the novelist is mad

The mutiny aboard the pirate ship Despair was temporarily cancelled.

The novelist stared at the jagged cracks running the length of the sky.  They shed heavily spiraling chunks of blue ice. A noise like thunder began, quiet at first, rousing to a roar much louder than the loudest thunder.

The sky was most unquestionably falling.

“Would it be any comfort,” said the novelist, “if I said this feels like the right sort of day for this to happen?”

“No,” said the poet.

The Press was staring  at the crumbling sky with undisguised rapture. “I say,” he shouted, “I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life!  What a terrific story! On the moment reporting! Tremendous visual! Breaking news!”

“I give you that last bit,” said the poet.

“I think it might be good idea to go somewhere other than here,” said the novelist.

“Where?” said the poet.

The Press scribbled in his notebook. “What a story,” he muttered. “What a headline!”

For no reason anyone quite understood, sheep began leaping out of the notebook onto the deck. The sea began to pitch as if in a thunderstorm. The Despair bobbed on the waves like a matchbox.

The novelist lowered the cutlass he’d been waving, looked hopelessly where the pirate captain clung to the tiller. “Cap’n Sly! We demand—that is, we suggest—er—look, can we just get out of here?”

The committee chairman had, at some point during the mutiny, climbed to the top of the mast.  He found there a convenient bullhorn. Anyone who has ever chaired a committee of any size knows, in some intuitive fiber of their soul, what to do with a bullhorn.

A thunderous voice roared across the deck, above the boom of the ways and the rumble of the falling sky.

“The novelist has moved the ship sail elsewhere. Does anyone second?”

“Look,” said the poet.  “I—”

“A motion has been made and duly seconded. All those in favor?”

Cap’n Sly grinned viciously. “Ah, so it’s some democracy you’re trying to put on my ship, is it?  Sailing away, is that what you want?” He spun the tiller. The Despair lurched in the waves like a cow who’s beginning to regret the last few.

“We’re not sailing away, ye land-loving, tree-hugging, albatross-eating swabs!” the pirate captain roared. “We’re sailing right into it!”

The novelist looked at the poet. “Have you ever eaten an albatross?”

“Baaa!” bleated a sheep.

The novelist glared at it. “Well, you might have, but that doesn’t mean—”

“Look!” The poet flailed—not an easy feat when you’re clinging to the rigging of a careening pirate ship. “I wrote a poem to tear down the sky!”

“Well, it’s working!” yelled the Press.  “Thanks so much, old boy!”

Chunks of sky crashed into the sea. The ship reeled. On deck, the pirates had picked a fight with the sheep and were getting the worst of it.

“Look, listen will you?” shouted the poet. “I wrote it for a reason!  I wanted—”

The committee chairman’s voice boomed above the tumult. “Now, I have here the minutes of last week’s meeting, and would like to draw your attention to item three.”

Cap’n Sly laughed with malevolent glee. “Here it comes, mateys! All them falling skies has made us a wave for a whole school of Krakens! We’ll ride it into the sky itself! All hands on deck, hold down anything you can!”

The novelist swung from his grip in the rigging like a spastic rat. He looked down at deck. This would be the worst, worst, worst time for the pirate crew to remember that they were in the middle of a mutiny.

The pirate crew, however, had no more bearing on the event of the day. They had, the novelist realized with a retch, lost their fight with the sheep. The sheep had then marooned them with six kegs of rum and two muskets.

The pirate crew was bobbing away out to sea in the lifeboats. The sheep milled about the deck, apparently unsure how to go about the business of reconstruction.

“There’s a reason for all this!” yelled the poet. “I wanted to—”

“Stop him!” The novelist waved his cutlass at the Press. “He’s making all the sheep!”

“What?” yelled the Press.

“—and as you’ll notice in section four, paragraph five,” boomed the committee chairman, “a provision has been made that, in the advent of the sky falling into the sea, we request to hear the treasurer’s report on—”

The wave arrived.


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