|The Bonny Ship
Author: M. Forthe PM
There is an island on the fringes of the ocean. It devours ships. Entire crews vanish, never heard from again. Shipwrecked on this very island, Evalyn Ross discovers that surviving the wreck is only the beginning, for there be pirates on these shores. FINAL EDITING.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Chapters: 18 - Words: 139,875 - Reviews: 114 - Favs: 131 - Follows: 21 - Updated: 02-01-13 - Published: 07-08-09 - Status: Complete - id: 2694801
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Ok guys, I know it seems that I just got done editing this story, but what you didn't know was that behind all that editing I was doing even more in-depth editing, getting ready to let go of this story forever and either get it published or delete it. So what I'm putting up now is the final version of the story. No more editing (except typos and grammatical errors). Thanks so much for your patience!
There is an island on the fringes of the ocean. It is not recorded on any charts, nor is it known to any man. It devours ships. Entire crews vanish and are not heard from again. When Evalyn Ross is shipwrecked on this very island, she discovers that surviving the wreck is only the beginning, for there be pirates on these shores.
She's a bonny ship, the ship I sail,
a prettier ship you'll never see.
Midst storm and thunder we won't fail,
my bonny ship and me.
—"The Bonny Ship"
The wind tossed upon the sea, sending icy spray high up into the snapping lines and canvases of the small merchant vessel. The ship swayed wildly like a paper boat caught in a maelstrom. It gave its crew hardly any protection. Sailors scurried about the deck, their shouts drowned in the howling of the storm.
Even below decks the storm was wreaking its havoc, sending everything—secured or not—across the pitching floor. Stowed away in her tiny cabin, Eva clung desperately to her bunk, trying not to be thrown from it as the vessel gave a particularly violent shudder. Everything was askew, including the floor, which seemed to have suddenly turned sideways. Certain that she was about to be sunk, she closed her eyes and groaned when the ship righted itself with a snap. Her stomach gave an unsettling heave.
Right about then, she decided that she would rather risk her life by going above decks than suffer the incredibly nauseous sensations that she was experiencing at the moment. Stifling her queasiness, she pried her white-knuckled fingers from the edges of her bunk and managed to stand on shaky legs. She had to hold one hand over her mouth as she splashed across the dim cabin, trying not to let out what little food she had consumed at dinner. Finally she reached the door.
Her lamp had gone out long ago when it clattered to the floor. Luck had nothing to do with the fact that it did not start a fire when it smashed upon the wooden floorboards. It was simply the seawater that was beginning to seep into the cabin, already up to her ankles. When this was over, she'd give the captain a good scolding for assigning her to a room far down in the belly of the ship, near the cargo hold. Rationality told her that the ship was a merchant ship designed for carrying cargo, and that her cabin was the only available space for a passenger. Fear ignored rational thought and made her quite angry at everything—the captain, the storm, and even her father for sending her on such a voyage.
Scared and sick, Eva forced the door open, clinging to the narrow stairs in front of her as she clambered her way up on hands and knees. She hesitated for a moment as she neared the deck, wincing while water pelted her from above. The rolling and pitching of the ship had intensified during her journey upward, and she was wet and cold from the seawater that spilled through the leaky hatch in the ceiling. She worried that things would not be better above, but it was too late to turn back. Her cabin was probably half-filled with water by then. She could only move upward. Inhaling sharply, she closed her eyes tightly, bit her lip, and forced herself up the rest of the way.
Throwing back the hatch, she scrambled onto the slippery deck, shivering and wide-eyed as she finally saw the storm that had beset the ship. Heavy, dark clouds churned in the sky, an impenetrable wall of shadow, occasionally shocked by the flash of lightning. Thunder boomed—or was it the sails slapping loudly in the wind? One sail she saw had not been properly furled, and it flapped freely, swinging violently back and forth and dragging several loose lines with it. With worried dismay, she spotted one sailor upon the crosstree, trying to subdue the sail. He latched onto one of the ropes in an attempt to anchor the loose canvas down again, but the sheer force of the wind yanked him from his perch and ripped the line right out of his hands. He was flung out over the tumultuous ocean waves, where he disappeared.
Eva remembered just then that swimming did not come easily to her. Blast.
"Evalyn!" A loud shout suddenly burst in her ear, startling her frightfully.
Whirling around, she caught sight of the offending person a mere few inches from her. The man took her tightly by the fabric of her shirt, hauling her swiftly out of the way as a frosty wave overtook the ship, washing over the deck with surprising force.
"Mr. Anderson!" she replied gratefully, recognizing the drenched man. Long strands of his wet hair blew in unruly trails across his face. His hat, which he always wore, was either safely stowed away, or lost forever to the ocean. "Will we make it?" she asked, her voice nearly lost in the whirlwinds that whipped across the deck.
"What are you doing here?" he bellowed, deaf to her questions.
"I—" Eva tried to respond, but she was cut off by another wave. The captain's firm grip on her was the only thing that kept her from being swept overboard.
"I told you to stay in your cabin!" the man continued once the wave had subsided for a moment. "Evalyn, return below decks and wait for the storm to pass!"
"I c-can't!" she retorted, shivering violently as he pulled her tightly against him with one arm, his other hand gripping a rope with vice-like fingers. She noticed that the same rope was secured around his waist, its other end tied around one of the masts.
A hard brown gaze met her eyes. "You can't?" he repeated.
"My cabin is filled with water!" she explained.
"What?" the man inquired in a loud, troubled shout.
Eva repeated herself directly in his ear, and he drew back immediately, a shocked frown upon his face.
"That can't be!"
She nodded. "It most assuredly is so, Mr. Anderson!"
Letting out a frustrated growl, the captain took her hands firmly in his and placed them around a part of his rope—his lifeline. He indicated with a nod of his head that she follow him, and she did so, clinging desperately to the rope. The deck of the ship, not large as far as ships went, seemed to go on for eternity, a vast stretch of water, wind, and chaos. Captain Anderson slipped once and skidded several feet across the slippery wood, dragging her with him. The rope went taught, straining at their combined weight, but it steadfastly refused to give way. The captain managed to pull himself into a standing position again, helping her up as well. She glanced to the side and noticed that they had not been far from being flung completely off the side of the ship. If she hadn't before, Eva was beginning to question her decision to come above decks.
Rain pelted them from every direction, falling every way except straight downward, stinging little droplets that prickled the skin and momentarily blinded the eye. Finally they reached a relatively safe, sheltered corner of the deck, and Eva thought they might be safe there. Just then, she heard a shattering crack that exceeded all from the preceding thunderous chorus, but she could not quite tell what had happened. A momentary shadow fell across the pitching deck before Captain Anderson, his face whitening, pulled Eva out of the way, both of them landing flat just before the mainmast struck the deck. The entire ship shivered, groaning under the weight of the useless mast, its jagged ends protruding into the sky and its loose sail dragging in the water.
Trailing like an anchor, the sail rocked the protesting vessel, and Eva stared into Captain Anderson's terrified eyes. They both realized then that nothing would stop the storm from tearing the tiny ship apart until there was not a single board left to float upon the ocean. Letting out a nervous gasp, Eva felt her grip loosen in the icy spray, and she fumbled for anything to cling to. Her hand, which she hastily wrapped around the captain's wrist, began to slip, and despite his attempts to hold her, it came loose. Before she could grasp another hold, the ship tilted precariously upon its side, and she was flung into the ocean. She barely had time for one last breath before shockingly cold water enveloped her.
Her lungs felt as though they would burst as she tried to push her way toward what she thought might be the surface, which kept shifting as she tumbled through the water, her head spinning. Each time she managed to reach the surface, another wave shoved her back under with indomitable force. Still struggling, she was suddenly knocked further down by something hard and heavy. In the dim, watery light, she recognized a crate of cargo that had fallen from the ship. Relief swept through her and she hastily took hold of the slippery wood as it rushed back up to the surface. Eva clung to it with desperation as her sight began to fade into black. Bursting from the water, she gasped as if her lungs would never have enough air again, coughing and spluttering as the blackness began to recede from her vision.
At first she could not climb onto the crate, but with dogged determination and several attempts, she finally, wearily pulled herself over it, clinging to it for what was literally her life. An eternity seemed to pass as she was tossed across the water, carried farther from the storm and the churning waves. Finally all was still. Eva—exhausted and cold—was rocked gently to sleep by the very swells that had recently tried to kill her.