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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Story: Stacey's World

Author's Note: What? Two posts in one week? Yes, indeedy! Don't get used to it, though. This is just an extra-special bonus story for you to enjoy, but in reality it serves as my entry into The Short Story and Flash Fiction Society's "Short Story #6". Please head on over there and tell them in the comments how much you want me to win!

On to the story. I hope you enjoy it!

“How dare you talk to Mistress Stacey that way!”

Cap'n Stacey held her arm out across Jack's chest. “Easy there, Jack,” she said. Her First Mate was loyal to a fault, but he could also be impulsive and stupid sometimes. “I'll handle this.”

Turning to the old crone, she continued, “Now, old woman, if you will just give us what we came here for, we shall be off this island, and on our way. The sword, if you please.”

The old woman threw her head back and cackled. “You mean my island, lass,” she said. “And as I told you, the price for the sword is five hundred gold pieces.”

Stacey drew her sword, and lunged towards the woman, but was stopped dead in her tracks when she heard a loud bang to her right, where Jack was standing. She spun around to see what it was, only to discover that Jack had disappeared.

The captain's face went blood red, and her fist tightened on her sword. “You old crone,” she said, “what have you done to my first mate?”

Ribbit.

Stacey looked down. Sitting there on the floor of the old crone's cave was a large bullfrog. The frog looked up at her and blinked, and the miniature cocked hat sitting on its head cocked just a little further to the left.

“Jack?” said Stacey, and her eyes went wide with incredulity. “Is that you?”

The crone cackled once more. “As I said, dearie,” she said, “this is my island, and the price for the sword is five hundred gold... oh, and that adorable little frog.”

“I don't know what you've done,” said the captain, “and I don't really want to know. We're getting the hell off this island!”

“Not so fast!” boomed a loud voice, previously unheard. “It looks as though you're now in need of a First Mate, my dear.”

As Stacey watched, it became obvious from whence this new voice came, for the sword in question began to levitate off the stone table it had been lying on. Once it had reached a suitable height, it rotated, and hung in the air, pommel facing the floor, blade pointing towards the ceiling.

This was all getting a little too strange for Stacey, and she began to back away slowly towards the open doorway to the cave.

The sword moved, so fast that it seemed to disappear, and re-appeared behind Stacey's back. She spun around to face it, and it waved menacingly at her in the air.

“That was not a suggestion. Pay the woman.”

Stacey's jaw dropped. Her hand opened and the sword she was holding fell to the floor with a clank. She turned around and removed the pouch of gold from her belt. Not even bothering to count out the money, she tossed it on the table in front of the old woman. Then she turned and moved swiftly out of the cave, with the talking, levitating sword flying closely behind her.

***

Waiting patiently on the beach beside the landing boat, Otto and Terry were casually chatting away, waiting for their captain to return. Hearing a rustle in the jungle, both sprang alert, expecting to see Stacey and her First Mate, Jack, emerge.

Stacey came rushing out of the trees, her ample bosom bouncing pleasantly up and down in her bodice. The two men stared at her, little drops of saliva beginning to form on their lips.

They were snapped out of it no more than a second later, when their captain began shouting to “Get it off me!” The two looked at each other quizzically, before they saw a disembodied sword floating behind her.

“What's this, Cap'n?” asked Otto. “And where is Jack?”

“Never you mind,” snapped their leader. “Take this sword down, now!”

Unsure how they were going to fight a sword with no wielder, Otto and Terry nonetheless drew their own swords and leapt forward. Each of them took a swing, but the disembodied sword deftly dodged both attacks. Stacy drew a knife from her belt and joined the fray, but her attacks were also easily avoided.

“Where's... your... sword?” huffed Terry.

“Lost it,” grunted the Captain, as she took another lunge towards the floating weapon.

“Mistress, please,” came a voice from the direction of the sword.

Otto and Terry immediately stopped.

“Can it talk?” asked Otto.

Stacey also stopped fighting, as she realised it would do no good. “Apparently so,” she said.

“Please,” continued the sword. “It is not my wish to hurt anyone. I only wanted to get away from the clutches of Miss Martha. She is an evil, evil woman.”

Stacey spoke up. “You seemed pretty intent on harming me back at the cave.”

“I had to put up a show,” said the sword. “If she had let you take me without payment, or without a fight, who knows what she would have done. Probably destroyed me, at the very least. She can do that, you know.”

“I see,” said Stacey. “And just what am I supposed to do with you?”

“My name is Promo,” replied the sword. “I am a very capable fighter, strategist, and tactician. And I wasn't joking when I observed that you were in need of a First Mate. If the position is available, it would be my honour.”

With that, Promo gave a deep bow by bringing his point almost level with Stacey's chest.

Stacey considered this a moment. “Very well,” she said, after a long pause. “I suppose it could be useful, having a magic sword around. And besides,” she gestured to the empty scabbard at her belt, “I seem to be short a sword, as well.”

When the unlikely group of Captain Stacey, her men Otto and Terry, and her magic sword cum First Mate Promo, were in the boat, about ready to shove off, another rustling could be heard coming from the jungle. As they looked up, they heard a voice:

“Wait for me!”

A moment later, a large ginger tabby-cat came bounding out of the trees. It did not stop running until it reached the boat, whereupon it hopped aboard.

“Oh please, mistress,” said the cat. It's mouth moved comically as it spoke, much to the surprise of Stacey and her men. But, she reasoned, if there are talking swords in this world, then a talking cat isn't very far fetched.

“Let me come with you,” continued the cat. “My name is Spice, and I've been trying to get away from old Martha for the longest time. I'll be very good, I promise.”

Stacey looked at Promo, who gave the closest approximation to a shrug that a disembodied weapon could possibly give.

“Might as well,” he said. “Martha doesn't treat her animals too well, and I shudder to think what might come of old Spice, now that I'm not around to protect him.”

Stacey sighed. “Very well,” she said, “As long as you don't make a nuisance of yourself.”

***

Over the next several days, Stacey, her First Mate Promo, and Spice the cat, sailed the Seven Seas along with their motley crew. As Spice had predicted, they heard nothing from the old witch, Martha, who never really liked her cat anyway, and was in fact quite pleased to see him go. Spice did express, with some sadness for Stacey's part, his concern for how the witch would be treating Jack, the cock hat wearing bullfrog, and Stacey's former first mate.

It didn't take long, though, for it to become apparent to Stacey why Martha hadn't minded the loss of her cat. Spice was a nuisance. Aside from lamenting Jack's likely fate, he insisted on complaining about absolutely everything.

He complained that there wasn't enough to eat. When he caught a rat, he complained that it was tough and scrawny, and not succulent and juicy like the rats he used to catch back in the jungle. When he was ignored, he complained that he was not given enough attention. When Stacey would reach down from her favourite chair to stroke Spice, he would complain that she was smothering him.

Promo suggested on more than one occasion that they throw Spice overboard, or slaughter him, and on more than one occasion, Stacey was inclined to agree with him. However, she simply could not bring herself to get rid of the wonderful talking cat.

One evening, during a terrible storm, Otto was running around the deck, shouting orders on behalf of his captain, and supervising the reefing of sails and the battening down of hatches. In his haste to run to one of the men to explain to him how to do it properly, he accidentally kicked poor old Spice, who was cowering against the mast.

The cat went flying through the air, over the edge of the ship, and into the water. Realising immediately what he had done, he raced to the railing in time to see Spice treading water in the choppy sea. Lightning flashed in the distance, and Otto didn't know what to do.

He called for the captain, who arrived just in time to see a massive whale ascend from the deep and swallow Spice whole.

***


The captain had been livid that day, but overall she was pleased at how well they had weathered the storm. That evening, she had sat in her armchair, sipping a healthy glass of rum, enjoying the silence, and quietly saying goodbye to the cat who wouldn't stop complaining.

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