‘Is this really necessary? It’s not like anyone gives a sh-‘
He let the hatch drop with a crack, leaving me be in the rickety bowels of the ship. Or at least I believed myself alone.
‘Ye should’n take it to heart, mi lord. Huih.’
I recognised the slur. ‘You too eh? Though as far as you’re concerned: I can’t say I blame ’em. Pig fuckers. But to stow me away, me! I’m the tip of the fuckin’ spear!’
He laughed, congestedly, before chugging on something wet. ‘Aye, sometimes, mi ol’ bean, it seems like us mythics are nothin’ but slurried story. Yet here we are: the pissant’s phantoms, shitting and sleeping besides the rest of ’em…huih!’
I didn’t speak for several minutes, thinking while the vessel lurched to one side. Something heavy bounced across the planks, sliding hard against my arse cheek. Claric’s hip flask. A great thirst seized me. Suddenly all I desired was to taste the contents of the flask that never ran dry…well, if anything, I really wanted to see if it actually held an alcoholic substance within. I never trusted that he was drunk all the time. It seemed like an act; and a damned convenient one played all too often. Nobody expects too much of a drunk.
Claric’s fumbling in the dark stopped.The silence pressed against the dark.
I located the stopper and eased it free. The smell that hit me took my mind reeling back to my days at the Monastery…sweet beor. I raised the flask to my mouth then hesitated. Claric’s nectar breath kissed hot on my cheek.
‘I wouldn’, not unless ye wanna end up a Claricuan. It’s a damned thirsty honour let me tell yer.’
I lowered the flask, my arm feeling almost weightless as Claric took the flask from me.
Noisily he chugged down the sweet smelling liquid.
I realised that I had been holding my breath as I heard Claric’s muffled crawl back across the cargo deck. The ship steadied as the sails were lowered. Through the walkway above, orders were given to man the oars.
I sensed that the air tasted familiar, fresher even? I looked at Claric – who stared into the depth of his flask like a dying man searches for the meaning of life – and smiled; contradictory to my emotions; I wondered if we were all slaves to our past?
The hatch lifted, showering us in a heavy vapour. If Claric felt it he showed no sign of it. I, on the other hand, cursed and threatened vehemiently, you know, the way I do.
‘You’re best staying down there,’till we at least get past the last check-point anyway. All it’d take is one body count. No, Game, just fucking shut your mouth and wait.’
And just like that the hatch slammed back shut.
The soft hissing of Claric’s laughter haunted us into the land of Canada. Well, laughing or crying, I couldn’t quite tell. Soon enough my feet would be back on frozen ground and ready to march south to fuck the Americans in the ass, good ‘n proper.