Trick: Chapter 4

Bombay’s harbor was just as crowded and hectic as the train station and air docks had been.  Jonas led as he, Twist, and Myra made their way to the edges of the chaos, and for once he was watching the people around them with uncovered eyes.  Twist pulled close to Myra and spent most of his attention on staying out of the way of the hurried masses of porters, merchants, sailors, and passengers that filled the jetties and loading docks.  Jonas finally turned and sprang quickly up a set of stone stairs that led to a fort overlooking the harbor.

“I don’t think we’re being followed,” Jonas said as Twist and Myra stopped beside him on the empty stone landing.  He leaned heavily on the landing’s wrought-iron railing and rubbed at his eyes with his palms. “I didn’t see anyone who looked like a magpie to me.”

“Are you all right?” Myra asked him gently.

“Yeah, it just stings after a while,” he said.  He took hold of the railing, closed his eyes, and slumped as if exhausted.

“Did you catch anyone’s eyes?” Twist asked, peering at him with concern.

“Just flashes,” Jonas said, shaking his head.  He looked at Twist silently.  Twist held his gaze, knowing that looking into his eyes would be soothing to Jonas’s Sight.  For a moment, Jonas only stared back while his eyes shifted gently through cool hues and his expression betrayed a hint of relief.

“Now, how are we getting out of Bombay?” Jonas asked suddenly, glancing out over the ships in the harbor.

“I wish we could have taken an airship,” Twist muttered, looking out as well.

“Wow, you just said that?” Jonas gasped, looking comically startled.

“You don’t like flying?” Myra asked Twist curiously.

“Flying is fine, it’s just the height that I could do without,” Twist clarified. “Still, it would be much faster than a sailing ship, wouldn’t it?”

“Yes it would, but there aren’t any mags here,” Jonas said. “It’s just safer this way.  How much money have we got, anyway?”

“I still have most of that share of the reward for Quay,” Twist said.  At the time, he’d thought it strange that Howell had given him a share in the bounty for helping the British Navy to capture the pirate, but now he was suddenly quite grateful.

“Me too,” Jonas said with a nod. “I think we can afford a bribe.”

“We can’t just buy a ticket?” Twist asked, looking over the huge, hulking passenger liners that filled the nicer, cleaner parts of the docks.

“We’ll leave a trail if we do,” Jonas said. “Once the thugs on the Vimana figure out that we’ve run for it, the first things they’ll check are passenger liners.  We need something smaller, less likely, and off the record.”

“Like what?” Twist asked, glancing over the other ships in the harbor.  There was a wide array of vessels, from huge cargo steamers to tiny sailing ships, fishing boats, military ships, and a handful of enormously expensive-looking private yachts.

“Those men are loading cotton,” Jonas said, pointing to the cargo section of the docks.

“Oh, that’s a pretty ship!” Myra said, following his indication.

The ship had a small body compared to many of the others—only about a hundred feet long and twenty feet wide, in a gently sloping curve that ended very high in the front—but it had an enormously tall set of three masts.  There was also a steam engine at the stern, with a small smokestack.  The top deck was flat and open, but the decks below sat low and heavy in the water.

“It looks fast, too,” Jonas said.

“But, if they’re loading cotton, then isn’t it a cargo ship?” Twist asked. “Would they take passengers?  Besides, we don’t even know where they’re headed.”

“They’re headed to Greece,” Jonas said, staring at the ship. “They’ll swing around Arabia and take the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean.  We can jump off in Egypt and easily find a way to France from there,” he added with a quick glance to Twist. “It’ll only take two days in that kind of ship.  And, although cotton isn’t bad, it’s not the best profit you can make on a trip like that.  They won’t mind making a little more.”

“How do you know all that?” Myra asked, staring at him in wonder.

Jonas smiled at her. “Twist isn’t the only who can do tricks.”

“But that was amazing!” Myra said, beaming at him.  Jonas puffed slightly in the light of her admiration, and he looked back to the ship.

“I could tell you the tonnage, the average speed, and every place that ship’s ever going to, but we don’t have the time,” Jonas said. “They’re going to leave within the hour.  If we want to get on that ship, we’ll need to do it now.”

“Is it safe for us to travel with them?” Twist asked, watching the men load the large square bales of cotton.

“They’re just a simple shipping crew,” Jonas said with a shrug. “They seem okay to me.”  He paused with a thoughtful frown. “Since when do you care about safety?”

Twist looked to him in shock. “What could make you think I don’t?”

“You do spend a lot of time jumping into trouble.”

“For a purpose,” Twist amended.

“Whatever,” Jonas said, looking to the crew now. “Well, they don’t look like killers to me.  What do you want to do, ask for character references?”  It took a moment for Twist to realize that he hadn’t been serious about the last part.

“Do we have any other options?” Twist asked with a sigh.

“Nothing faster,” Jonas said. “That ship has so many sails it can practically fly.”

“Oh!” Myra chirped and clapped her hands. “Can we take that one, Twist?” she asked him with a pleading but hopeful smile.

“Yes, can we, Twist?” Jonas asked, mimicking her.  Twist shot Jonas a glare before turning to Myra more gently.

“If they will have us,” Twist said to her. “We still haven’t asked them.”

“I’ll do it,” Jonas said, already heading off down the stairs. “Stay here.  We shouldn’t let them see Myra until we have a deal,” he added over his shoulder.

Twist let out a heavy sigh as he watched Jonas move quickly through the thick crowd below.  Beside him, Myra hopped lightly on the balls of her feet.

“This is so exciting!  I just love traveling.”

Twist watched her silently, marveling at the simplicity of her universe.  It wasn’t long before Jonas returned with good news.

“They’re happy to take our money,” Jonas said as he led Twist and Myra to the ship. “We’ll be sleeping in the cargo hold, but it’s full of cotton so it shouldn’t be too bad.  Oh, and I convinced them to feed us too.”

“Good idea,” Twist muttered.

“I told them we’re on a tour, heading back to Europe, and we missed the boat this morning.  We need to catch up with them in Egypt or miss the rest of the tour.  Now we don’t look like fugitives.”

“You’re very clever, do you know that?” Myra asked him.

“Yes, thank you, I did actually,” Jonas said, smiling to her while Twist shook his head.

______________________________

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3 thoughts on “Trick: Chapter 4

  1. It’s over three thousand miles by sea from Bombay to the nearest point of Egypt. A hundred foot long ship will not exceed 250 miles per day, taking twelve days at a minimum. Two weeks more likely. Of course, Jonas may be misinformed despite his confidence, or even deceptive!

    But still an interesting chapter, Emi-T.

    JTS

  2. Of course, you are the Goddess of Twist’s world and could therefore rearrange the geography and/or laws of hydrodynamics!

    I have met a few talking clockwork girls in my time. At least they sounded like clockwork and had very shiny orange complexions. No flying Venices though, yet.

    JTS

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