Eyes sweeping the sea around him, Malcolm Portelli, clad in a pure white captain's uniform with his hat pressed down over thick black hair, walked leisurely over to the railing of his large yacht. Malcolm was in his mid-thirties, very stout, with the slightest stubble beneath his nose and on his chin. He had the naturally tan skin of anyone native to Sicily, but his was even darker from a lifetime of being exposed to extreme sunlight away from his homeland. Now, however, he was settled once again where he was born.
Malcolm squinted up at the slanted sun, the brilliant blue sky becoming golden-white after a moment of staring. Diverting his gaze to save his watering eyes, he found himself once again headed towards the only destination he had ever sailed to as captain of that yacht: Isola di Fiori Mortali.
It was quite a beautiful island from Malcolm's present vantage point, even more so on such a pristine day as that particular afternoon. The light blue Mediterranean waters lapped onto a pure white crescent of sand about as long as a football field. The bright green of the trees and vibrant vegetation covered the entirety of the bay and were dotted with hundreds of thousands of black-petaled flowers for which the island was named. On the border of the beach and the thick wall of plant life lied Linden Murray's private villa, a single-guest resort in paradise.
Such a perfect place, some might say, and many have said. But Malcolm knew more than most about Isola di Fiori Mortali and its rich owner.
Outside of the small bay, the island a rocky and desolate volcano, though inactive. The beautiful black flowers, the Eyes of Twilight, were actually a deadly poison to consume or smell. And no one save but those deadly, abundant Eyes was vigilant enough to know just how corrupt billionaire oil tycoon Linden Murray was.
Suddenly panting, Malcolm grasped the railing of the yacht harder. His vision began to blur. Two words had raised subconscious memories-- and fears-- to the surface of his mind.
"No..." his deep voice groaned in his native tongue. "Not now... please not now..."
A thousand thoughts passed between Malcolm's ears at once. Linden Murray. Oil tycoon. Oil rig. The Gulf. Oil Rig. Hurricane. Oil rig. HELP...
And for a moment, Malcolm was clinging to sharp metal, gray water thrashing and tearing itself apart below him, salty sea spray and torrential rain battering his eyes. He was climbing something, climbing desperately up some sort of ladder. Malcolm was climbing back up to an oil rig. His oil rig.
Looking down, he just caught a glimpse of something bobbing in the water before it went under-- something purple and red, bent at the middle and at the end with a bone sticking out. And that was the last time Malcolm saw his left leg.
Malcolm's mind suddenly snapped back to the present. He found himself trembling, crouching down on deck with one hand grasping the railing of the yacht. The other was squeezing the metal cylinder where his thigh should be.
Standing up shakily, Malcolm backed away from the railing, his palm leaving just the slightest condensation on the gleaming metal. His hands fell to his sides briefly, clapped and rubbed together, clasped themselves behind his back, and finally came to rest on his solid abdomen as he crossed his bronze arms. Inhaling deeply, he looked left and right; no one had seen him. He strode away as fast as possible and went back up to the bridge.
His crew members stood at casual attention as he entered the large windowed room.
"Captain Portelli," one said in Sicilian; the crew only spoke in English when the passengers were around. "We'll be docking shortly. Everything seems to be in good order, except..."
"Except what?" Malcolm replied in his native language, one thick, black eyebrow rising.
"Well, we've been having slight engine trouble for about 45 minutes now. It shouldn't be a problem sailing back to the mainland, much less finishing getting to Isola di Fiori Mortali. But it will need to be fixed before we come back for the passengers on Monday."
Malcolm turned briefly in thought, then demanded, "Is it even possible to get whatever is wrong fixed over the weekend?"
"Well captain, we don't even know for sure what the problem is. It could be fixed in an hour if it's just something minor. Worst-case scenario, we have to wait 'till next Friday and rent another yacht."
Malcolm paused, contemplating the situation. "Bring my sister here, will you?"
"Sure, right away."
In a few minutes, Francisca came up to the bridge, looking slightly agitated.
"What is it, Marco?" she asked in Sicilian, calling Malcolm by his birth name. She had long asked him why he changed his name to something so different when he moved to America. The truth was that his first American boss he remembered for being particularly benevolent to his employees was named Malcolm, and he liked the name enough to choose it later as his American name. Particularly because that boss had contrasted so much with his current one.
Malcolm looked at Francisca, turned his head for a moment, then suggested they go outside. Francisca tensed. She had expected what was coming. Unfortunately, so had her brother.
The two stiffly walked outside onto the top level of the yacht, where no one was around. Still, Malcolm talked rather softly when he said, "Funny, that you decided to come along today."
"What are you talking about, Marco? I come a lot of the time." she said rather quickly.
Malcolm moved forward and faced her directly.
"What did you do to the engine?"
Panicked guilt, not malevolence, shone in Francisca's eyes for a moment. Malcolm had determined her purpose even as she denied knowledge of her actions, and he was content to let her keep acting.
"What are you talking about? Is there something wrong with the engine?" Francisca asked.
Malcolm began to walk away. "Nevermind." Stopping momentarily, he turned again and managed a smile. "Don't forget to go to shore to get the money from Murray; he likes you better than me."
At ease in the belief that Malcolm didn't suspect her, Francisca chuckled, replying, "A little too much better for my taste. See you later, Marco."
Waving goodbye, Malcolm went back to the bridge and watched the island get closer and closer. "Antonio?" he said, calling his first mate.
"Once we arrive, don't let this yacht leave the dock until someone has checked out the engine. Understood?"
Reclining in his captain's chair, Malcolm put his hat over his eyes and savored the brief moment of calm. He could tell it would be chaos from there on out.