The Legend of Marley Rogers – Short Story

So this is a short story I wrote a few years ago, back when I was sixteen I think.  I’ve since edited it a bit to remove typos/weird sentence structure and make it a little more cohesive.  Hope you enjoy!

 

The legend of marley rogers

 

She stood upon one of the rocks, the spray from the waves flying around her. Dark cumulonimbus clouds spread out through the sky, darkening the horizon. Steady, threatening gusts of wind toyed with her hair and blew the frayed skirt of her mother’s dress about her legs.
In the distance, her eyes could make out a broad ship – a ship making its way to her island to wait out the coming monsoon.
She couldn’t make out the men on board for the black cloudy background behind the ship, but her lips curled into a smile. There had to be many sailors – it was a big ship after all. Perhaps they would free her from her prison. But if not…if not, she could at least pick their pockets while they slept.  Perhaps she could stow away in a rowboat.  There was at least a chance, a chance she hadn’t had in years.
The wind picking up, she climbed down the rock and dropped into the wild, knee-deep salt water. The waves smashed against the rocks around her, getting more rough in their play. However, she continued heading for shore, that odd little smile dancing on her lips, walking through the water like a ghost among the waves.

~

“I’m telling the truth! I saw someone!” one of the sailors protested. “This place has to be haunted.”
“Yer eyes are playing tricks on ye,” snapped the Captain, and the sailor fell silent with a glare.  “The storm is upon us,” declared the Captain, ignoring the sailor’s sulk. “We need ter find us some shelter. Follow me, ye bunch of superstitious women.”
Grumblings followed, but all sailors got in line behind the man with an iron peg for his right leg.  Their footsteps thumped in the wet sand and soon grew fainter due to the cover of the jungle.
She scooted around the opposite side of the tree as they came in sight, careful not to snap any twigs lying around. She held her breath until they passed, then peered out at them again. In the distance, thunder rumbled like a promise of the storm to come.
She cocked her head as she watched the sailors shoving their way through the brush, admiring their peg legs and mottled skin, their shining pistols and feathered hats. They looked familiar – the iron leg, especially.  The sight of it tickled the back of her brain, as though she should remember it.  But how could she know them?  She hadn’t seen people in a very long time.

~

She watched the men jump as the thunder roared above, shaking the sky. The storm was almost upon them. Not once did she flinch though; she had learned to befriend the sky’s fury, the storms that shook her prison to its very core.
“Cap’n Gallows!” shouted the First Mate.
Her curious smile disappeared and she recoiled at the name, hearing nothing else of the sailor’s conversation.
Captain Gallows. That man… The man who had ruined her life.
It couldn’t be.
With the agility and silence of a cat, she bounded through the trees, back toward the shore; toward the ship. She had to make sure she hadn’t heard things, hadn’t let the companions in her head trick her.  Was that why her memory had pricked, why the iron leg had startled her?
She dashed from the jungle floor to shadowed sand, sending it flying behind her as she ran. The skirt of her dress whipped around her ankles as she plunged into the waves, racing for the ship that was moored just beyond the rocks.
The wind howled, the waves rough and pulling at her, wanting to drag her under. She fought against them, soaking her whole body in the process. She had to see the name of the ship. She had to.
She had only been a girl when it happened.
She jumped over another wave and grabbed hold of a ledge in the nearest rock. The sea spray stung her eyes as she struggled onto the slick surface. Shivering from the cold water dripping from her form, she ran up the rock, using every ledge she could to keep her footing.
Waves pounded relentlessly against the rock, sending up towers of spray. The wind howled at her in warning; a fork of lightning lit up the sky.
As the resounding thunder boomed, she peered through the sea spray at the side of the ship, at the name written in big but faded letters: MALSTROM.
She clenched her hands into fists and stared up at the lettering. She could hear the echo of a long ago gun shot in her ears; her head spun.
Captain Gallows.
It could only be fate that gave her this chance, this moment.
She could finally give the filthy pirate what he deserved.
The slight pitter-patter of rain hit the rocks as she dove back into the ocean, dashing wildly toward shore. The waters were a sea of frothy foam around her.
She crawled back onto the sand, then leaped to her feet and ran back into the jungle, to the tree where her parents’ decaying, naked bodies hung, their limp forms waving in the wind. She threw aside a rock the size of her palm and dug into the rich earth, the soil caking her wet hands, splattering her dress and soiling her already ragged fingernails.
Her hands felt the coarseness of a sack and she jerked the bag out the rest of the way. It bulged in different places from the many treasured but bittersweet items she had put in it — all she had been able to save from her parents’ bodies after the Captain shot them and strung them up. She ignored all the trinkets however, except for one.
Green eyes lighting up, her shaking hands retrieved her father’s old pistol. After all these years, the wood was still smooth, and the pearl embedded in the handle still shown in the lightning.
She stuck the bag back in the hole and stood, fingering the gun. Stepping under a tree to escape most of the pouring rain, she checked inside. The gun powder was still in tact and she had three bullets.  Three would be enough.
Gripping the pistol, she wiped her long dark hair out of her eyes, leaving smudges of dirt on her skin that ran in the rain.
Frown on her face, she stalked the way of the pirates’ path. Since they had wanted shelter, she knew exactly where they’d be.

~

Just as she suspected, the men had found one of her old huts. She had constructed many in the past, always moving from one to the other, back when she had explored the island. This one happened to be nearest the beach and hardly camouflaged at all.
She could hear the men shouting at each other over the pounding of the rain, making up wild tales of cannibals and other horrid creatures.
Without hesitation, she shot at the crude, wood slatted door, the gunshot echoing through the air.
The men let out cries at the shot.
She stormed up to the door and kicked it open, re-cocking her pistol. The men all had their knives drawn but froze at the sight of her. She only had eyes for one pirate, the one with the iron leg.  The one her crazed mind had warned her about.
He stared at her in confusion, hand resting on his scabbard. And as he took her in, his weathered face turned ashen. “Marley?” he croaked. “Marley Rogers?”
“Captain Gallows.” Her voice was calm, in control, but there was a raging fire in her eyes.
Some of the men lowered their weapons, whispers and awe traveling among them. The Captain continued to stare.
“Yer supposed ter be dead.”
“And yet I stand before you!” Her voice rose. She pointed the pistol at the Captain’s chest. “Tell me, Gallows, do I look dead to you?”
A sneer spread across Gallows’ face. “Yer couldn’t have been more than twelve when yer were -”
“I was ten!” Her voice lost control for just a moment, and she fought to regain it. Her hands shook. “I was ten when you brought me and my parents here. When you sent a bullet through both of ‘em and hung them in a tree as a reminder. When, before you murdered them for fear that they were planning an uprising, they told me to take my bag and run.”
“So yer alive,” Gallows growled. “I shouldn’t have underestimated a Rogers girl.”
“No,” she replied, voice cold, eyes dancing. “You shouldn’t have.” Rain and salt water dripped from her body, causing the dirt smudges on her clothes and skin to run.  “And now,” she continued, “now, I’m going to repay you for what you’ve done. Starting with the bullet, Captain.”
Captain Gallows drew his blade from his scabbard, leaping to his feet, but she was too fast, shooting him before he had a chance to move toward her. She didn’t wait around to see if her bullet had killed him; she was confident it had. Instead, she ran toward the beach once more.
Shouts rose up behind her and then came the crashing of heavy-booted feed. She quickly changed her course, leading her pursuers through a different part of the jungle. It still led to the beach, but the unknown, crude path would confuse the pirates enough to buy her some extra time.
She leaped between two rocks and zig-zagged through the trees. It was only a short matter of time later that her pursuers’ footsteps grew faint, and she burst onto the beach.
The rain fell in thick sheets now, thumping against her. The mighty wind blew up sand in whirlwinds; the nearest waves towered over her head. More jagged bolts of lightning forked the sky in numerous places.
She ran headlong into the waves without a moment to lose, relinquishing her father’s pistol to the raging sea.  She wouldn’t be needing it anymore.
It was a ferocious battle of wills in the water – the waves beat her back toward shore, but the current pulled her out. She fought madly against the waves, allowing the current to drag her along, heading toward her goal: the ship.
She groped for ledges in the rock as the currents’ strong hands tugged at her. She dug her fingernails into the ledge and hauled herself onto the rock, scrambling up the slippery surface as fast as she could go.
She looked back to see if she could spot the pirates, but nothing was to be seen through the rain.
Ahead of her was the huge metal chain to which held the anchor in the ocean below. She broke into a run, slipping on the rock’s surface, and made a flying leap toward it.
She crashed into the side of the ship with a force that made her whole body jolt, but she was holding onto the chain. She was still alive. A groan of pain escaped her lips, but she began her desperate climb.
It’d all be over soon. The fates had given her this chance.
She heaved herself over the ship’s railing, onto the rocking deck. Forcing herself to her feet, she staggered to the staircase and tripped down the stairs, the memory swirling to the surface of her mind. She swung open the first door she came to, slamming into the doorway as the ship rocked with the waves.
It was the Captain’s quarters.
A dim candle glowed in a lantern hanging on the wall, and her breath hitched as she gazed at it.  So that’s how it ends.
She stumbled over to the lantern and pulled it off its hook before racing out of the room and down another flight of stairs.
She sprinted across the floor, dodging cannons as they shifted with the ship. At the end of the room was another door and she swung it open. Yet another flight of stairs descended into the cargo hold, where she found the barrels of gun powder.
Gasping for breath, she took at handful and started sprinkling it from the barrels up the stairs. Exactly ten handfuls later, she had a trail of gun powder going from the second flight of stairs down to the cargo hold.
She gazed down at the little flickering flame in the lantern. “So you’re how it ends,” she whispered.
Then she smashed the lantern on the ground and the gunpowder caught.
She raced up the two flights of stairs, bursting out onto the rain on deck. Thunder crashed against the sky and lightning lit up the darkness; she climbed the stairway to the top deck and took her place at the wheel of the ship.
She squinted her eyes to look through the rain and could just make out the distorted looking figures on shore. The men had no idea that she was on their ship, nor knew of what was about to happen. No idea the fates were going to curse them to a life on her island, her prison.  Revenge was an ironic and beautiful creature.
Marley Rogers gripped the handles of the wheel, taking one last deep breath. “Enjoy your stay, pirates,” she whispered.
The odd little smile curled her lips.

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