Bright Lancet: The Guardian - Chapter 1 - They Came at Night
Bright Lancet is a boy who sees things others can't. And that spells trouble. This is the first chapter of a book in progress.
The thunderclap woke me.

But the nightmare stayed. I wiped the sweat from my face and slowed my breathing. I replayed the dream. I was at grandpas funeral. The room and the casket looked the same as they did this morning, and just as real. They lowered casket's lid. I prayed for his eyes to open. This morning, I had also prayed and had no miracle. But this time, as the lid nearly shut, his eyes flashed open. They were wide and frightened as the top covered him. I was the only one who saw it and before I could shout, they closed and locked the casket. I tried to yell, but my mouth wouldn't open. I tried to move but I froze in place. I pushed as hard as I could, straining against an invisible grip than held me in place. I watched helplessly as they wheeled the casket way.

I shook my head to try and rattle the images out.

Another thunderclap.

I exhaled like a flat tire, glad to be awake, but the blue feeling settled on me. The one I'd been carrying since we'd gotten the news on Monday. He had gone fast. None of us had a chance to say goodbye.

I slept in the basement and almost never heard any noise from outside. I love a storm. Especially a lightning storm with lots of thunder. I would watch it. That would help.

On my way down the hall, I stopped by Jay's room. Rocky slept next to him, his muzzle (snout) resting on his paws. Even though I tiptoed, Rocky heard me and barked. Jay jumped a mile.

"What the heck!?" he said, his eyes squinting in the dark.

"Sorry," I apologized. "There's a storm. Want to watch it."

He pressed the light on his wristwatch.

"It's the middle of the night!" he huffed and rolled back over.

Jay was eight years old - almost two years younger than me. Still, he was tough. If he got ticked off, he could take me down. And he was ticked.

"Suit yourself, I'll be up there if you change your mind."

I patted my leg for Rocky to follow. He covered his eyes with his paws and whimpered. I left Jay's room and walked the 20 steps alone.

I settled in on the front couch and faced the window. I heard booming thunder, but no rain was falling. The street was wet. Drenched, actually. Full of water curb to curb. The porch lights glowed like lanterns and the moon beamed high and bright in the sky. Both reflected in the ripples over the street. I didn't see any rain clouds.

I walked outside to get a better look, down the front path cutting through the lawn and to the street. The cool, wet concrete woke up my feet. I tiptoed to the edge of the sidewalk, and looked down. The water in the street didn't look right. It wasn't running down the gutters, like normal. Instead, it lapped against the sidewalk, just spilling over it. I couldn't see the street under the water. Tall, curved streetlights lined our block and stretched over the streets, pouring yellow light deep into the water. The water just went down, down, down, deeper and deeper. I couldn't see the bottom of it.

In the murky depths below I saw a long shape gliding. I stooped and stretched my hand to touch the water.

A flash lit the sky followed by a booming thunder crack. And then rough voices shouted out, startling me. I looked around and didn't see anyone. The shouting seemed to be coming from a few streets over. Then more flashes and thunder cracks - - but not in the sky. They were definitely coming from the next street over, and they were getting louder.

My arms goose-fleshed and shivered. I tried to turn and run, but my feet stayed planted like anchors on the sidewalk.

Another thundercrack boomed just beyond the corner of my street. I turned and looked and saw the prow of a ship peek out from behind the trees. Then there, above the corner house, I saw a huge sail, and on top of the sail, in a little perch, a bearded man with a bandanna on his head. Above him flew a black skull-and-crossbones flag. The man peered through a spyglass, which he lowered, pointed at me with a menacing smile, and yelled below, "Ahoy! Turn her portside. We've got a looker!"

The hulking ship came around the corner and zoomed up the street, a tornado-wake churning behind it. It had four smoking cannons on the side.

I turned to run, and this time my feet cooperated. I heard a crack and a tuft of grass blew apart in front of me. I stopped.

"The next one will be in your ear, mate!" screeched a voice.

I turned back to see a fat anchor dropped in our lawn. The ship swung up along side the sidewalk and a fat wave crested, drenched the lawn and drowned my feet. A burst of cold pain shot over my feet and up my shins.

A man with a flat black hat and an eye patch pointed a gun at my head. A dozen men stood next to him, each one as ugly as the next. Stubble coated their faces, and black teeth lined their sneering mouths.

My knees quivered.

The man with the patch handed his gun to a man at his side and said, "Keep it on him. If he moves, blow his head off."

He turned to another man and barked, "Lower the ladder."

He and few others scrambled and threw a rope ladder over the side of the ship. The man swung himself over and hopped down. When he reached the ground he turned and pulled a large cutlass from his belt, then - with a large sweeping gesture - removed his hat and bowed.

"Pleased to make your acquaintance, lad. I'm Bonebreed, captain of the Devil's Brew. What be your name?"

"I'm Bright."

"Bright?" he frowned. "Terrible pirate name!"

The men laughed.

"Bright, I need crew, someone to swab the deck. Get on board."

"I can't sir. I have school tomorrow."

The crew laughed again.

His eyes narrowed and he sneered. "I didn't ask. You're pirated goods now. Get. On. The. Ship."

I didn't move. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't have moved, my legs were jello.

He reached out and grabbed me by the neck and dragged me backwards toward the back of the ship, my heels burning on the sidewalk.

His stench - a mix of dirty socks and rotten bananas - filled my nostrils and I gagged.

"Look there," he said. "What do you see?"

Sharks, big gray ones, swam in circles near the surface, their dorsal fins cutting the water.

"Sharks," I squeaked.

"Know why they follow us, boy?"


"Because we feed them. "

"Feed the fishies a snack now cap'n" blurted a man, and others roared a hearty agreement. "To the plank," growled another.

I had to make a decision, and fast. I could either get on the ship and likely never see my family again, or I could resist and get fed to the sharks, or I could figure out an escape. I had half an idea. I'd have to be brave. Or at least fake it.

"I ain't afraid of no sharks," I said defiantly. "I ride sharks."

"He rides sharks, boys!" the Captain guffawed.

The men laughed.

"Just hold me over the side there, and when one comes under me, I'll say,' let go', and you'll see. I'll ride it standing up."

Bonebreed pondered this.

"You got yourself an audience, boy."

He grabbed me by the shirt collar with his left hand and held me over the edge. In his right hand he clutched his cutlass. A breeze blasted icily over me. I shivered.

"Don't lose your head, boy...." he cackled, then pressed the cutlass against my cheek. The cool steel sent a another chill through me. He lowered me until my feet were in the water, "...or get cold feet."

A shark glided under me, and his fin split the air between my legs.

"Oh, that one you should've rode," he said. "It was perfect."

"I need a bigger one," I said. It wasn't a lie, of course. I was stalling a little. But I needed a bigger one for what I had hoped to do. I now had about a three-fourths of a plan.

Bonebreed sighed impatiently.

We waited until another one came. It was bigger than the first. It surfaced from the deep and came toward us, its big dorsal fin cutting like a knife through the water.

"Here comes one," I said. "On the count of three. One ... two . . ."

I reached both hands above and behind my head and grabbed his wrist, then kicked backward with my feet, trying to swing myself back to the pavement, free myself, and run for the back fence. But my feet didn't reach. I felt him wobble and he shouted one of those words that if a kid says it he gets grounded for life. I heard his cutlass rattle against the pavement as my momentum swung me back. He let go of my shirt. But I had his wrist and pulled it as hard as I could, trying to keep my feet out of the water. His coat sleeve was in my face and smelt like vomit. He yelped and pitched forward and we both started to fall into the water. I pulled harder and he turned sideways as we fell. When we hit the water I was on top of him. I reached for the sidewalk but his arm held me like a chain. Just then I saw a shark along side of us, it's jaws gaping wide. It bit down on his leg. He howled, let go of me, and punched at the shark. I grabbed the sidewalk, pulled myself out of the water, and rolled. I looked over just in time to see the shark dive - with the captain still in its jaws. The other sharks dove down with it.

A glint caught my eye - the cutlass. I grabbed it, then leapt to my feet. My heart pounded like a bass drum - rattling my chest and rumbling in my ears. I looked up at the ship, sure that one of the men would be scrambling down the ladder, but there was no one there. I turned back toward the house to run inside, and stopped. There they stood, in a semi-circle, closing in on me like a boa constrictor.

One man lunged, but I lifted the sword over my head and they stopped advancing.

"Give me the cutlass, boy," said a black-mouthed pirate. He raised a gun and pointed it at my head.

"Hold fire!" said another. "The cutlass is cursed."

He lowered the gun barrel so that it pointed at my legs, then spat on the ground.

"Hand it over and we'll let you go." He forced a smile, then hissed, "We promise."

I started to lower the sword and he stepped forward and put the barrel of the gun right between my eyes. I froze. With his left hand he reached for the sword.

Just then I heard a door slam and Rocky's bark. The man with the gun turned to see what the cause of the noise was. Jay and Rocky raced toward me. I lifted the sword back over my head and took a step backward. I glanced behind me and saw that the sharks had resurfaced and were circling near the edge of the curb. Rocky jumped up on one of the pirates, several others ran to the back the ship.

Jay ran right through the circle of pirates and grabbed my arm. "What are you doing? Are you crazy?"

Rocky had pinned the pirate he had jumped on and was vigorously licking his face. The pirate was alternately cursing angrily and laughing uncontrollably.

"Hurry," I said, "Run!"

I grabbed Jay's arm and pulled him across the soggy lawn at full speed, flung open the front door, threw him inside, then leaped through the doorway and slammed the door. I locked the deadbolt and slid down the front door onto the floor.

I heard scratching. "Rocky!" I yelled.

My hands shook as I turned the deadbolt lock and opened the door just a crack. Rocky forced his way through it, a pirate just behind him, swinging his sword, lunging for us. I slammed the door and the pirate banged with a thud, and then it was quiet.

I tried to catch my breath, panting.

The hall lights came on and I heard heavy footsteps running toward us.

Mom and Dad turned the corner. Dad was in his blue flannel pajamas, his hair a mess and his eyes blazing, a baseball bat in his hand. He had it cocked over his shoulder like he was about to take a swing. Then he saw us and stopped, his eyes still crazy. Mom pulled up alongside him in her green silk nightgown, clutching the front of it.

"What happened?!" Dad yelled.

"Don't open the door! They're still out there!" I ran to the front room window and pointed outside. "Look! Look!"

Dad followed me. But when we turned to look, my heart sank.

"What?" said Dad, peering out the window. "I don't see anything."

"It's ... it's gone," I said, dumbstruck, squinting my eyes, searching the darkness up and down the street. "There was a pirate ship, and the street was water, with sharks, and, and Rocky jumped on the pirate and Rocky and Jay saved me! Tell them Jay, tell them! "

Jay looked at me like I was a stranger. "I...I might have...I."

"Tell the truth!" barked Dad. "What were you guys up to?!"

Jay hung his head.

"I just decided to come watch the storm with Bright and when I got up here I saw him outside acting weird so I ran out to get him," said Jay slowly. It leaked out of him like an old sandwich bag. He hung his shoulders and looked at me from under his brow. "I'm sorry," he mouthed.

What in the world? He was there. He was right there! And I could prove it!

I lifted the sword still clutched in my hand, "But I have the cutlass!"

Except it wasn't a sword.

It was a stick.