The Last Voyage of the Overett
The sailors became bolder and edged closer. They tore at the body with their fingers and nails, one of them biting directly into the roasted corpse’s ankle. I ran, and Rufus came after me. I ran to the far side of the island, but I couldn’t get away. What I have seen came with me, crawled into my ears and whispered horrors of cannibalism. I rocked back and forth, crying in a nook between two stones while Rufus hugged me with his furry body.
– A man who resents his flock, who refuses a meal sent from god himself, such faithlessness you present Cornelius. I knew from the moment I saw you that you were a nobody. A worm much more than a man. A soulless snail, devoid of devotion. You could have eaten with us, you could have shared holy communion, but you choose to roam this sandy prison with your mutt instead. We have made a vote in your absence Cornelius. We voted that you’d be the next meal.
As the words of my dead companion rang in my ears I descended into the waters. The rats were small and numerous, but I was a lone object splashing in the waves. I feared a shark would tear me open. I reached the wreck in darkness and crawled into it’s belly. Three decks were over the water, and inside I heard every creak of wood and every squeak of rat. A hundred tiny shapes scattered around me, their eyes glowing in the dark like stars upon the night sky. Rufus’ spirit appeared next to me and I felt a shivering cold breeze:
I laid stunned despite his words. A day had passed and the sun came and went, I became hungry again. Sounds of skittering feet filled my ears while my stomach grumbled. They were circling around me, testing me, gauging if I am prey or hunter. I remembered Rufus, how he hunted, how he died. A second day had past. A few rats came close, one even tried to bite my finger. I shooed it away. On the third day I slithered out from the topmost deck. I was the night, I was shadow, I was hunger. Slamming down on a group of rats my body squished one.
I still took the skull of Rufus and with a strip of cloth fastened it to my hip. I took a knife I found at the camp into my mouth and breached the waves. I was a decent swimmer, but I knew this was not a fight to win. I only struggled to keep afloat, and hoped to god that the currents and waves would lead me straight. With small adjustments and a great deal of salt water in my face I reached halfway. The sun was high and as I gave myself to a large wave I saw a shadow swim under me, a grey shade of a shark. I didn’t stay still, nor did I splash about. I dived under.
A cough caught my attention. I snapped out of my stunned stupor. I was in a village, on a square cornered by huts. Tribal men and women stood all around me with small children holding their parent’s legs below. I sat in an ornate wooden chair. In front of me – next to the table where O’Furi was held on display – sat a fat man. He appeared to be important. He sported facial tattoos but no hair or beard. His eyes sized me up while in his hands he held an ivory teacup. He was blowing the steaming hot liquid inside of it before he spoke:
I looked at the wax like skin of the preacher. His eyes were closed but his mouth was agape. A devourer of men he was, and now dead as the ones he ate. I answered to my host:
– No. I only have one friend.
I put my aching hand on the skull of Rufus, which miraculously survived my oceanic ordeal, and was still strapped to my side. The tribal leader looked at me and then sat his teacup down next to the bare feet of O’Furi.
© 2018 Gábor Eichammer