Charlotte cleared the door feeling ready for anything. Then she ducked back as one of the beefy boys flew past her screaming, "Oh god, get me off this ship!" He didn't slow as he ran for the cabins below to get whatever it was he thought he absolutely needed. She figured he would be over the side before ten minutes passed. Hopefully he could swim well since she could see the island in the distance but it was further than it appeared. The good thing was the sea wasn't active with sharks and if the kid cleared the coral reefs he might actually make it by daybreak.
Yet another boy ran by her saying, "He's got the cutlass! The pirate has Paulette and is threatening to cut her head off. The captain is sobbing." It sure sounded like it was time for her to straighten out some issues with that man because these idiots definitely hadn't a clue. She figured it took the pirate a full second to grapple the blade from Claude, if that.
Gun still in hand she ran towards the horde. Men were panicking and their fears were nearly toxic so strong was their aroma. Charlotte sucked it in and pushed through the crew. She was silent and fast. Soon she arrived at the stern. Yes, the pirate definitely had Paulette in his arms with the weapon at her throat. Not giving any thought to the action she raised the gun and shot him square in the forehead. Surprisingly the cutlass fell straight down to the deck instead of jerking through Paulette's neck. Either way the problem was solved.
The thoroughly dead man was no longer a threat so Charlotte looked around the boat and saw mouths gaping and boys trembling. She pointed the gun downwards and said, "Well, what?"
Paulette naturally had fainted. Claude was fussing over her and Greg began to dig through the corpse's pockets. Charlotte wasn't sure what exactly he hoped to find but she didn't bother him. She was too busy trying to appear less threatening. It wasn't quite working. The few men left around were horrified at the violence even though they had been kicking the hell out of him not a half hour earlier.
"Charlie, thank you for saving my Paulette," tear tracks were still on Claude's face as he ineffectually patted his lover's face. It dawned on Charlotte that maybe Paulette hadn't fainted but passed out. A small snore escaped her making Charlotte bite back a grin. Passed out, it seemed.
"No problem. Would you tell your boys here that I had to shoot that maniac? They appear to be a tad upset." Charlotte unfortunately used the gun to indicate towards the sour faces. Quickly they panicked and began to back up against the rail as far away from her as they could get short of jumping overboard. She lowered the gun again and shrugged slightly.
Claude, being his own type of maniac, overreacted and began to berate his shell shocked crew. "You fools! Stop this nonsense. Clean up the mess on deck and go about your duties."
Not the warmest response to their obvious fears but they did spring to it and ran away from the stern and the body. Charlotte figured they thought that even cleaning up the blood from the fight was better than risking bullets. Not that she would waste them. Hell, she hadn't wanted to shoot the stupid pirate but saw no other way to defuse the situation. Well, short of fanging out and having a feast. Which brought her back to the point that because she was unable to sail or maneuver the boat it kept her from doing much more than smile briefly at Claude for his being the 'captain', if only for a moment.
That moment passed and Claude quickly collapsed back to his snoozing girlfriend's unmoving alcohol laden form while Greg stood up holding a wallet and a set of keys. His rooting around in the pirate's pocket had some results it seemed. Bobby stood off to the side leaving only the dead body and four humans for Charlotte should she decide to start sipping. The temptation was nearly overwhelming. She shook her head trying to clear those thoughts and she said, "What did you find?"
Greg had picked up his cutlass seemingly thinking it evened the odds while stealing from a dead man. He furtively nudged the body as if checking that the man really was not going to jump up and protest the robbery. Charlotte really had picked a winning ship in her boredom. She understood perfectly why it had been ripe for piracy.
"He's local. Bajan paperwork. All his money is from the island and nothing in the wallet not expected. His name was Kyle." Here Greg looked down as if saying a silent prayer. Charlotte was busy processing the fact that for all his 'sailor' demeanor he was acting more like a cop than a simple sailor.
Bobby asked Greg, "So what do we do now?" She found it interesting that Claude hadn't been questioned by his crew. It was as if he was invisible to both Greg and Bobby. But then maybe he didn't do much captain sort of duties unless ladies were visiting. This also would explain the high seas raiding party picking Claude's little boat -- ripe and plump -- easily plucked.
A pained look flittered across Greg's features further cementing Charlotte's earlier snap judgment. Greg wasn't on this ship to be second-in-command but some other reason. She slowly relaxed and eased into his head. It didn't shock her in the least to find he had been a cop in the States and was now a private investigator around the various Caribbean islands. He was torn and giving off major fear vibes because his simple domestic case had become one of murder and mayhem through no fault of his own.
Greg met Charlotte's gaze and simply tossed the wallet over the side. The warring of impulses and responsibilities waged on his face and in his soul after he flung the wallet into the dark water. Automatically, unthinkingly it appeared to Charlotte, he pocketed the keys. He simply said, "Bobby, get the feet."
Together they lobbed the carcass over the rail and Bobby looked at Greg with huge eyes. Claude hadn't even lifted his head while he still ministered to his unconscious date. Charlotte was saddened to realize that Claude really did love Paulette for all her shape shifting and age denial. Greg's job was to prove the affair and message it back to his client, Claude's angry wife in Vancouver. He certainly had enough evidence by now, Charlotte figured.
"Okay, only a slight problem," Charlotte felt compelled to mention.
"What?" Bobby's eyes were glazed and he shivered while waiting for her to answer.
"Did any of your pirates from the bow escape?" She knew that two of their pirates at the stern were dead, but that one had made it to the raiding party's boat, and as far as she knew could still be alive. She wasn't sure on the body count on the other side but somehow there wasn't the taint of death on the men when they had stood around bragging and joking. From what dead Kyle said that meant five more sets of eyes.
"We hurt them sure, but all of them escaped, I guess." Bobby was wearing a puzzled expression.
"Do you think none of them will remember the name of the ship they raided or the faces of the crew who tossed them back into the drink after beating them?" Short of drawing a diagram she didn't know how else to explain what she had figured out.
"Oh." She had stumped him pretty well. He looked to Greg for guidance. Greg was still doing the conflicted hero fretting and hadn't been listening.
Claude, ironically, had been paying attention.
"Nothing will happen. These people are trash and how do you report the loss of your companions while committing a crime? We are a proud and dignified boating community on Barbados and frown upon such-how-do-you-say? Vultures?" He spit at the rail with disgust while still holding Paulette's head off the deck. Claude's aim was off and his spittle actually hit Bobby's pants legs. They both pretended it hadn't just happened.
Charlotte kind of liked vultures considering her rather liquid diet and personally she didn't find them disgusting but rather to be a useful part of the grand cycle of life and death. They were just misunderstood, like vampires. She knew better then to defend the feathered friends but spotted another flaw.
"What about the crew members who jumped overboard?" She said calmly while Claude exploded.
"All hands, now to me!" His voice carried and he nearly dumped Paulette off his lap in his haste to jump up and scream. "This will not do! Nobody deserts my command." He was furious. He began to pace rapidly while his men came.
The remaining crew all gathered around their captain. Charlotte noticed a few of them staring at Paulette's half exposed breast; the silk robe naturally had shifted when Claude had moved. He didn't seem to notice. He was busy doing a count. His face was furious and the crew was looking everywhere but at the small man. They seemed relieved the dead pirate wasn't cluttering up the wood any longer. Not a one of them looked over the side to see his body bobbing around in the distance.
Charlotte could see his corpse doing the slow bob while sloshing around in the sea. He wasn't going towards the island at this point but the prevailing current would more than likely take a sharp detour back and he would wash up along side his buddies on a coral reef sooner or later. Again it was not her problem.
"Where's Pablo? And Garth? And ... Terrance??" There were still nearly a dozen men topside but the missing men were noticed.
Garth and Pablo were the ones who had brushed by her when she was coming up earlier and yet it did surprise her that Terrance -- one of the middle 'management' on the boat -- was missing. But then a stray thought of Greg's snuck into her mind. Terrance was undocumented and wanted for at least four major crimes. She was disappointed that she'd missed the opportunity for a delicious snack on him. Such sorts of wicked men were always very satisfying. It dawned on her that Greg was still completely wigging out about the whole episode and projecting his fears loudly. She didn't have to even concentrate. She heard him like he was whispering in her ear. Thankfully she was the only vampire on board.
Nobody met Claude's furious accusatory glare. Paulette began to stir. This would be interesting, Charlotte thought while Greg was fretting about the dead pirates. Very loudly. Distractingly loudly at that. It was all Charlotte could do to not push his cute tush overboard. The rest of the crew were talking and grumbling softly. They were upset about the deaths and the strange twists the evening had taken. She glanced over and saw Bobby tugging on Greg's arm. They tried to have a whispered conversation but one of the side effects being a vampire was very good senses of smell and hearing.
"Greg, what are we going to do? There are dead bodies and men who saw us. That lady is right. Damn she really scares me. She keeps looking at me like I am something on the menu." Bobby shivered slightly and avoided Charlotte's eyes. Greg nodded as if they were just discussing some minor matter like the weather. Yep, just beautiful with waves of cadavers floating along side the ship for fun.
"Bobby, she's just a chick. Of course she looks at you. You know how those waitresses give you extra beer and larger portions at the pubs? Well, that's just her special way of appreciating you." Charlotte heard the words coming out of Greg's mouth but his head was more interesting. He was thinking that she was totally scary and she probably would gobble Bobby up in a heartbeat if given the chance. Too bad, Greg also thought, he would have hit on that gal too had she not shot that Kyle dude so casually. That disturbed him more than a little. But he also found it kind of sexy.
"Greg, come on man. I really am freaking out here. It's more than that. Something weird about her -- she didn't even flinch when she shot that guy! Most women would have collapsed and screamed. And where did she get the gun???" Bobby wasn't handling the stress very well. Charlotte could feel his heart racing as he worked himself into a fine place of terror coated with a delicious under scent of hot blood. It was all she could do to keep her fangs in place.
Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2006-10-16