The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

Fluco Journalism
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The Most Beautiful Treasure

Alexander could see the beach from the bow of the ship. It had been five weeks since he last stepped foot on land. He could’ve stayed at sea for another week with the energy it cost him to carry the unbreakable chest strapped to his back. Luckily, this meant he had the room to eat every food he had dreamed about for so long. He could smell the fresh town food already. Foods that he used to eat with his father. With the gold they had collected the past few weeks, nothing would be off limits.

Then, Alexander looked to his left. The wind blew through his long brown hair as he looked to see a ship as large as his own bobbing on the horizon. The design on the flag indicated the presence of scalpers: pirates far more ruthless than Alexander. It didn’t take Alexander long to put together that they weren’t headed for town. They were headed for his very own ship, the “Linda.”

“Shuck!” Alexander called. “Northwest!”

Shuck looked to his left to see the ship charging towards them. Alexander took the wheel and steered to the side, spinning the ship around to where it was parallel with the scalper ship once it arrived. The flags of the enemy ship flapped in the wind and the waves slammed against the sides of both ships. Alexander scanned the scalper crew and they stared back like a flock of seagulls looking at a crowd of turtle hatchlings. A woman emerged from behind the crew. She was tall with blonde hair, shriveled boots, and a torn hat. Even from a distance, Alexander could see a large key tied around her neck.

Alexander and the woman locked eyes. Neither of them was familiar with the other, and yet they immediately seemed to understand the other. They could see it in each other’s eyes. He had a chest. She had a key. Both wanted the treasure.

Alexander unholstered his gun and the woman did the same, almost as if they were joined by invisible strings, puppeteering one another. Within a second, their crew members pulled their guns as well.

“My name’s Tide,” the woman yelled with a smirk.

“What kind of a name is ‘Tide’?” Alexander replied. The two of them fell silent again. “So I take it we each have something the other wants,” he added. Tide nodded slowly. “We can do this peacefully,” Alexander offered.

“We could,” one of Tide’s crew responded. Another moment passed by.

“Okay then,” Alexander accepted. Neither Alexander nor Tide knew it at the moment, but both of them were afraid, shaking as they gripped their weapons. They had both been through more than any common sailor, littered with scars of many kinds. Their very skin told the story of betrayal. “Look, if no one else will say it, I will,” Alexander started. “If we go through with this, it won’t matter what weapon you’re holding. It won’t matter who has your back. We all end up with bullet holes. Being evenly matched does not mean everyone makes it out alive.”

“And if we don’t shoot, who gets the treasure?” Tide argued. “You don’t seriously think there’s any peaceful solution to this, do you?”

Alexander fell silent. He gripped the trigger and took a deep breath. Then he noticed another ship. A military ship. Tide turned her head to look behind her, and so did the rest of her crew.

“Run!” Alexander shouted. The sound of gunpowder igniting ripped through the air as a cannonball stuck the ship. Splinters flew through the air at blinding speeds. Alexander slammed onto the floorboards, dizzy.

“Alexander!” Shuck screamed. Alexander’s eyes darted back and forth as he desperately tried to gather his thoughts. Shucks appeared above Alexander and gave him his hand, helping him up. “We need to abandon ship and swim to the beach! It’s the only way!”

Shuck ran for the edge. Alexander followed him, but when he reached the ledge, he paused. He looked down at the water. In a flash, images crossed his mind of his father teaching him to swim. He saw himself struggling, gasping for air, reaching for the surface, desperate for his father’s hand. But now, he realized, that hand wouldn’t come and he was on his own and facing a dilemma: He couldn’t make it to the beach with the chest. He also couldn’t leave it behind.

Alexander turned and ran back, grabbed his gun, and turned it towards the navy ship. He pulled the trigger, striking one of the men. He packed in the gunpowder, cocked the gun, and fired again, ducking behind a wall. He could feel the ship tilting into the water.

He had to find Tide. It was the only way he could make it to the beach with the treasure. He spun back out into the open and fired again. Dashing towards Tide’s ship, he fired again and again, grabbing a loose piece of rigging and swinging over to Tide’s ship. He lunged at her, pulling her to the deck with the weight of the chest on his back as cannonballs ripped again through the ship. He reached for her key just as she pushed him away with her foot.

They each fired one shot at each other and Alexander collapsed to the floor. He grunted in pain and looked up at the smoke-filled sky. Time seemed to stand still. Then he came to himself and noticed that the sound of gunfire had died out. Everyone around them was dead. Alexander’s crew, the scalpers, the navy soldiers. The only sound left was of water rushing into the ships.

Alexander searched for Tide. Over his own bloody shoulder, he could see her rolling on the floor in pain. The ship began to tilt. Alexander reached toward the nearby wall and pulled himself toward it, hoping to lean against it for when the ship fully tilted over. Tide crawled over to the same wall.

“You’re a good shot,” Tide grunted.

“You’re not so bad yourself,” Alexander responded. They both looked over the ship’s edge at the sun as it peered over the water, throwing reflections of red and orange onto both the sea and the sky.

“It’s beautiful,” Alexander said.

“It is,” Tide agreed. Alexander looked over at her, then down at the deck. He painfully reached over his shoulder and pulled the straps off of him, letting the chest loose. He twisted it around in front of himself and laid his hand on it.

“Let’s open it,” Alexander said.

“What?” Tide questioned.

“I’m serious,” Alexander whispered, running out of air. “Let’s open it. Together.”

“Why?” Tide asked.

“You really want to fight now?” Alexander replied. “If we’re going to sink, don’t you want to know what you were missing?” Tide looked down at the chest, then sighed and ripped the key off the necklace. She glanced up at Alexander, then at the chest. She inserted the key and turned it. Together, they opened the chest and looked inside.

It was a painting. Its surface was chipping off, and on it was a face that was familiar to both of them. The face of a man standing on a beach with the sun setting behind him. In his arms he held a boy and a girl. One with brown hair and one with blonde hair.

“Well I’ll be…” Tide trailed off. The ship was now speeding toward the water, fully flipped onto its bow. Alexander smiled. His eyes watered and his throat closed up. He looked over at Tide and finally saw everything he had been looking for since his father had passed away.

He saw his family.

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