Path: physics insights > misc > Felix Resilleserre >

In Which we First Encounter the Flederaal

The following is an out-of-order installment of the tale which began with Takeoff, and continued with Shopping Trip Parts I. through IV  and The Test Flight.  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.

Star Date Unclear

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 dump.

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 brownish smoke.

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 lady!"

"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 arm.

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' fetchin'..."

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 water.

"Soak 'im!" ordered Raven, pointing to the unfortunate Blerge.

"Soak 'im, ma'am?"

"Ye useless gibbering lemur!  What d'ye think the water's for?  To drink?"  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 kilt me!"

"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 ye be!"

"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, aimed for 'is '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