Archive for August, 2014

Well at least I won’t have to worry about getting captured by the Raven, I’ll just be blown to smithereens instead. I mean seriously, who keeps a stick of dynamite in their back pocket?
The fuse hisses, sparks fly.
“Let’s see how you like some river-pirate thunder!” Phinck’s insane laughter rises above all other noises.
How can any man be that loud? Oh wait, I forgot, he’s Mike Phinck.
Does it really matter if I keep yanking on this rope? The other boat is going to be caught in the explosion with us. I should just make a jump for it, I’ll have a better chance against the rapids than that stick of explosive.
Spray hits my face, whitewater crashes all around the boat, the rest of the river glows from the moon like it’s filled with the specters of the dead.
Maybe the dynamite isn’t so bad.
Shot continues to whiz overhead, keeping the mist off our backs, Phinck better throw that dynamite soon.
“Captain?” Moe’s eyes looked worried, it’s about time someone else has noticed that Phinck’s holding onto that thing like it’s a firecracker.
“Are you mad, Phinck?” Koufax keeps pulling on his rope, some of The Dodger’s crew are still on the floundering keelboat. “Throw the cursed thing!”
Phinck smiles, but that’s not a good thing. “You forget sky-barny, down on the river, everything is about timing. Ha!”
Phinck chucks the stick-of-death as straight and true as…well…Koufax’s namesake. The sparks do look kind of pretty, twirling end over end, I really wish it was a firecracker…please go far enough.
Boom!
Waves of sound, force, and water hit simultaneously.
“Pull.”
Who just said that?
“Get on yer’ feet and pull the ropes, or do you want to be known as the biggest lubbers who ever poled a keelboat?” Definitely Phinck.
Someone pulls me up, where did the mist go? Phinck’s drunken plan actually worked. The pit in my stomach returns as I notice the mist re-gathering only a hundred feet away, we’re not out of this yet.
“Pull!”
The broken boat continues to scrape along, a few more jerks of the rope should do it…but the mist is moving
again.
“Pull!”
If I never hear that word again, it will be too soon.
Thud! Crash!
“Hurry mates, get aboard ‘fore she sinks.”Phinck preps another stick of dynamite, just how many does he carry around with him? “I’ll pound the Raven to dust for sinking my keelboat, go back to hell, mist-devils!”
Fiizzzhhh.
There goes the dynamite hissing overhead, at least Phinck didn’t hold onto it this time.
The deck creaks and groans against the weight of the others, even I can tell the boat has dropped a little in the water, is it going to hold us all without tipping over?
“Cut anchors. Push off!” Phinck bellows as the dynamite goes off in the distance.
Little Moe steps up, pole in hand. “Spread yourselves out, we need an even keel. Ready…and heave.”
Ice blades. I wasn’t expecting the boat to lurch so suddenly, I really need to stop falling down and hitting my head, no one is going to want to be led around by a klutz…not that I think I’m this ‘chosen one’ everyone keeps talking about, this isn’t Star Wars. Still, being a klutz in general is not a good thing, I’ll never get a girlfriend if I keep flopping around like a jellyfish. Wait, jellyfish can’t flop around, whatever. It was supposed to be an analogy, not a factual statement. I should stop, girls don’t like morons who can’t think coherently, but what about all the girls that fall for the stupid jocks, I mean—
“Get up, Al! Stop falling down like you don’t have a spine.” Squirrel pulls me up.
Great, now instead of lacking a figurative spine, I apparently don’t have a literal one either.
Mist tickles my face. Rocks slide against the hull as if trying to hold in place. The broken keelboat falls into to water, pulled in as if by a giant squid.
The plumes of smoke waft away as the other keelboat turns and heads for Darkmist rift. We follow. The Raven’s mist follows us, gaining once more.
“How is going to the rift helping us escape the mist?” I ask one of Phinck’s men.
“Because only Phinck knows how to navigate the swamp beyond it.”
“And that’s important why?”
“Because not even the spirits of those long passed can get out of there. The Raven’s mist won’t be able to find us there.”
Cliffs of stone a hundred feet high loom over us, as we pass under its shadow.
I might feel better if Phinck was sober.

“Hard to port!” Phinck’s face is aglow in golden-red, a demon couldn’t look more sinister. “Push for the rift!”
“The rift!? I thought we’re in the rift?” I hope I don’t sound as squeaky as my voice sounded to me.
“We’re in the rapids, sky-barny.” Moe shoves my arm, “now pole!”
Why doesn’t Moe actually do some poling?
“Aaaahhh!”
I turn my head, the scream was far off. Wood groans in distance…one of the boats! “Koufax, look!” I point my finger to the, uh…por—er, right side.
Koufax turns, “Phinck! Your men!”
Phinck doesn’t hear.
Koufax flies to the helm, “Phinck! Listen to me! One of your ships is on the rocks! Think of your men, captain!”
“My men?” The rage deludes from Phinck’s face, human clarity returning. “Get the hooks!”
“Are you insane? That will tear the boat apart!”
“Aye, sky-barny, but she’ll float long enough to get to us and I’ll get my men. Moe! Take the Helm!” Phinck plops down from the ‘bridge,’ his hands pulling at his pistols. “Time to use your shot for something other than whiskey jug, sky-barny. Port side! Make Anchor!”
Thud!
I’m starting to notice the deck planks are really quite smooth, good thing, otherwise I’d be picking splinters out of my face.
Guns are cocked and ready.
“Starboard side, prepare to throw hooks and repel boarders.” Phinck chuckles. “I haven’t had a good fight since last Tuesday, far too long of a spell.”
Muscles burn as I raise myself up. Phinck’s men have somehow pinned us against some outcroppings of rocks while the current keeps us in place.
“Throw hooks!”
The mist billows closer, crystal eyes glowing.
“Fire!”
I cover my ears as flames shoot out in violent abandon. The urge to hunker down is overwhelming, bullets whiz past like buzzing bees. Hissing murmurs from the mist in retaliation, I really hate those things, and I’m supposed to beat the Raven somehow?
“Get up, bo.” Furry paws tug at me. “You can’t do any good by hiding, and you’ll do little good for your reputation.”
“I could care less about my reputation, I just want to get back home in one piece!” When will the people here finally get that through their heads?
“You can’t get back home without defeating the Raven first, and to do that you will need allies, you have
little enough as it is. So stand up and be brave!”
Who knew a rabbit (albeit a large one) could be so persuasive?
Bullets continue to whiz, the third keelboat has made it through the rapids and is now providing firing support. I hope they are good shots, it’s hard to keep the rioting butterflies in my stomach under control.
“We need help with the ropes!” One of Phinck’s men shout.
Offrey bounds ahead. “Come on! Now is your chance!”
My hands suddenly find a rope in them, I guess I’m pulling.
“With me men. All together…and heave!” Someone shouts.
Shattered wood scraping against rock is almost enough for any non-barfing muscles to finally give way. They are all going to die.
“Heave, men, heave! We have to get that heap o’ wood o’er here ‘fore she sinks!”
Snap! Twang!
The mist creatures are cutting the ropes!
“Eat lead you Mist-Devils!” Phinck steps forward, bursting shot and smoke, roaring louder than the rapids.
The mist recoils back.
“Pull!” Who are all these different people shouting?
The boat moves closer, but the mist presses again.
But Phinck will not budge. “Not today you dram-basted devils. I am the Demon of River and I’ll send ya’ back to yer’ cavortin’ ruler of shadows!”
Did Phinck just pull out a stick of dynamite?

Warm is the summer day, as a memorial approaches
One second, the only difference between two days
That separates markers of joy, of happiness
Where we rejoice in the blessings of our abundance
But darkness tries to creep in, it lies, it waits
Though pain may enter, it will not render hopeless
Because today is a day of life, of ecstasy, of laughter
In celebration of lives made by the Master Crafter
I celebrate this day, in words now penned
To declare how much you matter, your preciousness to me
I didn’t want it to go unnoticed, I didn’t want it to cross unseen
To do more than just be related, to be a friend
How many chances did I have? How many did I take?
But a blessing you are to me, that is no mistake
Water droplets splash in the pool, dice knock against a table of delight
Somewhere a back-piano is played, make sure the fingers avoid the crack!
Wood, freshly cut, wafts through the air, joined with aromas of paint
Here it is always happy, here the price is always right
Mr. Ross has come to visit, he’ll be back tomorrow
And so did I, in those passed days
Strokes of a brush created that beautiful phase
Set as a reminder on the days of the low
I didn’t think of it then, and why should I?
It was a time to be merry, to live and enjoy life.
And so it is now, though the days appear to grow dark
But it is only in these moments can we enjoy the beauty of a spark
The glow, the light, the warmth of hope
Will never leave as long as we have strength to believe
That is these words, hope held in blotches of ink
Not written to express sorrow, nor to deny the treacherous slope
You now bravely traverse, though perhaps frightened to see
But this is another moment, in the chain of destiny, another link
To be forged and shown that we have a heavenly home
That in every struggle, none of us are truly alone
It may seem a light thing to say
As I am not there to help carry the weight
I wish I was closer than a thousand miles away

I wish I could be there for hope, to illuminate
Though my passion is true, our stories are not yet done
So let us remember the good of light in the shining of the Son
This is a hymn, an ode to victory
No matter how high the waves, we will cross the restless sea
Though winds shall rise to buffet us to pieces
Seeking to blow us off our heavenly course
Hold steadfast, we must, and prepare to step through the door
Because the bell tolls not, and it knows not whom for
Good tidings are brewing, future joy is in store
This will not be a sad, but a happy season
The bell will lie silent, and all will be quiet
Because victory over the dark has been triumphant
These words may seem hollow, but they be not for sorrow
They are written to give fresh beginnings for tomorrow
Words totter around rambling, how could this be happening?
Perhaps because there is no more to be said
The pen has scribbled, the ink has dried, the words have now been read
The letter sent, the message meant, echoing words in red
The path again seen, a joyous journey resumed, hands together now led
The period erased, the comma replace, now is time for giving
Of love, of good tidings, of casting a flame in the dark of night
Because in the end, with love that mends, everything will be alright

Crack! Crack! Choom!
The mist still nips at the aft of the keelboat, the few free-handed river-pirates are pouring shot into any crystal eyes that draw near.
“Keep poling, men!” Never once has Phinck looked back since he took the helm. “We’ll beat the demon at his own game!”
Phinck bursts into maniacal laughter, I look at Louis and Offrey, I suppose I should be happy Phinck is on our side.
“Al! Put your back into it!” Koufax reprimands. “We can’t have Phinck thinking we don’t know our way around a ship.”
I would be angrier if it wasn’t so funny that he called this keelboat, a ship. Probably doesn’t want to offend Phinck, he’d be liable to throw us over if he heard us ‘impugning’ the ‘honor’ of this assortment of planks. I wouldn’t be so anxious to reach Darkmist Rift if my back and hands weren’t madly burning.
“Keep going, just a bit further!” Phinck turns his head to the men to the aft. “Lifelines!”
Lifelines? That doesn’t sound good.
Rope suddenly wraps around my waist. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, what are doing?”
“What, do want to die once we hit the rapids?” Breath reeking of tobacco hits me like a hammer. “If you don’t die from falling overboard, the mist will getcha’.”
Needless to say, I let the man finish his task.
A roaring rises above shout and gunshot.
“Here she comes, captain!” Little Moe checks the knots one last time.
One last swig of whiskey, Phinck’s face is flushing red. “She ain’t the Missus, and ain’t no other woman but her has whipped me! Bring yer’ worst you black-blooded wench!”
I wonder if Phinck realizes the approaching rapids can’t talk back…oh wait, he’s drunk, and he’s steering. Great.
The moon is out but I still don’t see much of anything, maybe if I just looked out—“whoa!”
PLOOSH!
Water. Lots of water. Didn’t see that dip coming. My clothes kind of stick to me now, at least I don’t look like Offrey, he looks gaunt with all his…poofiness gone.
“Don’t say a peep, bo.” His nose twitches.
“Poles at the ready! Prepare for rocks!” Phinck hasn’t missed a beat.
The other two boats are already among the rocks, tossed to and fro by the current. Splintering wood flies through the air…and the yells of men.
“Ready, boys! We’ll make it through this!”
I hope so.
Crash! Thud!

The world spins. The ice blades return, darkness pulls at my vision. “My head…” At least I’m still for now.
“Push off men! Push off! We ain’t gonna have a vessel to sail if you don’t get her off the rocks.” Phinck, that has to be Phinck.
“Keep her straight!” Little Moe.
“Get up, Al.” Louis pulls me up.
Everything still spins, I wish I was on land right now. “Thanks Louis.”
“Here’sth your pole, help uth out.”
I still feel useless with it in my hands.
The hull pulls, strains, and creaks, I think we’re hitting every rock possible. I hope the others on the boats are okay, not that I care about the river-pirates so much, but Squirrel and a few of Koufax’s crew were on board the other keelboats.
“Hard to port!” Phinck shouts. “Push! Push!”
Little Moe staggers forward. “But that will put us closer to the rift, captain.”
“It’s the only way to get this tar-thunderin’ mist off our backs. Use the flare, I need the other boats to follow, goin’ down the Mississip’ is gonna’ get them killed!”
“Aye, cap’n.” Moe moves forward, hand held aloft.
Fwwisshh!
Crimson and gold join the silver moon in the starry sky.