Admiral of the Narrow Seas (Part 4)

By Sidney Williams

“Admiral of the Narrow Seas” is a serial published in four parts. The rest of the story can be found here

It is well documented that we found Teach in the Bay of Honduras. We knew not what he suspected, but we had little choice but to proceed with a veil of parley. It was a way to gain access without turning our ship into cannon fodder.

We weighed anchor near the Queen Anne and the chess game began. Continue reading

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Admiral of the Narrow Seas (Part 3)

By Sidney Williams

“Admiral of the Narrow Seas” is a serial published in four parts. The rest of the story can be found here

He was not Caesar when she knew him in Africa.

“That is the white man’s name,” she said. “He was a chieftan in our land. He had all that he desired but me. He was smitten and asked me to be his bride, but I refused because I loved Samuel. It was then he conspired to have Samuel in chains. When I still refused to marry him, he ordered the ritual that took Samuel’s soul and put it in a clay jar. I swore then I would never be his, so he sent me to this land as well.”

It is true, Jonathan. All of this began in their homeland as a triangle of three lovers. We reached out and brought it to our door, a byproduct of deeds I’ve come to see are as dark as any magic. Continue reading

Admiral of the Narrow Seas (Part 2)

By Sidney Williams

“Admiral of the Narrow Seas” is a serial published in four parts. The rest of the story can be found here

Unrest was immediate. They had no respect for me, thought me both inexperienced and a coward since I had run from the deck. Of more concern were the whispers of the cloaked figure that had been spotted briefly despite the distraction of battle. Likewise, they had seen the look in the eyes of the Triumph’s crew and seen the order to burn. They knew our mission was more than gold and spoils.

The task of calming them fell to Jorgen. They respected him slightly more, though their superstition simmered and rumors about the strange woman below deck took on their own chilling dimensions. Continue reading

Admiral of the Narrow Seas (Part 1)

By Sidney Williams

“Admiral of the Narrow Seas” is a serial published in four parts. The rest of the story can be found here

My dearest brother, Jonathan,

Many ask why.

Why would a man of property, breeding and education give up respectability to take to sea as a pirate? Some have whispered I tired of the planter’s mundane life, others that I fled my wife’s shrewish nature and others still that my brain was warped by some tropical fever on Barbados. None of those reflects truth, nor could I reveal all in my letter to the governor pleading for clemency.

That missive called for eloquence and judicious revelation. Alas, he did not believe my privateer contention. Now, in the shadow of the gallows, to you, I will set down all that transpired so that you will know I was not just a scoundrel in search of excitement. While you may not choose to believe nor to tell others this truth, perhaps you will preserve it for generations of our family not yet born so that they will know what compelled me and know what they escaped. They, like you may dismiss it to insanity, but at least my statement will be preserved.

Continue reading

Amenities

By Adan Ramie

“Well, don’t you look pretty?”

Her words echoed in the dark, quiet room, bouncing off of decorated walls and high ceilings. She looked around her, suddenly spooked, as if some specter would jump out of the shadows at her at any moment. She shook her head, let out an uneasy laugh, and ran a hand through her damp hair.

“Jesus, Lee, you’ve got to pull yourself together,” she said aloud and tried to heed her own advice.

She glanced again at the young woman staring back at her from the full length mirror and grinned. She almost looked like a stranger after the much needed shower. Her skin still felt prickly and hot, scrubbed clean of all the filth of the world that poured over her on a daily basis, and she basked in the comfort of the apartment around her. The jeans she wore were already broken in, which was good because she always found it hard to run in stiff denim. The shirt was the closest she could find to a style that would suit her, but it fit, and the cold weather outside called for the long sleeves and the hood that she let hang down onto her back.

She walked across the room and pulled on a pair of socks that had individual pockets for each toe. She struggled to get each one in then laughed at herself as she wiggled her multicolored toes before sliding them into her old, dirty boots. They, along with her scarred leather jacket, were the only things she had on that spoke of her reality; for a moment, if she pretended, she almost felt like someone society would call normal. Continue reading

Factory

By Bret Nye

Imagine him there, his first few weeks on the job toiling at the cusp of adulthood, reckless and quick with the tires as he handles them, and then his later years, new bosses and new systems but old work, each day another notch in his skull. Under a film of smoke and a gray turret sky, he walks steel toe to pavement through the lot and into the mouth of the building. He passes through the turnstile and shines a badge to put a name to his face, crosses into the plant proper and immediately a flood of sick-smelling heat, a whir of machinery, metal terrorizing metal, sweaty bodies stationed among the clashing parts. He snakes through to the back of the plant, dodging forklifts as they whiz by, supervisor carts trailing behind, the recognition of the same 12-hour-shift look on everyone’s face.

Here they make tires. People standing in place applying strips of cured rubber to revolving spools to the molders and shapers of product to the treaders and finishers and finally to the warehouse where he puts in his time. He hops on his forklift and blurs through the hulking stacks, rowed to oblivion, chasing down competitor’s tires locked away in the cage upstairs to take over to testing. The competitive edge, he’s dangling right along it.

He drives up the beaten ramp and enters Warehouse 3. A profound silence greets him, emanating from musty rubber air and the near-dark created by dim overheads that haven’t been re-bulbed in twenty years. The constant worry that the tall, winding stacks of skids will come crashing down on him, or on any of the other warehousemen creeping among the rows like shades. He flies through the black and finally reaches Warehouse 4, loose tires spilled across the floor, empty and forgotten skids bent all ways, whole cities of cobwebs on the ceiling. He drives through to the deepest part of the room where it’s pitch black at six thirty in the morning and almost impossible to navigate without light. He parks his forklift and turns off the engine and waits for the rotten smell of exhaust to die.

Most people hate being up there in Warehouse 4. It’s hard to see and the place smells like must and rot. This is where all the broken tires go, the tires that were never made correctly to begin with. Most people hate being upstairs in Warehouse 4 because they swear they’ve seen ghosts roaming the stacks. They share tales of flashlights gone missing and cold air coming through in the middle of the summer when the rest of the factory is a hundred degrees. But he’s not afraid of phantoms; he likes the silence too much to worry. He settles into his seat and closes his eyes and thinks of her, working his mind until he conjures the softness of her scent, the sense of her body close. He gets up and walks around the tall dark columns, keeping his eyes closed and feeling the tires for the path. He thinks of a time when his oldest son was too young to know him. When he would whisper whiskey into his ear. His eyes pulse in thought but soon he feels a rush of cold from somewhere even deeper in the stacks and his gut tenses. He peers into the corners of the room, stalks the source of the cold air in the dark until his supervisor comes trundling by on his cart to tell him to get back on task. Continue reading

Space Above the Cubes

By Christopher Krull

Lance composed a new message so he could read his own email signature: “Senior Account Executive,” his title read. The “Senior” part had been added yesterday.

“Congratulations!” Lance spun around in his cubicle’s chair and saw Jan, the office coordinator.

“Thanks, Jan.” Lance replied. White khakis hugged Jan’s wide hips. A colorful necklace ornamented with plastic tropical fruits she bought on a recent Caribbean cruise hung below her wide face.

“It’s all about the ship,” Jan had told the office who gathered in the break room to heat their lunches.  “The Admiral of the Seas – everything you need is on the ship. It’s like being on a different planet!” Lance removed his gaze from the plastic fruit adorning her sun-spotted cleavage as Jan spoke to him, “We’re going to have to circle-up later today so you can download me on your strategy for the Vydyne account.”

Lance sighed. His new title came with a 3.5 percent pay bump and new account responsibilities. Tight times meant even the office coordinator had to do revenue-generating account work. Lance nodded and returned to his blank message. The screen blurred and a brain zap came on. Brain zaps are most commonly associated with Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) withdrawal syndrome. There’s no medical consensus regarding what causes brain zaps, which often are described as nausea-inducing electrical waves running through one’s head. WebMD informed Lance they were harmless when he first investigated the strange feeling that came on when he tried to wean himself from the antidepressant. Lance found the drug allowed him to accept what he did for a living and even perform better. Now off the once-a-day pill, he was unsure what coping mechanism might be needed to take its place.

Lance felt a pulse and stood from his computer. The cube farm was silent but active with other Account Executives glaring into their computer screens, most wearing ear buds. Their eyes occupied by the screen, their ears with the buds, Lance thought at some point in the near future they would have feeding tubes in their mouths, bed pans beneath their chairs.

A thud came from the drop ceiling above Lance’s head. Continue reading