The sun had not yet risen (20 minute flash fiction)

Posted: May 29, 2014 in Uncategorized
           The sun had not yet risen but the night was fast disappearing. The horizon underlined with a bright white line indicative of the glory that was to come. The black waves lapped against the sides of the boat and rocked it gently as though to prolong the slumber of the crew. There was no crew though, not anymore, not unless you counted Dulcie. She was wide awake at the helm, staring into the ebbing darkness. She wondered if she would ever see land again. She wondered if she would be doomed to spend her final days aboard this vessel. She wondered if she was already dead and this was, in fact, hell. Even with the bodies stored well below decks she could smell the putrefaction. So she chose to sleep here, under the stars, like holes on a sheet of blotting paper.
                It wasn’t her fault; they had pushed her and pushed her until she could see no other way. She had stowed away to find a better life, away from the desperate poverty and disease that was disseminating her town. Her family was already dead. She saw the ship, respectable, stoic and noble at the docks and in that moment made the decision as the cries of the orphaned children muddled her every thought.
                It was a military vessel and so she was sure that should she be discovered she would just be forced to alight at the nearest port and nothing more would be done. But she had underestimated the loneliness of the sailors as when they discovered her she was to become the ships entertainment. Forced to service the gentry and humiliated at every opportunity.
                Dulcie waited for her moment and took the Hemlock her father had given her from her purse. She tossed it in the broth that she was forced to feed them as they pawed at her through yet another meal. First the sickness came, followed by the dysentery then the howling, bleeding followed by respiratory failure and death. For weeks she had sailed with these rotting corpses and yet she had no remorse.
                In the distance she saw a single golden light on the horizon. A lighthouse, so close but she had no idea how to reach it. At present the boat was taking her in the right direction but if the wind changed she would be done for. She could not be on the boat when it finally arrived at a destination, they would see what she had done, she would be hanged and this would all be for nothing.
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