He limped out of the undersized cabin, clutching onto the book in one hand and in the other the key. A pack of filthy rats scuttled across the damp surface leaving a trail of crumbs. On board the muscular crew were racing up and down, coiling ropes, climbing masts.
“ We need more weight”
“ Will this do?”
“ Yes, but don’t let him get away!”
The chef sighted Marco and raised a brow as a warning. A cloak of silence veiled the cheering crowds.
He reclined on a splintered plank of wood where he was served a diminutive meal of powdery biscuit, brimming with worms and maggots. Marco pursed his lips and stealthily tipped it overboard.
The foreigner shifted into a comfortable position and gazed at the sun as it melted into a pool of deep purple. White birds soared above him, their cries rung in his ears.
“ Move boy!” cried a hoarse voice.
The voice belonged to Sung Ju, the rice deliverer. He heaved onto a salty bench and leaned back on a large sack. Beside him stood a boy, his face was pale and his lips trembled. Marco followed the direction of the child’s eyes; they led to a bag, helplessly swaying side to side. It slid down to reveal a man covered in strands of straw.
“ Father!” cried the boy
They dragged the man across the floorboards and tore his straw jacket. Where was he being taken? Marco thought of Venice, how the mischief-makers were tossed over born or fed to the mice.
Instead the crew attached him to the so-called “kite”.
“ help! please, help!! Hayou hel-
The rope was tugged and his jaw snapped shut.
Marco sighed at the victim and nodded reluctantly. Should he stop them? He couldn’t put his job at risk, not after all he’d been through not after the key. He stared at it, pure gold. The ancient tongue encrusted at its edges.