The sun sinks to the east, its dying rays giving the mass of boiling clouds a silver halo. What could be seen of the sky blazes like wild fire, streaks of yellow, orange and crimson setting the atmosphere alight. The sea is earthbound sky, its swelling waters mirroring the heavens almost perfectly.
Silhouetted against this dramatic scene is a forest of tall ships, all beautiful in design and shape, the darkened wood flowing from one curve to the next. Among the jungle of ropes, small dragon-fledglings weave around the sailors in charge of securing sails, making them swear as they almost lose their grip and balance. The small beasts scream and squeal, reveling in the frustration they create.
Below them, on the docks, a falcon watches their progress. From her perch on her master’s shoulder, she sees a man almost plunge to his death, saved by his mate who grabs him just in time. One of the others flicks a rope at the beast, causing it to cry out in pain. Still screaming to high heaven, the beasts fly away to their roosts in the cliff caves, causing silence to creep over the docks.
The young man with the falcon walks past it all without a second glance. Startling blue-green eyes are focused, never wavering from his goal; the short man waiting for him at the end of the docks. His dark cape streams out behind him, his light, long shirt and pants are tugged by the wind. The pack he carries is full with fresh supplies, bought in the town that morning. A hood leaves only his face bare, while scuffed boots cover his feet. Hanging from his belt is a leather scabbard, holding a well-used sword. He has the preoccupied air of a man with something weighing on his conscience, and looks as if he has travelled a long distance.
Dodging smoothly through the last of the merchants, traders and sailors leaving the docks, many quizzical glances are thrown in his direction. He smiles wryly, thinking how odd it must look, him trying so hard not to touch someone, or even brush shoulders with them.
If they knew what would happen to them if even the smallest part of my bare skin touched them… My ‘condition’ she called it… He scowled, remembering that fateful day.
Oh Evil Midas, she had mocked him, now you will never know another human’s touch again. She had cackled, Not without killing them that is. You will soon find out how serious your ‘condition’ is. May you heed my warning: never refuse an old medicine woman her payment again, or you may end up with more than just a curse.
Many people had blamed her for Emily’s death – in fact, the entire village did. So why did he end up with the curse? So, he had not paid her, but she had not saved his sister. She did not deserve his money.
Sensing her master’s unhappiness, the falcon nibbles his ear affectionately. Still striding towards the man, he lifts one hand to soothe her.
“Soon we will be away from people, Kia, soon. Then I will never have another life on my conscience again. And I can get rid of these clothes!”
The end of the docks were quieter, with all the workers of the docks gone. The ships flanking him on either side had grown progressively smaller in size, until he was walking past ships no longer than a horse and carriage. As he drew level with the man he had come here to see, he saw that he was much shorter than him, but well advanced in his years. His wide face shows his age, his skin has been wrinkled by years of harsh sun and sea spray. His hair, more grey than brown, is receding from his hairline, and loose clothes show the wear and tear of a hard life. Mud brown eyes give nothing away, he could not tell whether he was curious about the young man who had insisted on seeing him, or annoyed for beginning disturbed from his work.
They stood there for a time, staring out through the maze of ships to the massing clouds on the horizon. The wind was stronger here, not blocked by the tall ships, but the man did not have to raise his voice over the wind to be heard.
“Your note said you need a boat. A fast boat, that can withstand the high seas. But you also mentioned there was only one of you – well, you and that pigeon of yours. Scared the hell out of me when it tried to deliver that note.”
The younger man’s smile was somewhere between amused and sympathetic. “May I know your name, sailor?”
“Grant. And I’m not a sailor anymore, but you could probably figure that out for yourself.”
There was a slight pause in his speech, as though waiting for a name in return. When he got none, he sighed. “What you ask for is difficult. There are not many boats that are small enough to be run by one man, but still survive the ocean. I have only one to offer you – and that will not come cheap.”
Grant showed him the boat, a smoothly designed, single-mast affair that looked sturdy but fast. He bought it, though the price must have been at least four times the amount the old sailor had bought it for.
“You’re a fool, you are,” Grant said, as the man climbed into the boat, “to think you can make it through that storm.”
The man shrugged.
“I need to get away from here as soon as possible.”
Grant sighs, and then offers his hand to the man.
“Well, good luck sonny, you’ll need it to get through that,” looking pointedly out towards the swirling storm.
As hands were shook, the young man felt a shock jolt through him. He breathed in sharply; there was a hole in his glove, and their skin had just barely touched. An odd look passed over Grant’s face.
Turning the boat away, and skillfully navigating it through the labyrinth of ships, he made it to the open ocean. The rain fell onto his upturned face, mingling with his tears.
I hate what I do to people. They do not deserve to die. I need to get away.
The rain fell harder as he turned his back on his land.
Three days later, a small funeral service was held in the town. The rain still poured from the heavens. When the body was covered in its grave, the tombstone was placed at its head. It read: “Grant, forever bound by the sea.”
A very rough draft of a story written for extension english.
Improvements that i think could be made include;
-the cliche of him not paying an old woman and being cursed
-the cliche of the old man selling him a boat and saying “good luck sonny”
-maybe ending with the line “The rain fell onto his upturned face, mingling with his tears.” I really like this image
-change of name for the old sailor
-addition of little details to show more of the fantasy setting
-plotline: he steals the boat??
any ideas would be appreciated – but not too complicated, as i have a limit of 1000 words. I am already over that, at 1115 words : ]
I hope everyone got the idea of him touching people with his bare skin, and then them dying within 3 days. i think i need to make this more clear somehow.