Smooth Sailing

Submitted into Contest #124 in response to: Start your story with someone trying to read a map.... view prompt

11 comments

Funny Contemporary Historical Fiction

…And in regards to the sea monster, I would like to congratulate Erasmus on losing but one leg rather than both as he battled the mighty foe. Many a man has lost several appendages fighting such creatures, but Erasmus managed to keep nearly all of us, and for that, we are most proud of him. My, doesn’t his new peg look sharp! Whittled to perfection by Antonio, to whom we are most grateful. Applause all around.

Well, that about covers the old business of the day. Dinner tonight will be a light grog with a side of sea monster stew. Perhaps some seaweed if we can manage to scrape any off the side of our vessel without anyone falling into the water again. For such an experienced crew, it is astounding to me how many of you cannot seem to stay on the ship. It is no grave matter, however, since our food supply can only last if we decrease our staffing by forty percent by next week. Between mysterious diseases and men tumbling overboard, I believe we shall reach that number without having to resort to drawing straws.

Now, while we are on the topic of a dwindling food supply, I suppose I should address what brought us to this calamitous moment in our journey. I have to say, it is truly the funniest of stories once you hear it. I would like to advise you that upon your first intake of the information I am about to give, you may feel yourself misunderstanding my words and meeting them with fury or violence, but that is why you should go about your day and work hard, so that in the morning, you will feel significantly less angry--at least, that is the hope.

Try and recall that I am your Captain, and as such, I am owed a great deal of respect and adoration from you due to the skill and expertise I show every single day as I steer us towards riches and glory. Applause all around.

It seems as though whoever installed the maps in my Captain’s Quarters placed them all upside down. Now, I do not wish to go around assigning blame, but the fact is, not a single map was positioned as it should be, and, as a result, we have been going in the wrong direction for these past nineteen months.

Some of you may have been aware that our journey was taking longer than expected. Considering the original timeline had us reaching the New World after seven weeks, it is only to be expected that you were concerned when we sailed past that deadline and the twenty-six deadlines that followed it. I know my nightly pep talks and threats against your lives helped to keep you calm, but faced with what I know now, I must choose transparency and responsibility. 

This predicament, which is not at all my fault, has turned me as upside down as the pieces of parchment I was using to navigate us towards wealth and prosperity. Each night, I have shown my bravest face to you lot, only to return to my quarters and cower under one of the blankets that we will one day poison before handing over to whichever denizens we encounter upon our arrival in Paradise.

I had hoped to correct this little transportation blunder by simply redirecting us slowly over a matter of days, but now it appears that not only were the maps upside down, but they were also written in a language I do not speak. Yes, I did purchase them from a rather dodgy character at a bazaar before we set sail. Yes, I did marvel at the low price. No, I did not bother to take a good look at them before boarding this ship. That is not my job. I am the Captain. Somebody else should be inspecting all maps to be assured that they are in a language the Captain can read and also hung properly in his chambers. I am not sure who that person would be, but I feel confident that he is one of the men the sea monster ate, and so, we should forgive him, as he has been punished enough, but never forget that he, whoever he is, is to blame--and nobody else. Certainly not me. Never me.

I do bear better news brought to you by our old friend, Logic. Since we have sailed in every direction up until now, I am now confident that we are heading where we are meant to be heading, and that is in no small part to my genius as it pertains to deduction. Growing up, my parents were certain I would become an officer of the law, but I chose this occupation instead, and lucky for all of you. Applause all around.

The only fly present in that ointment would be if, rather than towards the New World, we found ourselves heading back from whence we came. Home, in other words. There is a half chance we could be back there within a year or so. By then, any of you who are still alive will most certainly stand trial for incompetence, and I would like to promise all of you here and now, that I will beg the judge for leniency when he is deliberating on your punishment. For though, yes, you have failed to assist me in achieving our majesty’s ultimate goal of getting precious flour and gold back to her (presuming she has not perished from that whooping sickness she had when we left), you are still (mostly) good men. None of us are born perfect. Like maps, we are sometimes put in positions that do not allow us to do our best. When that happens, we must be easy on ourselves, and simply adjust as I have done.

Whether we land on foreign shores or the sweet sands of home, I would like to thank all of you for making this voyage with me. I know it has served you greatly, but you might be surprised to know that it has also done my heart good to see my presence affect so many in all the best ways. The way you all whisper about your love for me whenever I turn my back. The way you sharpen your knives as you smile at me; knowing how much I appreciate those who keep their weapons in good shape. The way I intimidate you with my aura of greatness. So much so, in fact, that whenever I’m near any of you, you trip and fall, nearly shoving me right off the deck and into the cold abyss of nothingness. My, how it happens time and again, and yet, I do not fault you for it. I am much to behold and you are only mere mortal men.

Any more tribulations that come our way, we will meet with great bravery and resolve. And by ‘we’ I mean ‘all of you’ since this unfortunate discovery regarding my maps has rendered me quite depleted. I shall spend the remainder of this journey in my quarters. Meals will be brought to me and all decision-making shall be handed down from me on pieces of parchment that I shall slide under my cabin door. I expect smooth sailing from all of you, and if the ship bucks or rattles in any way, I will see to it that the men responsible are punished when we get to wherever it is we are going. Though I am entering a state of rest, I shall have no compunction when it comes to doling out consequences for those who are not capable of doing their jobs. Consider this your last in-person dose of inspiration from me, your Captain and savior.

Applause all around.

December 17, 2021 20:18

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11 comments

Mohamed Sarfan
14:30 Dec 24, 2021

It's Valuable Content. All The Best My Dear Friend; Write More Congratulations

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11:08 Dec 23, 2021

This is great. The speech is so Captain Jack Sparrow-esque, My favourite is the penultimate paragraph when he talks about the crew members sharpening their knives and whispering behind his back. The narrator obviously lacks self-awareness, but I wonder if spending the remainder of the journey in his quarters is a last-ditch attempt at self preservation! Thanks for the enjoyable read. :)

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Kevin Broccoli
17:27 Dec 23, 2021

Thank you so much!

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Bobbie Candas
00:23 Dec 23, 2021

Fun, crazy, imaginative! I feel a mutiny coming on before he makes it to his cabin. Applause all around.

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Kevin Broccoli
01:34 Dec 23, 2021

Thank you Bobbie!

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Dustin Gillham
20:35 Dec 22, 2021

Hello amazing writers. My name is Dustin and I am wanting to start a small writing circle where we are able to really critique and focus on one another’s work for the week. I’ve sent six invitations to various individuals but we can certainly add more if you like. This is just a general invite to see if any of you are interested. Please post a comment on my latest feed if you this is something you’d like to do and I will give you details on the structure and meeting times. Since it’s the holidays I thought we’d start in January.

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Kevin Broccoli
20:48 Dec 22, 2021

Hey Dustin! Having trouble finding it in your feed, but my email is KevinRBroccoli@gmail.com if you want to add me to the list.

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Dustin Gillham
21:02 Dec 22, 2021

Awesome. Got you added.

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Delia Tomkus
12:47 Dec 20, 2021

This story was hilarious! My favorite line was-"The way you sharpen your knives as you smile at me,"

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Kevin Broccoli
18:23 Dec 20, 2021

Thank you Delia

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Patrick Samuel
23:33 Dec 23, 2021

Dale Carnegie was never like this. But he should have been.

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