Excerpt for THE SMALL ANIMAL FIZI AND THE PIRATES by , available in its entirety at Smashwords





The Small Animal Fizi

and the Pirates


ROBERT NILSSON



Illustrations: Johan Isaksson



Smashwords Edition


ISBN 9780463590577


Adopted from the Swedish edition


”Dvärghyenan Fizi och Sjörövarna”


Copyright © 2014, Robert Nilsson

Vulkan, Stockholm

ISBN: 978-91-637-7524-6




SYNOPSIS



Fizi belongs to a tribe of black dwarf hyenas, who once upon a time lived on an island in the Caribbean Sea. This book describes his fantastic adventures among the pirates of the West Indies.

Fizi dreams about adventures, runs away from his parents, and sneaks aboard a large ship occupied by buccaneers. He finds friends among the crew, but also a dangerous enemy. During the ship´s meandering between islands, they capture Santa Ana, a Spanish brig carrying a fortune of golden Pesos for the military and the governor in Havana. They have a frightening encounter with a ghost ship. After a failed takeover of a merchant vessel, Fizi barely escapes the soldiers from a ship-of-war, and comes to Havana where he is wanted by the police. By now he has got tired of his life as a pirate, but when attempting to leave town, he is arrested and brought in front of the governor.

When questioned by this all powerful official, Fizi claims that he knows where the buccaneers has hidden the gold that was taken from Santa Ana. The governor tries to force him to reveal the location, but with the help of witchcraft Fizi escapes from the paddle-steamer on its way to a treasure trove the location of which he has not the slightest notion.

After struggling through the jungle, he finally finds the way home to his happy mother and father. He has not brought any gold with him, but no longer yearns for the big adventure on the high seas.




CHAPTER ONE


ESCAPE TO THE LIFE OF A PIRATE



Fizi is a small hyena who lives with his mother and father on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea. But what kind of animal is a dwarf hyena, you may ask? Some say that Fizi looks like a sort of short-legged, long-bodied dog called Dachshund. This makes Fizi very upset, because it is absolutely not true! He has chubby paws, a large bulbous snout, a short tail, and his fine ears are much too small for a Dachshund. Besides, they cannot speak properly, and do not know anything whatsoever about magic.

Fizi´s parents are the last of a race of black dwarf hyenas, which long ago inhabited a small island far outside the east coast of Mexico. They could become very old, but in each family only one Fizi baby was born, so there were not many of them on the island. These talking animals knew many spells and hexes, some of which were dangerous black magic. Others were rather harmless, and could prove useful in daily life, for instance, to silence the barking neighbour´s dog and turn it tailless with green fur and constantly farting . However, one day a horrible disease carried by a shipwrecked Indian spread rapidly among the hyenas and killed them all – except for Fizi´s parents, who had gone with their large canoe to the mainland coast, where they stayed for a long time.

After many adventures, Fizi´s mother and father found a sheltered bay on the beautiful island of Hispaniola, where they settled down for good. Waves, clear like crystal, wafted over a beach of sparkling white coral sand. Tall palm trees swayed in the mild tropical breeze beyond. Looking inland, there was a low mountain with foothills covered in dense jungle. On top of the mountain, a big, bald rock resembling a human skull could be seen.



Fizi´s parents moved into an abandoned small house, repaired the holes in the walls with clay mixed with straw, and covered the roof with fresh palm leaves to keep out the rain. The cabin had two rather large rooms, one of which had a solid cooking stove made of dried clay bricks. The hyenas mostly fed on oysters, crabs, and other types of seafood – and on coconuts, of course. Their hut was built in a shallow basin, and could not be seen from a boat cruising in the bay outside. This was very important, because this was a time when fierce pirates made the coast unsafe.

One day, a son was born. He was given the name Fizi in honour of the forefather of all dwarf hyenas. Fizi grew up listening with keen attention to all sorts of legends and tales. In particular, he liked to hear about the exploits of the great seafarers who braved violent storms, suffering hunger and thirst, and risking their lives in bloody battles with enemy ships in pursuit of glory and treasure. He wanted to know everything about the world outside their own little bay, and became spell-bound when his father told him about his exciting life when he was a pirate in his youth. His mother did not approve of this kind of story-telling at all. Instead, she tried to teach her son to read and write, but his progress was slow.

On one occasion Fizi´s father took out a couple of diamonds and a few heavy gold coins, called doubloons, and laid them on the kitchen table. How beautifully the little treasure sparkled in the sunbeam that found its way through a narrow chink in the roof!

A cunning pirate – also called a buccaneer – could get hold of lots of gold as well as jewels, Fizi thought.

“My son, beware – such dainties are not for free! Great misfortune will befall anyone who tries to lay hand on such treasures without knowing how to bring about such deeds,” said his father.

Fizi had become tired of fighting the monkeys in the trees outside their cabin, to collect beetles, spiders and catch shore crabs. The impatient animal longed for the great adventure waiting for him out on the open sea. He wanted so much to gather gold and precious stones. His mother, on the other hand, became more and more anxious that her son would follow his father’s example and leave their safe homestead.

One day a large three-masted sailing ship anchored in the bay where the hyenas lived. Fizi´s father claimed it to be a frigate. It was in very bad shape. The vessel must have been through a violent storm. Its sails were in tatters, the ramparts were battered, and the rail on deck was crushed in several places. Cables and ropes from the rigging were dangling sadly into the water.

Fizi crept cautiously down to the beach several times to have a look at the ship, while the crew was busy repairing the rail and rigging. The rig on a large sailing ship is a very complicated construction, consisting of hundreds of ropes and other devices to support masts, booms and sails.

His father told Fizi to stay away from the large ship. “I can count 16 gun ports on one side, and I am quite sure this is a ship-of-war, which has been taken over in some dubious way. Even from afar, one can see that she is now in the hands of buccaneers. Just take a look at the way the crew is dressed! Some resemble peacocks with parts from different uniforms, colourful ribbons, and a hodgepodge of strange garments. Many of them have cutlasses and pistols stuck into their belts. I suppose they are officers. I know what I am talking about!” Fizi´s father was thinking about his own youth when he was a feared pirate.

That night, the young dwarf hyena tossed uneasily in his bed, and could not fall asleep. His mind was full of thoughts about gold, jewels and other treasures. The ship anchored in the bay excited Fizi´s vivid imagination and curiosity. Why not give life at sea a try? He could not resist the temptation, and made up his mind to become an animal of fortune. He slipped quietly out of bed, sneaked soundlessly past his sleeping parents, and out into the dark night.

Running away will cause my mother and father great anxiety and sorrow, thought Fizi. But if my adventure proves too gruesome and dangerous, I can always abandon ship in some harbour or other, and come back home with a sack of gold.

In the soft moonlight Fizi padded cautiously down to the beach, where the swells from some distant storm murmured. It was late autumn, and even though his home was situated far to the south, nights could become chilly. Fizi shivered and wondered if he should not return to his soft, warm bed instead of swimming out to the pirate ship. As a very young hyena, he had learnt to swim and dive, but he knew that at the coral reef outside shore, sharks and barracudas might be waiting for a meal of young tender hyena.

“I probably taste so awful that they will quickly spit me out!” Fizi had told his mother after a long swim.

“Your cockiness will become your undoing,” retorted his mother anxiously.



Fizi decided to be brave, and swam out to the ship. A few flickering lanterns could be seen on deck, and a faint light gleamed through the small window panes of the broad cabin, protruding high above in the aft, the rear of the ship. Above the large rudder, the name Fortuna was inscribed in ornate letters on a wooden panel. However, the name of the ship's home port – a statement which all vessels at sea should carry – was missing.

But for the flapping of the waves against the huge, black ship´s hull towering high above him, Fizi could hear no sounds. Carefully, and with a pounding heart, he climbed the thick anchor cable. He crept through the hole where this cable enters the capstan – a drum like device used to wind or release the cable, to hoist or lower the anchor. Silent as a mouse he padded slowly over the ship´s deck that smelled strongly of tar. He had no idea where to go. Fortuna was the old Roman goddess of fortune, but on this night the goddess granted the small hyena little luck. Poor animal!

In spite of all his caution while moving in the dark, Fizi´s tail got stuck in a fishing net dangling from the rail. When he tried to get loose, the whole gear fell down on top of him. The lead sinkers rattled noisily against the deck boards. A guard promptly appeared. To his great astonishment, he found a small black animal entangled in a fishing net.

Blimey, what a strange fish! thought the sailor. He grabbed the violently kicking Fizi, dumped him in an empty barrel, and secured the lid.

“It stinks horribly of old mouldy cheese down here!” Fizi muttered to himself, and wondered what was going to happen next.

The night guard thought of waking up the captain, and telling him about his catch, but decided to wait until the morning. Although it made a terrific noise in the barrel, the animal did not look dangerous, and he knew that the captain would become furious if disturbed without a serious reason.

At eight o´clock, after the morning watch and a sturdy breakfast, Captain Lucius came out on deck. He was massively built with arms and legs like oak trunks. His face was furrowed and darkened from wind and the tropical sun.

He wore a black patch over one eye. His eye injury came from an incident when a cannon ball from an enemy ship had smashed into the quarterdeck in the aft, from where the captain commanded his ship. A large wood splinter had speared his left eye socket.

The upper part of his clothing consisted of some sort of bleached blue naval uniform jacket, and his legs were covered in a pair of simple seaman’s baggy breeches of undetermined colour.

I can see that all repairs of rigging and sails have been completed. A steady wind blows from land. Raise anchor and hoist the sails!” commanded the captain with a booming voice.

Aye, aye captain!” answered the sailing master, and the whole crew set to work at full speed. Lithe as monkeys, the seamen climbed the rigging to set all sails, while singing their old sea-shanties. The guard then told the captain about the strange animal he had caught. Captain Lucius strode up to the barrel, lifted the lid, and looked down on Fizi.

”What in heaven´s name is this – some kind of misshapen giant, black rat? By all infernal vultures from hell, it has a ring around the tail!”



“I am no rat, you goddam fool. Can´t you see that I am a dwarf hyena!” shouted an angry Fizi from the bottom of the barrel.

“Good Lord! Whatever it is, it´s speaking. How did you come aboard?” exclaimed the captain.

“Climbed up your anchor cable, of course,” retorted Fizi.

Might be a spy from Fabian´s rotten ship, which we sighted passing by the other day. Untrustworthy scoundrel this Fabian, but he´s not smart enough to come up with this sort of clever ploy, thought the captain.

“While we consider if this impertinent pest should be thrown to the sharks or not, we could let the cook tie it up to wash out pans, or carry out some other useful task,” said Captain Lucius.

By this time Fizi´s dreams about pirate treasures had evaporated, but nonetheless, he plucked up his courage.

“Now listen to me, up there! You should know that my father was the famous buccaneer Fizich, who sailed with the dreaded Captain Black Bellamy – the scourge and terror of the whole Caribbean.”

Captain Lucius hesitated. “Did you say Black Bellamy? It was ages ago, but I used to know this villain. Hmmm. I recall vaguely that after a couple tankards of rum in a Havana tavern, Blacky mentioned that same kind of speaking black animal had been of great help to him. Could that have been your dad? By the way, what´s the password?”

All for one and one for all!” answered Fizi confidently, feeling his spirits rising. I do not think this captain will hoist me overboard – at least not now, our little hero thought.

With his arms crossed on his back, Captain Lucius went slowly up to the railing, gazed towards the horizon, and turned to his helmsman, also named the quartermaster. “John, shall we, or shall we not throw this disrespectful animal overboard?”

Fizi became scared stiff. The tall, lean and sinewy helmsman had entered the deck. Standing at the big wheel on the bridge, he steered the ship. He could read maps, navigate on the open sea, and knew the location of treacherous reefs and shoals. He was, therefore, a very important person on board. But he was also very superstitious. He fully believed in prophesies, ghosts, witches, the great sea serpent, and other monsters that live in the depths of the ocean. John was of the opinion, that because the black animal had arrived on All Saints' Eve, this could mean luck.

“Cap´n might well remember the terrible storm that bore down upon us the night before this very day several years ago. When the wind had calmed down, the ship had got stuck on a reef, and could not move an inch. Then among all the debris that had fallen down from the rigging, we found a black hound that had been washed aboard – God knows from where. He was barely alive, but our cook who likes animals, gave the dog milk mixed with honey and rum. Very soon, the mutt recuperated, shook the fur, sending a shower of sea water around. At the same instant, the tide raised the ship, and praise to Lord the Almighty – we slowly slid off the reef.”

That’s right,” said Captain Lucius. “For several years, Nero was our faithful ship dog. In a splendid way, he managed to bite the legs of many of our enemies. Let´s see what this perky little creature can accomplish. He can stay in your cabin, John.”

Fizi, who had no idea about what sort of day All Saints' Eve was, thanked the Protector of All Small Animals that he had chosen the right time to start his career as a buccaneering hyena. He smiled smugly. But finding himself in safety, he should have thought more of his poor mother who was crying bitterly because he had left home.




CHAPTER TWO


FIZI´S LIFE AMONG THE BUCCANEERS



Life on board the old sailing ships was tough. The crew could never count on a long rest. During the night, a changed course could suddenly be ordered. Then a gang of sailors had to hurry up on deck, climb the rigging, and position the sails according to the new wind direction. When beating the wind on a ship with square sails like Fortuna, this meant a lot of work. Although the size of this ship could not be compared to the huge battleships with two rows of gun ports with one hundred heavy guns or more, Fortuna was, nevertheless, a large sailing vessel measuring some 40 meters in length.

The main challenges were to avoid war ships that suddenly appeared on the horizon, prevent boardings by other pirates, and other misfortunes. Guards were placed on deck and on top of the main mast to keep a keen lookout. To avoid being keelhauled, the guards had to keep themselves totally sober and awake. Keelhauling was a terrible punishment. The sailor was tied to a line, thrown overboard on one side of the ship, and dragged under the ship's keel. and pulled up the other side.

Under deck, the crew slept in hammocks, which swayed with the rolling movements of the ship. There was scant space between the sleepers, squeezed in between cannons and other supplies. No wonder the air below deck became nauseating. The ever present lice were a constant torment. The captain had a spacious cabin in the aft of the ship, and Fizi was lucky to be permitted to stay in the small, but tidy cabin of helmsman John.

Fizi soon realized that he was no pampered passenger on a luxury ship. Fortunately, he was not inclined to get seasick, but at home he was used to enjoying his soft bed until about nine o´clock in the morning. He found the early wake up call at sunrise to be particularly painful. On the first day when the ship´s bell announced the Call of Duty on deck, he pulled the blankets over his head. John took Fizi by the scruff of the neck, heaved him up on deck, and immersed him in a barrel of cold seawater.

“This is no place for sluggards. Get in line with the others, and wait for boatswain´s orders!”

The boatswain was responsible for the maintenance of the ship and in charge of all deck activities.

Fizi got angry, and was prepared to deliver a suitable reply, but fortunately for him, he thought better of it, and held his tongue. Fizi´s first task was to scrub the deck. He laboured with a piece of pumice until his paws ached terribly.

“For sure, no gold will come my way by enduring such sufferings,” he grumbled to himself.

“That does not look very promising, but what to expect from a tiny, poor runt like yourself. And what to do with you when a storm is coming?” said the boatswain. He continued half singing in a broken voice, “When all the storm´s devils invite you for a round, able seaman must stand his ground.”

My father was lookout in the crow´s nest on the top of the mainmast of the pirate ship, Invincible, and I myself have very sharp sight,” said Fizi, “And I can handle a cutlass as well.”

A cutlass is a short, broad, slashing sword, sharpened on the cutting edge.

“We have no cutlasses on board for a miserable imp like you. Get up to the crow´s nest in the main mast, watch the horizon, and let´s see what you can accomplish!” ordered the boatswain.

Fortunately, the sea was calm, and Fizi, who was used climbing palm trees at home, managed to scramble rapidly up to the crow´s nest high up in the mainmast. A frigate, like Fortuna, has three masts. The middle one is called the main, and is high like a seven-storey building. When Fizi reached his destination, he felt quite dizzy. Up in the mast, the waves intensify the ship´s movements more than ten times. Luckily, in a short time, Fizi got used to being dangled about.

“Well, what can you see?” shouted his supervisor.

“I can see you down there looking small and rather pitiful!” shouted Fizi, who was furious for being called a miserable imp.

“You shall have to stay there until you have some sensible news!” the boatswain answered smugly. “The black miserable creature is fortunate to be under protection of the captain and helmsman John,” he muttered to himself, and went glumly away to supervise the rest of the crew – a wild and unruly lot.


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