I had vague ideas about a silly serial story I could keep going, and it eventually blossomed into this:
Lifting his wooden walking apparatus onto the table for the fifth time that night, the grizzled sea captain growled in the most intimidating way he could muster. "DID I EVER TELL YE HOW I LOST ME LEG?"
The unfortunate victim of his attention, a waif of a waiter named Sparky, trembled in fear, clutching his pad and pen like it was his life force.
"Y...yes, sir. I overhead you talking about it a while ago." Sparky wobbled uneasily, eyes fixed on the rotting stick that was the Captain's leg. A series of barnacles had affixed themselves to the bottom of it.
"BUT DID I TELL YE SPECIFICALLY?" the captain roared, slamming his leg against the table again (It's worth mentioning at this point that the leg was not, in fact, attached to his body: he'd taken it off for relaxation and dramatic effect as soon as he entered the bar). A few of the barnacles were shaken off in the impact.
"No, sir." Sparky looked like he was about to cry. His father warned him about this. "Sparky," his father had said, "No good will come out of leading a life at sea. You'll meet more undesirable characters than you'd care to know, you'll be seduced by sirens, and you'll end up swabbing decks on some two-bit schooner." "But Father," Sparky had replied, "Life at sea is my dream! I've been wanting to go seafaring for as long as I can remember! Also, my name is Luke." But it didn't matter. His father kept warning him against his chosen path, and the name Sparky stuck.
Sparky looked like he was severely regretting his decision. Coming down to the docks at the tender age of 16, he expected to be immediately snapped up by a stalwart, seafaring crew. Unfortunately, due to his scrawny size and his abject inclination towards seasickness, Sparky didn't exactly sell like hotcakes. Instead, he was forced to accept a job at the Salty Mouthful Tavern, a brothel-turned-bar with an owner too cheap to change the name. Now, he got his kicks from sailors telling him stories and asking him where Toothless Maude was, and whether her hourly rates had changed.
"Spocky," the captain said in a deep undertone, "listen close, an' listen hard. I'm going to impart some wisdom the likes of which yeh've never heard afore."
Sparky considered pointing to his helpful name tag that said "Hello, my name is Sparky!", but thought better of it.
"Have ye ever been at sea, Slappy?" the captain continued, squinting one dilated eye. "No, by the likes of you ye haven't. Let me tell you, the open water is nothing but a breedin' ground for hell. And before ye ask, an' I know ye will - Hell can be bred. Oh yes. I seen it."
"It can?" Sparky asked in horror. His mind filled with images of little baby Hells bopping around in prams, goo-gooing and ga-gaing for their bottles. Bottles made of human souls.
"Socko, my boy," the captain hissed, his voice dropping to a frequency reminiscent of the Angel of Death, "I seen things you've never e'en dreamed of. And some things ye have, too. But I ain't going to talk about no hell babies or infernal rapscallions. I'm here ter tell you about how I lost me leg."
"Did it get eaten by a hell baby?" Sparky asked in horror.
"Nae, lad! It was taken by somethin' more horrible, more terrible than ye could ever imagine!"
"Shut up an' be patient, Spackle," the captain grunted. "I'm gettin' to it."
"When I was a lad not much older'n you - how old are ye, twelve?"
"DON'T LIE TO ME! When I was maybe twelve, me pa took me on a fishin' trip. I loved me pa. Loved 'im like an overbearing uncle. Me pa and I, we rode our boat to the ocean, so far out from land we could barely see it, and cast our lines. For four hours, nothin' bit. I started ter think it was cause we were usin' pages from the Sunday Times as bait, but me pa reassured me the fishes were literary round these parts. Just when I thought nothin' would ever come, a great shake shuddered our fishin' boat, and we were almost thrown o'erboard!"
"Was it a whale?" Sparky asked in horror.
"No, lad, where d'you get such stupid ideas?" the captain said irritably. "Nae, it was a fish, the biggest fish we done ever seen. The fish was yay big, and yay wide -" Here, the captain stretched out his arms as far as he could reach - "an' it pulled on the line an' made the boat wobble somethin' fierce. Just when I thought we was done fer, my pa gave the fishin' pole one last heave-ho, and lo an' behold! Up pops a fish the likes of which ye've never seen!"
"Tha's right, Sticky," the captain went on gravely. "This giant fish had scales the color of mermaid blood, and great big terrible eyes as big as dinner plates of an average size. Afore we had a chance to react, the fish opened its huge, horrible mouth an' spoke to us!"
"What did it say?!"
"Ye got no patience boy, that's a virtue you need to acquire," the captain muttered. "It said - in a guttural, raspin' voice - 'HEED MY WORDS, HUMBLE FISHERFOLK! I AM THE HIGH AND HONORABLE PRINCE PHOSPHERNICUS, AND I COME TO YOU WITH AN OFFER.' I says to him, 'No ye ain't, yer a fish.' That made him kinda angry, but he went on anyways. 'I HAVE A DEAL TO MAKE WITH YOU,' the fish says. 'FOR YEARS, ME AND MY ILK HAVE PROTECTED SAILORS OF THESE SEAS FROM DANGER, BUT A THREAT TO OUR SAFETY HAS EMERGED FROM THE DEEP. IT THREATENS THE WELL-BEING OF ME AND MY FISHY BRETHREN, AND, IF IT SUCCEEDS IN KILLING US ALL, THE SAILORS OF THESE WATERS WILL BE LEFT DEFENSELESS. I PROPOSE TO YOU THIS: KILL THIS THREAT TO THE FISH OF THIS SEA, AND IN RETURN, WE WILL CONTINUE TO PROTECT YOU.' Now, why it was talkin' in capital letters, I had no idea, but me pa, he understood. "All right," he says to the fish. "I'll find this threat to you, and I'll end it for the good of us all." "THAT'S MY BOY," the fish replies, splashin' back into the water, never to be heard from again. In hindsight, we probably shoulda used the Morning Post instead."
"Wowee," Sparky gasped. "What happened next? Did you find the threat?"
"Oh, we found it, Sacky. We found it good. My dad an' me, we joined a tradin' ship goin' to the Indies a few months later. Months went by, and we had no sign from the gods, nor the fishes. Then - one day in May - at least, I think it was May, we got no way o' tellin' at sea - the whole ship shakes with a horrible shudder. And, from underneath us, rises a huge, terrifyin' monster, bigger'n anythin' you ever seen on this Earth - "
"WAS IT A WHALE?!"
"Yes, yes, it was a whale, good job there, Soupy," the captain said, rolling his eyes. "It was a white whale thrice the size o' the ship and four times as scary. It was a fairly scary ship we were on, I s'pose. Anyhow, this whale, it shakes the ship, an' the rises out of the water like some Lovecraftian demon, and lets loose a deep, hellish moan!"
"Yeh know, you don't have ter keep interjectin' everything I say with a comment. I can carry on this story jes' fine."
"Well, this whale, it rears its ugly head, and me pa, he reaches for the nearest harpoon gun, and aims for its heart, straight an' true! But, before he can shoot, the whale scoops him up in his mouth, an' swallows him whole!"
"How did it manage that?"
"It picked him up with its great tongue."
"Whales can do that?"
"This was a magical whale."
"My point is, it ate me pa! An' now, I've dedicated me life to huntin' it down an' killing it, for vengeance, an' for the good of mankind!"
"Wow," Sparky breathed. "That was an amazing story. But... that still doesn't tell me how you lost your leg."
"YE ASK TOO MANY QUESTIONS, BOY," the captain roared. "NOW GO FETCH ME A MINT TEA OR I'LL BITE YER FINGERS OFF."
Sparky squealed and hurried back towards the storage room. He liked his fingers.
I hope it entertained. Part 2 incoming, if anyone wants to put up with me. =P