Day 25: Rats Belowdecks

“Look out!”

Shay pulled Cyprus to the bottom of the stairs. A drove of pirates charged through the trapdoor between them, and the boys spun vaguely between churning legs. Eventually, they anchored themselves to a loop of old netting, listening to the bellowed instructions overhead.

“Someone get a pen up for the animals! We’ll slaughter ‘em soon, but you’d best keep ‘em out of the stores until then.”

“Make way, make way!”

“Sort the fresh food from the food to be stowed! And start portioning out salt for drying! Anything else goes to the Captain first—”

A goat screamed above. The smell of blood and urine rolled down the stairs. Cyprus and Shay clung to the net and each other, shaking.

–Elyan White, “Lost and Found”

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