Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 10 - "Reflection"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

Hasahn Abu-Sharrah

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy,Sci-fi - Published: 2009-11-01 - Updated: 2009-11-01 - 1394 words - Complete

Inside, the cabin was furnished sparsely, but what pieces there were appeared well-made. A table with rather limited seating; the small refrigerator and compact range in the tiny kitchen nook looked starkly modern against the rest of it. A cramped-looking cot and an open chest containing charcoals, paints, and a few very stylized depictions of some beach rounded out the remainder. A few exotic odds and ends here and there added to it an eclectic character that somehow fit its occupant.

“I don’t know where you’ve been, or how far you have traveled,” Abu-Sharrah told them, “but I am surprised dat you don’t know you have already lost de Triad.”

“What are you saying?” Shades asked when Justin didn’t. He and Max just looked intently at the old man.

“What I am saying is dat Centralict is but one of many realms,” Abu-Sharrah explained. “If we turned back now, we might still find it. But de farther away we get, de harder it will be to turn straight back. If we go far enough and turn around, we might not even find it back there anymore.”

“So it’s true…” Max mused, and Justin nodded with apparent understanding. “Abu-Sharrah, what is the Sixth Dimension?”

Now Shades really wanted to know what his friend was talking about.

“So you know dat much, at least…” Abu-Sharrah stroked his beard as he thought. “De Sixth Dimension, to use the words of a traveler I once met, is de Junkyard of all worlds. De Borderlands, some call it, soft places where de boundaries between worlds is thin, and realms are fragmented. De Ocean is a crossroads of sorts between many places.”

Shades remembered that some of what DJ said had hinted at this, but to hear such ideas as he had read about since he was a child, it was hard not to let his mind wander.

Max had heard some of this before, but still, ever since he left Paradise, things kept on getting stranger with every destination.

“Unless we kept deir ship in sight at all times,” Abu-Sharrah summed up, “we might not even end up on de same island.”

“So how do we navigate out here?” Something Shades really wanted to know. Justin, too, from the look on his face.

“In dis Ocean, you wander,” Abu-Sharrah elaborated. “Once you are away from de land, dere is no telling where de winds may take you.”

“Figures…” Justin muttered. Even the slim hope he held out that if they kept on the same way, they might catch up with Kato and pay her back for ripping them off in the first place, slipped away. Besides, he could almost hear the old man laugh, dey’ve got so much of a lead, you’ll never catch up with dem anyway! It was this thought that burned him the most.

“Wherever you go, you go at your own risk,” Abu-Sharrah cautioned them, then he put on a half-serious grin. “But before you go anywhere, dere’s de little matter of passage.”

Shades hadn’t thought Justin could possibly look any more resentful until Abu-Sharrah said that. Both of his companions looked at him as though they would tie him up and stuff him in a compartment or under the bed if he even thought about hijacking the Reflection. For his own part, Shades was chagrined to realize just how quickly he had become accustomed to relying on the Card in the short time it was in his possession. He turned to Max to see a very different reaction, though.

“We humbly offer what we can,” Max told the old man. “We will help you run the ship, we will share our food, and so long as we travel with you, we will help you in whatever way we may.”

“Who’s this we?” Justin demanded, seemingly looking for an exit, even out at sea.

“Of course,” Shades said after a moment, though he suspected Justin might have to have his arm twisted into keeping his part of the bargain. “I’ll admit, most of what I know, I’ve only read in books, but I’m willing to learn.” Then, almost as an afterthought, he opened his backpack. “I’m afraid this is all I have to offer…”

He trailed off as he noticed the brick-hard texture of one of the packages, and another one that felt like a sack of dust. When he unwrapped them, he found the contents were all rotten and rancid. Same for the next package, and the one after that, as well. As if its decomposition had somehow accelerated beyond anything a few hours should have caused. They could probably pot plants with it by now. Though Shades suspected that anything he planted in it would likely shrivel up and die.

The same horrified expressions seemed to cross Max and Justin’s faces almost simultaneously as they both rifled through their own packs. Some of it was bad, yet some of it was just fine. For a moment, all three of them looked among themselves as if the exact same unpleasant notion crossed their minds at once.

“You too…” Max gasped, noticing for the first time that Shades’ clothes smelled faintly of chlorination, like a swimming pool.

“That damn pool…” Shades hissed. His stomach lurched, and he tried not to think about it. Telling himself that if the food he had eaten had gone that way, he would have lost his lunch by now without having seen that. That’s what I get for taking food from a haunted place. Still, he was relieved that the bottled drinks he had brought from outside of the Building were unharmed, about all of his food that survived his little dip after escaping the Flaming Ghost. “All the food from the Harken Building…”

“De Harken Building!?” Now it was Abu-Sharrah’s turn to gasp, clearly taken aback by that name. Perhaps there was more of a tale to tell here than he had previously thought.

“You know about the Harken Building?” Max remarked.

“I have been to Centralict Island many times over de years,” Abu-Sharrah replied, “and I have heard rumors. Few escape dat terrible place.”

“The man I talked to said no one escaped.” Though Max knew that wasn’t true; aside from themselves and the Triad, he knew of at least three who had. As well as one who hadn’t.

He gave a start, remembering Chad’s tattered corpse, and how he feared his father’s old friend had ended up that way. As if on cue, thinking about his friends back there made his ankle start itching like crazy. Of course, he had meant to examine it more closely once he was safely out of the Building, but things had hardly worked out the way he ever would have imagined.

“Holy shit… What the hell happened to you?” Shades gasped as Max unwound the bandages.

“I’m just glad they didn’t get you,” Max told him, seeing that even Justin was shocked at how much his wound had festered. “He actually bit me…”

Bit you?…” Justin gaped. “Who…”

Shades had noticed that Max wasn’t his usual high-octane self during that foot chase earlier, and now he finally understood why.

All the while, Abu-Sharrah examined Max’s ankle, then went over to a small chest, fetching out some bandages and ointments, rushing back to Max.

“Dis is not good…” the old man mumbled as he set to work on Max. After cleaning the wound, he redressed it, adding a combination of ointments. When he was finished, he said, “Bites are always de worst, no matter what bit you, but dat one might have killed you if de infection spread. You should take it easy for a few days, and I will keep an eye on it.”

“Thank you.” Max sighed audibly; after seeing how much worse it had gotten in such a short time, he had genuinely feared he was going to lose a foot.

That settled, they dumped the rotten food overboard and set about making dinner as they ironed out the terms of the three young men’s passage to the next viable destination. Ultimately settling for the terms Max originally proposed. Bandit, meanwhile, curled up on Abu-Sharrah’s cot for a much needed catnap.
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