The night was quiet; the moon was full. It was a sleepy town with some old buildings dotted around, some as old as several hundred years! Little had happened here, somehow avoiding the disasters of time and progress. But that didn’t mean it held no secrets… Everyone was asleep, but there was one figure lurking on the rooftop. He moved slowly, darkly, as dark as one could manage despite the moon casting his silhouette on the dark blue sky. He could be quite easily seen if one were to look, but there was nobody to see him for all was a sleep. The roof plates wobbled dangerously as he moved forward, making his way to the next window and he huddled up to it. He brought out a crowbar and buried the iron into the dry old wood. It cracked and he opened the window stealthily. The weight of him made the floor creak, each step somehow becoming louder. He took a breath, brought out a flashlight and an old book and read it softly to himself. “Though it will be some time until I return to this place, I decided to hide the map in the cupboard on the second floor, the one in the main hall. The first layer of the drawer was easy to break and nobody would guess that something was hidden inside. I hope that I will return to it soon. I do not trust the captain and his men to honour their promise.”
He smirked and looked around. There was a cupboard down the hall and he opened the drawer. The old wood squealed when he pulled it open and he hesitated, seeming much louder in the night where sound carried far. He broke the first layer, revealing a secret compartment. He dug his hand into the dark and felt the coarseness of paper. A wide grin grew upon his face.
The library was empty that day. It was the weekend and very few would come, even less people stayed after hours, which was allowed. Kollin lived at the academy as a student. She preferred the library, not just because it held a bunch of books but because it was roomy and cool in summer, stark contrast to her sweaty, and mostly loud, dormitory. Besides, there was a certain ambience at night which she simply adored. It made it easy for her to get lost in whatever she was reading, even boring articles about politics which she had to study for. Sitting in one of the few couches on the second floor, she placed the paper she was reading on the table beside her and leaned back at the chair, making a comfortable sigh. Then she dug into her backpack on the floor and brought out an old worn book that was dogeared at every corner of every page, so much so that paper itself had fallen off at places. The cover was that of a pirate captain standing at the helm of his ship. The sea roaring, sabre in hand and a shark poking its head through the waves showing its teeth. At first glance, this would seem like a childish book and although it was considered a children’s story at her time, it was the earliest piece of fiction ever created and was much respected in literary circles. But that was not why she liked the story so, but because it was a tale of adventure, of a time long gone. The book is about a lawyer named Jason in the 17th century who was forced into piracy because of gambling debts which he couldn’t pay. He stumbled upon a pirate crew in the new world and hoped to amass a fortune to return home and restore his life. But pirate life was hard and he soon realised he would have to think of something else if he ever wanted to come home alive and rich.
Kollin sighed and looked dreamily into the darkness and dreamt about adventures and exotic places. “I wish I could be there,” she said and allowed herself to imagine for just a little bit before packing up her things and heading home, hoping her dreams would come true in her sleep.
The next day, Kollin went to class. She studied to become a professor, but the lecturer today was a bore and she leaned in and whispered to her friend Jane who sat left of her. “You think he’s ever been to the places he talks about?”
“Does it matter?”
Of course it does! She wanted to say, but she didn’t as she felt the eyes of the lecturer on her and she burrowed herself in her chair and tried to pay attention. “I don’t think he barely leaves the school grounds,” Oliver, another friend of hers, said. “And we pay good money to listen to this…”
Kollin smiled. She had two great friends, Jane and Oliver. They had been friends since childhood and they did everything together. “As long as I get the degree is all I care about,” Jane said.
“I suppose so… They are not all this boring, though, thankfully,” Kollin said.
They listened obediently and took notes when Oliver leaned in. “I’m going tomorrow, by the way.”
“You are really going to go through with it?” Jane said.
“Of course, there’s money to be had. Businesses will flock to me for advice once I get a foot in the country… My offer still stands, you know.”
“That’s sweet, but I have other plans.”
“Me too, I’m sorry,” Kollin said.
“It’s alright… So I guess we won’t see each other much once we graduate…”
“Yeah…” Kollin smiled sadly.
Suddenly, Jane stood and grabbed them both under her arms, squeezing their necks. “I’ll visit you even if you move across the world you hear!”
A gasp escaped Kollin, as they ruffled each other. They didn’t care if the lecturer and half the class glared at them.
Oliver made his trip, as he said, and he was gone for a whole week. He returned disappointed but spirited. Apparently the trip hadn’t gone well but he was excited to tell what he’d seen. “It’s an amazing place! They are really poor but they seemed happy and friendly. I swear, most of the buildings are relics from the colonial era. There weren’t that many foreigners either so I was kinda like a celebrity in a way,” he said with a huge grin.
“Sounds like you had a good time.”
“Oh yes, you should come with me next time. You’d like it especially, Kol, it’s just like that pirate story you like so much.”
“Fortune in the Mire?”
“Yeah, that’s the one. They had an old inn, hundreds of years old and everything.”
Kollin looked doubtfully at him. “I don’t know, I have midterms coming up and…”
“You’ll be fine. You study too much anyway.”
Jane and Kollin looked at one another. “I suppose it could be fun.”
“That’s the spirit! You can study on the plane if it worries you that much.”
“Alright, alright, I said I’d go already,” Kollin said.
They laughed and a week from then they took a plane to this exotic country (…)
© Christopher Stamfors
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