Ruben was sitting alone in his cabin, swaying in a hammock with Ralfs on his lap. During the past two weeks, Ruben had learned more than he would have ever dreamed of learning. He learned that buoyancy, (a fancy word for floating) was dependent on not only the weight of the object, but more importantly volume. He discovered that food was more readily eaten if it was served with a dash of the bitter liquid called rum. Ruben quickly learned the bitter liquid was actually highly valued, despite its horrid taste and that it sometimes made people talk in a sort of loose drawl. He also discovered that wind could be used as a sort of pushing agent against the big white squares, which was how they moved.
Along with the newly acquired knowledge of cabin mate habits, cures for the nausea of swaying, and the curious characteristics of oat slop, Ruben learned the meaning of the word treasure. Treasure meant money. Treasure meant shiny pieces of metal and gems that were somehow valuable. Treasure meant search and find. Treasure meant the purpose to most of the people on that ship's life. Ruben even learned what the word pirate meant. As far as Ruben was concerned, Pirate translated neatly into 'god in search of treasure'.
Ruben wrapped his ratty blanket around his shoulders. It was getting cold, and it was hard for Ruben to concentrate on the map in his lap when his teeth were chattering incessantly. From above his head, Ruben could hear the shouts of the pirates as they struggled on deck. The wooden boards creaked and Ruben's lamp tilted on its hinge with gravity as the boat swayed from side to side. Suddenly the noise stopped from above head and Ruben's lamp dimmed. He looked up, shivering from the eerie cold.
Suddenly the sound of boots came tromping down the stairs. Ol' Jack peered into the cabin with his typical snarl. "You're wanted up on deck," he growled.
Ruben had learned something else about the nature of pirates. They were always particular with the meaning of tone. Ruben had only just learned that the same phrase could mean three different things, depending on how they said it. This "you're wanted on deck" actually meant "get up on deck, NOW!". Ruben fell out of the hammock and bolted towards the now empty stairwell.
Instantly Ruben was filled with regret. Ruben wanted more than anything to run back below deck to grab his blanket, but it was too late for that now. Ruben's bare feet stung in the layer of fluffy ice that coated the ship. Ruben spun around. They were almost completely surrounded in ice.
Fion stole his attention. "Ruben!" she shouted from the wheel, her voice strong and commanding. "Get over here!"
Ruben immediately obeyed, curious of the cold stuff that melted below his feet with every step. "Yes, captain?" he asked.
"We are heading straight for a waterfall! Explain yourself!"
Ruben didn't know what she meant. Explain himself for what? They were heading toward a waterfall. Ruben stared at Fion with blank eyes. The sound of crashing water was suddenly noticeable.
"Damn it, Ruben! Brace yourselves men!" she shouted to the other men. Ruben watched blankly as they pulled on the mainsail's ropes. The noise of the waterfall was getting louder and louder, echoing off of the blue ice walls. Eventually a mist could be seen in the distance. "You might want to find something to hold onto," Fion said to Ruben through gritted teeth.
Ruben did as he was told, and just at the last minute. Taking hold of one of the quarter deck banisters, Ruben braced himself against the almost unbearable roaring of crashing water. Ruben quickly stuffed Ralfs in his shirt pocket and watched with horror as the bow of the vessel sailed off the water and into the air before plummeting to the raging darkness.
Ruben's stomach flew to his heart and his heart flew to his mouth. Ruben closed his eyes. Someone screamed. Below him, Ruben could hear large objects tumble and crash into other parts of the boat. Ruben waited for the end. He swallowed. The end didn't come.
Ruben decided to open his eyes. Everything was dark. The sound of men shouting and struggling could be heard below him. They were still falling. Everything about their situation told Ruben something was wrong. They should have landed by now. Ruben began to calculate the damage caused in correlation to the height of a fall. He also began to wonder how he could have heard such a loud crashing noise if the end of the falls was so far from the top. Sea mist sprayed all around Ruben.
Suddenly, Ruben could see something. A dot of white light was directly below them. Ruben looked up to where Fion was, clutching the steering wheel. "Hold steady!" she shouted. So the end was near...
The dot got bigger and bigger. Natural sunlight began to pour into their eyes. A man shouted at the light and said something about angels. Ruben felt for the little guinea pig in his chest pocket.
And suddenly they hit.