A Short Story from “High Five Fantasy Kollection, Excellent Work, Great Job!!!!” 2

The Island of Indecision: a heart-warming tale with a message*

* plus, it’s got pirates too!

By Q-Burt

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Destiny Islands

Chapter 2: The Sea of Glass and Sweet, Breathable Water

Chapter 3: The Island of Pompous Pricks

Chapter 4: Whirlpool Reef

Chapter 5: The Island of Inflatable Pants

Chapter 6: A Happenin’ Spot for Whales

Chapter 7: The Island of Irregular Bowel Movements

Chapter 8: The Ghost Ship Came at a Full Moon at Midnight

Chapter 9: The Island of Vaguely Specific Super Powers

Chapter 10: The Master of Puppets

Chapter 11: The Island of Dreams Come True

Chapter 12: The Storm to End All Debates About Which Storm Was the … Oh, we haven’t time to make chapter titles! It’s coming.

Chapter 13: The Island of Indecision

Chapter 14: The Edge of the World… not being found. The world isn’t flat! It’s a circle.

Chapter 15: White Shores

Destiny Islands

White shores. .

The P.S. Bring Cindy’s Muffins* was christened at dawn, and its crew set out the very same day. A crew of puppets whose master’s hands were stuck up their bottoms.

* silly name, isn’t it? we’ll explore why that ship’s name was in a moment

All in Mirror Country were puppets, of course.

Of course. Why not. Sure!

J J J

The captain, of course, was Gallenthmir. Pronounced: Gal-in-th-meer. She was the only one without a hand up her blouse. And that made her look important, as she wasn’t always grimacing and fidgeting all the time.

The others were all puppet pirates. Hired hands from the shore.. Yo ho!

There was Too Fat, and Too Slim; Handy in a Fight, Not Handy in a Fight (they just called him Jim), the chef, Cojack, and Cindy, of course. But they all died of scurvy.

Only Cindy’s muffins survived, being immaterial. And so, Gallenthmir named the ship after them; the muffins, of course, which she took quite a liking to- Poppyseed, why not- and set off with a new pirate crew.

This time, she brought plenty of apples.

J J J

The first mate’s name was French, no one could pronounce it; the chef’s name was inconsequential; .. the little woman who sat in the crow’s nest’s name was inexcusable.

The rest of the crew, she couldn’t afford, having lost her last crew. But she had eight arms and six wings, Gallenthmir, so– it was easier to man the ship.

So it was just the four of them, and Gal*. All female, for she didn’t trust the males, after they all went and died on her**, and she had just gotten over a bad breakup, and didn’t want a chemical romance on board. Female pirates, all. Not a first, I’ve done this in other books..

** Fourteen hands. *** It wasn’t that women were particularly better at pirating. It’s just the way she wanted it.

J J J

“Now, I’ll just have to think of names to call you,” said Gallenthmir.

“Captain. Just call us by our positions. We don’t need names,” they didn’t say that, that would be stupid.

Gallenthmir called the first mate, whose name she couldn’t pronounce, Frenchie. The chef, she called Chowder. And the little woman who sat in the crow’s nest, spotting islands with her telescope, and breathing indiscreetly between puffs of pipe, she called an idiot, you’re an idiot, that’s not how you open a sail! Then she gave her a name: Um, er, ah. Nancy Pennington. Yes, it is. It’s a good name. I just thought of it.

Actually, if you must know, and you may, and you will, and you should, Gallenthmir had a talent, a wonderful thing, because besides how everyone would gather when she started to sing, she could split herself into four people, all skilled in the pirate arts, and so she had a crew, and named them– each due what they deserved..

Besides, if you wanted to get something done you had to do it your selves. And if you want to get anything done, how could you count, tell me, how could you count on other people? So Nancy Pennington was Gallenthmir was Chowder was Frenchie was Nancy Pennington was Gallenthmir. Confusing? Good!

Each of them had wings. And a hand up their butt.

She could have produced more puppets, of course, but more would be tedious. She only had eight arms.

J J J

Tiny dinosaurs flew in the sky, and swarmed in the deep. But why do you need to know this? The answer, of course, you don’t!

J J J

“Why are we setting off to sea?” asked Nancy Pennington*, the crow’s nest girl, looking through her telescope, or whatever it is crow’s nest person look through. “To find the edge of the world?”

* (But their brains were kept separate. They still had to think and act and do according to whoever’s body Gallenthmir’s hand had been occupying.)

“No, no. Something much more interesting,” said the captain, Gallenthmir, pacing. “We’re looking for the- oh, I’m sorry? Did you say ‘the edge of the world’?”

“I did.”

“Yes, we’re looking for that. They’re always looking for that in fantasy literature. That, and to chart a map of the world, and its major islands. There’s a whole magical world out there ready to be mapped, and pirated, and us master cartographers are the ones to do it! Imagine the price of such a map. We’ll be rich as worlds!”

“You said ‘world’ three times, Captain,” said the freshly named crew.

“So I did. Spank me. Spank me very much. Well, should we be shoving off, then? I brought a big screen TV in case we got bored.” She took out the big screen TV and christened the ship with it. Smash! “*Yawn* I’m bored. There’ll be no TV watching on ship. It’s all business.” Though, in truth, she had kept a large TV in the Captain’s Quarters for herself.

L L L

Gallenthmir took out her compass, the one that didn’t point north, but pointed to where the happiest place could me. “This way to True Happiness,” she said, standing on the bow. “By the way, that’s what we’re looking for. Coz a man once came up to me and said, ‘Can you ever find true happiness?’ Well, I found a compass that points there.” Bought it off of a gypsy.

I want nothing short but the world, she said. I want everything. That’s why I said it* three times..

* world

Oh, the open sea

, said the narrator, Q-burt, sweaty from whatever it was he was doing before the camera crew came in and he said, “Hi there, you scared the crap out of me.” What a charming place, he went on. Over land and over wave. Smell the sweet tang of salt. Feel the sting of an ocean spray. Flying fish not quite accomplishing what’s in their name, more just jumping for extra large distances, but they had wings, y’understand. A marlin’s singular searching horn hunting for large schools of silver fish like underwater tornadoes down there. They swam like mermaids!

J J J

Giant insects sailed over the Moon, and into the Sun, got burnt. And landed in the ocean. Swam away.

The Sea of Glass and Sweet, Breathable Tea Water

The first sea they passed was the Sea of Glass and Sweet, Breathable Tea Water. There was no salt. Instead, there was sugar. This made all the fish, who were hypoglycemic, quite happy. And hyper.

If you jumped in, you could scarcely breathe without getting giddy.

The sea looked as glass, and smelled of tea, and bore the color of a paint bucket of unmixed dyes.

The sky was ornamented with gulls.

J J J

“I always wondered what it was like under the waves…” said Nancy Pennington from the crow’s nest.

“What?!” said Chowder.

“I said, I ALWAYS WONDERED WHAT IT WAS LIKE UNDERWATER.”

“You always wondered what it was like under Scotter?! Well, I knew him. Apart from the weak pelvis thrusts, it was quite cool.”

“Shut, you two,” said Gallenthmir, and examined her compass. “The Happiness is that way!” pointing.

Gallenthmir manned the wheel.

Nancy Pennington manned the crow’s nest.

Frenchie manned the cannons and floors.

And Chowder manned the kitchen.

J J J

Now, I think it right to disclose a bit about the P.S. Bring Cindy’s Muffins. The boat.

It looked like my head. Its face was the bust of a merman, in swimming shorts. (Statistics show that most women find men attractive, so this wasn’t quite surprising. Where does one go to meet available women?) It had a wheel, a crow’s nest, a sail, a kitchen below, and several slaving hands below that that pumped the oars. Some of these hands were shoved up the puppet’s blouses.

It looked like my head. Teeth in the water. Eating a tuna on toast.

J J J

Said Nancy Pennington, looking through her telescope, “What ho! Mermaid off the-! Left!”

Said Frenchie, “Aren’t we pirates? Aren’t we supposed to say, ‘Yo ho! Mermaid off the port bow?’”

Gallenthmir looked at her reflection shining off the shimmering floor, and said, “These floors aren’t clean enough. Get back to it, Frenchie.” A pirate can’t stand to see that her treasure doesn’t reflect all that glistens and gleams.

Indeed, there were mermaids. And mermen. Mer people. Not too far down, there was an underwater castle and village, in fact. The mer people rode on giant sea horses, and lived in spiral snail shells.

A merman waved at Frenchie, and she blushed. He was quite striking with his bare, waxed chest. The merman said, “Ahoy, pirate! Why not stay at a luxury inn under wave? Throw your anchor overboard, and we’ll show you a good time.”

“But we can’t breathe underwater!” said Frenchie.

“You can here,” said the merman. “This the Sea of Breathable Water. For land walkers, anyways.”

Gallenthmir was looking through the clear, clear water, clear as liquid water in a clear glass, and, fact of the matter is, she was drooling. There was treasure down there..

Gallenthmir saw the beautiful, shining castle. She wanted it. She wanted it all.

J J J

They swam down the underwater steps and found they could breathe in this water, like I told you, while mermaids can’t, like I didn’t tell you. In fact, they die*. So they have to surface for air every few hours.

* mermaids do. How inconvenient for them. L

The water looked as glass, and tasted like a sweet, sweet tea, as well you know.

They were fish shepherds down here. Shepherds of the Deep Wet Stuff, they called themselves, out of want to name themselves**, and a little good humor. The tuna fish would perch on their arms, and allow themselves to be stroked, and with their sea horses they would send out dolphins to bring the fish around in droves, into pasture. Then brought into the slaughterhouse, to make scale-coats, and tuna on toast. Mmm.

** they wanted some sort of government, this small underwater community

The grounds keeper lived in a giant clam shell. Quite inconvenient when he wanted to get out, so he drilled a little whole in it with a marlin. He said,

“Greetings, land walkers!”

The pirate crew gave proper salutation.

“Are you the pirates we’ve been praying for? We’ve got a problem.”

“Wait, no one told us you were praying for pirates,” said Gallenthmir.

“Is there a problem with praying?” “-No.” “You see, there’s this sunken underwater ship that’s rust is destroying our pastures, and is full of treasure; and normally, we’d go and get it, but it hurts us as well, and is guarded by sharks, and we thought pirates brave enough to go looking for it.”

Surely, treasure will make me happy, thought Gallenthmir..

“You may have the treasure once you eradicate the rust.”

“We accept!” said Nancy Pennington.

“You’re not the captain,” said Gallenthmir. “But we do! . . We accept.”

“May our various gods be with you.”

J J J

They stayed at the Turtle Shell Inn for Seasoned Travelers and took off first thing in the … morning glow? But it was always morning! Where was the moon?!

For there never wasn’t never a happy, grinning sun whenever Gallenthmir was around. She fed it once, and it’s since never left her. How annoying.

The sun still shined to the bottom of the deep wet stuff. It was quite a powerful sun, though small. The size of an engorged beach ball little Billy had blown up with too much air, testing his lung strength. It followed Gallenthmir wherever she went, so there was never a night. The puppets on the other side of the planet were quite depressed about it being gone, but there was always night lights to scare the bogeymen away. And there were bogeymen in Mirror Country.

And the Moon, scared of Gallenthmir after she had taken a bite out of it, since she said it sampled like a cookie, was scared of her, and so stayed on the other side of the world. Brightening the other side with its twilight. A strange glow for a moon, and, indeed, the other moons* gave it hell for being only able to glow twilight and not moonlight, for all those moonlight lovers out there.. Um. Some people say when I turn around and flex my calves, they look like moons. Or at least the crack in your ass when you moon somebody.

* there were several other moons

..L Eh-hem. But about that sunken ship!

J J J

It filled the sweet water tea with rust. Quite an unsightly blood color. When before it was the color of a paint set the dog had eaten and crapped a rainbow. Also unsightly. The iron ship had been pierced by the Duke of Whales, the Iron Narwhal..

Hammerhead sharks by the thousands? hundreds? millions? dozens? ..No, there were just two this time, and, fat with the competition of just that amount, were hardly able to thrash their tails and allow themselves lift enough not to die in the water from not allowing their gills to breathe.

“Oh, look,” Nancy Pennington bubbled. “There are just two of them.”

“Yeah,” said Chowder. “And we’re slow.”

“But they should be just as slow. Look how engorged they are!”

“Maybe,” said Frenchie. “When they swim around to the other side, we can make a run for it — a swim for it, I mean.”

“Great idea, we’ll say it was mine,” said Gallenthmir, and dove in the minute–

“But what about those eels?” said Chowder. And then, the three looked, and their captain was gone.

“Captain! Wait!” said the three shipmates, and swam after her.

The ol’ Narwhal still patrolled about in that vicinity, looking for other ships to test its might upon. Thank my various gods it wasn’t here.

L L L

Then it suddenly was.

Oh, dear.

It drove a hole right through Gallenthmir’s middle, but luckily, Gallenthmir had already punctured a hole in her middle so as to save her throat from all the bulimia she had performed in the toilet to go from a size nine to a size three.

J J J

Now Gallenthmir had the strength of a very small dragon. I should have described it to you earlier, but Gallenthmir was part dragon, and part frog. It was never certain, by legend- as she was indeed of legendary origins- as to how her parents got together: blind date, maybe. Maybe they were both blind, or maybe they donated their eggs to a clinic, and somehow they got switched in the frog and dragon departments. And Gallenthmir was born. Anyways, Gallenthmir grabbed the narwhal by the horn, stuck it in even deeper- just to show that she could- drawing the narwhal farther in, smoke billowing up the corners of her mouth, and head butted the whale on the brain stem. Her head, being very thorny, literally quarried its way through the whale’s skull bones!

. . If you stand on my head, you won’t sink as much.

Now, why did I just say that? . .

L L L

Consider: Well, if you remember, the P.S. Bring Cindy’s Muffins looked like my head, it did. It does. It looked like my head, with a little body attached to the neck at the bottom that performed all the swimming to thrust its bulk forward. You probably hadn’t noticed that before. That’s because we were over water, not under it, dummy.

If you stand on my head, you won’t sink as much.

If you stand below it, you’ll see all the sails and oars are superfluous. It was the swimming man, me, who did all the work. I was their boat, and did they ever give such a boat more than swimming trunks on his birthday for all his efforts? No-oooo.

Muffins.”

“What?”

“There’s a narwhal imbedded in your butt!”

“Oh. So that’s what the crack is for.”

The narwhal was imbedded in my butt. ..It seemed, after it had been head butted by Gallenthmir’s megaton force, the resulting impact had sent the narwhal and its horn straight up my—

–As you may know, this would have been more comfortable if I was accustomed to having sharp, jagged objects rammed up my–

–Ass you may also know, this wasn’t the most important subject, so maybe we better continue on:

Anyways, they had their boat* checked in to the hospital, the narwhal was dislodged, the ship was removed of its rust, and they had their treasure. 8 gold doubloons.

* me

L L L

Gallenthmir was quite pissed about it. She went back to Mer Man central, and talked to the grand something-or-other of Mermen, who considered himself a reasonable Merman, and she said– she didn’t say anything.

He was just too damn cute in that clamshell of his!

“Yes?” he said.

“…” said Gallenthmir. Blushing.

Then: “I think was the captain wants to say is, we want our money back. Figuratively speaking. We didn’t get enough booty on the ship,” said Nancy Pennington.

Said the Merman, “We never checked the ship. We never knew how much treasure it contained. As per our conversation, ‘You may have whatever treasure you find within, and just that, once you eradicate the rust’, we owe you nothing.”

“You didn’t say that.”

“Yes, I did. I remembered distinctly I said that.”

“Oh, shoot,” said Gallenthmir. “This is when I do something I really don’t want to do.” L

“And that is?”

“Lay my eggs all over the place. It’ll really ruin tourist attractivity.”  J

She did.

..Shall we continue on?

On to Chapter 3!

The Island of Pompous Pricks

On this island, were the royalty of Mirror Country. They were pompous snoots.

“My first criticism,” said Frenchie. “Is all these islands are based upon a theme.”

“Well,” said Gallenthmir. “They try.”

J J J

Hoist the sails. Swab the decks.

L L L

“Which way to True Happiness, Boss?” said Nancy Pennington.

“Zigga zigga boom,” said Gallenthmir, and checked her compass. She pointed: “That way!”

“Do you have to say ‘zigga zigga boom’, Boss?”

“-Yes.”

Chowder whammed a gong and shouted from the kitchen, “Supper’s ready! Come get your chum! But first, we pray to Jesus.”

“Okay!”

“Now, anyone- can anyone answer this question? Where does Jesus live?”

Said Nancy Pennington, pointing to her chest, “In my heart. I hope he has a little bed in there. Oh, and he rides his bike in my brain!” They were all firm believers. Pirates though they were.

The wind from their laughter blew their boat far, far away. So they had to go catch it.

The island in question looked like a well-groomed dog. They recently had it carpeted, and there was a singular rolling hill, carved to pieces by home-decorating and littered by mansions. There was a plethora of statues of important historical figures no one remembered.

J J J

Everyone here was rich, but still, they were not happy.. I couldn’t see why not. I’d be happy with a million dollars.

L L L

They were all wearing opera glasses, and watching something very far away, and unseen, you should know. And now you do.

“What’cha lookin’ at?” said Nancy Pennington.

“Hem, haw,” they said. “Why, the play, my dear.”

Nancy Pennington looked out as far as she could. There was no play.

“Is that your only idea of sophistication? Watching plays?” said Gallenthmir, suddenly.

“Hem, haw,” they said. “We don’t see you doing anything sophisticated.”

“WANNA COME TO OUR BARBECUE?” said Chowder from the boat, far ‘way, and whammed the gong.

Terror. No- there’s a better term for it -scarification. “See?” said they, recuperating after such a dreaded advance. “We don’t do … barb-e-qew.” How unpleasant.

L L L

Gallenthmir noticed one of the richest-seeming men, in his studded suit, gold cane, and fresh, new, good top hat, and she said, “Sir?”

“M-yes?” said the gentleman.

“Are you happy?”

He looked liked he had just come from the cleaners. “Should I be? I can rent happiness, you know.”

“You’re not a happy man?”

“Not really. But I have my hobbies.” He grinned. You could see all forty five molars had diamond studs. He had quite a lot more teeth than the normal puppets had. “Now, do simmer down. The third act is in session.”

Gallenthmir cocked her head in curiosity. “What’s it like being rich?”

“There’s no life like the high life,” said the rich puppet, and played with his gold strings, the ones richer puppet’s wore. “My only complaint is, it’s hard finding a place for all my stuff.”

“I’ll be rich someday. Then, I’ll be happy. But first, I’ve got to find the greatest treasure in the world first!”

“Do tell.”

“Do all rich people have to go around and say ‘do tell’ all the time?”

He put down his opera glasses. “My good woman. There are many going arounds from island to island in the never-ending search for Fun, but no, we don’t have to say ‘do tell’; we could look at a sunset and say, ‘Dude…’ but instead, for all our money’s worth, we sigh, and say, ‘How lovely, what a beautiful view.’ If that’s what your asking.”

Said Gallenthmir, “Do you want to know about the greatest treasure in the world or not?”

“I’ll take a chance. For the sake of our conversation, I’ll say, ‘Sure,’ instead of, ‘Dude. Spill your heart out, babe.’”

“Well, however I don’t think anyone would say that,” said Gallenthmir, which made him sweat a bit, and told him they were traveling cartographers on a quest to map the world, find the end of it, if there ever was one.. which in all probability, there probably was not!! and that this map would then be named the greatest treasure in the world, as there’s since never been a map of it before!

Said the old puppet, drawing his cane in the dirt, “That’s only the greatest treasure in the world if you’re a master–I’m sorry–hard core cartographer. Well, hem, haw. What you should be looking for is the Black Pearl.”

The Black Pearl? What’s that?

“I take it by the look on your face you’re wondering what the Black Pearl is, and where to find it. Well, I’m something of a traveler of the world too, I’ve seen it all and nearly the end of it, and should’ve made a map of it myself. I’ve been looking for it for years. It’s a big, black pearl the size of a puppet’s head that shines like star fire within its inner glow. Oh. But I’ve since given up, feeling that now- after so many years- it’s not worth it.. I found it for a bit, but its sort of unreachable now.”

“For a bit?”

“It fell off my boat.”

Gallenthmir was drooling now. “Well?”

“It’s in Whirlpool Reef..”

“Whirlpool Reef? Where’s that?”

“It’s a little out of the way if you’re on your way to True Happiness, as I’ve heard your crew members whispering about, but if you find it, you could have enough money to rent happiness like I and my high society do. It’s the good life.”

“Really? ..Draw me a map.”

He gave her one, already drawn. “Only I should mention, it’s surrounded entirely by whirlpools, and is inaccessible by boat, which is the only way of travel these days, unless you grow wings and fly.”

“I have wings,” said Gallenthmir, flapping them, and walked away, and picked her way to shore, and motioned to her crew. She said to them, “I don’t suppose we’ll find Happiness here, ladies. Better make our way back to the P.S. . . shit.”

J J J

Chowder and Frenchie joined her for barbecue, whilst the little lady, Nancy Pennington, loitered there-a-while, around the rich locals, saying, “What’cha doing?” until finally Gallenthmir came floating back, and grabbing the puppet Pennington by her strings, led her back to the P.S. I-don’t-give-a-care.

But not a minute later, Gallenthmir came back to the Island, only to say, “Old gentleman. This map is ruined.”

“What? No, no, no. The map isn’t ruined. It’s simply written in code.”

“Code? What does it say?”

“Only dolphins can read that. Didn’t I mention that? Find some, then have them lead the way.”

J J J

As luck would have it. . On their way in any direction out, there were dolphins jumping, and saying, “Would you like to engage us in a game of Chance?”

“Chance?” said Gallenthmir.

J J J

We are the Gambling Dolphins, said the dolphins. How else are we supposed to stay rich and keep our apartments out with these rent prices? We settle in fish.

Said Gallenthmir. “No, thank you. I’m looking for the Black Pearl. Have you heard of it?”

The dolphins stopped leaping to wonder if she was serious, they even stopped chasing the flying fish they were in pursuit thereof, and Gallenthmir threw her anchor over board. One dolphin, who looked to be the king of them, as he was wearing a crown, said, “Yes, it’s a legend around these parts. But we need a map. And no, I’m not the king of us. We just dined at Burger King, and it was my birthday.”

Gallenthmir showed them a map of it, and they looked quite satisfied. Nodded. Said, “Come. Follow us. . . That is, of course, we’ll show you, if you win a little game of . . Chance.” They were addicts.

A seagull popped in overhead, flying, and said, “They’re real gamblers. It should take a lot of luck, and by chance, some skill to beat them.” Then took off in a never-ending hunt to find a rock to crap on.

But Gallenthmir could direct the wind. Gallenthmir could conduct it with a conductor’s rod. Point it in any direction she wished. It* flipped the dice the dolphin’s spouted out their holes, and landed on the proper numbers, and then, when the dolphins bade them follow, well. They did.

* the wind

Whirlpool Reef

The Reef here was all twisted out of shape from al its whirlpools.

The conch and coral were beautifully red in color.

They had won the game of Chance, as I said, and the dolphins had led them right to it. Well, close enough, close enough so that Nancy Pennington could spy it through her telescope. They didn’t say why they stopped so suddenly, but they did.

A little sea turtle nursed its eggs, and crawled slowly back to the ocean. Nancy Pennington took note of that. And said, “Hey, guys!”

The dolphins handed back the map, and said, “Thanks for all the fun.” They alone, of all species, could read the map. It was all math, in opposition to the letters and symbols of ordinary maps and all that. Dolphins love math.

J J J

When they had reached Whirlpool Reef, the dolphins bade them goodbye, and Chowder, who saw fins in the water not a while back, and out of a mild curiosity for soup that night, laid out a chum bucket, and fished for sharks. “You three go ahead,” she said to Gallenthmir and Nancy Pennington, and Frenchie. “I’ll get supper ready for tonight.” Wasn’t it so like Chowder. . always thinking of food? Well, if you knew her.

But the map hadn’t disclosed one detail, and that was who was guardian of the Reef. It was the almighty- (or at least he thought he was, having so many seaside legends of his own)- Krakken. With snapping beak, and so many arms.

“We’ve almost reached the Reef, Captain!” said Nancy

Gallenthmir’s face took on the look of a cow who had suddenly grown intelligence and realized what it was exactly the farmers were touching when they milked it for sustenance. Said Gallenthmir, “Man the cannons!”

“But we’re women!” said Nancy Pennington.

“Happiness isn’t this way,” said Gallenthmir. “It’s the Black Death!”

L L L

The Krakken, all black, an omen of impending doom, popped out of the water and said, “I like a good sea battle. I’m a regular seaman. Fire the cannons, they won’t hurt me. But my beak will penetrate your boat.”

I cringed at that. I was the boat. I had ears on the side of it and eyes for jeopardy.

The Reef was surrounded with whirlpools, and they suddenly knew why. It was the Krakken! He was lord of whirlpools. He lived in whirlpools. It was almost impossible to get in. So they didn’t! Why bother? He appeared in a whirlpool, great and powerful.

But a sudden storm appeared on the– on the– left. And it blew their ship into it* with the wind from its laughter. Ha. Ha. Ha, it said. Now, Nancy Pennington wasn’t sure, but she was pretty sure, and what she was sure of was that she had seen the form of a lovely woman walking on water in the midst of the storm..

* the Reef

J J J

Safe for now.

There was said to be the Black Pearl on the bottom of this Reef somewhere, anyways, in a giant clam that had learned to walk, as the crudely-drawn-by-dolphins algorithm math map may indicate. Gallenthmir decided, since they were there, to go after it.

She looked all around her. The Krakken was certainly gone with the storm.

A sudden fish jumped out of the water and said, “Lovelydayforaswim, isn’tit, miss?” almost as quickly as it could before it fell back into the water, and Gallenthmir said, “M-yes. Especially when it’s pearls we’re after,” and fitting on her sea helmet, fell into the water.

And propelled herself forward with her tail.

J J J

They passed many strange, talking, bubbling animals on the way to the giant clam with feet.

Careful clown fish, all orange and black and white, and their poisonous sea anemone houses with many feelers they made home in. Poisonous ringed octopus. Poisoned sea snakes. Sea horses, what didn’t look like horses, not poisonous. Flounder, quite invisible from the front, but fat on the side, also not poisonous. Manta ray, with its– but why am I giving you a marine biology lesson? Read a book!

..Oh, I see. . You’re already reading one..

Well, there was the puffer fish, and if you’re interested in that, you can just check the internet. They puff out with spikes when scared, and deflate when– most of the times, they’re deflated.

J J J

Coral that looked quite like human brains, only colored and planted in the sand, formed most of the base of the entire reef. But it was sharp. And it was cruel, this growing thing. To touch it, however not poison, was to oftentimes, if tide allowed, inflict a cut. Attract. . The barracuda. Which was staring at Gallenthmir’s delicious mass right then.

She said, “Ohmygosh, a barracuda,” and shot it with her dart gun. The bloodied fish gave out a bubbled, “Hey, I was just looking at your face to see if I had recognized you from school!” and fell back into the deep, and didn’t bother her no more. Fishies go to school, you know.

And then she found it– but It wasn’t very important. So she passed on, and found the Black Pearl in a yawning giant clam with feet.

The clam walked away, yawned, showing the Pearl once more, like a tongue ring, and said, “Do I know you?” The clam was the size of a– of a– it was pretty big!

“Who? Me?” Gallenthmir said through her mask, amplified a hundred times through water. As she had a little speaker protruding out so she could talk to fish.

“Yes, I was wondering if I knew you from school.”

“I know fish travel in schools, but do clams go to college?”

“Funny. No, the goil I was looking for wasn’t quite funny.”

“Who was it?” said Gallenthmir, getting out her crow bar, and motioning to the two others who had accompanied her with additional crow bars. Bubbling through their air masks.

“Yea, she was a beautiful goil. Ten feet tall, like yerself. And she always had the problem of nosing into one another’s businesses. You’re not nosing, are ya?”

“Keep talking.”

Every time the clam talked, the shell would open, revealing the fleshy pink layer that had coated the unfortunate grain of sand that would become a fabulous black pearl so many years before, and now was as beautiful as a good day after the War had finally ended.

Said the clam, “Bright eyes. .Pirate smile. .Big, heaving chest. How am I seeing you without eyes?”

“You have eyes. They’re right here,” and poked him in them. And how he howled, and opened his mouth, revealing the tongue ring, and Gallenthmir dove after the shining black object of her affection, but the clam jumped and closed its mouth by reflex, and Gallenthmir was . . Gallenthmir was . .

“Oh, it’s terrible!” said Nancy Pennington.

“No, it’s not,” said Frenchie. “Look.”

Many openings broke through the clamshell on several angles, and the many hands of Gallenthmir could be seen scratching away for more opportunity on living Life out of a bloody clamshell, and then the clamshell could be seen slowly opening and suddenly, quite suddenly, WHAM!

The clamshell burst its top, and Gallenthmir could be seen holding the top piece of the shell with six hands, and strangling the pink, fleshy mass with two, looking into its ‘eyes’, wherever eyes could be found, saying, “You do know me from somewhere. Your dreams, little clam. Muhaha!”

The clam’s speech was jumbled, as if it now had no teeth. “Sssthweeter dreams I never had, Miss. Now, would you pleathe let go of the Pearl. You don’t know what you’re mething with.”

“No, your bad dreams. The kinds you run in.. You know. Um, erm, nightmares.”

Gallenthmir tore the pink sea animal out of its shell, and then she– and then she put it down, and put the Black Pearl in her special carrying case she brought down just for the occasion. “I’m keeping this,” she said, showcasing it.

And the pink mass, which was really just a muscle with organs inside, muscled away on the ocean floor, without a shell. Poor thing, thought Nancy Pennington, as Frenchie followed the driving tail of her lady, Gallenthmir. Swimming with all arms, as a many-armed thing swam slowly after them.

L L L

I’m not one for suspense. If you want suspense, read a true love, high adventure, Thriller book. So here it goes.

It was the Krakken that swam s l o w l y after them.

And here’s the other thing I’m just dying to disclose.

The pearl Gallenthmir had found was not a pearl, it was, in fact, an egg. An egg the giant clam, Crawly, had been charged by the egg’s mother for protection. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. I know, it’s old expression my mother used to use, but I like it.

So, thereupon hoisting the Black ‘Pearl’ on board the P.S. Bring Cindy’s Muffins, it was now not a surprise to the reader that the Krakken desired even more so to smash the tiny vessel to bits. Yes, it was so horrible, I used italix.

Began the Krakken, “Who among you steals my eg?-”

“Eat this, please,” said Gallenthmir, and shot a cannon with a bomb in it down the monster’s beak. And it exploded. Gallenthmir didn’t walk away, and not look at explosions, quite often as cool guys do. She quite* easily sat down, and watched the wretched thing go up in cinders. It was raining Krakken. “Mm. Fried foods,” reflected Chowder, opening her mouth, and letting them fall on her tongue like snowflakes; and Frenchie looked in wonder at her captain, while Nancy Pennington looked on.

* there’s that ‘quite’ again. I use that a lot. Sorry.

The Island of Inflatable Pants

On this island, everyone’s pants were inflatable. So they floated upside-down, just a foot above the ground. Their heads pointing towards the ground.

The island itself was a giant tree growing right out of the ocean, you should know, whose roots were the island. That’s a lot of firewood.

J J J

“Buy our pants, you’ll be happy you did,” said a neighboring vendor.

“Did you say, I’ll be happy if I buy your pants? Did you say that?”

“No, ma’am. You said that.”

“Because if I did buy your pants, and I’m not saying I would, I don’t think I’d be altogether happy. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

The inflatable pants merchant hovered over to his stand and said, “Well, what about this? We’ve got some good merchandise here.”

Said Gallenthmir*, “Junk, junk.”

* She had been the one in conversation with him, right?

“This junk is solid gold! It’s on sale. 3 dollars.”

Said Gallenthmir, “Junk. But it’s my junk. I want it all! I’ll try it. I’ll even buy the inflatable pants!”

“Whatever fits you, miss.”

She tried them. They worked just fine, but she wasn’t particularly happy. She was for a while, but it didn’t last. It had that new car smell. She loved that. That always made her happy.

Suddenly, hark the herald, angels did sing, and Frenchie, who was thinking about death at the moment- (she was quite morbid) -dropped her mouth, and checked her eyes.

J J J

Angels were descending from the sky onto the Island of Inflatable Pants, on a stairway built to heaven, and bought pounds after pounds of inflatable pants. To, you know. To help them fly up there.. They sang a new song about it:

Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Our pants can inflate now. It’s like sitting on a cloud. This is great.J

Frenchie was star-struck. No, she was God-struck! She was on her knees. She built a small monument and a shrine to the exact location of the stairway’s port unto the world, and the angels could only laugh and say, “Hmm. I wonder why they’re doing construction down here.”

Said another angel, “I know. It’s inconvenient. Right in front of our Stairway to Earth, so we can go shopping and to the mall. Maybe we should tell God to, you know, remove it with, you know.” It was right in the way of the Gate to Paradise.

“I know,” said the other angel, and passed on.

J J J

On this island, the seagulls nested, crying, “Number one! Number two! For us, it’s just the same!” Seagulls, on pink frosted rocks.

It took me a while to figure that out.. It’s a little science, and a little immature toilet humor.

Puffins, a type of bird that flies and swims, the only type of bird, dove off the rocks and into the ocean for a swim, while sea lions basked in the sunny roots, and barked like dogs do. Clapping their flippers.

Meanwhile, Frenchie had an idea to chop down the island tree for firewood, but that would take all century, so Chowder dragged her off and said, If you have so much time on your hands, you could help in the kitchen; while Nancy Pennington put her hands on her hips and spoke to the sea lions, “I know you have ears, so speak to me.”

Their whiskers twitched. But all they did was bark.

“They’re the only dumb animal in Mirror Country, kid,” said Gallenthmir.

“Really?”

“No. They’re just stubborn.”

A sea lion smirked and went, “Humph!”

J J J

There wasn’t much doing here, save blowing up inflatable pants, and that did murder on the lungs, or maybe it strengthened it- I don’t know, I’m not a lungitologist! So they passed on. Following Gallenthmir’s golden compass to True Happiness.

A Happenin’ Spot for Whales

It was called Whalebone Cove, but that was not because it was made of whalebones. I’ll give you half a moment to think about that after I say that it was where sea mammals got their erections.

A very happenin’ night spot for sea mammals!

J J J

It was a bar in there. Smoke hung in the air like little clouds of cumulus. One of the whales cheated at poker, and another whale took out his glass contact- (the kind that still works underwater) -smashed it on a table, and used it like a sword. They got into a fin fight, and it was quite bloody, but I’ll spare you the gore, mostly because I just don’t care to go into it.

A giant squid came in through the door, and shouted, “Spermy~! I’m calling you out!”

How quirky ;p

L L L

A sperm whale got up from the blackjack table, and stood up to his full 60 feet. He had very muscular abs, and a big, fat head. He had been performing sit-up’s in the company of immodest groupies. “Squid. I thought I drove you out of town.”

“You did. In your sister’s car. But then I drove back in my brother’s Mercedes, and with much more confidence, being in a much classier car than a–”

“–We don’t need to drive cars! We’re water creatures..”

“Oh, right.”

L L L

They fought, but it wasn’t very exciting. The squid let out a jet of ink and latched itself on the sperm whale, and then the sperm whale devoured him. I guess that was kinda exciting..

J J J

There were other events:

A porpoise ran away with a mollusk. But there wasn’t much to it. The mollusk tripped on water, and the porpoise realized he was too drunk to tell the difference between a good-looking mollusk and a run-of-the-mill North Atlantic Right Whale.

Man, oh man.

A lot of hippies had gathered, and were having sex right alongside of them.

One of them got into a debate with an out-of-place Republican who’d gotten — in all likelihood — lost in there.

Said the hippie, “Trees are people too, you know! Have you ever met a tree, man? Have you ever shook boughs with a tree? Have you ever exchanged petals? You don’t Know their herbi-culture!”

Poppycock. “I don’t even know you, man!” said the man in a business suit, who looked quite out of place in all the fornication.

Said the hippie, “I don’t even know myself, sir. That’s why I’m trying to find my meaning in life in herbology.” Sad L

The hippie smoked a whole bush, then he slept with it. Hippies love nature.

J J J

“Surely, sex will make me happy,” said Gallenthmir, and joined them for a good week. I mean, it was a good weak. It made her happy in sudden bursts, sleepy a little afterwards, yes, but it got boring after the following seven months. She’d explored every inch of the human frame. Now, it was just chores.

The very same hippie who had talked to the man in a business suit came out wearing a bush, or maybe that was his own hair, and he said to Gallenthmir, “You’re new around here.”

“No, I’m not. I’ve been here for several months. We’ve even dated. I met your parents!”

“Oh. Well, I was wondering–”

“Yes?” said Gallenthmir, looking up expectedly, or down. She was ten feet tall.

(Nancy Pennington and the rest were up at the ship, by the way, as they had gotten bored of being in the Whalebone Cave, and wanted to set out on an adventure.)

Said the hippie, “Are you going to eat that? I mean, would you like to join our resistance?”

“Am I going to eat what?”

He didn’t seem to be listening. “That– that– resistance of ours. We’re here to protect the whales, it’s our –” he looked for a better word, but couldn’t find it “–job.” He had his pinky up his ear. Hippies generally hate jobs.

“And does protecting whales — having a job, having a purpose — does that make you glad?”

“Purpose? Right.. Well — most of the times. I do it for myself personally. It makes me feel good. I don’t really help other people unless I get something out of it.”

“That’s sort of — selfish; but if you makes you glad, maybe it’s rational self-interest.”

Said the hippie, “That’s a good way of puttin’ it! So would you like to come with us?” and reached out.

“Several times,” said Gallenthmir.

“To the harpoons!” said Frenchie above them. She was in one of her French-type moods. The kind French persons get into; which, by the way, how did she get into a French mood, when there is no France, and how are they speaking in English, when there is no England?

“You know. That’s a solid question,” said Frenchie, in French. “But first, we fight.”

And joined some wild poachers in poaching; you know, the way poachers do, with sharpened objects and such, while Green Peace protested with signs that read, “We can’t read.” . . (I’m sorry, it didn’t say that)- it read, “We’re standing in line, we’re carrying signs” …  But it wasn’t very convincing to the other poachers.

“Say that to our faces!” said the poachers. “We can’t read.”

“Exactly,” said the hippies, and pointed to their signs. The ones that read– oh, what do you know? It really did say that.

Anyways, the whole thing was broken up by a squad of puppet police, and the poachers disbanded, and Green Peace celebrated by going out for sushi.

J J J

Gallenthmir was a tad disappointed by the whole affair. She rounded up her crew, and set off in the direction of True Happiness, the kind she hadn’t found yet.

While Sirens on the sea- bodies of beautiful women, legs of monster- cried out, Want me! Want me! give yourself over to absolute pleasure. Find your happiness here!

The Island of Irregular Bowel Movements

Meanwhile, in between islands..

“What’s that?”

“A giant insect.”

“No, Captain! What is that?”

“It’s a giant, flying insect. They’re quite common in the Spud-lind*, which is connected to our world with the many reflections off pools of water; or mirrors. Watch this. I’ll show you a door.” Gallenthmir picked up her pocket mirror, a mirror used for makeup, and pointed to her reflection and the reflection winked at her, doing something different with its body than she had done with hers. Then, it suddenly got bored, and walked off.

* Spud-lind, or Spud, was the former earth before it got nuked and turned into a frozen potato shape by that infamous trixter in my previous books. .Mirror Country was connected to it through some magic means. You had to smother yourself in chocolate, and dress up like Miss Piggy to get there, to Mirror Country, mostly to be accepted by the puppet kind, but once you got there, once the chocolate melted, you’d be instantly transported back. What a hoot.

“Captain! Where’d it go?”

Said Gallenthmir, “You don’t expect them to stand there all day, do you? They’ve got things to do, butts to kiss. That was just one of the many entrances into Mirror Country, our home. I’ve been on the other side. It’s a crazy place.”

“Well, what’s it like?”

“Well, for one thing. They all wear shirts on their tops and pants on their bottom.”

“Well, Captain, isn’t that a normal thing to do?”

“I know. It’s weird. They’re all so normal over there. I’ll tell you something else that is irregular.”

On this island, everybody had irregular bowel movements. Boom! They landed on its shore.

Nancy Pennington’s and Captain Gallenthmir’s talk was over.

About the island:

J J J

The island itself was an extinct volcano with a little lake inside*, and boats where there stood little outhouses with half moons on them, but it wasn’t dirty. No one could go. They were all in a state of suspended constipation. There, they were like ornery hippos in teacups, bouncing around like a game of bumper boats, bouncing into each other. Engorged from non-relief.

* like in the story before, yes, you noticed

The crew off the P.S. Bring Muffins were on the case.

Gallenthmir, and Nancy Pennington, and Frenchie leaving the ship, whilst Chowder prepared supper. And ere, they climbed up to the peakest peak of the peak of the volcano, and treading down it, paid for a rent-a-canoe, as the compass pointed directly through the Island, following East, West, North, South- all over the place, really- ere they bumped into some guy.

He said, “Sorry, excuse me, pardon me,” and boated off in a paddle boat.

Not too far off from that exact spot, a constipated vendor shouted out, “Agh! Try these marvelous concoctions for fast, effective relief. Happiness: in fourteen flavors. Agh!” Hey, he promised.

Gallenthmir tried one, but it made her dizzy as a side effect whenever she stood up too fast, and she was almost too regular the next day.

“How come this doesn’t work with you?” she came back to ask him.

“Yeah!” said Nancy Pennington. “We want to know.”

“I’ll kiss you, if you tell us,” said Frenchie. “I’m quite skilled.” She’s French, you know.

Something bit her on the head. She looked up.

J J J

Something sharp had indeed hit her, but it wasn’t an animal. It was a prune pit.

Prune-pits fell from the sky, and landed with several distinct noises. Every sound of thunder was a fart. It seemed the gods were quite regular, and had been holding out on the little people.

The vendor pointed up. Grunting. “It’s not us, it’s them. Agh! This island is cursed by the gods.” To need the prunes, but only get the prune pits. Sad L

“Then why don’t you leave?” asked Frenchie.

His face was mutilated in torment from his horrid affliction. “Agh! We would, but do you really think paddle boats would get that far on the Open Sea? We’d be capsized by the monstrous waves. Besides, other puppets don’t really come out this far. It’s uncharted ocean wilderness. Agh! I’ve tried every kind of relief-medicine there is out there. If only we weren’t in pain, why, we could be happy.”

“Say ‘agh’ more. I’m not in pain,” said Gallenthmir. “I’m not happy.”

“Yeah! She’s not happy!” said Nancy Pennington. “That’s why we’re off on this journey. To find True–”

“Love?” suggested the constipated vendor.

“No, I was gonna say ‘Happiness’.”

“Well, you won’t get it here. Agh!”

“Thank you for your — time,” said Gallenthmir, turning away, and pedaling for the side of the cliff face.

“Thank you for your — business, stranger.”

Suddenly, the water turned all red, and began to cook. Gallenthmir, who was paddling with her arms, recoiled and said, “Yee-ouch! Hot!” and finding a nearby paddle boat, leapt into it, right on another puppet, and began to paddle away with her mobile feet powering the device. Frenchie and Nancy Pennington quickly followed her in her pursuit, and then, it happened..

..But it wasn’t very important.

What was really important is that the volcano had blown its top, spilling boiling water, and the town of Constipia was destroyed! Spilled into the ocean. It just about scared the crap out of everyone, and they were quite happy about it. Everyone rejoiced J

J J J

On the open sea again, great white sharks hunted for seagulls, leaping out of the water, while Gallenthmir threw up the side effects of her relief-medicine overboard.

The Ghost Ship Came at a Full Moon at Midnight

Listen. Look. Believe!

Have you ever seen a ghost before?

…Hey, I can’t tell what your answer is, I’m asking you.

The ghost ship came at a full moon at midnight, captained by inane puppets wearing Technicolor bed sheets.

L L L

“Boob,” they said, meaning with every particle of their being to say, “Boo.” But, ya see, Gallenthmir was quite busty, and they glowed in the dark, her bust, and they must’ve had this distraction in the back of their fluorescent minds. They also said, “Give me all your booty.” But they were low talkers. Gallenthmir didn’t really hear them.

J J J

“So we’re pirates, right?” said Nancy Pennington. “When are we going to do any pirating?”

“Now?” suggested Frenchie.

“Now,” affirmed Gallenthmir.

The ghost pirates whispered as loud as they could, “Boob!”

“Did you hear something?” said Frenchie, mopping the poop deck. Nancy Pennington was busy in the crow’s nest, keeping a sharp lookout for pirates, and other hazards, while trying to contain herself from laughter at the thought of ‘poop’. She had her pirate hat tipped over her one good eye, the other one, the one with the patch I didn’t tell you about, making sure all dangers were accounted for. Softly snoring.

“Boob!”

“Did you hear something?” said Frenchie again.

Said Chowder, from the kitchen below, “Yeah. That’s like saying ‘penis’ as loud as you can in math class.”

Gallenthmir was at the wheel, piloting the ship when she saw them. “Pirates! Other pirates! Oh, good! Oh, good! Maybe we can exchange phone numbers, and travel together.”

A flaming skeleton in pirate coats, with peg legs and eye patches, and burning parrot, piloted the ship. The parrot always complaining about its feet getting too hot.

Shape-changing demon were its pitiless crew.

They had since been undecided about what shape they were going to be, and were in a mix somewhere between a bucket of ice water and one of those volcanoes you get from mixing whatsit and baking soda together in all those science experiments at home school.

“My lord,” said the shape-changing demons, now a beetle, now a stick. “They’re not spookified!”

“How can that be?” said the ghost pirate captain, his head flaming, looking through a telescope. “We are. We’re very scary.”

“Maybe they don’t hear us. We are low talkers.”

“If we could just raise up some kind of sign, Captain,” said another shape-changing demon, now a dish of pork, now an ocelot.

“I know!” said the captain. “Let’s just kill ‘em, and steal their booty.” He took off his skull, set his head on the ignition to a loaded cannon, and fired first shot. It bounced Gallenthmir in the chest, but Gallenthmir, being made most probably of rubber, bounced it right back and it tagged the ghost pirate captain in the lip, if a bone could have lips. It seemed halfway melted off.

J J J

“Captain, what was that?” said Frenchie, from the P.S. Muffins.

“Ooh! Ooh! I know what it is!” said Nancy Pennington, from the Crow’s Nest, looking quickly through her spy glass.

Said Gallenthmir, “Before you start chiming like a monkey, and you already have, why not help pick me up, I think I was just hit by a cannonball.”

“WHO WANTS A MIDNIGHT SNACK?” shouted Chowder, from below. “I just marinated it in whiskey sauce. It’s my own double delicious bread puddin’.”

“No one likes your pudding,” said Frenchie.

Another shot, and Frenchie found herself bounced overboard, caught on a cannonball, and jettisoned into the bottom of the ocean.

L L L

Not too far down, maybe a couple of dozen feet. (It was a shallow ocean.)

There, there were swimming red lobster, and a giant crab (12 feet tall, with pinchers). It merely waved a How you do? Scallops. The scallop said, “I’m allergic to bivalves. Achoo!”

“What’s a bivalve?” bubbled Frenchie, who had suddenly hit rock bottom, as it were. And was meticulously trying to undo her crumpled-in body from the cannonball that led her down.

“Ask me again. Maybe I’ll tell you. Achoo!”

“What’s a?–”

“Save your breath, air breather. If you must know, it’s me. It’s me. A bivalve is me. I’m allergic to myself! It’s quite the conundrum. Achoo!” “How does one ‘achoo’ without a nose?”  This is important.

“One does it quite easily. Achoo! How does one breathe underwater without gills?”

Up above, it was midnight. How it was midnight Gallenthmir didn’t know. It was always noon wherever she traveled.

What had really happened, is the Moon had been nursing a grudge against the sun; it had nursed once since long ago.. Let me tell you about it.

J J J

Listen. This is important. I said, Gallenthmir had fed the sun once, and it’s since been following her around. What I failed to mention, is what she had fed it from!

She had sampled a cookie-shaped bite off the moon and handed it to the sun in exchange that the sun would always point her in the right direction overseas and on land.

Now, the Moon had come back with many moons, for payback. It had collected them from other planets. And they were beating up on the Sun!

“But what happened to the ghost pirates?!” I’ll get to that later.

Ah, I better tell you now before I forget.. L

What really happened is, the ghost pirates’ cannons became so loud that a particular band of angels in the clouds above heard them, and shouted down, “Hey, knock it off. We’re playing an etude!”

“Yeah, it’s really quite amazing. Would you knock it off?” and looking down at the cannon fire, which wouldn’t knock-it-off, they fell down from heaven, loosened their wings, hovered over the ghost ship, took out their fiery swords, and said, “Demons again? How many times do we have to tell you to keep it down?”

Said the demons, “But we were whispering as loud as we could! Just like you told us.”

“It’s not the shouting this time, it’s the cannons.”

The ghost pirate captain, meanwhile, was in a rage putting himself back together again. The ham bone connected to the steak bone, and all that. And one of the shape-shifters, having just turned into a dog, was playing with his bones.

Anyways, the angels beat up on them. Sunk their battleship. Victory.

But about that moon nursing a grudge on the Sun and beating up on the Sun with its other moon-buddies… :

J J J

What you see in Mirror Country is exactly as it appears.

If the Sun appears to be rising, then it is.

If the Sun appears to be setting in the water to bed, then it is.

If the Sun appears small, and not much bigger than the Moon, than, well, they are that small. You could reach up and crunch it* like a cookie.

* the Moon

So the Sun and Moon were gone, off, away, somewhere. The Sun had, in fact, been kidnapped, and the world had become a good deal colder.

This is important, how?

L L L

Now, Gallenthmir and her crew would have to steer by stars. But that was the trick!

J J J

You see, in her world, stars were pranksters. They were never where you wanted them to be.

You looked up, and there was the Milky Way.

You looked away, you looked up, and it was just a curdled milk stain on the rug, and all the stars you had hoped would stay quite still, the Polaris of your northern sky, were gone! Tripped away somewhere. They were winking, always to each other, and not too far away, laughing at you.

But Gallenthmir’s compass wasn’t broken. She would have to steer by that. Putting all faith in a gypsy trader.

And so, the Ghost Ship came at a full moon? Full Moon? Where’s the Full Moon?! It had been revoked, and was beating up with its brothers and sisters around the Sun.

And the world had grown a bit duller..

L L L

Meanwhile, meteor showers with happy, talking sparks rained from the heavens. They were the angels. Having a good time. Playing etudes.

And what of Chowder’s midnight snack she had been fixing?

Now, that it was forever night, they had a barbecue outside, on the boat, alight with Tiki torches, and Chowder wore a “Don’t kiss the cook” shirt, as they were all women, and they weren’t that way.

Gallenthmir checked her compass. Then pointed: “This way to True — oh, what’s the point!”

The Island of Vaguely Specific Super Powers

Red rain.

Again, the angels were making jokes, philosophizing, getting closer under the stars*, peeing again. Must be a very painful urine..

* swapping manly stories

Actually, it was tiny microscopic creatures that made it red, which sugared the oceans, made it sweet, but the inhabitants of the sea didn’t know that.

“Shouldn’t we have parrots?” said Nancy Pennington.

“What do you mean?” said Frenchie.

J J J

On this island, anyways, all the inhabitants had vaguely specific super powers.

Like, for instance, Sits-On-Glass-and-Bleeds-Pheasants Boy. Whenever one was in the need of pheasants*, all one had to do was break a favorite vase and wham down Sits-On-Glass-and-Bleeds-Pheasants Boy on it and out popped your favorite dish- a bird.

* quite a commodity

Disposable Lad was afraid he was going to be the next to be eaten.

Happy Man shouted, “I’m happy — ALL THE TIME — it’s great!” He was only happy because he was on crazy pills.

“If I just had your oddly specific super power,” said Gallenthmir. “Then I’d be happy.”

The island itself was hovering above the water, treading on legs. The island had legs.

All the denizens of the island looked to be no more than 11, 12 years old, but they were of an esteemed age. Their longevity went way beyond the lives of several turtles.

“No, I’m really 12.”

Oh. Forget that then..

L L L

Back to the time they first found it!

It was an icy waste of a world. A frozen strip of lunatic desolation.

An archipelago of many small islands in a frozen land. Killer whales capsizing small glaciers to get at their penguin sweets. Polar bears, swimming.

And suddenly- CRASH- the P.S. Muffins crashed on an iceberg.

The water around this island were all frozen in Time, so you could climb up an ocean wave, stand on a seagull. Overhead, the albatross hang motionless upon the wind. Everything is quite solid. And they were on an island filled with superheroes, and no one to save but themselves..

J J J

“And does helping one another — you know — caring selflessly for another puppet being make you happy?”

Said Sir Points-Out-the-Obvious-a-Lot, “It does especially if you’re not bipolar. If you are, can I recommend a good therapist?”

“That’s not obvious.”

Therapist Man came flying out of the shadows, with flowing cape, with his prissy hands bent like a velociraptor, and he said, “Yes? Vot?” He landed with his hands on hips. He looked quite powerful.

All of Gallenthmir and her crew were on the main Island, with the exception of Chowder, as the compass had led them there. She had stayed back to keep safe the ship.

Said Sir Points-Out-the-Obvious-a-Lot, “They were just wondering how you can find True Happiness?”

Said Therapist Man, suddenly conjuring out a couch, and ushering Gallenthmir and crew to sit, “Yes? Vell. It’s quite simple. All vun must do to be, how do you say . .  happy … all vun must do is . . . See a therapist twice a week! Yop.” He, also, looked twelve years old. But was wearing the tweeds of a therapist.

“Are you sure that’s the correct answer?” said they.

“Vy, certainly,” said Therapist Man. Puffing his pipe.

And so they did. But seeing a therapist, you could see him and see him, and it didn’t matter if you ever got any better. The only good thing was, well, they couldn’t help but look forward to it, and it did make them a little happy to share their thoughts and feelings, their life history, but it did major damage with their booty- I guess that’s the only good three things.

After a while, they simply couldn’t afford it.

“Right, we’ll need more booty if we want to be happy extensively,” said Gallenthmir. “Don’t put this location on the map. ‘Tis a silly place. Let’s go! I gotta pee!”

Said Nancy Pennington, “I gotta pee too, Sir,” she meant ‘Captain,’ I think, “but right now, we gotta get our ship fixed first!”

“Oh, right,” said Frenchie. “Awesome.”

Said Chowder, who had gotten bored of waiting in the boat, catching up, “I tried eating the berries here, but they wouldn’t pop in my mouth. Is there some reason this entire island is frozen in time, save its denizens?”

“That’s a short story, actually,” said Can-Make-Burgers-out-of-Tree-Roots Boy. “It’s because we wanted it that way.”

“You see,” said I-Can-Do-Anything-You-Can-Do-But-Better-Is-Something-I-Do-and-Is-Also-My-Favorite-Song Woman. Um. “It all began back when we children came overseas with our parents and got in this big, bad storm.”

Many superheroes continued the tale, but we’ll just stick to one long continuity, instead of saying who continued what part of the story.

J J J

Said the vaguely specific powered superheroes, one after the other, “Then we saw the form of a beautiful lady walking on the water, and it was odd, but it was too late! Our boat had capsized . . . (switch of storyteller) . . . Our parents died trying to save us, and once we were abandoned on this mysterious island, we came in contact with a mysterious artifact. . . (switch) . . . The Black Pearl! . . . (switch) . . . The real Black Pearl, not the fake one! How do we know about that? Everyone this side of the world knows about it . . . It transformed us into these, these super heroes with such weird and fantastic . . .” “and pointless,” said Frenchie “ . . . powers. We were only very young at the time, then, once the oldest of us began to age and die, and we realized we were going to die some day too, so with our powers combined, we summoned Captain Planet, but he couldn’t do anything  . . . Oh, c’mon, laugh! I thought it was funny.. Then, with our powers combined again, by luck and some skill, we froze Time around this island so we could live forever!”

“Second thought,” said Gallenthmir, dictating. “Chart this on the map, and underline it.”

“Right,” said Chowder. “Can you fix our ship?”

They super powered up the ship. Now it could backflips. Sideflips. Corkscrews. The ship could skip, jump, and loop-de-loop. Tie its shoes. Leaping on water. What a pointless quality. Joy.

“And about your question,” said they. “Living together without parents is tough, but with friends, and with having each other, and with the help that comes from the two, I think — yes, I think we can be happy…” J

The Master of Puppets

Gallenthmir was sitting in her captain’s cabin, engorging herself with ice cream, watching her big screen TV, when Frenchie came in.

Now, Frenchie noticed the TV first, where a little goldfish in a bowl was swimming ‘round and ‘round inside it on screen, it seemed. “Captain. You’ve been holding out on us.”

“Oh, the TV. There’s nothing on.”

Good men are hard to find sometimes, but if you know the right places… you can find them.

Frenchie was a pirate, and a good man. She wouldn’t settle for the rest of the crew being held out on.

“Captain!”

“No.”

“O-kay,” and left her.

J J J

The P.S. Muffins, following the course of the golden compass, ended up in the very inner sanctum of Mirror Country, where the Puppet Master controlled all the puppets, and the puppets got to thinking maybe the thoughts in their heads weren’t also all schneegily puff. That’s not a word, nor a phrase, but I think it makes sense most anyways. Doesn’t it?

J J J

Here, there were cardboard seas, and cardboard stars. Everything was — fake. Everything looked like a play that backstage some secret hands had been running cheap special effects. And stars held up by strings. The gulls held up as if by invisible strings. In fact, that’s what they were. And little men were busy running to and fro, with shark fins on their backs, to give the illusion of a possible calamity.

Suddenly, the curtain dropped, and the critics came up. They were on the balcony. They said, “It’s so real!” ….

J J J

The audience either applauded or booed at that point, I can’t tell you which. It was a particularly Central African audience from Earth, and they applauded or booed in different ways than the Western cultures do. Some by clicking their tongues.

The maestro started up the music, and said, “Alright, you cool cats.”

The curtain came back up at the stroke of the maestro’s hand.

J J J

And suddenly, the man with a million arms came from backstage, the Master of Puppets, with his hands up the puppets on the cardboard sea, said, “I can’t keep doing this!” and walked out. To his trailer.

It stopped the whole production that had been playing of

The Island of Indecision: a heart-warming tale with a message*

* plus, it’s got pirates too!

By Q-Burt

And the producers went quickly to his trailer and tried to reason with him: the Master of Puppets. So did Gallenthmir and her three puppets: the puppets she had volunteered to take over to lighten the Master of Puppets’ load, as she had a few extra helping hands.

The puppets performed a puppet show to cheer him up.

“No, this is pointless,” said the Master of Puppets. “You can’t possibly find True-! Look, I looked.” And massaged his arthritic hands, holding them to warm over a candle. “And you,” said the Master of Puppets to Gallenthmir’s puppet crew. “You’re nothing but underlings. Slaves. Puppets, with nothing in your head but what your superiors put into them. You can’t possibly ever be glad. But I can rent it. I know the secret!”

Said Nancy Pennington, “But someone told me money and power isn’t essential in, in — ”

“Someone was wrong. That’s the secret.”

The compass’ needle wasn’t pointing at him.

Somewhere, wherever special effects were taking place, cardboard blue whales hopped through the cardboard seas, the undertow dragged them away. The underwater river currents swept us this way and that!

Listen, it’s gonna take some time to convince the Master of Puppets to begin the show again, so in the meanwhile, could you please just enjoy the following anecdote until we convince him? Thank you.

L L L

Meanwhile, at the Moon’s parent’s house..

The Sun was tied up in the basement, where the Moon often went to bed in the morning after a long night of shining! Well, sometimes shining in the day, but not so often after the Sun and Moon had their little fight.

“Please,” said the Sun. “Let me go.”

“Okay!” said the many moons.

“Really?”

“-No,” said they.

“Darn the luck. Darn!”

“Boss, what are we going to do to ‘im?” said the many moons.

Said another moon, “Are you sure it’s a him? Could be a she.”

“Never mind that!” said another. “The point is, we’ve brought ‘im here, now we’ve got to decide on how we’re going to bash his brains to bits!”

The Sun chimed in, “Uh. Suns don’t have brains.”

“Well, then, we’ll cook him!”

“I’m superheated with thermonuclear fusion.”

“…We could cut him.”

Said the Sun, “I’m pretty much all gas. The blade would go right through me.”

“We could blow him up.”

“I’m already an extended explosion.”

“I get it! We could douse it in water!”

Said the Sun, “You sure you want boiling water to burst all over you? I’m quite hot.”

The Moon looked tense. If, in fact, a moon could look, does look, did look, tense. She formed a team circle with the other moons, looking the other way, and they began to susurrus. That’s the sound your mouth makes when you whisper. Sss. Susurrus.

The ropes tied around the Sun just then realized that the Sun was quite hot*, and so they better start snapping before they catch fire, so they did, and the Sun crept off, up to the Moon’s parent’s garage, and stole away in the Moon’s father’s car.

* They had been listening to the conversation

Now, the Moon was in trouble. End of this story. The beginning of another one..

J J J

Thanks for paying attention!

He’s ready now. J

Well, the Master of Puppets was finally convinced with an early Christmas bonus, a 15% salary raise, and a cheese log, and that made him quite happy for a while, so he stuck his hands up our butts and continued the show.

Meanwhile . . . During the show, and as the curtain rose, and the audience either booed or applauded . . . The ship was leaping over a sandbar, and making evasive actions against enemy pirates that tried to trap it, and pillage its booty. Leaping over and between the ships.

It led them a tad off course*.

* Just a tad, however long in distance a ‘tad’ is.

And into a sea serpent. A type of long, swimming dragon. Which, upon rising, blew a gale of weather out its throat and took Gallenthmir and her crew into a place far, far away from their mission. And close, close, closer to harm…

The Island of Dreams Come True

This island was laid out on the back of a giant sea turtle. A moving island.

A turtle’s back is perfect for carrying islands, at least if the turtle is large enough, though sometimes, if he shifts too much or dives, it can be quite a bit of a hassle. It’s been done before.

L L L

He dove while our four pirate adventurers were on board. They didn’t know it was on the back of a turtle where they had put their anchor.

Luckily for them, they were all wearing swim wear.

J J J

Then, just as suddenly as it had dove, it rose upwards right beneath them. An island with a sign on it promised, This is the island where all your dreams come true!

Thought Chowder, What if I accidentally spilled a bunch of grease overboard and made fish sticks? And pop! Fry! Sizzle! There they were! Right in her hands. Right?

Thought Frenchie, I want my dream man, and out came the richest snootiest French man riding a horse with a silk shirt and a rose in his teeth you ever saw.

Thought Nancy Pennington, I just want a bagel, and chomped on it quite nicely.

J J J

On this island, dreams really did come true. And that was the last thing you wanted, believe me. How many dreams of yours were nightmares you just were clawing to get out? You probably ran in them. But this time, there would be no waking.

Suddenly, their thoughts were racing to all the things they didn’t want to happen, and those happened too. Goblins and ghouls under the stairway, and in the closet, and under the bed, and sometimes, in the toilet, reaching out to grab you, that was my bad dream. Monsters and aliens of every kind!

“But if my dreams came true,” said Gallenthmir. “Then I know I’d certainly be happy! If I just had this, or this, or this, or that. If I became the greatest pirate the world ever knew…” and thinking it, dreaming it, it happened. Her dream came true!

(And meanwhile, her crew fought off the Darkness.)

Gallenthmir suddenly *POOF!* amassed the greatest treasures in all land and distance over and under waves. Diamonds, rubies, gold, pearls. Towel boys. And the world came to see her. Ha! She was loaded.

She was star-struck with all the Rich and Powerful she had met. And after endless days of signing her autograph to lesser pirates, she wrote an odd thing on one of the younger girl pirates, “If money can’t buy happiness, I guess I’ll have to rent it.” The line reminded her of an old fool she had met at a previous island. She sat up, went to her captain’s quarters to think about it.

But it was hollow, and pointless, and short. In all reality, so long as she didn’t continue pirating big things, her fame went suicide off the edge of celebrity, and even when she did, and her fame went up, she wasn’t truly satisfied with that. She needed more! That’s all she dreamed of. More. The more she got, the more her pleasure increased. And that was fun and good. No but’s. It really was fun. But it was only a dream. And dreams are for chumps.

L L L

She couldn’t sleep in the Island of Dreams Come True. Her tired eyes were open, her lungs heaving. She climbed up and smelled the sugary air of the sweet ocean. Picked up a tea cup and dunked it in, drunk sweet nectar.

Dismissing the occasional nightmare with a blow from her pistol and a cut from her rapier. None were formidable to meet her.

Over the port bow, the only part of the boat I know, humpback whales were out there drinking the same filth they bathed in- they defecated in, a cesspool of fish excrement. Such a wingspan. It quite nearly flew.

See how it lifts its head and leaps out the water, pumping its tail in good, full strokes? thought Gallenthmir. If only she could be as free as they.

And then she saw a curious thing.

J J J

Fish that were huge from the front, but invisible from the side? No, she was quite used to the bizarre in Mirror Country. She’d seen weirder things on TV, on fish bowl television.

No, she saw great bubbles of water suspended in the air. Gravity couldn’t have them. She’d like to fly away too. But silly! She had wings.

She flew up with them, and talked among the stars.

“Hallo!” said they, winking as stars often do. “Wot’s a good-lookin’ woman sech as yerself doin’ wid the likes o’ us?” It reminded her of a bloke. It had to be a bloke, this star. Brummy.

J J J

“I’d like to ask God and Heaven what the secret to True — well, He knows what’s on my mind, doesn’t He?” she said, hovering, crossing her eight arms. One of her arms quite occupied with picking her nose.

“Shor He does!” said a star. “Jes’ pray to Him. He’ll answer. You’ll hear ‘im in your heart. That is, of course, if yer listenin’. Bear in mind, there will be many signs. Don’t miss ‘em.”

The ghost ship came again at midnight, at a full moon, but then the Moon’s parents called about their car that had gotten stolen, and revoked the Moon’s outdoor privileges, and so she had to go away; and the Sun came to save the day, driving in the stolen car, shone a light on the ghost ship, and the ghosts were no more..

The Storm to End All Debates About Which Storm Was the … Oh, we haven’t time to make chapter titles! It’s coming.

Gallenthmir had left her wishes of Dream Come True, and fallen out of heaven like a wishing star, faced all the monsters of her nightmares, loved all the lovers of her dreams, and still felt upset that she wasn’t, as of yet, in her mind, ‘truly’ happy. Not continually.

Maybe more true love and high adventure would satisfy her.

The first monster of her dreams she faced on these perilous shores was the Hydra, in retrospect, she remembered. With its many heads, and long neck. Cut off one head, and four more grow in its place. She had often dreamed of it, chasing her down a forever hallway. Now, it was revenge time.

She made quick work of this beast of burden by punching a hole in its stomach with her eight arms and then putting a bomb in there and watching the sky rain down Hydra in many blood-colored shapes that pleased her like she’d done before.

L L L

After she gathered up her crew, and their dreams fulfilled, they set out to sea again to, to not True North, but True — you know what it is. You do. But they encountered the same storm some adolescent superheroes had faced so many centuries back..

This storm capsized the boat in a matter of minutes!

Let us explore those minutes.

J J J

First minute, the ship set sail upon the gale.

Said Gallenthmir, “Man your stations!”

“But we’re women!” said Nancy Pennington.

They saw a lady suddenly walking on the water, directing the waves, the thunder, the storm. She seemed quite peaceful in spite of it all. Then Gallenthmir remembered: all things in Mirror Country were clap-on, clap-off. She clapped her hands, and the storm was no more. The lady walking on the water said, “Hey!” and clapped her hands, and the storm was back in its boat-capsizing mood.

Clap-on, clap-off. Gallenthmir fired a harpoon at the lady on the water, and the lady cried, “Hey!” and the harpoon was attached to a rope, so Gallenthmir brought the lady on board, hoisted her up, and said, as she was suspended in the air, “Just what are you doing, ma’am?”

“Forgive me,” said the lady, giving salutation. “I am Madame Storm. I am in charge of the weather.”

Said Frenchie, “That’s like naming the ice cream man Mr. Cone. Are you sure that’s your name?”

“Sure as rain.” Resting on a pillow of winds. She smiled.

“Rain can’t be sure. It’s inanimate,” said Frenchie.

“Anyways, it’s my job to direct the moods of the weather, and I’ve decided its Storm day. If you’ll excuse me…” She picked out the harpoon imbedded in her chest, flopped like a fish on deck, and then splashed right back into the water. She had to right herself as she was wearing special, extra large boat shoes to float on the water*. But the storm only ran around her, it didn’t run through her. She was quite safe, and quite happy, and quite alone in her mission.

* It didn’t have anything to do with magic that she floated like she did.

But Madame Storm turned around on heel. And began to clap madly!

L L L

It was an intense clapping competition between her and Gallenthmir, if there ever was one! And so, there was. Flamenco style, accompanied by Spanish guitar courtesy of a flamenco hair band that Gallenthmir had hired as left-overs right off Dream Comes True coast. She had always wanted one. A Spanish flamenco band. And suddenly the boat was cut in two quite easily as a sponge cuts through, cuts through, cuts through . . a ton of iced cabbage– (or a hot knife cuts through butter. It was one or the other. I forget.)

J J J

The storm came in a tornado made of sweetwater, picked up the P.S. Bring Cindy’s . .  Eh, or what was left of it, and set it quite gently to rest on the Island of Indecision.

L L L

The ship. Broken from journey*.

* It cracked my head open. Luckily, my body escaped!

The Island of Indecision

It was only a small rock island. Nothing special about it. No power to it. But to them, it was . . Da, da, da . . The Island of —

L L L

-On this island, the voyagers were indecisive about their journey; and should they continue on? What was the point without a boat? They needed to ask the locals.

L L L

Well, there was one local. They met a masked magician on the island there, sitting down to a table of flavorful food. He was gently napping. His face deep in syrup from those little pancake thingies you get in France–whuddyakallem? When he woke up, he righted himself. He said, “Oh, I know why you are here. But you will never find Ultimate Bliss. What are you going to do, cry about It?” He was nursing a headache.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

He led them to a door, and said, “Please.” Opening the door, they found they were in an upside-down castle; the castle’s top, or bottom- (whatever way you’re looking at it)- jutting into the ocean deep, balancing on its stem, the entire island.

“I thought it cool to build an upside-down castle. No, I’m kidding. It was once right-side up, but then some mysterious lady began a storm with her mystic powers and capsized the whole island, so now the bottom is facing up and the top is facing bottom. Dreadful. This is the Island of Indecision, only because I haven’t decided one wallpaper to furnish the walls.” It is. I named it. It’s my island.

“Blue,” suggested Gallenthmir. For a color wallpaper.

“No… No, I shouldn’t so. Too much blue in the ocean.”

“Yellow?” suggested Nancy Pennington.

“Too loud a color.”

“Red!” suggested Chowder and Frenchie together.

“You know — I’m just not sure. I don’t think I’m ready yet. Would y’all like some sodas?”

The master of the castle climbed up several furniture pieces ‘til he reached an upside-down refrigerator, and opened it, a little Eskimo boy handed him five colas, and he closed it, worked his way down, and they sat on the ceiling.

“Actually, I’d like a Dr. Pepper,” said Nancy Pennington, but Gallenthmir smacked her across the head, saying, “Nancy, you’re a guest. Be glad with what you get.” Then turning to the master, with smiling eyes: “She’s glad to get a cola. By the way, stranger, we haven’t asked your name.”

“My name is rather embarrassing..” said the master of the castle.

“How embarrassing could it be?”

“That’s right. How embarrassing could it be? Well, it’s Bates.”

Gallenthmir extended a hand, “Pleasure to meet you Master . . . Bates?…” L

Master Bates nursed his headache.

J J J

They looked out the window now and saw an angler fish with a little lamp over his eyes so that he might see. Glow fish. Gleam fish. Shine on, Fish. But then a giant something with so many arms jetted in and drove the lamp to darkness.

“I thought angler fish only existed on the bottom of the ocean,” said Chowder.

“This is the bottom of the ocean. It’s a small ocean.”

“What was that?” said Nancy Pennington.

Said Master Bates, “My pet.”

“Your pet?”

The bulging vein on his forehead suddenly seemed to subside. His features softened. “The giant squid, Tommy, I’ve named him. I love looking out the window and seeing Tommy..”

“I love squid! Squid tastes neat!” said Nancy Pennington.

“I wouldn’t have a pet that tasted so good,” said Chowder. “I’d probably end up cooking it.”

A chair fell from the ceiling? .. floor?

“Oh, drat!” said the master of the castle. And felt his head again. “I’ve nailed all the furniture to the floor and walls, so they wouldn’t look silly upside-down there, but you know, sometimes they come loose and need a good re-bolting.”

He threw it* up in the air and shot it in several places with a nail gun, and it stuck.

* the chair

“Don’t open any windows or doors down here. That wouldn’t turn out to be a happy story.”

L L L

Said Master Bates, “Tell you what. If you figure out a way to turn my castle right-side up again. I’ll tell you where to find Ultimate Bliss.” He had one bad, long headache that had lasted him for years. He’d been thinking about it for eternity.

Gallenthmir shrugged endlessly. This was quite impressive, as you may have never seen a being with eight arms shrug before. “Fine, fine,” she said, and climbed her way out to … “That’s an impossible task! Lord!”

“So’s trying to find out what you’re looking for,” said Master Bates. “Humph. Good day.”

Gallenthmir waved her squad over and said, “We’re still a pirate crew. We’re a team. We’ve still got a mission. Come on! It’s not too much farther on, come swim away with me. You can stand on my shoulders. I’m quite stable.” She left to find the — Edge of the World, but it seemed their ship had found them. It seemed to have a mind of its own, and it did. It seemed to have been thinking about them. Its face looked a bit happier since last time they met.

They took it, first thing, to —

The Edge of the World… not being found. The world isn’t flat! It’s a circle.

Well..

“If I can’t find True Happiness, I don’t wanna live!” said Nancy Pennington. “I’d rather throw myself off the edge of the world.”

But there was no edge of the world, they found out. They ended up on Destiny Islands, the exact place where they had set out from. .

L L L

Could such a place exist? they wondered. A round world? What about all the upside-down people living on the other side of the world on this round planet? What about them? How could they live with the blood rushing to their heads?

I suppose the compass did point in the right direction. But it pointed all — around — the world*.

* What a rip-off!

More on that later. But first they had found a plug in the very opposite end of the Destiny Islands they had set off on, and the compass to True Happiness pointed directly in that direction. Well, there was a lighthouse, but it couldn’t be that drab, old thing. “It’s gold, gold, gold!” said Gallenthmir. “I just know it! The key to Ultimate Bliss.” Their ship had run aground on it. A diamond-seeming object. “Quick! Nancy Pennington! Frenchie! Chowder! Help me with this.” And they pulled.

J J J

And they pulled.

L L L

And they pulled..

L L L

They pulled, and pulled, and pulled, but nothing worked. They even so much as went underwater, attached the plug to their ship, and sailed in the opposite direction, but there was nothing doing.

“There seems to be a great suction pulling on the end, Captain,” observed Frenchie. “Maybe if we–”

“–Bomb it?” said Gallenthmir. “Yes, we could bomb around the objects to loosen it up. Crew! Help me with the bombing. We’ll load the cannons and unload everything on the plug. Give ‘em all you got!”

They directed the cannons downward and shot in highly specified locations all around the plug; to loosen the sand, and soften the plug; then they set the timer for the bombs and backed up at 15 knots, pulling on the plug, and Heave!  Ho!  Heave!  Ho!

“Captain, it’s working!” said they.

They could see their efforts had borne fruit. The plug had loosened. And BOOM! As suddenly as the plug had ripped off from its stem, a great suction like never before and never again began to pull at them.

L L L

“Oops,” said Gallenthmir.

The ocean suddenly lurched, and experienced a hiccup.

“Oops,” said Gallenthmir.

The water became waves as tall as houses fit for giant men.

L L L

“I think we did it, Captain!” said Nancy Pennington. “We’ve found the treasure.”

“Fool!” said Gallenthmir. “There is no treasure. Just a hole in the ocean.”

And everything, everything, everything between islands, filtering into it. Oh, sure, it was plugged up by me, the P.S. Bring Cindy’s Muffins, at first, but that didn’t last. For my head had broken, and the leak of all earth had begun.

And drowned the Master of Puppets, who lived his life quite selfishly in the caverns below the world. Sitting on a pile of gold. And only then, when he looked up, in his final moments, did he say, “I don’t think I really deserved this.”

L L L

Jellyfish. Coral. Minnows. Water bugs. Tuna. Nesee. . Oh, I can’t spell that name! The Loch Ness Monster.

Everything, everything became a suction moving backwards, and back, and back, like the backwards whirlpool of a toilet in Australia country, and FLUSH! and suddenly, there was no more ocean to pirate..

It was the end.

It was over.

The world had all but dried up.

L L L

And the resulting violence had broken up the P.S. Bring Cindy’s Muffins and tossed Gallenthmir and her crew ten final miles in the direction towards the True Happiness as promised on Gallenthmir’s golden compass.

And looking up, where had the water gone? Nancy Pennington knew. She saw what the others had failed to see in their panic.

She looked back and saw a great column of water rising up out of the plug and to the heavens, and on it all the creatures of the deep, with haloed heads, swimming up the last of the water ‘til the water filled the skies, a reverse Noah; as all the water that had been there before the Flood was back where it began, and spread out. In clouds. The beginning of all life. The Single Sea. .

And Destiny Islands had ridden a geyser to the stars.

All the ocean life had died. Waterfalls falling upward, leading back Home.

White Shores

A giant insect landed on the Moon and took it away.

Kidnapped.

L L L

And the final tide rolled in, and the final tide rolled out, and in the last tide pool was left four tiny persons. Faces in the sand.

They ended up at the end of their own town of Destiny Islands.

The End?

No, but first, this happened:

J J J

They came upon the Island of True Happiness.

Gallenthmir’s compass had led them all the way 360 around the world, only for her to realize that True Happiness could be found just a quarter mile from her house. It was a man’s house*, and inside was a smoking fire, and he turned around, and said, “Hi.”

“Hi,” said Gallenthmir, and smiled. Like this: J

What’s your name?

Joi, he said.

She checked her eyes. The compass pointed directly to him. Inside this lighthouse.

You’re here because you’re looking for happiness? said Joi.

“Yes. How did you know?”

He got out his cane, and stood up. He said, A lot of folks are popping in nowadays, said they’d wandered the world looking for it, and I’m the one who’s got it.

He opened up a black book, the book, and read to her the opening lines of a chapter he had marked. “Eh-hem. Dear traveler, You’re looking too hard. What you may dismiss as trivial, the little things, could be the key to your Happiness. Are you married? Are you unmarried? Don’t go looking elsewhere unless it’s a bad fit. Um.” Now, I bought this book off a traveling priest years ago, his only copy, and since then, people have been bugging me for answers.

“I didn’t want a self-help book,” said Gallenthmir.

He stopped reading, putting his reading glasses down, and said, “The key to your Happiness, Gallenthmir, is simple: It’s different for everyone. You need to Believe in something. You need some One. You need– What am I saying? I don’t think any one can be happy all the time! Happiness comes from our happenings. True joy, or contentment, comes from within. Joy comes from God. True Happiness comes from being content with what you have. I shall not want. The good king Shepherd said that. A wise king. You’re a pirate, are you? You want the world, don’t you? Well, then. This is just coming from a lowly lighthouse worker, but I think you’ll never be happy..”

The End.

“Wait, what!” said Gallenthmir. “That can’t be the ending, can it?”

But it was.

L

Don’t look so sad. Buck up. It’s your birthday today. I got a cookie for you… J

About the Author:

The author is a manic-depressive, who sometimes knows True Happiness, and knows Ultimate Sadness. If there’s anything he’s learned, it’s that you can have it, but you can’t have it forever. It’s like a chasing after the wind. And then you have it. And then you don’t. And then — it’s there! And then — it’s gone.. But it’ll be back again. J

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