The Marmodon's Den - a slightly tall tale, part 2

A few months ago, a group of friends chartered a sailboat for a 10-day jaunt around the Caribbean - including Guadeloupe, St. Kitts & Nevis, and Antigua.  This is the second chapter in our harrowing adventures. (Click here for part 1)


After a few days in Antigua, word of our quest began to spread. 'You seek the Marmodon?' asked the salty owner of the Drop-In Bar. She branded us as fools, but then again she was a bartender who refused to make cocktails and had the bar closed on weekends.

Our fortunes turned when both Travis and Jimmy recognized a gargantuan, 80-meter yacht berthed in Falmouth Harbour. Wasn't that same boat moored in our hometown of Norfolk, Virginia, just a few months ago? Known as the M/V Skat, it'd made quite a bit of news for both its massive size and unique, angular design.

Well, fortune revealed itself as fate, as fortune is wont to do. Touring one of the artisanal shops ('Heard ye seekin' the Marmodon,' was the shop owner's greeting, shaking her head), Travis came across an older gentleman wearing a polo shirt marked with a vessel's name. It read simply, Skat.

'Excuse me,' Travis asked, 'but do you work on that ship over there?'

'I do,' said the man, 'for I am her Captain.'

Travis broke out in a smile not seen since his engagement two days prior. After peppering the Captain with a vast assortment of nautical questions that would take up several of your narrator's posts by themselves (and gaining the promise of a tour of the vessel, should it return to Norfolk), Travis lowered his voice and bequeathed, 'Have you heard about the Marmodon?'

'Aye,' said the Skat's Captain, 'we caught sign of it on the way in.'

'What did you do?' Travis asked.

'Turned right around, and went the other way!' The Captain paid for his souvenir and started to walk off, but left us with this: 'If you dare to cross the beast, seek out a man who calls himself Archie. I've heard he hangs around the north part of the island, in a place called Devil's Bridge.'

Our group split into halves - one sect rented a car to head north, the other hung around Nelson's Dockyard, where in the 1700s Britain's greatest naval hero supervised the refitting of the English Navy, and we hiked amidst the remnants of battery towers on Antigua's southern bluffs.

Our northern group milled around Devil's Bridge warily. A catamaran, not unlike our native vessel the Aves, lay beached and helpless just up the rock-strewn shore. Above it, at the island's northernmost point, a man stood looking down.

'Beg your pardon, sir,' Brad our fisherman entreated, 'but we're looking for a fella named Archie - we heard he was the man around here.'

The man on the point turned, and our group noticed he bore more than a passing resemblance to the Skat's Captain, with the same furrowed brow and sea-grey eyes, enough that he might be his uncle, or elder cousin. 'If it's Archie ye seek, Archie ye've found.' He scratched his shoulder, where an old English Navy emblem was still visible on his tattered shirt.

Brad shook his hand heartily, but was struck by the chill in his grip. 'We were told you can help us capture the Marmodon. Is this true?'

Archie sighed with all the weariness in the sea, as a great wave crashed behind him. He appraised our group, one by one. 'Follow me,' he said to Brad, 'but just you.'

The old man skipped down to the water's edge, suddenly spry. Brad tried to stay with him, navigating the crags and loose stones. Archie stood a moment, looking into the water, the broken catamaran just to his right. He plunged his hand into the water.

Out he pulled a squirming silver fish, about eight inches in length, glimmering in the fading sunlight.

'They say the ballyhoo in these waters have some magic in 'em. If anything will land the beast, this be it.' With that, Archie handed an awe-stricken Brad the prize. 'Just skim it across the surface on your voyage back to Guadeloupe. The Marmodon will find you.'

'Damn right it will,' said Brad, and the northern group headed back with magic bait in tow.
Meanwhile, back in Nelson's dockyard, our southern hiking group came across an outcropping at the height of the bluff. A marker in the stone proclaimed the space as Pickering's Parapet.

Further, it read: "Here marks the point where Archibald Pickering, Lord Nelson's second-in-command, would often survey the island. In the summer of 1782, Pickering - known as Archie to his fellow sailors - spotted a pirate vessel headed north, and hastened together a crew and his own vessel to follow. In his haste, Pickering's ship came to wreck on Antigua's north shore, with all souls lost, in a place now known as the Devil's Bridge."

(Click here for the final chapter)

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