“Here we gooo!” Jacob hunkered down on the deck of the ship and clutched Shadow tightly.
The captain stood his ground, staring across the distance at the ninja ship. A stern look of contempt solidified on his face. “To the very depths of Davy Jones, I chase ye.”
Jacob looked skyward. A small circle of sky remained above. Whirling torrents of water formed an impenetrable wall all around them. Darkness crept over them as the top of that wall began to collapse.
Even old Fred appeared contrite as he stared upwards at water rushing towards them. All were soon lost to darkness and the roar of the rushing water. Then something curious happened.
Even the rushing sound of the water began to fade. Soon there was only the darkness, and a strong sense of falling. Even that began to change. They weren’t falling down, anymore. They were falling… forwards?
A constant booming sound could be heard in the distance. Jacob slowly stood up, feeding Shadow onto his shoulder. He looked around. He could just make out the shadows of Fred and the captain on either side of him.
The booming became louder and louder. All of a sudden, the unmistakable instrumental magic of the Disco era filled the air. Both ships were illuminated by a kaleidoscope of morphing colors twisting and throbbing along the gigantic tunnel they were soaring through.
Fred struck a pose in his bright-white leisure suit. Colors of every shade mirrored off his oversize shades. “OOH, that’s my jam, baby!”
The captain shook his head and strode forward. He kicked his cowering crew members as he walked past them. “Avast, you quivering cowards! We’re on a line, men! Steer for that other ship!”
Jacob sidled over to Fred, who was still doing his best John Travolta impression. “I know I’m probably asking a stupid question…” he shouted. “But are we safe? Still in trouble? Should I pray?”
Fred stopped dead. He slowly turned toward Jacob and pulled down his shades with a single bony finger. “That was three stupid questions.” He stared a moment longer before returning to his one-man jam.
Something whistled past Jacob’s head and struck in the deck behind him. He whirled around to see a flaming arrow stuck deep in the wooden boards. “Ohhh, that’s not good.”
More arrows whistled around them as the crew scrambled to stomp the growing fires out. Jacob ran to one side of the ship and peered down. Whatever was down there wasn’t water. “That’s even worse.”
He turned to see an arrow flying straight for his head. Tiny Shadow leaped from his shoulder, growling like a tiger. The entire arrow went in the kitten’s mouth and disappeared.
Shadow turned back to Jacob and issued a man-sized belch. Fire shot from the kitten’s mouth like a flame thrower. Jacob hopped as the flames licked around his ankles. “Holy shit, cat. I owe you one.”
The kitten mewed, squinting its little eyes. It turned away and trundled across the deck. It jumped suddenly, catching another arrow. It belched again, catching a coiled rope on fire. “Oops.”
“Eyes forward!” The captain cried out. “The tunnel’s opening up, lads! Find your places, double-quick!”
Jacob looked forward with the others. They were indeed racing towards the end of the tunnel. A field of stars twinkled on a blanket of black. “Fred! Are we going up? Where are we going?”
Fred threw off his mirrored shades and replaced them with a pair of reading glasses. He gazed towards the end of the tunnel. He nodded sagely and turned to Jacob. “…Fuck if I know.”
“Stand yer ground, men! Here we go!” The captain steadied himself as both ships rocketed through the end of the tunnel. The stars they saw at the end now surrounded them.
Jacob’s eyes grew wide as he realized what was going on. He held his breath, looking around wildly. The ship listed to one side. He remained standing, causing his equilibrium to go out the window and his lunch to rise in his throat.
He looked to the side the ship was listing towards and screamed in his mouth. It was Earth. They were in space.
The captain pounded his way over to Fred, an accusatory finger leveled at his chest. “Alright, magic man! I’ve had enough of yer tricks. How is it we’re among the stars!”
The light bulb went on over Jacob’s head and he let his trapped air out in one big rush. He quickly pulled in a deep breath of fresh air. “It’s just like a cartoon.”
The captain whirled about. “What are you on about, then? What’s a cartoon? Is it how we ended up here?”
“What? No… I don’t…”
“That’s like a cartoon, too! Look at ’em all! Ha HAAA!” Fred was grinning like a goof, pointing at the ninja ship. The ninjas still aboard it had a metallic sheen to them. Their eyes glowed bright red.
Jacob’s jaw dropped. “They’re robots. Ninja. Robots.”
“Cartoons! Robots! What does it all mean?” The captain pulled his sword and held the blade to Fred’s chin. “You’ll answer me proper or you’ll float among the stars!”
Fred shrugged. “Sounds kind of nice, actually.”
The captain growled menacingly and brought the sword back to strike. A thin beam of red light struck the blade. It glowed red-hot. The captain dropped it, crying out in pain. “Hot! HOT!”
The distinct pew-pew sound of firing lasers filled the air… space? Apparently the ninja robots were armed. The captain turned back to Fred.
The old farmhand was now donning red and blue 3-D glasses. “I love these types of movies!” He offered a tub of popcorn to the captain. “Handful?” One of the laser beams cut through the container, catching it on fire.
Fred shouted at the other ship. “Now that’s just rude!” He tossed the burning snack aside. “Cost me fifteen bucks,” he mumbled.
“Well, I’m out.” The captain turned away from the approaching robot-ninja ship and started for one of the ship’s attached dinghies. “Whirlpools, cursed tunnels, metallic china men… Now the stars. Why not?”
Fred leaned in towards Jacob. “I think he’s finally lost it.” Jacob did a double-take before shaking his head.
The dinghy only lowered a couple of feet before floating on some unseen substance. The captain cast the ropes into the boat and shrugged. “Whatever.”
The captain unceremoniously jumped overboard into the dinghy. Jacob ran over and watched as the boat began to float off into space. The captain stood in the middle of it, slowly waving, a look of melancholy on his face.
Jacob gave a small wave back. “Poor bastard.” More laser fire turned his attention back to the robot-ninja ship.
The ship was now alongside their own. Large metal cables shot out of the arms of some of the robot-ninjas. The claw-like ends dug into the old galleon’s deck. Some of the robot-ninjas began to run across the heavy metal cables.
Jacob looked on in disbelief. “Oh, boy…”