Chapter 1: Off the Boat

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 72

“Steal a giant diamond from a ruthless pirate leader,” Evelyn thought to herself.“My contact makes more money, I become one of the greatest thieves alive, and all I have to do is sneak through a group that probably doesn’t understand the term ‘prisoner’.  What the hell am I doing?” 


A dim light flickered, illuminating the steel interior of the hull.Evelyn sat waiting, going over the worn document in her hand for the hundredth time. 


Upon proof of completion of the job, you and your partner will be credited $500,000 each.Make contact with the overseer via radio when ready for transportation home. 


“Are we dead yet?”, asked a groggy voice from the other side of the cramped room. 


Evelyn rolled her eyes.She stuffed the letter back into her backpack, not even bothering to make eye contact.“Yep.Definitely goners.Turns out Hell is just a place where you make that joke until the end of time”. 


Jacob Fletcher had been with her since her pickpocketing days of being an orphan.She had been dumped off by numerous families that didn’t seem to care about her.Her friend, Jacob, had been the only one who cared about her.When she felt she had nobody else, he was there for her.She definitely saw him as the more rational one, but he still put himself out of his comfort zone, and it made her feel more confident.They had grown up together, and she knew he sure wasn’t going to let her do this alone. Even though she always felt he never had the same drive for thievery that she did, she was glad he wanted to make sure she was safe.Sometimes she would look at him and wonder why he risked and gave up so much to be a part of her unusual life. 


“Oh funny”, Jacob said.He walked over, clinging to the low hanging beams above for support and sat down next to her.“You test the tracker yet?” 


Yeah it’s working,” Evelyn said.“I already have it loaded into one of the boxes.GPS says we’re about twenty minutes out from where Barre’s crew has the outpostYou ready to stretch our legs?” 


Evelyn put the GPS into her backpack and sealed the pack up.She stood up and looked at the ladder leading up to the deckShe closed her eyes briefly and exhaled slowly, trying to hide any signs of second-thoughts from Jacob.She walked over to the ladder, hanging on to the beams as she wentShe grabbed the first rung and looked towards the hatch.Before she could start climbing, she felt a hand on her shoulder. 


“Eve.Hold on a second.”  Jacob said.“You remember what I said to you when you first told me about this job?” 


Ummm, you called me crazy?” she responded. 


“I called you a god damn psychopath,” he said back. 


Eve knew he felt uneasy about this job specifically, and with good reason.She was just hoping to avoid another conversation about it“It’s just a snatch and grab, Jake.Nothing we haven’t done before, right?Besides, you act like you’ve never infiltrated an organized gang of pirates”.  She went back to reaching up the ladder. 


“Na I’m not joking around this time” Jacob replied, causing her to pause again.“Look.I know you’re telling yourself everything you need to hear.I’ve been trying to convince myself of the same things, but this ain’t like back at home, you know?Museums, offices, houses.You know, places where the stakes end with a court room?We’ve never met this contact before.Why you?And I  say that to hurt you, but what? He heard about some trinkets you grabbed, and now you’re worthy of international piracy?” 


“Is it really piracy if we’re only stealing what pirates stole?” she said sarcastically while rubbing her chin.She could tell by his annoyed expression that maybe jokes weren’t the way to go. 


“Ha-ha funny jokes,” Jacob replied in a monotone voice.“You know I have your back.Hell, it’s the only reason I’m out here.I just think we might be in over our heads on this one... That means you too.It doesn’t make you weak to back outIt would make you sane”. 


Evelyn felt a wave of guilt because he would never have accepted the job had he been the one contacted.  She knew Jacob meant well and didn’t want him hurt either, and of course she had doubts about the whole thing.  She loved the thrill of chasing the next job, but even she knew this one was leagues above anything they had ever done.  The largest price tag she had been worth was $10,000.  He was right.  Her gut told her this was not her, but against all signals going off in her brain, every gut feeling she had, she tried to respond confidently.  “There’s a beach somewhere calling our name when we’re done with this one.  I’ll buy the first round, and we can toast to never doing this again.  Plus, it’s one hell of a one-up story, right?Oh hey I went skydiving.  Oh yeah, well I went bungee jumping,” she mocked with different voices back and forth.  “Hmm that’s cute.  Well, we just bested a gang of murderous pirates and secured a diamond worth millions.  No big deal”. 


"Dear Christ, alright already!” Jacob cut her off with a chuckle.“Hey I knew I wasn’t going to change your mind anyways, but either way, you might not want to forget this, Miss Storytime Badass”.  He held out a semi-automatic pistol in his hand. 


Her eyes widened as she quickly patted down at the empty holster on her hip.  “But I...” 


“Yeah, probably won’t do you much good sitting back here on the boat,” Jacob said with a grin. 


Evelyn felt embarrassed as she grabbed the pistol and stuffed it into her holster.  “I was just testing you.  Now come on, or I’m gonna leave your ass on the boat next”. 


With that, Evelyn climbed and opened the metal hatch above, the sudden burst of sunlight nearly blinding her in the process.  She held her hand over her eyes climbing out until her eyes adjusted to the surrounding waters.  The river was widening in front of her with beautiful leaves of green surrounding the river banks.  The jungle atmosphere was breathtaking as the harmonious sounds of nature filled her ears.  Over the horizon ahead, she saw isolated plumes of smoke rising from what could only have been their destination, the outpost. 


Evelyn made her way to the captain of the vessel and tapped his shoulder.  “Could you take us to the shoreline?  That’s the place up there.  After you’re stopped, meet up with us about a kilometer past the outpost.  We should already be waiting, so we will flag you down... Just don’t leave without us if you don’t see us”. 


“You got it, Ev-uh-leen,”  the captain replied with a smile. 


She found his accent fascinating and loved speaking with the people of Ghana.  She was glad he was getting a cut for his involvement as well.  She hated to put someone from the outside in any danger, but she was assured he would be fine.He already made it clear his family would prosper greatly from the money he was bringing home. 


The captain steered the boat towards the shoreline and released the anchor.  The crew was only three men strong, but they worked together to grab a less than sturdy looking wooden ramp.  They connected the boat with the shoreline, and Evelyn and Jacob made their way over to land.  With a nod, the captain raised the anchor, and with a slow start, the boat began back up river. 


Evelyn and Jacob took it all in for a moment then trudged up through the dense, jungle-like atmosphere along the riverbank. 


Evelyn heard Jacob muttering behind her as they made their way through.  “Malaria, snake poison, crocodiles”.  She smiled to herself knowing he didn’t appreciate being surrounded by nature like she did.  A part of her excitement came from seeing this as a chance to escape the man-made world she grew accustomed to. 


Before too long, they made their way to the edge of a clearing.  Smoke rose from man-made pits near the center of the camp.  Decently built wooden structures littered the camp that appeared to serve as lookout posts, common areas and living quarters.  About a dozen men inhabited the outpost, walking around freely between the structures. 


They waited for a few minutes, and Evelyn saw what she was waiting for.  The man up in the lookout post rang a bell and pointed towards the water.  Multiple men grabbed rifles from inside one of the shacks and ran out towards a boat they had strung up near the shoreline. 


The sound of sporadic gunfire rang out in the air. 


“Those are the warning shots,” Evelyn said.  “Let’s get around to the other side of the camp and wait to get picked up”. 


They both quietly snuck around the perimeter of the camp.  They stayed low and watched the river through the trees when they could catch a glimpse.  One of the pirates had the captain and the other crewmen of the boat on their knees facing the shore.The others were hoisting the boxes up from the hull and loading them into their own boat. 


“There we go,” Jacob said.  “They got their cut.  Just a few more minutes, and they’ll send our ride up the river”.  They continued along quietly until they were about halfway around the outside of the camp. 


Evelyn put a hand on Jacob’s shoulder.  “Alright, it looks pretty cleared out.  I’m gonna get in there and find one of their radios”.She took one more look towards the boat before moving up. 


The pirates down in the hull climbed up the ladder and looked ready to clear off the boat.  One of the pirates standing watch pointed another towards the three crewmen.  With that, another pirate stepped forward and raised his rifle on the three men. 


“Wait what the hell are they doing?” Evelyn asked. 


The pirate, with his rifle raised, sprayed a volley of gunfire into the captain and crewmen, who tumbled over the side of the boat and into the river. 

Evelyn and Jacob ducked down upon witnessing the gruesome sight. 


“Holy shit!” Jacob let out, unholstering his pistol in reaction to what occurred. 


“No,” Evelyn responded shaking her head in disbelief.  She saw Jacob saying something to her, but his voice didn’t seem to make it to her.  Jacob finally got her attention when grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her.  She finally focused on him.  “We were just about to see them again”. 


“Eve, I am sorry that just happened, but that is going to be us in a minute if we stick around,” Jacob said to her in a shaky voice.  “This job is over.  We are leaving”. 


“Search the area!”  yelled one of the men getting off their returning boat. 


“Damn it!” Jacob reacted, sounding like he was trying to keep his voice down.  “The crew must have told them about us.  Eve, stay low.  We gotta disappear, now.  No matter what, just head back down the river towards the coast”. 


Evelyn shook her head.  “Jake, I’m s-”. 


“Be sorry later,” Jacob stopped her.  “Forget that right now.  Just focus on me, okay?” 

Jacob placed his hand out, gesturing her to stay put.  He went ahead briefly to scope out the trees ahead of them, and after a pause he waved her forward.  They continued the same careful pattern making their way back, hiding among the trees.  They were surrounded by voices searching for them on all sides.  A few times one would make their way dangerously close to them, causing Evelyn’s pounding heart to speed up.  After what felt like an eternity, they were nearly clear of the voices of the men searching for them.  The camp was beyond sight of the trees behind them. 


“Deep breaths,” Evelyn thought.  “Almost there.  Almost there”. 


Jacob went up again to check ahead.  He waited for a moment, and a stick snapped to his left.  She saw him look up, and the butt of a rifle came crashing against his forehead.  Jacob was knocked over, and the pistol fell from his hand.  Evelyn’s feet moved faster than her mind could process.  She crashed into the pirate with all of her body weight, sending both the attacker and herself barreling to the ground.  She latched on to him and wrapped her arm around his neck, not wanting to attract attention by firing her gun.  The attacker kicked ferociously trying to get free, but she wrapped her legs around his body.  Fumbling for his rifle on the ground, the attacker got ahold of it and fired rounds off any direction he could, and Jacob let out an agonizing yell. 


Evelyn finally leveled her pistol at the attacker’s head and pulled the trigger. 


Their assailant fell limp.  Evelyn didn’t have time to acknowledge what she had done.  She pushed the body off of her and scurried to Jacob, trying to drag him up to his feet.  “The whole god damn group is gonna be on top of us!  Come on, Jake, we gotta run now!” 


“Jesus! Stop!” Jacob yelled in response to her pulling him up, and he fell back down to the ground holding his leg. 

She saw his hand covered a crimson red where he was holding his leg.  Shouting from the camp in the distance was followed by the sound of breaking branches of men sprinting towards them. 


“Get the hell out of here right now,” Jacob said to her sternly, gritting his teeth. 


She stood back, taking it all in.  She began to tear up from the unending situation which felt like it was out of a nightmare, but there had to be a way out of it.  Her mind raced trying to come up with something. 


The men shouting sounded like they were merely moments away from seeing them through the tree line. 


Before she could do anything, Jacob used all of his strength to get up on his good leg and push her back with everything he had.  She fell backwards and rolled down a decline of the uneven ground, smacking the back of her head against a tree trunk and coming to a rest among the leaves of the low hanging tree.  Dazed, Evelyn tried to get back to her feet, but the world spun around her.  She laid motionless as she heard the men surround where Jacob had been.  She looked over through the leaves and was able to make out the barrel of a rifle pointed just inches away from Jacob's face. 


“Yes, he’s American,” she heard one of the men say.  She couldn’t make out what a muffled voice replied to the man from a radio.  She looked away, not wanting to see her best friend die in front of her.  Her heart was beating out of her chest, and she was near the edge of a breakdown waiting to hear a gunshot.  “Understood.  We will bring him to Barre”. 

Evelyn turned back to see the rifle lower towards the ground, and she felt at least some semblance of relief. 


The man holding the rifle kneeled down, face to face with Jacob and grinned.  “Barre wants to meet you,” he said with a heavy accent.  “If left to me, you would die here”.  The man turned and yelled to the others.  “Load him up with the crates!” 

Evelyn watched through the leaves as two men grabbed Jacob on either side, underneath his arms, and dragged him back towards the camp.  As quickly as everything fell apart, she was left alone in silence. 

Submitted: November 22, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Alan Robinson. All rights reserved.


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