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The Incomparable Maritime Jollies

by Captain C.Q. Cumber

By Salomé SaffiriPublished 10 months ago 7 min read
2

Foreword:

Dear Lubber,

If you picked up this scroll to read the fables about the untamable sea monsters and otherworldly riches, ethereal ghouls and the divine mermaidens, you will be saltily disappointed: Because it is, actually, the mermaidens, who are quite untamable.

Signed: Cpt. C.Q.Cumber

P.S. I would even identify the mermaidens’ general demeanor as a "common thoroughfare hooligan”.

P.P.S. I saw my first mermaiden

Ch. I The Curse of the Mermaiden

I saw my first mermaiden when I was already a seasoned captain. Seasoned with the salt of the waves, crashing against the ribs of my beloved ship, that took me on many adventures. One moonless night, I experienced the curse of the Wayward Island Mermaiden on my own skin.

Not once I heard the story (because my First Mate only knew one story and told it frequently) about the mystical place that harbors mystical maidens. Back then, the maidens were, indeed, a mystery to me, (because the true mistress of every sea man is the sea) therefore I took the truthiness of his statements in full validity.

I charted the course to Wayward Island, the land where maidens were beautiful and plenty, and spent their days playing in the waves. I dreamt of taking one such wife for meself. She would follow my ship wherever I went and we would frolic in the sea…I’m getting distracted.

The trip was long and cold and exhausting. After docking, my First Mate and I went to the harbor’s bar to rekindle the flames of our shivering souls.

My name is C.Q. Cumber and I have the world’s strongest liver. Never once, in no port have I drank a brew that would make my nose hairs curl. Never once was I served a drink that would make my eyes cross and my behavior to become anything less than gentlemanly.

That evening the First Mate and I partook in a mug or two of mead, when the First Mate’s infamous curiosity called upon him to go outside and admire the stars, leaving me pleasantly warm by the tavern’s fire.

Suddenly I was awoken from the sweet dozing by twins, who had invited themselves at my table. They fell on the creaking chair across from me and began their story. The twins, I must say, were very polite to each other, never interrupting when one spoke.

I was a little appalled, by their sudden arrival, and said that I am waiting for my First Mate to return, for he is outside, admiring the stars. And I asked the twins to vacate the chair. The twins waved me off, rudely calling me a soused mackerel. But I was in a very good mood, because I drank a very good mead, so I slouched in my chair, allowing the twins to entertain me, and smoothing their rudeness with a few gulps of the amber nectar.

“-When I went outside to admire the stars” Began the twins “an old man told me that this bar is cursed”

“-My First Mate went to admire the stars!” I perked up. The twins clicked their tongues in unison. I remarked to myself that though they have two separate heads, they must share a brain to be able to click their tongues at the same time. I also noticed that my speech went a little slurry, and a small doubt has creeped in my mind that this bar that we are in might indeed be cursed.

Inspired by my scientific curiosity I decided to test and document the theory that the conjoined twins do indeed share a brain, and the cumulative knowledge. I focused my swollen eyes on the left head, and leaning to its right ear I whispered:

“Let’s see if the other head knows what we are talking about! I’m afraid I feel the curse of the bar enveloping me. My eyelids feel heavy and I feel very very thirsty!”

Then I leaned toward the head on the right and whispered into its left ear: “What did I just say to that other noggin?” I giggled in delight. The fact that I got to see the very rare conjoined twin AND talk to it, was opening the world of brand new opportunities to me.

If only I could lure this man these men.. to my ship and present him them as a curiosity, I would be invited to all of London’s scientific societies! I Imagined how well the velvet smoking jacket would look on me when I tell the story of this very night. I could almost smell the luscious cigar leaf and the rich leather of a Private club with vaulted ceilings, when suddenly, the left twin awarded me with a ringing slap on the ear.

I fell to the ground in absolute shock remembering to make a mental note that the left twin must have gotten jealous of me talking to the right one. The twins took me by the lapels and whispered in hot breaths:

“Listen to me, squid wit! The bar is cursed by a mermaiden. The longer we stay here, the more it will curve and wobble until it drives us mad” The twins released me and took a good sip of the amber brew.

I tried telling them that I agree, and it was indeed time to skedaddle, but the curse was already taking its dark action. My tongue swole, growing too big for my mouth. Obstructing my words from escaping. The twins didn’t understand a word I was saying! I panicked and crawled on all four to the exit, to find my First Mate.

The twins picked me up swiftly and carried me outside. Cool night breeze diminished the action of the curse a little, but it was still strong enough to affect the curvature and wobbliness of the nearby objects. The boards of the dock were warping, the dark silhouettes of pelicans wobbled on the posts. Even the horizon itself curved to the absolute circle, merging the sky and the sea: The stars detached and twirled in roundelays. It was, indeed, maddening.

“We must get to the ship!” I cried, still standing on my knees and hands. “But the curse has attached to me fiercely, I can not move without falling down..” Big hot tears rolled from my eyes as I understood that I will never be able to reach my ship and leave this cursed dock. I cried because I will never be able to load my miraculous companion onto my ship and show him off in high-class societies.

“I will sit on you, to keep you steady” Said the twins obligingly.

“Thank you!!” I cried out in exasperation, seeing how this will solve several of my current problems. As I moseyed down the dock, the twins atop of me, shimmying their soles along to keep me steady, I remarked how well everything is balanced in the universe: I may be abandoning my First Mate, but I am gaining a new one. The twins began whistling a jolly little tune in commendable coordination. (drunken sailor)

“Aaaaah, another soused swine!” shrilled an unfamiliar voice in the dark. The twins and I stopped dead in our shimmying, immobilized with fear.

“The mermaiden” Whispered the twins from above. We saw a floating candle lantern, followed by a hideous face. The maiden approached us, shrouded in the midnight mist and flaps of seaweed.

“Release us mermaiden!!” Suddenly the twins collapsed in a whimper, clutching their faces. I was so petrified that for a moment it seemed that my spirit left my own crouching body, to hover and watch the scene from above.

The mermaiden shone her devilish dancing light into our faces and cackled loudly, exposing her disgusting mouth with yellow-brown cone snails for teeth. She laughed louder and louder, wheezing and bending over.

My instincts kicked in with a kick to the side from the twins, and as a freshly branded pig I dashed down the dock. The rest I don’t remember.

I found myself on my ship under the fifth ray of the morning Sun. I stumbled out of the longboat right on top of my sleeping First Mate, who, to my greatest disappointment, must have returned to the ship during the night, chasing out the conjoined twins.

The First Mate had no recollection in regards to where he had been all night. I proposed that it could be a sign of mermaiden hex and filled my First Mate in on the events of last night. The first mate was thoroughly disappointed having missed the twins, and had agreed with my strategic substitute and abandonment of him in the harbor.

He had reasoned that a spot in a high society is a well-worth aspiration, he completely agreed with last night’s trade. He, himself, had traded my ship for a treasure map last night. Then he got up and began coiling the ropes on the deck, whistling a jolly little tune.

“What is this tune?”

“Oh, just a song I’m making up”

“About my incomparable adventures?”

“Sort of..”

“....What do you mean you traded my ship?..”

Put him in a long boat till his sober

Put him in a long boat till his sober

Put him in a long boat till his sober

Early in the morning!

NOTE: cum·ber

/ˈkəmbər/

hamper or hinder (someone or something).

"they were cumbered with greatcoats and swords"

ARCHAIC

a hindrance, obstruction, or burden.

"a cumber of limestone rocks"

FictionYoung AdultMagical RealismFantasyChildren's FictionAdventure
2

About the Creator

Salomé Saffiri

Writing - is my purpose. I feel elated when my thoughts assume shapes, and turn into Timberwolves, running through the snowbound planes of fresh paper, leaving the black ink of their paw prints behind.

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Comments (2)

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  • Chris Stokdyk9 months ago

    I really like this! I love your command of the captain's character and voice, and all of the fun wordplay sprinkled in. Nicely done!

  • Jess Andrews10 months ago

    Love this!!!! 🥹

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