Forever's an Awfully Long Time
seen and heard of many more things than you probably ever will your whole life.
That sounds a pretty big opening statement, don’t you think? Well, I should
probably mention that the reason for that is because I’m immortal – whilst I
reside in my current location at least. The location you’re wondering, well
there’s no secret there – that’ll be Neverland. I came upon this island almost
four hundred years ago, along with the rest of the crew. And we’ve stuck by our
loyal captain through all of the adventures and troubles that have come our
way. You might even say that we’ve become family in our ever-increasing time
together. Sure we get on each other’s nerves from time to time, but it’s our
captain that keeps us in order. Always brave, bold and willing to take things
one step further, no matter how many times I warn him that it’s a bad idea.
You’d have thought I’d have learnt by now to keep my mouth shut when it came to
warning the old captain, but I just can’t help myself, you know. I’m terribly
worried about him, especially of late. It seems to be getting to him more and
more now, you know. What with the sleepless nights, the swordfights and that
constant tick-tock-tick-tock that forever follows the ship around. The noise
doesn’t bother me or the boys, but the captain, oh; you should see him jump a
mile at the sound of that crocodile.
Goodness, here’s me babbling away and I haven’t even introduced myself. The name’s Smee; I’m the right-hand man about this here ship. And the captain? Why, he’s none other than the fearful, the terrible, Captain James Hook. But of course, he wasn’t always known as Captain Hook and he wasn’t always fearful of the crocodile either. The name he went by previously you’re wondering – why that was James the Fearless. And as you can see by name, he was never scared of anything. In fact he was the one who brought fear into the hearts of whoever crossed his path. Even Barbecue feared him – and Flint feared Barbecue.
So how did a man so brave, so bold and so fearless become such a nervous wreck – unable to sleep, eat or breathe in fear of something as ludicrous as a crocodile? Well, that was the work of Peter Pan. Peter chopped of the captain’s hand, he did, and fed it to the beast. However, that croc liked the taste of the captain so much that he’s been licking his chops for the rest of him ever since. It’s put the poor captain’s nerves on edge, it has. But that was also the day that our dear James the Fearless became known as the terrible, the terrifying, Captain Hook – bearing a hook on the stump of his right arm where his hand once was.
Now of course, don’t be too harsh on Peter. That was only a childish prank what he did to the captain, now. And one might say that the captain almost deserved it. Now bear in mind, I did say almost. Oh, my, my, my that Peter Pan. He’s always one for playing tricks on the old captain. But let me tell you, that hasn’t always been the case. There were times, you know, when the two of them were closest of friends. Inseparable one might say. But that was a long time ago. Neverland has never quite been the same since those two crossed paths.
You’ve probably heard of some of the stories. How Peter Pan rounded up his own little group of men – called themselves the Lost Boys; how Peter watches over the island, trying to protect all of its inhabitants; how he and the Lost Boys spend their days being tracked down by the redskins and face fierce battles with us buccaneers; how Peter spends lazy days swimming with the mermaids; flies around the island playing tag with the fairies; his one man trek to the top of the Never Peak; how he single handedly tackled Leonard the Lion with no weapon at all; how he stole Captain Hook’s treasure (which was never really the captain’s at all); how he saved the redskins’ princess, Tigerlily, from our pirate kidnap and became initiated into their tribe; how be brought a girl and her two brothers to the island and made her be the Lost Boys’ mother… oh, I could go on and on.
How do I know all of the stories about Peter Pan you might ask? Well that’s simple. I know of all of these occurrences because I wrote about them myself, I did. You may have read about some of the stories that I’ve written, but I wouldn’t imagine that you’ve read them all – I’d be very impressed if you had. Yep, that’s right, all of those stories that you’ve heard of, they’re all mine. Of course, I had to use a fake name in order to get them published, you see, because publishers aren’t exactly interested in you once they find out that you’re really a pirate. So Barrie, Pearson, Barry (with a ‘y’), Aster and McCaughrean, they’re all me – and many others too, I might add.
But after all of the tales I know, that doesn’t stop people asking me the same question over and over and over. ‘What is the deal with Captain Hook and Peter Pan?’ It’s funny, because it has never been a tale that I thought to put in writing before. I guess part of me never wanted to shame the old captain, but part of me also didn’t want to show the innocence and naïvety of the brave boy that you have all come to love in my stories. That was a different Pan and a different captain. However, I’ve given it much thought and now seems to be the right time to present to you the one story that so far has never made it to print.
To tell this tale properly, we will have to travel back in time almost four hundred years… back to the golden age of piracy. It all began on the Mainland. We had just finished a blazing battle with another pirate ship. Following the orders of our captain, James the Fearless, we had raided it of its gold and coins, but especially its bread, meat and rum – we had not had a decent meal in months. We had a remarkable feast that day, partying until the early hours: feasting on our steal, slugging down the brew, singing songs of the jolly sea at the top of our lungs. But all the while, our captain was nowhere to be seen. He’d locked himself away in his quarters, he had. Unbeknown to us, while we were celebrating a job well done, James had been examining something that we had thieved from the other pirates. Hunched over in his chair, the captain pulled a small chest towards himself. It was no longer than the length of his forearm and no taller than his hand-span. With its lid open, inside sat a large transparent sphere, sat on a red, velvet cushioning. It had been heavily guarded by its previous owner – hidden behind a painting, in a locked box. “What is your secret?” mumbled the captain to the spherical object before him. “What is your purpose?” An explosion shook the ship. Swaying, James slammed the lid down on the box, shoving the chest inside his desk drawer.
As he clambered on deck there was another explosion. The ship dipped port side. Waves lashed up against the boat’s frame. A metal sphere lunged through the ship’s starboard side. Wood splinted through the air. The cannonball flew over the deck, narrowly missing the main mast. Hurtling over the port side, it splashed into the sea. Men staggered up onto the deck grabbing onto walls, doors and barrels as the ship continued to sway. Whistling sounded to the right. We all turned to see another cannonball swing in our direction.
Beyond the missile was a ship: double the size of ours, with five huge masts and eight failing sails wafting as it moved towards us. Over twenty-five cannons pointed our way through the ship’s main body and a huge one – five times wider than our biggest, stood at the centre of their deck.
I still remember the anger on the captain’s face and the trembling in his voice when he yelled, “You blithering idiots,” as the crew and I fumbled about on deck, unable to focus having drank so much rum. “Look!” he raged pointing over the ship’s starboard side. There were various gasps and murmurs, but to many it still hadn’t sunk in that the opposing ship was after one thing: to send us to Davy Jones below. “To the cannons,” James roared. “And man the Long Tom.” The crew and I all looked about one another. Another cannon fired. Zooming overhead, it skimmed past the main mast, before splintering the ship’s port side. “Now!” growled the captain, as we stood watching our ship’s destruction.
The crew and I scrambled down below deck and loaded all of the starboard side’s cannons. As you may have been able to tell, at this point, I was yet to become the captain’s right-hand man. I was part-time gunner and part-time sea-cook, having replace Silver when he left to join Flint’s crew. The battle witnessed far more blasts, bangs and crashes than I dare to remember. Forwards, backwards, loading, reloading, swaying one way, then the other, water pouring in through cannon hatches, the deafening sounds of dozens of cannons (both theirs and ours) being fired at once. I can tell you honestly that I had never experienced such a terrible battle between two ships, nor have I since.
As we fired the last of the ship’s cannonballs, boisterous calling echoed above. Metal clashed. Sails tore. Voices bellowed. Men from the opposing ship were flinging themselves onto ours (my theory is that they had run out of cannonballs too). Swinging swords from their scabbards the other pirates sprung an attack. Within minutes every man from our ship was up on deck clashing swords with the intruders.
However, the blasts were not yet through. With his basket-hilted rapier in his right hand and his pistol in his left, James the Fearless slashed swords with an intruder whilst he blasted to pieces another. The enemy caught on. Soon shots were being fired in every direction. Many of the crew took a hit. As the numbers of wounded rose, the ship took a turn for the worst. Water began to flood inside below deck. The stern of the ship began to sink as the bow bobbed out of the briny blue. The main mast caught fire. It snapped, smashing down into the deck. Flames engulfed the wood. As the opposing pirates fled back to their ship we awaited orders from our captain, but he was nowhere to be seen. “Why would James the Fearless flee the fiery scene when his ship and crew were in danger?” I hear you ask. Well he didn’t flee, let me tell you. He did what any pirate with sense would – he went to protect his treasure. Now this wasn’t sacks of money or piles of gold coins or jewels; it was the chest containing the transparent spherical object that we had swiped from our previous pirating pillage. Although we didn’t have a clue what it was, good old James knew that it was something of value – after all the other pirates had had it pretty well protected.
After staggering through the ship’s debris, the captain finally made it back to his quarters. Having yanked open the drawer and grabbed the see-through globe he pulled it near, hiding it inside his justacorps. As he stroked a hand to it the door to his quarters burst open. The captain of the opposing ship stood in the doorway. Spying his eyes upon the spherical glass, he snarled, “So I see the rumours are true. Yee do have it.”
“I see some of us aren’t brave enough to pillage the ship with thousands of men and cannons pointing at all angles to get what we desire,” spoke James as he took a step away from his new enemy. “You just pick on the ones who carried out the deed for you.”
“On the contrary,” said the opposition with a smile. “We managed to destroy your ship well enough, didn’t we?”
“My crew are drunk,” chortled James.
“Well then it should be easy for me to retrieve my prize,” said the opposition with a smirk as he took a step forwards.
“Over my dead body,” James snarled, taking another step back.
“Oh,” his opponent smirked. “I intend to do just that.”
The floorboards creaked. Something thudded on the deck above. The ceiling groaned. There was another thump. The ship shook. James stumbled back. Pulling away from the wood, nails shot to the floor. The ceiling beam crashed down between the two pirates. The candles on the captain’s desk leapt from their holders, falling to the ground. The candle lights spat from their wicks. The wood engulfed in flame. Smoke billowed around the room.
As James covered his face from the smoke and flames with one arm, something tugged at his other. He jerked his head. His arm was empty. The ball was gone. Squinting open his eyes, James saw the other pirate leap towards the door. Swiping his pistol from its holster, James fired a shot at the thief. The bullet slid past the pirate and lodged into the doorframe. The other pirate spun his head towards the firer. Snarling his nose, James leapt over the flaming fallen beam and threw himself towards his foe. Clasping his arms around the intruders ankles, the two men stumbled to the ground. The intruding captain kicked and shoved with all his might, as James pinched the pirate’s legs together. As the two men fumbled in the doorway, the sphere rolled towards the fire. James reached out his right arm. He strained. The globe rolled away. Letting go of his captive, James thrust himself towards the ball.
Clambering to his feet, the other pirate gripped the edge of the doorframe to steady his balance as the ship plunged deeper into the sea. He swiped his pistol from its holster and angled his arm towards James. The captain growled throwing his left hand over his face. James’ rival cackled. “A good captain always goes down with his ship,” he said with a chuckle, as his finger gripped the trigger of his gun. The bullet shot passed the captain and sailed through the floor. The boat jolted back. The flames grew taller.
Smoke hissed in his ears. Heat melted his face, singed his hair. His chest heaved. His breathing deepened. Crouched to the ground on all fours, he pinched his eyes shut. His hearing enhanced. The fleeing footsteps faded. His cheeks sizzled. Sweat tricked down his cheek, down his neck and soaked his clothes as the flames blazed. Wood cracked. Crash. His body stiffened. He lifted his head. Squinting his eyes open, he saw that the top of the door frame had collapsed. The fire spread. Flames danced around him, pulling on his clothes, poking at his skin.
The boat tilted back even more. Sliding, he crashed into his desk. Seeping a breath through gritted teeth, he pulled his knees up towards his chest and gripped the sphere tight. A pattering of footsteps sounded near the doorway. His left hand shot to his pistol. Aiming at the doorway, he fired. “Blast you!” he shouted. “Blast you all.” He pinched his eyes shut and scraped his tongue against the top row of his teeth. Dropping the gun from his hand, he threw his left arm over his face and coughed.
Gripping the sphere crystal tight, he crawled underneath his desk. Stoking the ball, he whispered, “Are you really worth this? Are you really worth all this trouble?” He pinched his eyes shut and sniffed. “You are getting us out of here,” he warned it. “I will not go down with my ship!” he raged, thumping his fist on the ground. “I refused to. I will not die.” The crackling of the wood burning grew louder, as the flames ate away at the room. “Do you hear me!” he roared. “I refused to die!”
A low hum hovered in the air. The sphere began to vibrate. James’ right arm began to tremble. He looked down at the globe. A bright spark shot out from it. He pinched his eyes tight. The boat shook. He was flung to the left, still with a fierce grip on the ball. The boat tipped, throwing the captain to the right. The trembling in his arm increased. The humming loudened.
Bang! Everything went black. The captain doesn’t remember what happened next. Nor do any of the crew. From what I have managed to piece together, we all blacked out at the same time.
Upon awakening, we found ourselves collapsed, asleep and scattered about on our ship, the Jolly Roger. There was no fire, no wreckage and no debris. The sails were flapping in the wind; the masts were all standing tall in the centre of the deck. There were no bodies, no injured, no broken weapons, no blood, no mess. Everything was gone, as if it never happened. Even the see-through sphere was gone too – vanished.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – we were drunk, the whole of the crew. We could have just imagined what happened and passed out from drinking too much rum. Now on any ordinary account I probably would have believed you. But you must remember, the captain had had naught to drink. That man was completely sober. Plus, how do you explain this: when we awoke, not only was the ship in tip-top condition, but we were no longer drifting along the Spanish Main. “How did we know?” I hear you ask – well it was simple. The obvious thing to do was consult the star chart, along with our compass and map. However, there were more stars in the sky than grains of sand on a beach. And not one of them matched any constellation we had ever seen or heard of. What was even more bizarre was what happened to our compass. It whizzed around in all directions. Now I know that doesn’t mean that we were no longer in the Caribbean, but just bear with me, okay?
There was no land to the port, stern or starboard sides of the ship, only sea. But ahead lay an island. The captain ordered us to get rowing, while he kept a look out. Although we could see the island from the ship, hours went by before we arrived on its shore. Daylight had begun to rise and settlements of trees came into view. The captain ordered for four members of the crew to accompany him onto land. He, Starkey, Gunners, Jukes and Porto left the ship in a row boat with swords in their sheaths, pistols in their holster and several pockets full of gunpowder each.
As they reached land, one thing made them question where they were: they each had multiple shadows. There were no lights, no candles or torches, and don’t be forgetting that electricity was yet to be invented, for this happened over four hundred years ago – and even today the crew and I don’t have anything to do with the stuff. Looking up into the sky, Jukes tapped the captain on the shoulder. “Yes?” he barked. When Jukes did not reply he growled, “Well out with it then.”
“It… it… it’s,” Jukes stuttered as he pointed up into the sky. “It’s the sun.”
“The sun?” exclaimed the captain. “What d’you mean, the sun? It’s still in the sky, isn’t it?”
“Well, yes captain,” Jukes replied.
“And it’s facing east, isn’t it?”
“Y, yes, s-sir.”
“And it hasn’t exploded, has it?”
“No captain,” said Jukes shaking his head.
“Well then,” James sighed, as he threw a hand to his hilt. “What’s wrong with it?”
“Nothing captain… it’s just…”
“C’mon, spit it out boy.”
“It’s just…” Jukes swallowed. “There’s four of them.”
“Four of them?” raged the captain. “For pity’s sake Jukes, there can’t be four-” James stopped abruptly, for as he looked up, there were indeed four suns. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the first sign that we knew we were in Neverland.
Over the next few days we met many of the land’s other residents: other pirates, wild animals, aborigines, fairies, elves and even mermaids. To begin with we didn’t believe it. James was certain that it was the work of our recent enemies from our last battle that were playing a trick on us. All of us knew that there were no such things as these creatures, only in fairy tales. However, our knowledge was about to be questioned.
Upon meeting with Captain Barton Brue, from another pirate crew (who had become stranded upon the island) James discovered that their story was similar to ours. They had recently swiped a transparent sphere from another ship and were heading back to the Cornish coast. However, before they neared land, another ship snuck up behind them and blasted their vessel to pieces. The sails were set alight, cannons were fired and the crew faced a ferocious blooded battle. Just as the ship was about to sink, the captain held onto the glass ball and pleaded that he did not want to die, before passing out. The next thing that he remembered was waking up and his ship was in tip-top condition, the crew were all safe and alive, but the see-through sphere was gone. They sailed through the sea for days, seeing nothing but water for miles all around. Eventually they sighted the island and were greeted by its inhabitants.
“Neverland, they call this place,” Brue told James one evening over dinner.
“Neverland?” repeated James with a frown. “Why?”
“Because while you reside on the land… you never grow old.” Now of course, you can imagine, James didn’t believe this for a second – none of us did. Leaping up from the table, James swiped his sword from its sheath and held the blade to Captain Brue’s throat.
“Don’t you mock me,” James growled, as he leant over the hilt of his blade. “I trusted you and I can just as easily slit your throat.”
“Please, please,” gasped Brue, his eyebrows raised as he held his hands up above his head. “I speak the truth. Now remove the blade,” he said in a stern manner. James’ eyes fixed upon his. “It was that stone that brought us here and the stone that keeps us here.”
“Stone?” James’ brow puckered.
“You know, the see-through ball: The Stone.” Brue told him. “Why that’s what you were searching for, wasn’t it?” he asked, raising his left eyebrow. “That is why you stole it?”
“What? Stole what?” James muttered, as he loosened his grip on his hilt. He swallowed and tightened the grip of his sword, before asking, “What was it?”
“What, you don’t know?” You could tell the surprise in Brue’s voice really made James worry. Lowering his head and sword, James kept eye contact with the floor.
“That was The Philosopher’s Stone,” Brue told him. “It saved you when you needed it most: when you had nothing left to lose… and everything to gain… and it brought you here, for eternal life.”
“The Philosopher’s Stone?” James repeated in a whisper, as his eyebrows shot up. Captain Brue nodded. Catching the pirate’s movement from the corner of his eye, James turned to him. “But where is the stone?” he asked. “Where is here? How do we get back?”
“You don’t,” replied Brue to the captain’s last question. “You’re in another world now. Another dimension. There ain’t no way back, Jas. Me crew and I have been stranded here long enough to have searched the land over many a time. There ain’t no way outta here either. You can try sailing away on your ship, but even if you keep sailing west for days at a time, eventually you’ll just come back to the island again. I don’t know how and I don’t know why. It’s like the island moves by itself or something. I can only tell you what I know.” During Captain Burton Brue’s speech, James returned his sword to its sheath and sat back down, gazing at the other pirate all the while. “As for the stone…” Brue went on. “No one knows.”
We were all a little weary at first of what we heard, but as the days, months and years went by, we slowly began to believe it. Not only that Neverland provided eternal life, but that the island had special healing qualities. Of course if you were dead, dying or had lost a limb you were a goner, but if you were injured, the water on the land can heal you. Say you were in a battle and a sword slashed at your arm, if you were quick enough to bathe in the Neverland waters your injury would heal before your very eyes.
Knowing that we were almost invincible, James the Fearless set about doing all what we planned to do back on the Mainland: pillage every village, kidnap hostages, thieve as much money, gold, jewels, clothes and food as possible, but most of all spread fear wherever we go. Well that was conquerable sooner than you think. Every day we were setting fire to camps, blowing up fellow ships, kidnapping island residents. “Why?” I hear you ask. Because we could, that’s why. We’re pirates and that’s just what the captain and us crew love doing. However, I always had a feeling that there was more to it than that. And one day, I found out that there was: The Philosopher’s Stone. You know the stories: eternal life, the power to turn lead into silver or gold. Well knowing that it was once in his hands, good, old James the Fearless wanted it back. Now of course, no one else knows this except me and the captain. So for years and years we tortured islanders, kidnapped natives and threatened the island with war as we kept searching.
Now we jump forwards a couple of hundred years. With most of the other pirates now dead (after James had ridded them of existences to make sure that there was no competition for The Stone) and the rest of the island living in fear of where we would strike next, we ruled over Neverland. Whenever we sailed by, the islanders would run into hiding and leave out food and what little treasures that they had for us to swipe on our rounds of the island, so that we didn’t torture them for it. We were, as you might say, at the top of our game.
Well that was until the day the fairies brought a boy back from the Mainland. How the fairies have been able to travel between worlds we have never discovered. I have my theories, but those are for another tale. As with our arrival, the story of the new island member spread fast. I later became aware from one of the aborigines that fairies befriending a human was unheard of, and almost a crime. And that the tinker fairy, Miss Bell, was in a lot of trouble for it. Making her troubles greater still, she begged the fairy colony to help her protect him. Now, you must understand that the fairies are very selfish little beings and always keep themselves to themselves, never wishing to become involved with any of the island’s other inhabitants. So bringing an outsider into the fairy family sounded like treason.
Miss Bell claimed to have befriended this boy on the Mainland several years ago. She said that he had run away from home having heard his parents speaking of what he was to become when he grew up. Having not wanted to ever grow up, the boy ran away to Kensington Gardens and lived there for several years. As the boy was only a baby when he had run away, he was not able to look after himself and had fallen ill. On one of Miss Bell’s visits to the Mainland she met the young boy, and after hearing his tale of why he ran away, she felt sorry for him and tried her best to heal him. The boy was very grateful for the fairy’s kind gesture and the two of them became friends. Miss Bell became a regular visitor to the Mainland, so that she could visit the boy and also to share her magic with him to make him well. But as the years went by, Miss Bell could no longer provide the boy with enough magic to keep him in good health. As the boy had no way of finding food or medicine and he had no shelter (apart from the bushes and trees of Kensington Gardens) in which to live, his health declined. This is why Miss Bell brought the boy to Neverland.
Upon her arrival to the island with the boy, the head of the fairies, Queen Clarion, was furious. She even contemplated Miss Bell’s banishment, which is a fate almost as worse as death for a fairy. However, after the fairy queen heard Miss Bell’s story of why the boy ran away, she warmed to the idea of bringing him to Neverland. The boy, Miss Bell had explained, was usually full of life and energy. He loved to play, have adventures and he still believed in fairies. Now this last reason was most important of all, because as you probably know, children know ever so much nowadays that they cast aside things such as mermaids, dragons and fairies. So for a boy to still believe in them, the fairies thought that this made the boy very special indeed.
What they did next is still a mystery to me. Before the boy entered the fairy kingdom of Pixie Hollow, it is said that he was just an ordinary boy from London. However, after the fairies helped to save him, he was no longer ordinary. This boy was now healthier than you or I have ever been, he could fly too, but without wings and he had elven ears just like the fairies do. Whatever magic spell or initiation ceremony they performed on him will probably remain forever a secret between him and the fairies, for it is something that I have been trying to get out of him for over a hundred years.
Now, this is where the tale gets interesting. After the fairies had performed whatever ritual it was on the boy, they brought him aboard the ship and asked to speak to James. Queen Clarion, Miss Bell and the boy remained in the captain’s quarters for some time. The crew and I, all curious of their discussion, stood at the door and tried to listen in as best we could.
“James,” began the queen. “You and your crew have caused nothing but fear and disruption to this island since you have arrived, how to you plead?”
“Guilty,” came James’ smug reply.
“Well then James, I shall set you with an ultimatum,” she announced. Holding in gasps, the crew and I leaned closer to the door. “I will be placing this boy into your care, as he is of human ancestry and from the Mainland, both of which are you and your crew. I command that you look after this boy and bring him up as if he were your own.”
“What?” James laughed slapping a hand to his desk.
“You are to show him kindness, love and care. You are to bring him up as a gentleman, teaching him right from wrong and to only ever show good form.”
“Good form?” James chuckled. “You have got to be kidding me.”
“I kid you not James,” warned the fairy queen. “You and your crew have been nothing but dishonest, blood thirsty thieves since you stepped foot on this island. Now unless you and your entire crew would like to remain hanged forever on one of Neverland’s largest trees, then I suggest you do as I say. If you promise to take in the youngster, and bring him up as I have just described, then the island will overlook your last two and a half centuries worth of destruction.” There came a humming from the captain as he contemplated the deal. “Now,” Queen Clarion continued. “Not only must you teach the boy good form, but you and your crew must also show good form at all times and forever more. Any hint that you have shown bad form or taught this boy wrong, then I will be here in an instant and you and your crew shall be hanged from the tallest of Hangman’s Trees, do you understand, James?”
“I understand,” came the captain’s reply and the deal was done.
The young boy, Peter, became cabin boy on our ship that very day. That was also the day that the captain promoted me from gunner to Peter’s assistant carer. Whenever the captain was busy, it was I who would look after the boy. I must admit that I was surprised at first to find that the captain agreed to Queen Clarion’s orders – after all James the Fearless hardly seemed the fatherly type. But after a while I could see that I was indeed mistaken. James became rather fond of Peter, letting him assist him in his office and follow him around the ship. And Peter cared ever so much for James – he was always helping me out in the kitchen, making sure that the captain got the best of the meal. James taught the boy how to fend for himself and the two of them could often be found sword fighting on the deck of the ship.
The crew grew to love Peter too. They always gave a cheerful, “Hello,” as he passed. And Peter would offer to clean their swords and shoes for them on a weekly basis. I caught the boys teaching the lad how to play cards on many occasions too. I warned them the lad was too young for gambling and they promised never to place a bet in his presence, but if you turn your back for a second the crew are always getting up to mischief. “Just so longs as Queen Clarion doesn’t catch you,” I’d warn them. “It’ll be your head.”
As the years passed, the captain and Peter grew ever closer. The two of them were almost inseparable. Around the ship, you never saw the captain without Peter and you never saw Peter without the captain. However on land was a different story. It soon became daily that the captain would leave with the crew for the island, giving Peter strict instructions to stay on the ship with me. Whenever Peter asked about the captain’s trips to land James would tell the boy that he and the crew would wander the island seeing if any of its inhabitants needed help or assistance in anyway. This could mean anything from helping someone to start a campfire to catching fish in a stream for a starving aborigine family. Peter always praised the captain and his crew for their good deeds, but begged James to take him with them. The captain would always reply, “The island’s too dangerous for you. I promised the fairies that I’d keep you safe.” However this was far from the truth.
Now if you remember, Queen Clarion had made the captain promise that he and the crew would look after Peter and show good form forever. And being as we never age in Neverland, forever meant forever. But forever’s an awfully long time - especially when you’re a pirate and you’re used to robbing ships and slitting throats. After only a short time, James and the crew grew tired of their promise and returned to island to cause more destruction – although this time they kept things low key. With Peter oblivious to James’ schemes and with the victims of his terror too scared to speak up, they got away with it.
This was the routine for many, many years: the captain would leave Peter with me, whilst he and the crew continued to behave like pirates do. That is, until one day. It had been the talk of the island that one of Great Big Little Panther’s tribe had been kidnapped, although no one knew who by – except for us pirates. Peter had come to hear of the news and there was no way of getting him to leave the topic be.
“But that’s horrible,” Peter had said to that captain, as he and the crew prepared for another outing.
“I know dear Peter, I know,” the captain replied, ruffling up Peter’s hair. “But that’s just how cruel some people in Neverland are, they’re forever going around, capturing people, hurting others and taking things that don’t belong to them. That’s why I have you stay here. I gave my word to Queen Clarion that I would keep you out of harm’s way.”
“I know,” Peter sighed as his shoulders drooped. “But I just wish that there was something I could do to help.” He gazed up at the captain, who gave him a warm smile back.
Placing a hand on Peter’s shoulder, James told him, “You’re helping by staying out of the way. I would only be worrying about you if you weren’t on the ship.” The right corner of Peter’s mouth poked up in the corner, as their eyes met.
“Here’s ya rope capt-in,” said Porto, as he threw a huge coil of rope into the captain’s chest.
“Oomph,” muttered James as he grasped it. “Cheers!” he called after the pirate.
“Thought we might need it, you know,” Porto called back.
“Need it?” Peter repeated with a puckered brow. “Why would you need so much rope? That’s gotta be long enough to tie at least eight people together.”
“Really?” the captain laughed as he scratched the back of his head. “Where would you be getting a silly idea like that from?”
“Sharpened your sword too capt-in,” Porto sang out, as he returned with the captain’s blade. “An’ ya pistol’s a ready too,” he said handing the captain his weapon, before re-joining the rest of the crew, who were loading up stock into the row boats.
Having stared after Porto with a frown, Peter began to scratch his head as he listened to the crew singing their usual pirating songs before their outing: “Yo-ho, yo-ho, the frisky plank, You walks along it so, ‘til it goes down and you goes down, To Davy Jones below!” and: “Avast, belay, yo-ho, heave to, A-pirating we go, And if we’re parted by a shot, We’re sure to meet below!”
“You don’t really make people walk the plank, do you?” Peter asked the captain. Folding his arms, Peter kept eye contact with the crew who began a jig as they sang.
“No,” replied James with a laugh. “Whatever gave you that preposterous idea? Smee,” he frowned at me. “Have you been filling the boys head with nonsense stories again?”
“No cap’in,” I replied with a salute. “This ain’t the works a me.”
“And why d’you need your sword and gun all the time if all you’re doing today is helping pick fruit from trees?” Peter asked as he turned to the captain. “And what’s with the rope? What are you gonna use it for?” He rose from the ground and hovered around the captain, examining the rope and curling a finger around his chin all the while.
“My, you’re full of questions this morning, aren’t you me boy?” said James, as he spun around, trying to keep Peter in sight. His head twitched over to the crew who had started patting their hands against their mouths, whilst making a high shrieking call. An ‘owo ow,’ echoed across the deck. Peter dropped to the ground and frowned again.
“You know Captain,” Peter said as he glared at him. “I’m tired of you saying that I have to stay here on this ship. Tinker Bell told me all about Neverland, that it was a magical, wonderful place, filled with fun and adventures. But all that I’ve seen since I’ve been here is this ship. The island can’t be as bad as you say. Why won’t you let me come with you once, just once… please…” he begged, as his eyes widened. “I promise I’ll be careful.”
“No,” snapped James firmly.
“No?” Peter exclaimed. “That’s not fair. I can fend for myself better than any of the crew – you told me so. And I can fly faster than any of ‘em can run,” Peter said as he hopped into the air. “I bet I could help you find out who kidnapped the islander too.”
“No!” growled the captain. He snarled his teeth and narrowed his eyebrows. He lowered his vision, until he was staring directly into Peter’s eyes.
“But I could-”
“I said no!” roared James through clenched teeth and a hand on the hilt of his sword. His eyebrows raised, the vein on his brow bulged and his face reddened.
Peter gave a scornful laugh as he jerked his head towards the captain. “I know why you won’t let me go with you…” Swallowing, he balled his hands into fists, clenching them tight at his sides. “Because it’s you, isn’t it? You’re the one who’s causing fires, who’s torturing people, stealing things and who kidnapped one of Great Big Little Panther’s tribe.” Peter pinched his eyes shut, wrinkled his nose and turned away from the captain.
“What?” gasped James rather over dramatically.
“Admit it,” Peter growled, spinning around to face him.
“Never,” chuckled James. “I shan’t admit something that isn’t true, Peter dear.” Stepping forwards, the captain placed a hand upon Peter’s shoulder. Scrunching up his face, Peter jerked his shoulder away and turned his back towards him.
“Then promise me that you’ve never harmed anyone on this island,” he said as his vision hazed as he stared ahead at the horizon.
“What a stupid thing to ask, Peter,” the captain exclaimed, as he stood at Peter’s side.
“Promise me,” Peter shouted, as he flung himself around to face the captain.
“I’ll do nothing of the sort,” raged James, throwing his mane of hair over his right shoulder. “I shall not take orders from a child,” he proclaimed, leaning over the boy.
Peter ducked beneath the captain and swept to my side. I took a step back – I had tried my best over the years to stay clear of their disagreements and this was no exception. “How long then?” demanded Peter with his hands balled at his sides. “How long has this gone on for? Days? Weeks? Months?” Peter’s voice squeaked, as his eyes grew wide. He gazed at the captain, desperate for answers, his eyes sparkling. James scrunched up his features and turned his back to us. “Don’t tell me years…?” he shrieked. When the captain did not budge, Peter turned to me. His big, brown eyes shimmered as his bottom lip began to quiver. My teeth chattered as I clawed my hand to my head and grabbed hold of my hat. I lowered by eyes to the deck, unable to look at the boy’s face. “I trusted you,” he roared spinning around to James, his voice wavering.
“Yes Peter,” the captain muttered.
“I trusted you!” Peter yelled again, jabbing a finger towards the captain. “And you lied to me… you’ve always lied to me. I will never forgive you!” Punching his fist above his head, Peter leapt off the ground and flew into the air. Hearing me gasp, James spun around.
Cupping his hands over his mouth, the captain shouted, “Peter! Peter!” many times. Once he was certain that Peter was out of hearing distance, he slumped against the wall. Throwing his head back, James slid his back down the wall, until his was sat on the floor. Bringing his knees up to his chest, the captain’s lower lip trembled as he muttered, “What have I done.” Resting his arms on his knees, he buried his head into the nook of his right elbow.
“Don’t worry cap’in,” I told him, as I crouched at his side. Placing a hand on the captain’s shoulder I told him, “He’ll be back.” But how wrong I was.
As the days went by, it became apparent that Peter was not going to return. All of the crew missed him. They missed how he sharpened their swords for them whilst they were sleeping, how he would play cards with the crew below deck and help whoever was losing to win, how all he had to do was say, “Good morning,” to you when you were feeling blue and it would cheer you up again. Oh how we missed the boy. I sure noticed it in the galley. He had been helping me out for so long – I didn’t realise just how much I had come to rely on him. But the captain – oh, he missed the boy terribly. For days he moped around in his quarters. He never left his cabin, nor ate or spoke to anyone for days. We all knew that he had grown a liking to the boy, but none of us knew just how attached he had become.
After a few days, a messenger from Queen Clarion arrived on the Jolly Roger and demanded to see the captain. The sparrow-man messenger informed us that Peter had flown to the fairy kingdom and had told them everything that had occurred between him and the captain on the day that he left. The messenger also told us that Peter had declared war on the Jolly Roger and was currently creating his own army, made up of Neverland residents and boys from the Mainland who, like he, had run away from their parents in fear of growing up. The fairy queen approved of Peter’s proposed battle and had sent her messenger to warn us to prepare for battle.
Well the war took place, and let me tell you it was the worst thing that I have ever seen – and as I have already made you aware, I have seen many, many things, for I have been a pirate amongst many ships and witness a great deal of battles and that was before I joined the Jolly Roger. I have also been told that it was the worst battle Neverland has ever seen. Every single inhabitant of Neverland: the fairies, mermaids, aborigines, elves, witches, wizards, werecats and many other mystical beasts, as well as Peter’s formed band of men (whom he called his ‘Lost Boys) fought on Peter’s side. It was only our crew who stood against them.
The war went on well over thirty moons – I must tell you that I began to lose count after then. As the days and nights began to merge both sides had lost a significant amount of men. The guilt of having allowed his hunger for finding The Philosopher’s Stone to take over him, while he had Peter, a boy who looked up to him and worshiped him so much, had caused the captain to lose his concentration. Instead of handing forth coordinates for firing weapons (which is the usual amongst ships) the captain just announced that the crew attack in whichever way we saw fit. Now I’m not saying that the crew are completely useless without the captain’s specific instructions, but let’s just say not everyone is capable of carrying out a successful attack without coordinates or command.
As the war began to break both parties, Peter ordered for the captain to meet him, alone, on the steppingstones of Crocodile Creek. Without hesitation, James accepted. You see, no matter how much destruction the war had caused, or how much it angered the captain, nor how many men we lost, James still held a place in his heart for the boy. And I dear say that Peter did for the captain too.
The sky darkened. Purple, ominous clouds lathered above. From the ship, two figures could be seen on opposite sides of the steppingstones of Crocodile Creek – the smaller on the right and the captain to our left. Waves lashed up against the rocks. Looking on, our ship rocked from starboard to port. As we swayed, the two figures stood facing one another.
Cupping his hands around his mouth, the captain shouted out “Peter!” The wind howled, roaring over the captain’s cry. “Peter!” he yelled again.
“Ha! I didn’t think you’d show,” Peter said with a jerk of his head.
“I gave my word, did I not?” replied James, as he punched his fists to his hips.
“Your word means nothing to me,” said Peter. The boy’s eyebrows narrowed and his nose wrinkled. As a wave clawed at the farthest rock which Peter was standing, he leapt from it and flew towards the captain, holding a hand to his dagger all the while. James swiped his sword from its sheath to shield himself, as the two blades clattered.
“Don’t say that, Peter,” pleaded the captain. “You can’t say that you don’t feel anything towards me…” As Peter hovered in front of the captain, their eyes met. Loosening the grip around his dagger, Peter swallowed as his lips parted. “We’re best of friends…” James reminded him. “You, you’re like a son to me, Peter.”
“Son?! Don’t you ever say that to me again,” Peter scorned.
Swiping his dagger from his side, Peter jabbed it in the captain’s direction. Taking a leap back, Peter forced the captain to hop after him across the steppingstones. Swinging his right arm forwards, James the Fearless thrust his sword at Peter. As the water slopped up against the stone, Peter slipped. Wobbling backwards, Peter bent his knees and leapt up into the air. Flying over the captain he appeared on the rock behind him. “Missed me!” Peter sang as the captain spun around. James clenched his teeth and growled at Peter’s trickery. Taking a deep breath, the captain dove forwards, pointing his sword towards Peter. Jumping into the air, Peter flew over the captain once more, landing on a rock on the far side. “Missed me again!” Peter called out. Spinning around, James gritted his teeth and let out a low growl.
“Peter quit this flying nonsense,” he barked, for this was the one trait of Peter’s that the captain could not find it in him to accept. Whether it was because it made the boy a little inhuman or whether it was because the captain was terribly jealous of Peter’s abilities I am yet to decide – it may be a little of both. “It isn’t fair,” the captain cried. “It gives you the upper hand.”
“Fine,” Peter agreed with a stern stare, placing both feet to the ground. “You have my word,” he said with a nod. The captain bowed his head and their fight continued.
Swords slashed. Metal clanged. From the ship, all the crew and I could hear were the bickering blades and gruesome groans from the pair as they dodged each other’s deathly blows. The crocodiles sensed their sweaty scent too, for their heads began to bob above the surface. As the creatures circled the water blow, they swished their tails about slopping water against the rocks.
With a war cry, the captain lunged his sword forwards. Squeezing the helm of his weapon, James threw his weight onto the blade. Squinting his eyes, Peter clenched his dagger tight. He seeped a breath through gritted teeth. He wobbled. His foot sloped towards the edge of the rock. His voice box groaned as he held his breath.
“Give up boy,” James growled, leaning his weight further forwards.
“Never!” Peter yelled back. The captain gave a chuckle as he bounced on his toes. He brought his sword back, before striking forwards. Peter’s right foot slipped from the rock. He turned his head to the water at his side, his bottom lip wavering. Swinging his arms across himself, he caught his balance.
One of the crocodiles leapt out of the water and snapped its jaws at the captain. His right foot slipped back and his left knee buckled. The crocodile threw its jaw out of the water and snarled at the captain. The captain gave a shout as he flinched back. “Help!” he cried. “Save me.” Peter gasped. He threw out his hand, stretching it towards the captain. “Peter!” James cried as he reached out for the boy’s hand. Grabbing it, the captain’s slanted eyebrows and open mouth merged into a grin with on raised brow. “Thanks,” he chuckled as he yanked on Peter’s hand. Peter plummeted forwards. Waving his arms about, he held his breath and closed his eyes as he fell forwards. His dagger slowed his fall. His blade struck something.
Peter landed with a thud. His face pressed into slime. His feet were flung above him and he grabbed tight onto the thing below. The surface which he had landed upon moved from under him. Throwing its jaw into the air, it snapped up at the captain’s pocket watch that had been cut from its chain. Wrapping his arms around the crocodile’s lower back, Peter flung his head over his shoulder just in time to see the beast snap its jaws tight around the clock. As the crocodile splashed its snout back into the water, Peter’s legs swung back down.
Cursing, James splashed his sword at the water. The crocodile dove down deep below the surface and circled around rock where James stood. Having leapt back onto the rock in front of James, Peter prodded his dagger in the captain’s direction. “How dare you, boy?” James raged. “That,” he said pulling at the loose dangling chain where his pocket watch had been moments earlier, “Was a present from my mother.”
“So?” Peter replied with a shrug.
“So it was very dear to me,” barked the captain, jabbing his sword at Peter.
“You mean just like I was to you, or was that a lie too,” said Peter with a cocky laugh, as he clashed the blade of his dagger against the captain’s sword. James pressed his weight onto his right arm and leant towards his blade.
“Peter,” said the captain as he looked down at the boy over their steel. “You’ll always be dear to me… now let’s stop this fight and go back to how everything was before.”
“You mean with you bullying the entire island whilst you leave me alone on the ship – no chance!”
“Save your breath,” spat Peter, as he wrinkled his nose. “I don’t trust you,” he said with his dagger raised at his side. Peter’s hand trembled as he glared at the man before him. “I will never trust you – never again.” Pinching his eyes tight, Peter turned his face away from the captain and swung his dagger out. The captain threw his right arm up to shield the attack, but as he was looking towards Peter, he misjudged the blade. Peter’s dagger sliced into the captain’s wrist. As the blade emerged the other side, James’ hand tumbled from his arm. Dropping to his knees the captain howled in agony. As James wept, the crocodile splashed up and snapped at the captain’s hand, swallowing it whole.
When James looked up Peter was gone. After swiping his blade at the captain, Peter had leapt into the air and flown off, without once looking back. On his knees the captain wept and wept – for both Peter and the loss of his hand. But no good came of it. Queen Clarion declared that Peter Pan had won the war. And from that day on, everything changed. No longer were the islanders fearful of us pirates nor would they surrender when faced in battle against us. Now, whenever the island is in trouble, it just calls upon Peter. He was their hero and their saviour when things took a turn for the worst. He rescued the aboriginal tribesman and returned him back to Great Big Little Panther’s tribe. Peter also managed to return much of the islander’s possessions that we had thieved over the years, for we had stupidly hidden them all in the same place (which was where he found the aborigine). Even the island itself was thankful to Peter for it is always lively and the weather is always pleasant so longs as Peter is around. However, when Peter is away with the fairies the island turns cold, the sky grows dark, plants droop and animals hibernate. But as soon as he returns, it is as if he never left.
As for the captain, well, the ship’s surgeon, Sullivan, tarred over his stump and insisted that he could continue to rule his ship as he always had done, saying that he knew plenty of men who had lost a limb in battle, but James ignored him. Just as he had done when he lost Peter the first time, he shut himself away in his cabin. You could hear him blubbering at all hours for days on end – mind you if you ask any of the crew that, we’d all deny it. We tried everything to cheer him up, we did. I cooked him his favourite meal, and his next favourite… and his next. I tried to get the captain interested in searching for The Stone again; I even suggested places that we had overlooked on our previous searches, but to no avail. Members of the crew tried playing music, they let him win at cards, they kept the deck clean without being asked, they sharpened his swords, polished his boots, but still the captain refused to break his sulk.
With the loss of his hand, the captain also lost part of his independence. Being right handed, having lost his right hand made everyday tasks difficult. He came to rely on me more and more: to cut his meat, to brush his teeth, to tie his shoes, to do up the buttons on his justacorps – it’s just the silly things like that which you take for granted when you have two hands. It wasn’t long before the captain promoted me from part-time sea-cook and gunner (as I had been demoted back to after Peter Pan left) to his right-hand-man. I’m always there for the captain; I am, from dusk ‘til dawn and all the times in between. After all, I kind of feel responsible for the whole captain losing the boy and his hand. I mean, it was partly my fault. I should have looked after Peter better, I should have calmed the captain’s temper, I should have intervened.
So how did the captain break out of his depression, I bet you’re wondering. Well this was the work of Starkey. Having caught his shirt early one morning on a fishing hook and bled for some time, Starkey realised the potential in this pointed object. He presented the hook to the captain and explained to him all of the terrible, torturous things that he could achieve if he were to fix the hook upon the stump of his arm. He even had Sullivan prepare a stump bracelet piece to place the hook onto for his demonstration. The captain loved it. Strapping the device to his lower arm, he twisted the hook in front of himself, admiring its gleam, its sharp point and the fear that it brought to people when he jabbed it towards them. And then came the name: Captain Hook, using it to symbolise his anger and cause even more fear to those who dared to cross him. And since then, the captain’s vowed that he would get his revenge and has spent every waking moment plotting to get back at Peter for what he did to him.
And don’t forget the importance of the crocodile to this tale. After gobbling up the captain’s hand, the crocodile decided that he loved the taste of Hook so much that he’s been trailing after him ever since. The captain’s pretty lucky really that the crocodile swallowed his pocket watch first, for whenever the croc appears, Hook hears the tick-tock-tick-tock of his watch and bolts half a mile.
And that’s that. It’s not one of the best stories if you ask me, there’s no real adventure or purpose, but it’s the one that everybody always wants to hear. I guess you could say it’s the one that started it all and the reason why so many of you are always after more of my Peter Pan stories. Oh well I’d best be off; duty awaits. Until we meet again for another adventure,