A Haunting Situation.
Who: Aleksey / Basil McCloud[npc] aka: The Old Cook. Where: Storage Room When: The afternoon after the Ship left the port. What: An audit finds more than just food in the ship's storeroom.
Basil McCloud studied the slave boy standing with very little more than a clipboard in his hand. And even less on his body. The old cook shook his head. No doubt he would never get used to the idea of reaching the status of having a slave help him in the kitchen. “Are ye’ ready there, laddy? We have a full days worth of ‘counting to do down below and we are a-needing to have it done by yer evening shift.” After all this was a secondary job to the boy’s primary responsibility on the ship.
When they had given his 'uniform', Aleksey had made a huge stink about it. The uniform was basically an apron, the tightest shorts he had ever worn, a hair net and work boots. His feet were better covered than he was. His protests were silenced by a sharp rap to the back of the head. The guard escorted him to the galley where he would work basically washing dishes and cleaning after the cooks or doing whatever they told him to do. Now, Alek just stared at the decrepit old man in front of him. His eyes slightly narrowed as he slowly translated in his head what he could decipher of the man's speech. That thick accent only made the old man harder to understand for the young Russian.
" 'Re ye thickheaded or what?" Basil gave the blank-staring slave a light rap on the forehead. "well come 'long then and we can get started." this was going to take longer than he thought it would if the boy couldn't talk to him. "we.. counting.. boxes.. yes..?" Without waiting on a response he turned on his heel and headed for the back stairs that lead down to the primary food storage area one deck below the main galley. The door opened easy enough for him, since not alot of the crew had a chip allowing them through this door and down. He glanced back behind him at the lad following him. If this boy.. "whatch yer name laddy?" was going to be his helper he might need that extra chip programmed in too.
Another smack on the head and this time Alek curses under his breath in Russian. Good thing he doesn't know what 'thickheaded' means or he would be truly insulted. He follows after the old man, still grumbling softly. So far, being on this ship is harder than being at the brothel in Prague. There are so many more people he has to interact with here, and so much more is expected of him. Communicating is often an exercise in futility. At least he understood one word from the man's question. "Aleksey," he answers.
"They saddled me with a Fraggin' Ruskkie.." Basil shook his head in undisguised disgust. Leave it to Babylon to find a cooks helper who couldn't communicate with him. "Well come along Alex.." he shortened the name so that it would flow easier off his tongue. "at least ye aren' totally deef nor dumb.." Pushing open the second door to the storage area he rapidly flicked on the light. He hated being down here in the total darkness. Too many old tales creeped up into his head. And until he got used to the ships music of 'er own he was going to here all 'er creaks and groans. He pointed at a series of crates along the far left wall. "check those ones off yer list laddy and I will take these on the right."
"Alek," the tall boy corrects Basil. The least the old man can do is not mispronounce his name, right? Then again, he gets the distinct impression the old cook just doesn't like him. That's fine. Alek doesn't think he likes the old bastard either. He looks at the crates then down at the clipboard. He turns wide, confused eyes on Basil. "English," he says, "No read English." His Russian accent is as thick as they get.
"Oh for crying out loud.." Basil stomped across the floor and pointed at the letters. "You dinna have to read the words just match the fraggin' letters." He jabbed a bony finger against the clipboard paper and pointed out the letters V-e-g-e-t-a-b-l-e jabbing at the paper and the crate "see ye lunkhead that matches.. check it off" His finger stopped in mid air when he heard a scraping sound coming from the a darkened corner. "and when ye' finish up here, work over there next."
Alek pulls the clipboard back in an irritated manner. If the old man isn't careful he might just get a mouthful of Alek's knuckles. The boy is short-tempered and new to this sort of situation. He doesn't know all the trouble he could get into for fighting here. "Okay! Черт ублюдок," (Damn bastard) Alek says. He's about to really rip into a tirade of cursing in Russian when he too hears the noise from the corner. He grabs the old man's upper arm before he gets too far away from him. "What is?" he asks with a nod of his head toward the dark corner. "From ghoulies and ghosties And long-leggedy beasties And things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us!"
Jerking his arm back Basil crossed his chest and prayed to himself before answering the boy's wide eyed question. He had been wishing that he was just a-hearin' things.
"If ye are lucky then all that noise is a wee moose or rat. Ifen ye aren't.." He paused and looked down at the boy. "than perhaps it's a ghostie out to steal yer life to join in the after. But even ghosties aren't the worst. Ye jus' best be hoping that its not a banshee. Ifen you see one of those laddy then that fortells yer own death. That's why they should allow lasses on the ships. Not right. Bad luck and all." His eyes glowed a brighter green than they had for years as he turned them again towards the far corner. "Am thinking that there might be another light switch over there." Secretly Basil was hoping that the boy would report that he discovered a mouse or at least signs of rodents. He would have to spend time down here through out the voyage and didn't want to have his own encounters with the banshee.
Alek only understood about half of what the old man said. It was obvious, though, Basil was afraid of something. He didn't know what 'banshee' meant, but he was fairly certain he knew what the word 'ghost' meant. "Spirit?" he asked quietly. He laughed and shook his head, thinking the old boy must be crazy. He was about to go into the corner, when another scraping sound was heard, louder than the first. He froze in his tracks,then backed up until he was behind Basil. Maybe there was something to the old man's ranting. "Umm... I work here, yes?" He didn't wait for confirmation and began counting the crates and to check them off his list. Pretending to know what he was doing. Far better than going down to the dark area.
Rodents dinna be making noises that loud.
"Spirit.. Banshee.. Ghostie.. They are all where they shouldn't be and have 'issues' with a-being and staying dead. I suppose working here is okay, since we have to do them all anyways." Basil sure as heck wasn't heading towards the sounds in the darkened area. Not without a cross or two and some salt.. "Where is THAT! crate?" He grumbled under his breath. He would sprinkle the entire storage area with that.. Or at least the doorway in the galley to keep the ghostie from crossing over. His pen scratched off numbers on his own clipboard but his eyes darted more towards the crates in the back than they lingered on the ones he was counting. "Do ye have a cross laddy or a bit o' clover?"
Alek moves further and further away from the corner where the noises had come from. The old man's agitation is not making easy for him to stay calm. It's hard for him to think there could actually be a ghost down there, but he'd rather not find out. As a child, he'd heard plenty of stories about vengeful ghosts from his grandmother. He'd even seen strange things in the woods behind her house. So, it wasn't outside the realm of possibility. "Cross? No," he replied a bit frustrated. A cross would do wonders for his nerves right about now.
"Will need one on this ship. I will see what I can do for ye." The Lad needs a cross to keep the evil ghostie at bay. Basil nodded to himself at that assessment. Especially since Basil will make sure that it isn't himself going down to the storage room. Now where did the ghostie come from? And who might know? Can't be on a haunted ship without knowing what or rather who ye are dealing with. "Too new to be a slave" he mumbled to himself. He would call his elder brother in Glaslow to research the ships history records to find out about the apparition should it appear. When. There was no doubt in Basil's mind that one would show eventually. "Ye are heading the wrong way ther' laddy." They were both keeping a distance from the far crates. Luckily the perishable items were stocked in the large freezers, those containers might have to wait until the end of the list.. When he is busy and the lad still needed something to do.
Alek was running out of crates to count in his chosen 'safe' section. As apprehensive as he felt, he was starting to think this whole thing was just stupid. Here they were too grown men - one old as dirt - and they were afraid of a noise in the dark? He looked at Basil and snorted. "This stupid." Again, Alek started to walk towards the back of the room. He whistled softly, old habit when he was nervous. As he approached the back, he heard what sounded like a soft, pained moan. Without skipping a beat, he smoothly turned around and walked back to Basil. "Spirit live there," he said casually and nodded. He was white as a sheet.
Basil took in the pasty colored face of Alek and that decided him. Surely they dinna have to audit all the crates today. "Spirits aren't alive. They just 'rnt fully dead." Not that he was arguing with the boy about such things. He snatched the clipboard from the boy's hand and looked down the list. Well at least the check marks were neat and understandable. The numbers... not so much. "Ye need to get a translator laddy. Is this a five or a two?"
The quiver of the old cook's finger pressed to the clipboard spoke of his nervousness. If that number was the greater one they wouldnt have to search for an additional three crates of canned goods. They might actually be able to call it a day and he could get the galley floor salted down before it was time to start the evenings cooking. The boy would be good for helping to salt the floor.
Alek followed the man's bony finger to where he pointed to on the chart. He wrote the numbers in Russian, of course. Even so, his handwriting had always been bad. "Seven," he replied. Alek cast a wary look at the back of the room again. "Go now, yes?"
Seven? How was he going to reconcile anything if he couldn't make heads or tails of what Alek had written? It was a better excuse than letting the boy see how nervous he really was about the ghostie in the corner. "Yes we can go upstairs, we need to go over these numbers before we come back down here.." Or send you down by yerself. "..and continue the audit."
Basil turned on his heel and led the way at a quick pace towards the steps that they had come down. No sirree, he wasn't rushing to get the heck out of there. Slave ships and ghosties had been around for centuries. A bit of research or a phone call to one of his brothers at the next port would give him an idea of what he was up against in his storage room. If it was a banshee than the cap'n might be looking at his resignation. He didn't want to deal with that sort of beastie every time he came down the steps.