Friday Fiction

An excerpt of a scene from one of my NaNoWriMo works that reached the semi-finalist stage in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition.

 

My feet shuffled as my pace slowed, my eyes just able to make out the shape of the Elizabeth through the pre-dawn darkness. She had moved upstream from Hallowed Ground. Not far, but enough to keep me from having to tread there. The blood-red sails flapped in the winter wind, causing me to shiver even though I was protected from the biting chill. I searched the deck as we got closer, looking for a friendly face, but neither Donovan or Raemeus was in sight. I supposed they were still preparing for departure, each having their own duties to get the ship ready to disembark. As my vision grew accustomed to the darkness, I couldn’t help but gaze at the water line of the ship. It was unremarkable – just like every other ship I’d ever seen – a faint lightening of the wood where the saltwater encroached on the wood, slowly petrifying it. But to me, the water line was more significant. Below that line, onboard the ship, was the cargo bay of the Elizabeth.

Where people had been kept. Where some had been chained like prisoners and others, oblivious to their impending fate, had likely mulled about waiting for the long journey to end. I could almost hear them talking of their dreams, a new life to start over at Saint Cecilia. The promise of steady work, no disease, a place to raise a family. I couldn’t wash the visions out of my head, almost able to see the exact clothing they had worn as they waited below deck. The ship I had adored was more a vessel of death than of freedom. Yet I would spend the next few days in her womb, using her for safety when she had acted as a killer for so many others. With sudden revulsion, I realized I hated the Elizabeth with as much passion as I had previously adored her.

“Don’t hate her. She’s merely a ship.”

I hadn’t noticed Donovan’s presence. He had taken my arm and sent Kariel back down the path toward the house. He was leading me up the plank, holding my elbow gently to guide me, and his voice held a soft yet commanding tone.

“Remember what I said about your will?”

“It can’t be questioned, more or less?”

He nodded, turning me to face him. Under the muted lights of the Elizabeth, his dark eyes sparkled, reflecting back the flames of torches lining the loading platform. Although he was still speaking quietly, a murmur at most, his voice was full of warning. He cupped my face in his hands before he spoke, as if to make sure that my attention could not be diverted and I would focus only on the importance of his words.

“If you doom her, you doom us all.”

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