Day in the (Not) Life of an Undead Pirate – Part II

By Bastian Best’s aunt

The rain pummelled my battered umbrella as I took my spot at the edge of Casket Key’s sulphur lake. The stormy weather wouldn’t stop me from my vigil to watch for Sir Picky Mirth I as he and his merry band of pirates rise from their alleged undead slumber at the bottom of the noxious lake.

Unfortunately, it also did not stop a throng of other enthusiasts who had taken the best spots by the time of my arrival. But do not fear, this correspondent has a cane and knows how to use it.

My front row seat also afforded me the ability to provide poultices to those most in need. (See comment above regarding the cane in question.)

What drew so many to experience the return of Sir Picky Mirth I? Your correspondent interviewed surrounding members of the audience to find out.

“Undead pirates?” said Bernice, 72, from Mangostad. “What are you going on about? We are here for the dragon show.” Alvita, 52, of Sugarcane Cove seemed in agreement, although she was more interested in selling me bruised dragonfruit than in discussing what was drawing the crowds.

Is it possible that Sir Picky Mirth I’s legend is intertwined with dragons? A quick search of various accounts of St. Quiche’s most beloved pirate uncovered no refererences to reptiles, aside from his penchant for boiled iguana.

“What?” said Dr. Bertram “Bertie” Vole, D.V.M. when I inquired about the relationship between dragons, Casket’s Key, and the pirate. “Dragon show? Is that why everyone is here? I bet Bartholomew is up to something.” He then pulled at his hair and screamed, “Bartholomew! Get over here! BARTHOLOMEW!”

He was referring, no doubt, to Bartholomew Meyers, 8, of Rumstad. A well-known entrepreneur and alleged juvenile delinquent, Bartholomew was named one of St. Quiche’s Most Disturbing Businessmen Under Age 40 in a recent edition of the St. Quiche Gossip Rag for his brisk sale of unicorn urine.

Further investigation proved that Bartholomew had gathered the spectators for a night of “music and entertainment featuring sneezing dragons, fireballs, and as much death as possible.” The child in question was heard describing the event as a “circus for people who are okay with burns and destruction.” The good veterinarian, who has taken up residence in exile on Casket’s Key (see The Veterinarian’s Field Guide to Smelly Dragon Breath for a full account) denied any connection to this deadly dragon spectacle.

“It’s a good thing it’s raining,” Dr. Vole was heard screaming at Bartholomew, “or you could have ended up turning this whole crowd to a crisp. What do you think you’re doing? Everyone, go home! This Cirque de Flambé ain’t happening on my watch.”

The good doctor’s desperate attempts semed to have no effect on the audience. Would the dragons sneeze and turn us all into human chummies? Would the cost of admission be worth the spectacle? And more important, would the presence of dancing and sneezing dragons keep Sir Picky Mirth I and his band of undead pirates from rising from the deep and making their ghostly pilgrimage through St. Quiche?

Tune in next time to the answers to these most burning questions.

Sincerely,

Bastian Best’s aunt.

Day in the (Not) Life of an Undead Pirate – Part I

By Bastian Best’s aunt

In the deep recesses of Quichan history, there is a legend, a legend of the undead. It is not clear when this legend began. Perhaps at the very beginning of time (see Genesis 1:1).* To meet the protagonists of these legends, you must make a day’s journey from the north coast of St. Quiche to the deserted isle of Casket’s Key.** There, you will march deep into the mangrove forest to find a lake of sulphur. This lake, seized by mysterious forces, glows yellowish-green.***

It lays dormant, quiet.

That is, most nights of the year.

For on this date, August (insert date the newsletter goes out****), a force overtakes the lake. Currents, perturbed, lick the mangrove-strewn shore. And out of the depths rise up Sir Picky Mirth I, St. Quiche’s greatest pirate known to mankind, and his merry band of sailors. *****

They rise, they rise out of the murky, glowing waters, machetes lifted to the night sky. Then they turn one to the other, nod in assent–assent to what, no one has been privy to that secret–and march slow-mo across the sulphur-scented waves till they take refuge on the dry shore.

There, the story becomes fuzzy. For at times, they are said to visit the governor of St. Quiche, haunting him for his murky fiscal policy. At other times, they are said to be seen walking the streets of Rumstad, singing One Hundred Bottles of Rum on the Wall in ghostly wails. Others claim they have seen our undead trying to quench their everlasting thirst at the bar of The Last Resort only to disappear in smoke as the first rays of light hit the golden sand of our beloved shores.

These sightings have never been substantiated with reliable evidence.

Until now. Or until tonight, actually. Because I will be there, waiting on the shore of Casket Key’s lake, with my trusty disposable Kodak camera. I will witness as our undead pirates surface from the glowing depths. Armed with extra lighting, courtesy of  my journalist nephew, and a Dictaphone for which I must remember to buy batteries, I will be the first to gain incontrovertible proof that dead pirates do indeed live again.

Or not live again. We’re really not sure how this all works, from a biological standpoint.

But to find out, you must wait for Part II of . . .

A Day in the (Not) Life of the Undead

Sincerely,

Bastian Best’s Aunt.

P.S. For purchase of my relaxing incense, please visit my Etsy store.

* Editor’s note: Highly unlikely any of this happened circa Genesis 1:1 as these “legends” involve the pirate Sir Picky Mirth I, and he wasn’t born till the 18th century.
** Editor’s note: A day’s journey? Please. Ninety minutes, tops, unless you plan on travelling in an inflatable pool floatie thingy.
*** Editor’s note: Oh, please. It’s the sulphur that makes it all glowy and gross
**** Editor’s note: You couldn’t be bothered to confirm the date I was sending this? Really?
***** Editor’s note: Does this sound an awful lot like that Pirates of the Caribbean movie? Yeah, I thought so too.

Where there is smoke, there is a liar . . .

Bertie’s vet career is on fire.

But when a friend turned foe threatens his job, Bertie panics. He covers up some mistakes. Just tiny ones . . . like dragons.

As Bertie embarks on a frantic race to control these fifteen-ton blowtorches, betrayal stops him at every turn.

With secrets piling up, will Bertie have the guts to slay his inner dragons? Or will the mutants burn his career, his life, and Saint Quiche to the ground?

The Veterinarian’s Field Guide to Smelly Dragon Breath is the second novel in the Saint Quiche Island Archives fantasy series. If you like harried heroes, clumsy creatures, and vain villains, you’ll love this humor-filled adventure.

To get a preview, click the button below!

Teaser, teaser – The Veterinarian’s Field Guide to Smelly Dragon Breath

Bertie charged through the leaves in pursuit of the unicorn. Her black form jumped out of his reach, onto the sun-baked beach. The superheated sand burned as it wedged itself in his tennis shoes. Bertie picked up the pace, but the unicorn braked. He rammed into her hindquarters.

Princess Piranha had escaped again.

Bertie grabbed her reins and made sure he had a firm grip on the rough leather before sinking to the hot sand and gulping in deep breaths. Princess Piranha flapped her wings. The breeze gave Bertie some relief from the heat.

“You could have at least parked in the shade,” Bertie said. But all things considered, he had lucked out.

She could have flown away.

“You realize you got wings, right?” he said between breaths.

Bertie looked across the sand to The Last Resort bar. He checked his phone.

He had enough time for something cold before the meeting, right?

A message bleeped. “Bertie, where are you?”

It was from Hessy, doing her managerial duty to make sure he got to the meeting on time.

As in The Meeting, The Meeting with the new board of the unicorn park.

Yeah, he had time for something cold.

Bertie shoved his phone in his pocket as it bleeped again and tightened Princess Piranha’s reins around his knuckles as he pulled himself to his feet. He rubbed the sand off, ignoring another bleep from his phone, and clicked his tongue at Princess Piranha to follow him to the bar.

He would keep her close. There was no way he was showing up to the meeting and telling his bosses the he had lost a winged unicorn mutant thingy. No way.

His phone bleeped again.

“Not again, Hessy,” Bertie said. He dug out his phone. “Hey, star vet,” the first message said, “you haven’t forgotten the meeting, right?” Then the next one. “You’re avoiding???” And another. “You’re avoiding.”

Which was so not true.

He was searching and rescuing. And sipping.

Or would be sipping soon.

He tied Princess Piranha to the flaking blue porch of The Last Resort and stepped inside. But before he could make it to the bar, a thunderous crack made Bertie whip around.

Oh, no, no, no, no, no.

The post of The Last Resort dangled in the breeze. Princess Piranha had run off.

Bertie ran into the hot sand.

He looked to the left.

Nothing.

He looked to the right.

The sun bounced off Princess Piranha’s sparkling black hide. Bertie ran to catch up, but she was galloping too fast, kicking sand up into Bertie’s face.

She made a sharp turn left onto the northeast dock. Bertie rushed after. He stopped to get his breath where the sand met the worn slats of the pier. There was no reason to keep running. He had her. When she looped back, he’d cling onto her reins for dear life and drag her back to the park. It’s not like she was going to fling herself into the ocean.
A rush of air skimmed Bertie’s head.

No, no, no, no, no.

Bertie let out a breath of frustration. Princess Piranha was flying.

He ran inland, across the sand, trying to keep up. She made a beeline for the mangrove forest.

Not the mangroves, Bertie thought. Not the mangroves, please not the mangroves.

Just as she was about to breach the forest, she dove to her right and galloped across the field towards—

“Not the town!” Bertie called.

That’s worse. So, so, so much worse.

Bertie sped across the grass. His footsteps matched every ragged breath. He wasn’t going to reach her in time. There was no way.

He was a few car lengths behind when she reached the road into town. A line of stalls swallowed her up.

Unicorn on the loose. What would the bosses say?

Bertie lunged forward. He skidded on the road, regained his balance, and followed Princess Piranha’s retreating heinie.
“Is that your unicorn?” A vendor stopped Bertie. “Can I have a picture?”

“If I can catch her.” Bertie pulled himself out of the vendor’s grasp. Today of all days, Rumstad decided to put up kiosks everywhere. Bertie didn’t have time to ask why.

He dodged smiling shoppers who pointed at him as he straggled along. He overheard the commentary: “That’s that vet” and “He runs the unicorn park” and “Autograph?”

At least all the crowds were slowing Princess Piranha down. He was so close now. So close.

He threw out his arm and just about snagged her reins, which were whipping behind her, when she made a sharp left into a narrow street. Bertie slid on the cobblestones.

“Grab her,” Bertie said, but everyone was too busy taking pictures with their phones.

“There goes Dr. Unicorn,” someone screamed as Bertie dashed after Princess Piranha. The red, orange, green, yellow, and purple of the narrow houses bounced in front of his eyes as he tried to keep up his speed. The street curved towards the old fort. Just then, Princess Piranha rammed into a t-shirt stall.

“No!” Bertie screamed. He caught up to her just as she slipped on the broken wooden slats and shook the t-shirts from her back. With a red shirt still swinging on her horn, she bucked down the street.

“Eh, toreador!” The vendor laughed. He didn’t seem to care that his kiosk was destroyed. He probably planned to put up a plaque that said, “Unicorn was here.”

Bertie dodged a bicycle as he ran after Princess Piranha. He almost had her—again—but she pushed off her hind legs and flew into the blue sky.

Bertie bent over, gasping for oxygen, and watched as Princess Piranha, with a red shirt flapping in the wind like a sail, disappeared from view.

Still resting his hands on his knees, he looked at the ground. Purple, green, orange, yellow t-shirts interspersed with black unicorn feathers were strewn at his feet. A bead of sweat dripped on the bluish cobblestones. Bertie sucked in humid air.

“Bertie?” Hessy’s voice came at him from above.

Crap, he was probably late for the meeting.

Bertie straightened his back, but before he could explain why he was late, a flash blinded him. He shielded his face with his hands.

“Bastian Best from the St. Quiche Ledger.” Bastian snapped another picture. “From underdog to unicorn superstar. That is what all of St. Quiche is calling you. How do you balance it all?”

Bertie looked over at the demolished t-shirt stand. He grimaced at the stitch in his side.

“Maybe you could give Bertie a minute?” Hessy said. Bertie found her in the crowd, her red head all fiery in the sun. She was standing in front of the fort’s giant double doors with what Bertie assumed was the unicorn park board. The governor, looking particularly broad in his cream suit, smiled. “Indeed, our star veterinarian has arrived.”

Hessy stood next to Bertie and whispered, “Smile.”

Bertie stretched his face into what he hoped was happy.

“Okay, maybe not,” she said.

“Miss Beauregard relayed your message,” the governor said.

“My message?” Bertie said. He looked to Hessy for help. Message? What message? Hessy kicked him.

“As to the reason for your delay,” the governor said.

“Yeah, totally, my message,” Bertie said.

“Dr. Vole?” A man with way too much product in his hair and gold chains peeking out of an open collar, stretched his hand out to Bertie. Bertie seemed to remember that he ran illegal horse bets from his pharmacy. “Once matters settle down at WURRIEA, are there any plans to create another genetically engineered animal?”

“UREA?” Bertie said. Hessy whispered something in his ear, but he didn’t catch it on account of a lady bellowing.

“More mutants?”

That was Miss Celestina.

As in president-of-the-board-boss Celestina. She raised her finger at Bertie. A red handbag, like a cannonball, swung slowly at her elbow. “You! Do not let me catch you making more mutants.”

“I—”

“Celestina, dear,” the governor said. “Dr. Vole was not the one to suggest the creation of more mutants.”

Celestina grabbed Greasy Man’s collar. “I told you, don’t you go putting crazy talk ideas into this boy’s head. Or did you not see what just happened?” She pointed at the vendor who was picking up all his stray t-shirts. “Bull in a China shop.”
“I believe you are crushing Anton’s windpipe,” the governor said.

“Anton,” Celestina said, “if I find out you push anyone to make more monsters—”

Bertie said, “The unicorns aren’t—”

“Monsters, you hear?” Celestina put her finger in Greasy Anton’s face. I will push you off the board.”

Greasy Anton smiled, showing a space between his front teeth. “Celestina, dear—”

“Any more suspicious creatures, I will push you off the board. I will push you out of your business. I will push you off St. Quiche.” She pointed to the fort behind her. “I will push you off the top of this building.”

“Do you want me to continue supplying fertilizer for your mother’s prize lilies?” Greasy Anton said . . . greasily.

Celestina pulled back her finger. “Fine. I will pay your hospital bills after I push you!” Celestina rounded on Bertie. “You made me miss my kalooki game.”

Bertie gulped. Was she waiting for an apology? Maybe she was waiting for an apology. “I’m sorry, Miss Celestina.”

“Everyone thinks you are a star, but I have been watching you these past few weeks.” She leaned in. Her voice became a hiss. “I. Know. Better.”

Bertie worked really hard at not blinking as she stared up into his face. Then she growled.

He was sure of it.

When she turned away, her red handbag thwacked Bertie in the ribs. Bertie hunched over in pain just as Bastian snapped another photo.

By the time the floaters cleared from his vision, Celestina was stomping away. Pedestrians cleared a path for her. It was like watching the parting of the Red Sea, only scarier.

“Governor!” she hollered. “I will go pick up the new veterinarian.”

“New vet?” Bertie said. But no one would give him an answer.

Will Bertie flub his job? Will the new vet be better looking than him? And what’s with the dragons? Tune in to The Veterinarian’s Field Guide to Smelly Dragon Breath to find out. (Coming soon to an Amazon webstore near your.)

Need to catch up on book 1, The Veterinarian’s Field Guide to Rabid Unicorns? Get your copy here at Amazon.com.