I recently entered a story into the “Be A Write Pirate” Competition held by Penzance LitFest. When I checked their website the other day to see how my little story had fared, I was really pleased to see that my name was listed as a Runner Up!
Here’s the evidence! >> Are You a Winner? <<
The word limit was a fairly demanding 400 words. We’d love you to read and enjoy the story, so here it is! It was great fun to write, as you might imagine. 😉 We hope you have as much fun reading it . . .
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“Batten down the hatches,” Cap’n Freer bellowed. “Storm’s upon us!”
The deck tilted alarmingly as we made fast sails, coiled ropes. My first day at sea – and a storm!
“Cap’n!” I answered.
“Up the mast wi’ you, lad. Need you in the crow’s nest!”
I glanced upwards; the platform had been swallowed by stormcloud. “Surely there’s nowt to see, Cap’n?” I argued.
Glowering, he took a giant pace towards me.
Shiver me timbers!
“You want to be shark bait, boy?” Cap’n Freer snarled. “You do as I say, or you’re walkin’ that there plank!”
I climbed, not looking up nor down. The rain began, hard nails stinging my skin. I reached the crow’s nest, tumbled into it. The ship’s motion was worse here than on deck.
“Avast!” the cap’n called. My shipmates huddled closer to him. “We ride the storm out, men. When we reach Glass Eye Island, we sneak into the shallows, wait until dusk. Petey One-Arm, you’ll guard the ship. The rest of us’ll hunt down the King’s men and do for ‘em. Dead men tell no tales, savvy?”
I heard a muted chorus of “Aye, Cap’n!”
My shirt and breeches were sodden, and the halyards were singing mournfully in the turbulence. But the wildness thrilled me.
Then I noticed pale, bloated shapes surfacing in the churning waters around the ship, monstrous mouths surrounded by tendrils which sneaked atop the deck and looped around the railings. Teeth tore at the planks, snapping the wood into splinters.
A scream lodged in my throat.
The crew succumbed one by one as the sea’s creatures hunted their prey, until I was the only one left, my arms locked tight to the mast. I closed my eyes and prayed, waiting for the end.
How much time passed, I can’t say, but I became aware the rain had stopped, the wind had soothed – and I was still alive. The sea was deserted, the deck bloodied and mutilated . . . but somehow, the ship stayed afloat.
On deck, I fumbled with the tender’s rope, raced down the ladder into the little vessel. Reaching the island, thoroughly exhausted, I hid until the King’s men had left.
Dead men tell no tales, I smirked. It had only been the one murder, back in Kent. But I’d eluded capture, avoided the noose. Here, under the stars, I would live and die a free man.
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Copyright 2014 Joanna Gawn
Image copyright AKARAKINGDOMS at FreeDigitalPhotos.net