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#14: The Trouble With Seeing Things

Jane Temble was dreaming of Home again. Or perhaps it was the same dream, one long continuous story, for she could not remember waking. In some was it felt as if she’d slept for months—an oddity she did not bother to question, for the dream felt good and she was loathe to leave it.

Home. Mother. Family. Playing games with her brother, the spicy smell of Sunday supper and summer rain upon the fields that surrounded their house. Jane tried to guess at how old she might be in this particular memory, for she could feel herself being gently rocked.

Gently rocked. To and fro. The creak of the ship’s sails and multitude of lines a comforting lulluby...

Ship’s sails?

Jane felt the dream leak from her awareness as reality crept in, accompanied by a large headache.

“Good. She wakes. The heavens help you if anything else goes wrong.” A voice, masculine, interrupted the quiet rhythm of the rocking ship. “You’ll feel my wrath if any harm comes to her.” Footsteps receded, carrying away all chance of recognizing the speaker. For Jane had now noted that not only did she face the damp wooden wall of the ship, she was bound hand and foot.

The pieces came together slowly—rough hands grabbing her, the quiet tickle of a needle entering a vein, and then . . . dreams of home.

The smells of which had now been replaced by the stench of a wharf, hot sticky spiced air, and a sweaty multitude of bodies. Bodies that were making a horrendous amount of noise. Jane longed to press shut her ears. Booted feet on the deck above and guttural shouts from innumerable fishermen, traders, and merchants did few favours for her headache.

One such pair of booted feet approached from behind and Jane tensed.

“Boss says ’s good you’re awake. Right worried ‘e was,” the voice was reassuringly English like that of the previous speaker, but distressingly darker, menacing, “But you’ll give us a fair bit o’ trouble if you’re all that alert. This should help.” A calloused hand steadied her arm. The needle went in smoothly despite the rocking of the ship. An expert, then.

Fighting unconsciousness, Jane’s last thought before she drifted off, was that of faint recognition of the cacophony of half-heard syllables outside—Arabic?