- The Tale of the Ravenous Child
Hunger; endless hunger. The boy slumped against his chains, unable to move. Beyond the hunger, all he felt was regret. All he had wanted was to escape the abuse and shame of his previous life; the existence of an orphan in a poor fishing village was anything but enviable. After the last beating by the harbormaster, he was determined to escape; then, a seemingly ideal opportunity arrived. A freighter came into port, and started unloading; he had overheard the captain planning to leave later that night, and with uncharacteristic resolve, he acted to stowaway on the freighter.
Now he truly regretted his haste, as he leaned weakly against the rail on the deck of the rocking ship, he thought about the cruel look on the captain’s face when he found the boy hidden away below decks. The man had taken alarming pleasure in shackling the boy to the rails of the ship. “If you don’t pay passage, boy, then you don’t eat.” That casual pronouncement had come twelve days ago; twelve long, hungry, thirsty days.
As he distractedly considered his situation, the Captain came up the ladder well from below, and walked directly over to him. “Well boy, we’re coming into port tomorrow; the men are excited that the trip will be over soon.”
The boy looked blankly at his tormentor, gazing silently up at him. The Captain seemed not too bothered by his silence.
“Unfortunately, lad, we can’t have you on board when customs comes to check on us, so your trip will have to end a bit sooner. So, it looks like this is your stop.”
The boy took a deep breath and rasped out: “Water…”
His voice sounded like gritty sand paper. With a chuckle the Captain took a step back.
“Not to worry, boy, " he said cheerfully." There’s plenty of water in your future."
With a mighty kick, he launched his foot at the boy. A metallic screech echoed in the dead night, and the boy tumbled over the edge of the ship, railing, chains, and all…