Pirate Peril

Sequel to Winter Crisis. I wrote this around 6 months ago, before I knew about this website, but enjoy all the same! Sorry for the current absence of a cover, I'll have one soon, as it is handrawn. And I'll also find the blurb to add.
We join Lydia on her second adventure, as she sets out on the deep when chaos hits home. Can she survive the raging waters?
(Complete.)

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15. When We Fall Down

Clenching the first rung of the ladder, Lydia swerved around the half-barrel and hauled herself up. Only just fitting into the small shaft, she reached the top. The two rope ends that had already made an imprint on her hands were now being tied to the tips of the parallel bars. Silently, she began to tow the barrel in. When it was approximately half a metre from the base of the hold, it came to a halt, hanging alongside the suspense before edging it’s way gradually upwards, while the sound of footsteps edged it’s way to Lydia’s ears. Someone was coming.

The girl yanked the rope ends, causing the barrel to progress sharply upwards. There was still ten metres separating her and her equipment. Scenarios began playing in her head: her falling, her being pushed, her losing the water, her getting caught… The list went on. Little did she know, these were the least of her worries as the owner of the oncoming footsteps came into view. It was another version of Tough Guy. His muscles were large and unbelievably glowing, his eyes also possessed the same malicious glint. As though on purpose, he stood directly beneath her little well. At that moment, the ‘homemade’ bucket jerked in Lydia’s grasp and the water sloshed to the side, threatening to spill over. A lone drop burst from the threshold, attaching itself to a metal band on the half-barrel. She froze. Now she was wasting valuable time, so, sluggishly, she tugged on the ropes, causing the barrel to seemingly come unstuck. It shifted it’s way up the narrow shaft and Lydia weakly pulled it over the bar. There she sat; staring down at her hands-if she could stare at her hands, the things that she had just tried so desperately to save were laying useless in her hands and she was left puzzling over what to do. “Everyone out!” The male voice echoed throughout the night. Lydia turned, it was coming from behind her. She moved slowly in her position, only to almost fall when she realized there was little more than a metre between the ladder and the verge of the roof-deck. Lydia scanned the scene below before dragging the equipment to her side: what must have been hundreds of pirates were gathered, surrounding a group of prisoners. As soon as she saw them, what should have been a yell escaped her throat. “Dad!” She whispered. It was like an afterthought-however, she didn’t want it to be an afterthought, though it was forced to be so. The only thing that could change that was continuing on-living on.

Jason began to speak. “Now, where is she?” He was referring to ‘Lilly’. It was obvious. “Here she is.” Tough Guy pushed a young girl forward. Studying the girl, whose blonde hair was tied back in plaits, she found slim figure facing unexpectedly towards her. The slim pirate began digging around in a boat full of objects, but he was interrupted by Tough Guy yelling, “She’s blue-eyed and blonde-haired, she shouldn’t ‘ave to put up with this!” He shoved the slim pirate aside and fished a match from the labyrinth. “I’m not using that oversized thing!” Lilly complained. Her eyes were trained on Tough Guy’s hand with disgust. “You know it’s required! How else will you burn them?” Lilly rolled her eyes at Jason. “Are you sure you don’t want to change?” Her father (Jason) asked. She stared down at her clothes, her top, skirt, socks and boots weren’t the warmest  thing she’d ever worn but they were her favourite, so she shook her head in response.

At the foot of the crowd, two toddlers were talking. “She’s moody.” “Yeah, very moody.” “I know, why don’t she hit ‘em with that pointy thing!” Everyone followed the infant’s finger to the small pocket knife hanging at Lilly’s side. “Well, isn’t that a good idea…” Smirked Jason. Lydia gulped. “Why don’t you start with this nice man here, Lilly?” He gestured to Lydia’s father, caged in by ropes and wood. Her heart took on a whole new beat-one that she was afraid would end in her father’s body soon. By now, Lilly was twirling her pocket knife impatiently. Then it dawned on her. “You want me to do what?!” Her face showed only shock, there was no room for other emotions. Jason’s face was stern. Realizing she had not impressed her father, Lilly nodded, straightened up and turned to the mast, where the prisoners were tied up. The sooner this was over, the better. Although, in Lydia’s mind, she never wanted it to end, because it would mean her father had to die. Clutching it in her hands, she stared at the half-barrel of water and emotionally deflated as it came over her that it was entirely useless. It was like having thick clothes when you needed thin ones, or having a towel when you needed to wet something, or having water when someone was about to kill with a knife and not fire. Lydia sat there like a statue, afraid that if she moved, it would crumble, and she would fall. The lid of the hatch behind her creaked eerily. It was moving! At a snail’s pace, it jutted downwards. Unexpectedly, it snapped to a close over Lydia’s foot. Meanwhile, Lilly’s feet were growing ever closer to where the prisoners ‘stood’, her knife was drawn and she was in mid-step. Young children were huddled in a group, their eyes gazing at the knife, their brains whirring with thoughts, while they were waiting to see the killing as if it were the latest Barbie movie. Some pirates were getting impatient, some weary. Many think that was when time slipped into slow motion. Lydia gasped and turned, seeing her foot was caught, she jumped back. Feeling the ground disappear underneath her, she wrapped her arms around the barrel, sending it on a course to destruction. Her hands strained to reach the beam, touching it briefly, but continuing her descent soon after. Lydia could hear screams resonating through the night-without realizing they were hers.

Hair whipped Lydia’s face as she rushed through the air. Fear gripped her heart, pulling at it, stealing her breath. Inches from her face was the half-barrel, looming like a meteor, ready to burn up the earth. The deck seemed to magically materialise below her. Her back hit the deck first with a jolt of pain, and then the remainder of her body crashed down, the barrel flying from her hold prior to the enormous pool of liquid collecting at the edge of the scene. Other than the hushing sound of the sea and the barrel slowing to a stop on the planks, everything was silent. Lydia was sprawled spread-eagle on the deck, her brown locks blending with the bland colours of the ship, her chest rising and falling rapidly.

Through the thudding of her heart, Lydia opened her eyes. Initially, all she saw was the sun, beating down on her like an incredibly hot punishment, but later, Lydia pried her lashes apart to see Lilly standing over her, head cocked, perhaps considering what she should think of her, looking at her with her penetrating blue eyes. If it wasn’t apparent already, Lydia would’ve thought that she hadn’t just fallen-she’s fallen into a mystery. A mystery deeper than the sea swirling around her or the hold that stood lifeless beneath her.

You could’ve said the world faded into black (or blue) then, that Lydia had the life frightened out of her-literally-that she hid from danger by leaving it behind altogether. Some would’ve sworn she was dead, and still would today. Many would’ve tried to convince you she was asleep, also heading into the world of Z’s themselves (most likely to avoid talking to you, whether you’re boring or not). But there was a handful that would scream that she was still alive; not showing joy, in its place would be malice. Silence can kill. Even though it didn’t, something was keeping the threats at bay, and while her back lay against the stale-smelling wood, she wondered if the same miracles were working back home.

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