To Seek Refuge

A short story by Isabelle Sorrells

A man drifted alone in deep blue waters, a castaway, and lone survivor. He had been stranded on an island for far too long, awaiting his salvation. When his island’s resources were picked dry, and no redemption came for him, he knew he had to earn it for himself. The heat bore down, and the endless silence of the crashing waves threatened to overcome him with hopelessness. He had not gone far upon his rickety raft when the answer to his prayers sailed lazily toward him from around the island.

It was a beast of a ship, with a dark, sea-warried body and massive sails which billowed in the wind. The sun glared brightly through the mast, casting the ship into a shadowed silhouette, hiding any other details behind the sun’s rays. With hunger sucking his stomach dry, the survivor cried out in desperation. In response he could hear the crew’s derisive laughter carry over the water, their silhouettes remaining indistinguishable.

“What would you pay to come aboard my fine vessel?” the captain bellowed.

It was such a simple question, yet it revealed so much about the vagrants who had crossed the castaway’s path. Because of this, he knew immediately who he must bargain with, and, more importantly, how.

“You pirates are simple creatures, and I know the desires of your hearts. I know of great riches and treasures beyond the wealthiest of king’s dreams, the way written within my memories. Save me, and you shall become wealthy indeed for your generosity,” the castaway bargained, offering his most hallowed secret. He would not remain a castaway, confined to these vast waters any longer.

While the captain said nothing, the ship continued to sail away, and the castaway prayed his offer would grant him deliverance. Before he could get a response, the ship halted unnaturally, lurching forward with a crash and eliciting surprised shouts from the crew. The hull groaned and splintered, the sails continuing to be dragged by the wind, but only shoving the ship further into its doom. Swiftly and steadily the mighty vessel lowered into the ocean, pulled down by the torrents, and entangled in the underwater mountain upon which it crashed.

The pirates dove overboard before they too could be submerged in a watery grave, mourning their lost treasure and home while they paddled away. The castaway watched as his chariot to freedom disappeared beneath the waves and his cruel rescuers scrambled toward shore. His offer of riches in exchange for deliverance sunk dead into the sea with the ship.

The pirates collapsed onto their refuge of sand, water from their clothes soaking the scorching grains of their new prison. The castaway’s despair was chased away by an abrupt fit of laughter which continued to grow in intensity. The pirates drew back and launched to their feet in anger as the castaway continued to laugh manically.

“Fools!” the castaway howled.

“Why do you mock, man?” the pirate captain demanded.

“You would have left me to die on my prison. But now, it is yours!”

The pirates murmured among themselves uncomfortably, unable to contradict the crazed vagabond. Because no other solution was in sight, the captain resigned his pride and stepped into the water with his hands spread wide in surrender.

“We are in this together now. Let’s make a deal,” the captain offered.

The captain’s words rung true. They both knew, expatriate and pirate alike, that the only way out of this prison in the sea was to seek refuge together.

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