Blood in the Depths

evil mermaids

From the 2011 film “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”

In later years, it was largely believed that Fair Isle, a tiny spit of an island between Sumburgh Head and Mainland, Shetland, which would eventually be claimed by Scotland, was originally settled by Bronze Age traders.

The real story was first withheld and then lost to history. Truth be told, Nordic raiders used Fair Isle as a hiding place for their plunder. By the ninth century, the Isle would become a legitimate Norse settlement, but hundreds of years earlier, it was the site of treasure, home of marauders, and a monument to a fearsome curse.

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Meeting the Future Mrs. Shaw

London 1890

© London Stereoscopic Company/Getty Images – Found at NPR.org

William Shaw was stepping out of the pub on Northumberland Street near the Charing Cross railway station when he quite literally collided with his next wife. He’d been looking at his pocket watch and calculating how much time he had left to catch his train, and she had been rearranging the parcels she was carrying as they had begun to slip from her hands.

“Oh, I am terribly sorry, Sir. I didn’t mean to…”

“Think nothing of it.” He bent forward to retrieve the parcels that had fallen to the pavement when they ran into one another.

Handing them back, he executed a small bow. “Mr. William Shaw at your service.”

It was difficult for her to return the courtesy given she was once again laden with physical burdens. “Miss Julia Witherspoon, Sir. Thank you for returning my parcels to me.”

“Please, you seem to be having difficulty. May I assist you?”

The offer was generous, but she was hesitant to accept the help of an unknown gentleman, even one with such apparent good breeding. On the other hand, her employer wasn’t particularly forgiving and she was already late.

“Very kind of you sir. I’ve been purchasing provisions for my employer and must meet my train to return to his domicile.”

“I would be honored to carry your parcels to your train, Miss Witherspoon.”

Thus the immortal Mr. William Shaw, for that was the nom de voyage he used these days, accompanied his future wife to Charing Cross. She was unaware of this, of course, though she found him quite charming and amusing.

He, on the other hand, was absolutely sure they would wed before the year was out (and was satisfied he was missing his own train for the right reasons). He had buried twenty-one, or perhaps twenty-two brides since he began his long journey through the corridors of history, the last one a mere two decades ago.

The future Mrs. Shaw would make a comforting companion to share the next fifty or sixty years with. He had a feeling that the 20th century was about to begin on the right foot.

I’m leveraging characters I first introduced in the flash fiction piece Traveling the Road Back, a tale about an immortal named William Shaw who, a century prior, made the mistake of letting his wife and one true love Julia board the doomed HMS Titanic. It takes decades, but he finally invents a time machine so he can go back to the early 20th century and save her life.

I’ve gotten more than one request to expand their story, so I wrote this in an attempt to “try out” writing about turn-of-the-century (20th century, that is) London and the first meeting between William and Julia.

How did I do?

Traveling the Road Back

old car

© Al Forbes

William Shaw was pulling the modified 1902 Cadillac Runabout behind his SUV to an abandoned country road where he would be unobserved.

He’d purchased it from an elderly widow, her husband’s pride and joy, but the old man lacked stamina and finances to restore this beauty.

Shaw unloaded the Cadillac at his destination. Appropriately costumed, he got in and activated the controls. He’d spent a century building wealth and the time transmitter so he, an immortal, could go back and correct his worst mistake. This time, he’d arrive in Southampton and prevent his beloved wife Julia from boarding the Titanic.

I wrote this piece of flash fiction in response to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioneers challenge using the accompanying photo prompt, and attempting to write a complete story in 100 words or less. I managed exactly 100 words.

To read more stories based on this week’s prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

I am somewhat manipulating the plot from the 1980 film Somewhere in Time starring the late Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.

In this case, William Shaw, an immortal, or at least very long-lived person, met and married a woman named Julia in the very early 20th century. They had a falling out for some reason, and she left him. She boarded the RMS Titanic at Southampton on April 10, 1912, and died when it sank early the morning of the 14th.

Shaw is an immortal, but he can’t go back in time. However being an immortal, he has nothing but time and patience in amassing wealth and eventually inventing a method of time travel that could be incorporated into a vintage automobile (no, he doesn’t have to travel eighty-eight miles per hour).

In the original history, Shaw didn’t go after Julia and she died. This time, he intends to prevent her from boarding the Titanic and save her life. They’ll spend however many years they can together, until enough time passes and she finally dies of old age.

He creates one critical problem, though. Now there are two of him in the world, and from 1912 on, there will always be two of him.