“Hello, Hawaii,” Cin said smiling up at the deck where the woman sporting a pair of blond and pink pigtails stood, the rocket launcher still resting on her shoulder.
“Captain’s been worried for you, Cinders,” the woman said.
“Tell her to grab a Guinness and relax,” Cin said. “I’ll be there soon enough. Help me get Aria on board.”
Cin stood keeping the boat steady as the woman on deck threw down a rope ladder to Cin. Using the ladder, Cin pulled the boat parallel with the ship.
“Come up,” Cin said to Aria who stood too quickly, rocking the wee boat too violently.
“Hold now,” Cin said, grabbing Aria’s arm to hold her steady. “Of all the rivers to swim in, you don’t want to go falling into this one.” Cin passed Aria the rope ladder. “Here. Go on up first. Stanushka will be up there to greet you.”
Aria looked up at Stanushka just as her pink bubble popped. Stani smacked her lips, pulling the gum back in her mouth, chewing in delight as she smiled down at Aria.
“Right,” Aria said and pulled herself up the ladder.
“Here,” Stani said, putting the rocket launcher down at her side, as she reached down and took Aria’s hand.
“Welcome on board the H.M.S. Slush Brain, Aria,” Stani said. “You’re going to love it here.”
Cin pulled herself over the gunwale and leapt down to the deck with ease.
“You drink?” Cin asked.
“What?” Aria asked turning to Cin who was already pulling a flash from a back pocket.
“Do you drink?”
Aria shook her head as Cin threw back hers for a swig.
“You should,” Cin said. “Where’s the Captain, Stani?”
“With the guys,” Stani said. “This way.”
Only when Stani stooped to retrieve a second weapon resting on the deck, did Aria notice the flint lock long barreled gun tucked affectionately at Stani’s side along with a Dillinger nestled into her leather boot that stopped at her thighs.
“What’s with the artillery?” Aria muttered to Cin.
“Hm? Oh, Stani? Stanushka loves the firearms,” Cin said. “Don’t you, Hawaii?”
“Yep!” Stani said.
Aria studied the gun in Stani’s right hand. “Isn’t a flint lock rather slow for the times?”
Stani looked over the rocket launcher and smiled. “This isn’t an ordinary flint lock,” she said and led Aria and Cin through a door below the stern castle.
* * *
Happy orange light and casual conversation greeted Aria as she entered the room behind Stani. Tables, chairs, stools, and benches set below lanterns that hung from the rafters filled the center of the room where two men sat. One, an older gentleman of distinguished intelligence was talking quietly about something Aria knew nothing about. The second man sported a vest of golden silk while hunched over a…
Aria wasn’t quite sure what it was he was hunched over. It looked like a makeshift microscope and magnifying… thing a clock smith would use… only this looked as if it had been ornately modified. The inventor gazed through his magnifier at a contraption he cradled lovingly in his hands.
“Cinders!” Came a shout that startled Aria, causing her to nearly fall back into Cin.
Where a simple kitchen—stove, refrigerator, and sink—lined a wall, a woman sat atop a wooden counter that separated the food preparation area with the remainder of the room. With one leg pulled up to her chest, the other hung comfortably to the floor. Her brown hair fell in a disorderly fashion all over the place down her back, spilling over her corset, and settling in her lap. The 16th century skirts she wore were pulled up to her knee and shoved on the counter, revealing a pair of thigh-high leather boots. With Guinness in hand, she bore a moonstone fashioned circlet and a lively smile.
“Captain!” Cin replied.
“What took you so long?” the Captain asked. “You’re slacking. You almost missed happy hour!”
“It’s always happy hour,” Cin said, unstopping another flask.
“So it is,” replied the captain and chugged back the Guinness.
“What…” Aria tried to speak. Her head reeled with the nonsense she had seen over the last few hours. Desperate to get her head wrapped around anything she began rubbing her temples.
“Right! Aria!” the Captain shouted too happily for the occasion. “Welcome to the H.M.S. Slush Brain! Pull up a drink!”
“I don’t drink,” Aria said.
“Pull up a chair!” the captain replied not missing a beat.
“I…” Aria stuttered. The smiles fell from everyone’s faces as Aria began to shake. “I…” she tried again then broke as her legs began to buckle.
“Hey, hey, hey…,” Stani said gently setting the weapons to the floor as Cin wrapped an arm around Aria and guided her to the bench table next to the inventor. The captain slid off the counter coming to stand at barely five foot while the two men looked up from the table.
“You’re safe now,” the Captain said. “What’s wrong?”
“What’s wrong?” Aria nearly screamed as she punched the table’s bench. “What’s right? My father is gone. There’s these… these…”
“Zombies?” the inventor said.
“Oh god!” Aria exclaimed. “Things!” she corrected. “Rotting things! And people.. flying people who—”
“Vampires,” the older gentleman said.
“This is stupid!” Aria shouted. “All I want is my father and my home and my books…”
Tears swelled and Aria cried, unable to finish.
“Are you sure you don’t want a drink?” the Captain offered.
“No!” Aria said. “I don’t want a drink you… you drunks!”
“Hey now…” Cin said.
“I just want to know where my father is!”
“We don’t know,” Stani gently said. “If we knew, we would already have him here for you.”
“Why… where the… what the hell is going on here!?”
The Captain and Cin sighed and, on beat Stani, Cin, and the Captain pulled up a chair, collecting themselves around Aria.
“This is Stanushka,” the Captain said nodding to the pig-tailed woman that was the armory. “She is our weapons specialist. You’ve met my first mate, Cindy Dixon.” The Captain motioned to Cin who nodded smiling to Aria. “This is Adam—”
“Yep,” Adam said, raising a hand in introduction, but keeping his eye on the glass.
“He is our… What are you Adam?”
“Inquisitive,” Adam answered. “Intelligent, profound, original—ooh! Eccentric.” At last Adam took his attention from his work and pulled the monocle from his eye. “I am a clock smith, turned inventor in times of need, with a knack for gadgets, gizmos, and things. I’m the ship’s inventor.” Adam finished with a smile and a hand he extended to Aria who accepted his greeting.
With a single shake, he released her hand and hunched back over the magnifying device.
“The gentleman across from Adam is the Professor,” the Captain continued.
“Evening,” the Professor said.
“The Professor specializes in a plethora of fields… one of them being genetics, cell division, and biology.”
“Among other things,” The Professor finished. Looking up from his work he smiled at Aria. “Pleasure to meet you, my dear,” he added then dropped his attention back to the table and the project in front of him.
“And this,” Cindy exclaimed, “Is Captain Princess Boozic!”
“Angela,” the Captain replied.
“Boozic,” Cindy clarified.
“Captain Boozic,” Angela continued. “Who you don’t see is our informant Chess Cut Lass, who is on duty on the moment—”
“And Jay,” Stani said, smiling.
“Our security department,” Angela said. “Now, about your other questions…”
“Where am I?” Aria asked now that she had settled down a bit.
“This is the H.M.S. Slush Brain,” Angela said.
“Her Majesty’s Ship,” Cindy said, feigning a tipsy bow toward the Captain.
“When the invasion started, we stumbled into each other one by one and made our way here,” Angela explained. “We borrowed—”
“Commandeered—” Adam said still looking through his glass.
“Borrowed a ship, christened her the H.M.S. Slush Brain, and set to work trying to figure out what the hell these things are and what the hell happened.” Angela paused her tale to drink up the last of her Guinness.
“And what are they?” Aria asked.
Angela stood and made her way to the fridge.
Aria looked at the Professor who was still hunched over a petri dish. He paused long enough to look up and explain. “The death things walking around are Weeches.”
Aria furrowed her brow. “What are Weeches?”
“A Weech is a race of aliens,” the Professor said.
“Where the frick is my Guinness!?” Angela shouted from the fridge. “Goddamn it, he did it again!” Angela slammed the fridge door.
“You’re right, Aria,” Angela said, sighing. “They’re not zombies. Though they do look it. “They are alive. What you see out there is an invasion.”
“What do they want?”
“Want?” Angela asked.
“Why are they here?” Aria clarified.
“Well, we can’t prove it yet…” Adam said. “But we think they’re in need of a food source.”
“Food source?” Aria repeated.
“Yes. Food source.” An unfamiliar voice cut through the room, and Aria jumped at the sudden arrival of a 6’1” bearded Scandinavian in the doorway. “Us, Aria,” he said. “They’re here for us.”
Last edited and updated 15 August 2016
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