Ye clouds clustered about ye swollen moon, like octopi menacin’ an expectin’ merwench (gaargh, memories…). Twere an ill omen, for ye lunar cycle breeds anxiety ‘mongst even the saltiest seamen, who prefer to be docked and drunk midst full moon. But we’d no chance of makin’ land fall for we’d lost both map and anchor in a bet over who were the most superstitious: ourselves or the crypto-astrological whalers of Gullible’s island.
Instead we busied ourselves with ordinary shipboard activities such as drinkin’, doin’ fiddlesome things with ropes and tormentin’ the new cabin lad we’d… acquired some weeks earlier, oh and worryin’ about ye portents.
A cry from the top mast dismissed me morbid musings. Tricolore Francois the tri-eyed recipient of the Good Doktor’s infamous opthalmic experiments, bade us all into the riggin’ for a glimpse o’ one o’ Mother Nature’s rarest sights. I espied only two dolphins dabblin’ carnally, this I’ve seen before. Me other port?
Arrrr twere a fine sight – beneath the waves pulsed the eerie glowin’ of a shoal of jellyfish, driftin’ in our wake. Twas most soothin’ to our lunar-inflamed nerves. With thoughts of dolphinry we rolled into our hammocks, or squeezed into ye bilge accordin’ly; tis Billy No Mates’ abode – his fresh stench were easier to tolerate than his cleaner-than-thou superiority.
Dawn eyed up the night suspiciously before creepin’ over ye horizon. He were soon startled off again by the inevitable shouting: Billy No Mates stood on deck, arm and finger extended in ye well-known ‘pointing’ gesture; me eye followed his finger. At first I were unsure to whom ye gruseome corpse belonged, but beneath the mass of red welts I recognised the same terrified features as I’d seen when bundling him into a sack. At least we’d not named the cabin lads yet, else I’d feel a greater sorrow. As twere, his pals’d commenced some communal keenin’ which grated vastly on me nerves. I’d no tolerance for that so I had Francois Tricolore harangue ‘em in his unspeakable tongue till they fell silent.
Aaarr, back to ye body. Whenever a man slips away on board I likes to have a bit of a poke an’ make some guess as to his fate with me mind suitably ajar. So I screwed in me magnifyin’ eyeball for a closer peek. Now this lad were wet and somewhat slimy – which we might attribute to our watery environment or perhaps some homicidal sea cucumber emergin’ from ye deeps. Gaargh, who knows?
I followed the strange footprints leadin’ from ye blistered body right up to ye rail and over ye side… A frenzy o’ panicked surmisery ensued in spite o’ me lighthearted comment that he were “a bit wet behind the ears” – gaargh! Because ye see, he were both new and wet. Tis a joke. Perhaps tis inappropriate to jest at such times.
When night boldly thrust herself upon us once more ye crew were exceedin’ jitter-some. The moon struttin’ out from her cloudied bower were yellow and engorged, impressin’ on us a sense o’ malevolence and slight stirrin’ of arousal… no? Tis just me then. The lads were windin’ themselves up nicely, so we watched ye pretty underwater undulations before retirin’.
Me slumber were arrested by a piercin’ scream, followed by an aghast scream which petered out into an anguished wail and finally a strangled squeal; twere a fine range. The lads burst forth with lamps and pistols at the ready. At the foot o’ the mast a grim sight greeted us: the three eyes o’ Tricolore Francois – red starin’ straight ahead, white down at the viscous filth slopped over his blotchy body and the blue gazin’ to starboard. Alas poor Francois, ye pretentious accent annoyed me more than reason could bear. We followed his blue eye and the footprints with all the stealth of an armed mob.
A further cry hurried us on. Out of ye shadows stumbled Mute Charlie bellowin’ “alarum” (he were dumber than a tin o’ squid rather than mute – curse that Billy and his blasted thesaurus; I’ll never know why we let him pick nicknames). The lads were on hair trigger and unleashed a salvo of shots at poor Charlie. Well, he howled out, but so did something else – an uncanny shadow of a man peeled off me crewmate and lollopped towards us.
The thing were like a fat drunk child ye could see through (that be translucency accordin’ to Billy. How I despise his pedantry). It quivered like Monty’s “Surprise Extract o’ Whale” but with added radiance. As with all things strange, we colanderised it with our discharge. It collapsed to the deck, spreading and elongatin’… with one last pulse o’ phosphorescence it grew still. There were a moment’s peace followed by a uniform hushed “well bugger me” at the sight o’ the dead jellyfish on deck. The moon winked sarcastically at me. Gaargh, I prefer daytime.
I sent Billy up the rigging to see how many more o’ them jellyfish were still hanging around. Shakily he reported ‘em bloomin’ thickly about us. Next we heard the sound of a gloopy hand slappin’ onto ye planks and another o’ the bioluminescent bastards slopped onto ye sloop deck. “To arms” I cried, earnin’ me some dark looks from me more unfortunate crew members. Pistol shots rang out as the battle began in earnest. Cannon fire, slaps and cries of “ow that really stings” surrounded me.
The sun’s morning glory finally fell across us and the hordes of blobby blighters slopped back into their natural shapes where we could stamp on ‘em. We’d many dead and the rest had taken their share o’ stings in surprisin’ly sensitive regions. Gaaargh, the moon ceased her waxin’ that night and ye mass of glutinous goblins sank out o’ sight, leavin’ us to pickle our weals.
One month later horrid smug-faced luna swaggered out from twixt her cloudy bower and leered knowin’ly at ye good captain. Suddenly I felt a stirrin’ within me, as if I’d eaten too much soup. I wobbled across the deck, unsteady at sea for the first time in years. So I reached for a bucket, anticipatin’ some unpleasantness, but me hand just flopped into it, stretchin’ away from me like hot wax tossed in the sea. I gaped at meself in the mirror – from beneath me eye patch came a deep green glow. Me artificial appendages clattered to the deck and I slid blubberily out of me clothes and into ye bucket, me tentacles floppin’ feebly over the lip. Bugger.
Gaaargh, every night of lunar largesse turns me into a jellyfish. Now that be the legend o’ the were-jelly – long may ye fear ‘em.