And here we are again, today there are ‘marshmallows’ – although don’t ask what they really are as the Undertaker gave me the bag to share….
Today the Infernal Interview Service is pleased to welcome Andrew Weston and his character Captain Charles Vane.
*That is NOT a marshmallow…. passes bag sideways quickly*
Who are/were you? Tell us about your life before you came here, and after.
My name is Captain Charles—Allweather—Vane. Born in 1680, I was a pirate operating out of the notorious base at New Providence in the Bahamas known as the “Pirates’ republic”, after the British abandoned the colony during the War of the Spanish Succession. Originally from England, I preyed mostly on English and French shipping, and was most active between the years 1716 – 1719.
My ship – the Ranger – was one of the fastest brigantines in the water, and I was feared throughout that region as a cutthroat, and torturer – even amongst fellow pirates. (What can I say, I had my bad name to think of).
Sadly, the Ranger was wrecked in a storm in February 1719, and I was washed up on an uninhabited island in the Bay of Honduras – a lovely spot for its scenic beauty, sunbathing, and lack of beach vendors.
Eventually, a ship arrived but, unfortunately for me, it was commanded by an old acquaintance and former buccaneer Captain Holford who had turned tail, accepted a pardon, and who now refused to honor the pirates code. Holford actually refused to rescue me from the island, stating:
“Charles, I shan’t trust you aboard my ship, unless I carry you a prisoner; for I shall have you plotting with my men, knock me on the head and run away with my ship a pirating”
Although his statement was spot on, it still stung a bit, and the cheeky swine threatened that he would be back on the island within a month, and if he found me still there, take me back to Jamaica to be hung.
Lucky for me, another ship soon arrived and none of the crew recognized me, so I was allowed on board. Unluckily, that turncoat Holford met with this same ship at sea. The captain of my rescue ship was a friend of Holford’s, and he invited Holford to dine with him. While there, Holford saw me working aboard and informed the captain who I really was. The captain immediately relinquished me to Holford, who locked me in his hold and turned me over to the authorities in Jamaica.
My reputation had earned the disdain of pirates, royal mariners, and the public at large, and they all wanted me to rot in gaol before being executed. At my trial, numerous witnesses testified against me; so I saw little point in trying to argue.
When it was my turn to present my defence, I called no witnesses and asked no questions. I was found guilty on March 22, 1721 and sentenced to death. On March 29, 1721, I was hanged at Gallows Point in Port Royal, and died without expressing remorse for my crimes. After death, my body was hung from a gibbet on Gun Cay, at the mouth of harbor at Port Royal, as a warning against piracy. Bloody cheek…but at least I got a suntan.
Why do YOU think you’re in Hell?
I really haven’t a clue as I was such a lovely chap. I’d take my enemies for long walks off a short pier. I treated my acquaintances like the treasures they were…(usually buried under six feet of earth – map not included), and I used to feed their parrots on highly concentrated laxatives.
Who are your friends/allies here?
Apart from my hand-picked crew, I don’t keep close to many. The unlifestyle doesn’t lend to it. I do however, have a few well-connected associates. The best of these is none other than Satan’s Reaper, Daemon Grim. After I volunteered my services during the Doctor Thomas Cream fiasco, he kept me and the Lone Ranger II on a retainer, and has put some good business my way.
Besides the Reaper, the only other acquaintance I bother with is Roger Crossbones – aka, Jolly Roger – one of the craziest mariners undead, and an intelligence representative of The Commodore (Leader of the Pirate Lords)
Pirates – is that a word you resent?
Ha! Here in Hell, it’s a badge of dishonour. You have to be particularly despicable to be part of our ranks.
Hell covers all eras and technologies, there are many hells within Hell. How have you adjusted to this strange world?
By staying up with the times. Most of my compatriots use old style vessels. I mean, what’s the point of that. I received my first commission from the Reaper because I made use of what was available. The Lone Ranger II isn’t a galleon, a brigantine, or any form of sailed vessel come to that. She’s a hermetically sealed, pressurized, Hell-Cat 6000 super cruiser, powered by three Cerberus aqua-jet diesels, giving her a round range of nine hundred and thirty nautical miles, and an average cruising speed of fifty-two knots. Without her, the journey we undertake in the adventure you’ll read in “Pieces of Hate” took hours instead of the usual three weeks.
I don’t even look like a traditional pirate anymore, as I prefer to wear Trident storm fleece coveralls, thermal sailing boots, and my ever present bulletproof and backstabbing resistant lifejacket.
How do you define ‘piracy’?
What life in hell is all about in a nautical setting.
Describe your home/environment in Hell.
I live aboard the Lone Ranger II. It saves on redecorating and having to cut the lawn. My cabin has all the latest mod cons, and whenever I feel like a change of scenery, off we go. Fun point: the ship herself has a specially designed brig we can open to the waves whenever we feel in need of a bit of a spring clean.
What is the WORST thing about being here?
The rum. It tastes like urine distilled through sweaty socks…on a good day. And the grog? I’ve sampled vomit that possesses more body and refinement. I’m sooo pleased to have met the Reaper, as he pays for my services in goods. I get a case of Diabhalvulin 18 every time we complete an assignment.
Erra and his Seven – what’s going on there then?
I stay well away from them. And I’m glad to have had the Reaper with me on the one occasion I have bumped into them. VERY glad. You’ll find out why when you read the story.
What are your best tips for surviving in Hell?
Don’t drink the water. Don’t carry an organ donor card (The Undertaker isn’t exactly choosy about you not needing them). Avoid hellfish and other sea foods. Stay indoors between dusk and dusk. And never, ever, take a taxi. They literally do cost an arm and a leg.
What do you miss most about your old….life?
Women, rum, and clean jackets…In that order. Oh, and watching people die. It really is a pain seeing people you’ve gone to all the trouble of murdering getting reassigned.
Name and bio.
My name is Andrew P. Weston. I’m a time-travelling author from the future, hiding a dark and mysterious past, who currently finds himself kicking his heels in the present.
I live on a small island in a medium sized house with a large amount of cats.
Tell us about your story for this edition.
For Pirates in Hell, my story is entitled: Pieces of Hate
It follows on from Hell Bound in that Grim is dispatched by HSM to recover something of high value. What that is, you’ll find out, but needless to say Grim has to forge dense, man-eating jungles, icy mountains, death-dealing mazes. And he has a little run-in with the Sibitti too.
What inspired you to use the character(s) you’ve chosen?
As I mentioned, they’re characters I already use within Daemon Grim’s related adventures as Satan’s Reaper. Janet and I thought it would be a novel idea to incorporate each mission he undertakes – get it? – into the shared universe by overlapping them with the anthologies. So far, it’s working like a bad luck charm.
Writing for a shared world is challenging, how do you meet that challenge?
There are no short cuts; you have to do your homework. You need to find out what you can and cannot do in a broad sense, (what are the rules by which the universe operates? What are its limits? How far can you stretch the boundaries, and under what circumstances?)
Having done so, I feel it’s important to make an effort to regularly engage with “other” characters. For example, Grim is building quite a rapport with individuals that “belong” to other contributors – The Undertaker and The Sibitti in particular – so it’s essential to know the Modus Operandi of those other damned souls and how they act and react under given situations. Once you’ve done all that, you then have to wear two hats, as it were, and incorporate their style into the thread of your own work. A challenge, but well worth the effort when you see them combining into a greater whole.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just started the third of the Daemon Grim’s novels, Hell Gate. It will conclude his first set of adventures, and reveal a little bit more about his origins.
If you could pick any quote about Hell which would be your favourite?
The underworld is now your stage, and I am your curtain call: Daemon Grim
Which 10 books would you save to keep you sane after the apocalypse? (Only 10 allowed).
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: Lewis Caroll – Wonderfully eccentric characters depicting satire, allegory and parody as seen through the expert eyes of a child.
- Nineteen Eighty-Four: George Orwell – a dark and gritty tale on morality gone wrong and what lies beneath the surface of society.
- The Complete Tales & Poems of Edgar Allan Poe: Edgar Allan Poe – a fantastic collection of mystery and the macabre from the pioneer of the short story.
- Frankenstein: Mary Shelly – One of the most celebrated horror stories of all time. Imitated, but never rivalled in its depiction of true horror and suspense.
- The Lord of the Rings: J. R. R. Tolkien – what’s to say? A true classic originally written as the first volume of a two-piece epic (The Silmarillion) Truly awesome.
- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde: Robert Louis Stevenson – An epic tale exploring the struggle between the good and evil that resides inside us all.
- To Kill a Mockingbird: Harper Lee – A superb insight into dilemmas that still afflict society today. Prejudice, class, equality, courage & compassion. A masterpiece.
- The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever: Stephen Donaldson – A truly astounding fantasy penned by one of the greatest wordsmiths of our time.
- The Da Vinci Code: Dan Brown – An excellent escapade. Part mystery & suspense – part thriller & conspiracy exploring alternate religious history. Thought provoking.
- Dune: Frank Herbert – A landmark SF novel and first true space opera, years ahead of its time. The spice must flow…
What do you think are the top three inventions/discoveries in human history and why?
Earl Grey tea…for the taste. Flatulent free underwear…for the smell. The Spouting Pyramids of Geyser…for the sheer spectacle.
EXCERPT from your story.
Sure enough, I stumbled out of the gloom, and was greeted by the repulsive embrace of Paradise. Its vapid rays punctured the thick swathe of clouds above us in multiple places, making it appear as if heaven was casting searchlights down through the veil in an attempt to expose our dark deeds. The temperature dropped considerably, and I noticed we were now on a narrow, frost-encrusted ledge that terminated after a few yards in a sheer drop into an abyss.
I turned a slow three-sixty.
Behind us, the jungle stretched away. Extending off into the distance on either side of us, its fringe followed the curve of a vast, doughnut-shaped plateau that looked as if it might encompass the massive, snow capped cluster of mountains in the middle.
I allowed my far-sight to skim the precipice for a few miles in each direction.
Yup! A perfect circle, exactly as Chopin described it in his note. I must admit, I’m impressed. He’s been unusually candid. Not that it’ll do him any good when I catch up to him.
Far, far, below us, a river of molten metal filled the bottom of the chasm in lurid yellow light. It churned and boiled as it flowed by, and spat vast gouts of magma high into the air. A welcoming stench of brimstone wafted up from the depths.
The relief of a huge, shrouded, profile had been carved into the cliff face opposite us. Something about the way it had been rendered struck a nerve.
I recognize that image from somewhere…
A fragile splinter of ice jutted out from our position to span the intervening gap. Of course, it was inevitable that our path would lead across it. Dripping profusely from the thermodynamic savagery raging below, the bridge stank of sorcery and disappeared into the cavern represented by the wide open jaws of the edifice. I eyed the crossing dubiously, and I was grateful it was out of reach of the eruptions, for it didn’t look sturdy enough to withstand a wet fart, let alone the weight of our entire party all at once.
The breaths of my companions fogged the air, and steam rose in swirls from half a dozen heads as their sweat rapidly cooled. Mumbles of discontent began to percolate from the crew. As usual, Low was complaining loudest of all.
“What in Satan’s…?” He looked around himself in horror. “Where in the blazes are ye’ taking us, Reaper? This place would freeze the balls off a brass monkey. I thought ye’ were chock full o’ tricks that would help us get past stuff like this? Why aren’t ye’ helping?”
“Oh, I am, believe me. As you’ve just witnessed, there are strong enchantments about us, just waiting to go off. You didn’t know they were there, because you’re mundane. But I did. I can smell the theurgy lingering in the air. Taste it in the essence of the rock forming the massif in front of us. You think things have been bad because you’ve had to make a bit of effort? I suspect that the moment I use my abilities, all heaven will break loose. So, if we’re going to fight off badness knows what, I’d rather do so knowing I wasn’t merely exchanging the frying pan for the fire, and that I’d gotten my hands on our prize first.”
“And just what is this prize?” he countered, hands on hips once more. “What’s so precious about it, anyway?”
“I’ve told you before. I’m not at liberty to discuss details. But rest assured, it is something His Infernal Majesty has craved for a while now. And all those involved in helping him realize its possession will be suitably rewarded. You especially, for he understands we would not have been able to navigate the Flux without the Compass.”
“Reward be damned! Can I rub it between my fingers? Count it? Feel the weight o’ it within my purse? Pay my crew?”
“As I’ve already promised,” I stalked forward, and nodded toward the main peak, “Help to acquire this one thing Satan desires, and all your worries will become a thing of the past. Your entire crew won’t ever need to work again. And remember the bonus. Anything else we find inside is yours.”
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