Chapter 14

Two overwhelming and disagreeable smells assaulted Fay’s nose when the claw released her on the sand outside the store. The pickle smell was Barnaby whose arm had been clutched in Mr. Twicky’s other claw-like hand. And the bloody apron, which she now found herself uncomfortably close to, reeked of rancid chicken fat.

“The boys is gettin’ a little rowdy,” said Twicky.

“Rowdy?” sputtered Barnaby. “They’re completely psycho! They’re wackers!”

“I think,” panted Fay, “that ‘Captain’ Arg has lost control of his crew.”

Behind them, at the Parsnips’ store, a window smashed from the inside, and smoke billowed from the side door. Pirates, whooping and snarling, formed a ring around the building.

“Children,” called the frantic voice of Miss Parsnip. “It’s time to go! I’m sorry to say this exhibition has become a bit too realistic for safety sake!”

“Where are we going to go?” asked Fay.

“Anywhere but here!” shouted Mr. Arg as he dashed from the store and made a beeline for the shed they’d started out in.

“Follow that man!” cried Miss Parsnip.

“You ain’t kiddin’,” added Twicky.

Fay took off, with Barnaby, Miss Parsnip, and Mr. Twicky right behind.
As they lunged into the shed, Fay slammed the door, and Mr. Twicky threw the bolt into place.

“So now what?” asked Fay. “They burn the shed down too?”

“We’ll be french fries!” screamed Barnaby.

“Don’t care if they do, and don’t care if they don’t,” growled Mr. Arg, “so long as I find my piece o’eight.” He began frantically patting his jacket. “Gots to be here somewhere…stuck in the lining or something…”

“Your pizza what?” demanded Barnaby.

“Piece o’eight boy! That accursed piece what was forged in that accursed furnace what got us here today! If I got the piece o’eight I don’t need that cast-iron hell hole!”

Outside the shed, Fay heard a gruff and mocking voice.
“You in there, Cap’n? You’re missing the paaaarrrrty…”

“Piece o’eight…piece o’eight…,” muttered Mr. Arg.

WHAM! Something heavy collided with the door, rattling the whole rickety shed.

“Give yourself up!” squawked Barnaby. “Maybe they’ll bargain!”

The voices outside the shed grew louder. Evidently, the mob had abandoned the burning store and was regrouping here.

“The Captain’s not here!” yelled Fay, hoping to buy time. “He’s on the ship!”

“Piece o’eight…piece o’eight…” Mr. Arg continued to mutter. He turned his jacket inside out and began to shake it.

“YAAARGGG!,” yelled a voice outside the door, “Mess wif’ me an’ I’ll eat your eyeballs raw! We know the Cap’n’s in there!”

BOOM! Something hit the door harder.

“Cap’n?” squeaked Mr. Twicky. “Ya’ think it’s the best time to be worryin’ about money?”

“I NEED MY PIECE O’EIGHT!” roared Mr. Arg who was now ripping the lining out of his jacket.

“A piece of eight is money?” asked Fay, as a thought crept into her head. “As in…a coin?”

“Oh sure, oh yeah,” said Barnaby sarcastically, “I bet those psychos would be happy to leave us alone for…a COIN!”

Mr. Arg stopped shredding his coat and glared at Barnaby.
“It ain’t just any piece o’eight ya’ guppy,” he said. “It’s an accursed thing…but it’s the only thing!”

BASH! The door started to creak.

“Miss Parsnip!” called Fay, trying hard not to panic. “Do you still have my pirate coin?”

“Your what, dear?” asked Miss Parsnip.

“My pirate coin,” repeated Fay. “The one you took away when I was fighting with Barnaby.”

CRASH! The door splintered and began to give way.

“Oh,” said Miss Parsnip with a nod of recognition. “Yes, that. You know, dear, you could really use some anger management coaching.”

More wood cracked with a horrific squeal, and Fay saw Yellow Tooth, leering hideously at her through a dinner plate sized hole in the door.

“Honey, I’m home,” he said. “Hope you set the table real pretty.”

Miss Parsnip shook her head as if she disapproved of the face in the doorway and removed a coin from her purse. “Is this what you’re looking for dear?” she asked. “Do you think you could be more careful with it from now on?”

Fay was certain there was no time for respectful behavior. She snatched the coin from Miss Parsnip’s outstretched hand, and handed it to Mr. Arg. “Will this help?” she asked.

“Blow me over with a tin whistle!” cried Mr. Arg. “Me piece o’eight! How’d you…oh never mind that…”

Yellow Tooth’s hideous face had disappeared from the hole, replaced by the butt end of a log, smashing into the door with full force. As the hole grew larger, Mr. Arg crouched and fingered a knothole in the wooden floor.
“You lubbers’ll stand near me if you know what’s good fer ya’,” he said distractedly.

The log hit what was left of the door with a mighty whack. The door was gone. Mr. Arg dropped the coin into the knothole, and Fay knew that, once again, she was being sucked toward a tiny point in space–only this time, the face stretching and swirling behind her was pock-marked and had yellow teeth.

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