By Sidney Williams
“Admiral of the Narrow Seas” is a serial published in four parts. The rest of the story can be found here.
He was not Caesar when she knew him in Africa.
“That is the white man’s name,” she said. “He was a chieftan in our land. He had all that he desired but me. He was smitten and asked me to be his bride, but I refused because I loved Samuel. It was then he conspired to have Samuel in chains. When I still refused to marry him, he ordered the ritual that took Samuel’s soul and put it in a clay jar. I swore then I would never be his, so he sent me to this land as well.”
It is true, Jonathan. All of this began in their homeland as a triangle of three lovers. We reached out and brought it to our door, a byproduct of deeds I’ve come to see are as dark as any magic.
You have heard they dubbed me a gentleman pirate, and it is so. We had to take a few ships to appease our crew, who expected rewards beyond their wages even as we sought a hidden payday. Our assaults were conducted with efficiency, and I ordered that we accomplish tasks with as little bloodshed as possible.
Of course, more bewitched crews attacked us also. More men with dead eyes fired upon us. There were simple cargo ships and pirate vessels as well. Those bewitched ships we continued to burn once we bested them, so our legend spread.
Reynolds, still angered by the loss of his kinsman, rumbled most about my authority and inexperience, but we managed to keep our efforts stable several weeks, always seeking word of Teach’s whereabouts even as Jorgen and Abelard listened carefully in taverns and whore houses for tales of Île Magique. The men were angered when that course was charted. We were becoming successful in the Atlantic waters, gaining booty even when we fought off attacks. A new destination at such a time seemed foolish, but they agreed when the order came from Jorgen with promises of more riches, and we made our way.
Until we found the man-o’-war in our path. We had never faced so many guns. Like empty black eyes, they peered from the ship’s decks at us.
“Put a ball through their hull before they get close,” Jorgen said as I stared through the telescope at the billowing array of sails before us. “If they can get along side the barrage will tear us to pieces.”
“Do it,” I ordered.
Firing first could do no harm, for he was right. We cut to port and positioned our foremost cannon for the blast. It bit at the man-o’-war’s bow. Little damage was inflicted, but it meant they fired earlier than they might have. With few tactical options, I hold still it was the best move we could have made.
The black eyes flamed orange a few seconds later as our turn continued. The horrifying sound followed the flashes. Roars as of an army of lions addressed us. Seconds later part of the railing on our port side splintered, sending needles of wood through four men. They were ripped apart as if by swordsmen with swift arms, and we heard another ball rip into the hull somewhere near our stores below deck.
It was a second piece of railing near the bow that tore free and slammed into my side, sending me to the deck where my head struck the planks and sent me into unconsciousness.
The next memory of I have is of the calling: “Isle ahoy.”
Apparently I’d spent days drifting in and out of a dream, at times assuming a belief that I was back home with Annie, my wife, who terrified me as she turned into a horrifying thing. Other times I was in school again or many places other than aboard my pirate ship.
I regained more consciousness as Abelard peered into his spyglass, reporting the view of the Île Magique. Jorgen informed me the shoot first ploy and a bit of luck had taken us clear of the man-o’-war.
Now we looked upon a spot of land like any other. Jorgen and Abelard steadied me between them on the deck so I could stare at it: verdant and narrow with a few peaks. A grim sense of foreboding gripped me as I took my turn with the telescope.
Our approach came near sundown, but waiting for another sunrise seemed ill advised, according to Lesedi. After so many struggles, every hour delayed was a threat to Samuel’s heart and soul.
“We go ashore now,” I decided, “traverse what magic we must and take back treasure enough to pique Teach’s interest.”
Jorgen and Abelard had made a few plans while I suffered and sipped rum to numb the pain. We lowered five longboats just as the sun painted the horizon a glowing red gold.
At twilight, we had boots on the sand, a crudely carved crutch at my side to assist me as we traversed dunes like piles of snow that wanted to suck our feet down.
The jungle edge had dipped into shadow as we moved a small party forward, Abelard, Jorgen, Lesedi, Reynolds and grumbling crewmen from two of the other boats who advanced with cutlasses and lanterns raised. I hobbled in the wake.
“Lights bounce around in thar,” Reynolds observed, voice quavering.
He was not mistaken. Through the drooping branches, tangles of Spanish moss and gaps in the underbrush, fiery white-blue orbs glowed and danced and then bounced from the ground to places higher in the trees.
“What be that?” Reynold’s eyes were as big as the orbs.
“The rumors hold that the treasure’s owner collected all manner of magic and deposited it here,” Jorgen said. “Anything he might have found to keep his spoils secure.”
“A thought, Lesedi? On what we look upon?”
“Jumbee,” she said, under her breath, “of some sort.”
The balls of light hovered only a second longer and then, with speed like I’d never seen, a speed you would not have thought possible, they shot off in different directions, blinding, blazing streaks.
“We move forward with care,” Lesedi said. “They are not gone far.”
“What if they went lookin’ fer help?” Reynolds asked.
“Then we will need more care,” she said.
Cutlasses were raised higher, and we moved across the white sand and into the trees, keeping our group tight. Our footfalls were placed with caution. Eyes scanned the tangles and shadows around us, and my heartbeat, at least, quickened, quivering like a leaf in the wind.
Until it froze for a second when we were 200 feet into the jungle, and the lights reappeared. They streaked from nowhere to hover on opposite sides of our band a few feet about our heads.
After only seconds of hesitation, they transformed, shimmering as spheres a then shimmering into new shapes as the light disappeared. For a split second, we looked upon a pair of hags, but a blink of the eye would have missed that fact, for in the next instant, the things that crouched on the branches became almost unimaginable.
The heads stretched out long and odd, limbs looked almost human, but they were like no beings you’ve ever set eyes on, Jonathan—fierce, yellow-eyed things with elongated jaws dripping foul strings of saliva. Their limbs were longer than any human’s with clawed appendages, and in the glow from the moon and stars I could see muscles and vein. No skin covered their horrible forms.
That old malcontent Reynolds bore the early brunt of their wrath. Even as he slashed with a cutlass, one of the things bounced toward him, one of those long arms stretching for his neck.
His throat turned to ribbons, blood gushing from the stripes those claws drew. As he fell, both creatures slashed toward him at incredible speed, and crouching over him, their horrible mouths took turns pressing to his wounds.
“Back to back.”
I’d found a voice in spite of my confusion and terror, and something of my militia training returned. We converged, weapons and lanterns raised against the next onslaught, though my awkward crutch kept me from moving as smoothly with the unit as I might have.
“They’ll pick their moment when they’re finished,” Jorgen said. “Then slaughter all of us.”
Indeed, with blood still dripping, one rushed in, trying for another mutilation, but Abelard’s fast, sweeping movements with his blade kept the creature from doing damage.
“Can we expect help?”
“Not at this point? Not in time,” Jorgen said.
“They will fixate on things,” Lesedi said.
“What the hell are they?” Jorgen asked.
“Soucouyant,” Lesedi said. It sounded like she said soo-koo-jay, spoken low, almost under her breath.
“Fixate in what way?” I asked.
“They will try to count things.”
Lesedi dropped to a knee and stretched her hand forward, snatching Reynolds’ lost tricorn hat. She placed it on her head.
“They’ll try to count us. If we keep moving. That will confuse them.” She switched places with Abelard, so that her back was directly opposite Jorgen’s since he wore a similar tricorn.
“Keep moving the circle,” she said.
Though I struggled with my crutch, I worked to obey, and we became a carousel, almost a dancing phalanx. The creatures seemed mesmerized. They crouched a short distance away, those slitted yellow eyes watching our movement and the flicker of our torches.
“We can’t keep this up forever,” Jorgen said. “This fool’s errand has dragged us into a death dance. This woman should be…”
“We are not in your domain any longer,” Lesedi said. “You need me to save your worthless neck.”
“Then save it,” he said. “Ere we all go the way of poor Reynolds.”
“We need something else for them, something to occupy them.”
“We could leave them you while we flee,” Jorgen said.
“If you think these things are the worst this island has to offer, you’re more a fool than you think.”
“What can they be given, mademoiselle?” Abelard asked.
“They will count impossible things. Piles of rice…”
“The rice is back in the ship’s store,” Jorgen said. “Maybe we could inch our circle in that direction.”
“Enough bickering,” I said. “What else?”
“We stand a slightly better chance of inching to the beach,” Jorgen said. “Unless we dig past the plant rot and carpet at our feet.”
I wriggled my toes as our dance persisted. “I have a boot full of sand already. Do we all?”
“I have brought the beach with me,” Abelard said.
“Take turns. Step into our circle’s center and empty your boots into a pile,” Lesedi said. “If we keep the circle formed and moving they’ll continue to be confused.”
So we took turns. My move was the most awkward, but leaning on my crutch, I managed to pull first one boot free then the other, upending it into the growing pile of powder.
“It’s done,” I said, as the group parted and I slipped back into place, teetering a bit but regaining balance and step.
“In a moment we will stop moving and scatter,” Lesedi said. “Pray your prayers that they will see the sand before they rip one of us to shreds.”
We danced just a moment longer. Then Lesedi gave the order: “Freeze.”
Our circle stopped, and, a heartbeat later, the mesmerized motion of the heads desisted. Yellow eyes flared. Then the things launched themselves charging amain as we had seen before, but it was as if time slowed in my mind.
“Drop,” Lesedi shouted.
There was barely enough time as they bounded toward us, and I fumbled with my crutch, teetering again. My lungs clenched the air they held, and my muscles imitated them, refusing to act. I looked into the eye slits and at the dark creatures with rambling limbs and jaws that gaped to reveal wet fangs like bodkin points.
Hands clutched me from below. My brain ordered resistance, but they were too sudden, and I was dragged down. The wind of the things whistled over me, and I felt that clenched air rush from my throat as I hit the ground, pain jutting through my bruised torso as my vision blurred. In the next instant Abelard and Jorgen were pulling me to my feet. I staggered, feeling myself for gashes but found my flesh unharmed.
As someone dusted grime from the ground off me, I turned toward the sand.
It was as Lesedi had promised. The things crouched around it like a pair of birds, entranced, wicked clawed fingers extended, nails flicking grains about as low grunts issued from their throats.
“But it will do,” Jorgen said.
“They’ll stay ‘til dawn,” Lesedi said. “We must move on.”
A crude path, overgrown with vines, yet still apparent wound deeper into the jungle.
“Do you think that’s worst of it?” I asked.
“That,” Lesedi said, “is just the first line of defense.”
Indeed, Jonathan, the next beings imported to defend the treasure on Isle Magique were even more of a challenge and would cost us greatly.
Hacking the vines and brush that blocked the almost forgotten trail, we moved deeper into the jungle and toward the heart of the island, as dark a place, we’d been told, as any could hope to venture. We’d moved another two hundred feet when the gleam of a blade somewhere in the trees to our right caught an errant moonbeam. Jorgen spied it and brought us to a halt with his hushed whisper.
“What’s there, monsieur?” Abelard asked.
“Someone or some thing.”
“More than one,” Lesedi said, pointing off to our left. A silhouette holding another gleaming blade lurked there.
“Can you tell what it is?” I asked.
“Something I’ve never seen,” Lesedi said.
She took a torch from Jorgen and brandished it in the figure’s direction. The countenance was perhaps more terrifying than the yellow eyes of the things we’d just encountered. Only slightly human looking, it had a gaping jaw with rows of uneven teeth, pointed ears, a bulbous nose, but worse than that was this being’s hat. Even in the torch’s orange glow, the headpiece was clearly crimson, stained a moist, blackred crimson. Drops that looked like black oil even seeped down onto the thing’s forehead, just around the dark orbs of its eyes. It leaned forward from shadow just enough for me to see it held a boarspear that, like the hat, was stained with blood.
“This is outside of the magic I know,” Lesedi said. “They are not voudo.”
“I know what they are,” Jorgen said. “Redcaps. Vicious little warriors.”
I realized I knew too. I’d heard tale of them from an old Scotsman who’d live on the plantation when I was a boy.
“They’re said to worm their way into castles and crouch at the edge of battlefields,” I said.
“They probably infested some ship’s hold until they were found and thrown here to add to the horrors of this place,” Jorgen said.
“Why are their hats blood soaked?” Abelard asked.
Jorgen answered that: “The blood feeds them, and their crowns are looking a little dry. They’ll be wanting to moisten those tams with fresh-spilled claret from our veins.”
“Can we beat them in a fight?” I asked.
“Two of ‘em perhaps, but they may number more.”
“Do we have a choice but to engage their iron?”
“Turn back,” Jorgen said.
“And have all be for naught,” I sighed. “Samuel no better off and even old Reynolds dead for nothing.”
“Then we engage,” Jorgen said, and raised his cutlass.
It caught its own beam of moonlight, and he rushed forward, facing the thing on the right, parrying the steel and making a hacking attempt to behead the creature. It was too quick, and Abelard and I could watch no longer. The one on our left had rushed from shadow, followed by a brother or cousin with an even more vicious looking blade on a stick.
Abelard dashed to meet them, his blade and agility allowing him to deflect one slash and another stabbing motion. With my crutch bracing me, I pushed to his side and joined in the hacking and slashing. Lesedi hung behind us, holding a torch high. Soon growls rumbled in the throats of the attackers, and in the next seconds that seemed like long minutes, clanging rose above the other sounds of the jungle nigh. Soon maniacal laughter issued from our adversaries.
Our onslaught seemed to cause them little stress, while our muscles soon strained, and my skin sustained nicks and piercings that freshened the stains on those hideous caps.
“Push on,” I shouted, and drove into the redcap nearest me, flanked by Abelard and another crewman. The thing was almost as fast as the bounding creatures we had encountered first, grasping his weapon near its center and deflecting assaults from all of us. No matter how much we hacked or jabbed.
I realized I possessed a pole arm as well. I was balancing against it.
“Keep him busy,” I said to Abelard.
Then I let my sword drop, and I fell to one knee, sweeping my crutch at the thing’s ankles. Unprepared for that, he tumbled, hitting the dirt with a gasp and thud.
I thought him finished. The crewman beside Abelard lunged in, intending to drive his cutlass down through the creature’s chest, but it was too fast with its spear. The crewman lunged into it and the iron point came through his back.
Still on the ground, I grabbed my cutlass again for the thing was quick to slough the crewman off and turn its attention toward me. I rolled onto my back, bracing on one elbow while sweeping my blade from side to side, though I knew the effort would not last. Soon he’d be able to drive that point into me as he had the crewman.
I kept up my effort, kept sweeping the blade, praying, wondering where Abelard was. Then he was there, trying to help, but the blunt end of the staff jabbed his abdomen, driving him away. I looked up into the thing’s cavernous nostrils and into its red glowing eyes. It was like looking into the eyes on a rabid beast.
The plunge was coming. The stab that would finish me.
Then that hideous red hat was covered by another, a sudden bonnet of flame. Leside had swung her torch down onto the creature’s head from behind. A screech issued from its vile throat, and the boarspear dropped as it clawed the blazing mass on its head.
It managed to rip the cap free, tossing it to the side then beginning a stomping dance to try and extinguish the flame. It never got the chance. Abelard swung his blade. With the hilt in both hands, he’d drawn the weapon back past his shoulders. All of his force and weight went into the maneuver. Steel sliced through the thing’s neck, and the head rolled away.
“Destroy the hats,” Lesedi said. “They are weakened without them.”
Before she could issue the admonition a second time, something jerked her suddenly skyward. I felt my mouth gape open in amazement as I tilted my head back to look at her suddenly high above us, near the ceiling of interwoven branches. As I realized a twisted tendril of an oak branch had snatched her, something grabbed my collar, and I was yanked heavenward as well.
The remaining redcaps had ceased to be our chief concern.
Those redcaps soon joined us in the tangles of the oak branches, dangling beside Jorgen and Abelard and crewmen who’d also been snatched. The redcaps continued to slash and poke. The branches kept us all dangling far enough apart that contact was avoided.
“What manner of magic is this?” Abelard asked.
“Still beyond voudo,” Lesedi said. “A bewitched tree of some kind perhaps, transplanted.”
“I’ve heard of cursed oaks,” Jorgen said. “Roblón from Spain…”
He might have speculated further, but those tentacles slung us as if we were no more than mice. We sailed through the trees and branches which swatted and tore at us, the arc taking us further inland with hearts thundering in our throats.
We plummeted downward, raked more by branches and leaves, but they slowed descent enough to keep the landing from being deadly. In quick succession, we plunked onto the island floor again, grunting with the pain, expelling air in loud gasps, and shaking heads as the impact reverberated through our skulls.
After seconds, perhaps longer, I felt Abelard tugging me upward. Somehow I’d managed to keep a hand curled around my crutch, but my cutlass was long gone. As I glanced at my companions, I saw that had been a common problem as arms flailed.
Jorgen had the presence of mind to yank a pike from a sheath in his boot, having held onto his lantern by some miracle. He stood ready for the remaining redcaps to rush in on us, but their red eyes took only a second to survey the surroundings before turning and rushing back the way we’d come.
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“They’re terrified of something,” Lesedi said.
“Still, we’re near the heart of the island,” Jorgen said. “Where the treasure should reside. Hopefully in a moment…”
The ground around us trembled, interrupting him. I thought the earth was opening up by some magic trap similar to the trees. Then I realized we were not experiencing a quake. Something beneath the ground moved.
“Oh, dear God,” I whispered.
Something clearly not God shot up beside me then, a hand, an arm with graying, tattered and dirt-caked flesh. It grabbed for my leg. Only an instinctive swing of my crutch prevented its grasp, but I staggered back into another limb that reached for an ankle.
Kicking it away, I careened further, off balance and horrified. Suddenly something looked worse than Husk’s hideous remains. Suddenly more and more things worse than Husk appeared, rearing from the ground, assembling themselves shoulder to shoulder around us.
The dark, empty eyes of sailors we’d seen across those attacking ships’ hulls suddenly had an equal. These things had empty, cavernous sockets or sick and milky eyes with pupils the color of pale plums, and a stench hung around them as foul as the deepest grave rot.
We’d come close to the heart of the island, and the dead stood guard.
“The treasure must be near,” Jorgen said, taking the torch Lesedi still held and brandishing it to push back a cluster of walking corpses. They showed no fear, but they shuffled to avoid a flame. For a second, I thought they might pose no threat.
Then one of the redcaps cried out. He’d made it only a few feet before being caught in the horde, his hat lost in the fall. The creatures swarmed around him, grasping limbs and slowly rending apart what had seemed his invincible form.
We formed our circle again, back to back, and the torch was passed around, hand to hand, allowing a ring of flame that kept the things at bay, buying us time.
“Is this voudu?” Jorgen asked.
“Powerful voudu,” Lesedi said.
“Can you turn them around?”
“They follow the command given them by the bokor who created them. I can’t alter that dark magic.”
Jorgen found a tree branch, and slipping inside the circle, he tore of a strip near the hemline of Lesedi’s dress and fashioned a second torch, soaking the fabric in rum from a flask in his boot.
“Lesedi’s torch has already burned a while. This hurried one will last only a few minutes.”
“We had better find the treasure quickly then and hope…”
The arm of a figure wearing an elegant but now grimy and tattered velour coat shot into our midst, cutting off words and clutching for a throat. I slammed my crutch into it, bouncing the quivering limb away. Lesedi’s torch drove into the figure’s decaying jaw a second later. Flames licked up the former gentleman’s features, consuming old bits of hair and hanging flesh until I drove my crutch again into its chest and forcing a spin that carried it away.
“They must’ve tossed any body they encountered into this mix,” Jorgen said.
It was true. We saw crewmen, gentlemen, ladies, slaves, all turned into dead things walking. They came pushing in on us and we quickly formed another phalanx, though this time we lacked as many blades. My crutch, Jorgen’s pike, torches and sticks had to serve in combating the constant encroachment with grasping hands and jaws that gaped emitting foul stench.
Abelard spotted the cave mouth a few minutes later, blocked by what looked almost like a military line of the dead. They had assembled shoulder to shoulder, a wall behind those that shambled around us.
“The cave could be filled with them, too,” Jorgen said.
“Do they feel pain?” I asked.
“The are dead,” Lesedi said. “They feel nothing.”
“Could we burn them?”
“While avoiding being ripped up like that redcap?” Lesedi asked.
“That would be preferable,” I said.
“They are dead flesh, they will burn but not easily.”
A grasping limb raked at Lesedi, and she touched a torch to it to deflect it and test the theory. The damp coat sleeve failed to ignite. I clubbed the thing with my crutch and pushed it away before it lumbered further toward her.
“Slosh them with the huile from the lantern,” Abelard shouted over his shoulder.
“It means giving up that light source,” Jorgen said, “but it might work.”
As we battled back the enveloping horde, Jorgen blew out the lantern. Then we pushed our little band in unison through the gray and maggoty masses. I felt the air squeezed from my lungs with everything pressing in on us and looked longingly toward the glorious expanse of night sky.
Somewhere in the distance, we heard the cries of a crewman who must have come behind us, pitched by the tentacle oak into the masses to be ripped apart.
“Mon dieu. One wrong step, and that could be one of us,” Abelard said.
Battling back more and more grappling arms and fingers, pushing away gaping jaws, we worked our way to the wall of guardians and formed a semi-circle around Jorgen so that he could splash oil onto the walking corpses.
It was as if that activated them. They shambled toward him while those we sought to fend off pressed in, grabbing at sleeves and lapels. The tentacles of the tree seemed no comparison to the writhing limbs.
“Do it soon,” I shouted as a rotting hand clutched my collar.
“Torch,” Jorgen called, having emptied the second lantern.
“That leaves us but one.”
“Then give me the weaker one, and let’s hope this works.”
He launched it like a spear. A second passed, or it seemed like an endless second, and then the wall of things was ablaze. Little reaction followed. The things felt no pain, so they did not dance, panic, nor utter sounds.
Using my crutch and the final torch Lesedi and I fought back the continuing flux of carcasses. Relentless, they swelled in on us. I shook my arm free, kicked at another, spat when I had no other option as they tried for my throat.
“We’d better try now,” Jorgen said.
He and Abelard, charged, and the smoldering things parted and tumbled, their rickety figures collapsing.
“Onward,” Jorgen called.
The horde glowed, almost blinding in the light of our final torch. Gold coins spilled from packed chests, blanketing the floor of the cave before us in piles like sand dunes. Bracelets like linked chains of gold snaked over them, while jewels of what seemed infinite shapes and colours sparkled from settings in necklaces and rings. It was an array almost impossible believe, yet it lay before me.
My troubles with the ledgers would have been over with a fraction of that at my feet, and, Jonathan, it’s true, that’s where my thoughts raced first. I must confess poor Samuel’s plight took a place far behind the temptation as I trembled. Before me was enough to silence my wife’s scolds, to end my concerns about the fields, to pile joys upon the children. Debt would be shattered. Worry over the ledgers a memory.
Only the thought of another debt and the threat over it brought me back. The mark against my soul, yours, descendants sobered me and focused me again on our task.
“That piece there is called The Eye of Paracelsus,” Jorgen said. “It was mentioned in one punch-house or another. That, and a fraction of the other riches here would get Teach’s attention.”
“If we can get it out of here, he’d have no way of knowing we didn’t take it all, would he?” Abelard asked. His gaze turned toward the cave entrance where the dead pushed their way in.
“We’ve managed every travail this island has thrown at us,” I said. “Surely the plan…”
“We don’t know what was on the other side of the island,” Jorgen said. “Maybe the worst magic beasts were there. Maybe they found a nettled minotaur to throw over there or…”
As he had interrupted me, a disruption somewhere back in the crowd of the dead stilled his tongue. A wave of fierce shrieks rushed into the cave, echoing off the stone, as the wall of bodies shuffled and responded to something behind. Dead flesh ripped, and we saw arms and patches of skin flying, arching up from the crowd. Then the shamblers toppled.
Our remaining torch was beginning to wane. If we faced some other fierce onslaught our gamble had failed. I let a breath stay in my lungs, frozen, releasing it only with the relief that came when Downel’s whiskered face pushed through the horde.
“Tuk us ah while to get heahr,” he said, spitting out a ripped bit of grey skin. “Lot’s ah magic things out there. Think ah even saw a unicorn.”
“Did you open a path?”
“Yeh, weh opened a wey.”
Downal and his clan had been happy to accept the diversion and challenge of assisting another who’d suffered a bewitchment, so they’d been almost thrilled at the idea of being dropped from their two longboats on the other side of the island to rendezvous with us.
Through the channel they formed, we fashioned a line and moved enough treasure through the dead to get Teach’s attention.
Sidney Williams (@Sidney_Williams) is a creative writing instructor and the author of several paperback horror thrillers, graphic novels, and comic book mini-series. His latest novel, Dark Hours, is due soon from Crossroad Press. His short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies including Cemetery Dance, Under the Fang and Hot Blood: Deadly After Dark, and he has written young adult thrillers under the name Michael August. He can be found on the web at Sid is Alive.