The air is thick from the explosion. I wipe my eyes, swerving from the heart of the blast. I see Pan spiralling down towards the ocean, but he’s not my priority at the moment.
The limp form of Tinkerbell, drifting slowly down from the aftermath of the blast from the missiles, most certainly is.
I close my eyes tight, willing her to have survived.
And it’s then that I feel it. Like something’s been ignited within my heart, something I thought I had doused many years ago. The anger. Like a black mist enveloping a haunted island, it obscures my rational thoughts, turns my mind to thoughts of nothing but vengeance.
Since taking command of The Fickle Muse, I swore an oath to myself: that I would never again give into the inner demon which caused me to become justifiably known as the scourge of the seas; that I would keep my dark side locked and chained, buried deep within myself like forbidden treasure.
But now, as I swoop down towards Tink’s tattered frame, I welcome it back like an old, old friend.
I scoop her body in one hand, placing her inside my breast pocket as I let out a terrible cry of fury. Below, I see the guns on the cruise ship’s deck swivel towards me, a trio of Lost Boys frantically adjusting the barrels.
I set my sights on them and take out my wooden sword. With one snap of my jaws, I bite it in two, spitting the tip out towards the ripples Pan has just made in the ocean’s surface. The splintered end of my previously useless blade is sharp and ragged. It shall suffice.
I hold the makeshift weapon in front of me and dive, gathering speed as I hurtle down towards the cruise ship like an angered albatross.
A bang. I dart to my left, dodging the blast. Another. Just as easily avoided. A third. I laugh maniacally as I fly through the detonation, my free hand shielding the delicate body of Tink in my pocket.
And then I’m on them.
Three of them. Two are identical, dressed in soft pink towelling dressing gowns and fluffy rabbit slippers. I leave them until later, focusing on the third: a smug-looking whippersnapper I recognise with a top hat, glasses and an umbrella.
‘Hello, Darling.’ I laugh again, touching down on deck as the pink-gowned twins cower behind a slop barrel. ‘It’s been too long.’
His face is a picture. Shock and surprise scuttle across his features, then are replaced by a mask of pain as I jab the splintered end of my sword into his backside. You would think young Johnathan had also been granted the power of flight, so high does the moon-faced little twerp leap into the air. With a scything sweep of my leg, I drop-kick him off the ship’s deck, watching will ill-contained glee as he unsuccessfully tries to break his fall with his umbrella. The teeth-crunching crash as he hits the steely surface of the waves face-first is music to my ears.
‘Now,’ I say, turning menacingly towards the quivering twins. ‘What to do with you?’
Any plans I may have had for them evaporate like sea mist as the pair of fluffy-slippered imbeciles follow their compatriot willingly overboard, abandoning their ship to me and my seething rage. I bellow triumphantly, throwing down my splintered sword and calling down the blackest curse I can think of upon the Lost Boys and all who are foolish enough to be allied with them.
Then, like the ebb of a tide, my fury begins to subside. I look around, almost unsure of what has happened. Only the distant whimpering of Darling and the twins reminds me, as they flounder helpless in the waters thirteen decks below.
Then I remember. The thing which caused this unassailable rage in the first place. With trembling hand, I reach inside my pocket, tenderly taking out Tinkerbell and kneel, laying her down gently upon the deck. Behind me, I hear the swoosh of air as Pan alights at my side. I turn to see him wringing water from his cap, his feather limp and flaccid.
‘Is she ..?’ Pan’s voice cracks with emotion, his little upturned nose snivelling with sorrow.
‘Yes, ’ I say, getting to my feet with the heaviest of hearts.