Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Another Excerpt from "Crunched," the Fictionalized Autobiography of David Novak

The deck of the French ship was slippery with blood, heaving in the choppy sea.* Another burst of grape shot cut down Bobbins and the third lieutenant, Avery was his name. I think. Lieutenants die so quickly aboard the Decisive I sometimes have trouble keeping up.

Before I could grieve them, two Frenchmen lunged toward me at once. Were they compelled by bravery or ignorance? Along with the rest of the boarding party, I was still in clear line of fire from French sharp-shooters atop, and these two were now exposing themselves. As I parried effortlessly I had my answer: ignorance. Judging from their uniforms, caked in blood and powder, both were novice midshipmen. I dispatched them quickly, one with a cutlass to the throat, the other, a pistol to the nethers. In death, their boyish faces gave testament to their youth. Pity.

Though the battle on the deck was nearly won, Bonaparte's colors still flew, as did the round shot of his sharp-shooters above. I grabbed ahold of the Mizzen Staysail (what was left of it) and scaled it as I would regular netting, catching the snipers unawares in their nest. Making quick work of them, I attended to the flag.

Suddenly, a tinny burst came from the Decisive, surely a cannonade misfire. Before I could look to identify the unintended victim, the great mast beneath me lurched and I was falling. The mast and its sails teetered over like a lumberjack's prize, and I prepared for my end in the icy depths. Instead, I found myself back on my own quarterdeck, underneath wreckage from the French Topgallant. Remarkably, the fallen French mast had bridged the ships. Scrambling out, I saw my Steward approach with a pot.

"Coffee, sir?"

"Thankee, Killick.* I am worn from the battle. Might you be so good as to fetch me a Chalupa?" As I waited for my Tex-Mex delight, I brought the mug to my lips. To you, Bobbins. And to you, Davery.

to be continued...

1 comment:

Taco Bell Champion! said...

With this post, I'm paying homage to two of my favorite authors. You'll find links to both in the small asterisks in the text.

First, to Patrick O'Brien, whose Aubrey-Maturin series is among the best in all literature (no joke). His books follow the adventures of a post-captain in the British Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars, and were featured in the movie "Master and Commander," starring Russell Crowe. I've taken the name of Captain Aubrey's Steward, Killick, for this post.

Second, to Naomi Novik, a new author who uses many of the same themes. Her Temeraine trilogy is similar to Master and Commander--Royal Naval battles during the Napoleonic wars--EXCEPT THAT THERE ARE DRAGONS! Awesome. The first line of this post is the first line of "His Magesty's Dragon," the first book in her triolgy. The film rights to her series have recently been purchased by Peter Jackson, of Lord of the Rings fame.