By Sandra Hale
This is a Jump report written by Sandra Hale following Jodi Taylor's fan fiction guidelines Enjoy.
"Gotcha!” The man crowed as he scooped me into his arms and ran off towards the wharf. No amount of kicking and struggling would release his grip.
“Got a new cabin boy for you!” The man yelled at the Captain.
“Put him below” the Captain yelled back “and once we are underway he can scrub the decks.”
As I was bundled down into the hold I spotted Rachel Garstang Penman, Jenny Blackmore and Deb Danielson standing on the foreshore with horrified looks on their faces. Well it was alright for them Jenny Gurton in Wardrobe had made them wonderful black gowns, to blend in with the rest of the Puritan visitors that day at Dartmouth, there to watch the Speedwell and Mayflower sail to the Americas.
Jenny had looked at me, as usual and said:
‘No Sandra sorry those dresses would look silly on you, you’re only 5 foot and weigh less than 120lbs. Sorry but I think you should be dressed as a young lad, I’ve got an old pair of trousers here, bare feet and this shirt, it suits your shape and hairstyle, and anyway you cant see much without your glasses so that would be so much easier”
So there I was, in the dark hold of the Speedwell and by the looks of it on my way to America.
It had been my idea, this, my last jump before retiring from active duty. I wanted to explore what happened to the Speedwell. It was a Pinnace that had been bought to accompany the Mayflower to America in 1620, August to be precise. Only it had leaked and they had had to put into Dartmouth for repairs. History books had reported that it had again sprung a leak 300 miles out and been returned to Plymouth with the Mayflower carrying on, on its own. Now here I was on the Speedwell, thanks to Jenny, with the job of deck hand.
I sat and wondered what my companions were going to do now. Wayne Sefton of course would be furious with me, but also worried as to how to get me back. I was glad that I had programmed Plymouth into the pod as a back up so that we could all get to see the Mayflower leaving on its own to America.
Rachel would be, hmm angry, she had warned Jenny and I not to misbehave as she was sick and tired of getting us out of jail or rescuing us from the Sheriff of Nottingham. She was in charge of the Historians and therefore in charge of this jump. The one which it seems I had well and truly made a cracking mess of.
“Oh Bubbles” I said aloud just checking I wasn't over heard but it looked as though I was alone down here with what appeared to be a load of chickens, straw and a few pigs.
I could hear the clattering on the deck above me, loads of shouting, wood creaking and excited chatter. I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I knew I was being shaken awake, I had a brush thrust into one hand and a bucket into the other.
“Gerrup boy, you need to clean the decks before the passengers rise this morning, we cant have them seeing the likes of you” it hadn't been meanly said but I got the gist as I looked at the seaman standing against the ladder. “Once you’ve finished you can have biscuit and ale”
Great, I thought, ships biscuits wonder whether they are better or worse than our jump rations. I could really murder a strong cup of tea at the moment. Up on deck the wind was howling fit to bust for this early in August, and I felt the cold through my thin shirt. I attached a rope to the bucket and threw it over the side and pulled up a fresh bucket of seawater. Looking at the deck I walked over to one corner and started scrubbing the deck. Well at least I wasn't seasick although being on a sailing ship was very different to being on a cross channel ferry.
The ship creaked and groaned as it forced its way through the rough sea. I had nearly finished the deck when I heard voices behind me, voices I recognised.
“Psst, Sandra!” I heard Jenny whisper, “are you ok? Having fun down there are we?”
I turned to see Jenny and Deb clutching the rail and trying to stand up on this heaving deck.
“Yeah, I'm fine” I hissed back “cold, hungry and very wet.” I looked down at my cold wet hands as I said that.
“What the heck are you two doing on board, you're not supposed to be here” I said, standing and straightening my poor old back.
“Well we couldn't leave you on here alone, so we thought we would come along for the ride and there was so much chaos at the wharf we just sort of slipped in as lady’s maids.” Jenny giggled softly.
“Rachel is furious with you” Deb added “and I think Wayne is about to have a heart attack”
My heart was in my mouth as I asked “But they're not here are they? Please tell me they just went and jumped to Plymouth?”
“You’re bloody lucky, no they’re not on here and they did see the whole thing so they are not totally blaming you” I could see that Jenny was enjoying this. If ever there was a Disaster Magnet it was Jenny, but I got the feeling a lot of it was her doing because she just enjoyed the chaos.
My version of Disaster Magnetism was usually that things happened to me not by me.
“Well!” Said Deb always the sensible one of the three of us “what do we do now?”
“Right!” I said “well with luck the ship will turn round tomorrow and head back to Plymouth when they find that it’s leaking again”
“We should be back on dry land in a couple of days”
“Weeeeeeee” said Jenny running down the deck in the morning light. “We’re off on a cruise!
Wonder if the entertainment is going to be good?”
I saw the senior deck hand approaching and got back to the final bit of scrubbing.
“Hey lad!, yes you! What I tell you ‘bout not talking to passengers? They're not fer the likes of you” he got hold of my ear and dragged me down the steps. “Sorry ma’am just take this lad outta you’re way” he said touching his forehead with a particularly grubby finger. Jenny was howling with laughter but trying to look serious. She winked at me as I was pushed and kicked down the steps back to the hold.
“Now lad, once you ‘ad your biscuit and ale, want you to clean these chickens, feed ‘em and them pigs, collect eggs and take ‘em to cook, you hear me lad?” He thrust a bag of something, a biscuit and a jar at me. Don't want to hear you again until 8 bells this evening. Then I want you scrubbing that deck till it gleams, ya hear me lad?” He said as he cuffed me round the ear again.
I cleaned the chickens out, spread the straw for them, feed them their grain whilst avoiding being pecked. These weren't like Angus, at least he didn't peck you all the time. I found the eggs, 4 wonderfully brown eggs wow these must be good chickens.
As I turned around I heard a rustle in the straw, the person before me made me gulp and take a step back, falling over one of those damn chickens.
“Gggggooooooddd evening” I croaked
The Ghost of Time looked down her nose at me. “Sandra we have a problem here”
Hmm tell me about it I thought.
“It would appear that this ship isn't going to leak, you have travelled 100 leagues from Dartmouth and as I look around this hold I see no water on the floor”
I gulped again, the Ghost of Time always scared the bejesus out of me, could have something to do with the fact that I was always on her bad side. She had had to sort the police out in Brighton and I was never sure what she had done to smooth over the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Here I was again, in the wrong, in a time I shouldn't be, doing something I shouldn't be doing.
I stood up like a naughty school girl in front of the Head Mistress, and boy did she remind me of my Head Mistress.
“Sandra you need this ship to turn around, History needs this ship to turn around. This ship does not go to America it returns to Plymouth”
Yeah right, I thought, how was I a 5 foot nothing granny going to get this damn ship to turn around and leak?
“Sandra please make sure that Jenny and Deb help you sort this out, but this ship has to turn around this evening”
I stood there stupefied “Yes Ma’am!”
Oh shit now how did we get out of this one.
I turned around to take in the enormity of the task and when I looked back The Ghost of Time had disappeared again. Damn it to hell there she was gone again.
It was coming on to evening now and I struggled up the ladder to the deck to see if I could find Deb and Jenny.
Taking my brush and bucket I again readied myself to scrub the deck.
“Hi Sandra” Deb called over
“Shhhh” I replied and motioned for her to come over. I quickly filled her in on the appearance of the Ghost of Time and we agreed that somehow the three of us had to hole the ship and make her leak.
Jenny bounced over, waving to a young girl she seemed to have got to know during the day.
“Ok” she said “we need to think about this, what do we have that will hole a ship”
They looked through their reticules, between them they had a knife, some string, some chocolate and a coin or two.
I grabbed the knife. “I have an idea, though don't know how quickly we can achieve it”.
Both sets of eyes turned to me.
“Is this dangerous?” That could only have come from Deb.
“Where was the last repair?” Jenny asked
“Down below the waterline along with the pigs and chickens” I replied.
“You thinking what I'm thinking Jenny?” “Think so” she replied.
“Ok you two, you need to come down to the hold and we will work in rotation picking the pitch from between the planks, we have this pen knife, could you two find another one?”
The three of us headed for the ladder, luckily there was no-one watching for me and we made it back down quietly. Jenny had peeled off to head to the cabins and see if she could find another knife.
Deb and I started picking at the pitch between the planks, it was slow progress and our hands were really sore by the time Jenny rejoined us. We took it in turns all evening to remove the pitch.
Slowly we could start to see the water coming through.
We high fived each other and the two of them dashed back to their cabin hoping that they hadn't been missed.
I curled up on the straw to await the surly deck hand’s appearance. I could feel the cold water slowly seeping through the straw to where I sat. I just hoped we hadn't done too much in our haste to get the ship turned around.
The seaman arrived and grabbed at me and shook me awake “Com’on lad where's your brush and bucket? Get up them stairs!
As I stood up and shivered he looked down at my bedraggled appearance, the wet trousers, and my cold wet feet.
“Why are you wet lad?” He looked around at the now 2 inches of water in the hold.
“Ok lad different job for you, start bailing out this water. I need to get to the captain and ask him to come down here and see this”
Away he went, he did look worried. I started very slowly bailing the water, of course I wanted it to look bad so I was in no hurry to get rid of the water.
The Captain arrived and surveyed the now 4 inches of cold water, the straw floating on the top, the distressed clucking of the chickens and me bailing like mad with the single bucket on my own.
“Bos’un!” The Captain exclaimed “form a bailing line, get all the buckets down here”
“We turn back to Plymouth tonight”
I breathed a sigh of relief, we had managed it, now to keep the boat afloat till we got to Plymouth and then all I had to do was escape!
The following evening exhausted with my arms screaming in agony we rounded the headland and anchored in Plymouth.
I was given leave to rest for the evening and the following morning before anyone else was awake I stole off the boat and escaped to the streets of Plymouth and ran straight into Wayne.
“Where the hell do you think you're going to?” He yelled at me as he yanked me over to where he and Rachel were standing.
“Dr Bairstow is going to be very disappointed with you when you get back. Where are Jenny and Deb?”
“Thank God I found you two, I'm not sure that Jenny and Deb wont be put onto the Mayflower in the morning, they made themselves very popular as lady’s maids with the other passengers and there was talk of them being given a new position when they got to America”
“We will see about that” Rachel said, “you get yourself back to the Pod and for gods sake take a shower, you stink”
I hobbled off, feet hurting, shoulders hurting, soaking wet and cold. Damn it, I thought, stinking was the least of my worries. What I really needed now was a warm shower and a huge cup of very strong tea.
It was four hours later, I was sat at the console of the pod with a warm cuppa in my hand watching the screens for a first glimpse of Deb and Jenny. Finally I saw 4 people coming at a run. I heard Wayne give the command for the door and they all tumbled in. Slamming the door closed. I was intrigued so I continued to watch the screens, sure enough a couple of minutes later 2 burly seamen rushed into view.
Over the speaker I could hear one yell to the other “Did you see which way they went? I'm sure they came this way but its a dead end”
I turned to a grinning Jenny.
“What happened? What did you do?”
“Oh that, hmmm might of had something to do with the fact that they wanted me to act as maid to Mrs Butler” she replied quietly “so to get away I stole her purse” she held up the cloth bag.
“No no no” said Rachel as she snatched the bag, opened the door and hurled it out. It hit one of the retreating seamen on the back of the head.
“Initiate Jump” I called
“Jump initiated” and the world went white.