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The Ship – chapter 4 snippet

Will had a ‘little’ accident in the gun powder storage. James is furious, and he isn’t the only one…

“What in hell’s name were you doing down there, lad?”

“Those gems we talked about,” I huff between Richard’s prodding. At the surgeon’s instructions, I turn my face further. “They’re down there, Harold. In the back of the powder magazine.”

“Are they now? Wonderful,” Harold chides, hands planted in his sides. “Too bad retrieving them didn’t exactly go without a hitch. What in blazes happened in there?”

At that moment, David joins us. The master armourer sports a frown that rivals James’s.

“Two dozen powder kegs exploding is what happened,” he reports. “The captain had a fair point, Will. Your little scavenger hunt all but ripped the stern apart. Still might, too. The surviving kegs are bound to leak powder, so one spark is all it takes to set off what’s left. Which is plenty for us to,” he gesticulates a big explosion, “go out in a marvellous display of fireworks.”

His sarcasm rubs too much salt in my wounds. “Fuck you. It wasn’t my fault! I’ve handled powder kegs a million times before, and I swear I moved and inspected them according to proper protocol. Everything was fine, right—Ngh!” I clench my jaw when Richard plucks at a chunk of torn flesh. I swat away his blasted pincers and glare at David. “Right up to the moment I picked up one keg and it felt a fraction too heavy.”

The master armourer puckers his lips in thought. “Kegs are always the same size and weight. I stacked and secured them myself. I’d have noticed if any of them were off.”

“Just a slight difference. I noticed, but then I didn’t have time to put the keg back before…” I pointedly mimic his explosion gesture. Some charred flesh crumbles from my thumb. David turns an interesting shade of green.