You did actually read that title correctly. A little context: some of my best memories from high school revolve around Pirates of the Caribbean. I had a close group of friends who were all big fans of the movie. And I still do–we’re still friends. One way this fandom and friendship manifested itself was that I ended up writing a POTC novel that pulled in a lot of the randomness of our high school friendship. I only half count it as one of my novels, as I think it’s more accurate to call it a 200-page extended joke.
The essential plot-line (such as there was) is that Captain Jack Sparrow returns to Port Royal, and Commodore Norrington and his soldiers spend a night chasing Jack, Will and Elizabeth through a very bizarre cornfield. I refuse to be held responsible for all the craziness, as some of it definitely came from my friends.
For Fiction Friday this week, I thought I’d share the opening chapter of Pirates of the Caribbean: Cornfield Madness. It’s one of my favorite scenes, even though it’s not a heavily Jack Sparrow sequence.
Since this is fanfiction, I should probably note that I do not own Pirates of the Caribbean or any of the characters from the movie. I guess I own the elephant. It’s also worth noting I wrote this story before the POTC sequels came out, so it’s not always accurate with the later events in the characters’ lives. If you’re not familiar with POTC, you can read a synopsis here (or take my recommendation and go watch the movie; it’s wonderful).
It was late afternoon when Norrington first heard that Jack was in town. He gathered together Lt. Gillette and an unspecified number of soldiers, and marched off for Will and Elizabeth’s house. He failed to take into account that he was attempting to capture Captain Jack Sparrow, who happens to be a master of quick escapes and split-second timing. So as Norrington, Gillette, and their unspecified number of soldiers marched up the stairs at the front of the house, Jack jumped out a second story window at the back of the house.
Jack might have escaped scot-free right there. Except for one little detail. He landed fine. Hit the ground just right, rolled exactly the way he was supposed to, that wasn’t a problem. Except that he dropped his hat in the process. If he’d just ignored it and run, he probably would have been out of sight and gone long before Norrington got to the window, leaving the Commodore with no trail. From there it would have been simple to hightail it back to the Pearl and set sail. But of course, he didn’t ignore it. And he still might have made it if not for the dog. It might have been the same one from the jail cell, and then again it might have been that one’s brother, but either way there was a dog and it liked this strange three-cornered object that had just dropped into its life. All of which explains why Jack was still in the courtyard arguing with a dog over legal property rights to hats when Norrington looked out the window.
Seeing the Commodore and hearing the shouts of “After him!” Jack bowed deeply, yanked his hat away from the dog (who howled broken-heartedly), clapped it on his head, and ran.
Norrington, Gillette, and the unspecified number of soldiers gave chase. Port Royal had never seen the like of it. Laundry was trampled, chickens were stepped on, carts were overturned, and some disgruntled citizen threw a tomato at Norrington. Wiping seeds out of his eyes, Norrington continued chasing after the fleeing Jack, all the way to the outskirts of town. Where Jack disappeared into a conveniently placed cornfield. Norrington called a halt.
“But sir, he’ll get away!” Gillette protested.
Norrington shook his head. “On the contrary, Mr. Gillette. If we were to follow, we would all become hopelessly lost within the rows of corn. He could double-back along a path two rows over, and we would never know it. Better to surround the fields and wait for him to stumble out.”
“But what if he doesn’t come out?” Gillette pointed out.
“He’ll have to come out for food.”
“He could eat corn,” Gillette countered.
“Man cannot live by corn alone,” Norrington said calmly. “Spread out and surround the field.”
And so they did. And so began a several hour siege. We could follow Jack during those hours, except that the pirate captain spent most of them sprawled under a stand of corn, hat over his face, sound asleep. His adventures would begin after dark. Better to check on Norrington in the late afternoon, just as dusk was setting in. It was then that he noticed the dot on the horizon. He squinted at it. No, not on the horizon, above the horizon.
He pointed it out to Gillette. “Mr. Gillette, what is that?”
Gillette raised his spyglass, and looked out towards the growing dot in the sky. A long moment passed.
“Well?” Norrington said crisply.
“It…seems to be an elephant…sir.”
“Mr. Gillette!” Norrington said sharply. “Have you been drinking on duty?”
Gillette shook his head, eye still glued to the spyglass. “No, sir! It’s an elephant. With wings.”
“And I suppose it’s pink too,” Norrington said, disgusted.
Gillette turned to look at him, surprised. “How did you know, sir?”
“Oh, give me that!” Norrington snapped, taking the spyglass. He raised it to his eye, and peered out.
He very nearly dropped the glass. Because what he saw was an elephant. A pink one. With wings. And it was approaching rapidly. Norrington lowered the glass, and found that he didn’t really need it. The elephant was getting close. And bearing down on him. And it didn’t look as though it was going to stop.
Norrington had occasionally planned what he would do if this situation arose. Though usually he had imagined a cannon ball coming in, rather than a pink elephant (with wings). He had always planned to say something along the lines of “Seek shelter in the nearest available locale at once!” or, if the situation warranted, “Stand your ground, men!” but now that the crisis was upon him, only one word entered his head and only one exited his mouth.
If he’d meant “Stand your ground,” it lost something in the translation. If the goal had been “seek shelter” etc., it was fairly effective. Which Norrington noted in passing as he ran after the fleeing Gillette, chance, not deliberate intent, putting him at the back.
Norrington could run quite fast.
Unfortunately for him, the elephant could fly faster.
The next thing anybody knew, a flying pink elephant had landed on Commodore Norrington.
Gillette stopped running. We can hope it was because he saw his commanding officer’s plight and felt the stirring of noble duty urging him to lend assistance. Or it may have been because he was up to a wall and there was nowhere else to run. He turned, and nervously looked at the pink elephant.
“Uh…good elephant, nice elephant,” Gillette said weakly. “You don’t really want to hurt anyone…right?”
“Get it OFF!” Norrington’s muffled shout came.
“Um…fly away elephant.” Gillette waved his hands feebly, more or less in imitation of a bird’s wings. “Fly away…flap, flap?”
All in all, it wasn’t the most auspicious meeting with a new lifeform on record. It did seem to get the idea across though. With a great heave the elephant rose up, flapped its wings once, and took off. Gillette watched for a moment as the elephant faded to a pink dot in the distance. It was never seen again. Then he turned to Norrington, who remained sprawled face-down on the ground.
“Are you all right, sir?”
Norrington raised his head and gave Gillette a withering look. “You ask me if I’m all right? An elephant just landed on me!”
For the tender-hearted, Norrington does survive pretty much unharmed, although this was just chapter one in a really, really bad night for him.