This is my entry for the Review Game's October Writing Challenge Contest. Check out the other entries and vote if you want. They're always really awesome.
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last edited: 2/8/11
The cave glittered like a fairytale under the light of her lantern. The rocks, slick with moss and water, sparkled like a treasure chest, and puddles shone like jewels on the uneven floor. Amelia groaned.
"He was always one for stories," she muttered.
Bare feet slapping on the cold ground, she went as fast as she could down the path, lantern illuminating a small pocket of light around her. Her heart pounded in her chest as the chill air raced through her lungs. Her hair, long and light most of the time, was stuck to her head thanks to her sweat and the water dripping from the ceiling, and her dress hung limp. Every once in a while she threw a glance over her shoulder to see if anyone was following her.
"Damn you, Roger," she hissed, eyes darting around, trying to find the way as the shadows and rocks took shape under her light. "Damn you to hell. Why did you have to leave me in this mess?"
But even as the words left her lips she knew she didn't mean them, and the dull ache of grief clouded her thoughts as she ran. She pushed it aside, almost glad that her life was in danger. The sharp rocks, stubbing her toes, and the glare reflecting off the rocks took her mind off the pain in her heart. An extra jolt coursed through her when she heard the voices of the crew begin to echo behind her.
"Amelia!" She recognized Edmond's voice. "Get back here! You know that treasure belongs to all of us. Fair's fair!"
"'Fair's fair' my ass." Amelia snorted, rolling her eyes as she turned a corner, invisible to her pursuers once more. "Bloody pirates wouldn't know the meaning of fair unless it came dressed in skimpy clothing and cheap makeup."
She would know, too. She'd married a pirate.
A smaller, smarter part of herself told her that no amount of insulting humor would get her out of this. Now that they had found her, her only hope lay at the end of the cave.
A pistol shot rang through the cave, the bullet rebounding off the rock a foot to her left. The closed area intensified the sound, making Amelia cry out and leaving her eardrums throbbing. She stumbled, caught herself, and continued running.
"Damnit, Amelia!" It was Edmond again, this time with a flurry of curses from the other crewmembers following him.
"Fuck you, mutinous bastard!" Amelia spat over her shoulder. Not as eloquently worded as her last insult, but much easier to understand.
Grief, fear, and rage battled for control of her heart and all three spurred her on. Another pistol shot echoed through the cave, but it missed and this time Amelia didn't miss a step.
Almost there, and her lungs burned. The cold had numbed her feet so she couldn't even feel the ground with them anymore, but her eyes were still alert. Finally, she made it to a huge cavern. The rock gave way to sand, and she kicked it up as she ran. The cavern was filled with water, and the entrance led out to the sea. Looking through it, she could see the starry night sky and the still ocean.
A dinghy lay beached at the edge of the sand, waves lapping at its sides and a black tarp resting in it. When she reached the boat, she fumbled for the oars, breaths coming in gasps.
"What!" Amelia yelled as a hand reached out from under the tarp and grabbed her wrist and twisted it, making her drop her lantern. The glass cracked as it hit the sand and the flame sputtered out, reducing the cavern to the blue moonlight.
"Sorry, Amelia." A second hand appeared, wielding a knife and pressing it to Amelia's throat. A figure crouched in the belly of the dinghy.
"Ted?" Amelia stared. "Not you too!"
"If not me, then someone else. This way, least I get some gold out of it, too." Ted's calm voice only served to fuel Amelia's frustration.
"Heaven forbid, I thought you'd be the one boy on earth with a sense of gratitude!" Amelia snarled.
"Not so much a boy anymore." Ted pointed out. That was true, at least. The slim youth in front of her had replaced the bright-eyed boy and lanky teenager Amelia had befriended years ago.
"That's not the fucking point!" No amount of nostalgia could take Amelia's mind off the issue at hand. "I thought you were smarter than that."
"I did this because I am smarter than that!" Ted gripped her wrist tighter and pulled her closer to him, looking her straight in the eyes.
"Look, Amelia, we did what had to be done. I can't say I'm proud of it, but if I'd swung the other way I would've been killed too! But put it out of your mind. You can still get out of this—"
"Put it out of my mind!" Amelia screamed. "Bloody backstabbing—"
"Yes, put it out of your mind if you want to live to see tomorrow! It's not too late for you. Tell Edmond where the treasure is, and I know I could convince him too—"
"Convince him to what? Let me go?" Amelia laughed, her face contorted with the anguish of one who knows she's lost. "You're a little boy still if you think Edmond has any mercy in him. Look how well he keeps his promises!"
"Yes, but…" For the first time, Ted's demeanor wavered, a flicker of doubt and hurt crossing his face. "Then don't tell him. You're still valuable to them that way. Maybe they won't kill you as long as you have what they want. After all…"
Amelia hung her head, knowing what he was going to say and knowing the hopelessness of it.
"Captain Roger's last words were that he'd left his riches to his one true love. We all know that was you."
Amelia smiled a pained, sad smile. It surprised Ted, and he looked at her quizzically, frowning, as she went on.
"Yes, everyone knows I was Roger's true love. Everyone except Roger."
"It means I don't know where the stupid treasure is, bloody bilge rat!" Tears started rolling down Amelia's cheeks, but she wasn't sure which emotion had summoned them. There were too many possibilities. Sadness, that her husband, the famous pirate captain Roger Portsworth, was dead. Anger, at the mutineers that had murdered him. Dread, knowing that her life would end tonight. Frustration, blaming herself for getting into it all.
But most of all it was betrayal. Not for the mutineers that had betrayed her husband and her, but because her husband hadn't loved her as much as she'd thought.
For days, since she'd been on the run from the pirate crew, she'd wondered whom he'd left it too. A passing tavern wench he'd been smitten with? Some whore he'd met while she was away? A princess he'd robbed and felt a fondness for?
"You can't be serious!" Ted snapped Amelia out of her revere by jerking her wrist again.
"No, because I just love running from pirates!" Amelia rolled her eyes. "You've doomed me, fool!" Ted gaped at her. He knew her well enough to tell when she was telling the truth.
"Good work, Ted! You can let go of her. She's not going anywhere." Edmond strode through the sand, boots thudding heavily, his smoking pistol hanging loosely in one hand. The rest of the crew, a dozen or more members, followed him.
"Captain, sir." Slow as molasses, Ted moved his knife away from Amelia's throat. Fingers stiff as plywood, he let go of her wrist. He never took his eyes away from her face.
"Amelia, Amelia, Amelia…" Edmond shook his head, smirking, and placed his free hand on his hip. "I always knew you were a slippery one, but I admit I never thought you'd get this far. Hand over the treasure then, and we can all go on our ways."
Liar. Viper. Arrogant prick. Tall, blond, and handsome, he thought himself the best smooth-talker of these waters. She could practically see his pistol hand twitching, waiting for the moment where she was useless and he could pull the trigger. She clenched her fist, glaring at him.
"Listen, Captain, I don't think she knows where it is." Ted stood and stepped onto the beach. Amelia glanced sideways at him.
"You know, Ted," Edmond said, rubbing his chin. "I've been thinking about it, and I don't think she does either. I think old Portsworth was just making shit up to lead us on a wild goose chase."
"What?" Several cries of disbelief came from the crew.
"Calm, friends, calm." Edmond held up his hand. "We have a reputation and a ship. Not to mention very sharp swords and hands that know how to use them! We'll be rich again in no time." This didn't seem to help their mood, and they glared spitefully at Amelia and distrustfully at Edmond. Edmond frowned, not liking their uncertainty.
"Shall we hop to it then, Captain?" Ted motioned to the dinghy and grinned, relieved that he had convinced Edmond. He even cast a sly glance at Amelia.
Idiot thinks he's so clever, Amelia thought.
"Happily, Ted. Just have to tie up a few loose ends first." Edmond cocked his pistol and aimed it at Amelia's chest.
"What?" sputtered Ted. "But, Captain, she doesn't even know—"
"She's lived with our old Captain and on out ship. She knows too much," Edmond said matter-of-factly.
Ted was cut off by the explosion of a pistol shot, not quite so loud as it had been in the narrow cave, but it rang for twice as long in everyone's ears.
Poor Ted, Amelia thought as she fell back, blood pouring from a gaping hole in her chest. He really thought he could save me.
She hit the water with a splash, and glimpsed Ted's stunned face and Edmond's stern one before her eyes closed and her face slipped beneath the waves. Her rage, her grief, and her fear drained out of her along with her blood. She felt relaxed for the first time since Roger had died.
Sinking, she hit the bottom after what seemed like an eternity. Her limp hand sank with her and brushed the sand beneath her. She closed her fist, and as the sand slipped through her fingers, she felt something hard. Senses draining away, she rubbed her thumb over the surface and opened her eyes to see the object glinting in the moonlight. Recognizing what it was and why it was there, she smiled and closed her eyes, a feeling of peacefulness flowing through her. So Roger had loved her, after all.
Life drained from her and her eyes closed, her hand dropped the object and floated limply. Her last thoughts flickered through her mind as her body shut down.
Bloody pirates. Anyone could've told them that a captain's one true love is the sea.