Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 03 - "Shipwrecked"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

a tale to tell

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy - Published: 2008-09-29 - Updated: 2008-09-29 - 1403 words - Complete

Max sat on a log, petting Bandit, Justin across from him, a small fire crackling and flickering in the dark between them.

They had spent most of the day looking over the two boats, and Max had taken him to see the raft. Examining the wrecks, and trying to form some kind of plan. If nothing else, discussing plans seemed to take the edge off Justin’s nerves; he was now calmer and of a somewhat more optimistic disposition. Max supposed it was mostly because it looked like they might actually be able to do something about it.

“So,” Max asked, remembering even as he spoke that he had already asked him that, “how long did you live in the Triangle State?”

That was a good question.

Justin tried to piece it together, but after a moment admitted, “Beats the hell outta me, Max. I mean, I know I was there for a few years, but I came from somewhere before that…” Again, that aggravating sense of it all slipping away from him, a half-remembered dream of seemingly unrelated scenes that sometimes played in his head like clips from some old film. “Since I was about eight or nine, I think…

“Before that, I went a lot of places… but all I can remember is… I don’t know. It’s like I know the place, but I don’t know what’s going on…”

Max saw how strained Justin’s face looked, as if he was really digging for what little he had to offer, and felt ashamed of what he knew he was holding back.

The last few years of Justin’s life had left him little time to ponder the distant recollections of a half-forgotten childhood. A few scenes faded in and out during his stay at Pullman Mine Camp. Otherwise, he didn’t think much about it anymore; most of his earliest memories felt more like daydreams, like glimpses of someone else’s life, rather than his own. Yet he was always the star of these one-act scenes. At times, he remembered more about these places than he thought he could possibly know, things he was certain he had never heard from any traveler.

“I used to live on a ship, but I don’t remember what it was called… Max, can we talk about something else for a while? This shit’s giving me a headache.”

“Sure.” Even Max could tell that Justin had tapped himself out. The intensity of his effort was written all over his face. “So what do you want to talk about?”

“I don’t know.” Justin thought for a moment, then said, “I guess you could tell me about Layosha.”

At first Max was silent. They were both struck by the awkwardness of the day’s conversations. Justin at being free and not having to hide or be silent. Max at simply having another human being to speak to. In either case, each of them adjusting to changes in trends that had followed them for years.

At last, Max said, “Well… the Islands are beautiful, like here…” and tried to continue, wishing he had the words to describe his feelings, “and peaceful…”

“Peaceful?” Justin again rubbed the bruise from where Max had kicked him upside the head this morning. “Then where the hell did you learn to fight like that?”

“My dad taught me, of course,” Max said, then wished he hadn’t. He didn’t want to go there, so instead he asked, “Where did you get a laser staff anyway? I thought they were really rare.”

Earlier, Max had shown him his laser sword, and of course Justin had demanded to know why Max hadn’t told him about it earlier. Though once he thought about it, he realized that Max had only done what he would have. Kept it secret.

“I guess they are,” Justin replied. “I’ve heard of them, but this is the only one I’ve ever seen. I got it when I escaped from this guy, I think he was a mercenary. The Authority hires some tough guys from other realms to back up their guards.” He remembered his narrow escape from the Junkyard Dogs, and the trophy he claimed from their leader… “I don’t know where the hell they come from, but they’re always better armed than the other troops. So where did you…?”

“It was my dad’s. He lost it in the storm.” That was true enough.

Justin sat for a moment in silence, then said, “He must’ve been a hell of a fighter.”

“He’s a fisherman. And he has to be alive… I mean, I made it…”

“Yeah…” Justin had no memory of either of his parents, and for a moment he resented Max for even being able to remember his father. “So did everyone know how to fight like that?”

“Yeah,” Max said absently, “We had to. Because of the Cyexians.”

“Damn Cyexians…” Since his escape, he had been so preoccupied with the TSA that he had all but forgotten who had gotten him into this mess in the first place. And again his rage boiled over. “Damn you, Trevor! Damn you, Slash! Damn you all to hell!…”

Max froze at the sound of that name, seeing her again in the pouring rain as she faced Dad…

Bandit looked at Justin with growing alarm, then to Max in dismay.

Justin got a grip again, seeing the stunned look on Max’s face, and asked, “Do you know Slash?”

Max blinked, then answered, “Well, who doesn’t?… I mean, she is the most feared clan leader in these waters. But… what happened to you? She lives?”

“Last I saw of her,” he muttered. “I hope they got that bitch. It would serve her right…”

“Whoa…” Max wondered if Justin didn’t have more of a tale to tell than he originally thought. Not that he wouldn’t have listened anyway. After all, Justin was first news of the outside world he had heard in years. “You’ve gotta tell me about this.”

“Say, isn’t that crab done yet?” Justin had gotten a crash-course in herb lore for lunch, and he was famished.

Max peered into the pot for a moment, then told him, “Yeah. Looks like it. Remember, you have to cook it through or you’ll get sick.”

“Yeah, I know,” Justin replied. “Sorry. I just haven’t had much to eat lately, and those ration bars taste like crap.”

“No problem.” Max wasn’t entirely familiar with Justin’s vocabulary. Most of it seemed to consist of insults and curses, but he wasn’t sure what all of them meant.

“Say Max,” Justin asked as Max served up their supper, “where did you get that necklace?”

It took Max a moment to figure out what Justin was talking about, then he remembered the medallion that his father had given him all those years ago. He wore it everywhere, except when swimming, and had largely forgotten he even had it on.

“It used to belong to my father,” Max told him. “He traveled all over on the sea before I was even born, and I think he picked it up somewhere out there. He gave it to me for my birthday when I was a little boy.”

“Birthday…” Justin sighed, wishing for the first time since he was a child that he knew exactly when his was, and begrudged having to guess his own age. “Sounds wonderful.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah. Sorry. So any idea where the thing’s from?”

“Nope. I don’t even know if Dad knew.”

So they sat and ate boiled crab for dinner, talking in circles as Max tried to describe the Islands and Justin tried to remember how he came to be in the Triangle State, finally settling for explaining about his life in that realm. Justin was still worn out from his harrowing escape, and though he was as fascinated hearing about a place he had thought a myth as Max was hearing about a place that had been an enigma even to his father, he was still unable to keep his eyes open for long. Just not used to staying up so late.

And though he would remember little of it upon waking, Justin again dreamed of the days before he was stranded in the Triangle State…
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