Three Army buddies--Iraq war veterans--find themselves reunited after one of them arranges a mysterious meeting. The reason for the secrecy is soon revealed. Treasure. Pirate treasure. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a high-seas adventure with almost a guarantee to strike it rich. But the three soon learn that nothing in life is guaranteed as they embark down a path that leads to betrayal, lunacy, and perhaps into the mouth of Hell itself.
The silence woke him.
No birds squawking. Not even those obnoxious Red-footed Boobies that he had come to loathe. It was funny at first, in a juvenile way. Booby. Booby booby booby booby. Any adolescent would agree. But it wasn’t funny anymore. The birds’ incessant screams kept him awake, destroyed his nerves, nudged him closer and closer to the jagged edge of insanity. And when they were quiet… that was even worse. Their silence was a warning. A warning that it was going to happen again.
He jumped from the bare cot. No hammock or mattress for him. No comfort. No peace. He needed to be ready at all times. Needed to be able to spring up and run if he had to.
All was quiet. No birds. No wind running ghostly fingers through palm leaves. No waves flicking the shore like the ocean’s tongue seductively licking a salty tropical body.
He sprang from the bungalow and looked out over the glassy darkness of the lagoon, then his head began whipping around, seeing nothing but the palm trees standing over him as if he was a wild cat and the trees were sadistic children trying to catch him, torture him, for their own amusement. But wasn’t that almost exactly the situation?
He even looked the part of the scared animal. Long hair, unkempt beard, tattered clothes… He couldn’t remember the last time he bathed, or even when he thought about bathing. Skinny, too skinny. Gathering food was dangerous. It was almost as if they toyed with him. When he got to the point of being so hungry and weak and desperate for food that he would risk death or simply allow death to take him, they would back off and let him eat—eat just enough to gain back a little strength so they can continue with their game. A Coconut crab here, few sips of water there, and then it would pick up right where it left off.
And sometimes they would flush him out, as they were about to do. He knew the signs by now. So now he stood on the beach, ready to run, to flee, to try hang on until morning. Heart jackhammering through his ribs, lungs already burning. His Army training told him that the best thing to do was for everyone to form a defensive circle, backs to the inside, so they can keep an eye in all directions. Though he knew it was a hopeless strategy. Everyone else was dead.
A waning moon, cutting the night sky like a scythe, was soon enveloped by dark clouds. The air felt electric, alive. Angry. The only sound was the crunch of sand beneath his bare feet. Staying in the open left him vulnerable. The water looked like it might offer some protection, someplace to hide, if it wasn’t for his knowledge of the hundreds of sharks that circled beneath the surface of the calm lagoon, ready to tear him apart the instant he submerged even one foot. And the trees… There was no telling what abomination lived among the palms tonight.
He was trapped. Again. And they were coming for him. Again. And he could feel in the air that they were growing more and more furious. More and more vicious.
When he stepped off that now-sunken sailboat onto the shores of Palmyra Island, he didn’t step onto the shores of a secluded tropical paradise, but onto the shores of Hell itself. He had ceased hoping to leave and now only hoped to survive.