Flash Friday 31/10/2014: Getting Cross
“No good.” Aldred held the jewellery by the chain, staring as it glinted in the only sunbeam in the hold. “Crucifixes.”
Oliver peered over Aldred’s shoulder. “Why is that bad?”
Aldred held the crucifix towards Oliver. “Hold out your hand.”
Oliver did so, watching Aldred slowly lower the crucifix onto it. At first, he thought the crucifix was abnormally warm for some jewellery. It wasn’t until the smoke started rising that he realised that it was beginning to get very hot. No, it wasn’t hot — it was simply burning at his hand with supernatural power. Oliver took his hand away as if he touched a flame.
“We vampires hate crucifixes.” Aldred threw the piece back into the chest, where it joined the hundreds of brethren within. “You should know that already.”
“I’ve only been one for a week.” Oliver licked his hand.
“Two weeks. That’s long enough to know what will cause you ill. But never mind; school can come later. For now, we seem to have raided a ship full of loot we can’t use. If I bring this back on board, my crew will think I’m trying to kill them.”
“So we go home empty handed, then.”
“And risk being ridiculed? We’re supposed to be feared pirates, not some waterborne pansies that let people off. We need to think of something.”
Oliver shrugged. “Well, I don’t know.”
“Of course you don’t, I meant myself.”
The only sounds audible for a full minute was the sound of the ship creaking. Oliver could occasionally hear a shuffle or two from the people on deck, but they were rare and far-between. By the way Aldred got them all down on their knees, they probably didn’t want to risk annoying him any more.
“I have a plan,” Aldred said, turning to Oliver. “And it will require teamwork between the two of us. I will go topside and convince the crew that this was all planned.”
“Okay,” Oliver said with a nod. “And what do I do?”
Aldred snorted as he walked towards the stairs to the deck. “Stay completely silent, as usual.”
“But…” the ragged crewman stuttered. He was making as much sense of the situation as the teeth still in his head. “I don’t understand, sir. I thought you were stealing from us.”
“That,” Aldred began, pacing back and forth in front of the line of crewmen on their knees, “was the intention. If I did not give that impression, the entire exercise would have been for naught.”
The crewman frowned. “What’s this about an exercise?”
“This, my dirty friend, was not an actual pirate raid. Had it been real, however, rest assured that your entire cargo would be forfeit, and you would have nothing to show for your ventures bar aching muscles and some scurvy. I mean, honestly, what do you call this? Is this a crew or an orphanage that I raided?”
“Well.” The crewman rubbed his nose and sniffed. “You know, I’m always up for some ‘structive criticisms, like.”
“Excellent. To begin my tutoring session, you must first learn what a weapon is.”
“I have one.”
Aldred stopped in front of the crewman. “No you don’t.”
“I did. I waved a stick at you when you boarded.”
“That was your peg leg.”
“Still a stick.”
“I pushed you over.“
“Alright, fine.” The crewman gave a shrug. “So we don’t have none of those swords or guns or nuffink. What can you do, though?”
“Buy some, for a start. And then train your men to use them. And while we’re on the subject of training your men, the appropriate method of dealing with pirate invasions is not to find the tallest person to hide behind.”
“We’re just a bit fragile, that’s all.”
“Well, don’t be. In fact, let’s practice that right now. Stand up. Now, draw your weapon and point it at me.”
The crewman reached down for his leg again. Aldred sighed, swatted his hand away, then grabbed Oliver’s own sword without saying a word. Oliver had gotten very used to this. Oliver’s weapon was his own, up until the point Aldred decided it wasn’t anymore.
“Look, take this.” Aldred handed the sword to the crewman. “Now, point it to me. No, the other end. Excellent. See, this is the ideal situation you want to be in when a pirate attacks. Now, I say something along the lines of, ‘where do you keep the loot?’. And your response is…?”
“Downstairs, first right, past the barracks.”
“No, no. You have to say something stalwart. Or, in your case, something crude. Something to show that you mean business. Go on then.”
“Uhm.” The crewman swallowed. “What does crude mean?”
“Just say something about my mother, or something.”
“But I don’t know her.”
“You don’t have to. Just say something, like…your mother conducts business in brothels.”
“She does not!” the crewman said with newfound vigour, making a stab with his sword.
“Ah ah.” Aldred parried the weak thrust with a carefree swing of the sword, tearing it out of the crewman’s hand. Oliver sheepishly crept over and took it back. “Combat doesn’t come with the free taster session. Train your men and purchase weapons with the profit from your haul downstairs. The next lesson will cost you.”
“But,” the crewman said, as Aldred crossed the deck towards where his ship was. “How do I get in touch for more lessons.”
“Easy — look for the ship with the skull and crossbones on it. If it’s my ship, you can ask for them then.”
“And,” Oliver added, “if it’s not, then you can use your newfound training to good use.”
“And,” Aldred said, tugging Oliver by the ear. “If you find something that can keep someone silent when unspoken to, let us know as soon as possible. Come on, Oliver; lets find someone else to ‘teach’.”
Oliver rubbed his now hot ear as he followed Aldred back to his ship. To think he’ll have whole millenia of this sort of treatment.