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   Chapter 18 No.18

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5450

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02

Gunner ushered Nita out of the boiler room. Wink lingered in the still-open door. She stared down at the creature, and it stared right back. Its face had a stern, almost distrustful look as it met her gaze. With a final jittery tap of its thin fingers, it slunk into the shadows within and shut the door. It was astounding how ominous such a small creature could be.

Chapter 5

Nita fidgeted uneasily in her freshly installed hammock. Space was the most precious thing on the ship, and as such there were few places where she might find a corner to call her own. She'd settled on hanging her hammock in the room they called the gig room, the room through which she'd entered the ship. Despite the piled boxes of their less valuable merchandise, it had the most free space. Within minutes of setting down to rest she regretted her decision. Though the dinghy was winched tightly to the bottom of the ship and the other hatch was shut, they didn't create an airtight seal. As such, she was treated to the whistling of wind all night long. The constant motion of the ship had a habit of swinging her hammock so violently that at times she was worried she would fall out. They'd provided a blanket, and a second one to roll up as a pillow, but for someone so used to tropical climes it was still a bit chilly even in her heavy work gear. By far the worst part of those first few hours of rest, though, was the time it gave her to think.

There was no aspect of this journey that sat well with her. It was uncomfortable, but that much she could stand. The air had a strange smell to it, either from the fuel they burned in the boiler

Because that's what you are! A newbie, a tenderfoot. Wet behind the ears and all that, " she explained. "Better get used to being called that. Round here, everybody's a greenhorn 'til the Cap'n decides otherwise. Life on a ship ain't all bad, though. Once you learn to look it in the eye without feeding the ducks, the view's a thing to see. Plus, on this ship you get to eat what Butch makes, and that stuff's fit to make your tongue kick a hole through your teeth to get at the spoon."

Nita grinned. There was something disarmingly charming about the way these people spoke. In Caldera, the desire to create ran so deep that people of distinction spoke with an almost literary formality. Thanks to the status of her parents, she dealt with such people every day. The clumsy but colorful manner of speech employed by people like Lil and Coop, whether purposefully or not, had an undeniable life and poetry to it. To ears trained from birth to seek out uniqueness and creativity in all of its forms, it was a joy. It was like finding a whole new set of colors to paint pictures with.

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