Note: After an adventure has run its course, I collect the posts together so readers don’t have to jump around the blog to re-read the story. Originally this spanned a month’s time, posting each Thursday and continuing according to how readers voted in the comments. The comments you see at the end now are therefore what readers voted on the first post in this story. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy.
Welcome to a brand new adventure story!
Two weeks ago we finished the Jockey Trouble Adventure. If you’re interested, you can read it here.
Otherwise, let’s jump in and see how the seas are treating us =)
The wooden ship creaks as the heightening waves rock it fore and aft. Panic threatens your stomach as the men, old crew and new alike, shout to be heard over the thundering ocean. It’s going to be a mighty storm and your hiding place under the cabin sole in the bilge might flood in the next few hours.
It’s only supposed to be a day’s journey to Albina, where you hope to find work, but with the storm, your time on the pirate’s ship could be a lot longer. Already your clothes are soaked with sea water that sloshes in the bottom of the ship, so you’ll have to be careful not to leave a trail when you move, but you have to move and soon. And somehow find a spot the pirates won’t find.
They’re unlikely to cook during the storm, you figure, so you decide to aim for the partially empty barrel of potatoes strapped to the wall of the galley. You press the cabin sole upward and peek out. There’s no movement below deck except from the erratic swinging of hammocks. Slipping out into the open, you stumble when the ship heaves and there’s a crack of thunder. You catch yourself on a water barrel and it tilts under your weight. It happens that it wasn’t sealed properly and water splashes out from under the lid, leaving large splotches of water everywhere from your clothing and the barrel.
Guess that works.
You scurry over to the galley. A few tugs at the potato barrel lid—which was sealed properly—and it opens. You climb inside just as voices approach through the companionway.
“Who slopped water everywhere?”
You shrink, hoping the spilled water is enough to hide your trail.
“It’s coming down in sheets,” says another voice. “It’d be easier to ask who didn’t slope water.”
Pressing an eye to the lose slats of the barrel, you spy two men, one lean and angry looking—the captain—and one large enough that he barely fits in the narrow companionway.
The captain growls, and then says, “It’s no time to be in the galley.”
You happen to agree but the large man shakes his head. “I can’t help topside and the men’ll be starving after fightin’ this gale. I’ll just have a nice stew ready to cook when they’s done.” He raises his hands as the captain opens his mouth to protest further. “Now, now. I knows, no fire ‘till we’re steady, but I’s handy with a knife and can do the chopping.”
The captain growls again and stalks away, expertly navigating the rolling ship.
The cook’ll be coming for potatoes soon. His back’s turned but sneaking out of the barrel’s a huge risk. Maybe you can slide out and tuck yourself behind it and the carrot barrel.
The mountainous cook shuffles around, whistling. The only other option you can think of is acting like one of the new crew. It’s dicey too but there’s a small chance that the cook hasn’t met everyone on the ship yet.
Act like Crew?
Stowaway – Act as Crew
You cradle a small potato in your hands and take a deep breath before bursting out of the barrel.
The cook spins at the sound of the lid clattering against the floor.
“Rat!” you shout, jumping out of the barrel and racing for the companionway with the small potato clutched close like you’re fighting to keep a small rodent from escaping.
For such a large man, the cook moves faster than expected. He shifts in your way and you jump, throwing the potato so it smacks against the wall and disappears in amongst the swinging hammocks.
“I lost it!” you say, trying to race after the “rat.”
A large hand grasps your shoulder. “You shirking y’r duties?”
“Um, no,” you say. “Saw a rat when I came lookin’ below for water to take topside. Crew’ll be thirsty fightin’ this storm.”
He eyes you for an uncomfortable moment, taking in your cut off trousers and bare feet, then your tattered shirt and disheveled hair. Living on the streets looking for work has left you less than presentable, but then, few of the pirates look much better.
He grunts, a suspicious look in his eye. “Wesley’s got the water fer the crew, as is his job. Capt’n promised me a galley hand. Guess he forgot to mention he found one. Go grab some carrots.”
Get the Carrots?
Insist you’re needed topside?
Stowaway – Get Carrots
The crew shouts topside, but over the claps of thunder and the creaking of the ship as it rolls, it’s hard to understand them as you grab a handful of carrots and waddle your way to the galley counter. The cook watches until you get there and securely place the vegetables into a bowl that’s weighted in the bottom by a couple of heavy rocks.
“Can’t have y’ throwing carrots too,” he mutters as he retrieves a few potatoes out of the barrel and replaces the lid you pitched on the floor.
A chill races down your spine. Was he talking about the “rat” or did he know you’d thrown a potato?
You act like you didn’t hear and start peeling carrots with a small paring knife.
The cook picks up his chef’s knife and goes back to his own chopping, his motions making a steady thunk, thunk, thunk against the wooden counter.
“Capt’n, he’s a smart chap,” continues the cook. “Asks every person a question when he’s finding new crew. I’s told him for my answer that a ship’s me family. Who cares beyond that? What’d you say?”
A knot forms in your throat. Although you know the captain brought on new crew at the last port, you weren’t close enough to hear him speak to everyone. What kind of question would a pirate captain ask his crew?
Thunk, thunk, thunk continues behind you.
A quick glance at the cook shows he’s eyeing you from where he’s wedged himself against the wall and counter. Quick slices of potato appear while he works. He slides the slices into a heavy pot with the back of his knife and moves on to the next potato as he waits.
Make up an Answer?
Admit who you are?
Stowaway – Admit Who You Are
Your hands shake while you continue to peel the carrots. Like the cook, you’ve wedged yourself against the counter to keep from falling over as the ship rocks heavily toward one side and then the other. Salty water washes down the companionway, letting you know that the waves are flowing over the sides of the ship and it was indeed a good idea to move out of the bilge before it flooded.
The cook follows your eyes to the water now sloshing around the cabin sole.
“Would’ve been a terrible place to be right about now,” you say. “Not much space for a human and the sea water.”
Your palms grow sweaty waiting for him to respond. If he doesn’t value honesty, you’ll probably be over the side of the ship before you know it, and in this weather, you won’t survive long.
The cook’s chef knife slams down into the counter mere inches from your arm. You jump and hit your knee against the wooden cabinet.
Your eyes probably look as round as his potato slices when you look up at him. He points at the knife. “That’ll make chopping the carrots into slices easier. Just don’t take a hand off, eh?” he raises a brow.
Missive received, you think.
“Eh,” you agree aloud, pulling the knife out of the counter with no small amount of effort.
“When y’r done there, grab some sage from the drying rack in storage.”
The captain eyes you later when he comes below deck. He’s drenched and clearly tired, heading toward his cabin for something, but he actually stops to stare at you. At this point the cook has you slicing onions and tears run down your face. You keep chopping and duck your head to avoid his dark gaze.
“What’s this?” he asks.
“Found meself some help,” the cook replies. “Might belong in the bilge but I’s think I can make somethin’ of the whelp.”
The captain snorts and walks away.
“Don’t y’ prove me wrong,” the cook points his finger at you before turning back to his pot of stew. He doesn’t see your nod but you give it anyway.
I wanted work, you think, guess I found it.
Thank you for participating in this adventure! I hope you have a wonderful week and we’ll see you next Thursday, hopefully, for a brand new adventure.
(If you enjoy these adventures, check out my newest adventure book, Discarded Dragons!)