Helena stared at the two men in front of her. Robert’s face was grim and composed, while William was pale and struggled to keep from crying. She looked down at the hand that held the coin, showing the coat of arms of England, Scotland, Ireland and France. Her gaze strayed to her other hand, which held a loaded pistol. Helena looked up and found William had closed his eyes while Robert was watching her intently. The look in her eyes told him what he needed to know, and he nodded so slightly that it would have been imperceptible to the onlookers.
Crushing terror gripped her heart. Her greatest fear had come to pass. The lottery had chosen Robert, and it was her fate to carry out the sentence. The smell of salt and grease was no longer familiar to her; instead it was now the scent of death. She heard the mutters behind her, she was taking too long. The men were growing restless, starving as they were, and it wouldn’t be long before one took matters into his own hands.
The air was still and the sails hung listless, as they had for over a week now. The food had run out two days ago and this was the last resort. Each of the men had paired up, designated Anne’s head or coat of arms, until the final pair of losers faced off against each other. Robert had been assigned the coat of arms. And he had lost.
Helena supposed she should be grateful the crew had voted unanimously to spare her, but she knew they were just thinking of themselves. The pleasures of the flesh that she offered them were still compelling to the famished men. She had serviced them equally with her body, but her heart had belonged to Robert. Blinking back tears, she fought to steady her nerve. The toll of hunger left her feeling weak and bile rose into her throat as she envisioned Robert lying dead in a pool of blood. How was she to kill the man she loved? Closing her eyes, feeling the heat of the sun on her face, listening to the grumbling behind her, she slowly raised the gun.
Her ears filled with a humming noise, as blood rushed to her head. Her eyes opened long enough for her vision to swim then she saw no more.
The harsh blue sky, cloudless and immense, greeted her when she opened her eyes. The first mate was hunched over her body, his hard fingers prising her left hand open. She let the coin and the pistol both fall to the deck. The man picked up the gun and the coin, and as she lapsed into unconsciousness again she heard the gruff voice of the first mate call “It’s Anne’s ugly head, Cap’n!” as William started to scream.
This is my first ever Fiction Friday story! The prompt for this story was “In her right hand a woman holds a loaded gun, in her left, a coin that just came up ‘tails’…NOW WRITE…” I mulled over several ideas and finally settled on this one, and developed the story in my head so when I sat down to write I knew the direction it would take. I’m hoping to become a regular participant in the Fiction Friday sessions.