General Fiction posted January 25, 2020

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A captain deals with the loss of his crew

Captain's Shame

by Shawn Luther

The wooden table, splintered and stained from years of use and abuse, wobbles under his weight as he pushes to his feet. Empty rum bottles spill onto the floor as he knocks into it. He stares at them in an alcohol induced fog, trying to make sense of their sudden appearance at his feet. He shrugs, dismissing them, and staggers towards the bar. The room tilts and spins around him, much like the Nymph had not yet a week ago.

The raucous laughter and loud voices assault his ears, booming in his head like cannon fire. Shouting, cursing, laughing, singing; all tearing through his brain, ripping large splintered holes through his sanity. His mind flashes to similar shouts, more frantic, terrified, and he bites down to hold in his own scream.

Pushing his way forward, he leans heavily against the bar. The intoxicating aroma of rum and beer is overwhelming, burning his nostrils. He slams his fist on the bar. "RUM!" Walking by, the barkeep ignores him.

The oily haze of the wall lanterns, much like burning pitch and exploding pine boards, sting his eyes. He stumbles across the room, towards the exit and open air, the floor a broken and tilted deck. The late night breeze, though light, carries with it the heavy aroma of the sea. He breathes deeply. Aye, this is life, he thinks.

A hand clamps around his arm, strong as iron. A numbing chill runs through his arm, spreading from the powerful grip.

"Where ye be going Captain?" The voice is low and thick, as if spoken through a mouthful of wet sand.

Heart thudding in his chest, he knows at once it's Davy Jones, come to reunite him with his crew, taken this past week from him. The smell of brine and rot, thicker than a French whores perfume, envelope and chokes him.

Fear and shame thickens his words, slurring them together. "My ship. The crew needs me."

The grip tightens, and nails cut deep into the flesh of his arm like sharks teeth. "Aye. A ship needs it's Captain. Even if he be a coward and deserter."

A low rumble sounds behind him, like the voice of the sea itself. Turning slowly he faces his crew. Water logged and grey they gather around him, filling the tavern. Saltwater pours from gaping wounds, seaweed hanging from stumps like atrophied limbs. Barnacles pepper the sides of their skulls, the skin already sloughing off, exposing the white bone beneath.

"I steered you wrong mates, truly." Tears spill from his eyes as he takes a hesitant step forward. "I abandoned ye, but no longer."

He looks towards Davy Jones, staring deep into his large black eyes. The monstrous face breaks into a slow grin as the Nymph's crew close in around them, arms reaching forward. Closing his eyes the captain shouts to his crew. "Unfurl the sails, ye scallywags! We sail on til dawn, wherever the seas may take us!"

Flash Fiction Writing Contest contest entry
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© Copyright 2020. Shawn Luther All rights reserved.
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