Captain Eve steered us doggedly south for weeks on end, braving tall seas and dead calms alike. Under her steady gaze we skirted the jags and juts of coasts as yet uncharted, and slipped between hungry whirlpools and snagging coral shelves.
As we pushed on, the cliffs that escorted us shrank to nothing but a tossed handful of stepping-stone islands. When we’d passed the last of them I looked out beyond and the nothingness yawned.
At last we sailed alone, the sky and sea reflecting only each other. On to the bottom of the world we pushed and our breaths fogged the air as the mercury dwindled like a silver fuse. Floating ice mountains towered above us without even trying. Beneath the water they were bigger and old as continents, but they offered us no advice, and why should they? Life was something we had now left behind. No birds could ever hope to reach us this far into the void but what of life in the half-world below?
Dear reader, I shudder to recall that in time we glimpsed nameless horrors; unholy unions between flesh and clockwork that reared and scrabbled at the portholes with their bony fingers all a-dance.
Crab-tanks patrolled in silence.
Jellied things pulsed like silk lanterns behind the glass, bobbing blind in the deeps of their private rhythms.
Tortoise Submariners snapped and fussed in their toothless old man language.
A shark who keeps his eyes away from his head. Only he knows why.
A giant sea mouse adjusted his cufflinks.
The Captain decided she simply couldn’t choose. “I’ll just have to taste them all,” she said.
Angry shrimp tuned their antennae to undersea radio. The preference they stick to is rock.
Davy Jones (RIP)
The captain remarked that ‘Lego!’ is what you shout when a shark bites you.
In the final chamber we witnessed swathes of dead-eyed creatures drifting fog-like among brightly coloured trinkets. The large ones shambled like the Golems of legend. The small ones bickered and wailed and grabbed with their small claws. I fancied we must have stumbled into purgatory but it turned out that this was just the gift shop.
At voyage’s end Captain Eve greeted dry land with great joy and a cry of, “To the alehouse my fine lads. Although actually I’m only 3 today so I’ll probably just have some orange juice…….and not be allowed inside.” She led the charge herself and finished the night with a spirited rendition of ‘Rule Britannia.’