"I was expected to flog him, my own flesh and blood, slice open my own flesh and spill my own blood. My son." Bootstrap Bill has found his weakness – his son. A look into his mind as that weaknes...
The whip was heavy in my hands – heavier than the cannon I had just hauled into the air, heavier than the weight of the men bearing down on my son, baring his smooth back as they pinned him against the ropes. I could see the muscles tensing as he awaited the first blow. He was trying so hard not to be scared.
The only thing that was heavier than the whip was my heart. It felt as if it were going to plunge straight down, through the deck of the ship and into the cabins below. I never thought I would see his face again – not here, not now, not with his brown eyes boring into me, silently begging me not to do this. I wanted him to avoid this fate – this was not his destiny!
I knew that I had to do this. It was my only choice – the Bossun certainly wasn't to be allowed to flog my son. When he inflicts punishment, he cleaves flesh from bone. He could make the fiercest pirate to sail the seas tremble with the pain. Men have died from his ministrations of torment – and it is not easy to kill a dead man.
This was my son, my flesh, my blood, my world – the last time I laid eyes on him was when he was a child. I never forgot his face and when his eyes locked with mine the world held its breath. Time stopped ticking, the hearts of those still living ceased to beat. My own heart, dead for years, may have stirred a bit in its sleep.
Dread and terror coursed through me. Will, he couldn't be here! Not here, not now! He was a good lad, so much to live for… and yet he was not dead. I could see the life pouring into him, flowing out of him. I wasn't sure how he had come to be on the hellhole of a ship and I wasn't sure I wanted to know. I did, however, want him to be safe.
And yet, there I stood, the whip heavy in my barnacle coated hands, as I gazed, tearful, at my son's exposed back. I was expected to hit him. Give him five lashes. Flog him, my own flesh and blood, slice open my own flesh and spill my own blood. My son.
I couldn't. I wouldn't.
I had to. I would. To save him from an even more terrible fate – five lashes at the hand of the Bossun was worse than a knife to the gut. At least then it would be over quickly. Bossun found a sick pleasure in cutting all the way through the flesh so that he scraped the bone with his whip. He was going to do that to William. To my son. I would not let him.
I did the only thing I could. Tears filling my eyes, I brought the whip back and swung it forward.
He twitched and grunted in pain and my world began to spin sickeningly. All eyes were on me – save for Davy Jones's. His beady eyes were locked on my son and the bloody stripe I had just decorated his back with. His face was twitching with a smile. He was enjoying my pain. Enjoying my son's pain.
Will let out a small, involuntary yell. I could barely see him through the liquid masking my eyes.
I blinked and tears ran down my face. He convulsed and the men held him tight. Only two more to go. I looked at the captain. He was smiling. Will was panting for breath. I was holding the whip.
The whip nearly fell out of my hands at Will's cry. It was too heavy, too heavy. Eyes were on me; I couldn't stop now.
As soon as Will let out a final grunt of pain and the last red stripe appeared on his freshly marred skin, I threw the flogger down like it was poison. Perhaps it was.