Short Story: Chains of the Forgotten Sea Written By Samantha James

In today’s post, I’ve got a new short story! Earlier in the year and then recently again for a second time, I watched the Netflix’s series titled The Lost Pirate Kingdom. An excellent six-epsiode docuseries on the golden age of pirates. A subject I’ve always had an interest in. The series is such a fun documentary to watch! I’ve been left extremely inspired to write about a sea-fearing pirate captain.

A woman named Eleanor whose life is put at risk, when her disguise fails, ultimatley revealing that she is not the man everyone believed her to be. That the infamous Captain Red is just a woman. Eleanor is left fighting for her life amid the turmoil of a massive storm, the perils of betrayal, and through the loss of heartbreak in a world where only men can be leaders. Captain Red shows us the strength one woman is willing to endure in order to survive! WIll she be able to combat her way back to the top to see another day?

I hope everyone enjoys my lastest short story, I know I had an absolute blast writing it this week! Captian Eleanor ‘Red’ O’Malley’s character is heavily influenced and inspired by some of history’s most interesting and notorious female pirates such as the famous Anne Bonny, Rachel Wall, Grace O’Malley, and Mary Read. Women whose never-ending fierceness I find beyond fascinating.

“I am sorry to see you here, but if you had fought like a man, you needn’t be hanged like a dog… As to hanging, it is no great hardship. For were it not for that, every cowardly fellow would turn pirate and so unfit the sea, that men of courage must starve.”

Anne Bonny

Chains Of The Forgotten Sea

Written By Samantha James

With the speed of a striking serpent, they seized her, chained her in irons, and dragged her below deck, where the shadows of her betrayal loomed violently like a hurricane with all its rage. Eleanor stood there shackled in the wet damp brig, suffocating in the dark depths of her own ship. The swiftness of her demise was almost comical. If it had been anyone but Daniel, she might have laughed.

No thoughts could find her now. She was absolutely stunned by how quickly the tides had turned against her. Eleanor couldn’t breathe! The dreams of freedom she had harbored deep inside, her legacy as Captain Red, were now hung by the thinnest of threads.

Everyone knew her dreaded secret. Time passed slowly as she desperately sought to loosen her binds. Nothing was working! They wouldn’t give an inch. The faces of the crew loomed large, their betrayal, a bitter anchor meant to drag her down.

In a single moment, life was about being the feared Captain “Red” O’Malley, in another, she was simply Eleanor, a stupid-stupid girl.

The relentless storm mirrored the bluster within her, and the unforgiving chains clung to her wrists, binding her to the secrets that had once protected her. Utterly abandoned, the gloomy thoughts that agonized her soul knew too well what tomorrow would bring.

A single mishap had changed everything in just the blink of an eye. As the Black Serpent continued its tumultuous journey through the dark bleak night. Eleanor’s fate lay in the hands of the crew she had once captained. Now what? The gallows awaited her at dawn…

Three Days Earlier … The Black Serpent surged through the roiling waves, a beast of defiance against the impending storm. The sky above was a convulsion of angry clouds, brewing with the promise of terrible chaos. The crew hurried about in fear, their faces etched with the tension that only a seasoned sailor knew in the face of an impending squall. The sky warned of doom and horror.

“Steady as she goes!” Captain Red bellowed above the howling wind. “Secure the cannons and lash down the cargo. We’re in for a dance with the tempest!” continued the captain as she eyed the skies above. The night promised to be one to remember.

As the first ominous clouds swallowed the moon, Daniel, the first mate, approached. Rain lashed against his face as he shouted over the rising gale. “Cap’n, this ain’t no ordinary storm. There’s a darkness to it, a malevolence. What are your orders!”

Captain Red shot him a steely glance. “Aye, Daniel, it’s a devil’s breath, sent to test our mettle. Now, do what I asked! We can’t risk losing any of the cannons in this maelstrom. And make sure all is latched down tight. We’re in for a rough ride! Prepare for the worst!”

The next moment, the ship plunged into a colossal wave, sending men sprawling across the slippery deck in turmoil. Lightning crackled, revealing the mountains of waves that threatened to consume them, as the crew had no choice but to fight for their lives as they battled the elements, shouting orders and curses amidst the deafening roar of wind and water.

Hours passed like a fevered dream. The ship groaned as if protesting its defiance against the sea. Captain Red’s eyes scanned the horizon, fatigue etched into her features. She turned to Daniel, rain-soaked and wind-battered. All but defeated in spirit.

“We can’t keep this up much longer. The rigging’s fraying, and the sea’s relentless. We need to find a safe harbor!”

But before Daniel could respond, the attacking waves crashed over the deck all at once, sweeping men overboard. Panic set in as the crew scrambled to secure themselves. Lightning revealed the turmoil in their faces, a stark reflection of the chaos outside.

Amidst the frenzy, Captain Red fought valiantly to maintain control. A loose rope swung wildly, striking her across the face. Blood mixed with rain as she staggered, a pained grimace crossing her face. The cuts ran deep as she fell back tearing herself up more.

“Cap’n!” Daniel cried out, rushing to her side. “You’re hurt!”

Captain Red brushed off the concern, but a deep gash marred her forehead. The ship pitched again, sending them sprawling to the deck. Daniel grabbed onto a railing and, in that moment of chaos, his eyes widened as he noticed something beneath Captain Red’s torn clothing—a flash of fabric that shouldn’t be there. The revelation hung in the air, as tangible as the salt spray.

“Cap’n,” he stammered, his voice barely audible over the storm. “You’re a… you’re a woman!”

Captain Red met his gaze, exhaustion, and vulnerability replacing the usual sternness. The truth of her identity was now as wild as the wind that threatened their livelihood. Shocking as the lightning that illuminated their secret.

“Aye, Daniel,” she admitted, a hint of weariness in her voice. “I’ve been the one who kept our enemies in fear. But now, we’ve more pressing matters. Help me tend to my wounds. Get us through this hell, and we’ll talk later!”

The moon hung low in the night sky, casting a shimmering silver trail across the now restless waves. Eleanor stood at the helm of the Black Serpent, her hand gripping the polished wood as if it were the only tether to her hidden world. She contemplated whether she could truly ever trust her first mate with all the secrets that weighed her down. The painful answer was that Eleanor wasn’t sure.

The love she had tucked away, never to see the light of day, did little to help ease her concern. He, who had been at her side for as long as she could remember, would never be able to feel the affection that had been brewing in her heart all these past years at sea.

Her mind was a mess of uncertainty and fear, and the weight of her secret threatened to pull her under. “Captain Red,” Daniel’s voice was a barely audible whisper as he stepped up beside her, his eyes searching hers for answers she couldn’t give.

“Eleanor,” she replied softly, her voice barely carrying over the sound of the wind in the sails. “Call me Eleanor, just for tonight.”

Daniel’s brow furrowed with concern, the lines on his weathered face deepening in the moon’s glow. “We’ve sailed together for years, Eleanor. You can’t keep this from us forever. We’re your crew. Your family.” She nodded trying to muster some semblance of strength.

She turned to face him, the urgency in her eyes reflecting the depth of her internal struggle. “There are laws, Daniel. Laws that say I can’t be who I am. What do you think the men will do to me? I’ll likely hang if they ever find out who I really am!”

His voice softened, filled with understanding. “But you trust us, don’t you? We’d never betray you.”

Her eyes, a stormy gray that mirrored the tumult within her, held his gaze. “I trust you, Daniel,” she confessed, her voice trembling. “But it’s not just about trust. It’s about the world we live in. A woman leading a pirate crew is a death sentence. It’s not just my life on the line; it’s all of you. Our dreams, our adventures, everything we’ve built together. I don’t want to lose any of it.”

The Black Serpent cut through the waves, the ship’s creaks and groans a somber accompaniment to their conversation. In that moonlit moment, Daniel understood the magnitude of the secret Eleanor carried. He knew the danger of it all. He now had a weapon.

“We’ll protect you, Eleanor,” he vowed, his grip on her shoulder reassuring. “No matter what. You’re not alone in this.”

Eleanor, her eyes glistening with gratitude, nodded. “I know, Daniel. And that’s why I trust you with this secret. It’s just… someday, I hope the world can be a place where I can be who I am without fear.”

The storm’s fury had finally abated, leaving the ship battered and bruised. Captain Red, her face still bearing the scars, stood on the rain-soaked deck, surveying the damage. The crew, exhausted and wet, labored to repair the ship. Unbeknownst to Eleanor, a storm of a different kind was brewing within. One that she would pay for with not only her broken heart but perhaps her very life.

The first mate, Daniel, had been harboring massive resentment, a bitter seed planted by the revelation of Captain Red’s true identity. He saw an opportunity to seize control, to claim the title of captain for himself. To finally be the voice who gave the commands.

Under the guise of rallying the crew, he gathered a group of disgruntled sailors in a shadowy corner of the ship.

“Listen up,” Daniel hissed, his voice low and conspiratorial. “We’ve been lied to by our so-called captain. Captain Red is no man, but a woman, deceiving us all these years! It’s time we put an end to this charade and take command ourselves.”

A murmur of disbelief and anger rippled through the small gathering. The crew exchanged uneasy glances, their loyalty to Captain Red suddenly hanging in the balance. A single spark of mistrust, powerful enough to ignite an explosion. Destructive enough to cause ruin.

“Now, I’ve been at the helm with the captain for years,” Daniel continued solemnly, playing the part of the aggrieved first mate with an impressive show of passion for his fellow crew. “But what does she really know of true leadership? We’ve all weathered the storms thrown against us, fought off our enemies again and again, and what do we get in return? Deceit and lies! It’s time for a change I say!”

A seasoned sailor, Gruff Pete, spoke up. “But Daniel, Cap’n Red has led us through thick and thin. She’s earned our respect.”

Daniel leaned in, his eyes gleaming with cunning. “Respect? How can we respect a captain who’s been deceiving us from the start? We deserve a leader we can trust, one who won’t hide behind a mask. I say it’s time for a mutiny. Who’s with me?”

The crew hesitated, torn between loyalty and the seed of doubt Daniel had sown. Finally, a grizzled seafarer named Old Bill stepped forward. “I’ve sailed these waters for longer than I care to admit. If Daniel says we’ve been deceived, then I’ll stand by him!”

The mutinous whispers quickly began to spread like wildfire throughout the crew, the words of discontent fanning the flames of rebellion. Daniel, sensing his victory, addressed the growing crowd, looking pointedly at each of the men standing before him.

“Tonight, when the moon’s hidden by the clouds, we make our move. We’ll confront Captain Red and demand the truth. If she’s unwilling to step down, we’ll take matters into our own hands. We deserve a captain who’s honest and true!”

“Aye! Aye!” chorused back the men in agreement. Daniel nodded his dismissal. The conspirators dispersed quietly, blending into the working crew with ease, their minds aflame with the promise of a new order. Captain Red, all too unaware of the mutinous tide swelling beneath the surface, continued to oversee repairs, unknowingly standing on the precipice of betrayal.

Henry, the boisterous quartermaster, confronted Eleanor first, as he approached, backed by a group of disgruntled pirates, each of their faces twisted in stern resolution. “Captain,” Henry’s voice, as gruff as the sea itself, cut through the low hum of conversation. “I’ve always trusted you, but secrets like these can sink a ship.” A ripple of angry agreement swept through the small assembly.

Mathias, a long-time veteran of the crew, grumbled, “And we can’t be led by a woman. It’s bad luck, they say.” Captain Red hesitated for a moment, her eyes searching their faces. The weight of their doubt and distrust hung heavy in the air. She couldn’t lie.

With a deep sigh, Eleanor meticulously removed her hat, revealing long strands of red hair cascading down in wavy curls—a secret she had guarded with fierce determination. The crew fell into a gawking silence, eyes widening in disbelief. This dramatic revelation, though not unexpected, hung in the air like a ghost, and for a moment, not a single pirate spoke. The lack of noise deafening.

Captain Red, standing vulnerable and exposed, felt the weight of judgment in their gaze. “Now we’ve no choice,” Henry whispered, barely able to speak, his eyes darting nervously. “Tonight, you’ll be chained below decks, and at dawn, we’ll hang you.”

The crew, swayed by the superstitions of the sea and the shock of the revelation, closed in, forming an accusatory circle around Captain Red. A sense of betrayal lingered in the air, like the salt after a storm. There was no coming back from this.

Eleanor, maintaining her composure, looked around at the faces she had led through countless trials. “You would turn against me for a secret, a mere twist of fate? I’ve been your captain, leading us through storms and into victories. Is this how you repay loyalty?”

But her words fell on deaf ears…The crew, fueled by a mix of fear and ingrained superstition, had made their decision. Daniel, without a single hint of regret on his hardened face, stepped forward, and much to her shock his rough hand gripped Eleanor’s shoulder.

“Captain, it’s for the good of the crew! We can’t risk bad luck or treachery on these cursed seas. Tonight, you’ll be confined, and at dawn, justice will be served.” There was no remorse. Eleanor’s heart shattered at Daniel’s cold speech. How could she have loved him?

With those ominous words, the crew closed in, reaching for restraints. Captain Red, bound by the chains of her own crew, faced a long night of uncertainty and the impending dawn, where the verdict of the mutiny would be cast against the canvas of the rising sun.

The creaking of the ship echoed through the darkness as Captain Red, now imprisoned in the very bowels of her once loyal vessel, worked diligently to free herself from the chains that bound her. The air was thick with the acrid scent of gunpowder, a potent reminder of her impending fate. With each meticulous movement, Eleanor’s skilled hands worked tirelessly to loosen the chains.

The ship, still damaged from the storm, groaned and swayed, providing just enough cover for her clandestine efforts. The muted sounds of the crew above, celebrating their supposed victory, fortunately, masked the determined clinks of metal against metal.

The shackles yielded gradually to Eleanor’s persistence. With a final, silent click, the chains fell away, and she moved stealthily through the shadows, a phantom in her own prison. The scent of rebellion left a bitter taste in the air, but Eleanor’s resolve burned brighter.

On the deck, the mutineers reveled in their misguided triumph. Unbeknownst to them, Eleanor made her way to the ship’s hold, where barrels of gunpowder lay waiting like dormant dragons. She crafted a makeshift fuse from frayed ropes and bits of cloth, securing it with steady hands. A clear plan in mind. One that her very life depended upon. Eleanor couldn’t fail. This was her only chance.

As she emerged onto the rain-slicked deck, the crew’s celebration was interrupted by the ominous hiss of the fuse. Panic flashed in their eyes as realization dawned—Captain Red had escaped, and their fate now rested on the precipice of destruction.

Eleanor, now adorned in the shadows of the night, made her way to the ship’s edge. With a final, defiant glance at the crew that had once been hers, she ignited the fuse. The flames danced along its length, a fiery serpent racing toward the belly of the ship.

The explosion was an ear-piercing deafening roar, a burst of fiery brilliance that momentarily turned the night into day. The ship shuddered as if crying out in agony, before succumbing to the consuming embrace of the flames. It was a bright and spectacular show!

Amidst the chaos, it was now or never, so Eleanor seized a piece of debris, a fractured remnant of her once mighty vessel, and cast it into the unforgiving sea. The explosion propelled her into the water, and she clung to the piece of wood with every ounce of strength she could muster as the currents carried her away from the sinking wreckage. Letting go wasn’t an option. She held on for dear life.

The burning silhouette of The Black Serpent, now a funeral pyre on the dark waters, illuminated Eleanor’s face. The reflection of the flames danced in her eyes, a mix of sadness and liberation. The sea, both ally and betrayer, bore witness to the end of one chapter and the uncertain beginning of another. A melancholy began to settle in as she lay floating aimlessly in the sea with nowhere to go.

As the last embers flickered, Eleanor surveyed her surroundings. A distant island emerged from the mist, a sanctuary for a captain left adrift. Eleanor’s eyes scanned the horizon for signs of both danger and salvation as clung to her drifting refuge. Unsure of everything.

As the raft nudged against the sandy shore, Eleanor, battered and wearied but unbroken, stepped onto solid ground. The island, a mysterious realm yet uncharted in her seafaring tales, welcomed her with the rustle of palm leaves and the distant call of unknown creatures. The morning sun began to rise and set itself upon the untouched beach, revealing the outline of a dense jungle that beckoned with the promise of secrets. For now, Eleanor was safe and would live to see another day. That is all she would ask for.

With a half-smile playing on her lips, she felt a tremendous sense of both relief and isolation. With the wreckage of The Black Serpent, now forever pushed to a distant memory, she couldn’t help but muse on the challenges ahead that had unfolded like the unwritten pages of a new adventure, and Eleanor, ever the resilient captain, embraced the unknown with a heart still tethered to the call of the sea. There was hope yet to be found. The only question that remained, was how the hell did she plan to get off this island?


© Samantha James and The Chronicles of History: Reading Into Our Past, 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Samantha James and The Chronicles of History with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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