I always wanted to write a futuristic pirate story with a female captain who runs a crew on a stolen submarine. Here it is.
The crew held fast. Their eyes gleamed, hungry for money and blood.
O’Malley grinned at them. “Steady.” She waved her hand as they neared their bourn. She glanced to her navigation system. “Battle stations.”
Her most trusted companion, Ari, rushed up the ladder and opened the hatch. He growled through his thick beard. The long scar that ran the length of his left arm pulsed like a vein.
Her ears popped and she rubbed her hands together. “Attack!”
The men rushed up the ladder and toward the briny sea spray. The navigator saluted them and whistled as she ascended to the carnage. Her machete clinked against the narrow opening, but the automatic rifle on her back held tight. She climbed onto the top of her submarine and patted the metal at her feet. Then she raced to the cruise ship they had ambushed.
She laughed at her crew. Ari already stood before the rich air breathers. He shot the first man to rush him and everyone screamed.
Panic took over their small minded consumerist lives. A stampede of cowards turned to flee. Ari glanced to O’Malley and she nodded. He fired into the air and screamed, “Best hold your legs or you’ll lose ‘em.”
The mass of feet shifted. A few people got sucked under those that continued to run, but the majority stopped and shook. Gasps and whimpers erupted from the captured herd of nubs.
Ari growled at those still running about. He aimed at their heads and blasted their brains onto the pristine deck painting the beautiful cruise ship pool beside them red. “Stop moving!” He banged the butt of his rifle on the deck and the rest of her crew joined in as they hopped aboard.
O’Malley sucked in a cold breath that cut into her lungs. The sting pleased her. She waited for everyone to reach the deck before jumping onto one of the ropes dangling from the great white ship. She pulled herself up and kicked a round window. Balancing her feet, she walked upwards.
The ocean below crashed against the great cruise liner. It taunted her. She imagined falling down into the depths of the great locker never to fill her lungs again. A grin slid over her lips. The wind scratched her cheeks and tugged at the tight network of braids knotted atop the back of her head.
She stomped upward until reaching the deck. Her men stared with admiration. They adored her for her cunning. She knew she could have any of them, but lusted for the rush of robbing the useless millionaires who had left the rest of the world to drown in their piss.
She clutched the railing and gripped tight. Swinging one leg over, she balanced her weight and gracefully rolled over landing like a gymnast.
Her stare deepened at Ari and he nodded. “The honorable Miss O’Malley will now command you.”
She gestured aside. “Go below deck and find the rest.” A dozen of her men left them to their deed.
A murmur of whispers drifted through the captured. A baby cried and O’Malley rolled her eyes. She marched up to the mother wearing a designer dress. The baby screamed in its rich clothing.
O’Malley tugged at its foot. “How much?”
The mother stuttered with teary eyes. “Please don’t hurt him.”
A laugh erupted from O’Malley. Cackling cat calls and bellows spewed from every member of her crew. She shot them a death stare and they went silent. She reached forward to pat the baby’s head, but the woman jerked back.
O’Malley glared. She drew her machete from her belt. “Of all the tales they tell, have I ever been named as a baby-killer?” She slid the blade over the mother’s breast and under the pearls at her neck.
Tan skin pulsed beneath the blade.
Ari cried out, “Baby’s may taste good but they don’t fight back. They’re useless.”
He and the crew chuckled and O’Malley cackled. She cut the sting of pearls free, collecting them in her hand. She pocketed the baubles and held the machete against her shoulder.
Her oversized shirt flapped in the breeze. The cool air caressed her chest where she left the buttons open down to her sternum. She imagined being so vain and petty as to rob the sea of its wonders. Better to take from the people than the waters that birth us.
She marched before the herd of elites. Her black combat boots hit the deck creating a musical beat. Her brown corduroys squeezed against her curves and she felt like a soldier protecting the scum she so loved. She spoke in time with the rhythm of her feet. “I am Rachael O’Malley. Miss O’Malley to you. Not one woman or child will be harmed so long as they abide by my rules.”
Her feet thumped in time. “Take off all your valuables. They belong to us now.”
Her crew rushed forward to collect earrings, watches necklaces, and hair pins.
She marched before them like a general. “Remove your expensive clothing. They too belong to us now.”
The people froze. A woman screamed. “No. No. I can’t.”
O’Malley eyed her. “You can keep your nickers, be glad for that.”
A couple of men undressed but the women had to be persuaded with weapons.
When everyone’s dignity was stripped, O’Malley stopped and faced them. “Throw all your wallets overboard.”
The woman with the baby fainted.
O’Malley glanced over and shook her head. “You see this?” She pointed a finger at the baby lying beside his mother, screaming in just a diaper. She grumbled and sheathed her machete on her belt. She picked the baby up.
It sniffled in her arms.
“This little boy meant less to that woman than her wallet. Makes me sick. How are we the baddies? You take and take and take until there’s nothing left. We’ve only got two types of people left on this cursed planet, rich folks like yerselves… and,” she tapped the machete at her side.
“I’m not an unreasonable woman.” She tickled the baby under his chin. “But these guys,” she waved to her crew, “these men would tear you all apart after a rampage of bodily harm.” She winked at the women crying closest to her.
“They are not evil. Evil doesn’t exist. Evil is a concept made up by people like you to vilify people like us; those who do what we can to survive.” She marched clutching the baby as if he were a pearl.
“Now, they will need to spill some blood. It is only natural. So to any of the men present who want a shot and fighting against us bad guys, please step forward now and save the families here from losing a respected member.” She marched toward the hull.
Specks of sunlight glittered off the waves in the distance: the only jewel she needed. Her heart swelled for a fight. “That would be now, I say.”
No one stepped forward.
Ari raised his thick eyebrows at her.
She sighed and marched. The baby she held cooed and his mother began to stir. O’Malley went to her and pulled her up. “Your son is safe. But you need to get your priorities straight, least he grow up and get his neck slit the next time we meet.”
The woman hugged her son to her and sobbed on his little wrinkled neck.
O’Malley went back to her drum-like march. “No one?”
Ari stomped over to her and whispered in her ear, “The men are in need as well. These people don’t deserve any mercies.”
She nodded. “Well, since none of you seem to understand how this works, we will choose for you. And because you are all so selfish, we now require a whore or two. They will be paid for their services. My men are clean. They need some kind of touch.”
The women gasped.
O’Malley glanced to the baby and his mother. “All mothers are safe. We need unseasoned meat.”
A young girl stepped forward. Her light strawberry brown hair reached down to her waist over a body barely mature enough for such a sacrifice. A man grabbed her by the shoulders and shouted, “No!”
O’Malley bowed to them. “Thank you sir. You shall fight, but your daughter is too fresh. She needs a few years yet.”
A sniveling, puny twenty-something pushed his girlfriend forward. “Take her.”
O’Malley scoffed at his weak jaw and manicured facial hair. “You sir will fight.” She walked through the crowed and circled the woman like a shark. “Are you willing?”
A frail blonde shook her head.
“Of course not. Weak,” she shouted at the crew and they all repeated the word laughing and teasing her.
“We need five more men to make it a lucky fight and since you tease us, at least three women.” She turned her backs on them and glanced up at the sun. She squinted at its brilliance.
When she turned around, four ladies stood before her holding hands. The biggest bustiest one held her head high. “It was supposed to be a girl’s weekend anyway. If your men can promise not to be too rough, we are willing.”
O’Malley smiled at her crew. “What say you?”
They grumbled and growled at the idea.
O’Malley pulled her gun from the holster on her back and aimed at them. “Adhere or you get nothing. Better to receive a few scraps than starve. Right?”
Ari nodded. He sniffed the air around the ladies and petted their heads. “I will abstain, but my brothers appreciate your services.”
“Akeem, Nelson, Jim, and Flat Top, please have these ladies show you to their room and make them comfortable,” O’Malley said. She strapped her gun on her back and eyed them. “I will be asking for their accounts of your deeds. Treat them well or you’ll meet a harsher hand than the devil has.”
She turned and glared at half naked men standing before them. “We’re a bit short.” She walked between the crowd examining their shoulders and chins. She pushed a few forward. “We’re in luck, mates.”
Her men cheered.
She called seven of her best fighters forward. “You know the game.” She turned to the small group of hand-picked men. “For those of you new to our tricks, don’t expect a fair fight. The world is unfair and we follow nature’s rules. We square up one-on-one but if you annoy us enough every man of my crew has the right to dig his blade into you.”
She scuffed the deck with her boot. “Not many a man survives the game, but we like a good fighter. Figure out what that means and you may see another sunrise yet.”
The crew hooted and hollered. They broke off into two groups, those guarding the terrified half-naked nubs, and those deemed worthy to circle around the fight by O’Malley. She walked in the center. Between both men she raised a hand. “What have you to say for yourself?” she asked the sniveling faux body builder she had pushed forward.
He stared at his adversary. Seven feet of dark muscle towered over him. “Go to hell.”
She threw back her head and laughed so hard it echoed on the wind. Her crew went into hysterical fits of growling, laughter, and jeering at their prey.
“Have at him,” Elijah.
Elija grinned and took one step forward. “What’s your name?”
“Shane.” The prisoner sniffed and rubbed his nose. He held up his fists but fear clouded his eyes.
“Shane, Shane’s about to have no name.
We’ll bleed him till he’s tame
Cut his throat and feel no shame,” Ari sang with a voice so rich O’Malley joined in.
Elijah tapped his chest. “I give you one for free.”
The crew joined in, repeating Ari’s song in rounds.
Shane jabbed the solid flesh and Elijah nodded. He squatted and forced a massive upper-cut under Shane’s chin. Shane stumbled back and rubbed his jaw. He shook his head and tried to run.
“You annoy me.” Elijah drew his machete and shoved it through Shane’s hip. Shane screamed and fell to the deck. The men rolled their eyes and closed in on Shane. He cried out, “No! Please! No!
Each scream received a blade through his body. His pleas went quiet and the crew carved him up, darkening their machetes with his warm blood.
“Who’s next?” O’Malley poked her head through the circle to jab and prod the six remaining fighters. The herd of prisoners behind them held a ghostly tone. Sobs and hysterics were heard but ignored. One by one she made the cowards who refused to volunteer their lives fight. Their fear amused her. She glanced at Ari and licked her lips.
“Last one’s always the best.” She hopped forward dancing a jig. The man who had at least looked out for his daughter blinked at her.
She cocked her head at him and he stepped by her side. “I am willing to do what I can.”
“Better words than the others gave.” She cackled at him.
Ari held out his machete. “Patience rewards the brave with a quick death.” He stepped in front of the crew. He shot a harsh stare at O’Malley and she bowed. “Feast your last.”
She turned from the spectacle and went to the man’s daughter. She stroked her hair. “If he is smart he may survive, but I doubt it. You dear girl will exalt him as a hero. This tale will be told for generations in your family. The fear, the anguish will burn out. Someone will snatch you up and fill you with a child. And you will turn this day into a fairy tale. Everyone will talk of the time you survived Rachael O’Malley and her fierce men… how your father gave his life to secure your freedom.”
Ari screamed and O’Malley turned. She rushed toward the fight. The men drew their machetes, but Ari held up a hand as she broke through to find a cut on his great chest. “How in the hell did that happen?”
The man held Ari’s machete in one hand. His arm trembled.
“Bravo.” She clapped.
Ari dabbed the blood running from the cut and licked his crimson stained thumb. “Not bad, sailor.” He chuckled.
“What say you?” O’Malley shouted above the thick air.
“Freedom,” the gruff tones of her crew answered.
She nodded. She shoved the man back to his daughter and scoffed at them. “So much for fairy tales. You earned your freedom.”
Akeem ran up to her with a bottle of rum and she chugged a deep swig. She sighed heavily. He passed it around to the others and Nelson joined them with a crate of wine. “Time for a little party.”
“Where’s Flat Top?” Ari asked.
“He’s in love.” Akeem laughed with a growl of cynicism.
“But is she?” O’Malley popped open a bottle of wine and chugged the bitter juice.
Akeem shrugged, but Elijah stomped forward with the other fighters. “No hogging the women. We’re in need.”
She flashed them a maternal smile and even patted Elijah’s shoulder as if he were a boy. “Of course not. Flat Top is no prize for any women. His flat head’s got no brains anymore, so I’m sure he can share. Now go and celebrate with as much thrusting as the ladies can take.”
Ari whistled and she joined him by the railing. He gazed out to the rocking waters. They stood together in silence for a moment. Side-by-side gazing ahead.
“Someone sounded an alert.” Ari pointed ahead.
O’Malley never understood his ability to sense company before it appeared, but she trusted his gut more than her own maps. “I was hoping for this.”
“Fill the sub, we’ll be running in ten minutes,” she yelled to the crew.
The men jumped to action, grabbing bags of loot and shooting into the air. They moved quick hauling the loads down the ropes. Ari rushed to join them.
She jogged below to the moans of pleasure. She followed the halls to her fighters and walked in on an orgy of lust. One stomp of her boot and she announced, “Finish quick. We’re about to be chased.”
Elijah’s butt cheeks flapped before her. He grunted and cried out.
She grinned and glanced at Flat Top sitting in the big girl’s lap, kissing her arms. “You know I hate to ruin your fun, but it’s time to end this romance.”
He growled but nodded.
O’Malley stepped back to the doorway and looked out into the hall. The lush carpet annoyed her. Once her men lined up, she called over her shoulder, “Did anyone hurt you?”
The women giggled. “Only how we please,” one said through the others’ pouting and sighs of contentment.
Flat Top’s girl tugged at O’Malley’s sleeve. “Take me with you.”
O’Malley turned to the big busty figure. “It’s best to leave it as is. You will remember this differently once we are gone and I’m not about to bring a bomb into my nest. A bag of jewels will be left on deck. It is yours.”
She led her men above and ordered them to the sub. She drew her gun and marched around the prisoners. “I hope you have enjoyed this spectacle. Let’s never meet again.”
She swung her gun onto her back and ran to the ropes. Ari stood waiting. Together they slid down the remaining two ropes and jumped off as close to the sub as possible. “Time for the chase.” Ari helped her to the ladder.
“I love this game.” She went down the hole and let her ship encompass her thoughts.
The thick air contrasted with the fresh spray she had just encountered so much that it felt like another world. Her world.
She took up her space on deck and cried, “Battle stations!”
Ari manned the periscope.
“How’s it looking?” she asked.
“Like a dog with two peters.” He chuckled. “They’re sending out the new swimmers.”
Flat Top cocked his head at them. “What are they?”
O’Malley gazed on him like a child in her care. “Your brain won’t retain whatever I say no how, but before the World Government threw us into this poverty my father’s navy worked on a super sub. It was supposed to move so fast no one can outrun it, but they could never finish it. I guess someone capped it.”
“We’re doomed.” He twitched.
“Shut your blimey mouth.” Ari leered at him.
“You stick to the sights.” O’Malley pointed at him. “Flat Top looked out for me after they killed my father and don’t you forget it.”
She glanced at the navigation board. “They’re gaining on us. But if it’s anything like the blueprints I saw it has a blind spot. Let’s remind our leaders that they can’t control what they can’t see.”
“They’ll be within firing range in about 10 seconds.” Ari held up his fingers and counted down from nine. Having lost his left thumb made nine the new countdown.
“The fault line is just over that ridge.” She walked to the navigation board. “Take us down as soon as the floor dips and go dark, but keep speed.”
Her navigator saluted without looking away from the board.
“Three… two…one…” O’Malley braced herself as they swept over the ridge.
A torpedo chopped through the water with her name on it.
“Now,” she growled through clenched teeth.
Everyone grabbed onto the desks and wall grips around them as the sub shifted. “Don’t let up.” She held tight working to shift her feet.
A great rocking jolted her and then came the din.
“What’s the damage.” The skin around her fingers swelled but she didn’t let go until the pressure grew heavier.
They sub leveled and they were left crashing through dark waters. The lights flickered and she regained her commanding posture. Shoulders back, chin high, she cleared her throat. “What’s the damage?”
“Barely touched a fin.” The navigator laughed out loud.
She nodded. “Keep moving. They’ll never find us.”
“They never do,” Flat Top sang.
Once the rush of death missed yet again, O’Malley paced the deck. She rubbed her eyes and went to count out their loot with Elijah.
He saluted her and she nodded.
She sat beside him and fingered heaps of jewelry. “I don’t wanna go!” The faint echo of a boy’s voice struck her ears.
She glanced around.
Elijah continued counting out shares of the spoiles.
I’m gonna end up like Flat Top someday. She huffed at herself. Would rather sink this old sub.
She reached for a beaded earring but something smacked her hand. It happened so fast she blinked. A streak of flesh dashed by and dissipated.
She shook her head. “Got any rum?”
Elijah handed her a bottle and she took a swig. Her throat tightened. She sighed and her stomach welcomed the frothy liquor. She held the bottle to her forehead and leaned back. “I’m getting ‘em.”
“What?” Elijah asked, still divvying out pieces.
“The ghosts. You sail enough and you get the ghosts. Whether they’re real or not doesn’t matter. Eventually they come for you. We fight, we kill, we’re haunted until we die.”
“You ain’t never kilt anybody who didn’t ask for it.” Elijah handed her a gold ring.
She held it in the palm of her hand. Let the weight cut into her thoughts. She flicked it away. “So they say.” She sighed.
A rush of feet and high pitched giggles surrounded her. The arms turned to flesh around her neck. She sank under the ghost’s hug and felt a tear form in the well of her deserted eyes. She bit it back and snickered. “There’s never enough rum.”
She chugged from the bottle and then wandered toward her bunk.
Nelson lay on the thin sheets waiting for her. His blonde hair and sea colored eyes glowed in the dim light.
“Get out.” She pointed to the hall.
He sung his legs over the ledge and tapped the bed.
“Didn’t you get enough on our cruise?” she smirked.
“Those ladies will never be you.” He stared so intensely she laughed.
“And you know I don’t bump with my crew. I run a tight ship and can take care of myself. Don’t need your hands.” She gestured for him to go.
He stood and stepped close. “My hands are yours.”
“Then take them where they’re needed.”
“Aye aye.” He saluted her.
She hoped the fog in her head would clear with a short rest. She lay on her bunk and swung her feet up, boots and all. Inhaling, she thought of her dad. The upstanding soldier. “It is our duty to serve those who cannot defend themselves.”
His words echoed in her ears. She exhaled.
A swish of clothing interrupted. “I said out, Nelson.”
No one was there. She rolled her eyes. “I’m in no mood for ghosts today. Shove off.”
A small whimper sounded beside her and a hand reached through the empty air. A real five-fingered fleshy warm hand, pulse and all.
Her lips parted. She held up her hand. Inhaled. Exhaled. Blinked and took a breath.
The child’s hand trembled, but reached forward and pressed its palm to hers. “Who are you?” she asked.
But as soon as the words came through, the hand vanished.
Determined marching scuffed the scene and Ari came to her doorway. He tapped on it. “Sorry to bother you Captain, but it’s time to figure out where the hell we are and where we’re going.”
She shot him a coy smile. “Anything to keep away the ghosts.”
He scowled at her. “You’ve got them?”
She nodded. “I’ll be as sane as Flat Top soon.” She laughed.
He knelt before her. “You gave me hope in slaughter. You led me to victory in decimation. I will tend you always.”
“You need not be so dramatic.” She reached for his hand. “Middle-Age is old when you’ve lived through what we’ve seen. We’re entering our last years. Let’s go have some fun.”
He patted her hand and followed her back on deck.
Flat Top met them at the bridge. “I swiped this for ya when ya wasn’t looking.” He held out a crimson hat big enough to shade O’Malley’s entire body.
“It’s gorgeous, like the ones the billionaires wear to the horse races.” She smirked and bent down.
Flat Top place it on her head and gazed on her like a proud father. His crooked grin revealed too many missing teeth. A string of drool slid down his chin.
She adjusted the hat and flicked the side. “It even has a feather. All I need is a parrot and a peg leg.” She laughed. The crew bellowed with her and Flat Top but Ari gestured for them to get to business.
“Thank you.” She turned from Flat Top and cleared her throat. “What’s the damage, Navigator?”
They walked to the navigation board and he stood. “No damage. Our sub is smooth, but the sonar is off the charts, our mapping programs are malfunctioning, and… look.” He went to the periscope and tapped it for her to look out.
The child’s laughter returned as she placed her face to peer out. She held her breath until it died away.
Looking into the periscope, vapid darkness met her. Blips of light and shadows molded together. Her eyes refused to focus. Even with the submarine’s outer lighting, her gut warned of danger. “Must be a cavern. We need to update the system is all.”
Something brushed against her leg. She pulled back and stared at her feet. No one moved. Ari stood close to her, but he rarely touched.
“No cavern.” Ari glanced from side to side. “Our pressurization has shifted.”
“And all controls are useless in this void.” The Navigator stared at his equipment.
Elijah laughed. “So our superstitions have found us.” He held out a bottle of rum. “The ghosts come for us all. We know it. And they’re here. You’ve all heard them since we sacked the cruise liner.”
O’Malley studied her crew members. They mumbled to themselves, nodding and growling about curses.
She walked between them as if in a trance. “It’s not ghosts. We’ve gone into a magnetic field and the vibrations are scrambling our brains like fresh eggs.”
Flat Top chuckled. “Hungry Captain?”
She glared at him. “Only for the sea.”
He giggled with a fierce uncertainty as if tears were closed off behind a decaying damn. Everyone went silent and looked to him. He stuck his chin out and pushed his rounded shoulders back. For a moment he seemed to be the soldier he once was. “The sea has left us. Or rather we left her back there.” He gestured behind him.
“You’re a madman.” Ari shook his head.
“Mad doesn’t mean wrong.” O’Malley shot him a knowing glance. She walked in front of Flat Top to look him in the eye.
He growled. “If ya father knew what they took from us─from everyone─the promise of liberty, the potential for happiness; a real life… We took what was ours. Your mother shoved you in his arms before they blasted the harbor. This sub was all we had to fight back. They came for us and killed him, but I was able to flee with you. I wish I could say I raised you right.” He dragged his finger over the brim of her hat. “I think I may have warped you. Or maybe we both feel too much guilt for still living. Sometimes I hate myself for not being able to save him, but then there are days when I think he got the better bargain.”
“This is not about my father.” O’Malley set her jaw. “This is not about the past or even death. Where is it you think we have gone?”
“It’s a black hole for sure. I’ve seen one once. Swallowed up a ship like a giant squid. But it was just ink. Ink and space.”
Ari scowled at him. He stepped close to O’Malley and whispered over her shoulder, “The man is a loon. Off him and put him out of his misery. He just said your father was better off dead.”
She held up her hand. She paced the deck for a moment, then went to the periscope. The second look presented a broader picture.
Were the shadows outlines of distant rocks, floating beyond the planet? They moved as if untethered, unbound by gravity or anything she had ever seen. She pondered the idea.
“How’s the air supply?” she asked.
The Navigator and Ari held their thumbs up.
She cackled. “Then it don’t matter where we are.” She marched before her crew. Her boots beat against the grating on the deck. “We go where the current pulls us, yes?”
They shouted an affirmative.
“Then I say we keep going. Let the ship drift where it may. Everything we dreamed of as children is gone. Maybe it’s time we give in to nightmares. They can’t be any more disappointing than what our hopes gave us.”
She yanked a bottle of Champaign from Elijah’s hand. She shook it up. He handed her a cork screw and she popped the top, spraying everyone. She danced in the rain of inebriation.
A child walked up to her and clutched her hand. She blinked at the boy and bent down. “What’s your name son?”
He tugged at his short hair and laughed. Something in the tinkle of his voice reminded her of herself. She searched his eyes and found them to hold the same indefinite shade of the changing hazel that stared back at her when she was alone.
The features smoothed out. He grew before her. The body matured into a young girl and she gasped. Rachel O’Malley reached forward and touched herself. The newly formed adult mirrored her exactly and she fought back the memories of loneliness and isolation. The battles. The disguise to protect her body from cruel hands and throbbing hatred.
Flat Top smacked her shoulder. “You always wanted to be a boy, but I think you’re a fine lady when you want to be.”
The ghost vanished and she laughed. “The only ladies I know of are the cowards back on that cruise liner.”
“And what ladies they be.” Nelson winked at her.
She chugged some champagne and smashed the bottle on the deck. “Let’s live until the air runs out!”
“Aye,” the men grabbed up whatever bottles they could find and held them up to her. Ari broke out into song and they sang to the submarine, dancing:
There is no need to find our way
We go where waters drift and sway
There is no need to fear no more
Our lives are gone so kiss the whore