This is a Short Story and the first in the series Tales of Dog Island, a small island of the Gulf Coast of Florida that is home to over 100 shipwrecks.
The Santa Teresa leaves the shore of Colombia carrying little treasure in her hold. She is fleet, and she is mostly present to protect the other ships in the flotilla, and she is heavily armed. There are more than 200 men sailing her as crew. She is struck by a hurricane the second day out and drifts aimlessly for days in the Gulf of Mexico. This is the story of the last three survivors of the Santa Teresa, and how they earned the curse that keeps their spirits here on earth to this day.
Jem stripped the yellow fat from the beast and set it to boil in the great shell. While half of the lean meat roasted, he cut up the other half and added it with spices, oysters, shrimp, and crabs to the boiling mix. After the stew had simmered a while, a savory odor spread throughout the camp, titillating the working men’s senses. Jem added sea oats to thicken the stew, and, with no one watching, carefully spread a paste he had made from the berries over some palmetto heart cabbage and placed it in the stew. The last thing he added to the concoction was a small bottle of laudanum he had gotten from the ship’s surgeon’s bag.
As they gathered to eat around the fire that evening, Jem motioned Fergus and Andrew to a log he sat on and quietly told them to only eat the turtle meat which had been roasted, and not partake of the stew. “The stew be p’isend,” he whispered. The Spanish sailors, having no idea the tasty stew was poisoned, ate freely of it, praising Jem’s efforts in stilted English.
As the evening passed, many of the Spaniards sickened, but more of them succumbed to the laudanum. When there were none left standing, Jem and his two henchmen dispatched every single one of them. Since men used their daggers to eat with in those days, and neither Fergus nor Andrew cared to use their eating utensils to kill their shipmates, they used hatchets; Jem, on the other hand, didn’t care, and used his dagger to cut throats quickly. None of them cared about the blood they spilled upon my shores, nor what its spilling would unleash.