Feb. 26th, 2014

joshwriting: (Default)
It seemed to Sam that everything that happened in her life could have come from one of the books she had read as a child. It was not so much that everything was overly simple or moralistic, the way so many children's books are, but rather that the world around her seemed thoroughly mysterious - things happened for no apparent reason, with no apparent cause, and with no obvious response. She could control only her own responses to the neverending series of accidents and adventures that life seemed intent upon serving her.

The current situation, if anything, exacerbated that feeling. She'd gotten on the bus to go to work, as she had each morning since the last "thrilling adventure" with her car and the black ice. The bus was safer, after all, right? Yet, here she was having had her bus siezed, not by terrorists but by pirates! Whatever were pirates doing in the middle of Chattanooga, let alone "capturing" a bus and claiming it as treasure?

They were pirates, though, no matter how unlikely it seemed. They dressed the part, though their language was not quite the stereotypical bit of "Arrrh, matey" that she might have anticipated, had anticipating anything seemed reasonable to do. Salty, yes. They swore plenty, especially when the chest they pulled out from under one of the bus seats failed to have in it the gold they expected.

Gold? Why would anybody expect to find a chest of gold on a city bus heading downtown, or headed anywhere for that matter.

"Lassie, you would not have happened to see somebody open the chest from under this seat this mornin', would ye have?"

"Um... no? I mean, I haven't exactly been watching, but I'd like to think I would have noticed something as unlikely as that."

"Perhaps not so unlikely as you might think, but that's of no matter now. We'll have to be takin' you back to the island with us."

"Island? What island? And... and I have to get to work!"

With that the leader of the pirates gave a great guffaw. He gestured toward her and a pair of his men seized her arms and hustled her off the bus and onto one of the duck boats that had surrounded the bus. She'd never gotten around to riding one of the boats, but this was not exactly what she'd expected whenever she thought about such a ride!

A couple hours later, she was sitting, stunned, on an island in the middle of the Tennessee River, surrounded by men and boys, laughing and singing, despite the ill-timed raid on the bus's chest. Every time she could interrupt their revelry enough to ask them what was happening, all she got back was laughter. It was quite maddening, all in all! She was unharmed, except for missing work and possibly getting fired as a result - and even that she was not sure counted as harm, as she had been feeling more than a bit worn and bored by work. But the feeling of 'out of control' was perhaps greater than ever.

A voice over her shoulder whispered "Isn't this the best yet?!" She looked behind her, but couldn't figure out where the voice came from. And, on reflection, it was not quite a whisper, but more like the full speech of somebody who just wasn't very loud."

"Who's there? And what do you mean?"

A small giggle followed, then a pop.

A bellow from in front of her: "Let's make her walk the plank!" They started chanting, "Walk the plank! Walk the plank! Walk the plank! Walk the plank! Walk the plank! Walk the plank!" There were about 15 of them, ranging from 12 to somewhere nearly triple her own age of 25, bouncing and hooting and shouting. "Walk the plank!"

This did not sound to her like a good idea at all. "But I don't want to walk the plank! Really!" Nothing she heard in response suggested that she'd gotten through any more this time than the last 10 times she had tried to talk with them. If it weren't so nerve-wracking, she supposed, it might even be tedious, but nerve-wracking it was.

The men blind-folded her and took her for a walk. It seemed about 5 minutes or 2 hours or just a moment, all at once. One of them told her to step up. When she just stopped, she was lifted onto what felt under her feet like a flexible piece of wood, just wide enough for her to stand on. "Walk the plank!" came the cheer, and again, "Walk the plank!"

She felt a poke and moved hesitantly forward. More pokes, more steps. The men went silent, which told her she must be at the end of the plank. It was as if they were all holding their breaths at the same time. She felt like doing the same. Another poke, not quite enough to knock her off, just make her wobble a bit. "Go ahead, lassie - might as well get it over with!"

She leapt.

...

and landed about 6 inches below her starting point. A great roar came from the group, first of approval and then mirth.

"Isn't this just the best?" came the quiet voice, again.

The leader of the pirates took her blindfold off. "Howdy do, lassie! I'm called Fred the Blue, on account a' my bushy red beard. These here are my men. We want to thank you for being such a good sport. We'll drop you back in the city, now."

An hour later, she was outside her workplace, though her head was still spinning. When she wandered in, her boss brought her into his office where he explained that her tardiness was just not acceptable.

"But I was kidnapped! Didn't you hear about the duckboat pirates and my bus?"

"Oh, yes, we heard. Really, Samantha. If you wanted out of the job, you did not need to go to such elaborate lengths. A simple resignation would have been quite enough."

**********

She did not remember going home. She must have, because certainly she was home now, and talking on the phone.

"Yes, Sam, we were greatly impressed with your application. And our recruiting manager said the job interview went extremely well. So, welcome aboard! Adventure Publishing is excited to have you as the new lead for our children's book division."

"Wait, what?" Interview? Recruiting manager? Who?"

"Fred Bluebeard, our lead recruiter - he said he met with you this morning."

("Isn't this amazing!")

She twirled fast enough to see the pop this time. "Come back here!"

The voice on the phone asked her to clarify, but she distantly said "Thank you, I am looking forward to it," and hung up. "Come back here!" she demanded.

Another pop and a pixie appeared, fluttering its wings.

"What is going on here? What was this morning all about?! And what do you mean by "the best yet?"

"When you were 5, you were lonely and bored and miserable and a few of us took pity on you and came to play. And you begged us to never let you get that bored again. We agreed and have been playing with you ever since - but only when you seem particularly at risk of deep boredom. Then we disappear, taking the immediate memory of our presence because that seems to make it harder for anything else to be as much fun.

"We make sure though that a part of you knows we are real."

"And this morning?"

"You told us how much you have dreamt of this sort of job - we just got you the interview (and then livened it up slightly). But the job is real and now it's really yours. This is the best yet!"

Suddenly, a string of memories became clearer to her and she understood anew the reason her life often felt the way it did. And she laughed and gently hugged the pixie.

"Thank you, friend."

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