He had made it. It was a miracle. The boy who couldn’t swim managed to survive a five hundred metre underwater death trap. Coughing and spluttering loudly, he hauled himself up onto the ground and lay down on his back. Once he had regained all his normal functions he sat up and looked around. There was no sign of treasure or anything at all.

He searched the cave he found himself in. No exits, no secret doors, no messages scratched into the walls. Just rock and dirt and silence. He was trapped.  

Gruel began to panic. Maybe the swim didn’t kill him, but days and weeks without freshwater and food will. Plus, he managed to cut the only lifeline he had, the rope. There was no way he would be able to navigate his way back through the water. And even if he did, he would never be able to climb back up the hole he fell down without that rope.  

Then he recalled something Pete had told him. Once you reach the other side you’ll know what to do. Follow your instincts and you’ll find the treasure.  

After spending around ten minutes taking a second look around, he began to feel at ease, like there was something familiar about this place. Nothing looked familiar, everywhere in this place looked similar. He touched the ground. Nothing. He tasted his finger. Gross. Then he smelt his finger.   

There is was.   

Something sweet and beautiful was floating in the otherwise stale air. It was something he had smelt before and made him feel safe and comforted. He followed his nose to a flower that had sprouted out from the wall. It was a small, red flower that he had never seen before, and yet, he knew the scent had been in his nostrils many times.  

He pulled the flower out to reveal a lever. He pulled it down and one of the walls crumbled into dust. Gruel coughed and then walked through into a room glowing with wonder.  

He had found it.   

Pirate Captain Henry Morgan’s hidden treasure.   

It was magnificent.  

He went to pick up a handful of coined when he recalled another thing Pete had said. Once you find it, don’t touch anything. Let me in first.  

He didn’t explain why. Could it be booby-trapped, or is there something here that Pete wants for himself? Then he noticed an unopened letter at eye level. He walked over to it and picked it up. It was addressed to “the one who has discovered my fortune”.  

That’s me, thought Gruel.  

It wasn’t Pete who jumped down the black hole. It wasn’t Pete who made it through a pitch-black death trap and drank a lungful of freezing water. It wasn’t Pete who licked the ground and found the secret lever. He was the one who discovered Captain Morgan’s fortune.  

Just as he was about to open it he was disturbed by banging and shouting. “Gruel, can you hear me? It’s Pete. I thought I heard something. Let me in, quickly”.  

Gruel noticed another red flower. He tucked the letter under his shirt, then pulled the flower. Just as before, what was once a wall suddenly became dust and rubble. Pete stepped in. His eyes had never looked so alive. But he wasn’t smiling as Gruel would have thought. Instead, he looked studious and immediately began rummaging around the booty.  

“Where is it. I’m so close. It must be here somewhere?” Pete became more and more frantic. He turned and started to walk towards Gruel.  

“Where is it”.  

“What, I don’t know what you are looking for”.  

“The key. The key, Gruel. Have you taken the key.” Pete grabbed him and pushed him against the wall. “Give it to me, I need it more than you do. Believe me, kid, you don’t want to see me when I’m angry.”  

“I haven’t seen a key”, said Gruel truthfully. “I didn’t touch anything, just like you told me”, he said not-so-truthfully.  

“Listen, kid. I’ll give you . . .”  

Footsteps and voices and the faint light of lit torches in the distance interrupted them. Pete released his grip on Gruel’s shirt and instead began to push him away.  

“Run, kid. Scarper.”  

“But what about you?”  

Pete drew his sword. “I’m an old man. I ain’t got many moons left in me but you do, kid. I could never forgive myself if I didn’t give you a head start on these murders. Now go, go back the same way ya came. Go!”  

Gruel heard them. They were closing in. He quickly nodded at Pete to show his gratitude and then did exactly what he was told to do.

>>>>> NEXT CHAPTER >>>>>