Part One: Georgia
The time I went to Georgia was a strange one. I was down there for a slave auction with the hopes to find good prices. “These ones are fresh off the boat they sailed all the way around the horn from Tanzania!” There was a loud spokesperson with a crowd of buyers in plaid button down suits and fresh shined shoes. I stuck out like a sore thumb and I knew this since I traveled here still wearing my work clothes with some dirty overalls.
Our ranch was small as the town my wife was stuck up and tired of me throwing my back out at such an early age. She would tell me I won’t live till thirty if I keep it up. So she forced me to buy us some slaves to plow, we only needed a few since that was all I could afford from the last harvest. That land had been passed down since her daddy came here to the New World. She pressured me to get us some money. I looked at that boat and remembered that spokesman mentioning the horn. I had to know what was outside our ranch inside South Carolina. Yet before I knew it I was up for the next bidding so I carelessly put it all on this one slave who would become my friend for the time being. They let him down from the podium; he was frail and scared. He didn’t say a word to me. The boy must’ve been around the age of 10-12 he seemed to either be unaware of the situation or traumatized.
“So you’re from Tanzania, uh where’s that at?” I asked hoping to maybe start a conversation or just some small talk.
The boy was dead silent as I looked at him longer I realized there was more than meets the eye. He had many freckles all over his face and arms but not on his feet or palms of his hands. The pupils of his eyes were round and black to where you saw only little glimpses of the whites of his eyes when they slightly widened. This long silence of eye contact made me lose my train of thought about what to do next. I had spent all my money on this one.
“What’s your name, boy?” There was still no response. The track back to the ranch was a long and awkward one.
I didn’t even attempt small talk besides what was the point if he couldn’t understand me. When we made it to the ranch my wife had a fierce look on her face. She had her legs crossed in a rocking chair and a sewing kit in her lap.
“Are you serious, one just one slave? How are we gonna make enough harvest for winter let alone how is some kid gonna do it by himself?” She screamed as I walked up to our front porch on the farm house. “Now Matilda heard he was the only one I could get. The others were too expensive.” I said, trying to calm her. “I don’t care Daniel, surely there was one better than this kid.”
I looked back at the kid and he had a small smirk he was hiding with his arms behind his back. She went back inside and slammed the front door shut. Then immediately she was right back outside and said “Here this is the last we have to go back and get us some more slaves.” She said while pointing south. “Come on kid hop on the back with me.”
Once again we were off back to Georgia. We arrived at the same port with more slaves this time from a place called Kenya. It began almost on cue as they brought them all out and I found the next three I would bet on. The weather went from a drizzle to more of a storm quickly which was odd since it was the middle of summer. Then a clash of lightning struck the mast of the parked ship and it abrupt a fire on the crows nest. The mast fell over like a small tree landing on the deck and setting the floorboards ablaze. Everything happened so fast guards watching the slave auction went to go care for the fire. “That boat is carrying gunpowder!” One man called but it was too late. The whole boat exploded in a ball of fire. Then the twenty slaves with their ankles together in a chain started hopping like a potato sack race all together. Everyone was yelling and everything was on fire. I looked down at the boy who was at my side and he was no longer there. Within the midst of the chaos he’d vanished I looked around frantically hoping to see him. Everyone was running and screaming people were trying to put out the fire, a fight with the twenty slaves all in a chain gang broke out, there was still no sight of the boy. Until someone yelled “One got out!” I looked to where the voice yelled and he was chasing the boy across the docks. I went after him as well but he was fast. It looked as if he had got too much distance on me and he was gone until he became cornered at the very end of the dock. The guard then tackled him and started beating the boy I rushed towards over as fast as I could and shoved the man off the boy. He fell back onto the back lip of the dock and slowly leaned back flailing his arms in the air until the boy kicked him down into the water. I could hear him breathing so loudly it overtook the ferocity of the storm. I picked him up into my arms and ran back down the docks. I looked around but everything was still in chaos; out of panic I ran up a boarding ramp onto a ship and hid below decks. The boy was badly bruised all I could do was hold him and gently rub his wounds. He started to close his eyes and drift off to sleep and before I knew it I did as well.
Part 2: Stowaways
I awoke to an unsettling sound distant yelling and screams above decks. Cannons blasting off one after the other it caused my ears to ring and I stumbled over. I waddled from side to side as the ship rocked from one to the other. I climbed the upper deck to finally see a large boat with black sails.
I awoke again this time in a cold sweat and a queasy stomach. I clenched my gut as if I was going to be sick. Until the panic and realization settled in, I was only dreaming thank god but I was still on a boat and it was still rocking back and forth slowly. Everything was very calm and still I had no clue yet I could just feel it was early in the morning. The ship coasted gently across the waves and each piece of wood had a creaking sound to it each time the ship went back and forth. I stood up in a jolt onto my feet and examined my surroundings. I was on a boat that was a given, there were no windows, only cracks of sunlight from the decks above me peeking through the floorboards above. Giant wooden beams stuck through the ship giving it support. I concluded I was at the bottom of the ship and there was no door, only a ladder hatch that was strangely sealed.
That didn’t make sense. How did I get down here if it’s closed? Then I saw in one the wide barrels there he was the boy fast asleep in a barrel of apples. I walked over to him and tapped him on the face.
“Wake up boy, wake up.” I whispered in a hurry.
“Come on get out of there!” I whispered loudly again.
I tugged by his ankles and slung him then over my shoulder out of the barrel and set him down in front of me. He opened only one eye to try and get a glance at me but I caught him.
“What are you doing kid? How’d we get down here, why are we on a boat?” He was unsure what I was saying but he could tell from the tone of my voice that I was angry.
“Do you know any English kids at all?” I was panicking thinking what to say to be able to communicate with the boy.
“Okay deep breaths.” *inhale* *exhale* “Are you from Tanzania?” He frowned at that word when he heard it.
“How old are you?” Still no response to his age.
“What is your name?” He looked even more confused this time.
“Name, what is your name?” I paused for a second as I could tell he was doing his very best to understand me. It was still no use.
“Your name is now Zania. Za-ni-ah.”
“good good, now the next one.”
“Ni.” “The next one.”
“Now all together Zaniah.”
“Good! You did it.”
The boy now had a name and I felt accomplished even though I was still aimlessly sailing on a boat to who knows where, I felt accomplished. We were living in the bottom hull of the ship and had a bountiful supply of apples but water was still an issue. I looked over to the ladder hatch and realized that was our only possible source of water. The bottom hull of the boat however had an arched ceiling and the ladder hatch was at the peak of that arch. I had no idea of how to reach it since the ship was swaying and there was no way to balance on a barrel I would injure myself surely. Then it dawned upon me. I looked over at Zania and pointed at the hatch.
I picked him up and set him on my shoulders. “Okay can you see something to pull on?” I did a hand motion pulling down but at the same time lost my balance the ship was still swaying aimlessly. I stumbled forward regaining my balance. “Zania pull down, pull!” I took his arm and placed it on the hatch then slowly placed the other. The ship made a loud sound that made me think we’d crashed or hit by a cannon. I went flying forward onto the ground and Zania was now hanging from the hatch. “Zania pull down, for Christ’s sake!” I ran over to him and pulled down on his legs since he was just hanging like a fish on a hook doing nothing. The ladder hatch swung open and Zania was now back on his feet. “Zania!” I laughed out loud. “Pull down next time my god.” He started to smile and laugh as well and we both started to burst out laughing.
I climbed up the ladder not knowing what to expect each step on the ladder made an extremely loud creak to it. I peaked my head up the top to see roughly 300 slaves all in cages staring at me. I continued to climb up and stood around to see more and more all bunched up in cages. They were of all ages, some old, some young. Wherever I walked their eyes followed me and the whites of their eyes stood out like a scar. I went back down for Zania and brought him up to see them all. He was about as shocked as I was. He then went around to each cage examining each person. Zania stopped at one cage and said something in a foreign language to one of them. After a long talk Zania looked at me and pointed at a set of keys hanging on a support beam in the middle of the ship. I knew what had to be done but we couldn’t do it now. It was the middle of the day and if we were to set the slaves free now the other people on the ship would realize for sure.
“Listen Zania, we can’t set them free now.” His stare at me said more than words. I felt bad but I was right there was no way to set them free now.
“During the night we make our move okay.”
“He’s right.” Said one of the slaves.
To my surprise I wasn’t the only English speaker in the room.
“If we are going to free ourselves we have to work together.” The man speaking was a tall deep voiced slave with teared pants and a symbol on the side of his neck that wrote TZ.
“My name is Charles, your friend and I come from the same homeland. What is your name, friend?” He asked with a smile.
“Daniel m-my name is Daniel and I shall free you!” I yelled while raising a fist in excitement. “We all need a good sleep so get some rest because tonight is the night!” Charles after every few words was translating back to everyone else.
“That we become official Pirates!” Charles translated once again and an uproar around all the cells began.
“Shhh!” Charles yelled as a stampede of footsteps came down from the upper decks. I grabbed Zania and jumped down the ladder hatch and closed it behind me. Yet I still had the set of keys to the cells. The herd of footsteps had now stopped and I could hear some pacing around the room above us. The people were now yelling but I couldn’t make any of it out. I came to the conclusion that it was best to get some rest that way we could still make our move later tonight.
Part 3: Piracy
I woke up this time cold again not in a sweat but for how cold it was in the night. The room was now pitch black and I needed to still find Zania who was asleep somewhere down here.
“Zania.” I whispered once.
“Zania wake up.” I whispered again.
“Zania?” Still no response.
Above me I heard some noise of footsteps and muffled voices. I decided it was best to stop calling for Zania and try to continue the plan. I walked aimlessly through the dark until I felt a thud on my head. I was so confused about what I hit, I reached out in front of me and felt the ladder hatch fully open and below it a barrel. I blindly climbed up the ladder to see one lantern that dimly lit up the room. There was Zania going through each key on the rack testing them on each cell.
“Zania.” I whispered
“Shhh!” Charles whispered back, then he pointed to the corner of the cell where there was a guard asleep with a musket and a bottle of Carribean Rum. I creeped over to the guard and gently slid the musket out from under his arm. Just before I got out from under his arm I heard a loud *click* and the swing of a metal door came open. The guard opened his eyes and was met by the butt of the musket against his nose. Zania had found the correct key and he then went around to each cell one after the other *click, click, click, click* until every cell had sung open. The slaves looked more scared now than they did before because they had now realized they were breaking free and it was now or never. We all stayed silent and tried our hardest not to make a single floorboard creak slowly. All the men walked up the decks as I took the lead with the rifle. We were all stopped at the violent sound of cannonballs launching into the air. The drunken sailors had stopped singing and laughing and everything was silent. Then a noise that sounded like a bullet whistling through the air had met with the side of the ship *Crassshhh* a crater sized hole went straight through the side of the ship, past us, and out the other side. Then a flurry of whistling cannonballs were visible through the air. “Take cover!” I yelled. I and all the other slaves ran down below decks thinking of a way out to safety. I looked around and the whites of their eyes were more piercing than ever before. I peeked my head back up to the deck we were all on and had gotten blown through completely. The front of the was now visible and the entire weight of the ship now shifted forward.
“Come on, it’s time to go!” I yelled once more.
“Daniel it was an honor for you to lead my people to freedom, thank you.” Charles said like it was a soldier’s goodbye.
“It’s not over yet Charles now come on!” I commanded as we all sprinted up the decks to be greeted by a battle scene of mayhem. Sailors and pirates clashed in battle, cannons still bursting through and a fire on the mast had broken out. It was now sunset and the pirates were ultimately winning; they had finished the last sailors off and some had even surrendered. They then turned and saw the hundreds of us all staring in terror. A crowd of pirates had formed and they all looked at us in confusion.
“Oi lads why are ya just staring at em.” A voice emerged from the crowd. Out came a large 7ft tall man with a parrot on his shoulder.
“Greetings you fine ladies and gents, we are The Scallywags of the Coral Sea. My name is Captain Dundee and these are my mates!” He said cheerfully.
“So what’s a bunch of slaves and a farmer doing out in the middle of the Carribean?” He asked.
“Were in the middle of the Carribean?” I asked in shock.
“Well of course mate, where else do you think you are? What’s all your buddies names?”
“My name is Daniel, this is Charles, my friend Zania, and everyone else.” The rest of the women and children emerged from the lower decks.
“Well mate, let’s not stand around on a sinking ship for too long, let’s get you all over here.” He said as a large wooden plank came down from their ship and landed on the deck. Some of his crew mates then came out of the captain’s quarters with a large chest and walked across the plank to the other side and we all followed along.
“So mate what’s your peoples goals all my crew mates have their own dreams. My friend Eyeball over there is just searching for an eye, Toothpick is looking for some gold teeth so he can have his chompers back, and I’m looking for me dads treasure he buried many years ago. So what’s your dream fella?” He asked.
What was my dream? I had no clue but I felt like I had something almost like a purpose. This lifestyle may not be the most extravagant but it surely is something. I think my goal is to bring these slaves back to their home in Tanzania.
“Now there’s a goal! That I would love to fulfill my friend, welcome aboard everyone to the S.S. Acca Dacca!”
Captain Dundee had begun to set sail and the slaves, Zania, and Charles all had a smile on their faces. As the sun went down I looked at my newly acquired friends that I then knew I would spend a lifetime with.