Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Drabble No 3: Where We Were Pt3

Where We Were Pt 3

The Jengu were an interesting lot, less terrifying up close. The best way to describe them was odd. The lot of them were male, that much was obvious. Miranda tried not to stare at the one with pale blue skin and lidless reptilian eyes. He made prickles of fear flutter over her skin, though he made no attempt to harm anyone. She noticed his hands were like her own, but webbed between the fingers. The better to swim with, she assumed.

Everyone snapped to attention when a tall man entered. He was a man, more than some of the others. He was as wide as the door with shoulders so broad she wondered where he found clothes to fit. She watched him, because he was the leader and whatever he said would determine the fate of all the people left alive on the ship. 

She didn't understand the language, but it was harmonic and lilting. Whatever he said, it galvanized the others as they began to round up the women and children and lead them up to the deck. The big man pointed at her, Jerome, and a woman named Dolly sitting near them with her young son. She caught the Jengu's eye, too stubborn to let fear cow her. It was her downfall, as her old Ma had said a thousand times. Too stubborn for her own good. 

The man with the webbed hands waved for them to stand, and they did, following the others toward the deck. She made sure to pause in front of the big Jengu. When she spoke she used French, her mother's language, and the one most like the Jengu language that she knew. He might not understand her, but she'd make her meaning clear. 

He answered her, his French better than her own, and then waved her away. His dismissal was a blessing, because there was no air with the man so close. He seemed to take it all, leaving her breathless when she finally caught up to Jerome.

"Did you see his neck?" Jerome whispered.

"Neck?" She'd been too angry, too intent on questioning him, to notice his neck.

"He had gills!"

It made sense, she supposed. They were sea dwelling creatures after all. 

"What kind of ship is that?" Jerome said, his eye wide. 

Miranda couldn't answer. The thing he called a ship was no more than a bubble of shiny silver, rounded and bobbing gently on the water. 

A door opened on the surface of the thing that was not a ship, and the people cried out in awe. Another thing that made sense to Miranda; the Jengu could not travel by ordinary means.

"You're not surprised."

She looked up to see the big man looming over her, casting her into shadow. Not a small woman, it felt strange to feel small next to him. "It makes sense that traveling below the sea means sailing strange ships."

"You're courageous."

"I'm not stupid. We saw what you did to the men of the ship. Fighting would be useless. We only want to stay alive."

"A smart female." He looked at Jerome and Dolly. "You three, and the child, belong to me. You will obey me, and everything will be all right."

Miranda translated the French to the others, then turned to the big man. "As your slaves, you mean."

"You work for me. I feed, house, and protect you."

"Leave it be, Miranda," Dolly said. "It's no different than we'd have in the new world. Indentured is the same, no matter the master."

She was right. They were to be slaves no matter the location. She'd already sold her freedom for a chance to escape London. 

They fell in line to board the Jengu's strange vessel, and the big man was behind them. Miranda took a risk, and asked, "Will we ever see the sun again?"

He looked up at the sun, and shrugged. "Perhaps. But the palace of the Jengu holds many wonders. Maybe you won't miss it."

Miranda climbed into the shiny silver bubble, surprised to find it larger than she'd imagined. They lined up along the walls as instructed, and again the big man was next to her.

"Do not hold your breath," he told them as the bubble began to rock. "The feeling will overwhelm you, but try not to vomit."

Miranda held Jerome's good hand as the door slid shut and the strange vessel began to descend into the deep of the ocean. 

**If you like this flash fic, or have any comments, please feel free to tell me all about it!! Folks who want longer pieces can find them weekly, for free, in The Fabulous FanPage for AR DeClerck ***

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