art by Tais Teng
...And A Bottle Of Rum
by Melissa Mead
The old man set the bottle in its stand, leaned back into his pillows, and sighed.
"Perfect. I've still got my touch."
A miniature skyship hung inside the bottle, sails turned to catch sunlight, a wizard perched on the crow's nest, following currents invisible to ordinary eyes. The old man had captured every detail, right down to the ley lines tattooed on the young wizard's aristocratic face.
"Uncle Jim!" Trampling footsteps on the stairs rattled the little bedroom. The old man steadied his glass treasure with a gnarled hand.
"Hold right there, boyo!" snapped the voice of Diego, his manservant. "You can't barge in on the Captain like a two-legged typhoon."
Captain Jim chuckled, picturing the boy's suddenly deflated posture as he mumbled, "Diego, may I please visit Great-Uncle Jim?"
"Let the boy in, Diego!" the old man bellowed, and coughed. He cursed and stuffed the stained handkerchief under the blankets as the boy bounded up to him.
"Hello, Uncle Jim! How's your cough? Can you tell me another Buccaneer Bloodstar story? Oh, a new ship! She's a beauty! Be careful of this one, all right?"
"I'm always careful, young Matthew. You don't master my craft without a steady hand."
"Well, the last two got broken."