This is a funny little story about rubber ducks, NADS. It also has middle age pirates.
The Captain: Naomi Arthur
The First Mate/Engineer: Constantine Demetrius Scott
Information Officer: Jack MeHoff
The Captain’s Wife: DeLaura Arthur
The internet: David
This is a work in progress, but you are welcome to tell me what you think of it so far.
The sun danced across ocean. Its faceted surface reflecting the afternoon light like scattered diamonds. The breeze whispered through the mangroves a song of never ending summers. Harold lay in his hammock and wished that the summers were never ending and that Minnesota was not waiting for him with its icy embrace of harsh winter. In Key West it was 80 degrees, while there is was still 10 below. He lay in his hammock, his body white and fat and he tried to close his eyes and shut out all that was waiting for him. Minnesota would greet him with his job, the grey winter skies, and his small white house near the chicken farm; where, even in the winter, one can smell and smell like chicken manure. His job was in middle management, a position neither so high as to be respected or low as to be respected. It was a job a man could keep, until he was laid in a small hole, in a small box, to be remembered for a short while.
With an hour left of his vacation, Harold decided that given the circumstances it would be best to spend the last three hours of his vacation drinking heavily. He did so at the Green turtle A bar which was on the end of a long mildewed grey wood dock whose rusted nails would croak in protest as one walked over it. It was on this dock that his sandal caught a loss board. With the slimy ocean water choking his screams, he slipped quietly into the bay, bashing his head into unconsciousness on a rock.
He awoke to hear a soft hum in the total darkness....
Harold could feel his mind drifting to various levels of consciences. In his disassociate state, it was peaceful. He thought he might be dead, and it comforted him greatly that he would not be going back home.
He was settling in for a nice eternal darkness when.....
He smelled something sharp and ammonia like. He could hear something that sounded like a man saying "dude...... wake up dude." He became slowly aware of the fact he had eyes and eyelids that were closed and a throbbing pain was rhythmically beating on the side of his head. He tried to slip back to his previous state of death but was awakened further with taps on his cheeks. He thought he might be in heaven and took the chance of opening his eyes.
He quickly closed them again as the disappointing thought came to him that he was in fact still alive.
Dude.... wake up man."
Harold opened his eyes again to confirm what previously they had seen. A fortyish man with black hair peppered with grey stood over him. A bandana with an embroidered snarling face of a rat was wrapped around his head. He wore faded blue jeans and had a half unbuttoned flowered shirt with such bright colors that it hurt the eyes to look at it. Harold rolled onto his side, grunting as his head throbbed in pain.
"Cool man... Like the dead lives". The man laughed at his joke and smiled wide bearing cigarette stained teeth.
"The name is captn, scary dude. I run this here mother ship. " "We got a job that needed one scary dude, and here you are."
Harold sat up and looked around. He was in a small metal room on a white hammock like bed that reminded him of the ones he had seen in old navy movies. He felt a rising panic that he tried hard to hide.
"Where am I", his voice sounded thin and shrill as it echoed through the small room.
"Don't worry scary dude." You are safe on the Sea Rat. This here is the best special ops ship ever to say fuck you to the big man"
Harold tried very hard to understand what the man was saying, but it seemed that Minnesota culture was too far removed from the distant hippie world that this man came from.
"Come on to the meditation room and we will Pow wow " The captain waved his hand for Harold to follow and disappeared through a metal door whistling "Riders on the Storm.
Harold followed the captain through narrow corridors and air lock type doors that had big wheels on one side to lock them. The air was wet, stale, and was filled with the constant hum of machinery. Harold thought It looked rather like the set for a submarine movie. The Captain climbed up a ladder and as Harold followed him he emerged into a round room that was surrounded by television screens, computer monitors and keyboards.. In the center of the room on small mats sat three other middle age men all with the same rat embroidered bandannas.
The Captain walked into the circle of men "Brothers I bring you the hero that we sought for so long. I bring you the one that will help us stop yet another attempt of the demon."
Around him sat three middle aged men wearing pieces of disheveled military uniforms. Their complexions were a ghostly white from a lifetime under soft fluorescent lighting.
Harold noticed that the Captain was taller than the other two and was skinny almost to the point of being emaciated. His shirt was unbuttoned halfway revealing a bone white ribcage. On his sleeve, he wore an odd patch of a kind of rat pirate. His face was what made Harold feel the most uneasy as it seemed turned to a perpetual smile that didn’t really seem happy.
“Over here is our first mate “Lieutenant Constantine Demetis Scott,” the captain said pointing to a short and stout redheaded man. To Harold it seemed that man’s hair had slid off the top of his head to his face and was very angry about this. His beard rolled off his face in a fiery bushy mass. His lips wallowed in a thick scowl, but this was something that Harold could relate to. Pent up rage was something he knew well.
“Over here scary dude is Jack Meoff,” the captain said pointing a younger fat man. He sat the farthest away that he could from Harold given the confines of the bridge. He had a smug smile that conveyed a kind of contempt for everything, which made Harold wonder if the man got beat up a lot in school. He wore no trace of a uniform and actually had on a George of the Jungle T-shirt.
Harold had never known a hippie, but he was pretty sure that he was trapped on a boat full of them.
“Ok who are you people and why am I here” Harold used his best official voice, it was the one he saved for employees who were late at the plant where he worked.
One of the three men opened his eyes; he was a skinny red headed man with a beard. “You are here to redeem yourself, for making the damn thing, man”
Harold’s jaw dropped, his company was a manufacturing plant that made plastics for Reynolds. “What are you talking about?”
“The weapons man, working blind for the big man; ain’t you got any pride”
“I work for a company that makes disposable microwaveable food containers.” “What are you talking about?” Harold was starting to get annoyed.
The red haired man’s face blossomed with anger. He reached up and hit a key on a keyboard next to him. A monitor flashed with a picture of the plant where he worked. “Dude, seriously, you have got open your eyes man.” “You work at weapons plant.”
“We make things to heat up left-overs.” Harold shouted.
“You make a Nerve Agent Dispersal System” “It’s called NADS.”
Harold found himself getting angry. “We have no NADS’s in Minnesota".
"Dudes here they are man"
The captain’s voice broke the quite shock Harold felt at being told he was in charge of making NADs.
In a loud clatter the men got up and slid down the ladder. Harold followed them as they ran down a long hallway, jumping through airlock doors until they reached a small room filled with charts and various equipment.
"Time to get some fresh air dudes"
The men deftly turned two large wheels and Harold could feel the room shift slightly. His ears popped every so often and he had the unsettling feeling of getting lighter.
The Captain then walked over to a large steel tube that looked like a periscope from a submarine movie.
"Dude we have arrived." "To the conning tower."
Harold followed the men up a long ladder into another small room filled with wheels and controls of which Harold could not comprehend there purpose.
The Captain twisted a wheel on a door above them and with surprising speed climbed up another ladder. Harold could feel a soft breeze of fresh air and another clang that sounded like the many metal doors on the ship being opened.
He followed the men outside and the shock that followed nearly knocked him into the ocean.
He was standing on the small deck of a submarine. Surrounding the boat were millions of yellow rubber ducks.
There was a loud splash and Harold was hit with a spray of salty water. The men were doing cannon balls off the side of the sub into the sea of rubber ducks.
"Dude this is so cool," he heard one of them shout.
Harold sat on the edge of the deck and watched four middle aged men play in the sea surrounded by small yellow rubber ducks.
A red orange sun slipped into a dark blue sea. Streams of yellowish orange clouds hung wispy around it like a ethereal crown. There was a quite hush in the air that was interrupted by shouts from the men and squeaks from the rubber ducks.
His mind tried to grasp the absurdity of everything that had happened to him, but there was too much to take in at once.
Harold watched the setting sun and could only wonder "what next," as the Captain held the rubber duck up and began giving it a status report on the NADS mission.
THE INSTRUCTIONAL NADS PARTY
The three days that followed were long and lazy. The sub rolled across the surface on its diesel engines. Its inside was stuffy and smelled like a mixture of a locker room and an auto shop.
“You want talk to the captain; get off this sinking ship?” Constantine said, his bushy red hair flaring out from each side if face as his is expression changed to something that made it more than obvious he was pissed off.
“Yes,” Harold said, doing his best not to sound as terrified of the man as he was. “You really are miserable,” Constantine said as he grabbed Harold and sat him down in the Navigation room.
He could hear Constantine yelling in the Captain’s quarters, “the miserable pile of puke cry baby wants to go home.”
A few moments later the Captain came in carrying a rubber duck.
The Captain laughed “You are funny scary dude” he said. He held up the rubber duck at Harold and sat down in opposite him, leaning back, throwing his feet up on a table next to him. “What do you see scary dude?” he said.
“ A lunatic holding a rubber duck,” Harold said.
The Captain laughed again, “You only think it’s a duck because that’s what they want you to think.” “Open your eyes man.” “Look at what you see and not what you think you see.”
Harold picked up the duck and looked at. “It is still a duck,” he said.
Harold looked at the duck a little closer. On it's bottom it had his company name Sysco. It wasn't made of rubber, but was made of the same type of plastic his team had invented to break down when exposed to the proper chemicals. It was done as his boss said to impress the greenie weenies.
“Well, it does look like a toy that came out of our shop,” Harold said.
The Captain laughed. “Your rubber duck could wipe out a whole neighborhood,” he said.
Harold felt the hairs on the back of his neck begin to bristle.
“Look,” he said trying his best to contain his rising temper. “I have had enough nonsense to last me until I die.” “I want to go home.” “Anything is better than sitting in a silly tin can with a confusing bunch of lunatics that want me to stare at bath toys.”
The captain pulled at little white wisps of hair on his face. He smiled again and picked up a small box with buttons that looked like a television remote.
“Push this button dude,” he said. “It has all the answers but you won't like it,” he said.
Harold pushed a small silver button on the remote. He looked at the duck and it's face seemed to smile as his world dissolved back into darkness.
Harold could hear a soft familiar hum and knew he was not dead. He opened his eyes again to see the captains smiling face and quickly closed them again. He opened again and saw the red headed first mate inches from his nose. “Do you mind,” said Harold, I am trying to wake up from this nightmare."
The first mate's nostrils flared as he began to scream inches from Harold’s face.
“You miserable apathetic puke pile. You really just want to sit and drone all day in your stupefying little state. Do you even want to know what happened or maybe you are just too stupid to know that you passed out. Your little rubber ducky dissolved and let out a gas. What NADS are is a..”
“That is enough,” the captain said smiling. “I think we should teach him crawling first,” he said. “Your problem Harold is that you think that if it acts like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck it must be…”
“A duck?” Harold said.
“Yes, that is what makes you insane.”
“I am insane, are you saying that if I called it a noise hair on the end of anal polyp that I would be somehow less crazy than middle aged men playing pirate in a soup can, “ Harold said.
The Captain laughed, “Yes you are learning.“
Captain Naomi nervously clicked his teeth together as Constantine maneuvered through what seemed to be an endless void of dark ocean water. The glass lake lay near the bursting point of the Sea Rat's design, and it took weeks of repairs afterwards whenever they visited.
He knew that it was the only way.
Harold sat white knuckled, just behind the bridge, and watched the three work. The bridge sat at the rounded front end of the sub, which when called the front would send Constantine into such a fit that he would spew gobs of spit and curses in his fury in between the word stern. Constantine sat directly in front of the captain, while Jack sat to his right. A large window covered the front of the sub and Harold could only see blackness outside the sub.
It started with a low rumble like thunder that gradually got louder as if the Sea Rat was about to crumple.
“Ah christ I hate doing this, at least this thing is made from the best of 1960's technology,” Constantine said as he maneuvered the control stick, guiding the Sea Rat towards the ocean floor.
“Umm are you sure we should be doing this. A lot of has changes since the Hippie days... before I was born,” Arthur said.
“Oh sure, we only sent people to the damn moon, and invented computers,” Constantine said, spit starting to foam. “How can we possibly compare to your generation, who invented puffy hair and MTV.” “Oh maybe we should bow down to great and mighty generation of the lazy, that would rather watch porn than do something,” Constantine said.
Another low rumble shook the Sea Rat before being quieted by a soft his of air.
“Look, is this really necessary,” Harold said as he gripped his chair in an effort to hold on something secure.
Constantine turned to Harold gritting his teeth under a bushy red mustache. “It wouldn't be if you weren't such a complete egotistical pile of puke brains,” Constantine said.
Harold rattled his fingers and did his best to ignore the First Mate.
“Look, Arthur why are we doing this. You won't be able to save the world if you are dead,” said Harold his fingers starting to ache from trying to bury themselves into the steel hull
“His name is not Arthur, and if you call him Arthur again, I will...” Constantine was cut short by a wave from the Captain. “He can call me Arthur if he wishes, I mean I am not bound to names.”
“What is your name?” Harold said.
The Captains serene expression was broken.
“Umm it's not important,” he said.
“Well if it is not important than why not tell me?” Harold asked, starting to get impatient again.
“Ummm my full name is Captain Naomi Arthur,” the captain said, trying his best to stare officiously out the Sea Rat's window.
“But isn't Naomi a girl's...,” Harold was cut off by the Captain. “I told you it wasn't important,” the captain said.
“What the hell is that,” Harold said in horror pointing out the Sea Rat's window.
Through the deep dark, cylindrical shapes moved, silent, relentless, killing creatures with a primordial hunger. They circled underneath the Sea Rat. They were the shapes of night terrors. A few moments passed where Harold could barely breath, could not even tremble.
“Ah there it is,” the captain said as the Sea Rat descended into the swirling mass of bodies. Harold was just able to stifle his scream
“Here, you will need this dive suit,” the first mate said, and Harold felt his world pleasantly shut down as his mind went unconscious. “Ahhh must he keep doing this, it’s like we are babysitting a kitten,” the first mate grunted as he lifted Harold into the suit.
The Sea Rat floated above and underwater reflection mirrored perfectly under the bright glare of the Sea Rats marine lights.
“It’s going to feel a bit like drowning,” the captain said cheerfully as Harold’s helmet began to fill with pinkish brown liquid. Harold panicked as the liquid went past his nose. His vision began to speckle as he held his breath. Slowly his consciousness faded, dying. Closing his eyes, he let go, liquid permeating his lungs. His breath was short and shallow as if his body were moving through syrup.
“Well, Harold, I guess it is time for you to walk the plank,” the captain said, smiling brightly.
Harold floated down, a small white speck between moving mountains of flesh. A disembodied voice echoed into the hollow space between his fear.
“Are you food,” the voice said.
The largest shark that Harold could imagine lay motionless, just in reach of his dive light. Its eyes, a deep solid black, reflected the abject terror in Harold’s face.
“No,” Harold squeaked in his best effort to sound brave or at least unappetizing.
“I am Harold,” Harold said.
“And what is a Harold,” the voice said into the void.
“I don’t know,” Harold said.
“Harold sounds like food,” the voice said. Its jaws yawned open like mountains cracking apart with jagged teeth like broken granite.
As it rushed forward, Harold felt his feet touch bottom. His body collapsed onto the ocean floor. He could hear the creature’s long sad sigh.
In the instance his head touched the ocean floor, his vision shifted. The world around him melted, swirled into itself. Defined shapes dissolved and flowed. A bright light pierced through everything from the background.
As one shape moved, its affect spiraled outwards like ripples, rippling though other shapes, each resonating off each other, like self-directed music.
Time, space, and matter were all flowing in a turbulent cyclonic fluid. Somewhere his consciousness lay like an eye in the storm. His reality was laid bare like translucent tissue paper. His consciousness layered a kind of order over the chaos, interpreted it into his reality.
The chaos itself resolved into the universe and at once Harold could see everything and the everything that went into it. Time and space existed though this as a dimensional plane as the universe flowed though it like a conduit.
Harold opened his eyes, looking into the massive missile shaped snout of the shark.
“What is a Harold,” the voice asked again.
“You are,” Harold said and the voice sighed in a hungry sadness as the shark slipped away into the dark waters.
Harold could hear the captain’s voice.
“Dude, you may not know it yet, but you are different. You can’t be what you were before. You are free to do what is right. You are a Sea Rat, dude. “
Harold sat wrapped in a towel Constantine had given him. Constantine handed him a cups of coffee and seemed generally preoccupied with making Harold comfortable, which actually had the opposite effect as Harold felt that any minute the man would go crazy again.
“We were like you once, now everyone thinks we are crazy,” Captain Scott said in his usual cheery voice that only un-nerved Harold further. Despite the coffee that felt like battery acid as it slid down his throat, he was shivering. The deep oxygen gel from his dive suit seemed to leak out of every orifice in his body.
“Oh sure, no one crazy would steal a trash can like this,” Harold said as he wave his hand across the musty cave like bridge of the Sea Rat.
“You know the hippies outside, that didn’t steal underwater soup cans that smell like a urinal, all grew up.” “They have jobs, met girls, work in cubes,” Harold said.
The captain laughed with his mouth open wide enough that Harold could have given him a throat exam.
“A government builds NADS, that’s a nerve agent dispersal system, which will wipe out a city, sells it to a country that will use it on its own people, and we are the crazy ones,” the captain said, his eyes tearing up with laughter.
“You kill me sometimes scary dude,” the captain said.
“Is this the same government that makes lunch containers,” Harold said.
“No buddy, that was all you and your companies black ops weapons contract,” the captain said as if laughing at this own joke.
DON’T SHOOT THE KITTY
Harold and the captain sat facing each other.
“I want to go home,” Harold said.
The captain turned on the large computer screen that ran across the bridge. Its light lit up his face in a way that cast deep shadows making him look very old. “Dude, we have all seen your home. “You don’t even have plants to water.” “But, I am all about the options and all about giving you one,” the captain said. The captain brought up a screen with a small roughly drawn cat, and a large rifle. “Don’t shoot the kitty” was written in large letters across the top of the screen. There was a box in the center of the screen that said, “Start.” If you can play this game, you can go home,” the captain said smiling brightly.
Harold put his hand on the mouse and clicked start, instantly firing the rifle, shooting the cat, which made a little cartoon splat. “Damn it,” he said smacking the small metal control console. He clicked the screen again firing another round from the rifle and smashing another cat. “This game is stupid, all it does is keep doing the same thing,” Harold said. Harold pushed the button over and over again in frustration, blowing little kitty bits all over the screen. Soon there were piles of animated corpses littering the screen.
“You are all a bunch of lunatics,” Harold said. “You are all a bunch of crazy whacked out hippies that have been breathing in your smell for too long,” he was yelling now and the captain had an odd smirk on his face. “If you can’t stop smiling at me like that, I will shove the largest thing I can find up your…” “You sound angry,” the captain interrupted.
“Oh I am beyond angry,” he said as he clicked the mouse over and over again, piling a mass of bodies on the computer. screen. “Why don’t you show me how smart naval rejects are,” Harold yelled. “Oh Captain of two men on a rogue submarine, one of which talks to his computer and calls it Dave, the other who screams at me to relax while knitting me an afghan.”
“Fine,” the captain said as he clicked reset on the game. Instantly the mass of cat bodies disappeared. He took his hand off the mouse and said “Your inaction has power and your indecision is a choice.” With that, he left to his quarters.
“Cryptic bastard,” Harold screamed after him.
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON, ASSHATS
“That's not my department,” the captain said, seemingly oblivious to Harold's outburst. Harold had tried to make it a particularly good one, but ending it with clatter as he threw some odd bit of equipment that he thought had important looking buttons and tangly wires on it.
The captain seemed a bit sadder and preoccupied to Harold.
“Talk to the Jack, the information officer,” the captain said waving his hand in the air and not taking his eyes off the computer screen.
Jack Meoff sat in the center of the room atop a massive day-glow orange bean bag chair. Surrounding him was a nest of empty Mountain Dew cans that rested on a soft heap of Frito bags. He was sitting sort of cross legged with a small laptop perched just on his knees leaning against his sizable gut. His face was covered in a soft haze of crumbs.
“I see your busy with your junk food bath, but I need a bit of information, and well, I was told that you are the information officer,” Harold said.
Jack's eyes never left his laptop.
Harold sighed a bit in a effort to make his request seem more urgent.
“Look, I just want to know what the Hell is going on,” he said, starting to feel frustrated with everything.
Jack still did not look up at Harold, instead he began to type. A few moments later, Harold heard a soft ding from a open laptop in front of him. On the screen was an open chat window.
Goatjoe: D00d3 UR 1ame
Harold looked at the screen in disbelief as the message obviously came from Jack who was just inches away from him. He decided to play along just a little.
GuestGoatC: YOU ARE RIGHT HERE, TALK TO ME!!!!
Goatjoe: U want to flame or RTFM.
GuestGoatC: Can you please just not be crazy for one small moment.
Harold Heard the man typing and realized that he enough nonsense to last him several lifetimes.
“Listen you unwashed greasy child of AOL. We are not twelve. No one thinks your gadget loving geek lifestyle is cute. Get the internet out of your ass for a moment and talk to me,” Harold said shouting inches from his face in a effort to make the entire ocean hear his voice.
The chat window dinged again.
Goatjoe: If we were in Second Life, I would totally frag your ass.
“Second life, you are not even in first life,” Harold said.
Jack stopped typing and seemed to notice Harold for the first time.
“Ok, just call me goatjoe, ok,” Jack said.
“Fine,” Harold said.
THE EX WIFE
The captain heard the familiar chime as the e-mail came in. He could feel the attachment download bit by bit as if were transferring itself not onto the hard-drive but into the tired marrow of his bones.
Delaura’s voice was both shrill and menacing in a way that only a woman who has been deeply hurt can do. It resonated with a sad anger that he come to regret over the years. Helpless to do anything else he opened the file.
“Naomi, stop this nonsense now.” “Do you hear me damn it, I am going to launch the extraction team myself..” “Jesus, you can at least sign the divorce papers.” Her tone softened a bit, “Naomi they are going to kill you.” This was followed by a soft hush of static.
The captain replied, “Delaura I will always love you.” As he hit the send button, he knew that she could never understand the love he felt for her through the gulf of understanding that separated them.
A chat window flashed across the dessert background of his computer screen.
Davidru486: Men have big penises 4 u big breasted whores to see hot babes now.
The captain sighed.
Captnchrunchy18: Now david, that wasn’t appropriate.
Davidru486: I am not appropriate. I am the internets.
Captnchrunchy18: David, what in the hell am I supposed to do.
Davidru486: What in the hell do you want to do?
Captnchrunchy18: Save people from themselves.
Davidru486: You should save people from themselves.
Davidru486: The internets asks answers not questions. You ask it and it answers.