Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | February 21, 2009

The Night Ship

Smith Lake, Virginia. August 9, 2003.

8-09-03-lights-on-lake-at-night-1

The night shivered around Quill, recoiling and slinking away in wisps of wind. She bid the retreating bits of fearful dark good riddance, and spat into the blackness.

A splash let her know the water’s edge was close. One more step and she’d have been a midnight snack for the wyrm barbs. There they were now, tiny fish bodies biting and thrashing as her glob of saliva sank.

Where are they? Quill was expecting more than just the company of the miserable, eternally hungry fish.

She came exactly as they informed her: clothed all in black, save for a dab of blue paint on her forehead, head covered, feet and hands bare.

In one hand, she held a small, jade figurine.

Payment.

Then she saw it–a light across the water. Quill waited, her patience returning with a crooked smile. Several fireflies saw that smile and buzzed to each other, let’s get out of here. One unfortunate fly didn’t hear, and the last thing he saw was Quill’s fist closing around his glowing body.

“They require zero distractions,” she whispered to the dead bug, and flicked it to the wyrm barbs.

The ship was closer now–a row of glowing orange slinking across the ink black water like a snake. Quill’s neck and back pricked with sweat. The night was cold, but inside she burned. In her palm, the figurine slipped against her moist skin.

Only a few more minutes.

Still, it seemed an eternity before the lights blared in front of her, scattering the last of the terrified night.

Quill made the sign they’d described: She bowed her head, extending her arms in front like she was about to dive into the lake. At the same time, she dropped to one knee. As she rose, a shadowed figure lowered a plank from ship to shore.

There was no turning back. Quill had never even considered it as an option until the moment her bare foot touched the bone cold floor of the boat. With that step, she knew her choice was irreversable, and gasped out loud. The floor was leeching away every bit of heat that had gathered in her body.

The shadow who’s dropped the gangplank held out his hand. It was white as snow with bruise-colored shadows.

Quill dropped the figurine into his palm, flinching as one finger brushed against his. He was colder than the floor. Colder than the wisps of frightened night.

“I–” Quill started. What was she going to say? I’ll be going now? I changed my mind? No, it was too late now.

“I am honored to be here.” She finished. The living corpse bowed, and led the way into the belly of the ship.

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Responses

  1. Hey, just found your blog through the fiction tag. I really like this…hoping you’ll write more soon, I want to know what happens 😛

  2. Thanks, gladehaven! I actually have no idea what happens next… my posts here are just flow of consciousness writing exercises, and a few become longer projects.


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