Gulls

A girl was found on an island by a passing cargo ship, she does not speak the language of her rescuers and seems to be able to talk to seagulls. Sorry if my use of Japanese is incorrect, I am only just learning the language.

This was written for an image prompt competition. It is my first story and any comments would be welcome.

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4. In the engine room

The heat in the air made her breath catch in her chest. The smell overwhelmed her, the dust in the air filling her eyes with tears.

Almost toppling from her sense of nausea, combined with the rolling of the deck under her feet, she managed to take a few shaky steps before collapsing.

She gave a high squeak as one of the bustling men kicked her, tripping. The man saved himself with an outstretched arm, turning to her, saying something in a low growl that was drowned out by the clatter of the engines.

The man continued to stare at her with a poisonous glare. She couldn't see his face clearly through the smoke, but she could sense his eyes.

The girl fled to the side of the room, scrambling on all fours.

There, she sat, waiting for her vision to clear. As she could gradually come to make out the shapes of men and boilers, she noticed that Chick was sitting beside her. He was pruning himself, and spared her a glance before turning his attention back to his white under feathers. The blurred sight of him, ever so vain, made her smile.

"Anata wa watashitoisshoni koko ni oritekuru hitsuyo wa arimasendeshita," letting him know that he could have— should have, escaped the situation while his precious feathers were untouched.

Chick didn't answer.

While having to blink more rapidly than she was used to, the girl sat and watched the men work. There were constantly new men to replace any who were tiring, the door would open and close regularly as each passed through, alternating between the slightly cooler air of the deck above and the breathtaking heat below.

The work looked simple enough, as it seemed to only comprise of shoveling coal into the boilers. Though it took some time before she thought she was able to cope with the heat.

She stood and picked her way around to the other side of the room, careful to stay out the way of the men, acutely aware that they were all at least two heads taller than herself.

She found the box containing the shovels and dodged through the bodies to a boiler where she had noticed a man who limped. The girl, upon approaching the boiler, felt that the heat was intense enough to blister, that she was standing on the sun.

Biting down on her lip to stop herself from crying out, she stuck her shovel into the mound of coal and threw it into the eager mouth of the boiler. After a few minutes the man with a limp went away and another man came to replace him.

She got shouldered out of the way, forced to fall back out of the immediate heat.

At first she was relieved, then, as her vision adjusted she saw a man gesturing to her curtly.

"Who the devil are you an' what are you up to, disturbin' our work?" the man demanded. He was spindly, but tall in the extreme, making him intimidating as she stood before him. The girl was unsure whether it was anger, the strange light of the boilers' furnaces or the heat that made his face take up the spectacular shade of red it had.

"Nashi." the girl said. Shaking her head. Uncomprehending.

"Speak up, girl!"

"Nashi." he was talking too fast.

"Didn't nobody teach you how to talk?" his shouting had become loud enough that it could be heard, over the sound of the machines, at any given deck above.

The girl saw Chick behind the man, ready to leap to her defence. She shook her head urgently. Trying to catch the seagull's attention.

"Fred, you ought to calm down," a man walked into the room, distracting Fred's attention from her.

Fred vented his annoyance. But it never threatened to get to the point of violence. They seemed like old friends.

The other man did manage to placate him enough for him to stalk off, going to the stack of shovels. She noticed that most of the other men kept a bubble of open space around him, in case he should lash out.

"Come," this new man held open the door for her.

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