This story is by Eve Garnier and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Steps resonated in the corridor.
Dressed in his navy uniform, Bartholomew Bellamy was trying to find his superior. A request from the governor who was about to make a little speech to the town’s people. He will be announcing a new exploration campaign, and he wanted to man who was going to lead it to be present. After saluting the two sentinels patrolling in the corridors, Bartholomew reached the courtroom. Opening the doors, he peaked inside recognising the man he was looking for.
“Captain Lowry.” He started before noting the man wasn’t on his own. “I apologise I didn’t know you were with someone.”
“Don’t worry lieutenant. I was showing Miss Hawkins the map of the future lands we will be conquering. Mademoiselle, this is the man I was talking about, Lieutenant Bellamy.”
“Pleased to make your acquaintance Lieutenant. The captain was regaling me with your latest stories.” An amused grin stretches on the woman’s lips. “Speaking of which. Lieutenant, since we are in a courtroom, I’m going to ask you to act as a witness, are you ready to speak the truth?”
“I always tell the truth.” The woman smiled, addressing an understanding nod to Bartholomew. He was unsure what to expect, looking at the captain who sat against the desk a grin stretching on his lips.
“Captain Lowry told me that he saved your life during the dreadful battle where you acquired the map. Is that all true?” The two men exchanged a glance, Lowry raising an eyebrow as he straightens up, clenching his fist.
“Well, the Captain and I are so busy fighting off our opponents. I can’t imagine that there wasn’t a moment when he suppressed a possible threat that could have cost my life. As soldiers, we are bound to protect our comrades. I’d trust the captain with my life.”
“Sentiment that we both share.” Added Lowry with a nod. “You see Miss Hawkins, our country is in good hands. Soon we will bring riches from this new land, expending our territory.” Bellamy didn’t say anything. He exchanged an amused look with Lady Hawkins, who was walking to the Captain side.
“I have no doubt. You two seem ready to explore this land on that precious map of yours.” She said, sliding her arm around his own. “Taking the risk to bring another war or fight here.”
The lieutenant let a soft chuckle escape his lips. She was one smart woman, he thought as his gaze fell on the courtroom wall, noticing a moving shadow behind them.
“Sir, the governor was expecting your presence. We should head downstairs.” He suggested in an attempt to distract the captain and his companion from the movement behind them.
“Of course, lead the way milady. Lieutenant? ”
“I’ll be right behind you, sir.” Answered Bartholomew, stepping on the side to let the couple pass.
The lieutenant waited for the door to close. Once he was alone, he gazed at the empty courtroom, taking a few steps to get in front of the door, only way in and out.
“I know you are here. Show yourself and state your business.” Called out Bartholomew as he was reaching for the weapon under his uniform vest.
“Bartholomew, I could shoot you, and you wouldn’t even know where the bullet came from.” Answered a voice from behind the stand. It was a familiar one, startling Bartholomew who scanned the room, raising an eyebrow.
“Are you planning to shoot me, William?”
“It would be incredibly rude to greet an old friend that way.” Replied the man before appearing in the corner of the room. “Then again, it depends if you plan to be in my way.”
Bartholomew looked at the man; he had not changed much. His hair, cut short were lighter, and his skin a little darker for spending time in the sun. His clothes seemed a little worn off from the many washes and the sea salt. The lieutenant also noticed a new scar on his left cheek and more facial hair. He looked at the desk where the map laid and back at William.
“You are here for the map.”
“I am here for the map, and I won’t leave without it.”
Bartholomew moved between the man and the desk, raising an eyebrow suspiciously.
“Why do you need the map, William?”
“It belongs to their people, and I want to prevent anyone from disturbing their lives. The Navy will only bring war and destruction.”
“We have no ill intention. We are curious about that new land and what it could bring us.”
“You seem so sure about this, do you believe Lowry will not use force if anyone comes between him and his gold?”
“Lowry is bound to the law, and he can’t-”
“Spare me your optimism, Barth. If things worked like you believe they do, I would still be by your side.”
“I wasn’t there when you made that choice.”
“If you would have been in my situation you would have made the same one.”
“But I wasn’t, and here we are.”
“Indeed. Now, step away from the desk.”
“Then you give no choice.”
William pulled out the gun, and a shot went off.
Bartholomew let a gasped of horror and shock. The bullet came to lodge directly in his shoulder. He took a step back, reaching for the wounded arm.
“You shot me?! I can’t believe it! You shot me!”
“You are in my way. Now, move, or the next one won’t be as merciful.”
“Put your gun away, you idiot!” Replied Bartholomew, keeping his stand between the man and the desk.
The courtroom doors opened on Lowry who seemed to have rushed in, after hearing the commotion.
“Bellamy what is going on?! Who is this?!” As he pointed his gun on William, who lifted both hands in surrender. He was looking at Bartholomew who was concealing his gunshot wound.
“Captain, this is William Keith. Former Navy officer, he was the man responsible for the HMS Grace’s mutiny.” Answered Bartholomew looking to William. He saw that his former friend was working hard to hide his frustration of getting caught.
“I remember. You two did your classes together. You seemed inseparable at the time. Tell me, Keith, what brings a traitor here? Remorse, asking for pardon?”
“I’d rather be hanged than to apologise for my actions.”
“We can make the arrangements. Lieutenant Bellamy, arrest this man for treason. He will be court-martialed and sentenced to hang.”
“Yes, sir.” Bartholomew walked to his old friend, not even looking at his superior as he took his gun and sword away. Lowry walked to the desk to grab the map, rolling it and sliding into his vest.
“I’ll make sure to secure that map in my office. I’ll be waiting for your report.”
“Yes, sir.” Replied once again the lieutenant.
For the first time, he moved toward his superior as he was turning around to leave the room. In a quick reflex, Bartholomew moved against him, the head of the gun knocking down the man on the floor.
Bartholomew noticed his friend turned livid as he walked to the unconscious captain. He was searching inside the man’s jacket pulling out and handing over the map to William.
“What on earth are you doing?!”
“Saving your life, take this before I change my mind.”
“I should not have shot you. The pain is going to your head; you knocked down your superior! And you are helping me escape what about your career and your family?”
“My family is none of your concern, and you need to get out of here before the guards come back.”
“I swear to God William if you speak again, I’ll kill you on the spot.”
Bartholomew didn’t even wait for the other to decide his faith. He opened the door and looked around. Once cleared, he stepped aside to allow William to leave the room.
“You must leave now, I doubt your window of opportunity is large, so go!” He pressed, giving his friend his gun and sword back.
William strapped the sword back to his waist, concealing his weapon under his vest. They both exchanged a look, knowing it was probably the last time they would see each other. William raised a hand to reach for his friend’s shoulder. Bartholomew shot him a glance, prompting him to let his arm fall back to his side before heading out.
“Thank you, Barth.” The lieutenant gave him a simple nod before watching the man leave.
Once out of sight, Bartholomew closed the door. He walked over the limp body of his superior to the other side of the room. He sat down at the desk as footsteps resonated in the corridor.