A flash fiction entry. Jakob's sister's guardian is thrown overboard. He comes back.
|Tic tic tic…
“He’ll come.” Alicia muttered from the deck. “He’s going to come back.”
Steerpike put his boot on her head. “Shut up.”
He turned to the rest of the crew, huddled at the side of the ship. They wore coats and blankets inside their shirts, but the wind found ways in. The ocean spray soaked through like creeping hands, even under the tongue.
“Take a break,” Steerpike shouted over the wind. Above, the coal-black sky roiled and tumbled, and the gibbous moon was swallowed and spat out again and again.
Alicia was locked in her room that night. In her ten years of life, she had never been alone; there was always a nurse, a servant, or a sibling to call out to. Now, Sardi was gone, and she began to cry. She realized that her room was very dark and and the ship smelled like rotting food and nothing was ever quiet, and now Sardi wasn’t here. Steerpike had stabbed him and thrown him over the railings that Jakob had said never to lean over, and her brother wasn’t here and Sardi was gone.
Steerpike lit his pipe and looked out the porthole of his cabin. Outside, the waves and sky were the same black they had been for two days, and he was sick of it. He was sick of the sea, the food, and sick of the little girl. Her scarecrow of a companion was floating at the bottom of the ocean now, with his big black eyes and that futting brown coat and his stupid pocketwatch.
He took a long pull on his pipe. He had been sick of the lack of women, too, and sometimes it was hard to restrain urges after eating the same cold bread and getting a face full of salt every day. But that scarecrow-man slept in her room. Steerpike saw him sitting by her bed, holding a silver pocketwatch and rubbing his fingers over it. The bastard came at him like a dart, reaching for his neck when the door opened. It had taken eight thrusts with the bailing knife and a few kicks until the man stopped moving.
A drop of water tapped him on the head, and he looked up. Every other second, another droplet grew and fell.
Orange sunlight was streaming in when Steerpike cracked one eye. His stomach was ice-cold. He lifted the sheets and found that he was sleeping in a pool of water; the sheets were heavy with damp, as was the pillow. Outside the door, a voice was giggling. He listened. A terrifying certainty grew in his stomach as he did.
Tic tic tic…
“I told him you’d come back…does it hurt?” a soft voice whispered, glee barely contained.
The door opened. Sardi hobbled over to the bed and shrugged off his dripping, brown coat. He unbuttoned his vest, revealing gleaming white ribs. Carefully, he reached under his sternum and pulled out the pocket watch.
Alicia’s arms wrapped around Sardi’s thighs in a tight hug. “I told you he’d come back!”