“All hands on deck!” hollered the Captain from somewhere in the upper decks.
Godric rolled over in his small bunk, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. The sky outside his small, round window was dark. The ship was rocking hard, which meant they were sailing through a storm. He wondered if it was even morning yet, or if the storm just gave the illusion of night. The ship lurched violently, nearly knocking him out of his bed. He gripped onto the wood post of the bunk bed, trying to hold on.
“How could I sleep through this?”
Carefully rolling from his bottom bunk, he stood up, his sea-formed legs quickly adjusting to the movement of the waves. He was unsure if he would be needed in the “all hands” call. As a powder monkey on ship Selene, he wasn’t usually called upon unless there was need for gunpowder. Given the violent rocking of the ship, however, he was sure that the crew were having difficulty keeping Selene afloat. Grabbing his jacket from a nearby chair, he looked up into the upper bunk. It was empty. His fellow mate, Edmund, was nowhere to be found. He must have not been able to sleep as heavily as Godric.
“Thanks for waking me up to help, mate.”
Moving into the narrow hall of the under deck, he peered up and down from his doorway. The hall was empty, too. Running from the small bunk room, he made his way up to the main deck above. Yelling and chaos overcame his senses as he emerged from the under deck. Rain was coming down hard, making a blurry sheet across the scene unfolding in front of him. Through the sheet of rain, Godric could see the crew scrambling around the deck as waves were crashing against the sides of the ship, nearly overtaking the bulwark. A lurch in the waves made the ship veer to the left, nearly knocking him over, so he gripped the nearby railing tightly. Everything was wet, glistening from the rain and the waves.
“Godric, get somewhere safe. We are going down!” a yell from his left was barely audible over the chaos.
He turned to follow the sound, shielding his eyes from the rain with one hand. It was his bunkmate, Edmund, gripping the railing of the stairs to the officer’s quarters nearby. Godric assumed he had just come down from getting orders of what to do. He let go of the post he was gripping to move towards Edmund, but the boards of the deck were slippery. It was difficult to keep his legs steady below him. The ship lurched again, this time violently tipping the ship to the right, forcing him to fall to his side. He rolled over to grab at something nearby but couldn’t get a good grip on anything. Then the ship violently jerked again in another direction. Gravity was no longer his friend, as he slid, head-first, across the surface of the deck towards the ship’s bulwark.
Edmund’s desperate cry was the last thing that Grodric heard. As his body uncontrollably rushed towards the bulwark, he tried to cover his face, but it was too late. The pain was only temporary. Then all went dark.
Godric’s head throbbed. There were birds singing overhead. A sound that Godric usually enjoyed, as it signalled their arrival to land. Land meant that he could run around and escape the cramped quarters of the ship. These birds, however, felt like they were pecking his brain out through his ears with their songs. It was too loud, not to mention too bright. Everything was bright outside his closed eyes, making his head pound harder. He didn’t want to open them, but he was wet and cold, and lying on something hard. It didn’t feel like the ship boards beneath him. Everything was perfectly still beneath him, the rocking waves gone. He needed to know where he was. Carefully, he squinted one eye open to get his bearings. He couldn’t see anything. It was as if his eyes were covered in a white, fuzzy blanket.
Sitting up quickly, now in a panic, he forced both eyes open wide. Regret filled him instantly as his stomach lurched from the movement. Vomit rushed up into his mouth, so he quickly turned his head to the side to retch on the ground to his left. His head swooned, nausea still threatening, so he laid back down onto his back, taking deep breaths to calm his stomach. He lifted his arm and laid it across his eyes, shielding them from what he assumed was the sun. Nothing helped. The throbbing in his head continued to pound at his skull. The happy sounds of the birds around him made him wonder if he had died on the ship after all. Perhaps this was now the afterlife.
“Easy boy. Don’t move so fast,” a gruff, male voice said from nearby.
“Who are you?” Godric stammered, lifting his head slightly towards the voice, feeling the ground on his right for something he could use as a weapon.
“I’m the one that pulled you out of that water o’er there. You are lucky that I came along this path when I did, otherwise, you would’ve been a goner. I ain’t much of a swimmer nowadays, but I know a boy head-down in the water is drownin’. Take it slow.”
Facing where the voice was coming from, Godric tried to see the source of the voice. It was like he was trying to look through milky water, unable to make out any shapes or colours. Then a faint shadow cut across his vision as something shuffled closer to him.
“Boy? What are you looking all crazy like that for?”
“Sorry,” Godric mumbled. “My eyes… My head… I was drowning, you say? I must have been under too long. I can’t see anything but this fog.”
“Well, I did have to get the water from your lungs. By the looks of that nasty cut on yer head, you also hit yer noggin hard. And there ain’t no fog around here, boy. The sky is blue, and the birds are singing,” the man grumbled.
“You mean, I’m blind? The ship went down, I lost my crew, my family, and now I can’t see?”
“Don’t know about no ship, or crew, but it seems something happened to ya, don’t it.”
Godric covered his head with his hands in despair. His hair felt sticky and tender to touch, but he didn’t care. He lost everyone; he lost his home. And now he didn’t know if he would ever see again.
“Tell ya what, how ‘bout ya come with me? Name’s Willifred, by the way. I live nearby. Big ol’, drafty place. You can lodge there ‘til we get ya sorted. We can wrap that head of yers. I got some clean linen scraps. Warning you, though, boy, I ain’t no charity. Once you’re back on your feet, if we can’t find this crew your going on about, you can stay with me, but you will need to work for your keep.”
A hand gripped Godric’s arm, making him lift his head up to face the man. He moved his hand to hold onto it while he slowly rolled onto his knees. Moving brought on another wave of nausea, so he paused to retch again on the ground before him. Pausing until it subsided enough that he could stop vomiting, he slowly put his feet under him and stood up. His legs didn’t feel steady under him as his body swayed slightly. His head was dizzy, and his empty stomach threatened to heave again. Willifred waited patiently as Godric’s body adjusted to standing. He acted as a leaning post until Godric’s head stopped spinning. Then they slowly made their way down a path that Godric couldn’t see. The walk was slow, every root and rock tripping him as he went. He held onto the Willifred’s hunched shoulder as they slowly made their way to the man’s house. Godric remained slumped during the walk, grieving the men that had become family and gripping his turning stomach. He prayed he would see them again someday.