Posted on July 24, 2020, 01:10:31 PM by Leafly
The Brigs of Boredom
An Exilian Chain-Writing StoryBy Spritelady, Andrew Conway, Beebug_Nic, Bigosaur, Arthcymro, Dan Shaw, rbuxton, Irina Rempt, and Phoenixguard
When Lucia had made her deal, this had not been the outcome she expected. 100 years of servitude on Davy Jones’ ship in exchange for her life had sounded like it could be a lot of things–frightening, thrilling, shocking, enlightening–all these had crossed her mind. But, as she’d briefly debated whether or not to accept the offer, the possibility of boredom had been far from her mind. And yet, sitting atop the mast, bored was exactly how she felt.
As she watched the crew scurry about their usual, strenuous activity, she couldn’t help but sigh. It wasn’t as though she was anxious to toil for the sake of a ship and a crew that, for the most part, wanted nothing to do with her, but being left alone day after day was torturous.
When Davy Jones had taken her on, half of the crew had clearly been outraged. There had been more than a few outcries of ‘cursed’ and ‘bad luck’ in response to taking a woman in. These were the crew members that ignored her presence so completely she may as well have been invisible. The other half of the crew had been obviously elated to have a lady among them. So much so, that they insisted she did none of her share of the work and left her to wander the ship, lonely and bored.
She hadn’t seen Davy Jones since she had come aboard the ship ten days ago.
She looked from her perch on the mizzen mast to the main t’gallant top, where the lookout, Blind Jenkins, glared blankly at the horizon. In the distance a kraken waved a friendly tentacle. There was nothing else to see, not even a mermaid frolicking in the wake. Though the mermaids’ chatter was mostly of hair conditioner and scale polish they were at least more talkative than the crew.
Perhaps she could borrow the cook’s Bible. She swung onto the futtock shrouds, and descended to the ratlines. It had been two years before she had ventured into the rigging, but now she was as agile as any jack-before-the-mast.
There were only three books on board: a King James Bible, complete except for Leviticus, which had been burned by the cook who disagreed with its edict on ferrets; The Young Sea Officer’s Sheet Anchor, used as a pillow by Marlowe, the junior midshipman, in the hope that soporific proximity would educate where earnest study had failed; and Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, which she had cordially hated even before it was set to music.
In the galley, the cook was pounding an amorphous blob of meat with his ceremonial peg leg.
“It’s a mistranslation,” she said for the thousandth time. “Leviticus 11:30. Where it says you can’t eat ferrets. It’s supposed to be lizards.”
“No, young Missy. God changed His mind. It used to be lizards, now it’s ferrets. But He’s wrong, He is. They’re delicious. My dad had the biggest ferret ranch in north Lincolnshire, till he was struck by lightning.”
The ship's rat, a well dressed and grizzled creature spat in disgust at this statement.
“It's disgusting that you eat flesh like that – just because the ferrets can't talk. I remember the Cat Wars when you lot first found out about the black liquid on our islands. Scared the bejesus out of you lot, finding creatures that could talk and fight. You two leggers with your mechanical cats invading us. But we fought you back well enough.”
She sighed – conversations often went this way. Out of all the crew the ship's rat seemed the most intelligent even if a torrent of racism about a war a hundred years ago would spew forth out of his mouth after a glass of cognac.
It was only a matter of time (and another glass) before he would start rambling about how his father had led the counter attack on Cornwall, heroically avoiding gunfire and delivering his load of pestilence filled fleas to an orphanage.
She sighed and got up, leaving the rat to his disjointed and incoherent rant. The ship shook softly as she left the galley. She could feel the ennui building up inside her as she went to her sparsely decorated cabin. Her duties on board were pretty light, so she spent a lot of time here in the dark. Contemplating what she now thought of as her “past life” and knowing that this was going to be the routine for a horribly long number of years.
She decided it was time to do something about this. Maybe she couldn’t change the way the things are currently, but there were those who could. At least, she thought that Davy Jones could cancel the contract if he wanted. She wasn’t sure of this, but it was her only hope. So she convinced herself that it has to be. But how to make him do that? And more importantly, how to have fun while doing it?
They won’t let her do anything? Well then, idle hands do devil’s work. Her first thought was to become so obnoxious, so irritating, so annoying that all the crew gets upset and complain to the captain. It would go on for weeks if needed, until he gets fed up with it and lets her go. He can’t really kill her, can he? She wasn’t sure of that either, but it didn’t sound possible.
Without any duties, she was free to roam around the ship. In the following days, she watched the crew carefully. Who liked what, where would everyone go during the day. Things that would annoy someone, items that someone was attached to.
Soon she realized that every path leads to the food. Everyone has a favourite meal, everyone dislikes something. If she really wanted to mess with them, she had to get access to kitchen. She needed to be able to mess with the ingredients. And the ferrets. Oh, the ideas were overwhelming.
The time had come to cook the cook.
The Captain continued to stare down at the maps. He’d been studying them for almost four hours and was getting nowhere. Usually, the Gods guided him to his next assignments, meaning his navigational skills were never really put to use. Now, with the Gods ‘occupied’, he was forced to put these waning skills to the test. Frustrated, he tossed the yellowing papers into the air and lent back in his chair, removing his hat to rub his temples. What he wouldn’t give for some ale. And not the vile, slush they had on board. Proper, mortal ale.
Someone knocked. “Cap’n?” He ignored it. “Cap’n Jones, it’s me.” “For Gods’ sake, McCladding, what is it!” The minotaur, entered the study, bowing slightly as he approached. “We’ve found our trickster sir.” “Let me guess. Lucia” asked the captain, rubbing his eyes. “’Ow did yo—yes, sir. We found her put’n somethin’ in the pie” replied McCladding, a little deflated.
“What was she going to use?” McCladding withdrew a weathered, corked bottle from his sash and placed it into the captain’s open hand. Davy, examined the bottle lazily. “How unoriginal” he signed before throwing the bottle on to the table. “What have you done with her?” “She’s in the lazarette. We ‘ad to chain her up ‘cause she was causin’ such a fuss” Davy, groaning, got up from his seat and pulled on his coat. He then snapped his gloved fingers and the maps instantly tidied themselves away. “Take me to her.”
The shackles hurt her wrists, but that wasn’t the worst part, nor was the stench of salt and half rotten food. It was the boredom! Lucia’s recent hijinks had worked in stirring up the crew but she hadn’t figured they would just chain her up in the bowels of the ship and forget about her.
Footsteps, McCladding’s unmistakable hooves and a second softer set behind them, the door creaked and two figures stepped inside. Lucia pulled against the cahin strining her neck to see her visitors, it was McCladding followed by Davy himself. She’d done it! She had his attention. The pair came to stand in front of her with Davy taking no time in starting his tirade, his voice bellowed as he listed off her deeds and insulting her for being a child.
Finally he said “McCladding, leave us!” The minotaur waited a moment then bowed, leaving them alone. Lucia waited until the door was closed, now was her chance “I suppose you won’t be-”
“I’m sorry” he cut her off “It was for the good of the crew, you understand. I have to been seen to be disciplining you.” What? “But playing up, won’t get you kicked off my ship. Lucia, there has never been a woman on my ship. Do you think I changed this on a whim? Do you think I have risked the possibility of a mutiny for nothing?” It hadn’t occurred to her until now that the pirate may have had ulterior motives. He was looking her up and down, nodding to himself.
“Lucia,” he began, “The newest member of our crew. Nice to have a fresh pair of eyes on board. Tell me, have you any feedback on your experience so far?”
“Your cabin is satisfactory?”
“Your duties, manageable?” She nodded. “So can you explain the mischief?”
Lucia felt herself slumping lower against the wall. “Bored.”
“Yes,” Davy nodded again, “You had to see it for yourself.” Without warning he flung himself against the bars of her cell. “Bored? You? After a few weeks? Try eight hundred years! I don’t understand, the crew, they were all so talented, fun, there’s actors, gamers – take Rat!”
“A celebrated comedian in his own country, renowned. Yet one deal, one soul bartered, and it’s all gone. Honestly, what passes for fun on this ship! If I hear one more rendition of Heave, Ho I’m taking us straight to Hell where we belong! No Lucia, we need you, it had to be you. You’re our new Social Secretary.”
The silence which followed was broken only by Davy’s heavy breathing. He was asking a lot of her, but she could think only of her comfortable perch up on the mizzen mast.
“Lucia,” he said, in response to her blank gaze, “I need your help. What should we do?”
Lucia smiled. Time for some fun after all. “Captain,” she said, “Set course for the Isles!"
"The Rat Islands?" The captain's face radiated incomprehension.
"No, the Hidden Isles of Adventure! Bring me a map! Oh, and while you're at it, please get me out of this dungeon."
"It's not a dungeon, there are no dungeons on a ship. Not even on this ship. It's called the brig."
"Brig, dungeon, lockup, jail, clink, it's all the same to me. I can't think properly in here, let alone do magic on maps."
The captain's face became even more puzzled. "Magic?"
"Of course. How else can I show you the Hidden Isles?"
Davy wielded the heavy key to unlock the barred door, and a smaller key to free her from the chains. He didn't so much bring her a map as bring her to the map: the one hanging on the wall in his own quarters, which showed all the known seas in the world. Clusters of pins adorned it, some shiny new, some old and with a ring of rust around the business end.
"Show me your isles," he said.
Lucia could have done it with much less fuss, but people wouldn't believe magic if it didn't look spectacular. She recited the spells aloud, ponderously, in Latin, and let light stream from her hands to the map and reveal faint outlines that became more definite by the second. Brown and green patches appeared.
Davy Jones stood gaping at the sight. "We sailed there countless times. I never saw any islands!"
"Well, they're hidden," Lucia said smugly.
“Hidden in what way?” Captain Jones asked, his brow furrowed in concentration.
“Have you ever been out at sea, weeks away from the nearest spit of land and seen what looks like a coastline or island where you know there can be nothing? And as you approach it, the land disappears behind some waves or swell, and you do not see it again?”
Davy Jones nodded, his thoughts drifting back to past instances of the phenomenon Lucia had described.
“Look at the map more closely, Cap’n, and tell me what you see.”
The captain leaned in closer to the vast map upon the cabin wall and was amazed to see the small brown and green patches he had taken for islands were actually slowly moving, drifting upon the surface of the map. Lucia’s slender finger reached across in front of his gaze and traced a loose circle around a small group of ‘islands’, drifting slowly across the oceans.
“This is a family of island turtles, the fabled Hidden Islands of Adventure. All up, five turtles, a breeding pair and their three offspring, wandering the southern seas. Who can say what we might find upon their shells?”
And thus did the Flying Dutchman, the dreaded ship of the mighty pirate captain, Davy Jones, set sail for the south, and then for the west a little, following in the wake of the Hidden Isles of Adventure. Within a month of setting course for the islands’ general location, five great rocky outcrops in the distance were espied from the crow’s nest. The festivities which occurred once the ships finally caught up to the island turtles proper is worthy of record, but sadly, the telling of that tale must wait for another time.
This is one of three stories written as part of our summer 2020 chain writing project. You can read the other two here and here, and find the project wrap-up announcement here.Editor's Note:
A tale of mischief and uncertainty! What a great ending though, the ship may have been mundane and the daily schedule monotonous, but Lucia took a big risk. Boredom was her sole driver, with an idea to stir up mischief and get kicked off the ship, all to free her from her life with Davy Jones. Her plan did backfire, but in doing so Lucia had no idea that it would become an adventure. Now they are preparing to visit places previously visited, to make new discoveries that Davy Jones had not seen or known about before.
Of course, this could have ended in a completely different way. Fortunately, Davy Jones saw past the obvious mischief and wanted to help make Lucia%u2019s time better The Editor Is Now Concerned About:
What sorts of things can get everyone around the world escaping their fleeting brigs of boredom? Any ideas?