Lost Soul: A flash fic
I cling to the rusting bars as the ship veers to its side. The pirate guarding me topples off his barrel, his legs scuttling in the air like a beetle. I choke on laughter. He’s new. Anyone else would know to find something to cling onto in the middle of a storm. I smile as a rat scurries under my bars.
The imbecile rights himself, spits on the wooden deck a good distance in front of me. “None of your cackles, witch!”
“Witch? And me the Captain’s wife!” My tattered crimson dress, singed at the edges, brushes my ankles. As for the soul I’d taken such finery from-
“He ain’t calling you that no more.”
Fuck’s sake. Captain Johnny Three-Hands had guessed.
It’d been our third week at sea when Capn had tired of me and gone back to his ninny wife, Selene. He’d killed me and all. On another night lit with phosphorous.
I’d marked the voodoo man’s drunken mutterings as a kid on Tortuga. Whoever looks into the flame will switch souls with the first person they behold. Only that time, there’d been no soul to switch-er-roo with for I’d bled out too fast. I’d been trapped in the green light.
Months later, I found them again; the ocean roiling something terrible as my storm hit. Capn’s soft wife had tried to get below deck, but she’d tripped on a coil of rope. The sea had gone dreadful calm. My green fire tipped down the ship’s mast and along the deck, and wifey had stared deep into the light.
Oh, thinking about it makes me so happy.
The pirate shuffles on hands and knees now, groping for his precious barrel as the ship lurches yet again. He bumps into the thick damask clumsily covering the porthole and pulls to lumber to his feet. I watch hungrily as the makeshift curtain rips in his hands. Natural light falls in front of his barrel.
Soon. Soon it shall be time. The rat stands up on its hindlegs and sniffs delicately. It’s right in front of the pirate, but the pirate hasn’t noticed.
“Why you so quiet?” The pirate licks his lips and I can practically taste his nerves. He’s stepped closer without realising it. He’s almost on the rat. The light is growing from the porthole.
Warmth spreads through me as I remember how the Capn’s wife looked deep into my electric heart and then at the ship’s cat.
“You OK?” Another step closer.
My fists clench. One more step. One more.
I feel it brewing overhead. St Elmo’s fire waiting to make a comeback.
I’d enjoyed throwing Selene, the black cat, overboard, her claws raking blood. And this one? This one’d make a good rat.