From “Beyond Neverland” by Heather Killough-Walden
Release date TBA
When Captain James Hook handed his spyglass to his first mate and rolled back his shoulders, he wasn’t expecting the sudden terrible impact that rocked the Jolly Roger viciously to one side, knocked nearly every man on deck off their feet, and sent splintered wood and debris flying hazardously in all directions.
The sound was deafening; immediately following the blast of the impact, a ringing engulfed Hook’s ears. He grasped hold of the railing with his left hand, the hand he was more accustomed to using after having that hand to rely upon for hundreds of years. He’d barely wrapped his fingers around the wood before his arm was pulled painfully taut, his boots were sliding out from under him, and he was reaching out like lightning to grasp the railing with his other hand. Not for the first time since Neverland had been destroyed, Hook found himself marveling at his second appendage.
In the periphery of his chaos-filled vision, Hook saw ancient and toothless Skylights go tumbling, but the old pirate and the ruby and emerald-tipped cane he’d acquired in a previous raiding disappeared behind one of the masts as the ship listed seriously to one side. Hook watched Murphy go down, and fleeting, subconscious fears for his ship’s doctor coursed through him. Starkey stumbled back, taking a shard of wood in the shoulder.
Hook saw blood on Smee’s shirt as the rotund man was knocked backward, landed hard, and rolled away. The ship continued to list, turning ever further on its side.
Arnold the Black became airborne, his enormous black-bearded form lifting completely off the deck as if he had leapt into the air, and Hook could see the jagged edge of a metal strip of destroyed door banding protruding from the back of his leg.
The Jolly Roger reached a horizontal state where it unnaturally floated hundreds of feet above the ocean, and both of Hook’s hands held on for everything they were worth.
Both of my hands, he thought. They were words surrounded by a thousand other thoughts about his men, his ship, about the past – about Wendy.
He was being made to walk the plank, being thrown off his own ship. Things he’d done to so many others in the past… even to Wendy. So long ago. Fitting, he thought fleetingly. A pirate racked up so many kills in his life time. For some pirates, they were countless life times.
The deck was slippery beneath the sweat of his palms, and with passing, bitter amusement, he realized that a hook at the end of his arm would have provided a much better hold than his hand did now.
His muscles cramped, his fingers straining against the pull of the open air. And as the Jolly Roger very nearly turned completely upside down, Captain James Hook prepared to face the fall that would finally be his death, and at last even the score.
– “Beyond Neverland” by Heather Killough-Walden