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"Action" On The High Seas

                The waves on the sea rolled, splashing water on the deck and making the clipper lunge.

                Smitty quickly ran to the edge of the boat and hung his head over.

                “Just our luck that he doesn’t have the stomach for sailing,” Mark grumbled.  He noticed his band mates were looking a little on the “green” side themselves.  “Guys?  You okay?”

                “I haven’t felt this bad since I rode the Tilt-A-Whirl when I was five,” Phil groaned.  “Of all the places we had to end up this time…”

 

                Once again, the “time machine” had worked its confusing magic and dropped the Raiders into another period in history.  They were feeling especially trapped this time, seeing as how they were stuck on a ship in the middle of the ocean. 

                The H.M.S. Melchart was one of the Royal Navy’s best ships.  She had already been on several journeys and had not once returned unsuccessful.  Indeed, the King was very proud to have the Melchart in his fleet.

 

                Phil ran to the side of the boat, hanging his head over beside Smitty’s.

               “Get your own edge—This one’s taken,” Smitty croaked.

                “Cut it out or we’ll make you walk the plank.”  Phil’s little fit of anger quickly subsided the minute his stomach lunged again.

                “This reminds me of all those swashbuckling movies,” Drake observed.  He felt over the cutlass hanging from his belt.  “Whoa—And we’re armed this time, too.”  He drew the weapon from its sheath, imitating Errol Flynn with all the enthusiasm he could muster.  He hopped about the deck, swinging the cutlass until he swiped Paul across the backside with it.

                “HEY!  Watch it!”

                “Oops…  Sorry, Paul.”  Drake wasted no time putting the cutlass away.

                Paul glared at him a moment, frowning.  He finally turned his attention to looking through his spyglass.  “Wonder where we are?”

                A couple of moans came from the port side of the ship.  Phil and Smitty were seated on the deck, their backs to the rails of the boat.  They were two heaps of human misery.

                “Think this thing has a sickbay?” Drake asked.

                “Lemme see if one of these other guys knows,” Paul said, spotting a few other crewmembers.  He flagged one down.  “Hey!  You there!”

                The crewman stopped in his tracks, standing perfectly straight, as though he was at attention.  “Yes sir!”

                Paul was a little taken aback, but disregarded the crewman’s behavior.  “Is there a sickbay on this thing?  Two of my boys are lookin’ kinda puny.”

                “Yes, Cap’n, sir—We have a sickbay, sir,” the crewman replied, still acting military. 

                “Cap’n?”  Paul looked at the sailor, puzzled, then took a good look at himself.  No wonder he hadn’t paid attention to how he was dressed this time—It was very similar to the “Raider” garb he wore in the band, except it was adorned with fancier trim, more brass buttons, elaborate epaulets and some very impressive naval medals.  He even had a tri-corn hat, only it was trimmed in gold braid with a few extra buttons in the front for decoration.  “Ooooh, this is swanky…”

                “Shall I take the men to the sickbay, sir?”

                “Ummm…  Yeah, probably should.”

                “Yes, Cap’n sir!”  The crewman saluted Paul, then went to retrieve the two sick Raiders.

 

                “When did you get an earring, Drake?” Mark asked.

                “Huh?”  Drake felt over both his earlobes, locating a gold hoop attached to his left ear.  “Oh, it’s probably just a clip-on.  No biggie.”  He gave it a good yank to remove it, then yelped.  He felt over the hoop more carefully this time…It went straight through the earlobe.

                “That’s the real thing, isn’t it?” said Mark, surprised.

                “Would I have yelled like that if it wasn’t?” Drake snapped.  “Now all I need is a peg leg and a hook…”

                         

                The Melchart’s sickbay was small and cramped, not to mention the fact that it stunk.  It was apparent the ship had been at sea a long time…and that no shore leaves were wasted with cleaning the thing.

                “I can’t decide if it’s worse up there or down here,” Smitty whined.  He flopped onto his stomach.

                “Too bad they don’t have seasick pills in this age,” Phil commented.

                “They wouldn’t do any good.”

                “Why?”

                “They make me seasick.”

                Phil tossed a beaten pillow at his band mate.  “You’re full of it…”

                Smitty broke up laughing.  “I wanna know what we’re here for this time,” he said after he settled.

                “Dunno.”  Phil looked around the sick bay.  “It sure isn’t to flounder around in here.  How’s your stomach?”

                “Still kinda flip-flopping, but I think I’ll be okay.”

                Phil sat up on his bed.  “Well, how about we check this thing out?  Never know what’s hiding on a ship this size.”  He headed to the door of the bay; Smitty followed behind him.

 

                “So, I’m captain of this here ship, right?” Paul asked the crewman he had spoken with earlier.

                “Yes sir,” replied the sailor.  “Tis the H.M.S. Melchart and she’s a fine ship, sir.”

                Paul examined the expanse of the vessel.  It was bigger than anything he had seen.  The crew was scattered everywhere, all busy keeping the ship on a safe course.

                “Shall I check on the First Mate and cabin boy, sir?” the crewman asked.

                “The who?”

                “The two men below deck, sir.”

                Paul remembered sending Phil and Smitty to the sickbay, so that had to be whom he was talking about.  “Sure, yeah….  Go on and check on ‘em.  I’m gonna just…ah…look things over if that’s okay.”

                “Yes sir,” said the crewman.  “She’s your ship, sir.”  He turned sharply on his heels and marched below deck.

                “Mistah Christian!  Mistah Christian!” Mark teased in a terrible Cockney accent.  “Aah we planning a mutineeee?”

                “No, but I could always make you walk the plank,” Paul sneered.  “What are you supposed to be?”  He pointed to Mark’s somewhat tattered clothes.

                “I think I’m just another pirate,” Mark said, disappointed.  His face then brightened.  “I finally get to play a swashbuckler, though!”

                “No, that’s my job,” Drake argued.  He matched the dashing images of the pirates in all the old movies.  He propped his arm on the edge of the ship’s railing, grinning.  “Think we’ll get some shore leave, Cap’n?  I hear those country wenches are something else!”

                “I can always make you peel potatoes, sailor,” Paul warned, laughing.

                “You’re no fun anymore.”  Drake pouted a moment.  “If you’re captain, where’s your parrot?”

                “Parrot?”

                “All the movie captains have them, don’t they?” Mark added. 

                “Who needs a parrot when I have you two?”  Paul grinned.

                “I think it’s time for a mutiny,” Drake suggested.

 

                “Smitty, would you quit messing around with that bird and let’s go already?”

                “Wait a second, Phil—I think I can catch it.”  Smitty tiptoed behind the little blue bird, hands positioned to grab it.  The bird paused to pick at its feathers and Smitty leaped at it.  The bird dashed away from him, perching on a rail above a door.

                “Leave it alone already!” Phil insisted.

                “No, I wanna catch it!”

                “It’s gonna bite you if you’re not careful.”

                “BITE YOU!  BITE YOU!” the bird squawked.

                Smitty grinned.  “It talks!”  He jumped at the bird, grabbing for it again.  He missed.  “Shoot!”

                “SHOOT YOU!  SHOOT YOU!”

                “He picks up vocabulary pretty quick—I’ll give him that,” Phil said.  He approached the bird.  “Say ‘Nooney Rickett’!”

                The bird cocked its head sideways, then squawked.  “SHOOT THE NOONEY!  I GOT RICKETTS!”

                “Poor bird,” Smitty said, glaring at Phil.  “You’ve already got him screwed up!”

                Phil couldn’t answer.  He was too busy laughing.

               

                Another crewman approached Paul.  “Sir, if we stay on course, I think we should reach land within another day.”

                “Another day?”  Paul looked worriedly at Mark and Drake.  “Guys…”

                “We’re making excellent time, Cap’n,” the crewman interjected.  “We’ve not suffered any difficulties with the weather or the sea…”

                “I’m used to getting back home in a day’s time,” Mark muttered to Drake.  Drake nodded in agreement.

                “If things are going alright, I guess we shouldn’t mess with it then, huh?” Paul pondered.  “Thanks for the update.”  He sighed audibly as the crewman left.  “What now?”

                “Wish I knew,” Drake replied.  “Shouldn’t we be able to find the door and get out of here?”

                “Should be,” Mark said.  “We usually have to wait about six hours before it shows up again.”

                “Then it’s settled—We just hang around and wait for the door and then FWOOSH!  We’re outta here and back home before you can say ‘swab the deck’.”

                “SWAB THE NOONEY!”

                “What?!?”

                Phil and Smitty appeared on deck.  Smitty had the little blue parrot perched on his arm.

                “If it isn’t the First Mate and the cabin boy,” Drake announced mockingly.  “Where ya been, maties?”

                “Checking out what’s under the hood, so to speak,” Phil answered.  “Look what we found.”

                The parrot twisted its head this way and that, scratching behind its neck with its foot.  It looked at Paul, then back at Smitty.  “SHOOT THE SWABBIE!”

                “That parrot sounds a little confused, guys,” Mark pointed out.

                “But he’s cute, isn’t he?” Smitty beamed.  “He’s a Norwegian blue parrot.”

                “NORWEEGIE RICKETT!”

                “Well, you’ve got your parrot now, Cap’n,” Drake laughed.  “He’s just as mixed up as the rest of us.”

                Smitty held his arm out, allowing the bird to fly to Paul’s shoulder.

                “ART RAZ!  ART RAZ!” it screeched.  Paul held his ears.

                “I taught him that,” said Smitty proudly.

                “Maybe you’d better keep him then,” Paul said.  “Shoo!  Shoo!  Go back to your trainer!”

                “ART RAZ!  ART RAZ!”  The bird propelled itself back toward Smitty, sitting on his head.

                “I like the little guy,” Smitty commented.

                “Talk about giving someone the bird….” Phil said, rolling his eyes.

               

                The Raiders tried to fall into position as part of the Melchart’s crew.  Paul spent more time asking questions of the crew and trying to look important.  Mark and Drake interrogated a few crewmembers themselves and also searched for the time portal door.  Phil and Smitty continued their own investigation of the ship, complete with the parrot.

                They found out that the Melchart was in search of a treasure, rumored to be buried along the edge of an island off the coast of South America.  Several other ships had left in search of the treasures of the island, but had never returned.  They always vanished.

               

    “Was the Bermuda Triangle around back then?” Mark asked.

                “I’m not sure, but I don’t like the sounds of it,” said Drake.  “Whole ships don’t just disappear.”

                “Tell that to all the folks hung in the Triangle.”

                “Look—We got three more hours to wait, then we’re outta here.  I’m not taking any chances on anything.”  Drake studied the view through one of the portals.  “It’s a good thing we’re leaving when we are.  Looks like we’re getting closer to that island.”

               

                “ART RAZ!  ART RAZ!”

                “Smitty, would you shut that bird up?  I’m trying to sleep!” Phil complained.

                “Shut up, Norbert,” Smitty mumbled, half asleep.

                “SHUT UP!  SHUT UP!”

                Phil flung his pillow at the creature.  It flew into the air, dodging the object.  It fluttered to the headboard of Smitty’s bed and perched on the edge.  At last, it settled and went to sleep.

                “Hey, Phil—Wake up.”

                “I said shut that bird up, Smitty,” Phil said, just into a deep sleep.

                Drake shook his friend firmly.  “Phil!  It’s ME!  Wake up!”

                “Huh?  Oh, hey, Drake…”  He rubbed his eyes and yawned.  He saw Mark in the shadows behind Drake.  “What gives?”

                “It’s about time for the door to open up again,” Drake explained.  “We can get outta here!”  He pointed to the figure in the other bed.  “Mark, get Smitty up, would ya?”

                Mark nodded and approached the bed on the opposite side of the cabin.  He nudged the lump under the covers.  “Wake up, Smitty.”

                No response, save for snoring.

                “I said, UP, Smitty!  C’mon—Outta bed!”  Mark yanked the sheets back, finding Smitty’s feet on the pillow.  Exasperated, he pulled the sheets up from the foot of the bed, revealing Smitty’s face.  His mouth was wide open and he was still snoring.

                “Mark, would you quit stalling and wake him up?” Drake pleaded.  “We don’t have that much time to waste!”

                Mark sighed and rolled his eyes.  He reached over and pinched Smitty’s nose closed.  The snoring stopped, followed by sputtering, coughing….

                “What’s the big idea?”  Smitty sat up like a shot.  “What’re you trying to do?  Choke me?”

                “Door’s open—We gotta go!”

                “So the door’s open, yay-rah-boom.  I wanna go back to sleep!”  He flopped back under the covers.

                “Smitty—The TIME door,” Mark insisted.  “We can go home!”

                Smitty sat back up.  “Why didn’t you SAY so?”  He hurried to his feet and followed Mark out of the cabin.

                Norbert, the bird, had heard the commotion and quickly flew after the men.

 

                The ship rocked with more force; the waves were getting rougher.  As the Raiders made their way through the belly of the clipper, they found it harder to stand upright.  Drake was using his cutlass as a walking stick; Phil kept a firm grip on the bars around the doorways, while Smitty kept a firm grip on Phil’s coattails.

                A nasty wave hit the ship’s side, tilting it.  Smitty fell and slid across the floor, dragging Phil with him.  They came to a stop when they crashed against the wall.

                “You’ve got lousy sea legs,” Drake said as he helped them to their feet.

                “It’s not like we’ve got something to carve in the floor with, either, Levin,” Phil grumbled.  “Which way to that door?”

                “I think it should be in the galley.”

                Another brutal wave hit the ship, sending all three of them reeling.

                “We’d better hurry,” Phil said.  “I don’t like the sounds of things around here.”  A quick peek through a portal confirmed his fears—A storm was upon them.

                “Where’s Mark?” Smitty asked, unsteadily trudging behind Phil.

                “He ran ahead to find Paul,” Drake answered. 

                “PAUL’S HEAD!  PAUL’S HEAD!”

                “Oh no,” Phil groaned.  “Smitty, your bird friend is back…”

                “Quiet, Norbert!”

                The parrot landed on Smitty’s head and stared directly at Phil.  “NOONEY RICKETT!”

                “Hey, he finally got it right!” Smitty said with a grin.

                “Ring the bells and beat the drums,” Drake grumbled sarcastically.  “He coulda picked a better time, you know.”

                “NO TIME!  NO TIME!” the bird squawked.

                “Shut your beak or else we’ll have squab when we get home!” Drake threatened, waving his cutlass.

                Norbert cowered suddenly and let out a few low peeps.

 

                Mark hurried toward the captain’s quarters.  He grabbed the door handle, intent on flinging it open.  It stopped abruptly with a “thud”.  He tried opening it again, but it kept stopping against something.

                He held his breath and squeezed halfway through the door.  “Paul?  Paul, you in here?”

                “Oww…”

                Mark’s eyes searched the room, finding Paul flat on his back on the floor.  His feet were against the door, keeping it from opening completely.  He had knocked him in the head with the door when he opened it; Paul had been right behind it.

                “Paul!  Paul, you okay?”  Mark forced himself into the room.  He knelt beside Paul, looking straight into his eyes.  “Paul!”

                “Huh?”

                “How many fingers am I holding up?”

                “Forty-six…”

                “You’re fine.”  Mark helped him sit up and placed his hat back onto his head.  “C’mon—The guys are probably already waiting at the door.”

                “What door?”

                “The time door, Paul—You know what door!”

                “Who’s Paul?”

                “Quit clowning, Revere,” Mark complained.  He stood and headed into the hallway.

                “Revere who?” Paul asked.  He looked absolutely lost.

                Mark stopped in his tracks.  “You’re kidding, right?”

                Paul shook his head.

                “Aaaaaahh…..crap.”  Mark scratched his head, trying to think of a solution.  “Maybe we can get you straightened out on the way there.  Come on…”  He grabbed Paul’s hand and pulled him down the hall.

                “Where we going?” Paul asked.

                “To the galley.”

                “But I’m not hungry.”

                “There’s a door there that we have to go through,” Mark explained.  “Quit stalling!”

                “Why do we have to go through the door?  What door?”

                Mark grumbled beneath his breath.  “Just come ON!”

 

                Drake peered around the corner of the galley doorway.  “Okay—The coast is clear,” he whispered, waving the other two Raiders into the kitchen area.

                “Where is it?” Phil asked.

                “It should be right over…..there!”  Smitty pointed to the door as it suddenly flapped open just in front of the stove.  He made a run for it, slipping as the ship lunged again.

                “Someone stop this ride—I wanna get off!” Phil whined.  He held the doorframe for support.

                Norbert flapped over Smitty’s head as he lay on the floor.  The little bird hovered over him a moment, then flew to the time door, perching on its edge.

                “Where are Paul and Mark?”  Drake paced the floor impatiently.  “They should have been here by now!”

                “Maybe they got knocked down,” Phil offered as he climbed through the time door.  He stood on the edge, just inside the time machine.  “We’re really taking a beating with that storm out there.”

                “No kidding,” Smitty muttered as he crawled to his feet.  He hurried to the doorway, standing alongside Phil.  “They should be here in a minute.  Give them time.”

                “That’s the one thing we don’t have that much of,” Drake replied.  He looked back down the hallway, finding no one.

                “We can’t leave without them,” Phil pointed out.  “What do we do?”

                “Hope they show up soon, that’s all.”

               

                “Do we really have to go to the galley?  It’s the middle of the night!” Paul complained.  Mark was still dragging him down the hall.

                “Listen, ‘Cap’n—If we DON’T go to the galley, we’ll be a in a lot of trouble!”

                “How so?”

                “We’ll be stuck here!”

                “If I’m the captain, shouldn’t I be here anyway?”

                “You’re not really the captain, Paul,” Mark insisted.  “You’re just…confused.  That blow to the head did it, I know.”

                “I should probably write it in the captain’s log,” Paul mumbled, mired in thought.

                “You’re NOT the captain, Paul!”

               

                “I hear ‘em,” Drake announced, relieved.  “Now we can get outta here.”  He waved to the other two men.  “This way, guys!”

                Mark dashed into the galley with Paul right behind him.  “Where’s that door?”

                Drake pointed.  “Over there.  Phil and Smitty are already waiting.”

                “ART RAZ!”

                “And Norbert, too,” Drake added.  “We don’t have much time.”  He was right, the door was already fading.

                “Sakes alive!  What’s going on?” Paul shouted.  He stared at the time door, wide-eyed.

                “We’re going back home, Revere,” Drake said, frustrated.  “Get in there already!”

                Paul planted his feet firmly against the floor.  “If this is some kind of mutiny, I won’t have it!”

                “What?”

                “What’s he on about?” Phil asked, looking perplexed.

                “He got a bump on the head,” Mark answered.

                “How?” asked Drake.  He felt over Paul’s forehead.  Sure enough, there was a knot right under his bangs.  “What happened?”

                Mark’s eyes darted around the room, avoiding direct contact with Drake’s.

                “Ma-a-a-rk!”

                “I sorta hit him with the door when I…uh….opened it,” the singer peeped.  “He thinks he’s somebody else.”

                “I should have your all court martialed for your despicable behavior aboard my ship!” Paul bellowed.  “Where is my First Mate?”

                “I think he means you, Phil,” Smitty whispered.

                Phil shook his head adamantly.  “I am NOT about to go near Paul when he’s acting like that.  Nope, no way, uh-uh.”

                The ship lunged again, nearly throwing Phil and Smitty from inside the time door.  They held fast to the doorframe.  Norbert sank his claws into the door itself, flapping his wings to keep his balance.  Drake stumbled, as did Mark.  Paul steadied himself against the wall of the galley.

                “Just get him in that doorway!” Drake ordered.  “We’ll knock some sense into him on the way there!”

                Paul pulled his own cutlass from his side and held it in front of Drake.  “You dare to mutiny on MY ship?  I should have you run in for this!”

                “Easy, man!  It’s NOT a mutiny, okay?”  Drake backed away slowly.

                “I should remind you that I am captain of this ship and I will not tolerate disobedience from my crew.  Is that understood?”

                “Sure-sure—Anything you say,” Drake stammered.  “Just put that thing away!”

                Paul raised a skeptic eyebrow, then returned the weapon to its sheath.  “You’re a good sailor.  It would be a shame to throw you in the brig when you’ve served your country so well already…”

                Smitty and Phil exchanged stunned glances.

    “He didn’t just get a bump on the head,” Smitty whispered.  “He got a whole lobotomy!”

    “Smith, Volk—I ask that the two of you report to my quarters immediately,” Paul demanded.  “We have some matters we need to discuss concerning these two…”  He pointed at Mark and Drake.

    “His brain is totally scrambled,” Phil said.  “It’s sort of like…”

    “Alternate reality,” Mark finished.  “Man, I did a number on him, didn’t I?”  A look of guilt covered his face.

    “Yeah, you sure did,” Drake hissed.  “Why didn’t you knock on that door first instead of beaning him with it?”

    “I didn’t know!”

    “You oughta be more careful!”

    “Guys—COME ON!” Phil called to the remaining three Raiders.

    The time door had faded so much, the stove was visible through it.  Norbert was fast losing his grip as well.

    Drake and Mark seized Paul by the arms, pulling him to the doorway.

    “Unhand me, you brutes!”

    Thunder boomed overhead, even louder than it had been previously.  The ship creaked and swayed at the mercy of the rough waves.  It rocked violently, spilling Phil and Smitty from their perch inside the time machine doorway.  As the ship tumbled back the other way, the barely visible door slammed shut. 

    The noise echoed through the galley….It may as well have been a death toll.

    “That didn’t just happen,” Mark gasped.  “No way that just happened…”

    “Well, it DID!” Drake barked.  He let out a miserable groan, glancing at Phil and Smitty, who were piled on top of each other in the floor.  “You okay?”

    “I think so,” Phil answered quietly.  He poked the lump beneath him.  “How about you?”

    “Mmrrrrff…” came the reply.

    “I think Smitty said he’s okay, too.”

    Norbert was still hovering above the two men.  He landed on Phil’s head and began picking at his hair.

    Unhappy sighs could be heard in the damp air.  The guys had missed their chance.

    “What now?” Mark asked.

    Paul loosened himself from their grip, dusting off his captain’s coat.  “I think we should all go back to our quarters for the night.  I’ll not report this…but just make sure it never happens again!”  With that, he marched into hallway and back to his room.

    “We’ll have to figure something else out,” Mark offered.  “There has to be a way out of here.”

    “Yeah, when we hit land—and that’s not much of a chance if you ask me,” Drake snarled.

    “The door WILL open again, Drake.  It’s got to!”

    “And just what if it doesn’t?”

    They were all quiet.

    “DEAD DUCKS!  DEAD DUCKS!” Norbert screeched.

    “For once, the little pest is right,” Drake said as he exited the galley.

 

    “LAND HO!” yelled one of the crewmen.  “LAND HO!”

    “I thought I told you to shut up, Norbert,” Smitty mumbled incoherently.  He yanked the sheets over his head.  Norbert was still roosting at the head of the bed, cooing in his sleep.

    “LAND HO!”

    “Smitty, shut that bird up,” Phil yawned.  He sat up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.  He noticed that the parrot was still asleep, as was Smitty.

    Drake threw the door open.  “We’re there, guys—Wake up!”

    “The island already?” Phil stammered.  “Oh cripes.”  He grabbed the sheets on Smitty’s bed and gave them a hard yank.  “Up ‘n’ at ‘em, cabin boy!”

    The sheets pulled completely off the bed, taking Smitty with them.

    “Oops…  Sorry, Smit.”

    “What now?”

    “LAND HO!” came the voice again.

    “Oh…that,” the little man said with great dread.

 

    The Raiders reported to the deck immediately.  Paul was already there, looking as “captainly” as ever.

    “Yep….He’s gone,” Mark said.

    One of the other sailors nudged Smitty in the side.  “What’re ye waitin’ fer, boy?”

    “Huh?”

    “Blow that flippin’ whistle already!”

    Smitty had not paid much attention to the whistle around his neck.  He thought it was there just for the sake of being….pretty.  He fumbled with it a moment, then tried to blow it.  It sounded like a sick canary.  Phil, who was standing right next to him, clasped his hands over both ears.

    “Yecch…”

    “Sorry.”

    Norbert looked at the whistle, then at Smitty.  He took a deep breath and imitated what the whistle was supposed to sound like.  “Tweee-EEEEE-eeee!”

    Everyone was suddenly at attention.

    Phil remembered what he had seen in the movies and shouted, “All hands on deck!”

    Drake and Mark hurriedly stood beside their other two friends.

    Paul, still in his “captain” role, strode between the lines of men.  He turned abruptly when he reached the ship’s wheel, facing his crew.

    “I think HE needs the peg leg and the hook,” Mark whispered to Drake.

    “Do you see me arguing?”  Drake snickered.  “Aarrrrrgh, me hearties….”

    The four started giggling among themselves.  Paul shot them an angry glare and they quietened.

    “Men,” Paul said authoritatively, “we’ve reached the shores of Bonwackett Island.  I assume all of you are aware of the tales of the island…Am I right?”

    There were a few concerned mumbles from the rest of the crew.

    “I’ll have you know they are nothing but fables,” Paul continued, “fashioned by the natives to keep us from finding the treasure hidden there!”

    “Oh brother,” Phil sighed.  “What next?  We gonna go chase Moby Dick?”

    “I shall take my best men ashore—I leave it to the rest of you to keep this ship in shape until our return.  Is that understood?”

    “AYE CAP’N!” the men chorused loudly.

    “Very well then….”  Paul marched back between the lines, stopping before the other four Raiders.  He stared at them.  “Smith, Volk, Lindsay, Levinchefski—Man your gear.  We go ashore.”  He turned sharply again, facing the rest of the crew.  “Dismissed!”

    Norbert whistled again.  “Tweee-EEEEE-eeee!”  The crew scattered.

    “Remind me to give you a cookie for that later, Norbert,” Smitty praised, scratching the little parrot’s head.

    “Cookie….Cookie….” the bird cooed.

    “Levinchefski?!?” Drake blurted, upset.  “He’s NEVER called me that!  Ugh….”

 

     “STROKE!  STROKE!  STROKE!” Norbert chirped as the small crew pulled the rowboat’s oars.

    “I’m still thinking of a chicken dinner tonight,” Drake snarled.  He looked to Smitty.  “Can’t you do anything with that bird?”

    “Lay off the bird, Levin,” Phil argued.  “It’s not his fault we’re here.”

    “Quit yer yappin’ and put your backs into it!” Paul shouted.

    “I shouldn’t have to remind you who IS responsible,” Drake muttered again.  He was seething.

 

    The rowboat reached the shore of the island within a few minutes of leaving the Melchart.  Phil and Drake were first out, leading it partially into the sand to steady it.

    “Alright, men,” Paul said as he climbed from the boat.  “We have a treasure to find.”  He consulted a worn out map.  “Hmmm….  Lindsay, Levinchefski, Volk—You come with me.”

    “What about me?” Smitty asked, more than a little disappointed.  “Don’t I get to come along?”

    “You get to stay here and watch the boat, boy,” Paul answered, grinning.  He patted Smitty on the head.

    “Woo-hah,” the cabin boy said unenthusiastically.  “Be still my beating heart—I get to watch the boat.”  He sat down in the drier sand just up the shore.

 

     “What’s this treasure supposed to be, anyway?” Mark asked as he hacked at the dense jungle growth ahead of him.

    “It’s so fantastic, every crowned head in Europe wants it,” Paul answered.  His nose was still buried in the treasure map.  “I’ll let you men in on a little secret.”

    “What’s that?”

    “Soon as we find it, we’re leaving for something better.”

    “What do you mean?”  Drake fought with a few vines that had caught his ankles.

    “I mean that we take our leave from the Royal Navy and see if we can find more treasures on our own!”  He laughed.  “We’ll be the best plunderin’ pirates the world has seen!”

    Phil stopped in his tracks.  “That’s it.  That is just IT.”  He threw down the cutlass he had been given.  “I’m not playing anymore.  I’m going home.”

    “Volk?  VOLK!  You get back here right now!  I’ll have you thrown in the brig!” Paul called after him.

    “Fine.  Toss me in the clink,” Phil said as he tromped back through the jungle.  “I like the big mouthed bird better than I like dealing with you right now.”  He vanished into the greenery.

    “Levinchefski, you’ve just been promoted to First Mate,” said Paul.  “Congratulations.”

    “He’s right, you know,” Drake pondered.  “It IS a waste of time.”

    “It’s a treasure for crying out loud!  Don’t you wanna know what it is?”

    “I wanna go home,” said Mark.

    “Me too,” Drake added in agreement.  “We’ll see you later, Paul.”

    The two followed in Phil’s tracks, heading back to the boat.

    “What are you doing?  Are you crazy?  Oh come ON!” Paul pleaded.  He ran behind them.

 

    PLIP…

    “Forty-seven!”

    PLIP…

    “Twenty-eight!”

    PLIP…

    “Sixty-one!”

    PLIP…

    “LOST COUNT!” Norbert squawked pitifully.  He hid his head under his wing as Smitty tossed one last pebble into the water’s edge.

    “It’s okay, little guy,” Smitty said.  “You can’t count anyway.”  He petted the little parrot’s head.

    They had been there for what felt like hours.  Smitty had already hummed all the songs he knew and had taught a couple to Norbert, who warbled along happily.  All in all, though, it was very boring.

    “Gee, looks like the boat’s STILL there,” Smitty sighed caustically.  “Oh, the joys of being an important part of the crew…”

    Norbert began bobbing his head and flapping his wings.  He cawed and cackled excitedly.

    “What’s wrong with you, bird?”  Smitty watched as the parrot flew towards something just a few yards away from the boat.  His jaw dropped.  “The door!”

    “DOOR!  DOOR!  DOOR!” the bird cheered.  He perched on the door’s edge as it swung open over the water.

    “Guys!  GUYS!” Smitty called as he ran up the shore and into the jungle.  “The door’s back!  Come on!”

 

     Phil’s ears perked up; he recognized Smitty’s voice anywhere.  He found him just entering the jungle.  He was breathless and jittery.

    “What is it, Smit?” he asked.  “Just take a minute and calm down, okay?”  He held him by the shoulders, keeping him steady on his feet.

    Smitty struggled to catch his breath.  “It’s……the……door……  It’s…..back……”

    “THE door?”

    The drummer nodded.

    Phil’s famous grin spread across his face.  “This is too good to be true…”

 

    Mark and Drake heard the commotion ahead of them and picked up their pace.  They met up with Phil and Smitty, who were both smiling like two fools.

    “What’s got you so happy?” Drake scoffed.  “You eat the bird?”

    “The door’s back, Drake,” Phil beamed.

    “What?”

    “THAT door?” Mark asked.  “The same one we—“

    They nodded anxiously.

    “That’s music to my ears!” Drake shouted.

    “What are we waiting for?  Let’s go!”  Mark ran ahead of them.

 

     They reached the shore, greeted by the most beautiful sight they had ever seen—The time machine door swinging open freely from the usual nothingness.  Norbert was still seated on the top of the door.

    “Come on!  IN-IN-IN!” Drake ordered.  “We can’t afford to miss it this time!”

    Phil gave Smitty a boost into the doorway, then climbed in after him.

    “What about Paul?” Phil inquired.  “We can’t just leave him here.”

    Everyone looked at him incredulously.

    “Even if he IS crazy, we can’t leave him.  It wouldn’t be right.”

    “He’s got a point,” Mark said lowly.

    “What do you think you’re doing?!?” Paul screamed as he ran.  “I won’t have a mutiny!  All of you—In the brig!”  He splashed into the shin-high water, approaching the doorway.

    Mark grabbed the door handle and gritted his teeth.  “I got us into this, I guess I should get us out of it.”  He took a deep breath.  “Paul, this is for your own good.”

    “I demand you to get out of that thing and—“

    THWACK!!!

    Paul fell over backwards into the water.  Drake and Mark jumped out of the machine doorway and hoisted him up between them.  They shoved him through the door, then climbed back in themselves.  The door slammed shut, this time with everyone inside.

 

     “What do we tell Kip this time?” Mark asked.  “We’re running out of excuses.”

    “He’s gonna ask about that lump on Revere’s head—I can guarantee that,” said Drake.

    “What happened?” Paul moaned.  He was regaining consciousness.  He felt over his head.  “OW!”

    “Is he Paul or is he still Captain Blye?” Phil asked.  He stayed as far away from Paul as he could until he was sure.

    “Did we make it to the door?” Paul asked, groggy.  “Are we there yet?”

    “Phew…”  Mark was relieved.  “It’s him.”

    Smitty squinted, trying to see through the darkness.  “Anybody see Norbert?”

    “Not since we saw him on the door,” said Drake.  “I think he stayed behind.”

    “Rats….”

 

    The door opened and the Raiders piled out once again.  They were back at the shore, but it was the shore of California, not some weird island in the middle of nowhere.

    Phil and Drake helped Paul out of the “time machine” prop; he was still light-headed.

    “What happened to you?” Kip asked, running towards Paul and the guys.  “What’s that on your head?”

    “Mark hit him with the door,” Drake began.

    “MARK!”

    “It was an ACCIDENT,” Drake continued.  “He’ll be alright.”  He and Mark assisted Paul back to the dressing room.  Phil and Smitty trailed behind them.

    A blue flash sped past Smitty’s face.  When his eyes focused, he noticed that it looked like a bird.

    “ART RAZ!  ART RAZ!”

    Phil rolled his eyes and chuckled.  “I think Norbert’s okay.”

    “Sure is loud, though, isn’t he?” Smitty observed.

    “LOUIE LOUIE!  LOUIE LOUIE!”  The blue parrot dashed off into the distance.  “GRAB YOUR WOMAN!  LOUIE LOUIE!”

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