Bound to the Seelenfalle

The sea was calm against her side as she stirred the stew and her footsteps creaked on the deck above. She looked out across the Braun Sea from the top of her crow’s nest, adding a pinch of salt to the stew as she pulled in a net brimming with silver and green fish.

She leaned and pulled against twenty-four oars as the net spilled out onto the deck. She looked back west to land from the crow’s nest as she added coals to the kitchen fire.

The Seelenfalle turned, adjusting its course as she awoke. Slipping down from a hammock, she rubbed her eyes and ladled stew to taste. Pulling the oars, she scanned the horizon from the crow’s nest and pulled on a pair of leather boots.

A ship poked over the horizon to the east. Wrapping a kerchief around her head, she heaved the oars in perfect unison. Emerging from below deck, she stepped out into the sun as she moved the stew pot to simmer.

Thin white clouds hung in the sky above as she tied the Seelenfalle’s sails to the mast, useless. She climbed the steps from the kitchen as she dragged a barrel along the deck. Stopping next to the fish, she locked eyes with herself for an instant, her blue eyes and blond hair, her grey eyes and brown beard. She dropped her gaze and turned to the fish, scooping them up in her arms as she held the barrel at an angle.

Looking across the Braun Sea, the ship was fast approaching. She adjusted her course to north-east, and pulled hard on the oars. She tipped a bag of salt into the barrel and sealed its lid as she frowned at the ship from the top of the crow’s nest. The ship turned to match the Seelenfalle’s trajectory.

Letting go of the wheel, she ran along the deck to the bow as the ship matched the Seelenfalle’s speed as it lined up against the sides, its rowers pulling their oars in.

“Ahoy there,” she said, trying to keep her tone steady, amiable. The ship’s captain was thick and bearded holding a sword and pistol.

She scrambled from her hammocks and pulled on her boots as she sought her own swords and pushed gunpowder into the cannon.

“I say, ahoy,” she repeated.

“Are you the captain of this here ship?” the captain asked.

“The ship,” she said. She stopped rowing and slid down from the crow’s nest.

“Sir, I’m afraid to say this is not going to be your lucky day. Prepare to be boarded.”

She fired off a pair of cannon as she drew her sword and burst out from below deck. The ship wobbled in the water as men slid down ropes with hooks. The ship’s captain fired his pistol and she fell to the deck, grasping at her chest and pulling her daggers from beneath her seats.

A rapier stung her arm as it cut through her flesh. She fired off another trio of cannon as she charged from the bridge and the bow to meet another group of boarders.

The water hit her with a cold shock as she tumbled headfirst into the sea, tackling a thin man to the deck as blood filled her lungs. Swinging from a sail, she kicked the head of a boarder as she pushed a shot into the cannon.

Falling into the water, she felt a sword pass through her stomach as the wild-eyed captain strangled her.

Footsteps creaked along the Seelenfalle’s decks as the sea splashed against her hull.

Her eyes and ears were gone. She was blind. She was deaf. She was helpless.

The souls bound to the Seelenfalle were no more.

This text is copyright 2016 by Jon Cronshaw, released under a BY-NC-ND Creative Commons Licence.

The Ray Bradbury Challenge: Day 038

Short story: The Postmaster by Rabindranath Tagore, listened to on the Morning Short podcast. Recommended.

Poem: Ode to Coffee, Oda al Café by Urayoán Noel, listened to on the Poetry Now podcast, from August 2016. Recommended.

Essay: How Better Tech Could Protect us from Distraction by Tristan Harris, listened to on the TED Talks podcast, from June 2016. Recommended.

What is the Ray Bradbury Challenge?

The Ray Bradbury Challenge: Day 037

Short story: The Opposite and Adjacent by Liu Yang, from Clarkesworld Magazine from September 2016. Recommended.

Poem: Why Did I Laugh Tonight? No Voice Will Tell by John Keats, listened to through Librivox. Recommended.

Essay: The Art of Storytelling by Jon Glover, from the BBC’s The Essay podcast, from May 2016. Recommended.

Short story 9/52 written.

What is the Ray Bradbury Challenge?

The Ray Bradbury Challenge: Day 036

Short story: To the Moon and Back by Etgar Keret, listened to on the New Yorker’s Author’s Voice podcast, from September 2016. Highly Recommended.

Poem: Sonnet 23 by William Shakespeare, listened to on the Intro to Poetry podcast. Recommended.

Essay: The Belgian UFO Wave, listened to on Skeptoid #538, from September 2016. Highly Recommended.

What is the Ray Bradbury Challenge?

The Ray Bradbury Challenge: Day 035

Short story: The God-Clown is Near by Jay Lake, read in Steampunk (2008), edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. Recommended.

Poem: Taboo by Sara Norja, reading Strange Horizons, from September 2016. Highly Recommended.

Essay: Swimming Reindeer, listened to on the BBC’s A History of the World in 100 Objects, from January 2010. Highly Recommended.

What is the Ray Bradbury Challenge?

The Ray Bradbury Challenge: Day 034

Short story: Dead Man’s Hand by Christie Yant, read in the Dead Man’s Hand anthology (2014), edited by John Joseph Adams. Recommended.

Poem: Umpaowastewin by Margaret Noodin, listened to on the Poetry Now podcast, from September 2016. Highly Recommended.

Essay: Ideology versus Art by Howard Jacobson, listened to on the BBC’s The Essay podcast, from April 2015. Recommended.

What is the Ray Bradbury Challenge?

The Ray Bradbury Challenge: Day 033

Short story: A Bank Fraud by Rudyard Kipling, listened to on the Morning Short podcast.

Poem: Prospice by Robert Browning, listened to through Librivox. Recommended.

Essay: Control by Aleks Krotoski, listened to on the BBC’s Digital Human podcast, from May 2012. Highly Recommended.

What is the Ray Bradbury Challenge?