Sara Genge’s story “Godtouched” may be found in Strange Horizons.

Jason Fischer has a story appearing in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again.

Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.

Kat Beyer’s Cabal story “A Change In Government” has been nominated for a BSFA award for best short fiction.

Pirates of the Caribbean

by Daniel Braum

The skull and crossbones flag wasn’t flying high with impunity like it used to but James considering himself lucky that at least the Red Cassandra wasn’t full of cannon balls in Davy Jones’ locker.  The Royal Navies had put so many at the end of a rope. He didn’t like being out manned or out gunned.

The crew had finished repairing and caulking their hull after their last close call. Wind rustled through the palms on shore. The moon hung over its lonely reflection. One more quiet night in the hidden bay and then it was back to the shipping lanes to hunt. Easy prey was in such short supply.

Something whisked overhead, whistling like the mother of all cannon balls. Had the British found them, even here? No other cannonballs followed. James looked up in time to see a huge shooting star with fiery red tail streak across the sky and disappear over the trees. Fireworks? A thunderous crash came from beyond the trees followed by column of water.

“I seen it, Captain,” Billy cried from the crows nest. “A ship fell from the sky. And it was on fire!”

James ordered the Red Cassandra to the inlet on the other side of the island. In the shallows lodged between the sandbar and the reef was the wreck of the strangest ship he had ever seen. A sleek oval schooner with no sails. It was made of a glistening metal that looked like silver and gold.

James and Billy and some of the crew approached in the dingy.

“There’s no crew in here,” Billy said from inside the torn belly of the strange ship. “They must have abandoned. But wait, I think I found guns, Captain.”

James had an idea. He fired his rifle. The ball dinged harmlessly off the metal hull.

Then he ordered the crew to fire the Red Cassandra’s cannons. The cannonballs were easily repelled.

They spent the next weeks living on fresh fruit and fish and plating the Red Cassandra’s hull with the salvaged metal. They mounted the new guns in the cannon ports and the on the deck.

James mounted a strange device from the other ship’s bridge in front of the steering wheel. He wasn’t sure what it did but it seemed to be a map of the stars and that could prove useful.  It cast the ship in a glow like artificial moonlight. He liked how ominous it made them look.

To the shipping lanes, Captain James ordered.

He raised the Jolly Roger. The men cheered. James smiled.

Let the Navy come, he thought. Looks the skull and cross bones will be flying high on these seas a while longer.

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