I felt the sword's handle pressing against my back. "You'd best be walking now," the old pirate snarled, with menace in his gravelly voice. "Or you'll be meeting the other end of this sword!"
I gulped for air and took an unsteady step onto the plank. The damp wood gave a bit under my weight, bouncing gently over the open water. I dared not look down.
"You've got until 10," the pirate said, nudging me forward again with the sword. "1, 2, 3 - 10." He laughed wildly at the cruel joke, and probably at my panic, too. Fearing for my very life, I jumped into the abyss!
The free fall was as exciting as it was terrifying. It was the longest vertical drop of my life! Still, I splashed down into the ocean unharmed. Already, the pirate ship and its awful plank were sailing away into the Atlantic.
I breathed a happy sigh of relief then, for I knew something the fierce pirate did not. I swam for the familiar sandbar just yards from where I landed. The ground rose up reassuringly at my feet, and the fishing boats would be along soon. It takes more than a plank to sink an Outer Banks native!