The day the girl fell from the sky, the weather was calm and clear, the wind barely ruffling the sails of the brig moored in the blue waters just off the coast of Neverland.
Seeing the sky occupied with an assorted collection of children was a fairly common occurrence, but this was very different. To begin with, the girl was a good deal older than the band of little miscreants which Peter Pan collected around him. Secondly, she materialised from thin air about ten feet above the deck of the ship, hovering there for a few seconds before plummeting down with a shriek.
The shriek, and the thud of her landing on the deck, immediately dragged the crew’s attention away from what they had been doing, prompting them to turn in her direction.
Seemingly oblivious to her surroundings, the girl lay there for about a minute; her eyes wide open, staring upwards. ‘Ouuuuuch,’ she breathed rubbing her back, ‘well, that was a bad one.’
They were all still frozen in place when there was another thud, this time from inside the captain’s cabin, followed by the sound of a male voice swearing loudly. The cabin door burst open with a resounding crash, and out stalked Captain James Hook: the pirate so terrible that even Barbeque feared him; the hook he had in place of a hand glinting evilly in the sunlight, a pistol brandished in the other.
‘Will someone kindly inform me what in the blazes is happening out here,’ he barked angrily. ‘Is the blasted boy back?’ He spat out the word boy with intense loathing.
It was at this moment, that the girl chose to spring to her feet.
‘Well,’ she commented wryly to no one in particular, dusting herself off, ‘that’s going to hurt in the morning.’
She ignored the colourful cast of characters arrayed before her, chief amongst them, the glowering pirate captain; and turned slowly around on one heel.
‘Looks late 18th century. Possibly the Carribbean. But…’ She used her hand to shield her eyes from the sun and stared out over the water towards the island, ‘the sea looks weird, sky looks weird and island… what a surprise, also weird. Warrants further closer inspection.’
Finally seeming to catch onto the fact that she was being observed by collection of heavily armed men, she flashed them all a dazzling smile and rummaged around in the bag slung over her shoulder.
She pulled out a note card and began to read, making corresponding hand gestures as she did so.
‘Greetings, one and all. I come in peace.
For your own safety and mine, pleased do not: try to burn me as a witch, sacrifice me to the ancient gods to prevent a coming apocalypse or eat me – I promise I taste awful.
If you have any myths/legends/tales, of a god/celestial being/chosen one, then no, I am not she, so please do not try to offer me your kingdom/first born child/worldly possessions/favourite cow.
I have come here on official business and will be on my way once it is completed.
Thank you for your attention.’
She shoved the card back into her bag and stood there looking at them expectantly, arms crossed in front of her.
‘Well,’ she said, ‘can the rest of you talk or is this some kind of colony for the speech impaired. In which case, I know ten different forms of sign language.’
The captain, who had been staring at her until now, with an expression which was half confusion, half irritation, strode forward until he was standing right in front of her.
‘Who are you? he growled, ‘did Pan send you?’
The girl was not exceptionally tall, so Hook towered over her. The girl had to crane her neck to look at him properly, but otherwise she did not appear to be in the least bit intimidated. ‘The name,’ she said, ‘Is Cassandra Eloise Haversham. I’m a time traveller. Time agent, actually, if you want to get into the specifics.’ She held her hands out in a rather placating manner, look, I know this is probably a new and strange experience and you might be feeling a bit intimidated and out of your depth but…’
He cut her off, ‘do not try to toy with me – girl. I will give you one last chance to tell me who you really are, and why Pan sent you, before I cut out your heart and feed it to the sharks.’
She waved her hands at him, ignoring the first part of his sentence, ‘wait. What? Did you say, Pan? As in Peter Pan. As in the magical flying boy who never wants to grow up and all that jazz.’
The captain gave her an exasperated look, ‘yes. As you very well know, considering he sent you here as some kind of spy or saboteur.’
‘But,’ Cassandra said, in the voice of one attempting to work out an extremely complicated mathematical equation, ‘Peter Pan is a story. A fairy tale for children. I’m afraid it isn’t real. ’
She smiled suddenly, like something was finally dawning on her, ‘ohhhh, I get it. You lot must be doing some kind of really elaborate cosplay. I must say, the costumes are almost spot on. But..’ gesturing at Hook, ‘yours is probably a tiny bit over the top for actual historical accuracy. I mean, it’s a bit too Pirates of the Caribbean don’t you think.’
He gave her an extremely angry look, ‘you are sorely trying my patience wench. Tell me where the boy is and who you are. Now!’
Cassandra planted her hands firmly on her hips and gave him a rather chilling look.
‘Alright, that’s it. I’ve tried to be polite, as specified under clause 3.27 of my employment contract. So you can jolly well take a step back, mister, and stop yelling at me. Firstly, you can stop being so damned rude. Secondly, I haven’t the foggiest where the ‘boy’ is. Thirdly, are you actually deaf, or are you just stupid because I distinctly recall telling you, quite clearly I might add, who I am only about sixty seconds ago. Fourthly, Do Not, ever call me wench again if you want to get out of this with all your fingers attached!’
The crew stared at her, with almost terrified expressions in their eyes, waiting for the notoriously short-tempered captain to strike her down. But, instead he just chuckled, and sweeping off his hat with an elaborate flourish, gave her a low almost exaggeratedly polite bow.
‘Madam, I see I have been remiss in not according you the proper courtesies. I am James Hook, Captain of the Jolly Roger, currently making port off the coast of Neverland.’
As he said this, he looked her up and down with a practiced eye,
She was rather a fetching little thing if you got past all the sparks and hostility. She was medium height, with a head of red curls and a reasonably pretty face, made prettier by the fact that she was the first woman he had set eyes on in quite some time. She was dressed strangely, in a brown jacket with lots of buckles and a brown skirt which was shockingly short, ending just below the knee, and showing off quite a lot of leg. On her feet were a pair of tall, sturdy looking black leather boots, which buckled up past the hem of her skirt. She also had a rather heavy looking brown bag slung over one shoulder and a curious device attached to her left wrist.’
‘I am sure you must have had a long journey,’ he continued, ‘would you care to join me in my cabin for some refreshment.’
She gave him a rather sardonic smile, ‘said the spider to the fly.’
‘I beg your pardon?’
‘Never mind. Sure, why not. As long as you can provide a bucket of tea for me to drown myself in.’
He held the door open for her with a bow, she raised one eyebrow, but stepped inside anyway.
Once she was safely inside, he turned and barked out, ‘Smee, fetch some refreshments for our guest.’
A small man with white hair and spectacles hurried away muttering something along the lines of ‘aye aye, captain. Right away.’
The Captain smiled, and it was not a nice one: cunning and predatory, before letting his face slip back into one of polite cordiality as he entered the cabin.