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Cold. A bitter, gruesome cold spread throughout Jakey’s body. He couldn’t feel his fingertips, but he was less concerned about that than where he was. He opened his eyes to find himself laying on his side on a damp and uncomfortable bed. He could just barely see a bedside table next to him, illuminated by a single dim and flickering lamp. The lamp looked to be something from an old movie. His mind jumped straight to pirates.
Where am I?Jakey thought to himself. The last thing he could remember was jumping into Boston Harbor after that terrible fight with his parents. Was he dead? Was this what the afterlife was? Why did he feel like he was rocking back and forth? Jakey thought he would be sick.
His eyes slightly adjusted to the darkness and noticed a window behind the table. He could barely make out a light far in the distance. Then the light was gone. It reminded him of a lighthouse, but he couldn’t think straight enough yet to wrap his head around that.
It’s freezing.Jakey thought to himself, sitting up in bed and placing his feet on the ground. Where are my shoes?His feet felt a cool breeze as he noticed he was no longer wearing his shoes and his socks were damp just like the rest of him. It was a terrible feeling, he couldn’t stand it any longer. Without thinking, he took his socks off and felt a sudden relief.
I’m not dead, but I wish I was. This is awful. Where the hell am I?Jakey attempted to stand, lost his balance, and fell back down onto the bed. Why can’t I stand up? Is the world rocking back and forth? Or am I losing it?He squinted and looked around. At the bottom of the bed was another light and one on the opposite side of the bed, too. He was in a small room with two doors on each side of the bed respectively. Everything was wooden.
Jakey felt delirious. He couldn’t wrap his head around what was happening until he heard a loud crash, a sound he was all too familiar with after spending years at the pier. He was on a ship. He understood that now. How he got here was unclear, but he was here now. He didn’t feel threatened, as if he was kidnapped. Hell, even if he was some prisoner on a pirate’s ship it’d be better than his old living situation. At least then he’d have something to live for.
His mind was finally coming to. Jakey had never been on a ship before besides the time he toured his father’s boat many years ago. He knew boats rocked back and forth, but he never knew the feeling until now. Seasickness was something his father always said was for the weakhearted, but he could feel something rising in his stomach. Oh, no, he was going to be sick right now. He couldn’t see well enough to find something to throw up in, but he stood up and searched anyway. As he stood up, much too fast might he add, he uncontrollably bent over and let it all out.
Groaning, Jakey laid back down on the bed, legs dangling off the edge and hands rubbing his temples. Voices came from behind the door behind him followed by footsteps and the creaking of an old door handle turning. Without sitting up, he watched a light illuminate from the other room. A figure appeared carrying a lamp identical to the ones in his room, but much brighter.
“Well, I’ll be. You’re awake!” Said a deep voice in an accent he couldn’t quite place.
“You alright, boy?” A second voice said. Two figures now stood at his bedside, upside down from his perspective.
“Mnm, got sick.” Jakey croaked.
“Where didja get sick, now, kid?” The second voice said. The two piled in and Jakey sat up.
“Over here, sorry, I couldn’t find a place to go. It happened so suddenly. Never been on a boat.” Jakey mumbled, gesturing to the mess on the floor next to him.
“Well, that’s alright, nothing a mop can’t clean, right?” The first voice said as they inspected Jakey’s mess.
“What’s your name now? And what were ya doin’ out at sea? We thought you were a dead man. Scared us, didn’t it?” The second voice asked, taking a mop and bucket out of the cabinet at the end of the room and began cleaning.
“Jakey. I don’t know, was trying to end it, honestly.” Jakey admitted sheepishly.
“Well, that’s not the way to go, now is it? How old are ya? 16? That’s a bit too young to be wanting to end it all, wouldn’t you say?” The second voice said.
“I’d do anything to get away from my parents.” Jakey said solemnly.
“Is that right? They’re abusive? Guess we can’t bring you back ashore then, can we?” The first voice said, nudging Jakey. Jakey chuckled.
“Sorry for rescuing me. I really don’t want to overstay my welcome. You can bring me back to shore, I don’t care where. I’ll get out of your hair.” Jakey mumbled.
“Nonsense. Jakey. We were just talking about how we need a new shipmate, weren’t we, Artie?” The second voice said, peering up at Jakey and Artie as he finished cleaning.
“Aye. We’ve got a crew, but we could use another person.” Artie said, “Tell me, Jakey, what do ya know about the ports ‘round Boston?”
“I know a little.” Jakey lied. He knew Boston Harbor better than he knew himself. He’d spent hours a day as a kid memorizing the paths of ships and tides from his father’s charts. He would draw them on spare pieces of paper from memory in class when he’d get bored. The margins of his math homework were riddled with maps and boat designs. He could tell you where the captain’s quarters were in every boat that belonged to the harbor.
“Don’t be modest, kid, we want to give you a safe place to live. All we ask is you help us take back what’s ours.” Artie said.