Sunday, October 16th, 8:20 pm
In the great dining hall of the Henri Giffard XVI, Emerson held the little spoon above the flame. He watched as the wax melted and started to bubble along the edges of the bowl. “I remember when I was a child, around six years old,” he said to Malus, “my aunt used to make candles. She would melt wax in a pot before pouring it into clay molds. One day, when I was watching her in her kitchen, she had to run and answer the door. She left the melted wax in the pot on the table in front of me. I put my hand into the pot. The wax was still very hot… but it had cooled enough that I could keep my hand there for a second before pulling it out.” Emerson poured the sealing wax along the back flap of the envelope and pressed it in place with his stamp. “It looked as if I were wearing a tight, shiny white glove. After I had waved my hand about for a bit to cool it down I was able to slip it from the wax… like a snake peeling its skin. I had a perfect wax cast of my little hand.” Emerson blew on the seal then double checked to make sure Junie’s address was correct before placing it beside the letter to Ceejay. “It seemed magic to me… that I could have such a perfect copy of my hand… with fingerprints and all.”
“I’m assuming you have a point.” Malus took a sip of his wine, a beverage Emerson had noticed, that Malus was enjoying just a bit more with each day they spent aboard the luxurious cruiser. They were awaiting the arrival of the main course which promised to be a mouth-watering prime rib with fire-roasted mixed vegetables and Yorkshire puddings.
“No point, Martin,” Emerson smiled, “just life.”
“Ah yes, the infinite wisdom of Emerson Lighthouse: it is boundless and without a point.” Malus chuckled at his own little joke. “But tell me, how can you remember that little story when you claim to have amnesia?”
“Emerson continued to smile as he met Malus’s quizzical look, choosing to answer the direct question with an indirect answer. “On November 11th I will have a year of memories as Emerson Lighthouse, and on November 12th I will have a year of memories of New Babbage. But every so often something else, something from another life, sneaks through. Who is to say, why out of all the things we forget, certain memories remain… or randomly surface… but they do.”
“Martin!” Captain Smith’s exuberantly spirited eighteen year old daughter Rose quite abruptly interrupted the uncharacteristically personal conversation the two men were having. “Might I join the handsome young squire and his most gallant knight for dinner this evening?” She asked with a wink.
Emerson stood as Malus held the seat for the young socialite with whom he (much to the disapproval of her father, Captain Smith) had been spending much time with of late.
“Martin,” Rose said leaning in and placing her hand on the young squire’s leg, “what do you think of the flautist?” She asked looking over at the musician who had been regaling the ship’s passengers with variations on same melodramatic theme since the trip began. Emerson was about to respond, on Malus’s behalf, that the ubiquitous music inexplicably made him want to cry. But before he had the chance the sound of a tremendous crash shattered their nerves. A grappling hook had smashed through the window behind them and the ship quite suddenly lurched to the side. Pandemonium erupted as shouts of fear came from all quarters. Emerson noted the sound of breaking glass throughout the port side of the ship as an alarm claxon started to sound.
“Pirates!” a man near one of the windows screamed. “We are under attack from air pirates.” Most of the passengers just sat in a state of confused inaction as the crew suddenly tried to recall what they could of their training drills. “To arms!” someone called-out. “All able-bodied passengers to arms!”
Any romantic notions Emerson may have held regarding pirates was quite sadly dashed once the swords were drawn and the battle begun. Despite some valiant effort put forth by the defenders of the ship (perhaps none more so than Malus, Emerson noted with pride) the pirates were too numerous and too well coordinated to be held at bay. Within the hour, the crew and passengers relented, laying down their arms. They were next separated into two groups, one held near the bow, the other near the stern. The pirates, not completely without mercy, set to task preparing the two life-craft to carry the passengers and crew to their fate as marooned survivors of a pirate attack.
“With a deep sense of regret, I will relinquish command to you.” said Captain Smith to the captain of the pirates. “But only because nothing is more important to me than the survival of this ship.” Emerson noticed a hint of sadness flash across Rose Smith’s face. “Yet I vow to you now, mister,” he practically spat the word ‘mister’, “with these good men and women as my witnesses, that I shall one day see this ship recovered safely. And on that day you and your crew will hang by the neck until your very life breath is choked from your wretched lungs.” With those final words, the life-craft were released and began to drift, upon the mercy of the strong southern winds.
Monday, October 17th, 2:05 am
Each of the two life-craft from the Henri Giffard XVI was designed to carry a load of approximately 45 passengers. The one carrying Emerson Lighthouse and Martin Malus now snuggly held 49… but not without protest. Unable to carry the extra weight she started a long slow decent to the dark ocean below.
“Sir,” shouted Mr. Moody to the captain, “this vessel is not designed to float. Should we hit the water the basket will be torn apart by the waves and we will surely drown.”
“Everything not essential to our immediate survival must be thrown over.” shouted Captain Smith as the crew and passengers began looking for anything that might be jettisoned.
In the midst of grabbing and tossing items, Emerson paused as something caught his eye. “Hey, I’ve never seen a gun like this before.” he said studying a thick-barrelled pistol he had found in the bag he was about to toss over the side.
“It is called a Very pistol, Mr. Lighthouse,” said Captain Smith glancing over. “It was designed by one Edward Very a decade or so ago to shoot flares as a signal of distress. Take care with that sir, it has but a single shot and we will most surely be in need of it.”
Few were more inept at firing a weapon than Emerson Lighthouse, yet somehow in the process of testing the weight of the gun by aiming over the starboard rail, he effectively demonstrated the firing potential of the Very Pistol with an accidental discharge. The blue-green ball of flame was most impressive as it flew on an arc through the air ending in a rather dramatic impact with the hydrogen bladder lifting the Henri Giffard XVI, about 120 metres above and to the starboard side of the smaller craft.
The resulting explosion was spectacular! Several aboard the life-craft gasped in shock and dismay. The fire-ball quickly engulfed the pirate vessel towing the flaming wreckage. Together the two tethered craft began a death spiral towards the ocean far below.
“My ship! My precious ship.” Captain Smith cried out in spontaneous anguish, his face an orange glow as he watched with incomprehensible horror the flaming remains of his life’s love drop from sight.
“Oh the humanity!” someone cried from the stern as Emerson Lighthouse and Martin Malus stared on in awkward silence.
“We are still losing altitude… about a foot a second, by my estimation.” Mr. Moody warned from his station near the dials. “We need to lose somewhere between three and four hundred pounds… or we will impact with the ocean in approximately one minute.”
“The weight of two grown men.” The captain mused considering his actions.
“Last on first off is what I say.” advised Mr. McGegor.
The sombre light cast by the full moon reflected the fear in everyone’s eyes in shades of silver and blue. Captain Smith drew a gun from inside his jacket. “Gentlemen,” he shouted above the howling winds as he took aim in the general direction of Emerson Lighthouse and Martin Malus, “I offer you a choice. You can jump, or I will shoot you both where you stand. Either way you are going over.”
“Daddy no!” Rose screamed.
The captain held up his hand to silence her. He looked positively demonic as he stared down the two men, who in his eyes had become scapegoats for this most unfortunate disaster.
“Isn’t there some rule about captains and their ships we might call upon in moments such as this?” suggested Emerson.
“I’ll give you to the count of three to make your decision…” said Captain Smith, ignoring Emerson’s point of objection. “One…”
“Well, Mr. Malus…” said Emerson, feeling the gravity of the situation, “… if you jump, I jump.”
Before Captain Smith called out ‘three’, the knight and his squire stepped up and over the rail, leaving the crew and passengers, formerly of the RMS Henri Giffard XVI, to the mercy of the winds and chance.