following is an out-of-order installment of the tale which began with Takeoff
, and continued with Shopping Trip Parts I. through IV
. Reading the prior installments may
help to render the following events marginally less obscure ... or it
may not. Intervening episodes exist on paper but have not yet been
typed in, so those of you who are paying close attention may notice a
bit of a continuity jump.
This installment was also very kindly provided to us by Professor Johann
Schnarchhund of Miskatonic University. Johann again assures us
that this first person account, narrated by Isis Resillechat, is very
much as it was received by his daughter, Taurina. For additional
information please see the Iemy Papers
It's been a week since our last crisis, and I'm finally feeling
rested. We've cleaned up the balloons, life support is healthy again
(and the ship smells reasonable again), I've sorted out the mess in my
room, and I've actually had time to start Captain
Rant and the Water Spout
. I can't believe it's still not
for sale in Massachusetts! If we find ourselves back in Scotland
I'll pick up a copy for you, Taurina -- but then, I don't know when we'll
be back in Arkham, so I don't know how I'd get it to you.
Raven Rant certainly is in this one, just like I'd heard, and she is so
cool! I told Aunt Eternuechat a little about the story, and she
wanted to see for herself, so I handed her the book.
"It's just totally great, Auntie!" I had told her. "If I could
write like that, I would call myself a writer!
Auntie sat down on a cushion and read the first few pages, and then handed
the book back to me. "Isis, dear, to be completely honest, if I
wrote like that, I'm afraid I would call myself a hack
Sometimes she really surprises me.
Anyway, since you still can't get a copy to see for yourself, here are the
first few paragraphs -- it's at least a little foretaste until the rest of
the book makes it to you!
Captain Rant and the Water Spout -- Prologue
As we look down upon the water, we observe that the gradual gray light of
dawn leaking into the eastern sky has revealed a single vessel between the
sheltering shores of the harbor. The name painted on the stern,
barely visible in the dusky light, appears to read Flederaal
Let us descend to this vessel and see what business it has here.
The Flederaal was riding uneasy on its rode, turning first this way, then
that, as though searching for a way past its anchor. The cause of
this curious behavior may have been the slight breeze flowing over the
harbor, coupled with the mizzen top sail which was inexplicably still
set. The only sound, aside from the splap-splap of the waves against
the hull, was a sporadic buzz-saw sound from the man on the watch, who was
stretched full length on the deck. He was snoring loudly.
This idyllic scene was obtruded upon by a faint splashing sound whose
apparent source was somewhere abaft of the starboard beam, and invisible
from our vantage point on the deck. This was accompanied by the
appearance of a faint aroma -- an odor not entirely dissimilar to that
which would be produced by a slowly burning fire in the midst of a garbage
The peace was finally definitively shattered by a soprano yell, apparently
from the same location as the source of the invisible splashing.
"Are ye wanting to ram her, or what? Back water, ye lard brains!",
followed almost immediately by the sound of a heavy impact, the vibrations
of which could be felt passing through the deck. This was, in its
turn, accompanied by a pair of loud grunts.
Withal, the melange at last sufficed to wake the watchman. After a
snort and a sniff, he called out, in a gargling voice clogged with the
phlegm of deep sleep, "Fire!"
Propping himself on one elbow, he coughed, spat, sniffed, coughed again,
and, in a far stronger voice, yelled again, "Fire!"
As he hauled himself stiffly to his feet, his greasy black hair, but
partly restrained by a plaid scarf which seemed to be adhering to his head
due more to the action of the congealed effluvium of his scalp than due to
the effect of the sloppily tied knot which dangled loosely above his left
ear, flopped over his face, hanging far enough past his chin to just brush
his shirt, which might once have been white. He pushed the hair
aside, sniffed again, and looked around for the source of the
stench. What he saw alarmed him far more than the mere sight of some
burning trash would have: He saw a hand, reaching over the rail.
His panicky bellow of "Fire! Boarders!
" was still echoing
from the nearby shore when the hand was followed by an arm. "They've
set fire to the ship!" he appended to his earlier yell, his voice cracking
on the word "fire".
As the first of the crew members, finally wakened from slumber by the
watchman's most recent yells, appeared on the deck, a head followed the
arm over the rail. In such surroundings as these, it was a most
thoroughly unexpected head. Glossy hair, the color of rust on a
saber left forgotten in a bucket of water, framed a classic face, hardly
darker than the marble visage of Michelangelo's David. Wide set eyes
the color of the penicillium fuzz on an orange abandoned for too long
behind the bucket of water holding the rusted saber were upstaged by a
pair of perfect lips, now wrapped tightly around what looked to be a slimy
piece of tarred rope, from the end of which was trickling a stream of
As the woman -- for a woman she was -- vaulted gracefully over the rail,
the watchman stared, his mouth hanging open in amazement.
"Well well well what have we here!" he chortled with a grin so broad it
exposed all three of his teeth to the view of anyone who cared to look.
"What we don't
have is boarders
nor a fire!" replied the woman, removing the black smouldering object from
her mouth. "Ain't ye never smelled a fine cigar before, ye
mouse-brained spawn of a plague rat?" she added, blowing a cloud of brown
smoke in the watchman's face. He coughed.
"Hissst!" called a sailor from the shelter of the companionway.
"Blerge! Watch y'sel -- that no be just any
"Pfaugh!" replied the man we have now learned was called by the unlikely
moniker of "Blerge". "Of course she be a lady -- a fine lady, who's
just blown smoke in me face. But we'll forgive her, if she'll just
give us a little kiss."
"Blerge, no!" came the voice from the companionway. "That be Raven!
"Awww, is that so? And will we get slapped if we're too fresh, or
will the little bird complain to the Cap'n? C'mere, little bird,
give us a kiss!" Blerge reached out and seized the woman by her left
A flash followed, and a deafening report, and Blerge lay still upon the
deck, face to the sky. Raven Rant, for that is certainly who she
was, had shot him full in the center of his chest with a double-barreled
pistol which had lain hidden in the folds of her full white skirt.
"Now get up, and get me trunks out of the jig and take 'em below!" she
yelled at the unfortunate Blerge.
"Ma'am?" came the voice from the companionway, which provided the only
other sign of life on the ship. The rest of the crew, who had come
running at the cry of "Boarders!", had by now fled below decks.
"Beggin' yer pardon, ma'am, but 'e can't fetch yer trunks, ma'am.
After all, ye've kilt 'im, ye can't very well have 'im runnin' an'
But Raven was not to be deterred. She was kicking Blerge in the
ribs, and yelling, "Get up, ye unnatural cross of a sloth an' a slug!"
"Ma'am, it ain't polite
to kick a man when 'e's dead!"
Raven snapped at the voice in the companionway, "Get a bucket!"
"A bucket, ma'am? Would ye be wantin' it wi' water in 'er, ma'am?"
"I sure don't want a bucket a' rum! Snap it up!"
Several of the braver sailors had crept once more onto the deck to observe
the spectacle by the time Rabbit, as the former lurker in the companionway
was known to his crewmates, returned with the requested container of
"Soak 'im!" ordered Raven, pointing to the unfortunate Blerge.
"Ye useless gibbering lemur! What d'ye think the water's for?
" With that, Raven seized the bucket herself, and
emptied the entire contents over the supine Blerge.
The consequence, to the vast surprise of all observers, was a violent
convulsion of Blerge's mortal remains, followed immediately by the
emission of a powerful wail.
"Kilt me! Kilt me! An' I was just funnin' a wee bit an' ye
"Get up, ye blithering nitwit, an' fetch those trunks!" Raven gave
the unfortunate Blerge another kick in the ribs by way of encouragement.
"Ma'am, 'e can't fetch yer trunks, not since 'e's been kilt!" objected a
sailor from the relative safety of the other side of the foremast.
"Kilt me! Kilt me!" added Blerge in a doleful counterpoint.
Raven looked around in frank amazement at the terrified sailors. "Kilt
'im? Have the whole lot of ye naught but moldy cheese between yer
ears? How often d'ye hear dead men complainin' that they've been
kilt?" She kicked Blerge once more in the ribs for emphasis, which
elicited another yelp. "He ain't n'more kilt than any of the rest of
"But, beggin' yer pardon, ma'am," spoke up Rabbit, "ye shot 'im clear
through the 'art, as I surely saw me self!"
Raven laughed a derisive laugh. "Shot 'im through the 'art, did
I? Then where, prithee, be all 'is 'art's blood? Thought ye o'
that?" And, indeed, had any thought to look, they would not have
seen a drop of blood upon the deck, nor more than a few drops apparent
upon the dingy gray fabric of Blerge's shirt.
"Say, rather, I shot 'im in the chest
'art -- but through?
I think not!" She laughed
again, and held up the pistol.
"One side's lead, for sure, and ye best remember it! But this
earwig," and here she kicked Blerge again, "got nae but a pinch o' salt!"
And with this revelation, the fog of fear which had been stifling the ship
vanished like gold from the pocket of a sailor on shore leave, and nearly
all the crew was heard to burst forth in laughter. The exception was
the unfortunate Blerge, at whose expense the laughter was charged, as he
was worse than kilt
: He was embarrassed, having been shown
to have fainted at a mere prank.
Page created on 26 Feb 2012