Flash Friday 13/06/2014: Sea Urchin
“Now, can you say, ‘Daddy’?”
“Da.” The baby moved its lips as if speaking took great effort. “Da. Da-ddy.”
“Good. Now, can you say, ‘Cat’?”
“Excellent. Now, can you say, ‘YAHARR, mateys! Surrender your ship and your cargo, lest we board your vessel and take your booty and your lives, ye scallywags!'”
The baby tilted its head in confusion.
“Cap’n’.” The pirate leaning on the captain’s quarter’s wall stood up, his face illuminated by the swinging lamp on the ceiling. With his slicked-back hair and chiseled chin, he was the only pirate on the ship that was anywhere near attractive. “I don’t think babies learn that fast.”
The captain nodded gravely. His rough, scarred hand played with his thick black beard as he peered through the only eye without an eyepatch on. “Suspect so. Have no idea how these little tykes work.”
“With all due respect, Captain, why did you go and have one in the first place?”
The captain stood from the baby’s basket, turning to the pirate. “I didn’t, swear on me mother’s grave. You know that trade ship we hit earlier today, with nobody on deck? The one where we thought we caught ’em sleeping, but it turned out the entire ship had been abandoned without a trace? We got the loot, sure. Everyone knows we got the loot. The rest of the crew is prolly getting their night’s kip on top of the pile right now. What they don’t know is there was this spriggun there as well. Curled up in the very basket he’s in now.”
The pirate looked into the basket. “And you didn’t tell anyone?”
“‘Course not. I love my crew, but it doesn’t make ’em any less of a rag-tag bunch. They’ll probably think it’s a pig and try to cook bacon off of the poor thing. No, it’s best kept here, where nobody else will learn about it.”
“And you don’t know whose it is?”
The captain shook his head. “Someone who was on that boat, I reckon. Dunno where the crew went off to. Prolly on a separate boat to shore. Prolly in a watery grave. Prolly all got eaten by a kraken.”
“All of them bar the baby?”
“Aye. Even krakens have standards, lad.”
Both of them watched the baby. For a child found on an abandoned ship, it looked very healthy. Small layers of pudge padded out its cheeks, arms, and legs. It seemed to be the most unfazed person of the three, beaming a toothless smile at the pirates.
“So.” The pirate glanced at the captain. “Now what do we do?”
“Take care of it, I suppose. I have no idea what these little runts eat. Y’think it’ll like some grog?”
The pirate gave the captain a deadpan stare. “You’ve never seen a baby, have you?”
“S’not like a lady wants to be making the merry with the captain of a pirate fleet any time soon. Doesn’t make for quality family time when you’re blasting holes in the side of a navy vessel. I trust you’re more educated with these things?”
The pirate nodded. “Looked after some of the rats back home. Don’t worry, we’ll have this baby raised as a fine pirate, ready to join the crew.”
“And how long will that be, then? A year? Maybe two?”
The pirate shook his head. “You really have no ruddy clue.”
“Yes, I do. I got it to say daddy, didn’t I? And cat. Not so much luck with the phrase, though. Probably too long to fit in its tiny little head. Let’s start with the basics, shall we? Can you go ‘Yarr’?”
The baby blinked. “Yaaagrrr.”
“No, yarr. As in, yarrrrdd. From the back of yer throat, lad.”
The captain shrugged. “Suppose we all have to start somewhere. Don’t ye worry, kid. We’ll have ye out there, sailin’ this ship, gettin’ into fights, and losin’ those tiny appendages of yours. Then, when you have an eyepatch, a peg leg, and a parrot of your own, then you’ll be one of the most feared pirates on the sea. Then I can go ahead and kick the bucket, and not worry that my ship is being run by some ape with a skull and crossbones hat on.”
The pirate flinched. “I thought I was going to be the captain after you.”
The captain clapped a hand on the pirate’s shoulder. “Don’t ye worry. A monkey is a monkey, but it’s still a lot better than the goldfish below deck that flop about and call themselves pirates. But now? We have a little bundle of potential right here, ready for training. Don’t we, laddie?”
The baby pointed a tiny finger at the captain. “Da…dad–da…”
“That’s the spirit.” The captain took off his hat and placed it on the baby’s head. It, obviously, wasn’t a tight fit. “Tomorrow, we set sail to the nearest populated island. See if we can’t plunder ourselves some toys for the new recruit.”
“I’ll let them know tomorrow.” The pirate gave an affirming nod, turning to leave the captains quarters of the ship.
The captain smiled, rubbing the underside of the baby’s chin. He hoped a pirate’s life would be for him.
Click here for a 50% off deal on Friend Ship to celebrate the release of the sequel, Kin Ship!