Carnival of the Elitist Bastards XVI
The sun glittered off the tiny wavelets that barely rocked the dinghy. The oars stirred the unmoving water. Just as well, for the boat was heavily laden.
It was a good day to be becalmed. The captain, new to her position, had been looking for a place to store the embarrassment of booty she’d collected. Only one month, and the crew of the Elitist Bastard had run across so many poorly defended positions that the hold swelled gratifyingly. Placid waters and a nearby island were welcome.
Finally, they neared the shore. The hands slipped over the edge and towed the dinghy up onto the beach. The captain stood and prepared to step over the side. Just then, the admiral leapt from the other side of the boat, rocking it hard and tumbling the captain to the sand.
“Cap’n! Are ye arright?”
The captain stood and brushed wet sand from her elbow, mouth and hair. Rough hands pawed at her shoulder and…”Yes! I’m fine. On your way!” The captain turned to face the Elitist Bastard, sitting low on the horizon, and tried not to spit.
The boat was quickly emptied of booty and tools, and the crew awaited her next move. She walked inland past them, not looking at the admiral.
She should have known the admiral would cause her trouble. Beloved by the entire crew, the admiral was generally careful to defer to the captain, but every time she wanted something, it was hers. She was a constant challenge to the captain’s authority, just by being there. The captain needed to do something.
Finally, the captain reached dry sand at the base of the rock that was the small island’s interior. Her footing was less sound here, so she stopped near the first moderately distinctive feature she could find. “Here. Now, where is that refusal to allow the dogmatists to call what they do ‘science’?”
One of the crew stepped forward with a small casket. The captain looked inside. “Yes. Perfect. Bury it here.”
With many hands and shovels, a pit was soon dug, despite the captain’s continued calls to make it wider and deeper. The casket was placed in the bottom.
“Now shoot him.” The captain pointed to the crewmember standing in the hole. Everyone gaped at her. “He’ll guard his treasure. Shoot him.” No one moved. “What is all this fuss over a Lousy Canuck? Shoot him already, and we’ll be on with our task.”
The crew started to speak among themselves. The captain knew this was the first big test of her captaincy. Would they stay with her, or would they refuse? She turned away so they couldn’t see her uncertainty.
Oh, this wait! It was interminable. She suppressed the urge to brush at the sand on her clothes and gritted her teeth despite the grit. Would they never decide?
It was done. She turned back to see a body slumped over in the hole. “Very well! You and you,” she pointed to the closest hands with shovels, “bury the treasure well. The rest of you follow me.”
She walked them until she thought they should have burned off any nerves–or at least until she was tired–then found another landscape. “Where is the booty we lifted off the idiots paddling around in circles to defend dairy subsidies?” The hand known only as “Z” stepped forward. “And the bit about figuring out who to trust on complicated issues like health care reform?” Z’s partner A. “Right. A larger hole this time.”
The captain was impressed at the lack of hesitation. Everyone knew as well as she did what a larger hole meant, but even the two carrying the booty pitched in with their shovels. The captain walked on while the work was being done, looking for the next good space. She jumped when she heard the shots.
While she let everyone catch up to her, she thought hard. They had fallen in line so very easily, but would they stay there? There was only one way to find out for sure. It was risky, but so was piracy. The captain smiled as everyone assembled. “Who has that beautiful collection of plants that grow under such arid conditions? The one so big it needed two chests?”
“That’ll be me, captain.” The admiral stepped forward.
“Will it?” The captain opened her eyes wide. “It looks like you have something else for us as well? Oh, yes. The paean and exhortation to continued learning. Yes, that’s a beauty.” She looked up at the crew. “Bury them here.”
There was a pause this time, but a raised eyebrow from the captain (and a nod from the admiral) got the shovels moving. Standing next to the woman she’d just condemned to death made the captain edgy. She caught one of the crew watching her fidget.
The captain turned and strode away as briskly as the cursed sand would let her. When she stepped around a large rock, she paused for a breath and small moment of self-congratulation.
The timing was perfect. There was no one left who would challenge her control of the Elitist Bastard.
She was still celebrating when the crew caught up to her. “Ahem. Yes, this is another good spot. Where is the tribute to the achievements of human excellence? DuWayne, thank you. Here, please.” Then she wandered off to celebrate some more.
At her next stop, she ordered the burial of the lovely debunking of the idea that nature (or Nature) maintains a balance, as well as the simple explanation of why thinking of government as “them” is so gratingly wrong. It was a pity to see Greg and Mike go. They’d helped to get her this far, after all, but with a secure captaincy…well, best not to be seen playing favorites.
Then it was time for a damned fine explanation of the pricing of prescription drugs. Shame about Chris, too, being as he was new to the crew and all, but booty like that must be guarded.
All this slogging through sand was making the captain hungry. Time for some rations. She decided to spare Last Hussar, whose recipe for cheesy stuffed baked potatoes was the envy of the rest of the crew.
Then it was back to burying booty and bodies. Lou had his turn with his skeptical view of Governor Crist’s answered prayers for good Florida weather. The captain shuddered as she ordered its internment. She’d been too close to that last storm for her liking.
The captain’s feet were starting to hurt. At her next stop, she took pity on the grossly overburdened John, who was carting refutations of Luskin and Egnor, Meyer and West, and Klinghoffer—twice! She figured he’d be happy to get the rest, even if it was eternal.
Stumbling through the sand, she sorted through the remaining treasure. What was next? Oh, yes, Toaster’s mad burning away of chakra energy and woo.
Then George’s tale of the comforts of elitism to an intelligent but dyslexic child. A pity to bury that one before responding to its request for more tales of inspiration, but booty was booty, after all.
And then…and then…ah, yes. Brian’s clever differentiation of modes of writing, his realization that even fantasy must be grounded in reality, and a demonstration of the elitist’s dedication to producing quality even in the face of adversity.
Oh, and she wouldn’t forget where she had them bury Vic’s refusal to reject an historical theory out of hand just because it related to woo. Important to remember that sounding strange doesn’t mean no one ever believed it. Yes, very important.
And that was…no. That couldn’t be everything, could it. There was something else, something she was forgetting. Damn this sand. She kicked at it and almost lost her footing.
Looking down, she finally remembered that she was carrying something herself. She stared blankly at the box in her hand for a moment, wondering what was inside. Ah, right. A little essay about why knowledge of scientific fact, and trust in scientists, isn’t enough. Time to bury that.
But who would…who was left to guard her treasure. Oh, right. “Last Hussar, I need your pistol.”
There was only silence. The captain looked behind herself to see empty beach. How long had it been since she’d last turned around? How long since she last heard a shot or a shovel hitting sand?
She stumbled three steps back along her path before realizing she’d come almost all the way around the island. She turned again and staggered on.
She saw the ship first, then the dinghy about a hundred feet off shore. In it sat…no. She shielded her eyes from the now-setting sun.
“Admiral, ahoy!” The captain waived her arm over her head. “Come back! You can’t strand me here!”
“Aye, lassie, we can. We have.” The admiral pointed further up the beach. “We’ve brought ye rations and grog. We’ll check on ye in a month to see whether ye’ve learnt yer lesson ’bout booty.”
The admiral nodded, and the oarsmen took up their job again.
“But wait! I don’t understand.”
One of the oarsman spit overboard and laughed. “Oh, Cap’n. Yer as barmy as any we’ve seen this last month. Ye’ve heard too many tales meant fer bairns if ye think pirates wuld trust booty to ghosts. The only way fer keepin’ your treasure safe is t’ spend it. Spread it far and wide, as we mean to do.”
The captain, who was captain no more, collapsed again on the wet sand, where she lay to watch the Elitist Bastard sail on.
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