Zora Catone and the Fountain of Youth
Chapter 1: The Current Situation
The sea was calm. Peaceful. As though the water itself were asleep. The moonlight shone against the gentle waves as my ship, The Rumrunner slowly sailed through the blue blanket that was the ocean. And although the rest of my crew was asleep in their cabins, I was wide-awake. Couldn't sleep. Thinking. "Three-four days north of Tortuga and let the wind carry you east." That's what I had been told. No doubt that this voyage was going to be long shot, but I could only hope it was going to be worth the risk. It's true what they say; it's not the destination, so much as the journey that's the trouble. And reaching the Fountain of Youth certainly WAS going to be trouble.
Oh yes, it had taken a lot of research, but we were able to pinpoint the almost exact location of the Fountain. And yet here we were, out in the middle of the Disneyan Ocean, with a hypothesized map and the words of an old sailor that claimed to have seen the Youth-giving spring.
Mind you, I was no stranger to the sea. I had been on many voyages before, but never had I been the captain of one. All this way to reassure my return to Disneya once my time on Earth had ended. All this way to spend the eternity with the people and characters I had come to know and love. But I lay there awake in the captain's cabin, wondering if it was all for naught, or if it would really work. Surely, there was no question of Master Yen Sid's ability to bring me back to Disneya once a free spirit. But then why else would I be here? I had been told there was a small chance the magic wouldn't work, and yet I was scared out of my wits. And then there was another point of view I had look upon. I am not a deeply religious man, but neither am I ignorant of it. I thought to myself, would it be a sin if I chose to enter Disneya instead of The Kingdom of Heaven? Would I be defying God? I could only pray that whatever happened, my soul would be safe.
I got up from my bed and walked over to the window that provided an outlook of the sea. I rested my head against the sill. It had only been one afternoon since castoff. And yet it felt like two days had gone by already. I'd go as far as to say that the launch had been the most exciting part of the journey. All of my friends (who were able to attend) were there to see me off. The important thing was that I had Master Yen Sid's blessing to go on this voyage. (And yes, even he was there.) The Castoff didn't take very long, (of course it doesn't take too long to hit a ship with a bottle) and before we knew it, we were off to Tortuga to pick up the crew my Bo'sun, Mullins had promised. Mullins had served under Captain Hook for many years. And I can tell you, the crew he hired looked less than trustworthy. Peter and I had recognized them from squaring off with them on Hook's ship. But as reformed as they were, I still didn't trust pirates. Tortuga itself was a hoot. But as mentioned, I never thought I'd walk through the rowdy streets as a Captain.
The afternoon had gone by quicker than expected, what with the crew goofing around on deck and Peter entertaining Melody with one of his stories, Mullins at the helm and I overlooking the whole thing. I really did start feeling like a real Captain. And then along came the evening. Here I was setting out on a journey that I wouldn't find out the end result until it was too late. But, they all said it was impossible. And yet I knew of 2 other men who had seen the Fountain with their own eyes. And it was like the words I lived by; "It's kinda fun to do the impossible." So that's what I had to leave it at. This voyage could either be fun, or impossible. I don't judge.
The morning had come, the crew up bright and early. Melody was out on the rigging, gazing out at the sea. I joined her at the nets. "Morning." I greeted. "Morning!" she replied happily. She sighed in wonder. "Isn't the sea just beautiful, Zora?" she asked me. "Just look at it." I had to agree. Out here, the sea was a very nice shade of blue. From behind, I heard a cheerful voice pipe up. "Ahoy, mates!" We turned to see Peter, my co-captain, fly down from the helm wearing Captain Hook's old coat and hat. "How are you all on this beautiful morn?" he chimed. Melody giggled and hopped down from the rigging. "Hey Peter." She said. "Where'd you get the coat, Pete?" I asked. "Snooping around Hook's wardrobe again?" Peter laughed and took off the old captain's hat. "Nope." He smirked. "I've had this for a while. I just haven't had the chance to bring it out."
"Well it suits you." Said Melody. I chuckled to myself and looked out to sea. Peter had a record of tearing and/or misshaping Hook's clothes. Of course, my own green bandana and red coat was nothing to sneeze at. But I really did love that hat. Peter joined me at starboard, watching the sea go by. "Just think, Zora." He said, putting his hand on my shoulder, "in a couple of days, you'll be slurpin down the stuff that'll give you eternal life. You're gonna love it." "It must be nice being young forever." I replied. "Twelve years old forever and always."
"You bet!" he said reclining in mid-air. "It never gets old." Even I had to laugh at that one. Mullins called us both over at this point. "We're going to be facing a few currents and a good deal of some nasty reefs, sirs. I suggest we buckle down anything loose." "I agree." I said strongly. "All hands tie down anything loose and raise up sails!" I called. The pirates immediately went to work as told. I loved being able to do that. "Raise sails, sir?" Moody asked surprised. "If we loosen the sails, we slower our pace. That way we'll be able to pass through the reefs without taking serious damage." It seemed like a foolish move, but it was true.
As I walked down the steps, the Cook called from the galley. "Captain? May I see you in the kitchen?" I acknowledged him and agreed. I made my way down to the galley. The Cook was a small, but well fed man, and he was commended for his talents. In his interview he had said he could make dishwater taste like chicken soup. Whether this was true, I didn't know (and wasn't too willing to find out.) "What is it, Cook?" I asked. The Cook rubbed his hands and wiped them with his apron. "I need your opinion on today's lunch." He said. Already I could smell a few inviting aromas. "What have you got?" I wondered with high expectations. The Cook showed me around his choices. He listed each of the three choices and described them to me in fine detail. There was a turkey surprise with an apple of the middle of the bird as the surprise, a chocolate pot-roast with what looked like green gravy, and lastly he had one of the biggest bowls of salad I had ever seen.
"This all looks delicious, Cook," I began, "but I've hardly even had breakfast." The Cook slapped his forehead and apologized, taking right to work. I normally wasn't a breakfast person, but if all that was for lunch, I certainly wouldn't have minded a little breaky. Peter flew down into the galley (this time in his usual attire) and sat himself down at the seat across from me. "What's cookin', Cook?" asked Peter, taking a long whiff. "Breakfast." Replied the Cook. "It's a surprise."
"Well, I'll have whatever he's having." The Cook acknowledged and went back to work. Peter hunched over and tried to keep his voice down. "So how long did that pirate say it would to get there?" I recalled the words well from the Tortuga interview. "Three days North and one eve's East. That's what Blind Willy had said." I replied. "And just to be sure," I continued, pulling a map from my coat, "I had this made up." I handed it to Peter, who scanned it carefully. "It's not precise." I said lowly, "but it's close enough. And I'm going to need you to keep it when I'm gone." At this point, Peter had folded the map and tucked it under his hat. "You can count on me!" he saluted. Cook slapped his apron over his shoulder and came over with two omelets. "Bon appetite." He said happily. "I'd have a doctor look at that." Joked Peter as the omelets were set in front of us.
Just as I had dug into the second bite of my breakfast, Mullins calls out to the crew. I gave an exasperated sigh. "JUST as I started eating." I grumbled. Peter flew up to deck with the Cook following behind him. I was just about to head up after them, when I had a thought. Without another blink, I took my breakfast with me.
I came up to deck, still forking bites of omelet into my mouth. I went up to the helm where Mullins, Peter and Melody were standing. "Bwut's the broblem?" I asked with my mouth full. "We're heading into the reefs I told ye' bout, C'pn." Mullins replied, firmly steering the wheel. I looked to the masts. The sails were still full! "Why are those sails not drawn!" I asked sternly. "The crew sees no logic in your strategy, sir." "Is that so!" I returned through clenched teeth. I ran to the center of the deck. "Now hear this, ya bloomin cockroachers!" I shouted, "Loosen those sails or it's YOU that I'll be tossin into the sea!" And with that, the pirates set to untying the sails. I headed back up to the helm. I turned to Peter and Melody. "How's THAT for commanding, huh?" Peter flew over to the bowsprit and tried to direct to avoid the reefs. From where we were standing it looked like Peter was either trying to sneeze or trying to dance. But Mullins was able to pick up what Peter was trying to direct.
All of the sudden, the ship lurched forward. "That must've been a big one!" I said. I yelled up to the crewmen on the masts. "KEEP THOSE SAILS LOOSE!" Mullins struggled with the wheel. "Cap'n!" he screeched. "If the sails are loose, we'll never be able to get out of here smoothly! There's no chance of
" I cut him off. "Mullins, I know a pirate that relies on nothing BUT chance!" Peter waved the other way, jumping off of the sprit and pointing like a madman. But by the time Mullins was able to switch directions, the ship teetered over rather dangerously. Everyone held on for their lives. "Easy
" I muttered, holding onto the portside. A deafening scratching sound came from below. Mullins gave me a worried look. I hollered at the top of my lungs; "CUT THE SAILS!" and with that, no sooner had I finished, the sails fell to the deck. The ship lurched forward again as if the water had shoved it away. WHOOMPH went the ship as it jumped out of the reefs and back into the calm seas. And all of the sudden, all was quiet. Then the crew let out a great big whoop with those who had hats tossing them into the air. Mullins collapsed onto his rear and let out a big sigh of relief. Peter flew towards us and high-fived me. "Nice goin!" he said. "I told you it would work." I said happily. "You weren't so bad yourself, Captain Pan."
Later, we had lowered some men into some lifeboats, not into the sea, mind you but just low enough to see near the bottom of the ship. A pirate was looking at the sides to check for any damage. I was worried about that scratching sound I had heard. So far, nothing. "Nothing on this side, sir!" he called up. I headed to the other side. "Anything, Mullins?" I called. "Nothing, sir!" he returned. Melody emerged from the water. "Nothing under the boat either!" "I wonder what that sound could've been then." I thought to myself. And apparently, a crew member heard the same sound last night. I knew this wouldn't leave me alone, but at least I had helped my crew out of the reefs. And of course, I knew that this was only the beginning of an impossible journey.
(C) Zora Catone