New Salem: The Sliver Ch. 1

He didn’t belong to this place, of this he was certain. His dreams were plagued by memories long forgotten, clawing their way out. This night specifically, was a boat, swells crashing into the hull, thrashing it about in the blackness. Only light beheld, followed a crash, it flickered across the sky and was mirrored imperfectly by the rippling ocean. It didn’t start there, no, just the prominent imagery digging its way out, trying to tell him where he’s from, his origin.

The dream told him several things. He was orphaned by his captors. He remembered the night starting with thunder, it roared angrily and the rumbles crept closer until the vibrations rose from below his ancestral floorboards. A woman, his mother maybe, crying into the heads of he and another boy, perhaps brother, as she tried to shield them from the violent and desperate sounds bleeding through the walls. Who he assumes his father, stands beside the door grasping an iron fire poker, sweat causing him to wince as it runs into his eyes.

The boys peeked through their mothers quivering fingers as the door burst open. A large and round man kicked through the door sending bits of wood skittering across the floor, it slid all the way up to the cowering mother and two boys. She jumped pushing her back harder into the cupboards she was already resting against, as though she was trying to escape to no avail. She gasped hard taking in a great breath, and that was all the time it took for the father to swing the poker and miss, just to feel the already soiled steel of the large mans massive axe. The power of the swing cleaved the father clear in two and bit into the wall for which he once stood, and the sound that came from the woman was horrid, shear terror.

The memory wasn’t whole, and pieces left out, like the blood. There was no blood, the two halves of the separated man splashed to the floor like a bucket of water instantly evaporating into a dark fog, then quickly dispersing to nothing. The same can be said about the woman, she sobbed, pleaded, and then, when they had their fun, joined her husband, in the fog.

And there they were, again swells crashing into the hull and gushing over the deck, the boat thrashed wildly, and the newly appointed crew were put to work. The boys still stained with the blood of their kin, like warpaint streaked across their faces, they hauled buckets of water out of the ship and hefted them over the side. The boys all scrambled to scoop the water from the ship, but the ocean was generous and gave more than the children could return. The boys weren’t alone, the pirates took the lot, orphaning all the young boys from their town, all forced to labor. They are fresh from the trauma and not prepared to work, yet they are properly motivated. They tripped over each other, and if one should fall, they felt the lick of a leather strap across their back.

He remembered this. Remembered the sharp sting at the end of the crack, as wet leather met wet flesh, thus opening his back to the elements. He remembered as cargo was let loose from the bucking ship, and pinning him to the boat. Was some time before the boy was found, body tossed back and forth, and repeatedly crushed. He was mangle and destined to scar, blind in one eye, and now useless to the crew.

He remembered what it is to see in whole, and in this moment having it taken away. One eye, and now he could hardly see with what’s left, but the sun gleamed and glittered off the surface of the, now, calmer sea. He was tossed over the side, like the contents of the buckets he fed back to the mothering pool. He didn’t flinch as he broke the surface, even when chills rushed over his skin like the ripples refracting the light now above him. He drifted further below, content with the judgment, content with the cast. He woke to her voice calling to him, “Jaxon…”

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