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Captain Eli’s Mistake

by Tammy May

On a perfect spring morning with flat seas and clear blue skies, Captain Eli P. Cooke made a terrible mistake. He left the first mate in charge and went ashore.

Eli looked around the town as he strode toward his favorite pub. He was looking forward to a pint of ale and a tumble with the lively Eva.

It was strangely quiet, even for a Sunday morning. He knew that most of the good folk would be in church, except the one legged man who usually begged in front of the pub. Even the whores who normally worked the port were missing. Surely, the church had not managed to convert all of them. He slowed to a stroll as he approached the pub. His eyes darted around every corner and down every alleyway. He saw no one. Not a soul.

He put his hand on the doorknob and hesitated, wrinkling his brow. There was an odd smell in the town, one that he could not identify. He looked up and down the street one more time. Shaking his head at the empty town, he turned the knob and tried to push the door in but it stopped when it was halfway open. Something was blocking it.

Eli squeezed his head through the small opening and gasped at the sight that met his eyes. Body parts littered the floor, the tables and the bar itself. It looked as if the entire room had been painted in red, blood red. Then he saw Eva’s fiery red curls draped over one of the booths. He had to see her.

He pushed harder on the door and dislodged what appeared to be the torso of some unfortunate soul. Eli trudged into the room, looking more closely at the destruction. He saw the head of the bartender sitting atop the bar, the eyes wide open, and the mouth frozen in a silent scream. He reached out to close the man’s eye but a small, blood-covered hand stopped him by grabbing his leg.

He looked down and found himself looking into a pair of beautiful blue eyes. He could make out no other details of the child’s appearance, not even its gender, because blood covered it from head to toe.

“Shh, they’re coming. Play dead,” the child said, and then pulled on his arm, urging him to lie down beside it.

“Roll around in the blood; it hides your smell from them. They only want living meat,” the child whispered.

“What is this? You want me to bathe in the blood of those poor wretches?” Eli said.

“You’ll bathe in their blood if you want to live. Best be quick about it, before it dries too much to be useful. I hear them coming closer now.”

Eli looked at the child, a girl he decided, and finally asked, “What happened here?”

“I’ll tell you the whole tale, but not now. After they’re gone. Please, cover your body in the blood of the others.”

His nose wrinkled as he knelt down and placed his hands in the blood that soaked the floor. It was still warm to the touch, as if it had only lately left the body of its owners. What could have done such a thing? Eli wondered as he rubbed it on his face and arms.

“Your clothes, too, or do you want to meet your death today?” the girl said.

Eli looked down at his new waistcoat. He had finally earned enough money to buy a waistcoat fit for a captain of his own ship and now it appeared that he would only wear it once. Blood would never come out of the forest-green silk.

He sighed and reached down to the floor again, dragging his hands through the blood. It was so thick that he could scoop it up in his hands as if to drink it. How many people must have died here and in such a short time!

He felt the girl’s hands on his leg then. She was coating his pants leg with the vile liquid. Finally, she nodded, and said, “That’s good, I like my food with a little sauce,” and lunged for his neck.

Copyright © 2014 by Tammy May

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