Jilly: The Pirate’s Parrot–A Shapeshifting Short Story

It’s been a difficult start to the New Year, and I haven’t written or edited anything for the last few weeks, so I thought I’d try to get myself back in the swing by tackling Elizabeth’s writing prompts from last Friday.

I’m not sure what to make of this. It took me a while to get going, and the final result came out quite dark, but at least it got the wheels turning.

The prompts were:

Something floating in the swimming pool

Ripple                          flicker                          shade                           depth

Breeze                          killjoy                          parrot                         shadow

Moonbeam                 symbolic                     acrobat                       daredevil

Headphones               contestant                  cougar                        bludgeon

The Pirate’s Parrot

A persistent breeze shepherded fluffy clouds across the balmy North African night sky. Intermittently—too often—a moonbeam shone through, illuminating the battered body floating face down in Hizir Barbarossa’s white marble swimming pool.

I’d perched, frozen, on Hizir’s beefy shoulder as he’d lounged on his white marble throne while Oruc, his First Mate, fought a contestant for the coveted place at the pirate lord’s right hand. I’d witnessed Oruc humiliate the challenger, bludgeon him to a pulp, and then make him walk the plank along the antique wooden diving board as the assembled thugs cheered and jeered.

Apparently it was symbolic, like Hizir’s decision to adopt the name of a long-dead pirate and decorate his person with brocade coats, antique pistols and dangly ear-rings. There was nothing archaic, however, about his fast-growing empire of people smugglers, slavers, drug-dealers, money-launderers, and online scammers.

Unfortunately for Barbarossa, his sartorial preferences had made him the perfect target for the Powers-that-Be’s super-secret new shifter division. The Boss had figured that an ultra-rare Spix’s Macaw would make the perfect shoulder ornament for the discerning pirate-psychopath, so I’d exchanged my jeans, boots and smart remarks for brilliant blue feathers and a vocabulary of limited depth.

As ever, the boss had been right. Over the last month I’d learned enough to earn a promotion, a pay rise, and a lifetime of sleepless nights. Tonight had been the last straw.

From the shadow of the dense, night-scented flowerbeds on the far side of the pool, a pair of brilliant yellow-green eyes blinked. Got it, Alejandro. The cougar shifter was scary smart. He didn’t need a high-tech earpiece or headphones to know I’d reached my limit. With his daredevil talents there was even a chance I might survive to report all I’d learned. Parrot-fashion.

Hizir nodded to the body in the pool. “Leave him for the kites.”

The torches flickered as his clan roared their approval, and I looked around, memorizing every last name and face. Hizir got to his feet, rolled his shoulders, and I slipped against the smooth silk brocade. Instinctively, I dug my claws hard into the fabric, and heard it rip as I scrabbled for balance.

“FUCK!” I held on for dear life as he reached up to grab me. “That was my favorite jacket, you stupid bird.”

Hizir’s earrings chimed as he made another swipe at me. I used my beak to rip a solid chunk of flesh out of his hand, and he dropped his arms, fast. Threads tore as he wrestled his way out of the damaged garment. It was definitely time to go.

My wings were clipped, but I had enough feathers left to push myself clear and glide gently over the bloody pool into the shade of the flowerbed.

“Hop on and hold tight,” Alejandro growled. I took him at his word, feeling his muscles ripple as he sprinted through the undergrowth. The perimeter wall was twenty feet high and topped with broken glass, but the cougar gathered himself without breaking stride and cleared it like an acrobat.

Another burst of speed, a final leap, and we landed in a tangled heap on the floor of the waiting helo, at the feet of a neat, nondescript woman of a certain age, looking just as dour as she did in rainy London town. She frowned down at the pair of us and shook her head.

No doubt about it, the Boss could be a killjoy, but I thought I’d enjoy watching her spoil Hizir’s fun.


If you’re still with me, I hope you enjoyed that!

9 thoughts on “Jilly: The Pirate’s Parrot–A Shapeshifting Short Story

    • Thanks, Justine! It’s Chinese new year next weekend, so I’m thinking that would be a good time to start over (and with great food, too).

  1. Glad you’re back, Jilly and nice job with the story prompt. I think I’m seeing a cross between Queen Elizabeth and Helen Miren playing the role of the Boss.

  2. Thanks, ladies! It felt good to wrestle with the prompt words, though it took me ages longer than it should have. Amazing how easy it is to lose momentum, and how hard to recapture it.

  3. Pingback: Jilly: Cold Start Case Study – Eight Ladies Writing

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