The Boat (WD writing prompt)

Writer’s Digest Writing Prompt and my ‘500 words or fewer’ response.

One day, while reading your favorite book on the beach, you notice a boat slowly drifting to shore. It eventually lands near your spot. A person, draped in pirate clothes, yells to you from the boat, “I have a treasure map and I need help. Are you in?”

“Yeah, sure, whatever,” I said, turning to page 80 like option A instructed me to do. I started to read what lame action my choice had brought me when I heard a man’s voice calling to me from nearby. The kind of from nearby that tends to make some people jump, and being one of those people I did.

A man draped in pirate attire straight out of Hollywood stood next to me holding out a map that looked so ancient it was amazing he could hold it in his fingers without it turning to dust. It was also amazing that he could hold it because quite a few digits of each hand were missing.

I looked back down at page 80 thinking I had surely read it wrong. But clear as ink page 80 began, “Yeah, sure, whatever,” and continued on as I have described.

“Here we are,” he said, thrusting a stub of a finger down on the unfolded paper between us and causing me to shift my gaze back to him. The strange markings on the map were mostly illegible to me save for the giant X upon which that same truncated finger landed, accompanied by an unnecessary, “We need to go here.”

I tried to focus on the map, but that half a finger creeped me out, as did the fact that I had just read “”Here we are,” he said” when he had regained my attention.

He noticed my staring at his mangled, finger-challenged hand and said, “If it has teeth, ye best stay clear of it.”

I nodded, but couldn’t help noticing that he smiled when he said it and an exceedingly large number of teeth occupied that smile.

“I’m glad you’re in on this with me. I’m always willing to share my treasure with the right person. I used to have a first mate but he was careless and met an, um, unfortunate fate.”

“Oh? What happened?”

I probably shouldn’t have done what I did next. I should have just waited for his answer. But curiosity got the better of me. So instead I looked back at the page again, and sure enough, the scene was written as it had played out, all the way to curiosity getting the better of me and continuing on. So I read on about me reading on.

“He had a tendency to keep reading when he should have been paying more attention to me,” he said, causing me to jerk my head back up at him. But I was too late.

Too late? I thou