The Gift

August 16, 2010

It had been more than a day. We had left that place behind and with it, a man’s soul trapped somewhere in there. But that soul was not the only thing trapped. I had not been able to sleep for last two nights. Those dark clouds enveloping that man was the only thing I saw when I closed my eyes. But I knew it would all be over once I was on my side of the world.

Murdokk had made me the guest of honour on his ship and had declared a feast in my name last night when we had landed on a port city that was about a day’s journey away from the deserted island we had survived on for the first couple of days. Zenya and Fred had already been there, watching over the progress of whatever it was that was taking us home. Zenya could tell the moment she saw that something was not right with me. Yes, something was not right. I was homesick now, more than ever, was what I told Zenya and had pretty much convinced myself the same.

I was returning home today. There was no way in hell I was going to give it up now. I knew if I told Murdokk the truth there was more than fifty percent chance of him dragging me back there and keeping me a prisoner until I got them what they wanted. He was a pirate after all, who was ready to throw away his life for a remnant of a man while his crew blindly followed him in doing the same, no matter how much concern they showed for his well-being. I was not going to give in. It was time I went back to the place that only had ruins instead of some real fantasy novel world. And just as Hans had promised, without delay stood a beauty that could easily house us three for the one-way journey. Even though it looked nothing like the contemporaries of our world, Hans took the guarantee that this medieval ship could take us back without breaking a sweat.

As I was about to board the ship, Murdokk stopped me and said these exact words-

I thank you from the bottom of my heart Colin. You have no idea what you have done for me, for my comrade. The very man who is going to be saved by us, by you, he is a man worth dying for. The debts I owe him are beyond this life I have yet to live. Makes me wonder what some nations in our world would have done if they knew my comrade was still alive, for their debts far outrank mine. You are a good man Colin. If we ever meet again, I hope I am of more service to you than just sending you back home. After all, mate, we owe you one.”

And his crew had enthusiastically shouted ‘Aye!’

The anxiety came back. No, it was not anxiety, it was guilt.

No! Colin you are going back to your wife today. Don’t you dare screw this up. There is no way in hell you are falling for that. These are pirates for God’s sake! They steal from people and raid ships. How on earth can you trust them? How can you possibly know that the person trapped is also not a pirate or someone worse? They never told you anything about him in detail, did they? NO! So get on the fucking ship and go back home.

Fred had been given all the instructions and Zenya had been showered with presents from nearly everyone on the crew. I stood on the deck and waited for our ship to leave the port. Faking my goodbyes filled with gratitude I finally took a breath as the distance between us and the pirates was far enough for them to look the size of ants.

It was then that Zenya came to me. “Why didn’t you look at them?” she said.

I was confused. “Idiot, the presents. Look, they all got you presents. It would’ve been nice if you would’ve opened these in front of them.” and she handed my a pile of boxes.

Hans had gifted me a replica of his ship made in jade. He even added a note telling me how much this piece could fetch me in my world’s market if I ever needed money-an amount beyond my expectations. Gin had gifted me five stones- with a detailed explanation of each one’s working-that were very rare but really helpful in finding out ailments. Even he had added their worth, something that, for Gin, was nothing compared to the happiness captain had regained. The heaviest box was from Murdokk. Inside it was what seemed like a book with a wooden back, that had locks on it that went around like a vine. Inside it was a message from him saying to use these blank pages as a journal for storing all my precious memories inside it.

I know why you write every day without fail Colin. It was a promise made to someone close to you, was it not? You have kept the promise sacred and I want to help you keep it without fail with this never-ending journal. Keep fulfilling your promise, my friend. May the seas and skies watch over this sacred bond.

Your friend beyond worlds,

Murdokk

And suddenly I was falling in the darkness as I heard a familiar voice. “Colin.” it called as gently as ever. “How was your day honey?”

My heart stopped for a moment and I forgot to breathe. “Mom?”

“Tell me about your day my little boy.” the voice that used to call me her ‘little boy’ till I turned twelve.

“Can’t tell me? Well, how about you write it down and I’ll read it.” and she did even when she got sick. I promised her I would keep writing my journal. I prayed to God to make her healthy again so she could read them all.

“Read it out loud for me today, my precious boy. Mommy forgot her reading glasses somewhere.” her soft voice was shaking now and she was speaking with gasps. I had read it out for her and she had smiled at me like she did everyday and then she left. She left me and Papa that day.

I promise Mommy, I will keep writing it so that you can read from the stars every night. I promise Mommy.

Colin

Colin?

“Colin?!” Zenya brought me back on the ship.

“FRED!! TURN BACK!!” I shouted as I looked at the port. It was nearly out of sight. Both Fred and Zenya were taken aback at my sudden outburst. “We have to turn back! Murdokk doesn’t know the whole truth.”

Explaining them as precisely as I could everything that happened, I asked them to turn the ship around before Murdokk went on a wild goose chase. When they first declined my request I thought they were thinking as close mindedly as me.

“It’s too late for that Colin. We have already activated the portal.”

“So what? We can build a new one can’t we? Hurry up before it’s too late.”

It already was too late. Turns out the portal was opened with the ship itself and if we tried heading back to the port, we- who were already in the red zone of the portal- would be dragging the people on and around the port into the portal zone blast as well.

This was a reasonable explanation to not go back but my heart and brain were already loose now. I had no control over my actions. I decided to swim back to the port and come clean to Murdokk. But Fred stopped me, yelling at me for planning a suicide. I tried to fight him off until Zenya stopped me. She tried to slap some sense into me but I was already in tears.

I was going to be the reason a man would not be able to save his friend. Because of my foolish selfless thinking, a promise was about to be broken. The man who had read my core in just three days and was the reason I was going home, was the very man I had just betrayed.

I failed, mother. I failed to keep my promise.

Zenya and Fred dragged my wailing body inside the boat as the storm clouds gathered and everything went dark. That was the last thing I could remember.

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