The Persian Monarch was the biggest ship in the world as far as I was concerned -360 feet long and 43 feet wide - but the heaving power of the Atlantic Ocean tossed her around like the cork from a wine bottle. Black Elk's prophecy of a great sickness followed by our doom looked to be turning into a reality.
The ship rolled again and vomit slopped onto the floor from full buckets. I lay prostrate on my bunk wanting the conclusion of the absent warrior's prophecy to come true as soon as possible. Death was preferable to the torment we were enduring.
My perception of the world altered by the second. Up and down seemed to be continuously interchanging. My stomach felt it was still up when my body went down, that is until they passed each other going in opposite directions again and again. The women and little ones wailed when bouts of heaving sickness allowed.
I was to be denied the luxury of death. A firm hand grabbed my arm.
'Come.' It was Dog That Stands pulling me up. 'Ponies need help.'
I was dragged across the slippery floor. The bones in my legs were jelly. Laughing Waters was sliding too, hauled along by our father's other hand. Out in the corridor spluttering oil lamps bathed everything in an eerie flickering yellow light. It added to my disorientation. Although we both regained our feet, we still needed our father's firm encouragement to keep us moving.
His strength of mind must have overcome the effects of the elements. I'd have been full of admiration, if I weren't inwardly cursing him for dragging me from my deathbed.
An Everest needed climbing to get up onto the deck. The number of steps must have doubled. It was mid afternoon but there was total blackness up on deck where daylight should have been. The ship rolled again and I stumbled into the stair treads. There was a sharp pain in my shin.
At first I thought I was looking at a coal black sky until the thin line of the horizon dropped back into view and I realised it was the ocean I'd been looking at. The only indication of a division between sea and sky was that the sky was only a shade lighter than the angry Atlantic.
For a moment a flash of lightning clearly defined what was what but the horizon disappeared as soon as it had come into sight. A clap of thunder deafened me and my stomach descended once more making me wretch again. Although there was nothing left inside me, my twisting stomach muscles really tried to find something.
Hell was a very hot, very dry place or so I'd been led to believe. If I ever saw the Master again I would tell him how completely wrong his description was.
The brass rail on the stairway wall gave us additional support in our continued struggle upwards. Out in the open it was a world of constant movement lashed by stinging rain and spray, occasionally illuminated by flashes of lightning.
Sailors and cowboys - all dressed in yellow oilskins - slid across the deck. My red brothers relied as ever on buckskin. Although this was an alien environment for the natives of the Great Plains, they'd been raised to face the ferocity of the elements. This was only another test created for them by the Great Spirit.
Differences were forgotten in the face of the storm and warriors from rival tribes mixed together caressing the necks of terrified animals, stroking their faces and whispering comforting words into their ears. I needed someone to comfort me but this was part of the price I'd have to pay for aspiring to manhood.
Laughing Waters and I were pushed in the direction of young colts. They really needed the attention of their mothers. Unfortunately, the terrified parents needed a calming influence as much as their babies. I stroked the head of a tiny brown and white piebald infant fastened to the deck by a halter around its neck. It couldn't have been more than a few months old. This Red Indian pony - like me - had never seen the prairie of North America. At that moment, I didn't think either of us ever would.
My words of comfort were unintelligible. What do you say to a frightened animal when you're as terrified as it is and you don't know a word of Lakota?
The Lord's Prayer was all I could think to recite. I tried whispering into its ear, but finished up shouting the words, fighting to rise above the howl and crash of the storm. Were the words more for my benefit rather than the animal's anyway? The voice of the Master was ringing in my brain. The end of the world must surely have been nigh.
Complicity is the new crime-fiction novella set in Hull featuring
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The thisisull.com serialisation is accompanied by the stunning black and
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Complicity and other stories are available for free.
Fiction - The M1 McDonalds Girl and the Most Suitable Bloke By Andy Bilton
So I'm heading home. Heading north. Eighty, on the M1, just south of Sheffield. Pissing it down. That horizontal stuff that totally obscures your view, your only safe option being to get in to the inside lane and follow the red cat's eyes. Not ideal weather conditions for a must-get-there-quicker sort of situation such as this.
I should slow down really but Helen's already been on the mobile
Fiction - Gloomy Sunday By Joe Hakim
As we got closer I could see it framed against the horizon. From this distance it just looked like a huge black shape, like a giant lump of coal or something. "Jeezus, it's huge," I said. "Yeah, I'm guessing it's a male," Mike said. "Could be about fifty tonnes of whale washed up down there." Mike was a marine biologist.
He'd been given the task of studying
Fiction - Kat Out of the Bag Chapter Thirteen By Steve Rudd
I remembered the ring simply because it wasn't the type of ring that a man would usually
choose to include in his pro-macho jewellery box.
The rare stone at its heart shone like a bewildering beacon demanding attention in the
pits of hell, while its subtly alluring design was elaborately detailed yet delicate.
To all intents and purposes it looked like a lady's bridal ring, and thus the plot thickened.
Fiction - The Burden - A Short Story By Joe Hakim
I step out into the sun and close my eyes, letting the light wash over my face.
It's cold, and the wind pinches my cheeks but I feel complete, for the first time ever.
Today the world is different. Today is the first day of a new beginning.
Everything feels real and vivid, and I bathe in it, taking it all in like a child
seeing a painting for the first time, judging the angles and
Fiction - Welcome To Hellville - Part 16 By Rich Mills
"What music are you into, man?" The American exchange student who had earlier introduced
himself, without any regard for Alan's need to be alone, suddenly threw a curve-ball
of a question like this in his direction.
"Well I listen to..." What followed was a definitive list of bands from Alan's
wide-ranging rare vinyl and CD collection, he even
Fiction - The Guy Who Had All The Time In The World By Joe Hakim
Sometimes it gets to be a bit too fuckin' much, I decide, after another day spent wandering the streets aimlessly.
The sky is still bright purple - the colour of a fresh bruise - and the streets are still completely silent; not even the sound of birds chirping or distant traffic in the distance.
Aside from that, everything seems to be much the same, at least on the surface.
There's no visible
Fiction - Two Extracts from The Shintae - a Novel by Brian R Hill
Fiction - Zero and the Neighbours Part 1 - Demo version 0.1 By Joe Hakim
Frank was one of the regulars. From the first day I started dealing poker on the tables, Frank was there. To look at, he was your typical moody old man - old in the Father Christmas sense - white hair, a huge white beard and a round gut that hung out of his shirt and over his belt. You could imagine him sat in a grotto in the bottom of Princes Quay with some mewling
Fiction - Just like Eddie by Bob Spence
I don't know exactly when I got into it but there you are.
Like most lads, I suppose it was the thought of being Bristol's answer to
Elvis that was some kind of inspiration.
Yes that was always there in the back of my mind, but the accent never sounded
quite right to be fair.
Anyway. The South Deans Village Youth Club was a right place back then and we used
Fiction - The Wall by Darren Sant
Sometimes your best is just not enough.
Panic stricken and panting I arrive.
There it is, a fucking huge wall. An obstacle blocking my progress.
A visible representation of all that I can't achieve.
Nervously I look behind me. I lash out at it, kicking and punching but to no avail.
It is rock solid. I jump but find it too high. I take a running jump
Fiction - Divine by Blair Ashworth
"Mein Führer? Mein Führer?" The old man in the long grey coat was bent over the body slumped in the chair.
"Give it a few more seconds, Henry," said the doctor. "Do you speak any German? It might lessen the shock." No, Henry didn't speak any German and he didn't much care about any shocks he might deliver.
Behind the heavy oak chair,
Fiction - Scissors, Paper, Stone! By Bob Spence
The Lord Nelson was your typical run-down seventies pub. The decor was in disarray, with half a mind to venerate the Royal Navy's biggest hero or to catch the eye of the potential clientele with the latest fashion. In this manner it achieved neither.
Mickey was the prototype glass collector for every
Fiction - Drowning, Swimming By Joe Hakim
Keith sat and stared at his wife, who was holding his daughter and staring at the
28" Philips Widescreen TV situated in the corner of his house, on his laminate floor,
flanked at either side by his Sony sound system and his X-Box.
He was sweating and his head was throbbing - the general effects of the weekend
Fiction - Any Instructions? By Denis Price
It wasn't the first time he'd missed the bus. From the Mess to the monitoring hangar was only a quarter of a mile walk, something he relished during the central European summer as the airbase had been carved out of heavily wooded countryside teeming with wildlife.
Fiction - Second Chances by Nick Quantrill
Available now, Second Chances is a crime fiction novella set in Hull that is
already attracting praise from readers.
Influenced by crime fiction heavyweights Ian Rankin and Hull's Robert Edric,
Second Chances is set to be a great success.
For a taster, see the extract reproduced below, only available
Fiction - Invasion By Bob Spence
Moody just couldn't stop scratching. His shirt was far too stiff at the edge of the collar
and the coarse material was driving him to distraction.
You could also say that Moody was distracted anyway. He was waiting for a letter from his fiancee
and there was none.
Fiction - The Death and Birth and Death of a Legend By Bob Spence
Goober liked to be busy. Some people could handle doing nothing, not Goober Walton.
Running the tidy but ancient gasoline concession suited. Suited well.
It was orderly and everything clearly had its place.
Some would say it looked almost military in its order and for that it
Fiction - Feller's in Cut By Maurice Fairfield
Well that's her gone. You don't remember me do you?
I'll have a pint while you're thinking about it.
It's me Jack, Harry Fergus's son. Here for the funeral.
Thought I'd see her get put under. Not sure why.
It's always a laugh though, watching a parson doing a
Fiction - Firm but Fair By Mark Pollard
Cry-Baby Jim Breaks. He pioneered it, they say.
And the hushed, almost ecclesiastical tones of Ken Walton had heralded it's
entry into Saturday afternoon folklore: the bright lights of
Blackpool and Great Yarmouth, down to the lesser reputes of Ilfracombe and
Skegness had all borne witness
Fiction - Puzzles By Denis Price
I've got a really nice room, when the door's closed I feel ever so safe and warm. It's quiet as well,
just the swish of the wind in the trees outside. I like the trees; they hide the big tall fence.
My watchers say the fence is there to keep me safe, and that's their job too, they're always there