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Rated: E · Short Story · Comedy · #1567151
Shipwrecked and hungry... what's a group to do? (Humor)
A Tarragon of Virtue

The surf rushed up the beach with a tell-tale sandpaper 'shuuush'. Steven became aware of the sound and the grit pressing into his cheek a moment before the water submerged his half-open mouth. Coughing and gasping, he lifted his head to find air. Why am I lying here and why am I wet? The second question was answered as another rasping wave washed over him.

The shock of the moving water cleared his befuddled brain as memory came flooding back. "The storm!" he croaked through salt parched lips.

Rolling onto his back, Steven's senses kicked in as the pungent odor of sea-air, tainted with fish and seaweed, assailed his nose. The bright sunshine seemed to vacuum some of the chill off his body as he strained for understanding.

He had set out for a three-hour sight-seeing tour, he remembered. What was the name of that boat? It was a fish... the Sardine? No. The Minnow! That was it.

The next wave charged up the beach and he felt his legs lifted in the shallow water and then pulled toward the open sea. Struggling, he righted his six-foot frame shakily, lurched out of the water and staggered up past the high-tide mark before collapsing again.

A brisk breeze, now diluted by an earthiness from the nearby chaparral, blew away the remaining fog enshrouding his mind. Shielding his eyes, Steven scanned the shoreline. Immediately he spotted bits of colored flotsam scattered like confetti. I'm not alone,, he thought as the dots began connecting and morphed into a group of people.

Lifting a hand weakly, he waved at them. Soon they were gathered together in the shade of several palms.

"Does anyone know where we are?" asked a hefty man. He was wearing a boating cap and Steven recognized him as the Skipper.

His query was answered by a series of head shakes and one muttered "Aren't you the Captain?"

"Well, I've walked around the island. There doesn't seem to be any inhabitants. I guess we should find safe harbor until help arrives," he continued.

"You," he said indicating me. "Why don't you start setting up some shelter."

"Steven," I said.

"And you," he added indicating a bookish man, "why don't you help."

"Maury," he said. "Maury Aurity," he added by way of introduction.

"OK," the Skipper said. "There's fresh water back there," he pointed. "The rest of us will see what we can find in the way of food."

As Maury and I walked in the direction indicated, we began collecting the remnants of the Minnow that had washed up. One of the items, a large tub, became our shopping cart.

"Did you notice the redhead?" Maury asked. "She's a strange one."

"That's because she's a he," I chuckled.

"No way!"

"Yep," I said. "I met her when I first got on board. Larry Anne I think her name was."

"What about the other one?" he stammered.

"No problem. Her name is..." I was stumped for a moment. "Some kind of herb," I muttered.

"Herb!" he exclaimed, "I thought you said..."

"No," I cut him off, "it was an herb... like... Jasmine! That's right, her name was Jasmine."

After setting up camp and gathering wood, we sat wondering how to start a fire. One of the other passengers came staggering up. "I don't suppose you have a light?" I asked.

"Sure," he said, producing a lighter. "I'm William Howell," he added, "but everyone calls me Thirsty."

It was at this point that I experienced a strong sense of déjà vu. Not the type where you feel you you've been there before, but the type where you suddenly realize that everything is familiar but you can't quite make the connection. A parallel universe? flashed through my mind but I quickly refocused on the task at hand.

I started a fire and put the tub filled with water on to heat.

"What are you doing?" asked Maury.

"Do you remember the story of Stone Soup?" I asked. "Well, we'll just add whatever is brought back and make a meal of it all."

"Yuck," said Thirsty.

"Don't be too quick to judge. I saw some wild tarragon growing over there. It will add just the right seasoning to transform this into a gourmet meal."

I picked up a box I had collected along the way. "Now, why don't you run down to that tide pool we passed. I saw several crabs there and they'd make a tasty addition."

Before long, the water was boiling and I began to add the cornucopia of ingredients collected by the other survivors. Crabs, roots, and berries all went into the pot. The only disagreement was when someone brought a collection of pods but I settled the argument with a curt "give peas a chance."

As the stew neared completion, I sipped the piquant broth. Hiding a shudder, I tore the wild tarragon into small bits and began adding it in large amounts to mask – I mean, make the flavor at least acceptable.

As the sun set, we gathered around the fire and I sparingly doled out the final concoction into whatever containers we had found.

"This is really awful," Gil, the first mate, pointed out. "Does it have a name?"

"Yes," I quipped. "Call it 'gruel and unusual punishment'."

A series of loud groans erupted and began floating across the water... and not necessarily from the food.


Word Count: 902 *Smile*. Round 2 updated 4 June.

An entry for "Invalid Item
Prompt: Write a story about having to find food.

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