The winner of Week Five of the Flash Fiction Challenge is the
amazing Paul Freeman and his entry Captain Blood.
Congratulations Paul – excellent work!
About the Author
Paul Freeman lives in Dublin Ireland. He remembers the first time he wrote
anything of worth, he was nineteen and sheltering from the rain in a tent
while on a camping trip with some friends in a place called Glendalough, a
very picturesque corner of Ireland. He showed it to his girlfriend of the
time and she burst into tears. He thinks that was a good sign.
You can read extracts from his novel, TAXI, on Authonomy.
THE WINNING STORY
Paul Freeman – Captain Blood
A dark shape crawled out of the water and dragged itself up the beach, not quite reaching the powdery white sand beyond the high tide mark. Like a large sea creature stranded on the shore, it raised its odd shaped head with great effort, slowly looked around before dropping back to the sand. It lay still for a long time, while white foam waves gently lapped at it’s feet and legs.
Nathaniel Alphonsus Spencer opened one eye, then the other before pushing himself up slowly. His two hands came out of the wet sand with a great sucking noise. He brushed sand off his black velvet coat, tugged at the over-sized cuffs, smoothed out his black velvet breeches, settled the tricorne hat, which miraculously still sat on his head, albeit a little soggy, before turning towards the sea and glaring at it.
A low growl rattled in the back of his throat as he eyed the great blue ocean that had dared to spit him onto this deserted strand. The great expanse of calm water ignored him, defying the black glare that many a man had not lived long enough to regret seeing. A look that could silence a brawling mob, could freeze the blood of a battalion of the King’s finest, a stare that could frighten God Almighty’s own heavenly angels. For Nathaniel Alphonsus Spenser, was none other than, Captain Blood, the most feared pirate ever to set sail in search of booty and adventure. The meanest, nastiest, most coldblooded, evil cutthroat ever to defy Davy Jones and spit in the eye of Beelzebub. To the Spanish he was El Diablo, to the French he was, Diable De Mer, to the English he was a nightmare, no ship was safe, no cargo sacred. Captain Blood the Sea Devil.
Blood, twisted the great leather belt strapped around his waist, until the large silver buckle was front and centre, settling the cutlass that hung from it, until it sat comfortably at his side. He pulled out his two pistols, streams of water poured from both barrels. Another dissatisfied rumble rattled in his throat.
The great expanse of blue, for so long his playground, mocked him. The calm peaceful water, glittering in the sunshine, mirroring the cloudless sky, belied the violent drama that had resulted in him stranded and alone on an uncharted, island paradise.
He thought of his ship, the vessel that had made him King of the waves, now a wreck, destroyed and sunk. He hawked and spat, his head ached, his parched throat burned. Not from his ordeal, not from a great sea battle with the Royal Navy, not from his miraculous flight from certain death. No, nothing quite so heroic, the feared Sea Devil was hung-over. Rum, the very thought made him feel queasy. It had saved his life though.
He scratched at the coarse red bristles that covered his jaw. His crew were all gone, either lost in Davy Jones Locker or in chains aboard a Royal Navy frigate. He wouldn’t miss a single one of ‘em, rogues and rapscallions every last one. Slit your throat or cut out your eye while you slept for the price of a mug of ale. What hurt, though, what hurt more than Long John’s peg leg, in the fruits, was the sight of his chests being manhandled over the side into launches and off to fill the coffers of his Royal Bloody Majesty of Great Britain and Ireland. A lifetime’s work, doubloons, gold sovereigns, chalices, precious stones, the treasure he had guarded so jealously. Gone, all gone. His lips quivered, a snarl escaped.
He thought back to his escape, not his most gallant hour. He had missed the fight, too drunk, he’d past out under the table in his cabin. He woke to the smell of burning wood, the sound of screaming men. Somehow he had managed to slip over the side unnoticed, not before he saw what was left of the crew being lined up one by one, by red-coated marines and his beloved Jolly Roger being hauled down.
He turned then, away from the sea. White sand and then a wall of green. What waited beyond the trees? Wild animals? Cannibals?
A good captain would have gone down with his ship.
If he hadn’t been so drunk all night, he might even know where he was. He certainly would not have sailed his ship into the arms of the Royal Navy.
A curse on that bilge-sucking, first mate.
The trees parted and a line of black skinned natives strolled onto the beach. Some carried spears, others clubs that looked suspiciously like human leg bones.
Blood, straightened his coat, fixed his hat, loosened his cutlass.
“So, ye land-lubbers, is it me hide ye’r after? Come on then… is it me ye’ll be havin’ for supper, or have you scallywags got a new king?” With a roar he charged.
One hundred and fifty to one. They didn’t stand a chance.Don’t forget to see more of Paul on Authonomy.