512 years in the future.
A Thursday morning.
One level above them, in the Shifting Sands, on a soft leather couch, the enormous pirate Gotmund was beginning to stir. “Rmphlphgnnt,” he grunted, blinking his eyes open and slowly sitting up. He looked around and frowned, as he struggled to recognise his surroundings.
He was aching all over. He took a mental inventory of his gigantic, muscular body. Toes, feet, legs? Yes, he could move them all.
Arms, shoulders, neck, torso? Yep. Although everything was throbbing, at least it all still worked properly. He breathed a sigh of relief as he recognised this feeling; he’d just been shot. That was alright then; he’d been shot loads of times before. No biggie. As he surveyed the tastefully decorated and subtly lit walls, the luxurious furnishings and the soft deep carpets, he finally worked out where he was; he was in that fancy bar, where they’d all nearly been asphyxiated earlier.
He looked across the room.
He was in that fully stocked fancy bar, where they’d nearly been asphyxiated earlier. Things could be worse.
Gotmund suddenly felt thirsty. It was only now, as he laboriously hauled himself up onto his feet, that he spotted his crew mate Jelani, snoring on another couch nearby.
“Jelani,” he called. “Jelani!”
“Mmmm,” she mumbled, from somewhere deep in a drunken dream. “No, I don’t think so. Even though it’s called a hash brown, I don’t think you’re supposed to – ”
“Argh! What?!” she started, falling off the couch with all the dignity and grace of a sack of wet sponges.
Jelani shook her head and squinted up at Gotmund, through the fog of her brutal, pounding headache.
Gotmund checked the time. “Jelani,” he boomed. The volume of his voice hurt. “It’s 9:30. I’ve been out for over an hour. What have I missed?”
“How would I know?” she snapped. “Whatever it was, I missed it too.” She gestured weakly to the couch where – until a few seconds ago – she’d been sleeping it off. She really did not feel very well at all.
“Oh. Alright, fair enough,” he nodded, as he made his way behind the bar. “Want a drink?”
Jelani looked at him, briefly considered his offer, and suddenly – and quite explosively – vomited.
“Suit yourself,” Gotmund shrugged, as he started perusing the bottles behind the bar.
Author’s note: I’ve recorded a short video diary entry about the writing of this chapter, and if you’re interested, you can watch it right here.
Text copyright (c) 2020 Stephen Hall
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