SpineOut : October November 2015
dragged himself, bones creaking, to a standing position. He was huge. His belt groaned under the strain of his gargantuan stomach and his mammoth hands rocking the table, and, it seemed to me, the entire ship. He slammed them down upon its smooth, wooden surface, making the tankards jump, startled, into the air, their contents sloshing out over the documents, laid out like surgical instruments around its circumference. Well, we have to do something!’ his impossibly deep voice boomed from under a spectacular orange beard. This statement was met by murmured agreement, but there was no offer of any suggestion as to what that something might be. The giant sighed, but remained upright. ‘Well?,’ he queried, this time directing his comment at a thin man dressed all in black who was seated across the table from him, picking at his teeth with a dagger. The man shrugged and continued his work. I was intrigued by the accumulation of mushy debris he had already retrieved from the dark, pungent cavern below his dishevelled moustache. A smaller voice piped up, ‘We don’t know what could be waiting for us!’ I turned to see that it belonged to an ebony haired man, who, up until this moment, I had believed to be asleep. Several men seated near him nodded their approval at his apprehension. ‘Don’t be ridiculous, it’s been abandoned for centuries!’ a new voice piped up, this one closer to me and sporting a magnificent handlebar moustache in what might have been a shade of white, had the beer stains not concealed its true nature. This was greeted by more nods and murmured agreement from around the table. SHO R Tstori es As my wary eyes scanned the faces seated with me around the circular table, I was met by steely expressions of grim determination. Exhausted, scraggly unshaven faces, whose last encounter with their respective baths seemed unfortunately unsuccessful and long ago. Grimy features peered at me with expressions I imagined a starving inmate would broadcast onto an injured rat that had slithered into his cell. I was sure I looked no better, and the scrawny tufts of dirty, brown facial hair I had managed to produce in the three months since my last conference with a razor blade, scratched at my lower lip as I took a long draught from the tankard in my filthy, calloused hands. The stench of desperation and beer was infused into every crevice of the gently swaying wood- panelled cabin and mingled with the reek of sweat, was an obvious lack of oral hygiene, on behalf of its occupants. On the deck above our matted heads, sailors from a multitude of ships dropped anchor, pulled rigging and set about preparing for an evening of merry-making, while, through a thick air of palpable suspicion, their leaders eyed each other below. Not daring to be the man that broke the carnivorous silence, nobody spoke and movement was scarce. Agonising minutes oozed past in deathly silence. Finally, a throat was cleared and its owner violently screeched his chair backwards over the rough floorboards and Grace, Year 12, Fairholme College, Toowoomba Qld Something for Everyone Read on...
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