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Short Story; Tales from the Midlands.


THE boat rocked like a jelly on a plate of the sea. The waves were high and, in an instant, low.

Aide stopped himself from feeling sea sick; his boat was his life savings and it was his idea to go around the world.

Suddenly the boat leapt to the right, spinning him across the cabin and striking his head against the wall. He sat dazed on the floor as the room spun round. Crockery, spoons and other things not nailed down rained down. The floor looked like a bomb had hit it.

Aide, gaining his thoughts, raced to the wheel of his boat. The giant thunderstorm rumbled and raged above him; lightning screamed across the darkness. Clouds lit up like the living eyes of the tempest; flashing and leaping looking at the sea below.

Aide grabbed the wheel and turned it, hoping to save his boat.

"I must have been MAD," he said to himself as a giant wave engulfed the deck.

Aide held the wheel with all his might; he turned to the left, then to the right. The storm seemed to know his struggle below and seemed to send more and more waves. Rain fell from his face like a waterfall, like a goatee beard of water. Aide gasped, trying to gain a breath from the horizontal rain. He gasped again as a giant wall of water crashed on to the boat. The sail creaked like it was in pain as it tried to gain the upper hand. It twisted and turned; its boom weaved like an invisible snake. Lightning struck the sea in a living tree of light. Aide gasped, not believing his eyes. He blinked hard, he hadn't been to sleep for two days now. He struggled to keep awake, he yawned and blinked again.

Darkness Aide awoke with a start. Was he still alive? Was the boat still there? His eyes began to focus from the blurred visions coming into his sleepy pupils. He yawned trying to wake fully. Aide sighed with relief, his boat was still intact. He was still intact; much too his relief.

The sail waved gently in the slight sea breeze and bright blue warm sky. The sun touched his weather-beaten face. He smiled at the warmth filling his tired body. Leaving the wheel, he changed his super-wet clothes. He sat once more at the wheel looking gleefully at the near calm sea. Suddenly he remembered where he was and he began to worry. He left the wheel and scanned the electronic navigation computer and looked at his position. He gulped and realised he had something to worry about.

Aide raced to the wheel once more and scanned the horizon. He looked all around him.

"Nothing, so far," he said with his fingers crossed.

He was alone in a sea of the unknown.

Suddenly his face dropped as a tiny sail emerged on the long horizon. Aide did have an engine, but was it fast enough for what he was expecting? The boat seemed to travel like it had light speed and was coming up fast.

"Great!" Aide said out loud.

"Two of them."

The boats split, one on his left and one on his right. Aide turned the wheel trying to get more wind in the sail. It looked as if his wish seemed to have been granted. The boat lurched as the wind took hold. The boats were coming up faster and faster. Aide blinked as the machine guns leapt into his eyes.

"Pirates!" he said. Aide turned the wheel and zipped passed the first boat with a stream of rounds zipping passed his ears. He turned again, missing the second boat by inches. Aide weaved in and out attempting to out run and out smart them.

"I'm lucky so far," he said to himself.

He gained some space and raced ahead of these modern buccaneers.

The boat seemed to like the race as it zoomed in the bracing wind. The plunderers were not giving up. He heard the sound of roaring engines behind him. Aide scanned behind him with desperation written on his face.

"How can I get out of this one?" he said with a hope to the universe and hoping for a miracle.

The boats were a few hundred yards away and gaining on him. His boat was a worthy prize. Suddenly a storm came from nowhere directly in front of him. It swirled with flashes of lightning and giant claps of thunder. It was so dark; it cut out the sun. Aide turned to look behind him. Flashes of light raced from the boats as bullets raced and bounced all around him. Suddenly about two hundred yards in front of him; a vision he couldn't believe.

"It can't be!" he exclaimed.

"Aaaarrrr!" said a voice that seemed to fill the whole sea.

It was a ship drawn by the electric blue hue that danced into shape by the fabled St Elmo's Fire. The 17th century galleon, in full sail and loaded with cannon, turned to face the pirates and shield his boat. Suddenly the sound of cannon firing raced towards the two retreating boats. Eruptions of water leapt from the sea as they gained their distance.

"Come on, you dogs!" said the voice on the bridge of the ancient ship. "Send them to Davy Jones Locker; my hearties. Blow them out of the sea."

Aide turned, still holding hard on the wheel as the two small pirate ships exploded. He looked at the galleon as it turned slowly into the wind and couldn't believe it as the skull and crossbones flag flapped gently in the slight sea breeze. Suddenly Aide looked at the captain and he gasped at the infamous sight.

"It can't be," he said looking directly at him in his full pirate garb with his famous black sash and black eye patch.

"Edward Teach!" said Aide not believing his eyes.

"Blackbeard." "My great-great-great-great grandfather."

STEP ONE: Write a short story of around 1,000 words or less.

STEP TWO: Send it to Short Stories, Sunday Mercury, Fort Dunlop, Fort Parkway, Birmingham B24 9FF. You can also send it as an e-mail attachment (Word preferred, please) to, marking 'Short Story' in the subject field. Please remember that your story should be suitable for a family audience, although murder most foul is certainly not ruled out.

Copyright of the story will remain with the writer, but we reserve the right to publish it in print and online. We regret that we cannot return manuscripts.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Sep 1, 2013
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