Eloise sits at her dull little desk in her stuffy little office and watches her pencil tip snap for the final time. The war in Europe fills her mind with stories of adventure and heroism and yet for a 17 year old English girl, her pencil is probably the most dangerous thing she has ever held. It is 1945 and her only chance to escape the status quo of her existence is a small advert in a local shop window looking for war volunteers. She packs her bags. Waves her town goodbye and heads for the train station with a deep feeling that adventure awaits. Little does she know that less than 48 hours later she will be wrapped up in a world of time travel, romance and an epic journey of self discovery. She is thrown into the viper pit as time itself is split like a smashed water melon, and Eloise must embark on a death defying plot to stop Adolf Hitler in his tracks. Thrown back to 1935 with her fellow volunteers. The Nazi army baying for her blood is only half as heart stopping as the feeling inside… that she was born to do this.
Eloise pushes through the hefty wooden door to Heward’s Stores and sniffs as she passes the sweet section. Dark polished floorboards, well worn. The minty humbugs sticking lightly together in jars, sugary cakes laid out on cotton cloth begging to be touched and judging by the fingerprints in the icing sugar, the local kids had fingered at least two of them. She smiles slowly at the old man with white hair pushing a cloth around the counter top, getting ready to shut up for the day. His faded blue apron has his name embroidered on the heart, David. He looks up from his cloth without stopping, he knows every inch of this counter like his own mind.
“Shutting up soon darling. Shutting up early today.” He says through thick bottle glasses, extending a bony finger to the timepiece on the other counter.
“I always seem to be late..” adds Eloise. Flicking through a pile of books for sale on a rickety table by the door marked BOOK SAYLE. Noticing the sign. She snorts and turns.
“You spelled sale wrong.” loud enough to be heard, but the man is gone into the back room and the shop is silent. Except for the sound of her fingers rattling through the edges of the novel she is holding. A dusty and well thumbed copy of Pride & Prejudice, not her cup of tea but you never know. It’s always worth having a look around these old books, just in case. Taking a second to look around the shop, the way you would if you could if every shop were unmanned and empty. She notices the dust gathered around the sweet jars, and the rusty spike the shop owner stamped his receipts onto. Her eyes move along to the notice board, a cork board with notes of furniture for sale and warnings about speaking out of turn to strangers in time of war. A local dog called Bunky gone missing. Then another notice, a partially obscured newspaper clipping that is torn at the edge. Covered slightly by pictures of local kids at a cricket match. She reaches across the counter, brushing the cakes with her coat. Snaps the clipping from its drawing pin, tearing the corner.
“Hey, mind my cakes.” barks the shop owner.
Eloise jumps, startled. “Sorry I just…” she bleats.
“…never mind just this and just that ¡K look at my cakes!” pointing at the once neatly dusted rock cakes. Now looking like they have been taste tested by a bear. The ice dusting all smudged.
Eloise dusts the sugar off herself and takes the paper to the counter, flicking the creases out.
“You thinking of joining that?” The shop owner questions, folding his cloth.
The news clipping is an advert for war effort volunteers at a secret location down south. Most of all it has nothing about gender restrictions. It just says volunteers wanted. The photo on the advert is a friendly looking man Alan Turing standing casually hand on hip inviting the reader to apply. “Yes why not, we all need to do our bit don’t we?” says Eloise.
“Bah, slip of a girl. They want MEN for soldiers not girls.” The shopkeeper insists rapping the paper with his bony finger.
“It says nothing of soldiering. There’s more to winning a war than guns and boots you know.” She snaps. Flipping the paper in half and folding into her pocket, her feelings burnt ever so slightly.
“I’ll take some of those bonbons sweets in the window, the white ones.”
Shuffling awkwardly around the counter to the racks of glass jars sitting in the window. He tears a little white paper bag from a rusty hook on the wall. Scoops a handful of the white sweets into the bag and spins it, closing the top off like a man who has done it a million times before. Dropping the bag to a set of scales.
“Yes that’s fine Mr Fowler.” she murmurs, eyes buried into the news clipping. Far away, wondering what the coded advert could mean.
What could they want volunteers for? She knows about the women flying Spitfires and Hawkers out of Hatfield but it didn’t seem to be connected to that. It wasn’t ammunition production since she was already doing that in a way at BSA. Whatever it was it had to be better than sitting behind a desk fighting the urge to spear Mildred with her sharp pencil. Eloise riffles in her pocket and slaps the required five pence onto the glass counter.
Later that evening at home, Eloise sits in her small but tidy bedroom sucking at her sweets. The thick heavy winter coat folded neatly onto the dressing table, the leather T-bar shoes slipped under the bed and her skirt ruffed up to the waist as she leans back on her pillows. The side of her bed is a thick tower of already read books, pulp fiction novels, adventure. She relaxes into her pillow. Letting the disappointment of the day vent from every pore. Wallowing into her own world, a world of adventure novels and daring feats performed by men in wide brimmed hats with guns.
Stories of far off jungles teeming with snakes and hidden treasures, her book collection looks like a soul attempting to escape it’s bodily bonds. Or a woman trying to escape her life.
Window open, autumn cool breeze drifting through the sash and leaving goosebumps across her skin. The sickly scent of sweets and the soft comforting bed, her eyes waver between awake and asleep. If she closes her eyes and listens carefully, she could be miles away. Somewhere exotic. A pirate ship lashing about the Caribbean, robbing local Governors of their trinkets.
Maybe she would head for Port Royal and dock for the night. Head to the local pub with her pirate buddies and drink until the floor became the walls and the walls seemed to move every time you leaned into them. Up early for a hearty breakfast of… whatever pirates ate. Set the First Mate to ready the ship then push off out into the wide crystal sea. The salt spray lashing her face and rotting her blouse. The men were all her loyal crew of course, the sword on her hip and the whip of her tongue would see to that. But there would be one of them, probably a good deck hand, she would call him Mr Gibson. That sounded like a good name for a ship based lover.
She is the best pirate on the high sea, she gives her crew anything they desire, but Mr Gibson always has extra. Maybe it was the strikingly broad silhouette he cast across her cabin window at dusk. Maybe it was his rugged looks and the way his water sprayed chest teased her from its unbuttoned shirt. Eloise the pirate was always second fiddle to Eloise the adventurer. There are few adventures big enough to keep the attention of a woman like Eloise. Only the draw of being a pirate queen aboard the biggest pirate ship in history, with a man she barely knew yet wanted badly. It would be perfect. As she pops another bonbon into her mouth.
She could be lying up on the beach of a small outlying island. The sun browning her skin, the ship anchored nearby, the crew are at work. Just her and Mr Gibson with a treasure chest full of food and drink and nothing to do for the whole day except soak up the freedom. The little boat would be yanked up onto the beach and for one day, she could forget about being captain of the greatest pirate ship on the planet. She could be something else. As Mr Gibson hauled the chest up the beach she would watch him with a filthy lustful look on her face. She would flip open the button on her cotton blouse and let the sun beat right into her heart. Sea sprayed hair, curly and wisping around those crystal green eyes, the eyes that watched Mr Gibson down the beach. They would drink, and eat, and chat about nothing important. Where they grew up, where they want to take this freedom they have. Then as the sun sets slowly over another Caribbean evening, as the crew move to the bowels of the ship to guzzle rum and rip ham apart. It would just be her and Mr Gibson. She would sink back into the soft sand and let her bosom fall into view. Hoping that Mr Gibson would see her as a woman, and not his captain. Mr Gibson would turn to offer her some more of the lovely red wine they had stolen from Port Royal.
He would turn and offer her the bottle and catch a glimpse of her plump round breasts, her gentle skin beneath the tattered clothes. Averting his eyes he would offer her the bottle, but she would push the bottle from his hand then raise up from the sand, rolling herself into his hands. Hands that were rough and worn from years of rigging and rope making. Hands that would feel like rough leather across her skin. A feeling she liked, a feeling she wanted more of. Then their lips would meet, and he would push her back into the sand, holding her down.
Strong and broad shouldered, he would take control of her body and run his tongue down her neck, sucking her and pulling her skin into his teeth. Her body would arch and ache, writhing like a snake on hot sheet metal. Hands sliding around to her back and holding her in his strong arms, face moving down to kiss her belly, unbuttoning her breeches with those rough fingers. The wine would swirl around her mind, the warm evening breeze coating her skin in a thick blanket of pure sensual pleasure. Her hands grasping the sand. Her soul coated in blue iridescent light that made every pore on her skin glow with nervous excitement, this is it.
This is it. She could feel his lips pushing down past her belly button, any second now her body was going to shatter into a billion tiny fragments and scatter across the ocean. She could feel the volcano welling up inside, she could feel her throat hoarse with a deep earthly groan. His tough hands buried into her hips, yanking her panties down. Her warm scent flooding his senses as she would wriggle from her trousers and let her knees fall apart. Those teeth now bitting her ankle, sliding up to her knee, sucking the soft warm flesh on the inside of her thigh into his mouth, body quivering like jelly. She could no longer lay back, she had to get to her elbows and watch as Mr Gibson sucks his two thick fingers and slides them down.
“Oh god yes” she moans aloud.
Her bedroom door jolts open, smashing the serenity like a glass plate.
James D. Layton has been writing screenplays for over a decade, but turned to novels in 2012. He lives in England with his two sons Ettienne and Cody. He likes running and chocolate, and sometimes running with chocolate. His favourite book is Jurassic Park, his favourite film is Jaws and listens to many types of music. Including Jimmy Eat World, System of a Down and The Doors.