Jack Vicious. Pirates in Shanghai
Pulp Fiction. Write Fast, Write Hard.
Jack Vicious was in trouble and he knew it. It wasn’t the hissing of the air escaping from the engine room air lock. It wasn’t the stink of diesel fuel swirling around his boots. It wasn’t the racket that that God awful parrot was making as it crashed about in its cage, trying to escape. Just like Jack, it wanted out. Jack looked about, taking stock as it were.
“That crazy broad, I should never have listened to her.” I couldn’t help but think that some of this was my fault. Yea sure, the money was good but was this kind of trouble worth it?
“Well, as they say in the movies, it was that dame. I never should have stayed around.”
I looked about. There didn’t seem to be any way out of this steel box that was the throbbing heart of the tramp steamer. The engine fed by the steam boilers created an awful noise. It made the steel plates vibrate it was so bad. The sweat was streaming down my face the humidity was so high. It was time to get out.
“Come on bird, I can’t leave you here.” I grabbed the cage and swung up the ladder to the air lock, improperly shut from the last stoker exiting the engine room. The escaping air was now a roar rather than a hiss, and I knew it was only a matter of moments before the boilers would blow back.
I put my hand on the first hatch dog and pulled. At that moment the red warning light came on. Jesus Christ in a wheel barrow, someone was coming in the other way. Coming into the engine room. The airlock would be wide open and the blow back from the boilers would take the whole ship out. I slammed the dog back in place and cursed. The parrot screamed “The petty officer’s a bastard” and I jammed myself back against the bulkhead. There was no room at the top of this ladder way and just me and the God damned parrot taking up all the space.
“Be quiet bird,” I hissed. Not that it mattered, I could see through the glass visor in the hatch that it was one of the black faced heathen pirates who had boarded the ship earlier who was trying to enter the engine room. Ok, let him get into the airlock, and maybe I could vent it and suffocate him. The light turned green. That meant the door on the outside was now closed. He was in the chamber. I spun the exhaust tap and that man was suddenly gasping. No way would either hatch open now, not even for Hercules. The outside air pressure had him.
The parrot was screeching obscenities. “Too long in the stokers mess deck.” I admonished it. The man in the air lock chamber collapsed. He was exhausted. In a manner of speaking.
“Ok bird, it’s time to get off this rusting hulk.” I slammed open the dogs, having closed the air exhaust cock, and hauled open the inner hatch. The outer hatch was as easy and I wasn’t worried about the airlock. The boiler could blow and I didn’t care a damn. I was out of here. Me and the bird.
I could hear the building roar as the fires in the boilers started to blow back into the engine and boiler compartments. It was only positive pressure in the spaces that kept it all going up the stacks. Time to go.
I’d have to have words with that dame when I saw her in Shanghai.