After journeying for several days, I happened upon a sprawling town of only a few buildings surround by an endless sea of desert. One of the buildings looked like a saloon, so I decided to detour for a drink and some rest. The dusty room was filled with whalers who paid no attention to me as I approached the bar. “What’ll it be?” the bartender asked as I took a seat at one of the barstools.
“Milk,” I replied casually, but soon noticed that my request may have seemed rather suspicious as several others turned their eyes towards me. It wasn’t a good idea to be conspicuous in a place like this, so I added, “in a pink glass.”
I barely had a chance to enjoy my drink when another stranger burst into the saloon through the swinging double doors. He seemed rather edgy and looked around nervously until his eyes caught mine. Running up to me, he fell on his knees and produced a golden medallion. “I will tell you a secret,” he said hurriedly, “this coin is actually a magical coin that will transport you to the land of unicorns and flying weasels.” With that, he dropped the coin into my hand and left as quickly as he had come.
To be continued….
I stared intently at the medallion as I flipped it around between my fingers and recalled the words of that strange person who dashed out only moments before. My memory of the incident was distant but I did recall something about transporting weasels and magical unicorns. Anyway, the medallion didn’t look magical, but at least it looked like it was worth something, so I slipped it into my pocket and left. If I had only known then what was going to happen to me later, I would have asked for a receipt.
I hadn’t gotten very far out of town when a band of ninjas jumped out of hiding and surrounded me. “Freeze,” one of them commanded, which was very difficult to do in that blazing hot desert. “Give us what we want,” he continued while pointing a finger accusingly at me. It was then that I noticed the spell he was trying to cast on me. His lips moved out of sync with his words, which was an obvious ploy to lure me into a trance that would slow my reactions, but being aware of this, I was unaffected by his mind trick.
Then I noticed the patch he wore on his chest. This was obviously a band of marauding yakuza from the vicious Kaymartte Clan “I’m sorry Roy, but I don’t know what you are talking about,” I replied coolly as I studied my assailants attentively.
“You cannot fool us,” He said angrily as he pointed his finger at me again, his lips still moving in that strange way, “We know you carry the mystic orb of discerning peaches with you, now hand it over.”
His request surprised me, as I had no idea what he was talking about. “I believe you are mistaken. You have the wrong guy.”
“I think not.” His words rang with a finality that meant I was going to have to fight my way out. “If you will not cooperate, we will take it by force.” With that, the ninjas produced the deadly weapons of their trade and began to circle me. Biting down on my lip, I knew my chances were remote, but they weren’t going to take me without a fight.
Oh horrors. Tune in next time to see what happens next….
The assassins continued their deadly dance around me and their attack was only moments away, but before I could instruct them in the ways of flaming walrus, our showdown was interrupted by a blood curdling scream from just over the horizon. The ninjas stopped where they were and exchanged glances nervously as the screaming grew nearer. A sudden realization hit one of the ninjas and he turned to Roy, “that’s the hunting call of the artic moose-fish! We must withdraw now!”
Roy defiantly held his ground against the approaching menace, but resigned himself to retreating as another howl swept over the dunes. “You haven’t seen the last of us,” he growled towards me as the ninjas hastily sped out of sight.
Then I turned towards the ear-splitting death cry of the approaching beast and braced myself for the worst, but saw something rather unexpected instead. A well-tanned man dressed only in a plaid skirt with a matching sash draped around his shoulder appeared over the hill and came in my direction. He carried a strange bag under his arm that had several sticks poking out the back and one out the front that he had in his mouth. He continued his teeth grinding wail before abruptly stopping when he reached me.
“Hello there, my name is Fernando Louise Alehandro Garcia Diego Amador Domingo Santos del Rogelio, but you may call me Fernando.” His grin lessened somewhat in disappointment when I returned his gaze with a blank look of confusion, so he added, “I’m Scottish.”
“Fernando, you say? I would have taken you for a Larry.”
“I do get that a lot.” After a brief moment of silence, he spoke again. “Well, I’ll be off then.”
I watched as he as he disappeared over the horizon with the death bag howling away under his arm, before continuing on my journey.
Well that was a close one. But wait and see what happens next….
I had traveled nearly three days since my encounter with Roy, and there had been no sign of civilization in the endless desert wasteland. Now I trudged my way through a blinding sandstorm. There was no way to tell which direction I was going, and the relentless pounding of the wind and sand almost certainly sent me far off course, but when I felt that I could not go on any longer, the storm ceased just as quickly as it had begun.
As the sands settled down, I took time to regain my composure and to search for anything that could tell me where I was. It was then that I noticed what appeared to be a lone building towards the horizon, but before I set out, I also noticed a large cloud of dust and sand rising from the desert some distance north of the building. I took some comfort, however, in the fact that, whatever monstrosity could have created a dust cloud that large; it appeared to be heading in the opposite direction of the building.
When I approached the building, all hope of finding anybody there was dashed, as this place had certainly been abandoned long ago. Nevertheless, I ventured inside and was surprisingly greeted by a strange little man wearing overalls and a straw hat. “Hello there. My name is Richard.”
“Why are you out here in the middle of nowhere, Richard?”
“Well, because I’m a lemming farmer.”
“Ah yes,” he replied while appearing quite pleased with himself. “You don’t usually find many farms in the desert since most crops don’t grow too well here, but lemmings…lemmings are very resilient you see. You can plant them just about anywhere really.”
His claims seemed a bit strange to me since there was nothing but open desert in all directions. “So where are your lemmings?”
“Well, that’s the problem you see. That storm came along and blew all my fences away, and all my lemmings got out.”
I was disheartened by Richard’s tale of woe, but felt that much more resolute as I continued on my way.
To be continued…
Wandering aimlessly through the desert soon began to take its toll. Exhaustion had long since overtaken me and pure survival instinct was all that remained to guide my steps. When I reached the peak of a large dune, however, willpower alone was no longer enough as even the sand gave up on my cause. I tumbled down the steep face of the dune and received a mouthful of the desert’s most abundant delicacy as I slid to a stop at its base. It had many outstanding traits of high quality sand and was, most notably, extremely displeasing to the palate.
Fortunately the dune was pleasantly shady, so I didn't mind stopping to rest. It wasn’t long, however, before I noticed the peculiar shape of the shadow cast by the dune.
A large pirate sailing vessel lay before me, anchored in the safety of the dunes. Fortunately the pirates seemed rather friendly and allowed me to board.
When I set foot on deck, I was greeted by the ship’s captain. “Welcome ye aboard the Slippery Pancake. My name is Jack. I’m the captain of this ‘ere vessel.” I was still very weary from my journey and must have given him a strange look, since he continued, “It’s not a very good pirate name is it? Well it’s a long story that started out when I was a boy. I…”
“Uh, could you tell me your story later”, I interrupted, “I’m completely exhausted.”
“Oh, why certainly. We’ll be underway soon. Port’s little more than a day away as long as the wind’s fair. You can rest down below or roam about as ye like.”
While I waited for the ship to leave its anchorage, I toured the ship and observed the lives of the ship’s crew. They ignored me for the most part, and it didn’t seem like they intended me any harm, but they often spoke in a strange language consisting entirely of the letter ‘r’. The speech was quite puzzling, but after observing its usage for a while, it did not appear threatening.
Once the ship was underway, I stepped out onto the deck and was immediately reinvigorated. The desert air was far more enjoyable from the deck of a ship than it was from the desert surface. The crashing of the hull against the dunes in the brisk wind raised my adventurous spirit. A career in piracy seemed very appealing at that moment, but I would soon have second thoughts.
The ship traveled far under the stiff wind, but something sinister loomed over the horizon. We had sailed for most of the day without incident when I heard a cry of distress from a watchman high up in the rigging.
A large billowing cloud of dust had appeared on the horizon behind us and it seemed to be getting closer. I then realized that it was the same dust cloud that I had seen after the sand storm. The pirates seemed uncertain about what was out there, but they were certain it was heading straight for us.
To be continued…
We could only wait and watch in dreadful silence as the dust cloud drew nearer. Once the cloud came close enough that Jack could discern what was causing it, he extended his spyglass and peered out over the sand. After a moment’s hesitation, he turned pale and began shouting several frantic orders in the pirate tongue.
Pirates began scurrying all over the ship unfurling sails, loading cannons, and tossing useless items overboard. I could only stand there helpless and wonder in horror what could bring such a well-trained crew to near panic. While Jack continued to issue orders, I regained my composure and managed to procure the spyglass.
I immediately brought the approaching dust cloud into focus and bore witness to the most horrible sight imaginable. Countless lemmings were stampeding towards the ship! Apparently Richard’s lemmings had been on a rampage and had already claimed several merchant ships victim, and lemmings don’t take prisoners.
Jack turned the ship to starboard and fired a full broadside into the lemming horde. The screams of crushed lemmings could be heard from the ship, but the destruction was quickly swallowed up in the sea of rodents and appeared to have no effect on their numbers. It only seemed to strengthen their terrible resolve.
Jack tried to bring his port guns to bear, but the lemmings now knew to stay out of the line of fire and easily out-maneuvered the ship. All Jack could do was try to run and outlast the lemmings, but the rodents seemed tireless and drew ever closer to the Slippery Pancake.
The lemmings came close enough that I could smell the putrid breath from their foaming and snarling mouths. I could only stare into their beady, hate-filled little eyes and wait for my career in piracy to come to an end before it had even started. It was at that moment that I heard a most terrible, and yet most beautiful sound. An ear-splitting howl swept over the dunes and spread instant panic among the lemmings. The rodents were enveloped in hysteria, and they trampled many of their own before heading away from the ship in full retreat.
I immediately scanned the area and found the source of the scream. Soon Fernando joined me aboard the Slippery Pancake and certain death at the paws of the lemmings was averted.
Well that was close. What could possibly happen next…