[This is a multi-part story. If you’d like to read it in order, follow this list. Thanks!
Naturally, the shark would be attracted to the area as the blood leaking from Ando’s wound spread through the water. At least he was already dead, or so Liana hoped. Ray had flung that knife accurately.
“Monster,” she whispered as the murderer leered at her, the white bones painted on his shaved skull gleaming in the sun.
“No one can save you now,” he said. “The commander won’t know what happened out here.”
Drastic action was called for, but Liana hesitated in throwing herself overboard as she’d planned. There were more sharks circling where Ando had gone down. Some were headed this way. It was one thing to imagine death by shark, but quite another to confront the reality.
Ray lunged across the boat at her as she prayed for guidance, and she instinctively put up her hands. But she couldn’t fight him off; he was like a wall of rock. She grabbed onto his ear, pulled hard, and something came off in her hand. He cursed and jumped back.
Liana scrambled around him to the other side of the boat, hoping to find another knife. Ray stalked after her, holding out his hands to show her his bloody fingers. “You will pay,” he snarled.
Desperate, she picked up a small wooden box and threw it at him. He laughed and caught it with one hand, but something bumped the boat and he lost his balance, slipping over to the side. The boat rocked again, much more violently, and Liana held on tightly while Ray kept sliding further and ended up overboard.
“Help me!” he yelled at her. “Throw me the rope. You’ll never survive out here by yourself.”
Liana looked over and saw a rope coiled around an anchor. She didn’t want to be responsible for the pirate’s death, but she knew he had intended to kill her after he used her. As she thought about what to do, a great shark surfaced, flaunting its power. A few seconds later Ray screamed. Then a swirl of red bubbled around him and he was beyond help.
Shrieking, Liana locked gazes with Ray while his dulled and blanked out. The shark’s maw opened again, like the pit of Hell, and Ray was gone. A small circle of red decorated the calm azure sea, belying the horror show beneath, and then it too faded as the boat drifted west.
The afternoon darkened to night, and Liana sat frozen, unable to make a sound or attempt to steer the boat. She resigned herself to a death at sea: her punishment for abandoning her loved ones to the volcano. She accepted this lonely cold ending, nature’s justice, and hoped she would be reunited with her family in Paradise.
But morning came and she still floated along intact while the sky turned apricot. Her skin was shivering and dry, flecked with salt. Her eyes burned from lack of sleep. Her mind was numb with terror. The boat bumped up upon a sand bar. Liana sat there unmoving.
When the sun was past midday, another boat appeared. It was the commander, his face still painted with red and black claws. “What happened here?” he barked. “Where are my men? Get out!”
Liana sluggishly obeyed him, her limbs shaking from lack of sustenance. She gazed down at the sand at her feet.
“What’s in your hand?” he said.
Liana realized her fist had been closed all this time. Slowly, she opened her cramped fingers.
“Ray’s shark tooth,” he said. He crossed his arms and glared at her. “You killed him. He would not have abandoned his boat. Ando is dead too, I presume? Perhaps not a gift from the gods, but instead a sea witch!”
She didn’t have the energy to explain, so she simply nodded. Black dots appeared in her vision and oh there was her bed on the sand now–how did it get here? No matter. It was soft and warm, and Liana collapsed to sleep.
When she awoke, she lay on a cool marble floor. Voices. Smells. Food smells. She was terribly hungry. And so very very thirsty. The thirst compelled her to sit up and see if there was water nearby.
“Bring her,” said a female voice.
[to be continued]
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