The Triangle – Prologue

1522 (Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean):

A torrent of rain pounds the deck of the Buona Fortuna. Fifty foot waves beat against the wood sides of the ship that just over ninety crew members called home for the voyage. The white sails flutter excessively with the heavy winds. The masts creak from the storm, but hold strong throughout. “All hands on deck!”, yells the captain of the vessel, Captain Venuccio de Parentheas. Men scurry to deck to help secure the ropes and equipment in the midst of the turbulent storm. Over the deafening bolts of thunder and the frightened screams of the crew, a deep, yet hoarse voice is heard yelling, “Batten down the hatches men. We are the first rate vessel of our mother and home, Italy. We are one. There is strength in each and everyone of us. We must not let this devil of a storm to keel us over”. The crew, drenched in a combination of sweat, sea, and rain, look up through the blinding storm to see their lead boatsman shouting these words of encouragement. “Per Dio e per paese! Per Dio e per paese! Per Dio e per paese!”, chants the lead boatsman, Agostino Minessia. Meaning, “For God and country! For God and country! For God and country!”. “Per Dio e per paese! Per Dio e per paese! Per Dio e per paese!”, the crew chants back, reminded of their purpose and their love for those they left at home. While Agostino is leading the crew, up by the ship’s wheel stands Captain Venuccio and the helmsman, Erasmo Cordavio. “You must sail us out of this storm to safety”, yells Captain Venuccio into Erasmo’s ear. “No, I was thinking of just sailing us in circles and dooming us to Davy Jones’s locker within an hour”, yells back Erasmo. “Now’s not the time for your incessant sarcasm Erasmo!” “Well you know how much I hate your constant statements of the obvious, Captain. Besides, might as well try to keep our approaching doom a little entertaining.” “Oh just follow my orders helmsman.” “Aye, aye, Captain.” The sea was proving to be a formidable opponent for the explorers of the Buona Fortuna. These explorers were on their way back to their mother country after exploring the new world Christopher Columbus had discovered just over thirty years before. The new world was named America, after an Italian born map maker who was first to chart the area, named Amerigo Vespucci. The leaders of the Buona Fortuna – Captain Venuccio, Lead Boatsman Agostino, and Helmsman Erasmo – were hand picked by Pope Adrian VI, who commissioned the voyage. From these three leaders, a crew of ninety sailors, each with a highly specialized skill and all the best sailors of the country, were chosen to join the expedition. Venuccio de Parentheas grew up in the small waterfront city of Livorno in Western Italy. As a boy, Venuccio heard stories of the brave men who voyaged to the new world, and he dreamed of one day sailing there himself. Growing up in Livorno, Venuccio was exposed to the sea life from a young age. He did everything he could to make it as a captain. As a young boy, he was eager to find jobs involving fishing and dock cleaning. At thirteen, with the money he earned, he began working on a small sailing boat. He was a very eager and curious boy, and picked up easily and quickly on all the terminology and technicalities of sailing. At seventeen, he joined his country’s navy, and with his sailing experience, he quickly gained ranks to become a captain. However, his dream of traveling to the new world was never fulfilled. Venuccio remains unmarried. He considers himself married to the sea, and the only human he truly loves is his only family, a younger sister, named Mariela. Mariela, a beautiful young woman with wavy brown hair and deep, soul seeing eyes, died of illness just three years before this particular voyage began. Venuccio still sees her in his sleep, as she is the last human he ever truly loved. He vividly remembers times of when they were children playing on the beached shore by their home. They would look through the sand for sea shells. Mariela was wise, even as a child. She always said a seashell is like life. Even though each origin may be different, they all end up on the same shore, each unique, each beautiful, yet each showing the wear that the sea, like life, put on them. She would say to Venuccio, “Sei una conchiglia”, meaning “You are a seashell”. Venuccio always thought it a strange saying, and therefore always dismissed it. As an adult, he still doesn’t truly understand what she meant as a child, but he dreams the memory because he misses the sweet tone of her voice so much and the fun that they always had together. After the death of his sister, Venuccio took refuge in the sea. Life was getting harder and harder for him until he got the offer from Pope Adrian VI in 1521 to take up on this voyage. In a way, he was saved by this mission. Because without it, it was only a matter of time that Venuccio would fall into such a deep depression, that he does something life changing, or worse, life threatening. Venuccio owed his life to this mission, and with his old friends, Agostino and Erasmo, he would proudly serve his country and if necessary, give his life for this very mission. “Agostino!”, yells Captain Venuccio to his mate and lead boatsman. “I’m going to check on the supplies below deck and make sure the storm hasn’t created any problems with leaks and such. I’ll return soon. Let me know if any problems up here arise.” “Aye, aye, Captain”, responds Agostino. Agostino, an expert in his field, knew his way around a ship. He knew he would have no problem lasting some time without a Captain present. Agostino Minessia’s father was a sailor in Italy’s Navy, and as a result, he and his family traveled around the different ports of Italy based on where his father was tasked to. Agostino was named after his father, who had taught him everything he now knows about working and living at sea. Agostino’s father worked in a variety of cities, and on a variety of boats and ships. Therefore, he was able to teach his son, Agostino, about each different kind. This gave Agostino a unique skill unlike any other boatsman. He knew every little detail about how to sail any kind of sea bearing vessel. Even though Agostino gained much knowledge from his travels growing up, he didn’t necessarily enjoy it. He therefore never had any desire to join Italy’s Navy like his father, and instead used his knowledge as a private consultant of sorts. In specific, he lead in teaching crew members how to sail their respective ships. Whether he taught military or fishermen, he thoroughly enjoyed his profession. Every two years he would take a voyage to another country to trade, and he enjoyed these short trips to keep up with his on-the-sea experience. Because of his superb leadership skills, every voyage he went on as a lead boatsman would go so smoothly it was unbelieveable. Crew members described him sometimes saying, “I feel like he doesn’t even eat” or “I wonder when he goes to the bathroom or to the barracks to sleep”, because to the crew members, it seemed as if Agostino was always there leading them on no matter what. He never was unavailable. Italy’s Navy noticed his skills and commonly tried recruiting him, but he never budged. At one point, they even sent Captain Venuccio to talk him into joining. Although Venuccio didn’t succeed in convincing him to join the Navy, they did become friends over their mutual passion for the sea, and kept in touch for several years. When Pope Adrian VI first tried to recruit Agostino for this specific voyage, he turned it down immediately. It took some convincing from his friend, Venuccio. At first Venuccio said, “Come on Agostino. Can you even imagine the adventure that awaits us in the new world?” However, Agostino didn’t budge until his friend pleaded with him saying, “Please. Do it for me. We both know that you are the best lead boatsman in this country. If you are leading the crew, I will feel a thousand times more safe out there. Please.” Agostino agreed on the condition that it would just be that one voyage, and he would not ever be obligated to do anything else for Italy’s Navy. His terms were agreed upon. After the pair teamed up, they knew they needed to find a fantastic helmsman. The Pope had two men in mind: Erasmo and a man named Devenio. Pope Adrian VI told Venuccio and Agostino he was going to go with Devenio because Erasmo seemed a little crazy. However Venuccio and Agostino convinced Pope Adrian VI that “a little crazy” was just what they needed. “Agostino!”, yells Erasmo from across the ship. “Yes, Erasmo!” “The waves are hitting us head on and I see some jagged rocks sticking out ahead, so I’m going to need to try something.” Agostino, already thinking in his head, ‘what crazy thing is he going to do now?’, responds back with a frightened, “What?”. “I’m going to make a sharp turn starboard. When I turn, the waves will be hitting our port side at full strength, and it’ll cause the ship to tilt and flip over.” “What!”, yells back Agostino, “What’s wrong with you?” “I haven’t finished”, responds Erasmo. “When I say so, I need you to direct the crew to all hang on to the port side. It’ll be hard, but it will act as a counter balance so we don’t tip over.” “Do we have a choice?” “No!”, yells back Erasmo. “Then I guess we’ll do it”, Agostino reluctantly says. Secretly to himself and unknowingly to Agostino, Erasmo whispers to himself, “I hope this works”. In these moments, Erasmo’s life flashed before his eyes, and the things he did that got him in this situation. Erasmo Cordavio lived a hard life. The bastard son of a prostitute and a dishonorably decommissioned sailor of Italy’s Navy, Erasmo was raised by practically no one. In order to survive, he frequently stole from local stores. He gained his unique sailing experience not from lessons, but from self-teaching. In addition to stealing food and supplies to survive, he also would steal small sailboats to help him escape the authorities. His techniques of escaping were commonly described as crazy by authorities. Techniques included purposely capsizing boats, heading directly into dangerous water, and quick turns that would have caused any normal sailor to flip over his boat. Being the son of a sailor, it’s possible he picked up on sailing so easily because it was in his blood. His run was good as an adolescent, until one day when an escape gone wrong caused a severe head injury that left him hospitalized for several months. Upon awakening, he was apprehended by the authorities and served three years in prison. Through his ordeal in prison, added with the stress of his head injury, Erasmo slowly became mentally insane. He would hear voices, switch personalities, and do crazy enough actions that sometimes would bring him on the brink of death. After his release from prison, authorities thought it best to institute him in an insane asylum so he couldn’t harm himself anymore. Through heavy medication and treatments, he got his craziness under control. However his mental insanity made his sailing habits even more death defying than before. His sailing expertise did lend itself to his wanting to go back to stealing, as that was the only life he ever really knew. His craziness made him impossible to catch because he was always crazy enough to do the things the authorities never wanted to do. Though he was a thief, he never hurt anyone. In fact, his life of crime finally came to an end when he saved the life of Pope Adrian VI. Pope Adrian VI was so grateful, he acquitted Erasmo of all his crimes and gave him a place to stay in his home. Erasmo was so grateful for Pope Adrian’s kindness, that when he asked him to join Venuccio and Agostino on the voyage to the new world as the ship’s helmsman, he quickly accepted the offer. “Now!”, yells Erasmo at the top of his lungs to the crew of the Buona Fortuna as he strongly pulls the ship’s wheel to turn towards starboard. Agostino directs the crew to port side, per Erasmo’s request. Each crew member hangs on for dear life as the ship turns. As predicted, the heavy waves crash against the port side and tilt the Buona Fortuna in such a way that it’s essentially sailing on its side. Some crew members go from holding on to hanging on, as their arms become the only things keeping them from falling into the depths below. By some miracle, Erasmo’s insane plan works. The counter balance the crew provided kept the ship from tilting completely over. After making the full turn, Erasmo steadies the ship upright and the crew escapes death. They aren’t out of trouble quite yet though, as the storm still rages on. Below deck, Captain Venuccio recovers from the ship’s dramatic turn. Because the ship was on its side, much of the supplies shifted and scattered below deck, so Venuccio began organizing everything again. “Venuccio”, a whispered voice comes across Venuccio’s ears. Venuccio looks around to see who called him, but sees nobody. Thinking that it was just in his head, he returns to work. “Venuccio”, the whispered voice says again slightly louder. This time, the voice sounds slightly high pitched, as if it’s a girl. Venuccio looks around again and sees nobody. He begins to become frightened, especially after he hears what sounds like a girl giggling. “Who’s there?”, Venuccio shouts out. No one responds at first. After a few moments, he hears the voice say, “Come play with me Venuccio”. This time, Venuccio recognizes the voice. “It can’t be”, says Venuccio to himself. “Mariela?”, Venuccio calls out to the voice. There is no doubting anymore when Venuccio hears the response, “Who else would it be? Come on Venuccio. Come play with me”. The voice is of Mariela, Venuccio’s younger sister, who had died a few years earlier. Venuccio turns, and sees the glowing image of Mariela, standing before him fully alive. “But how?”, asks Venuccio. “Life’s a seashell, remember?”, responds Mariela. “Come on. Come play with me by the water.” Enchanted by the thought that his sister is there in front of him, Venuccio follows, tears rolling down his face. Venuccio arrives on deck where he sees the sun shining, sand beneath his feet, and waves splashing on the shore. He is once again on the same beach where he used to play with his sister. In a dream like voice, he hears a man yelling, “Captain, what are you doing?”. In reality, the voice is of Erasmo, yelling to Venuccio through the raging storm. However, Venuccio doesn’t take notice, as his hallucination of his sister and him on the beach continues to grow stronger. “The water is so nice. Come on in Venuccio, come play with me”, says Mariela. “Captain, what are you doing? Don’t!”, yells Erasmo as he sees his captain climb the side of the deck as if about to jump in the water. Venuccio doesn’t hear him, but in the back of his head, he feels that something is off. “I can’t”, says Venuccio to his sister. “Come on Venuccio, don’t you want to be with me?”, responds the voice Mariela. “Yes”, answers Venuccio. “No!”, yells the deathly scared voice of Erasmo as he witnesses Captain Venuccio stepping over the edge, plunging himself into the cold, dark sea, never to be seen again. In Venuccio’s mind, he was going to play in the water with his sister, however, in reality, he was killing himself by jumping off the ship into the raging sea. In tears himself, Erasmo calls out to the lead boatsman in a scared voice, “Agostino!”. However, to his shock, no one responds. “Agostino!”, Erasmo calls out once more. Again, no response. It’s extremely unlike Agostino to not be present, and Erasmo knows this. He calls to a few crew members to scour the ship to find him, however, he is nowhere to be found. It is as if Agostino vanished into thin air. There is no doubt in Erasmo’s mind that something mystical is happening beyond his control. Without a captain or a lead helmsman, the organization of the crew wouldn’t last much longer. Possibly triggered by the stress and emotional trauma of it all, Erasmo’s mental insanity began to kick in again, and the crew knew it. Erasmo began yelling at figments of his imagination. Crew members would hear him randomly laughing maniacally as if he found the situation funny. Suddenly, the crew hears Erasmo let off a loud, terrified shriek. At first the crew thinks it is another figment of his imagination, but they quickly realize there is something truly sinister aboard the ship. Standing in the middle of the ship’s main deck, stood a woman, or rather, a monster. It had pitch black skin, spiked hair, soulless white eyes, pointed teeth, and tentacles coming out of her upper body. She speaks, or rather yells at Erasmo and the crew in a deep, scratchy voice that sounds as if a hundred different voices are coming out of her mouth at once. “How dare you trespass in my home. The power I and this triangle have is a force to be reckoned with. Now you shall pay for your treachery.” Raising her arms, her magic brings the waves of the sea up until there is a wall twenty feet high of water surrounding the sides of the ship. Mixed in the water, there are black tentacles. “Die!”, yells the monster, as the tentacles begin picking up crew members and pulling them into the walls of water. Some would die from shock before hitting the water, and some would die after they hit the water, their screams piercing through the darkness. One by one, the crew members are picked off by the monster until finally only one remains, Erasmo. He stands still from terror as the monster walks towards him. The monster lifts up one of her tentacles and wraps it around Erasmo’s neck. She says, “Die, you little stupid worm”, as she snaps his neck, instantly killing him.   Copyright Maverick Moses 2017