JWMS Newspaper Club
An Oceanic Escapade: A Fictional Story by Aiyla S.
Updated: Feb 28, 2021
There was nothing but a monotonous ocean lapping before her. But she had been gazing at the endless mural of azure swells of water for weeks and had grown used to it. In fact, the
boat’s rocking had become lulling by now, the thirtieth day Captain Raspellian had been stranded at sea alone. As a ship captain, she had long since acclimated to marine environments, but the appearance and demeanor of this sea differed from the others. On her own ship, when she had been the captain of scores of sailors, she was positioned on a deck, right above the starboard side of the bow. The ocean had appeared a sable, verdigris hue, and the listing of her lofty ship had been less intense.
But this was not her ship. She was currently confined to a minute vessel that lacked the formidable prow, sleek keel, chestnut rudder, and multitude of dark bronze decks of her own ship. This jammed boat, unlike Captain Raspellian’s own ship, was not one of multiple decks; instead it was one seafaring amber platform with a tawny tiller, a choppily hewn keel, a cumbersome bow, and a dilapidated mast with smirched beige sails.
Had she been permitted an option in the matter, she would have remained on her ship, still commissioning the sailors in her nautical league. But she had not been offered a choice. Instead, she had been awoken in the midst of the inky night and wrenched from her cot in the boxy cabin she inhabited. She had blearily opened her ocher eyes, only to descry a terse pirate hauling her along by her sepia locks and crimson captain’s coat and jostling her overboard into this crammed, almond-shaped vessel. She had lain atop the hull of this boat, her scrutiny trailing after the pirates pillaging her ship, which then sailed away. None of her fellow sailors had undergone this, however, and Raspellian suspected it related to her being the captain.
Now she was left only with her rufous coat; her wits; random, immensely weighty bowling balls she had unearthed while rifling through the unorthodox contents of this boat; a mahogany barrel intended for the storage of salted fish; a thick plaited rope; vials of salt and oil; and absolutely no arsenal or anchor.
Raspellian sat before the rudder, her coppery hands gripping the rivets of the wheel. She caught a faint noise and cast her gaze down; a shockingly large herring had slunk beside the boat, discreetly sidling around it.
She lurched up. She gripped her fishing rod and a congealed strip of bait, then hooked the latter onto the gaff and released it into the cyanic murk. The herring flitted away at the sight of its potential demise, but an anchovy prowled over to retrieve the bait.
She reeling in her catch, gingerly seizing it. After being sprinkled with a pinch or two of salt and splashed with oil, the anchovy had become her prandial thrill of the day.
It was the following morning when a true quandary arose---as did the lone captain. The clouds were densely nebulous as usual. Having no anchor with which to dock, Raspellian had fashioned one with one of the stray, unspeakably heavy bowling balls and the durable length of rope. She had heaved up the ball and tethered it exceptionally tightly to one end of the hardwearing rope with the other end using an archaic yet timeless and unyielding knot she had learned in her early days as a captain---and there she had her anchor.
She was planning to unravel the anchor momentarily when she beheld a gelid fjord in the distance. She reconsidered docking, for she had been impatiently awaiting a fjord since the dawning of her thalassic odyssey. For the remainder of the impending hours she underwent lengthier shifts at the wheel, propelling herself towards the fjord.
As she entered the fjord, attempting to tame the vessel’s jouncing, in her peripheral vision she caught a ship rapidly approaching. Her ship.
She swiveled around to face the regal ebony ship, anticipating only the faces of her own fellow sailors. Instead, she seemed to be gazing fiercely at the dozen pirates who had pillaged her ship and thrown her overboard from it. Not only had they raided her ship, it appeared they had usurped it as well, and worse, the cutthroat marauders seemed to have wrested power from the hands of Raspellian’s sailors and taken charge of them.
This induced ire within the swashbuckling captain. She must aid her sailors and reclaim her ascendancy. Achieving this began with rescuing herself, which would be possible if she continued along the fjord, as this diminutive vessel would fit through it, unlike the ship.
When she heard the reverberating rumble of cannons being fired at her by the pirates, she knew that bile and an advantage would not save lives. She did not flinch as the cannons thundered, though. She merely dodged them, thinking deeply despite the vessel’s juddering. As a cannon smoldered a hole in her boat’s port side, a scheme came to her.
She may not have cannons for defense. But she did have bowling balls, a sturdy length of rope, a mahogany barrel, and a means of propelling the said balls from the barrel, just as she would a cannon. Her makeshift arsenal was not lethal for a typical cannon, but she had impeccable aim: an accurate shot with an exceedingly heavy bowling ball would be fatal, so Raspellian set to work, dexterously thrusting a ball into the barrel and bracing the rope around the ball, then pulling the rope back and “firing” the ball. Once she fired, she replaced each used ball with another ball. It seemed to be working, too. Initially, her vessel was far too distant from her plundered ship; the “cannon balls” plunged into the sea, but Raspellian backtracked from the fjord, and the space dividing the vessel from the ship condensed. She mentally plotted a trajectory and ejected the bowling ball from the barrel with a thunk!.
An actual cannon rocketed towards her, but she dodged it. Thunk! Seven down. Eight.
One by one, the captain disarmed and dispatched the twelve pirates, receiving few lacerations from them herself, as they were clearly amateurs. When the skirmish finally concluded, Captain Raspellian glided the vessel back to her ship to free her sailors. She clambered aboard her own ship, the sea effervescing familiarly as her victory replayed in her head.