Monday, June 04, 2007


Alice woke to feel her head pounding and her heart beating weakly. She looked out the window to see in the dim light of the dawn that appalling rictus grin of the bosun, his jaunty tophat failing to make her the least bit jolly. His skull-like countenance for once was nearly welcome.

"If you are Death," Alice thought to herself, "I do hope you have come to claim me." She had expelled every bit of food that had been in her stomach, and some bits of food that she particularly did not like to believe had ever passed her lips at any time, having been of such unappealing form and substance as to have questioned the reasonableness of anyone allowing such morsels to grace her mouth. Just let me die, she whispered, not even aloud.

The hideous spectre drew closer and Alice very nearly thought that at last her pain was at an end. No more adventures, no more kidnapping, but sadly, no return home and hero's welcome. She would very much have liked to be welcomed home with a great deal of pomp and circumstance (not to mention tea, cakes and very nice crispy bacon) but she feared now such was not to be. For death's head loomed before her about to cut short her promising beauty and loveliness (or so she lied to think even in this moment of unremitting pathetic suffering).

The bosun, however, far from being a representative of Death on this earthly plane, merely took her soft white hand with surprising gentleness, turned it over and tapped repeatedly just below her wrist.

Alice was too shocked and sickly to muster an objection. Surely if Lizzie were there, she would have done so, but on her own Alice merely stared with wonder as this episode took place, then just as uncomprehendingly watched as he dropped the same hand and, smiling, walked away across the deck. She stared at his retreating back, her misery not so much lifted as displaced, when suddenly she felt the oddest sensation.

"I could quite go for a plate of kippers," Alice said aloud wonderingly, a phrase she had never used prior to that day. Suddenly, the world began to look brighter, and it was not simply because the sun was up.

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