Sunday, April 19, 2009

Notes Adrift


          The shrill yell from the crow's nest startled me out of my reverie. I had just been gazing out to sea, watching the sunlight dance on the waves like so many precious diamonds. I had been lost in thought, as one tends to be after being at the helm of a ship for as long as I have.
          I looked up at Johnny, the young cabin boy moonlighting as our lookout, as he shimmied down the mast like an excitable gibbon. The scowl on my face must have been quite evident as he immediately got a sheepish look on his face.
           "Apologies, Cap'n!" he said. "But I thought you'd be wanting to know I spotted an island on the horizon due south of our position."
          I smiled wryly.
          "Your keen eye is the only reason I let you up there, lad," I said.
          The boy blushed.
          "Sorry Sir, but I love the view, is all. It's really something."
          "Yes, it really is spectacular," I agreed.
          "You been up there before, Cap?"
          "Of course, lad! I had my fair share of lookout duties when I was around your age. I wasn't always in charge of the Clarion, you know. She's been around a fair while, and I dare say I've been one of her most faithful sailors. Now, go tell the first-mate the news. Give her the new heading and tell her to set sail immediately. We may just save the poor soul yet."
          Johnny gave a salute and ran off. I looked due south to see if I could see the island he had spotted, squinting as I did so. Alas, these poor eyes weren't what they used to be, and I could make nothing out but the ostensibly infinite expanse of the sea, stretching out to meet the horizon.


Chapter 1

          After speaking with Lumeria about how long it would take us to reach the island, I returned to my cabin and picked up the message lying on my desk. The paper on which it was written was old and brown, and beside it sat a small green bottle, uncorked. I read once again, trying to spot any new clues or detail I’d missed. Then again, even without the message, there was ample detail.
          I am proud to say that the Clarion has one of the most learned (albeit eclectic) bunch of sailors to ever make up a crew. Each one of them has continually braved the sea for at least six years, at least two of those under me. And a handful of them have become my most trusted companions, despite (or perhaps because of) their particular odd traits.
          There's the first-mate, Lumeria Somro, who was once a navy commander serving in the Palantean War ten years ago. She may be a gruff sort of character, but it's no exaggeration to say that she's a better handler of the Clarion than even I am, despite all my years.
          There's Euram Wilde, the bosun, who just so happens to be an expert (some would claim obsessed) botanist. One look at his quarters and you'd fancy you stumbled into a miniature lost paradise, what with all the colourful flora scattered about. His faux greenhouse also seems to support a small ecosystem of insects, and it is for that reason that Lumeria avoids his quarters at all costs. I've always found her phobia of insects amusing.
          And then there's Johnny Egret. Now there's a sad story. Father killed in the war, mother tried to dump him in a ditch at birth but was instead found out, caught and hanged. I found him in a filthy little workhouse when he was seven, and immediately procured his freedom and gave him a new home and new family on the Clarion. He proved to be a valuable member of the crew with his insatiably inquisitive nature, cheerful demeanour and sharp eyes. And it was precisely those eyes that had spotted the little green bottle floating in the sea, decided it was important, and pointed it out to us. How he had managed this from high up in the crow's nest, I can’t imagine.
          Fishing it out of the deep blue waters and prying the cork loose was quite the crowd-puller. For some reason, every member of our fifteen-man crew was present, craning their heads and even standing on crates trying to get a better look at it. Given all the exciting tavern stories of life at sea, you'd have thought that messages in bottles were commonplace, but really, most sailors never encountered any. Or rather, if they did, it was almost shrugged off as flotsam.
          When I pulled out the cork, I immediately noticed how old the paper was. Judging from the wrinkling, it had obviously gotten wet and then been dried. It was quite dry still, as the bottle had been quite watertight. There was also a slight odd odour, which I later realized emanated from a small rotting flower.
          "Mr. Wilde?" I said to Euram as I handed him the flower's remains.
          "I can’t say for sure what genus it could be, Captain. Given its state of rot, this will require closer examination before I can say for certain."
          Lumeria put a finger to her lips.
          "I'm more curious as to why it was put in there in the first place," she thought aloud.
          The neck of the bottle was narrow, and only Johnny's youth-nimble fingers could prise the rolled-up piece of paper out. He was about to unroll it, then realized every eye on him, some sterner than others. He blushed and sheepishly handed it to me.
          Lumeria and Euram stood beside me as I read the spidery writing aloud to the crew.

          I looked up and was greeted with silence. No one spoke. No one moved. Some of the crew looked at each other.
          "Umm... Cap'n?"
          All eyes turned to Johnny.
          "We gonna try and save 'im?" he asked.
          "Sounds like a good idea to me. Let's get to it then!" I said, turning to the crew.
          I asked Euram to thoroughly examine the flower as quick as possible and told Lumeria and the rest of the crew to wait for further information before setting off. With that, I clapped a hand on Johnny's shoulder.
          "Not to worry, lad. If this man's still alive and waiting, we'll bring him home."

By Chester with 4 comments


Hehe thanx. Wrote it in an English lesson.

Very nice work. =)

I really liked the attention to detail in the Prologue, especially the way you described the scene from the captain's p.o.v...

I noticed though that, at first, you named the bosun as Euram Wilde but later referred to him as Oscar... Haha... I guess we know where the name came from then... :)

Keep up the good work!


Oooh... nice catch. Gonna fix that now haha.

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