Fiction Friday – Lowering the Green Flag


The attack began suddenly, the first shots fired before Jolly Roger had even been raised. The two ships circled one another, firing at one another. The smaller vessel, outclassed in every way, fired its two cannons with limited success. The crew of the Silver Viper used five cannons on a single side to rip holes in the hull and shred sails with packed shot. The green flag above the small ship managed to escape unharmed, but little else was holding up to the barrage.

The crew was elated at such an easy target, many hanging on the rail waiting for their chance to run planks to their prey. They fell silent when the final boom from the enemy ship tore across their mainsail, splintering the base so it looked as though it would fall at any moment. There were no cheers when their own return fire took out the only cannon on this side of the ship.

“What ye think Cap’in Westley?”

The last few cannons sounded below before word got to them that the other ship had been disabled.

“Jones, go down into the hull and fetch some barrels and rope. Dump the rum if ya have to, but keep as much of the wood from the barrels intact. See if you men can’t patch the mainsail well enough to at least get us to port without it coming down. Someone drop the sails so wind doesn’t bring it down before they can do the repairs” The imposing man stepped to the side of the boat, lifting a foot to the edge so he could lean in against his own knee and study the other ship. “No movement.”

Jones and several others ran down below deck to comply with the orders. Aside from a few men tugging ropes to bring the sails down, the rest pressed in close to hear what their captain was going to say. Nothing in his features betrayed his thoughts, though he was studying the green flag flapping in the breeze above the other ship.

“Royal navy flag.” He finally spoke.

“Aye Cap’in. You said that was why we were goin’ after such small quarry.”

“I am aware of my own words Bayor.” The other man visibly wilted back into the crowd. The rest were silent. “In retrospect, it seems likely this was a trap.”

Most of them had no idea what retrospect meant, but a murmur began at the idea of a trap.

“See if we can’t get a man up in the crow’s nest without bringing down our mast. The rest of you, grab the gaffing poles.”

“Cap’in?” He didn’t have the smartest crew (their talents lay elsewhere), but they knew the length of the poles and their arms.

“It’s drifting towards us. Even if we can’t trust our sails again yet, they should be close enough in a few minutes. When they are, pull them in and run the planks over. I want to see what we got for our troubles at least.” Captain Westley turned away from the other ship, scanning the horizon for an armada of ships to appear. So far, there was nothing visible to the naked eyes.

It was about twenty minutes before the other ship came close enough to use the gaffing hooks, but just as predicted, it did drift close, pulled by the current and winds tugging at it. With its own tattered sails still up, it was moving a little more quickly than their own vessel. In that time, repairs has begun in earnest on the mast. It was not the sloppy job someone might expect from uneducated sailors. His men were skilled in everything he might want, fancy educations were just another way for the rich to lord themselves over others. He didn’t think much on the fact that he himself had received a similar education.

Men swarmed over the side, the other ship seeming abandoned. No one put up any resistance because it seemed that everyone had been killed. That made him nervous too. There weren’t enough people on board for this size ship. His men began climbing below deck, only to scream up to ‘Move yer lazy arses back to the ship!’ up to those above.

There was confusion, men milled about uncertainly before the ones from below began re-emerging waving arms and calling for everyone to move. A thin man among the crew known by all as Boney screamed to Westley with wild eyes and flailing hand motions. “Cap’in! Raise sails and move!”

Westly looked back at the repairs being made, then up. He didn’t trust the mast yet, but he did trust his crew. If they were flooding back, they had a good reason. “Raise the sails!” He gave one final glance to the green flag of the royal navy before turning to stride into the middle of his ship. They weren’t all on board yet, but it would take a few moments for the sails to go up.

As it turned out, it was too late anyway. BOOM! The entire world was fire, smoke and splintered wood. He hit the water, ears ringing and unable to see out of one eye that stung fiercely. Consciousness drifted in odd swells. He was under the water one moment, then in the next he could recall, he was at the surface. Dizziness overtook him and he struggled to stay afloat. Blackness took him again and the next thing he recalled was when he work on a few planks, floating in an empty ocean. Distantly he could see bits of debris scattered along with a few dead bodies.

Disoriented, he realized that one of the men had to have pulled him onto one of the larger bits of debris. He still couldn’t hear anything, so it was a shock to see fishermen on a small boat coming towards him when he turned his head. He was alive and was going to be saved.

“I swear, they’ll lose a ship for every one of you.” Westley’s men, loyal to the end, had given up their hope of survival to see him live. He wasn’t about to forget that and the royal navy was going to find out just how bad it could be when a pirate didn’t want your gold or rum. All he wanted now was to watch every ship under the green flag slip below the waves. “I’ll lower every green flag on the ocean.”

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