JM Williams

A home for all things fantasy and sci-fi.

Water and Blood – A (very) Short Story


It felt good to finally be clean. The smell of fish guts and the sea still covered her hands like an aura, but at least the blood was gone from between her fingers.

Sparrow sat at a wooden table on the far end of the butchery. The windows were open wide, welcoming the salty night air in to remove the stench of blood and death. The pieces of the shark she had dissected were now far away, in metal bins sunk in the sea to keep the meat cool and fresh. The room had been cleansed of all signs of the struggle of life and was once again just a room, with wooded tables and carving knives that hung from the ceiling.

Lost in thought, Sparrow twirled a fat butcher’s knife in her hand, rotating it around the blunt tip that rested on the table. She looked at the blade carefully; it was fat and clumsy, not like the ones she had used in her previous life. She stopped her hand and stared into the shine of the blade. Gradually, in her mind, it changed shape into something more familiar: an assassin’s stiletto.

“Aren’t you a lovely little thing?” the man asks. He is dressed in a fine silk coat of bright blue, the mark of a servant of the mages. “Care to join me in my room?”

The sound inside the drinking lounge at the bottom floor of the Golden Gate Inn is thunderous, a rolling growl of fake laughter and honest anger. Sparrow follows the man up many flights of stairs, through a heavy wooden door which he unlocks with an expectant smile, and into a large but quiet room with a wide, canopied bed. 

“It’s been a long day,” he says, removing his coat. “Hunting down the Baron’s rogues just about drained my spirits.” He looks at her hungrily. “Maybe you can help me with that…How old are you by the way?”

“Fifteen,” Sparrow replies. She reaches back, feeling for the leather bound handle.

“Perfect. Come here.”

She moves forward, kissing him on the neck, marking the target of her strike. His eyes open wide, but he is unable to speak, the blade lancing through his throat. But slowly his eyes reveal their understanding; the Baron had come for him.

Sparrow let the butcher knife fall noisily to the table. She studied her hands. They would never be clean of blood, but maybe she could cover the scent of men with something more normal. Life was a bloody fight–no matter where you ended up–but at least now she was the one deciding what to kill.

The ship’s captain told her once that many people came to the sea to get away from their past lives. It was a place for starting over. There was something in the water, something rough and yet pure. Maybe she could cleanse her spirit through a life of hard work, a life of some benefit to others.

With one more glance around the room, Sparrow lifted her weary body off the chair and up the stairs to the room that held her bed. Her bed. It felt good to finally have a place of her own.

*You can find previous stories featuring Sparrow here:

1. The First Sighting,  2. Learning to Let Go

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