Another thousand words from the forthcoming adventure The Forbidden Island
There was a calm, and then the wind slammed hard across the deck and nearly took Cecily off her feet. She staggered back and caught at a rope, held herself steady as spindrift was scattered across the deck by the wind. She spat out sea water and felt a cold fear in her belly as she realized there was no escape from this - they had to ride the storm out, no matter what came.
She saw Ragland struggle up the stairs to the quarterdeck, Simon just behind him, and she nerved herself to head that way as well. Then she paused as she saw in another flash the heavy form of Buck Lowry emerge from belowdecks and into the open. Shirtless, his muscular torso gleamed, and the boathook in his hand flickered with St Elmo's fire as he hefted it in his right hand.
He faced the way to the afterdeck, which meant his back was to her. Cecily fought her instinct to just hunker down and hide, looked quickly for something to use as a weapon. There was a heavy rope block at her feet and she grabbed it, held the rope and hefted the wooden block, let it swing. The ship pitched again and she fought for her balance, the wind whipping her hair into her face. Rain spat down, wetting her to the skin.
Lowry had little trouble keeping his feet, braced himself on the rail and moved for the steps. Cecily swung the block back up behind her and brought it crashing down on his shoulder - she'd been aiming for his head. The heavy hook gashed his skin and the blow spun him off-balance. He turned and she saw his face terrible and furious, in the lighting light.
Desperate, she swung again and he caught the rope, pulled just as the ship heaved beneath her feet and she let go, not even thinking about it. She fell heavily on her backside, but Lowry overbalanced, yanking against her weight when it was not there, and he fell backward into the main hatchway, striking his head heavily on the edge before he plummeted out of sight. Cecily screamed and covered her mouth, then a wave of rain came down and drenched her and she was shocked out of her terror.
She got to her feet, fought through the wind to the steps and climbed to the quarterdeck, where Ragland, Simon, and another crewman were fighting at the wheel, trying to get the ship headed into the wind. Even this slight elevation above the main deck made the heaving more pronounced, and Cecily almost fell on her face. She caught herself, looked up, and felt terror in her throat like a half-swallowed cherry.
Another ship loomed there, huge and black in the almost constant flash of lightning. It looked three times the size of the modest Wayfarer
. The bowsprit seemed about to reach over and rip their sails down as it turned past them. She saw men running on the decks, swarming over the rigging, and then, in a burst of storm-fire, the black flag unfurled overhead.
"Pirates!" she screamed over the howl of the wind, and Ragland heard her, turned to see and swore something so foul she was just as glad she couldn't hear it. He spun the wheel, the other two working to help him. She felt the ship turn under her, the wind clawing at her robe and her hair. She realized just then why sailors kept their hair cut so short.
A wave broached the ship sideways and water rushed over the deck. She spat it out of her mouth, saw it pour through the scuppers, and also down the unsecured hatchway. She felt a chill in her guts as she realized what that meant. They had not battened down for the storm, and with the main hatch open the ship would founder.
She looked at the captain, as saw plainly that he had all he could handle trying to steer the ship. Where in hell were the rest of the crew? The pirate ship loomed close in to port, and then they turned away and the water carried them away from it. Cecily scrambled down the wet steps to the main deck and realized the main hatch was lashed in place forward, and she despaired of even getting it loose, much less getting it in place on her own. It was immense and heavy, far too big for one person to handle.
Another wave struck and she was washed sideways, almost over the edge into the hold. She caught a rope and held on. The wind was stronger now, and she was afraid to try and stand up in it. Lightning was a constant play overhead, and looking up she saw green sparks fountaining from the tips of the spars.
Then a hand closed on her ankle and she screamed, turned and saw Buck Lowry looking over the edge of the hatch at her with fury in his eyes. He looked like a madman as he pulled her closer, so strong she could not resist him. He used her to pull himself out onto the deck and pinned her down, blood dripping from his shoulder.
She shoved at him futilely. A wave washed over them and she choked on water, spat it out. "The hatch!" she screamed at him over the howl of the wind as water poured past them into the belly of the ship. "Help me get the hatch closed!"
At first she thought he was too pain-maddened to even listen to her, but then she saw comprehension dawn on his face, and he looked around as more water washed over the deck and down into the hold. He looked back to where the hatch was secured and she saw him swear. With one hand, heedless of the wind, he dragged her to her feet and over to the hatch. He drew a knife from his belt and pressed it into her hands. "Cut the ropes!" he bellowed and then headed to the other side, pulling a larger knife of his own.Don't forget to help us fund the book!