltered bay. Those fortunate enough to know sailed with Captain Scythe. He was a savage among pirates, guarding his ship and treasure with unparalleled brutality.
Scythe had survived a plague ship, walked away from destroying the powder magazine at a Spanish fort, and was rumored to have survived a volcano blowing his home into the ocean. His scarred appearance sent terror into the hearts of all but his closest, most trusted crew. These crewmembers, his lieutenants, skippered each of the boats rowing to shore.
Every load ashore was relayed to a mine dug into the side of a nearby mountain. The lieutenants followed each load to the mine as it was passed from one group of press-ganged workers to another. As one laborer fell to fatigue, one took his place. No able-bodied person was left out. Men and women, old enough to spend a day in the fields, or digging in the mine, took part in hauling treasure inland. If they stopped moving, they stopped living. These unlucky souls took the blade to the throat or were run through. Each leg of the relay had at least one corpse propped against a tree as an example. Non-blinking eyes and stench of blood told the workers their neighbor was dead.
Chaos erupted at the edge of town, near the first exchange point. Captain Scythe stormed to the sight of pandemonium. Torches surrounded the upright corpse posted there. The corpse’s bloodied and shredded shirt shimmered in the light. A mangy mutt growled at each torch jabbed toward it. Blood on its muzzle told of its attempted feast.
“Chupacabra,” was muttered among the gathered townspeople. They hovered on the far side of the clearing. No one wandered from the scene, fearing retribution from the pirates more than the ugly creature they taunted. A thick-armed pirate came out of the crowd to pin the creature to the ground. It snarled and fought for freedom from the massive hand. Another massive hand wrapped around its neck, ending the snarling wretch’s fight with a snap of its spine.
“Take care of that, Gunny,” Scythe told the burly man. Gunny nonchalantly took charge of the limp form as the treasure continued up the mountain. No one saw what happened next to the creature.
Women crossed themselves as they muttered prayers. Men pushed wives and sisters along, eager to be away from their dead, and eviscerated, neighbor. Bags and chests of loot went into the mine as they arrived. Everyone was held off to the side until every piece of treasure was stashed inside. With the final bundle laid to rest, the miners were ordered to seal the opening.
The youngest in the group stumbled with fatigue. She managed to stay on her feet. Standing with as much dignity as she could muster, she held her ground. Bravado withered when she emitted a shrill scream. The thick-armed pirate had turned away from the mine opening to show the headless corpse of the Chupacabra hanging over the entrance. Blood oozed from the decapitated corpse. More screams came from others. The mangy head, torn from the carcass, stared at the young woman from a length of hemp cord worn by the pirate.
“Vamos,” he bellowed, leading the way back to town. The lone word boomed across the assembly. Scythe heard that voice over cannon fire.
Fellow pirates prodded the group into moving toward town. Two armed guards remained with the miners. Quick work was made of sealing the mine and the beach soon held the town’s population. Gunshots echoed down the streets as the miners attempted to run off. Fear became unbridle terror. Barking and howling announced wild dogs had moved in with the predawn wind.
Scythe smiled at the overwhelming fear on the faces of his workforce. His crew responded to a quiet command. They raised their weapons and fired at the whimpering crowd. Huddled in fear, no one could escape. Face the guns or wild dogs. It was death either way. Smells of death and rotting seaweed wafted toward the open water as the wind picked up.
Rowboats followed the winds back to the ship. Sacks of food, barrels of fresh water and jugs of a local brew found a new home onboard. Scythe noted the pile of scavenged food.
“Gunny,” Scythe said, pointing at the food.
“They won’t need it,” Gunny said. His thick hand caressed the Chupacabra head as he gestured to shore with the other. “Better’n what we got.”
They never looked back as the stench of death followed them to sea. A crab reached up to pluck a morsel from a nearby corpse. Other animals followed the dogs onto the beach for a meal.
Daylight brought market goers to a scene of carnage. Their curiosity why nothing in the market was open brought them to the beach. All the town’s residents lay dead, blood drained into the sand and mangled by scavengers.