A Pirate’s Choice

Tia would have been sailing for twenty years at the end of the month. She loved being on the water, but she was growing tired of the life. She wanted a hearth and home for the first time in years. Standing at the wheel of the ship, she listened to the sounds of water and the wind through the rigging lines. They used to be calming sounds. Tonight, they grated on her nerves. She called out, “Ready sails.”

The crew scrambled around the deck, setting the sails to catch the wind. Tia watched as the men she had commanded for over ten years. They all looked tired, and she felt guilty. It took less than five minutes for the crew to set the sails and the sails to fill with the breeze blowing. She pointed the bow of the ship toward the northeast and home. Her first mate stepped up with a grin. “Where are we headed, Captain?” He asked.

She sighed. “Home. I’ll pay you all out, and do my best to find you new positions, but I’m hanging up my hat. If anyone on the crew is interested, I will discuss selling the Lightning Caller,” she said.

The first mate nodded. “I can pass the information,” he said.

“Thank you,” she said, watching him walk away. She spent the four hours maneuvering the ship through the water, before the man on watch called the sighting of land. Within a few minutes, she could see the lights of port glittering on the horizon. Not more than an hour later, they had tied off to the south end of the main dock. She stepped off the ship and onto the planks of the dock. 

The dock keeper stood at the city end of the dock. “Good day, Captain,” he said.

Tia paused. “Good day, Sir. How much for a week?” She asked.

He looked at the book on his stand and then looked back at her. “Three silver a night. Seven nights I can give you a deal for seventeen,” he told her. 

She blinked, having expected him to give her a dollar and cents number, not silver and gold. “What?” She asked.

He spoke again, “I said it’s thirty a night but I can give you the seven days for a hundred and seventy.” 

She shook her head and pulled out her wallet. She counted out the money and handed it over. He nodded, smiled, and wrote out a receipt. “Have a good day,” he said.

Tia walked on past him and across the road to the bar. Stepping inside, she looked for her friend was usually tended bar. He wasn’t there. Instead, there was a young woman working behind the bar. Tia walked to the bar. “Can I get a rum and coke?” She asked.

The bar tender smiled. “Sure,” she said. 

As the bartender brought it back, Tia caught sight of someone walking into the bar. The man was dressed oddly, in a tight leather tunic and breaches. Tia blinked twice and the man’s clothing changed to a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt. “Fuck,” she said.

The bar tender followed Tia’s gaze. “Do you know him?” She asked. 

Tia shook her head. “Nope. Though I’m thinking I might lose my mind.” She said, turning back to the bartender.

The bar tender smiled and lowered her voice. “Are you seeing things?” She asked. 

Tia looked her in the eyes. “Are you making fun of me?” She asked instead of answering the other woman’s question.

Keeping her voice low, the bartender answered. “Nope. Just wondering if you are seeing things that look like they are out of time. Like they are something or someone from a hundred years ago.” She said. 

Tia looked back at the man who had moved to the table close to the door. “Yeah. What’s going on?”

“Relax, I’m off shift in a few minutes. We’ll get a beer and talk. Maybe I can explain what’s going on.” The bar tender said, smiling as she moved to another customer. 

Tia watched the people in the bar as they moved around, talking and drinking. As she looked around, people seemed to blink in and out of different clothing and actions. It wasn’t scary, but it was creepy and bothered her as she sat there. 

Ten minutes later, the bartender stepped around the bar as a man Tia didn’t know took her place. She extended her hand to Tia. “Name’s Katlyn. Do you want to talk here or go back into one of the private rooms to chat?” She asked.

Glancing around the bar, Tia made her choice. “Let’s head to the room. It’s a bit too crowded out here,” she said.

Katlyn led her to one of the private rooms, motioning for her to sit at the table. Tia sat and looked at Katlyn. Katlyn spoke in a quiet tone. “Let me start by saying you are not crazy. This port is more than a little strange for some people. How long have you been sailing?” She asked.

“Twenty years. I’m calling it a career and selling my ship as soon as I settle everything with my crew,” Tia said.

“Ahh, that explains it,” Katlyn said.

“What do you mean?”

Katlyn leaned back in the chair she was sitting in. “You’ve been sailing for longer than most. I bet you’ve sailed to places most people haven’t too. In doing that, you’ve connected to another time. It happens sometimes,” Katlyn said.

Tia shook her head. “That’s not possible. I’ve been seeing things from centuries ago. The man at the dock asked me for silver instead of dollars and the man at the bar. He looked like someone from the same time,” she said.

“That’s what I’m telling you Tia. You’ve crossed time.”

Tia’s eyes snapped open. “I never told you my name,” she said.

“No, you didn’t, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know it. I knew it then and I know it now. Your name was Annette Knightly, though you sailed under Knight.” 

Tia was about to say something snarky in response when the room flickered and changed from modern to what looked like an old tavern. The lighting was now gas lights and the tables rough wood. She looked at Katlyn, who had changed too. She had been wearing jeans and a t-shirt, now she was wearing a dress and leather boots. “Lynnie?” Tia asked.

“I told you. Welcome home, sis. Now let’s see if we can set things to right once again.”

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