desperate passage

June, 1875

The Inscrutable rocked gently in the harbor. Ropes creaked and strained, as gray water and cold rain splashed against the hull. Her captain looked across the rail at the hopeful few who had made it past the barricades, and now waited on the dock. Smoke, gunfire, and the stench of death blew off the mountains behind them and toward the sea.

The passage was deadly. Pirates, disease, and the sea itself threatened all who attempted it. But those who hoped to flee the island knew that Inscrutable had made it a dozen times this year alone, and that was as close to guaranteed safety as they would get.

The first mate, a burly man called Boah, joined him. “We have room for 20, Captain Leer. Maybe 30, depending on how many are children.”

“Get 50, but take the desperate ones last,” he paused and smiled, “and charge them double.”

Boah nodded, walked down the ramp, and selected his passengers. It didn’t take long.

As he walked back to the ship, he was stopped by a tall, pale man.

“Passage. Please.”

View this story's 9 comments.