Authors: Lexie Stewart
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“Why, it’s naught but wa-”
There was a thump. Josephine peeked around the corner to see that Burke was sprawled on his face.
“Ye didn’t think I’d waste perfectly good grog on you, did ya?” said Lenny, searching his ex-comrade for the keys.
Josephine ran down the aisle to Lance. Lenny had warned her of the condition they would find him in. Captain Bloody had left orders for his crew to make sure Lance’s life was particularly awful and they had gleefully obliged.
Water and rest had been withheld from him and terrible red welts criss-crossed his back. He was dripping with blood and sweat and seemed barely aware of his surroundings.
When he was freed from the shackles he fell back against Josephine and lay with his head in her lap while his newly liberated men gathered around.
“Oh, Lance. What have they done to you?” Josephine asked, stroking his matted hair.
“You’re one of Bloody’s men,” said Lance, peering at Lenny. He looked at Josephine. “You switched sides?”
“Not her,” said Lenny. “Begging your pardon, it’s me what’s swapped sides.” He squared up his narrow shoulders and said, “I mutinied!”
“I think he’s telling the truth,” said Josephine. “If not for him I’d still be on the island and you’d still be in chains.”
“It’s all too late,” moaned Lance, letting his eyes flutter closed. “I shan’t rise again. So ends Captain Breakheart, in the bowels of his enemy’s ship.”
Most of the men didn’t have hats to take off so they took off their bandanas instead and held them over their hearts.
“What?” said Josephine. “You’re just giving up?”
“I‘m spent. It‘s over,” sighed Lance.
“Captain Bloody has won then,” said Josephine. “He’ll use his future toys to make the world think he’s a god.” She sighed and shook her head. “I guess he’s Ripple Thief’s captain now.”
“Stop, stop,” moaned Lance, but Josephine persisted.
“He won’t bother to keep her clean, you know. He’ll toss all your books into the sea. He’ll read your log. He’ll make a mess of your cabin. He’ll try on all your clothes and rip the seams. Oh, and he’ll probably finish what he started with me.”
Lance’s eyes grew wide like those of a tortured man.
“Oh, yes,” said Josephine, almost conversationally. “He’ll do whatever he pleases with me. And he’ll do it in
“Why are you saying these things?”
“I’m just telling you what a Lance-less world will be like.”
“Josie…” moaned Lance.
Josephine’s tone turned serious. “The world needs you, Lance. Your crew need you.” She bit her lower lip and added softly, “I need you.”
Lance stopped moaning and stared up at Josephine. A spark ignited in his eyes.
Slowly, painfully, he moved. He raised his head, bent his knees and pushed himself to his feet.
From where Josephine sat, Lance looked like a statue righting itself.
Lance raised his chin and squared up his broad shoulders.
The men cheered. They had their captain back.
Josephine handed Lance his sword. His fingers slid like snakes beneath the four bars that swept upwards around the tang.
Lenny draped a waistcoat over Lance’s shoulders like a cape. Whether by luck or intuition, he’d brought the red one.
Oh yes, thought Josephine, looking at the fierce glow in Lance’s eyes, the day of reckoning had come.
The galley slaves’ joy at their liberation was somewhat deflated when their captain ordered them to, ‘sit down and start rowing you squid-eyed crustaceans!’.
Lance’s reasoning was that if Captain Bloody or any of his pirates saw the oars had stopped, they’d know something had happened. Lance and his pirates were outnumbered and the only advantage they had was the element of surprise and the time to prepare.
They started by searching Captain Bloody’s cabin for the Lightning Glass.
“I’ll check the cupboards,” said Lance, “Josie, you search the chests, and you,” Lance snapped his fingers at Lenny, “What’s your name, Mr Mutiny?”
“Lenny Humphries, if you please, sir,” said Lenny, his big, watery eyes wide with devotion.
“Right, you search under the bed.”
“This chest is padlocked,” said Josephine. “Nothing’s going to open that.”
Lance whipped a pistol from his belt and pulled the trigger.
There was a sharp bang, a lot of smoke and the padlock was hanging open on the chest.
“Never say never, lass, not when I’m around,” said Lance, grinning.
The chest turned out to contain a stash of Captain Bloody’s future toys. Josephine found cigarettes, lighters, a pair of walkie-talkies, a doll with red hair, a mobile phone-
Josephine picked it up and turned it on. Not surprisingly, it informed her there was no signal.
“Josie?” said Lance, when he saw the tears in her eyes.
“That’s me and Katie, just before we boarded Little Bounty,” said Josephine. “I got one of the other passengers to take a photo of us and I made it my new wallpaper.”
Lance may not have understood much of what she was talking about but he understood enough to place a hand on her shoulder and say, “You’ll see her again, Josie.”
Josephine switched the phone off, sniffed back her tears and kept searching.
“May I just say,” said Lenny, “that it would be a great honour to call you Cap‘n, Mr Breakheart?”
Lance considered the one-armed pirate before saying, “Alright. Your first job is to reclaim Ripple Thief and bring me Bloody’s head. Think you can manage that?”
“I’ll do my best for ye, Cap’n,” gushed Lenny.
“Just out of curiosity,” said Lance, “why would you choose now to swap sides?”
“Cap’n Bloody ruined me dreams o’ goin’ ashore and becomin’ a penis!”
Lance opened his mouth, shut it and turned to Josephine.
,” she translated.
“Oh,” said Lance, sounding relieved.
Josephine moved on to another chest and found herself rummaging shoulder deep in lace, silk and taffeta.
“What is it?” cried Lance, leaping over a chair to get to her. “Have you found the Lightning Circle?”
“This dress,” said Josephine, holding it up. “It’s so beautiful.”
It was a lavender dress with a layered skirt, pearl buttons and at least a kilometre of lace.
Lance wasn’t impressed.
“Avast!” cried Lenny. “Look what I’ve found!”
“It better not be a dress,” muttered Lance.
“Is this it, Cap’n?” asked Lenny, holding up his prize.
“Yes!” breathed Lance. “That’s it!”
In his joy, Lenny tossed the Lightning Circle from one hand to the other, forgetting that he had no second hand to catch it with.
Before anyone realized what was happening, the Lightning Circle hit the ground. The sound of glass shattering froze the room.
“Oops,” said Lenny.
“Alright,” said Lance to the small crowd huddled around the cannon with him. “This should take out Ripple Thief’s mainmast or at least bring down the rigging.”
Every now and then, Lance would shoot Lenny a sharp look and Lenny would hang his head, shamefaced.
They’d done their best to stick the shards of Lightning Glass back into the circle and Lance felt fairly sure that it would still work. He was holding onto it for safekeeping and no one else was allowed to touch it- especially not Lenny.
“Here goes,” said Lance. He bought the flame near the cannon’s fuse and then, just as it was about to touch, he jerked it away. He took a few deep breaths and tried again. Again he pulled the flame away at the last moment.
Finally he lit the fuse, only to cry, “No!” and tried to blow the spark out. That of course, didn’t work so Lance whipped a dagger from his belt and cut the fuse.
“I can’ t do it!” he said. “I just can’t fire on my own ship!” He got to his feet and glared at those with him and then a cocky grin spread across his face. “Maybe we should throw a party of our own,” he said. “And everyone’s invited.”
“What, even Bloody?” asked Lenny.
“Ahoy there!” Lance yelled through the speaking trumpet. The pirates on Ripple Thief were drunk and the music very loud. They didn’t hear him. He yelled again and was again ignored so he gave a signal to Lenny and Curry.
Lenny and Curry loaded up a cannon with the skulls they’d taken down from the bowsprit. Lenny lit the fuse, stepped back and stuck a finger in his ear.
The cannon boomed and rolled back violently before getting caught by its breeching. Smoke filled the air and white bones rattled through the sky.
Over on Ripple Thief, it was raining skulls and mandibles.
The rowdy pirates stopped partying.
The music was promptly turned off and Captain Bloody appeared, his beard soggy with grog and a skull in one hand.
Lance grabbed a rope and leapt up onto the rail.
“Ahoy, there!” he called cheerily through the speaking trumpet.
“Lance! You son of a-”
“Bloody, me old mate! How’s the party? I just wanted to say thanks for the ship!”
Captain Bloody didn’t need a speaking trumpet to be heard. He bellowed out his rage like a wild bull and threw curses across the water. He pulled back his arm and hurled the skull he held. It fell short of hitting Lance, and smashed against The Bloody Throne’s hull.
Lance waved goodbye and dropped down onto the deck.
“That should get him over here,” he said to his men.
From across the water Captain Bloody yelled, “Raise the red flag!”.
“Stay here!” said Lance, pointing at Josephine as she sat demurely on a chair.
“Sure,” said Josephine. She didn’t want to be in Captain Bloody’s cabin. It stank and held bad memories for her.
“Not like before,” said Lance. “Not like when I said, ‘stay!’ and you said (he stuck out his chest, shrugged up his shoulders and said in a high voice) ‘aye, aye, Cap’n .” Lance scowled. “And then you turn up at my side with a sword and facial hair! This time, you’re to stay put, safe and sound, away from all the bloodthirsty pirates. Except me. Understood?”
“Understood,” said Josephine.
“And you!” Lance whirled on Lenny making the poor man shake so hard his bony knees started knocking. “You’re to stay with her and make sure she doesn’t leave!”
“Aye, aye, Cap’n!” said Lenny.
“Good,” said Lance. “I’ll take care of Bloody and then I’ll be back.”
Josephine muttered something.
“What was that?” asked Lance sharply.
“I said, that’s what you said before when you left me on the island,” said Josephine. “And you didn’t come back, did you?”
“And do you know what that taught me?”
“To never leave anything important unsaid. Josephine of the other-world, I love you.”
Josephine was stunned. Before she could find her voice for a response, Lance was gone.