Some historical pulp fiction...
|Weird Tales Contest Entry
Victoria stomped in frustration, the heavy black chain clinking against the iron cuff around her ankle. Hands bound, she crossed her arms as best she could over her bare flesh as goosebumps rose all over her body. She breathed in the dank, stale air of her spartan cell and shivered. Her eyes glanced around to take stock of the unfamiliar environment, but it was empty. The only object her eyes could find was a lone flickering torch above the door, well out of her manacled reach. She stared at the dim light, her pupils shrinking from its orange glow, as her blue eyes grew distant with thought.
How had she gotten herself into this?! The last thing she could remember was the pirate ship crashing into the side of the South African Dream, laden with its cargo of diamonds, just past Casablanca. She must have fallen to the deck in the collision and lost consciousness. Now she could be anywhere...
Her mind lurched back to the present as she heard the inexorable clack of approaching footsteps outside the heavy oaken door. Victoria could feel her fingers trembling in anticipation as she backed away from the sounds.
The door opened, scraping loudly on the hard, stone floor, and a man in a white robe appeared. His face was obscured by a cloth mask whose cloth and design matched that of his cloak. Red stripes at the hems and head were the only visible ornamentation on his outfit, other than the image of a squiggly red cross at the bottom of the mask. Victoria was fairly familiar with the various organizations in Casablanca—but not this one. She couldn’t place the symbol. Not that it really mattered…
“Come here,” he said in accented English. “I must inspect you.”
She could place his accent, at least. He spoke Darija natively, the Moroccan variant of Arabic. So she was probably still in Morocco, after all. Good.
She cowered further away from the strange man, backing into the corner of the cell. The man gave a frustrated grunt and approached her. As he moved, she could see something poking the fabric of his cloak outward from his hip. It looked like the hilt of a sword or knife, but it could be the handle of a pistol… or a whip.
Her eyes rose to meet his, searching for clues to his intentions. They were cold, hard, glassy beads lost in the blackness of the mask’s inner shadows.
Victoria felt the hair on the back of her neck rise as her stomach dropped. Whatever this man intended, it wasn’t good. She took in a shaky breath and closed her eyes, mentally preparing herself for what would come next.
He reached out his hand and grabbed for her arm, but she lunged to his left side, moving her hands, bound in front of her, to the hilt at his hip. Her fingers grasped the pointed object through the cloth and pulled. The object was too short to be a sword, too light to be a gun, so… knife, then.
She pulled it back against the fabric as hard as she could, sending the man careening off balance to the back corner of the cell, where she had just been standing. She felt his momentum pull her around as his head cracked hard against the cold stone wall. She barely maintained her grip on the knife.
As he reached his hands to his concussed head, she regripped, then aimed it inward toward his torso, and plunged it in. She heard him gasp in surprise. She pulled the blade back, then thrust it again. And again.
His eyes wide, she felt her features transform from those of the character she’d been playing— the fearful victim—to the callous criminal that she truly was. Feeling warm liquid on her fingers, she glanced down to see a growing pool of crimson soaking the fabric at his stomach. When she looked up, she could feel her lips settling into a satisfied smirk.
“S-so you were…” he stammered.
“...One of the pirates all along?” she finished for him. “Of course!”
She twisted the knife into his gut, eliciting a sharp intake of breath from the man through his clenching jaw.
“Men. Always thinking that if a young woman is in the company of scoundrels, she must be in distress,” she continued, turning the knife with her nimble fingers to slice the heavy fabric.
“Never understanding that they’re in the presence of the most dangerous…”
She extracted the knife from his clothes through the cut.
She whirled it in her hands to slice the leather binding that encircled her wrists.
“...of them all.”
She extended and closed her fingers a few times, working the soreness out of her hands, then slashed the knife across his throat, sending a spray of blood across the back wall of the cell. He collapsed to the ground, shocked eyes staring up at her as they went lifeless.
Victoria patted his body until she felt the keys, fished them out through the sliced cloak and unlocked the irons that held her ankle. She jogged silently over to the door and pulled it open, looking furtively in each direction to find the hall empty. She slipped out of the room, dragging the door shut behind her.
She crept down the hall, flowing through the shadows, slashing the throats of two more unsuspecting guards along the way.
Finally, she was free of the place. She stopped to calm her racing heart, still unclothed, leaning against the outer wall of the fortress.
Now, to find a new crew and go after those diamonds again… she thought. Her eyes lit up with delight as she licked her lips in anticipation of the murder, mayhem, and riches to come. There could be no doubt. It was the pirate’s life for her… yo ho!