Captain’s Log, 12 April 1880
The winds are with us, pulling us to London. My bosun and I calculated that we’ll be arriving in two days-
My apologies for keeping the log open for so long. The most peculiar thing just happened. I write this by the candlelight, burning away the sleep I need, to tell you this.
One of the sailors started a commotion in the barracks. Bn. Richard informed me that it was a misunderstanding about stealing rations from underneath his hammock- some cakes he received from a girl in America. After determining that the man wasn’t robbed by his fellow men, we began searching the premises for the culprit- perhaps a stowaway.
To our dismay, we found nothing for the first half hour -I calculate that’s how long it had been- when suddenly we heard one of the sailors call for us. As we arrived, we saw crumbs by the banister and a pair of small footprints pressed firmly into the ground. ‘Those are children’s feet,’ Bn. Richard had said. Yet there were no other footprints that we could see in the murky black night fog. All we saw was a glittering powder and a feeling that a child was still watching us. Perhaps the child flew...
Daytime on the London Docks arrived in time to gather in the rest of the fog. The bustle of sound, of grown-ups with their things and children with precious toys, slowly overtook the silence the fog always brings. Horses pulled carriages filled with boxes and barrels while the grown-ups never stayed in one place.
Peter Pan snuck passed the ruckus and climbed to the roof of one of the adjacent buildings, perplexed at the world below. He never missed London, despite being born there. He only remembered the fairies and where Neverland opened. Still, he found entrances elsewhere, when he needed people to play with. What’s a kingdom without anyone living there?
He ran on the rooftops, moving his legs so fast it looked like he flew. Flocks of pigeons scattered as he sped past them. The roof played a happy song as he tapped the shingles.
Nobody looked up, except one. She only saw the pigeons scatter, the roof shingles plinking underneath, the little light following close behind.
She felt particularly curious about what she just saw, yet as she crossed Princess Square, she saw a lanky, little boy, with auburn hair and a torn shirt, sit atop the trees. He promptly disappeared when her brown eyes met his hazel. She followed him as he darted into a nearby alleyway, stopping only at the realization that he was gone. He had flown, she was sure of it, but now he was gone.
As she turned around to leave, a sprinkle of doubt now covering her mind, he turned around to see if she’d look back.
Commotion at Midnight
Night descended on London. Smoke and fog cleared the skyline as rain clouds moved towards Ireland and the Americas. Stars dotted the sky like jewels on black velvet, the moon a majestic circle on the horizon. Noises from the day dissipated into echoes on the streets.
In the distance, a child ran. His bare feet pattered on the cobblestones as a commotion raced behind him. In tow, gruff men in scrappy police uniforms gasped and wheezed after him, their slow bodies stopping them from catching up. Their swords glistened in the moonlight as the child stopped running. He had met another dead end. The child has not shed one tear, nor frowned one bit. Instead, he turned around with glee.
“Before we start fighting,” he joked. “Can I learn of your names first, pirates?”
The policemen stopped in confusion, their worn shoes sliding on the street. They look at each other as if willing the others to speak.
“Well, won’t somebody answer the question?" The leader spoke with reluctance, his dirty hand reaching for his club .
"But the Captain said we can’t come back to the ship without him or he’ll kill us." The smaller pirate tugged at the leader's overcoat, his hand scratching the talcum powder out of his beard.
"Yeh, he said we must not talk with the boy, It wovn’t be good form." A taller, lanky pirate stood behind them, his right leg constantly shaking.
"To cats wit' good form! Let’s tell him wha' our names are, T'EN we KILL him and take over t'e ship once we chuck t'e ugly, red-coated self-ri'teous brute."
"A mutiny?! That’s awfully bad form."
The leader turned around, his arched back facing Peter.
"Do you even know what bad form is?!"
The other pirate trembled in his huge overcoat. "Err, well, no."
The child stared with smug eyes at the whole conversation, his legs crossed as he leaned against a wall.
So how can you tell me about bad form without even knowing an iota of what it is?!
"I-I don’t know sir, maybe we should ask Smee."
"Yes! Let us go right to Smee and figure out what good form is!"
"NOW?! But what about the boy, let us gather him in first, stuff him into a sack, THEN we can talk about good form!"
"Okay, fine. While we’re here, why don’t you say you’re name first, little boy?"
The child sat up and brushed his hair with his hands.
"I’m Peter. And you?"
"No! I’m done with taking orders! Now let’s follow Captain Hook’s orders and take him in!"
Peter shook his shoulders and stood in the middle of the street, his fists clenched at his waist.
“Alright, then. Who’s first?"
The leader reached him and lunged at his skinny frame. The boy unsheathed his dagger at him in time.
Peter ducked down underneath his jump arc and slashed at the man’s arm, landing on his right forearm and slicing hard. The blade whizzed so fast he heard it whistle before striking true. The man tumbled awkwardly behind him, gripping his bloody arm.
The lanky man unsheathed his own sword and reached the boy. Meanwhile, the boy's dagger had grown into a sword to face this new threat.
Their blades met in a thunderous collision, reflecting the streetlights like lightning.
As their swords clashed, ripples of light flew across the alleyway. The pirate couldn't catch up with the aggressive thrusts of Peter's sword. The other pirates stared in abject terror as their friend got dispatched over and over again, the child surrounding him like prey.
"Well, you are a mighty swordsman, Peter. Let me catch my breath, little boy. I would like to have another go at you."
"Alright," Peter rolled the word inside his mouth before spitting it out on the ground. His dagger, glistening with sweat and caked on blood, loyally waited for the next strike. As the pirate got back up and retrieved his own scimitar, he knew his days were numbered, but he couldn't leave a battle. It would be bad form.
Peter would never understand what it meant to have good form, but as he cut down the pirate with a final slash, he only knew what bad form looked like.
"That pirate was a gentleman to the end," said the shorter pirate, his hat, clutched in his right hand, placed over his breast. "By the laws of good form, we shall avenge him. We will not be as merciful, little boy. Have at thee."
Peter took aback by that line. "Have at thee... I like the sound of that."
And so the three other pirates realized too late that the good form would have been to leave the little boy alone and go on their merry way down the row of pubs. Peter dispatched them all with fluid motions, flipping across the alleyway and off of walls to strike them each down. Yet as one of them barely escaped to his captain, Peter felt something behind him tug and break free as if cut like hair at a barber's shop.
Even while having such fun, he knew exactly what he lost. Before he could catch up with the pirate, he needed to catch his shadow again.
Yet the light only reached so far into the alleyway. Shadows danced against the walls as he rushed his hands through them, ignoring the dead pirates strewn across the floor for the street cleaner.
As if nothing happened, Peter slumped against the wall, forcing himself not to cry. He wiped his tears with blood caked hands, parting away his long dirty hair. His legs, covered only by dirty shorts, stretched out underneath as he pulled back the sleeves of a messy, button-down, or rather unbuttoned, shirt.
He had only arrived in London a few days ago. As he lamented his loss of flight, he forced down his memories of climbing the Mountains of Peru, jumping from massive cliffs in Greece, racing across a desert of sand, and finding Lost Children in Central Park.
Peter found himself wandering the streets on foot in a helpless trance. Yes, he mustn't cry, but that doesn't mean he couldn't be sad about it.
He aimlessly wandered down Pentonville Road, near King's Cross.
He should have known that grown-ups like to congregate near train stations, then he would have known that with Grown-ups comes bobbers. The policeman noticed him almost immediately. By the time they reached where he had stood, Peter had disappeared.