With the help of her Punkazz Magnifiship, Mischa's on course to break the speed record for a solo-sprint around the world--until the storm. The sky burns a sickly gold, the waters churn...and Mischa gets swept up in a wall of white fury, swallowed by the angry ocean.
She awakens on the deck of a ship, but not her own. What at first seems to be a pirate-themed cruise manned by the worst actors in the world turns out to be the real deal. A pirate ship--in 1721. Complete with a dashing captain who wastes no time showing Mischa how real pirates plunder their booty...
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from A Pirate's Piece by Sherri L. King
Mischa's lungs felt as if they were both fire-singed and flash frozen at the same time. Her eyelids fluttered open but the bright sun blinded her and she quickly shuttered them again. Tears leaking from her stunned eyes, she blinked several times to adjust against the glare. Voices murmured through the ringing bells in her ears.
"Reckon she's a mermaid?"
"Dolt, she ain't got no tail. And she be wearing funny threads, not scales."
"She sure is pretty. I hear mermaids is pretty. Think she'll grant us a wish if we promise to toss 'er back?"
"I'm tellin' ye, Toj, she ain't no bleeding mermaid." There was the unmistakable sound of a hand cuffing the back of someone's head. "Look at 'er feet. Them's odd shoes, aye, not a damn fin."
Mischa didn't understand what the hell they were blathering on about. It was all she could do to try to draw a breath. Her vision returned to sharp focus just as a pair of hairy, puckered lips clamped over hers.
She screamed, choked and sputtered up a mouthful of seawater, then scrambled back on her hands and feet like a crab. "What the hell--" The exclamation fell short of impressive as she doubled over and spewed out more seawater.
"Begad! The lass is alive, lads," the hairy mouth announced with a toothy grin. More than one of those teeth glittered gold in the bright sunlight, threatening to blind Mischa again.
A riotous cheer sounded through the air, and Mischa managed to regain enough of her befuddled wits to realize she was sagging on the deck of a boat. Her legs--bare from mid-thigh down beneath her tattered, cutoff shorts--lay against the boards like two very long, very dead fish, but she could still feel the texture of the wood grain. These were not the polished boards of her beloved Punkazz Magnifiship. This deck was weatherworn and almost soft, uneven like puzzle pieces forced into fitting together. Clearly these were much older planks of wood and belonged to a much larger vessel than hers.
She clutched her pounding head and groaned weakly. "What happened?" She looked around and barely choked back a watery gasp, seeing dozens of sea-hardened faces all focused curiously upon her.
The hairy-mouthed man--the one she assumed was responsible for her even being alive, thanks to his CPR--was the one who finally, after a long and deep pause, answered. "'Twas us wot thought ye might be answerin' that question fer us, lass."
Mischa frowned and tried to find sense in that absurdly worded statement, some kind of pattern in the thick accent.
Another man stepped forward, his black hair worn long to his shoulders in tight ringlets. A thick gold ring shone in the lobe of one ear and he sported a magnificent mustache and braided goatee. "Ye should be thankin' us, missy. We spotted ye floatin' out on the surf and fished yer sodden self out." He scowled down at her. On his left eye he wore an eye patch--an actual, honest-to-God black leather patch. "We could've left ye for dead, ye savvy?"
Mischa coughed and scowled back. "Thank you?" she offered sarcastically before throwing up another geyser of seawater.
He nodded sharply and the sun lit up his one green eye like an emerald. "Take 'er to me quarters lads, then back at yer posts."
"Wait." Mischa coughed and grimaced as her throat burned. "Where's my boat?" she demanded, trying and failing not to hock up another lungful of ocean.
The men all looked at each other, as if one of them might have the answer. With a shrug, the same mustachioed man answered her, and she found herself wondering what state she must be in for them to eye her so curiously. She must look a mess and sound even worse with each disgusting expulsion of seawater from her abused body.
"Weren't no boat, lass. Only yerself. Are ye telling me ye're shipwrecked? We saw no storm and no sign of battle, naught but calm waters." His tone was dubious, even a little accusatory, unless she'd missed her guess.
Mischa stood up, reeling with the effort such a small motion took, and would have fallen if the ebony-haired man hadn't caught and steadied her with strong, hard hands. She felt the cool wind like a balm on her face and then, finally, noticed the immensity of the ship on which she now found herself.
Mischa blinked hard, several times.
If she didn't know any better, and Mischa most certainly knew that she did, the ship she now found herself upon was a replica of an eighteenth-century sloop of war. Only this replica, her trained eyes noticed right away, was severely misused and in sore need of refitting.
"What vessel is this?" she asked, feeling more than a bit lightheaded.
The man, still holding her upright with his hands clamped above her elbows, eyed her for a long moment then seemed to come to some momentous decision. "Ye can ask yer questions later, when I've time to answer 'em," he said with a churlishness she couldn't understand. "And after ye've answered some of me own."
What a jerk! Mischa pulled away from him and turned a small circle, eyes wide.
She looked out to sea. Open ocean, blue and calm, for miles into the horizon. No Punkazz Magnifiship, no wreckage, just calm water and gentle waves. And a blue so clear it made her teeth hurt to look at it.
Taking deep, restorative breaths that felt like razors in her savaged lungs, she squeezed her eyes shut for a few moments then opened them again. Nothing had changed. Her boat was gone.