Thursday, January 8, 2015

Hook - K.R. Thompson Promo


Archie Jameson sat in the dark corners of the print shop, dreaming of adventure. 
Today, it found him. 

Caught in a chilly October storm, he ducked into a tavern, hoping to escape the rain. What he found, was a room teeming with pirates. Shanghaied by the most elderly of the lot, Archie found himself serving on a ship captained by the fiercest pirate ever to sail the seven seas--the man known as Blackbeard. 

Through a series of thrilling twists, Archie finds himself captain of another of Blackbeard's ships, the Jolig Roger. In an attempt to flee danger, his ship becomes lost under stars never before seen. 

Determined to save both his crew and the woman he loves, Archie will make decisions that will forever seal his fate. This is the untold story of the man who became Captain Hook.

                                                                       Chapter One

Bad Form, Indeed.

n eternity passed before Big Ben tolled five bells. They were heavenly peals to Archibald Jameson, who began to wonder if time had somehow gotten stuck or if the gigantic clock across the square was broken. Stretching out his long legs, he stood up from the desk and scooted around the corner, taking care not to bump the towering mountain of paper at the edge. Naturally, it was the largest stack in the entire room—the work that he had yet to finish. If he was even a fraction as meticulous a man as his father—the very man who left him the shop—he would have stayed, locked the front door, and remained into the wee hours to finish the work, however long it should take.
            But he was not his father, and he had no intention of pretending to be so. While he was very good at running the print shop, it wasn't something he enjoyed. It was only what he must do to ensure his survival. Remaining any longer than necessary just wasn't going to happen as far as Archie was concerned. His inheritance should have been a blessing since he was the youngest of four sons. Without the steady work the shop provided, he might as well have lived out on the street, begging for what scraps could be found. To him, the feel of the paper and smell of ink felt like a prison where he was trapped day in and out. His only release came in daydreams. As he pondered another life or another world, the work piled up before him. He spent hours upon hours each day, dreaming of adventure, of places and people that always made those in his life seem dull in comparison. Those daydreams made his life bearable.
But even the daydreams wouldn't hold him there once Big Ben chimed its fifth peal. He never stayed a second longer than required.
He blew out lamps and turned over the sign in the window, then pulled on his frayed, black frock. He took one last glance around, then slapped on his hat and stepped outside. Chilly air greeted him as he pulled the door shut, listening to the muted sounds of the doorbell. He turned the key in the lock and jiggled the knob.
Odd, he thought. The tinkling sounds he heard earlier sounded nothing at all like the brass bell on the frame of that door. Odd, indeed. Perhaps it was the remnants of his latest daydream, for the door had never sounded that way before. Still pondering the bell, he turned and rammed directly into a young boy, who let out an audible oof, as he landed on the side of the street.
"I do beg your pardon," Archie said, offering both his apologies and his hand to help the boy up. The lad flashed a smile, showing a unique set of small, pearly white teeth, before he took Archie's proffered hand and replied, "Quite alright." Without waiting for Archie to say anything more, the boy took off, disappearing around the bend.
Hunching over against the cold wind that sent leaves dancing about his legs, Archie shoved his hands deep into his pockets, and made his way down the bricked street, no longer in the rush he was in moments before.
"Mary, I don't see how we can afford to keep her." The booming voice was startling. Archie glanced up at a window, which was open in spite of the chill. "Let's see, two pounds nineteen …"
"George, dear …"
"Now, Mary, hold on a moment. I have the tally right here. Do you think we might try it for half a year on say, five five three? Only half the year, mind you. Oh, drat, I forgot to figure in colic."
The voice of the man and his wife argued back and forth as Archibald stood, rooted in place, wondering at their strange conversation. As this was his normal route home, he walked by No. 27 every evening. He half-hoped this financial dispute might possibly involve their dog. If it did, he would be more than willing to step up and offer to solve their financial dilemma. He lived alone and the thought of the trim Newfoundland he had seen carrying in bottles of milk from the front steps bolstered his spirits.
The talk of colic, however, kept him from knocking on the front door.
"Shall we say one pound? Yes, that is what I'll put down. But what of mumps? I've heard that can be quite taxing. I daresay that should be twenty shillings there. Don't give me that look, Mary."
It was at this point a sharp cry of an infant pierced their conversation and Archibald was quite certain that Nana the Newfoundland was most assuredly not the topic of money, colic, mumps, and their current distraught state. He shook his head, wondering about the sanity of the Darlings in No. 27 as the silhouette of a woman he presumed to be Mary shut the window and the voices muted.
Poor Nana, Archibald thought, to be stuck with people such as that.
He didn't even want to think about the child whose fate rested on the odds of her contracting whooping-cough and so he openly wished the inhabitants of No. 27 would not be so lucky as to have any additional offspring. He voiced exactly that, and in that same instant, heard that funny peal of bells again. This time it sounded suspiciously like laughter.
He spun around, searching for the source, and saw only a crone of an old woman who stepped out of No. 31. She heard his wish and obviously didn't agree with his rather bold assessment. Archie was fairly sure she hadn't laughed a day since she had been born, and moreover, he was absolutely certain that glorious day of her arrival had been at least a century earlier.
"Well," she puffed up, looking much like a wrinkled, ancient bullfrog before she croaked, "I never!"
"Yes, madam. I should hope for precisely never as it seems the most promising period of time," he smiled and bent, giving her an elaborately low bow to thank her for her agreement. "For to wish them more mouths to feed, when one seems to be their undoing, would be bad form, indeed."
The old woman gaped at him, mouth working like a fish out of water. Then, she clamped it shut in a fierce scowl, and proceeded to slam the door with as much vigor as her frail limbs could muster.
Archibald smiled to himself, silently touching the brim of his hat in mock farewell before he spun, leaving the occupants of both No. 27 and No. 31 to their own devices and ignorance. He continued his stroll down the street in much better spirits, knowing that he bested the old woman and possibly even the Darlings without their even knowing it, though he was certain his sentiments would most certainly be relayed by their overly observant neighbor.
Ah, well. They should have known better than to trifle with something such as a child. A small victory, certainly, but victory nonetheless if it caused them to think of someone other than themselves.
The breeze picked up and proceeded to burst insistent, frigid puffs that threatened to dislodge his hat. He clamped one hand on top, squishing it down around his lean face as he resolutely lengthened his stride and marched on, determined to make it home before the storm set in.
He'd almost made it to the corner, to the place where he normally made the left on N. Westburl, and then a right onto 43rd, followed by a various assortment of other long deviations that would get him safely home, when a large crack of thunder shook the air. He decided that just this once he might consider taking the most direct route, albeit dangerous, foreboding, and possibly life-threatening. He stopped right on the bend of the street, uncertain for a fleeting moment, until the next jolting crack of thunder made up his mind for him. He headed straight along Market Street, which followed the length of the Thames River, hoping that the seedy individuals who lurked around the pier were as mindful of the storm as he, and would not cause him trouble on this particular evening, for even though he was quick-witted and could talk himself out of most troubles, sailors tended to be a harder breed of people. They were a sharp and cunning lot, and Archie did not know if he could outsmart anyone else that day, and didn't wish to press his luck.
He made it past the pier, hesitating just long enough to glance at the small boats tied to the dock. There were obviously people about, and so far he had been lucky enough not to encounter any of them.
But one final ground-shaking crack and the tinkling sound of bells changed it all. The clouds overhead clashed and he ran for the shelter of a nearby tavern, barely escaping the torrent of rain.
Archie had never been in The Captain's Keg before. He stopped just inside the door and let his eyes adjust to the dark, smoke-filled room. He realized that not only had he run into the very people he wished to avoid, but that he also had a new problem.
These men weren't just sailors.
He was ready to run back out and take his chances of drowning in the street, when he heard the same tinkling of bells from earlier. This time, it sounded like mocking laughter.
Well. He might very well be losing his mind, but a coward he was not.
He straightened to his full height—all six feet and four inches of it—and removed his crumpled hat with a flourish, tucking it under his arm. He walked proudly down the three steps that led into the heart of the tavern—to a bar, teeming with pirates.
A couple of heads turned at his arrival and those who met his solemn, blue gaze were quick to drop their eyes back to their drinks. His spirits momentarily lifted, Archibald nodded to himself more than to anyone else in particular, a slight smile playing on his lips. He was holding his own.
Still erring on the side of caution, he scanned the length of the bar, finding three open seats. Two were between rather burly, shifty-looking blokes with tattoos. The third seat, nearly on the end of the bar, sat beside an elderly gentleman with longish white sideburns, a round belly, and spectacles to match that sat precariously upon a rather bulbous nose. The gent on the other side was scrawny, his clothes in tatters, thin face in a scowl as he stared at a leaflet of paper before him. Even though he sat still, there was a nervous energy that pulsed off the small man. He gave Archibald the impression of a jittery, starving squirrel. Archibald decided his best chances lay between the old man and the squirrel and so he took his seat, nodding in a genial fashion to the old man, whose watery blue eyes barely gave him a passing glance. The squirrel didn't acknowledge his presence.
"What'll it be, mate?" the barkeep asked.
Archibald bit his lip to keep from laughing. Every drink in the tavern was the same yellowish liquid. Why the bald man standing behind the bar bothered to even ask such a mundane question was beyond him. Perhaps he was daydreaming again. He did do that a lot and at times it seemed real. "'Tis all ale, is it not?"
"Aye, but will it be single or double ye'll be havin'?"
Archibald lifted a single finger and waited for his drink.
"Ye'd have much better luck with rum, I should think," the old man said quietly as he stared down into his own glass, "The ale's watered down. Not fit for a fish to drink, it isn't."
One dreg out of the glass, and Archibald was quite certain the gentleman was more than right. It tasted like something poured from an old boot. Not that he regularly drank from old boots, mind you. Thank heavens he hadn't ordered twice the amount of the vile stuff. Deciding it better not to even bother asking for the rum, which was most definitely hidden beneath the counter and out of sight, he tossed a couple of coins onto the scarred wooden bar, and sat looking down into the remnants of his glass, listening to the patter of rain on the tin roof.
A strange thought came suddenly. For a bar filled with pirates, it was most unusual. It was rather quiet, an odd comment here or there, but otherwise there was nothing but silence. Surely they weren't all sitting around listening to the rain. Archie couldn't figure it out. But he knew one thing: these people certainly weren't living up to his expectations of the loud, fearless persons he always thought pirates to be.
The squirrel on his left shifted around on his stool, staring even harder at the parchment. Sweat popped out on a face that was now a color that reminded Archie of the paper in the print shop, a colorless, pasty white. Good for paper, not for squirrels.
"Well?" a low, deep voice rolled out from a dark corner and broke the silence so suddenly that it startled Archie. "Give us the news then, Harper."
Ah, well now. Things may get lively yet, Archie thought, casting a quick look to the corner from where the voice rumbled. It was too dark to see the man who sat against the wall, but Archibald got a good look at the pair of worn, dark leather boots propped up on the table, and the curling wisps of cigar smoke that floated up to the rafters.
"It says a r-roy, royy …" the squirrel named Harper stuttered, the paper shaking in his hands.
"Ach! The man canna read it anymore than the rest o' us." A complaint hurtled from one of the tattooed blokes at the opposite end of the bar.
As if he were getting more anxious, Harper tried again, his voice in a near squeak, "A royy-alll …"
Archie spied the lettering, and against his better conscience, whispered just loud enough that Harper would hear, "A royal pardon is offered to those pirates who surrender on or before the fifth of September, this year of 1718." He waited as Harper relayed the message, then continued, "Being limited to crimes committed before the fifth of January. All other crimes, committed after such date, will be considered for a death of hanging."
Archie sensed the old man on the other side of him shuffle about, as if he were searching for something on the insides of his pockets, but Archie's attention was fixed on the squirrel he saved. Harper turned and gave him a toothless, yet thankful, smile and set to guzzling the contents of his glass as quickly as possible in an effort to calm his shaking nerves.
"Well, that counts us out, lads," a dark chuckle came from the corner, "'No pardon for the likes o' us, I fear. We all be hanged."
"Aye, but they must catch us first. I won't be finding me neck in a noose," a shout rang out, followed by the murmur of agreement from all the others as they lifted their glasses in salute.
Feeling rather in-tune with the pirates, Archibald picked up his glass as well and toasted the luck of the now boisterous lot, draining the last contents of his glass. Some small part of his brain noted that while the ale was certainly vile before, it also became bitter the longer it sat. The bitterness left nearly as soon as he noticed it, having been replaced with a rather calming sensation.
Pirates truly weren't a bad lot, he thought sleepily, just people like everyone else. They were only misunderstood. He turned to convince the elderly gentleman on his right of exactly that, when the darkness came and took over. The last thing he heard was the old man chuckle, singing softly,
"Yo-ho, me mateys, yo-ho …"


            "Careful now, lads, mind the poor lout's head, aye? He'll be having a dreadful headache come morning without any extra bumps ye'd be givin' him along the way."
            The voice was familiar—rather achingly so—though Archie couldn't quite seem to get his faculties in order to remember who the owner of the voice was. The few times he could open his eyes, nothing at all made sense. It all came and went in blurs with distorted figures he couldn't quite make out. The darkness came and went, so in the end, he figured it better to keep his eyes shut for the time being and try to concentrate on other things, foggy and confusing as they might seem. He thought he was being dragged along the rough boards of the pier, and while that familiar voice seemed to care about the condition of his head, his legs and backside seemed to be another matter entirely of which the man cared not a whit as they bumped him along each splintering plank. Luckily, the drug slipped into his drink deadened the pain, and he only registered the faint, odd pricks and scrapes where the wood had its way with his flesh.
            "He's got hair like black candles, he does," a crackling voice snickered by his head.
            "Aye, Smee, are we taking this poor soul aboard for his long locks? Did the Cap'n order you fetch him a wifey, then?" another voice chimed in, followed by raucous laughter, and a low retort from the man named Smee that Archibald couldn't make out.
            "A good bit heavier than he looks," the first voice by his head huffed, "Slow ye down a bit, Murph. I'm losin' me grip. Oh drat, there he goes!"
            And those were the last words Archibald ever heard on the shores of bonnie England as his head hit the pier and the darkness crept over him once again.

K.R. Thompson was raised in the Appalachian Mountains. She resides in southwestern Virginia with her husband, son, three cats and an undeterminable amount of chickens.

An avid reader and firm believer in magic, she spends her nights either reading an adventure or writing one.

She still watches for evidence of Bigfoot in the mud of Wolf Creek.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for featuring Hook on your blog. I appreciate it so much! :)