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High Seas

by Tiny Tales of Terror about a year ago in fiction
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Episode 6

James continued to bleed, though slowly, long into the night. After a while, the captain decided it was time to do something about it and went to his quarters. He rummaged around in his chest until he pulled out the poultice he had been saving for months. It was from a witch doctor. He said it would stop the bleeding of any wound but to be careful with it because it could be toxic if too much was used.

The captain applied a small amount of the poultice but it did not seem to help and he worried about using more, but he did anyway. He wasn’t going to lose the boy because some wise guy had been a little faster than him. He cursed his slow reaction time and worried that he would not be as good for these boys as he thought he would.

The bleeding finally stopped when the moon was in the middle of the sky. It was a clear, warm night, but James shook with chills. He had lost too much blood. Kruger had done the best he could, and he’d stopped the bleeding. Now all he had to do was get the boy to a port with a doctor as soon as he could. Any kind of doctor would work and would have to. Most pirates could not go see a regular doctor because they would be turned in to local authorities.

The captain checked his map of the stars and noted his position. There was a port three days from their current location. Kruger sent out a silent prayer to the sea gods and goddesses that the boy would live that long. He knew the younger ones were not yet ready to lose their leader. He did not know how they would handle it if James were to leave them for the grave.

By the end of the second day, James was more ill than anything else and his wound is not closing. He was thankfully not bleeding anymore. The boy’s eyes had dark circles under them and he looked more pale than he had after he had taken the shot. By morning, he was worse.

As Kruger pulled into the port, he knew he would have to get James to the doctor as soon as he could. He would carry James himself if he had to.

#

The doctor removed the bullet from James’s chest, but not without a large amount of pain and some blood-curtling screams. He did not have anything to numb the boy on such short notice nor did he keep such things in his house, which was where they were.

This was a doctor that Captain Kruger had gone to before, though not the witch doctor that had given him the poultice.

“Nothing would have stopped him from being in pain at this point anyway,” the doctor explained to Kruger and Ricky. “What did you put on that wound? The boy should be dead.”

“It were a poultice one ‘o the old bone shakers gave me,” Kruger told him.

“Well, whatever it was, you should keep some of it one hand. Maybe bring me a little on your next trip through. It worked like a charm,” the doctor joked. “He’ll havea scar for sure, a nasty one, but he’ll live. I’m sending some antibiotics with him to clear up the infection, but he’ll be right as rain in a week or two.”

“Aye, doc. We’ll make sure he takes ‘em like ye say te. We need him good an’ strong,” Ricky said, taking the glass bottle of powder from the doctor.

“Thank ye much fer the help. We know it’s a dangerous job ye do fer the men like us,” Kruger said, handing the doctor much more gold than was necessary. “Consider it a donation to yer business. Ye do good work.”

The doctor thanked the men kindly and suggested letting the boy sleep as much as possible in the upcoming weeks. He had told Captain Kruger and Ricky that it would help him to heal faster if he got enough sleep. He had also mentioed that the antibiotics would make him more tired and he would likely have an upset stomach. The suggestion to stay inland for a few days to allow the boy resting time was the only one they did not listen to.

“We are already bein’ followed, doc. We gots te get these boys te the coast down stream a bit. They’ll be safe there for a time,” Kruger answered with a smile. He and Ricky helped the boy to stand up again. Luckily, his legs were working fine. Kruger, though determined he would have carried James if need be, was grateful that the boy could stand on his own. He was not sure how his back would have handled carrying an almost fully grown man some fifty yards to the doctor’s beach house.

Upon James’s return to the ship, he smiled at the younger boys. It visibly lowered their anxiety levels.

They set off again almost as soon as the captain was at the helm and they were on their way to a safer place. James would be better by the time they got there and would be able to enjoy himself.

#

As James continued to get better, Kruger thought more about officially putting him in charge of the younger boys. He believed it would be good for all eight of them. It would give James a better sense of responsibility and would give the boys someone specific to go to with their questions and concerns, which James could then bring to him.

James had been up and moving around more in the last few days and they only had three left until they pulled into port. Now would be the time to let James know about his new position. It would give him time to adjust before it became a more serious leadership role.

Kruger summoned James and he arrived quickly.

“Yer lookin’ better me boy, Kruger told him.

“Aye, sir. An’ feelin’ it, too,” James replied.

“I’ve called ye ‘ere ‘cause I’ve got a proposition fer ye,” Kruger answered the unspoken question in James’s eyes. The younger man visibly relaxed at this. “Been thinkin’ ye may be ready te take on a little more responsibility ‘round ‘ere now yer better. What do ye think?”

“What kind of responsibility?” James asked aloud this time.

“Well, seein’ as yer the oldest, I be thinkin’ ye should be the one I put in charge ‘o the younger fellas. It would help them out a lot,” Kruger smiled. “An’ it’d help me out a lot, too.”

“I think I can handle that,” James responded.

“Ye think, eh?” Kruger smiled again.

“I know I can. When does this start?” James smiled back at Kruger.

“Started when ye firs’ got ‘ere. Just makin’ it official now,” Kruger answered before dismissing James to go let the other boys know.

“One more thing before I go, sir,” James turned around in the doorway.

“What can I do fer ye?” Kruger responded.

“We’d like to learn how te fight if that be okay with ye,” James told him.

“Ah, yes. About time ye said somethin’. We start in the morn’,” Kruger assured him.

“Thank ye, sir,” James said and ducked out of the room before Kruger could tell the boy to stop calling him a sir.

#

The boys were on deck at nearly the same time as the first rays of sunshine were. They were more than ready to start learning when Captain Kruger, still blurry-eyed with sleep, came up to meet them. He was happy about their enthusiasm even with his hangover. He knew this day would be both interesting and entertaining.He was as excited to teach the boys as they were to learn. He believed some of his other men were, too.

They began with easy things, such as throwing or dodging a punch. They learned how to fight hand-to-hand their first day. By the second day, though sore, they were ready for wooden sword training. They had learned a good number of stabs and slashes by the time the sun had set. They had even landed a few of their newly-learned blows that day. While they wanted to move forward with learning the use of guns, James included, Captain Kruger was hesitant. He did not want there to be any accidents.

Being more hands-on with the boys’ education, Kruger began to notice there was something special about them. There was something that made them different from the other groups he had trained. He was not sure what it was but he knew it was there.

#

Shortly after docking the ship in Hide-Away Bay, the Captain heard of a storm which had hit the Northern European shore. It had wiped out nearly every town in a thirty-mile radius of where it had hit, likely including the one from which they had taken the boys. There were next to no survivors.

Ricky and Captain Kruger were discussing whether to tell the boys right away or wait until later when James came up to them, overhearing the conversation in large, devastating detail. The words that were about to come out of his mouth died upon his lips. He looked visibly shaken.

“My mother… she’s dead, isn’t she?” James asked, nearly as pale as he had been on the day he had been shot in the chest.

“Me boy, no one coulda seen it comin’…” Ricky trailed off.

“My sister, too,” James’s Northern accent started to sneak back into his words as he spoke. “She was sick when I left.”

“Yer family be in a better place now, me boy,” Kruger told him. “No pain where they be now. Jus’ restin’ ‘n sunshine, like ladies out te have.”

“I… I, uh,” James struggled to regain himself.

“Spit it out, man,” Ricky told him, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“I came to ask if we could get some fruit,” James asked, clearly no longer bothering to hide the way he spoke.

“I think somethin’ sweet would do yer boys some good,” Captain Kruger said. Ricky handed him a small cloth bag of shillings. “Don’ let ‘em charge ye more ‘an that fruit be worth, me boy.”

“Yes, sir.” James noted the look on Kruger’s face at the term. “I mean Captain. Yes, Captain.”

“Good. Now be on yer way,” Ricky told James, patting his shoulder again.

“An’ I don’ think the youngins outta know jus’ yet,” James’s sea-accent was back. He had regained himself.

“Ye be righ’ on tha’ one,” Captain Kruger agreed.

James left to take the other boys to the fruit stands without another word and without looking like he had just leaned that they homes were now gone. Kruger and Ricky trusted he would not say anything until they told him to.

Kruger had been right that James was ready for the position he was in, even at such a young age. He was more man than boy and continued to show how strong he was even after everything that had happened. Kruger was proud that James could put the needs of the other boys and of the crew before his own feelings, though he knew where that would lead James in the future. Captain Kruger had seen it too many times before during his life at sea.

fiction

About the author

Tiny Tales of Terror

Obsessed with writing. Trying to make it as a writer and accounting student, a mom, living on my own for the first time. Crazy on top of everything else. Thanks for reading!

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