The Pirate's Voyage

Reads: 74  | Likes: 1  | Shelves: 1  | Comments: 1

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  No Houses


Six years, Three Points of View, One Man's Story

Submitted: May 26, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 26, 2018

A A A

A A A


You could swear you were going to fly off this boat.

Sailing blind, no moon in the sky, waves tossing you around like a child playing with a balloon, this had to be the end. You stumbled across the deck, water crashing down on your head as you clung for dear life to the ropes, focused on just holding on, just taking one more step across the bridge, heading for the captain.

There he was, that insane man, holding fast at the wheel of your frigate, boots planted on the floor as if anchored, a half-scowl, half-smile on his face as he kept the course, straight into the storm. In your second of musing, the waves tumbled again, and you went slipping across the deck, ropes only a red scorched memory on your palms as you scrambled not to end up into the uncaring ocean, wrapping yourself around, rather, being flung around the mast, scrabbling for purchase. A beat passed and you pushed up, got your legs under you and threw caution to the howling wind as you sprinted to the steps leading to the captain, skidding, slamming into them at full speed.

At last, you crawled up, clinging to the railing, finally reaching the man. For all his faults, he was kind, always sharing the plunder equally between you all. He was, at times like this, eerily calm and steadfast, hands wrapped almost casually around the wheel, guiding his ship through the dark storm, the kind of tempest that could drive most men insane, violent, animalistic in its rage.

You had to shout in the wind, raise your voice like never before, pleading, begging him to change course, head towards the eye of the storm, to the calm it promised, but he never changed his route. Gazing up into the slate sky, a casket lid on the world, you turned to asking, demanding him to put his crew’s safety first, to not waste your lives in this futile quest.

Still he did not waver, but his kind eyes turned to yours, regarding you like a father would a young child. As another wave knocked your feet out, lightning bringing a second of flashing brightness to the scene, you could see your fellow sailors, each trying to survive, keeping the ship on its deranged course and you could not take it, climbing to your feet, the pleas turning to orders, your hand planting into his shoulder in a deathly grip.

The storm masked the gunshot, the sudden warmth of pain filling your chest. You gazed down to see your white shirt turn red, vest blown apart. Your eyes flitted back up into the captain’s, only finding an empty cold as he used the tip of the barrel to push you back, hit the side, and the ocean had you.

***

Sand. It was everywhere. Rubbing into my skin. Caked into my hair. Clogging my nose. Clumped in my mouth. Stuck under my fingernails. I hate sand. A moan escaped my lips as my eyes tried to focus. Everything was so bright, it seemed I had died and gone to heaven. No chance, I had never had such luck. I closed my eyes against the glare, but the sunlight still filtered through my shut lids. It was just too bright. I felt something cool and wet creep up my collar, and I realized I could hear the sound of waves, their gentle rhythm almost lulling me back to sleep. I forced my eyes open again, ignoring the glare of the sun, and saw the now receding wave.

My face was half buried in sand, my parched throat calling out for water. I groaned as I heaved up into a crawling position. My stomach flipped at the motion, and my body ejected some of the liquid I must have swallowed. My hands pawed clumsily through the sand, dragging my body forward, grating the grains into my skin even more. I hate sand.

My arms collapsed, but I had gotten into the cool waves that now gently lapped at my skin. Much better. The coolness wiped away some of the humid heat I felt all around me, the one that sapped my energy, and stripped away the sand coating my face and hands.

Burned. It took a few seconds to register, but soon there was a burning sensation along my stomach. Fire, my throat emitted a broken screech as pain shot through my system, and I threw myself from the waves, clawing at my flaming skin. I scrambled to recall what had happened, make sense of my pain, the red stain framed by my burgundy vest like the theatrical curtains of a murder.

Suddenly, a blissfully cool liquid splashed unto me, and the flames began to recede. Through my pained pants, I turned my gaze upwards to spot a young woman, with caramel skin and dark braided hair peering at me in concern. She was wearing a loose dress, and carrying a carafe of what I thought might be fresh water. Her eyes were the last thing I saw before it all went dark.

***

A soft breeze ran through the village, snaking around in the deserted alleyways. It rustled a small whirlwind of dust across the darkened cobblestones, gently swung the sign over the tavern. Waves rolled unto the shore, each a crashing crest of white foam. A small rowboat coasted along them, oars beating the water for a few final strokes before a pair of boots splashed down into them, pulling the boat the rest of the way.

The water erased the footsteps on the sand as he trod inland, wet trousers and boots leaking onto the soft grains, the gentle incline of the shore morphing into the stone boardwalk as he progressed towards the town.

He walked along the familiar alleyways towards the tavern, following as much his memory as the music that blew across the otherwise sleeping town. Three women leaned from a side street to watch him go by, offering tantalizing views for men of a different mind-set. Perhaps on another night, he might have indulged, but under that starless sky, he forged onwards.

It had been five years since he had left with his new captain, the promise of riches and plunder pulling him from his home, adventure on the high seas calling to him. Three since a night oh-so-similar to this one, lost in a hurricane two hundred leagues away.

He swung the door of the tavern open, and was greeted by the raucous sound of shanties and an old off-key piano being played, the air rich with the smell of booze and roasted food. Calling ladies perused their clientele from a balcony at the top of the stairs, while the men jeered around games of cards as they gambled their hard earned coins, or laughed at some rousing story told around a battered wooden table, stained in circles by countless mugs of ale.

He narrowly avoided being slammed off his feet by a sloshed sailor barrelling past, and meandered around the crowd to the wooden bar that protected the inn-keep from the crowd. The owner himself was tending bar that evening, now well into his fiftieth year, hair having gone a roguish salt and pepper mix, right down to his closely trimmed beard. The man began a greeting towards his new patron, but only got halfway before stopping, recognition lighting up his dark eyes.

His patron looked unmistakably like the boy he had once known, but time had ravaged that once hopeful looking face. He wore dark, wide trousers tucked into his boots, soaked at the bottom and coated with sand. Over them a maroon vest, left untied in the warm summer breeze, exposing the jagged and patched scar that adorned almost half his chest and abdomen. A lone pistol hung at his left hip, and the tavern lights glinted across the cutlass swinging from his right.

The sailor didn’t need to glance down to know what the owner was looking at. The last time they had seen each other, the man had had his arm slung around him and had passed him a bottle of his finest rum, a “going away present for the finest bastard on the island” as he’d put it. The same man who, two years later, had wept alone behind that bar after the captain had marched in, handing him the personal effects of the younger privateer, together with a tale about him falling overboard in a storm, lost to the waves.

The owner gazed once more at the scar, and no words needed to be spoken. He jerked his hand upwards, and muttered the words “room one”, before turning around to grab a new mug for his clamouring clients. The sailor nodded in thanks, and pushed away towards the stairs, the crowd jostling him almost as the waves had that night.

The noise from the tavern receded a bit as he approached the door. He didn’t bother knocking. The captain himself was sitting on a chair facing away from the door, and slowly turned towards the intruder, his half-smile, half-scowl which always seemed to be painted on his face, giving way to an air of incredulity.

Because the last time he’d seen that sailor, it was on a moonless night, in a raging storm, and the boy had had his hand gripping into the captain’s shoulder, shouting at him about turning back and saving his men. Because that maroon vest looked all too similar in colour to the young man’s shirt after the muzzle had flashed and the roaring waves had covered the sound of the shot.

And because the man who he had shoved into the merciless sea was now standing there back in his home port, and was looking at him with empty eyes.

 


© Copyright 2018 Argentum_Industries. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

More Action and Adventure Short Stories