Head pounding, blood streaked, I regained consciousness.
My vision fluctuated as I spotted the crazed man shouting in a foreign tongue. My memory crushing as I grasped where I was. A putrid rocking nightmare crowded with desperation.
They had snuck into my home in the midst of the night and attempted to capture my wife and I. We had fought back ferociously knowing there could have been no worse fate. After striking one of the pirates on the head with a candlestick, they had promptly put a blade to her throat and released her soul. I’d fought for several more minutes, getting a tooth knocked out and an earlobe ribbed before succumbing to insentience.
Now I awakened here in the bottom of a grimy ship stacked arm to arm with Italians, Spaniards, Englishman, Portuguese, and French; others from as far as Iceland and everywhere in-between. We had all been captured by the Barbary pirates. Our coastal towns ransacked, our family homes raided, all of us seized; to be forced into the ghastly throes of slavery.
Many had been captured throughout the years from my home of Ireland, countless coastal cities left uninhabited after being hit repeatedly by the barbarous pirates. I sometimes felt disdain towards my people, many fleeing further inland, choosing to hide rather than to fight back, but we did not have the numbers or the weaponry. Still, I wished my people braver, to face things with courage rather than to retreat.
Animosity aside, I envied Englishman, their strong sense of patriotism seemingly sustaining them through the most challenging situations. Their zeal for king and country alighting a fire within them that few others ever cultivated.
“If we all charge em at once we might have a chance,” a dusty man proclaimed. He looked around eagerly. A Frenchman began speaking with him vehemently, while others observed wide-eyed.
“Now don’t you go making more trouble. Haven’t you heard the stories? Fight back and they put you on the galleys, sitting in your own shit the rest of your life!” A man with a heavy Scottish accent hollered.
“We ain’t living as slaves under these Moors! I’d rather die fighting!”
Several days we sat with only black bread and insufficient water. Upon reaching the shores of Morocco, they herded us off the ship and began to put us in irons. Every one of them had a piece and were under the order of the hellish Emperor of Morocco. They made a display of bludgeoning many, and killing any who dared struggle.
Irrespective, we attempted our escape. Rather taking our chances with freedom than accepting a life of maliciousness. We all darted at once whilst they had their eye on other captives. The Frenchman was bounds ahead when a bullet pierced his skull. They tackled an Italian man.
“Liberami!” He pleaded before they slashed him to pieces. Few others who had attempted evasion were promptly shot and left bleeding in the street. Only myself and the dusty man remained charging further into the town.
All eyes were on us as we dashed through a crowded souk. Nearly knocking bystanders over and leaping over mounds of dates and buckets of seasonings, we didn’t dare slow our pace. The dusty man from the ship stumbled over a pail of dried toads, and seconds later I heard a shriek and a subsequent gunshot. I didn’t risk glancing back and continued sprinting. The only thing that mattered now was continuing forward. All of this mustn’t have been in vain.
I continued winding throughout the souk, inviting both looks of loathing and sympathy. It seemed a never-ending labyrinth that I might never find my way out of. I collided with a man in regal dress who seemed to interpret my situation with so little as a glance. He invited me to his ship with benevolence.
Upon arrival I saw the Union Jack flying from the ship and the men observing me inquisitively. After rendezvousing with the man who had invited me back, the commander approached me. A majestic macaw sat upon his shoulder examining me with curiosity. I’d known the creatures to be very intelligent and to possess the ability to discern human emotions and intentions. The creature tilted its head and slightly stretched his wings, revealing a cascade of vivid teal with intensities of scarlet and yellow within its feathers. An affable squawk emanated from the bird before it began to shake its head in an eager manner.
“You are welcome upon our ship.” The commander addressed me as the macaw began to groom itself tranquilly. “Will you disembark when we dock in Portugal? Or remain with us on our journey to America?
For a spilt second I had thoughts of the past, of whom I could trust, of the actions of Kingdoms, but they just as soon vanished; remembering that we were individual men who could only prosper by moving forward.
“I will remain.” The only thing that mattered now was what was ahead. Quarrels and wars between men whom were not us, of choices that were not ours, could no longer constrain our lives.
“Very well. I believe our journey to America will prove just. I foresee a settlement where all men will possess liberty.” The Englishman shook my hand, and the ship sailed onward.
About the author
M.R. Cameo generally writes horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and nonfiction, yet enjoys dabbling in different genres. She is currently doing freelance work as a writer, ghostwriter, copywriter, editor, and proofreader for various publications.