by Steven Cuffari
The young sailor Zack watched the captain and his visitor from the shadows. It was night, and he was close enough to hear them talking. The rest of the crew was still away on shore leave, and they were alone on deck.
“Have you got the map?” asked Captain Eye.
His visitor laughed and pulled out a gun.
The captain put his hands in the air. “Brinks, are you insane? My men are on their way back. They’ll be here any minute.”
“You’ll be dead, and I’ll be gone before that, Eye. I’ve been waiting for this a long time. Now put your hands behind your head.”
The captain did as he was told. “You’ll regret this one day, Brinks.”
Brinks punched him across the face, opening a cut over his eye. “Shut up. Get on your knees and prepare to die.”
Zack knew that the captain’s life was in his hands now. He jumped out from the darkness, surprising Brinks. He kicked him in the nuts causing him to drop the pistol and didn’t hesitate to pick it up.
Brinks, doubled over, made a run for it.
Zack fired a single shot just as he jumped off the side of the ship. He ran over and watched as Brinks plummeted in silence, crashing into the water below. His corpse floated for a moment, then sank and disappeared.
Captain Eye was still kneeling on the floor. Old and slightly worn out, he was impressed by Zack’s handiwork.
Zack went over to him and helped him back to his feet.
“Thank you. Zack is it?”
Before he had a chance to answer, several of the ship’s crew jumped aboard lead by the first mate, a tall muscular man named Salvo. “Captain!” he shouted. Seeing the captain injured and Zack holding a gun, he assumed that Zack was the attacker. “Step away from the captain, traitor! Men, take him to the brig.”
Several men apprehended him, but he didn’t put up a fight.
“Salvo! Zack saved me. It was Brinks who attacked me.”
With a gesture from the captain, the men let Zack go, congratulating him for his bravery.
Salvo remained skeptical. “Brinks? How is that possible? He’s dead,” replied Salvo.
“Now he is, thanks to Zack.”
“But what was he doing here? We left him dead on Nemaski.”
“I guess not dead enough.”
“That still doesn’t explain…”
“Look, he asked me to meet him here tonight, and I said yes.”
“You said yes? Captain, what could have possibly… wait. Let me guess. The map?”
“I’m not having this conversation with you. Just make sure everything’s ready for tomorrow and that the men get a good night’s sleep. We sail in the morning.”
“You’ve got to give up this obsession, Captain–”
“I told you I’m not having this conversation with you. Oh, and set up Zack in my guest’s quarters. Zack, come see me before you go to sleep. I want to thank you for saving my life.”
Zack was just as surprised as Salvo by the captain’s request. Salvo, a full head taller, glared down at him, and he just shrugged.
“One more thing. Double the night’s watch. I don’t need any more surprises tonight.”
“Aye, Captain,” replied Salvo.
The captain went below deck and disappeared.
Salvo shouted, “You heard the captain! Get to work! Then get to bed! We sail in the morning!”
More men continued to arrive from shore leave.
“Follow me,” said Salvo to Zack leading him to the stairs.
“Yes sir,” Zack said and his voice cracked.
Salvo paused at the sound and raised an eyebrow at Zack.
“Must be the air on this planet.”
Salvo shook his head and continued below.
Zack followed, and the rest of the crew hurried on deck, making final preparations for departure.
TO BE CONTINUED