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Rated: E · Short Story · Action/Adventure · #2318142
Budapest Jones & his mates go yachting but a storm pushes them into the Bermuda Triangle.
FEATURED in the Short Stories Newsletter dated: 16 APR 2024

Door 9


Word Count: 1987

A cold wind struck my cheeks like a slap in the face, abruptly jolting me awake. Sand grit up against my feet and legs. I raised myself up to a sitting position and just sat there for a second, looking around, trying to gather my bearings.

I was on a beach. It was sandy, but it was also chilly – not bone cold, but I needed more on that a t-shirt and shorts. Overhead dark clouds gathered, moving a little faster than I would like.
It was going to rain – and soon.

I rubbed my cheeks with my hands and took a long, slow visual inspection of the beach. There was a wooden box, probably from the ship I was on. To my right, there was a rocky shore. About 500 meters in back of me were sand dunes, then a hill, I could see coconut trees in the distance. It was 2000. Who knew there were deserted islands these days?

Was it deserted? I didn’t know. And honestly, right now, it was more important to get this box and myself out of the storm that was going to hit. I stood up and a sheering pain shot up my foot. Glancing down, I’d been cut. The blood was dried, but the foot hurt.

I limped over to the rocks and scoured the area. There was a shallow cave which offered some protection. I just hoped it would be enough. Limping back to the box, I dragged it to the cave and settled in.

The box was nailed shut. Using a rock, I pounded on the box until the nails gave, then I pried it open. There was a first aid kit, a blanket, warmer clothes, sandals, map and compass, knives and machetes, rope, a radio, some protein bars a several lighters.

I used the first aid kit to put some Neosporin on my cut foot and bandaged it up. Then I went outside of the cave and trudged past the sand dudes gathering kindling, wood, and a couple of coconuts. In the distance, I could have sworn I saw sugar cane growing wild.

It started to sprinkle. The storm was here. Going as fast I could, I made my way back to my cave. It was a shallow cave, and I went back to the back wall to start my fire. Wrapping a blanket around me, a munched on a protein bar next to the fire as the wind and rain came whipping down.

I ran a hand against my head and discovered a small knot. I must have hit my head. That would explain why I was out cold on the beach. Closing my eyes, I tried to remember. We launched from San Juan, Puerto Rico. We were going yachting around the island. Vague warnings came to mind. Don’t go that way- you’re too close to the Bermuda Triangle. There’s a storm in the distance – maybe two to three days out. Dock at Isidra. Well, that didn’t happen. We must have caught something. A wind? The storm? For the life of me I couldn’t remember. Where was Simon? Alex? I sighed. Not here with me. Did we go into the Triangle? Lord, I hope not. There were too many stories of going into the Triangle and not coming back. Well, I couldn’t look for them now. I settled next to the fire to wait.


I woke up after a long sleep. The fire was down to ashes, but the rain had stopped. Looking outside, the sky was partly cloudy. The area was wet, but it hadn’t rained in a bit. In the distance, I saw the sails of ship – an old fashioned ship? Maybe a yacht? I kept the blanket around my shoulders and walked-limped to the shore. The ship grew closer. There were three staffs, all with big full sails. I spied a flag on the stern, but couldn’t quite make it out. Was this a clipper ship? It would take about an hour to get here. I trudged back to cave, built the fire back up and cracked a coconut, drinking the milk. I wish I had a watch. I’d have to build a sun dial next and pray I got it right.

There was no good place to build a sundial. I found a flat enough rock and used what was in the emergency box. I tried to find a station on the radio, but it was all static. As I completed this chore, the ship drew closer and pulled up an anchor. I could make out the flag now – the Jolly Roger. I wasn’t sure what to make of that. Didn’t pirates in the history books fly that flag?
A skiff was launching from the clipper ship. They used paddles to row the boat. I walked over to the shore and waved. A man stood. He wore a white shirt with long puffy sleeve, a brown leather vest, and black pants tucked into boots. He made no gesture toward me, just glanced at the three men rowing the boat. After a few minutes, they hit shallow water, stepped out, and tugged the skiff to the shore. I started to shuffle toward them.

The man in charge drew a pistol and pointed it at me. I stopped and raised my hands. “Hey, I’m unarmed.”

One of the rowers, dressed in similar garb, walked over to me, patted me down, and said in English using a thick foreign accent. “He’s clean.”

I started walking briskly toward the guy in charge, pointing a finger at him. “Who do you think you are?”

The guy who gave me the pat down grabbed me, pulled my arms behind me and held me firm. “What is going on?” I demanded.

As I was struggling, the two other rowers dragged my friends, Simon and Alex ashore. They were gagged and bound at the hands and feet. They looked awake as their eyes grew wide upon seeing me.
The man in charge slid his gun back into the holster, but it was no modern looking gun – more like one with a flintlock.

“I am Captain Roger Moore of the Tally-Ho and we sail these parts, some would call us pirates, but I would say we’re privateers.” He grinned so wicked I didn’t know what to think.

“Pirates? You’re a pirate?”

“Um, Privateer. Who are you? The way you’re looking at these scoundrels, I say you know them?” He pointed to Simon and Alex.

“I’m Budapest Jones and these are my mates, Simon and Alex.”

“Well, that’s an interesting name. And what are you doing sailing these parts? We caught them floating on some driftwood of a broken ship.”

I made a face. “We were yachting around Puerto Rico.”

Roger arched an eyebrow. “Yachting, you say?”

“Yeah. For fun.”

“You fools went yachting for fun? You did know there was a storm brewing?”

“It wasn’t supposed to hit for a couple more days.”

“And then there’s a patch of water that no one goes sailing through – it eats ships never to return.”

“The Bermuda Triangle?”

“He’s a nutter, Captain,” said one of the rowers. He joined Roger at his side.

“I’m not a nutter! It’s 2000. What’s a privateer?”

Roger walked up to me and looked me down from head to toe. “You’re a nutter. It’s 1821.”

“What?” I grew limp in my captor’s arms, shocked at the date. Honestly, all the fight went out of me. Did we get blown off course? Did we go through the Bermuda Triangle and end up on this island in the year 1821, our yacht smashed? How would we get back? Could we get back?

Roger gestured to his man. “Let Budapest go.”

He released me and I stood, shell shocked.

“Did you go through that patch of water you should have avoided? What did you call it – the Bermuda Triangle?”

I swallowed. “I think so.”

“Well, mate, that water isn’t stable. I wouldn’t dare try to go back – who knows what would happen. Besides, you have no ship. I found these two floating on driftwood.”

“Why did you bring them here?”

“This was the nearest island. We were going to leave them here.”

“Does anyone live here? Indians?”

“The island is uninhabited. We come here to harvest the sugar cane and sell it in San Juan for money.”

“Is that what a privateer does?”

Roger shrugged his shoulders. “Yes.”

“So why did you call yourself pirates?”

“We fly a pirate flag and call ourselves that so anyone we encounter wouldn’t mess with us.”

Simon grunted.

I pointed to my friends. “Do you mind if I free them.”

“You’ve earned a certain degree of sympathy from me, but the first untoward movement, you all get hog tied again.”

I walked over to my friends and untied them. Both Alex and Simon were befuddled.

“Jones, did I hear right – it’s 1821?” said Simon. He sat there like a lump on a log.

“Did we really go through the triangle?” Alex rubbed his ankles.

“We must have.” I rubbed my hands together.

“What now?” asked Simon.

I turned toward Roger. “You can’t leave us on this island.”

“Why not?” he crossed his arms. “My sympathy only goes so far.”

“Make us members of your crew,” I offered.

Roger arched an eyebrow. “The three of you? What do you have to offer?”

Simon turned to me. “Yeah – what do we have to offer?”

“Our hard work and labor. We’ll be good crew members – do whatever he says.”

“He’s a pirate!” Alex exclaimed.

“A privateer. There’s a difference,” said Roger, hands on hips.

“Look, Jones—” began Simon.

“Do you really want to stay on this unhabituated island living off sugar cane and coconuts?” I asked. “If this is really 1821, I want to be around people – I still want to live my life.”

Simon and Alex turned mute and stared at each for a long minute.

Finally Simon spoke, “You do have a point.”

Alex let out a long breath. “Yeah, I don’t want to live here if there’s no women.”

I sighed. I mean, yeah, I like women, too, but I would want to live a life with some type of purpose, even if I was part of a privateer’s crew.

I straightened my shoulders and firmed up my resolve. “Let’s strike a deal, Roger.”

“Oh? And what do you propose Budapest?” Roger motioned for his crew to gather around him.

“Take me, Simon, and Alex on as part of your crew. We promise to work hard. You’ll pay us the standard wage.”

“Captain, they hardly look sturdy,” said one.

“Don’t let ‘em on the bridge. If they wrecked their own ship, we don’t want them to wreck ours.”

“We do need a cook,” a third said.

“Do one of you cook?” Roger rubbed his chin thoughtfully.

“Jones can cook,” volunteered Simon.

“Well, I can grill food, I don’t know that qualifies for cooking,” I said.

After consulting with his crew, Roger finally looked at me. “We’ll take you on as part of the crew. Budapest, you’ll be our cook. Can the other two rig?”

“We can rig,” said Simon.

One of the sailors laughed. “Sure you can.”

“Well, then George you take Simon under your wing and make sure he can rig.” Roger glared at the sailor who laughed.

The grins on Roger’s crew sobered right up.

“Now, ya’ll wanna’ prove your worth? It’s time to cut some cane. We’re due in San Juan in a week.”
Roger paused. “Do you ya’ have any possession, Budapest?”

“Just a wooden crate in my cave.”

“Go get it. We’ll bring it to the ship. George and Scrub grab the machetes and take the two newbees to cut some cane. I’ll be along shortly with Budapest.”

“Aye, Captain.”

I took in a deep breath and set out for the cave, ready for a new adventure as a privateer.

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