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Sole Survivor


The air is hot and damp, like breathing in water. Thunder rolls in over the roaring ocean. Waves swirl all around. The ship groans and creaks with each twist and lurch. Violet streaks bust in electric heat on the dark horizon. Clouds hang heavy and grey, going every closer. I close my eyes and let the rain stab at my face like cold pins. It is a relief from the burning sun.

The sails flap against their poles, slapping hard like gunfire. A hand on my shoulder. I flinch and turn, but the deck is empty. The wheel spins wildly of its own volition, no one at the helm. Screams cut through the storm as the crew are dragged beneath the crashing waves. I cling to the rail. My skirts wrap around my legs like heavy wet bandages. The ship lists sharply and I am forced to grip tighter. A yowl. I look down. The yellow eyes of a cat blink up at me. It’s fur drenched so that it looks thin and scraggy. It claws at my hem, as though clinging to me will keep it safe. I let it stay.

  The wind howls like a banshee around my head and through the empty ship. Below deck furniture scrapes and slides along the wooden floorboards, banging against the walls with rhythmic thumps. A mast snaps with a mighty crack. The top tumbles and smashed down behind me, the rope still binding it to the other half catches it and makes it swing toward my head. I step aside, the cat skidding along with me. My lips being to move, silently forming the words. The cat arches its back and glares up at me. The spell is an old one, from ancient times. The thunder quietens and the sea calms. Above my head the clouds part and the sun glints through, drying the wooden deck and my clothes. The cat backs away, it and I are the only survivors. Before us, the distant coastline of the new world grows ever closer. I could have stopped the storm sooner of course. But I wanted to hear the screams.

(C) 2017 Liah S Thorley, all rights reserved                                             

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