Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Bees by Laline Paull

The BeesThe Bees by Laline Paull
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Bees by Laline Paull

In the spirit of George Orwell's Animal Farm, Laline Paull's debut novel, The Bees, wings readers through a life of adventures seen through the lens of Flora 717, a worker bee from the titular colony.  Flora is a bee of singular distinction, unlike her sisters; she is larger, stronger, and independent, with willpower that is unmatched by most other bees in the hive.  In the world of the hive, the Queen and the collective are placed above the individual and every bee lives by the credo “accept, obey and serve”.  While for most bees the Hive Mind reigns, Flora is an outsider, a loner at the centre of this great crowd. And beyond her physical, intellectual and social differences there is something else - she holds secrets. 

We follow her journey through life starting with the moment she emerges from her cell.  She is a sanitation worker, the lowest caste in the hive, born only to serve the colony by cleaning the hive.  But early on we learn that she is unusual.  Whereas other sanitation workers spend their lives shuffling about the hive, eyes downcast, taking instruction from any and all other bees, Flora sets herself apart immediately by doing something that no other sanitation worker dares - she speaks.

We witness her education as she performs a variety of roles in the hive, a privilege not normally afforded other bees.  She spends time in the nursery where the Queen’s eggs develop into the larvae that will soon be new members of their society.  She works as a forager, leaving the hive to hunt for pollen amongst the flowers of the orchard and beyond.  Her travels bring her into contact with other members of the insect world, crossing paths with spiders, flies and wasps among others.  They also give her insight into some of the truths and secrets of her society that aren’t normally shared with the collective.  This knowledge, and her unwillingness to conform lead to challenges for Flora that will test her courage, wisdom and perseverance.  Can one bee stand against tradition and the colony?

Beyond the story of Flora, The Bees is a novel that explores a variety of issues and ideas.  It is a study of a caste-based society and the struggles facing anyone who opposes its rigid, unyielding structure.  It explores the inequities of life for those in the lowest strata as compared to those who exist in the circle of influence and power.  The power in this society is concentrated in the small subset known as Sages, who act as priestesses of the colony and serve the Queen who reigns over all.  And in the world of this hive, this power and control is exerted through blind devotion to the Queen and collective.  The story uses images of religious fervour, invoking the traditional language of Christianity, even going so far as to use a modified version of The Lord's Prayer.  At points in the story, the religious devotion reaches a cult-like fervour, with bees following directives unquestioningly, and sometimes to their death.

Violence is another theme frequently presented throughout The Bees. The hive is often portrayed as a police state, with the word of the Sages enforced by bees serving as police who seem more like assault troops than peacekeepers.  Bees quiver and cower in their presence and punishment by death is prevalent.  Indeed, the law of the hive leaves little room for leniency and many bees meet an early death at the hands of these enforcers. At other times Paull’s use of description become nearly erotic.  The relationship between the bees and the flowers that they search out for pollen is portrayed in tones of yearning and deep need. Flowers beg bees for their caress, wantonly sending out their fragrances in desperate, unabashed desire.  

The book also plays with issues of gender, politics, the fouling of the environment, rebirth, motherhood, loyalty, succession and balance. It is a study of a society and the struggles of one bee that doesn’t fit the mold prescribed for her by that society. It is an interesting tale, providing insight into the world of bees and a variety of topics for the reader to consider. We cheer for Flora, sympathizing with her as she struggles to do her part to serve her sisters and fulfill her role in the hive while still being true to herself. It is a role we can see ourselves in and this little bee exemplifies the courage required to fly in the face of adversity. We should all be lucky to be so endowed.

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Fat Vampire Big Fat Box Set by Johnny B. Truant

Fat Vampire Big Fat Box Set (The entire 6-book series)Fat Vampire Big Fat Box Set by Johnny B. Truant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An oversized vampire’s quest to become the best, happiest, most secure version of himself that he can. And stop an apocalypse. Twice.

Fat Vampire Series by Johnny B. Truant

Reviewed by Rob Laman

When it comes to story, we like to connect - we need to be able to insert ourselves into it.  And though we are all heroes in our own stories, only the most egotistical of us sees him or herself as a perfect archetype. Chiseled chest glistening in the setting sun with long locks flowing in the breeze as the smashing blonde runs doe-eyed down the beach, arms out prepared for your strong embrace? Not so much. The reality is that we all have our warts, and it is often these flaws that are the most relatable in a good story.  They draw us in, helping us to empathize with the characters.  There is a beautiful passage in Rich Man, Poor Man by Irwin Shaw where Gretchen, a main character, has misplaced her reading glasses. She employs her husband’s glasses, which happen to be handy, noting the matched imperfections she and he share.

Reginald Baskin is an everyman, a relatable anti-hero, lacking in confidence, relying on wit, sarcasm and self-effacement to survive in a world that rewards bigger, better, stronger, faster.  The Fat Vampire Series by Johnny B. Truant, consists of six novella length books that explore the life of Reginald, who, as the title so adroitly suggests, is an overweight vampire. He’d rather plant himself on the couch with a bag of Cheetos and a bottle of pop than stalk humans for blood.  In fact, he doesn’t really even like blood, finding it gross. Clearly he’s missing some of the key attributes required for good vampiring. Before being turned, most vampires train extensively, working themselves into peak physical condition before embracing immortality.  It’s boot camp for biters and there is a waiting list. As a human Reginald was always weak and slow; as an incidental immortal, the improvement is marginal. However, over time Reginald discovers some strengths of his own, primarily as the beneficiary of the greatest vampire mind in history.  And he’s going to need it because the end of the world just may be nigh.

Brilliant mind or not, his sudden inability to stroll along the beach at midday hasn’t removed any of the stigma that accompanied his size whilst human.  Now instead of merely being subject to the ridicule of his fellow humans, he is subject to the scorn of humans and vampires alike.  The early forecasts for eternity indicate perpetual mockery and feelings of inadequacy. The series follows Reginald through his adjustment to life as a night stalker and his ensuing adventures as he comes to grips with his place in this new world and ultimately his role in the fate of the planet, humanity and vampirekind. Along the way the reader experiences a transformation of both Reginald and the world in which he lives. Beyond the obvious jokes and self-loathing, the Fat Vampire series is an adventure that dabbles in philosophy, includes political intrigue and even a love story, albeit vampire love.

The characters are presented as regular people. Well, regular vampire people. They have doubts. They make mistakes. Some explode into clouds of vampire dust. The author toys with the prevalent vampire mythology popularized by iconic writers like Bram Stoker and Anne Rice and more recently via the success of Twilight, True Blood, and the like, though the series is more Buffy than Dracula. Mostly though readers will see bits of themselves in these tales of blood, spotting their own fears, desires and short-comings. But if you’re looking for another throw down between Teams Edward and Jacob this is not the series for you.  Oh, there is an incubus who plays a role in the story and an appearance by an angel, but no werewolves.  Mostly because they’re not real.

It is clever read that both advances and sends up the genre, digging into ideas that are seldom explored in tales of the undead.  What do vampires think about child vampires? Creepy and frowned upon. Why does garlic repel vampires? It’s mostly just about bad breath; garlic is actually quite useless for anything other than seasoning. Are vampires really immortal? This requires a longer discussion, preferably over a pint of beer at a university pub or atop some dusty desert mesa with a handful of peyote buttons.

For all of it’s fun, the Fat Vampire series contains lots of swearing and some of the content is not for the faint of heart - or the kiddies. If you enjoy inverting tropes and can stomach the occasional fat-guy joke, the series takes a novel approach to some highly leveraged subject matter.  This is not high art, but it is fun story with characters you will cheer for, mostly because but for a bite on the neck, there go you.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014


This is for a show and tell piece for a writing course provided by Brian Henry.  The assignment was to find something from home and write a short story about it that we would then read to the class to be critiqued.  The toy belongs to my son - everything else is complete fiction.  Enjoy.

*  *  *  *  *


He raised the toy motorcycle up, bringing it to within six inches of his nose to inspect the fine details.  It still fascinated him and he could sit with it for long stretches of time. Except for the Suzuki® logo on the tank and the badging on the fairing, it was completely black.  It’s rubber tires spun, it’s handlebars and forks rotated and it included a spring mechanism that simulated the rear shock.  The mirrors and kickstand had gone missing but it remained otherwise pristine.  Not that he had ever played with it; it was meant for looking at only.

It had been a gift on his eighteenth birthday and had come wrapped in a small box with shiny green paper and a golden ribbon.  His friends and family had been seated around the long table at the restaurant where they had always gathered for special occasions.  He could still remember pulling back the paper and discovering it in the box, peeking through the form-fitted clear plastic.

He had been puzzled, unclear about receiving a toy from his father for this milestone birthday.  Was his father mocking him?  He had raised it for all to see and met his father’s scrutiny with a practiced smile and the requisite words of thanks.  A hazy image of the faces around the table remained in his mind, all etched with expressions that mirrored his own bewilderment.  Why would a young man who could now vote, buy his own cigarettes and shoot people on behalf of his country, receive this toy?  It was the face of his uncle that had remained most clear to him.  There was recognition mingled with fear and pleading.

His father had then stood and motioned for the group to follow him out of the restaurant.  The real gift was parked on the patio, which his father had paid to have vacated for the event.  It was the toy, writ large, dark and sleek with lines that spoke of speed and maneuverability.  It terrified him.

He circled the bike, taking it in, as his father looked on.  A helmet perched on a mirror and a leather jacket, complete with a wide assortment of buttons and zippers, was draped over the seat.  The friends and family gathered around him were a blur in his memory, undefined background filler on a canvas.  Not so his father and uncle.  Their images remained clearly defined in his recollection of the event.  His father’s face all arrogance and presumption, his uncle’s fear and resignation.

It had taken him a long time to begin to understand what he had seen in their expressions.  In the years since there had been opportunities, both verbal and unspoken, to discern and reflect upon their meaning.  His one regret was that he hadn’t been more assertive, hadn’t stood up for himself, hadn’t trusted the message in his uncle’s countenance.

The truth was that his father was an egomaniacal tyrant whose own self-image was dependent on controlling those around him.  The effect was that his father remained rigid, unyielding, and unwavering in his expectations.  Anything less than complete success was unacceptable and accompanied by shame.  He knew now that his uncle had suffered quietly his entire life with that, never challenging his older brother.  That night had been his uncle’s muted attempt to aid his nephew.

He had been anxious, terrified actually, but also conditioned to please his father, to achieve, to be fearless.  The only response he had ever known was obedience; accomplish the task his father had set and the man’s gaze would soon turn to something else.  And so on this night, after a short pause, he had slid into the jacket and mounted the bike to the delighted whoops of the guests.  As he secured the helmet his uncle met him with a fixed stare.  He saw a look in the man’s eyes that he himself felt but didn’t betray with his outer demeanor.  It was sadness, fear, defeat and inevitability.  But more than any of that, his uncle’s expression bared the man’s weakness.  He lowered the darkened visor and the motorcycle screamed to life.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

The memory complete, his thoughts returned to the present moment, the motorcycle still in his hand.  He wheeled his chair around the sofa and replaced the toy on the table.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Office Random

Found in the kitchen at work this morning.  I asked a co-worker who was standing nearby what it was and she gave me the palms up shoulder shrug.  I checked & it smells like red.

Rumpel Redux

This is more Flash Fiction based on another challenge at In this one we were to retell a fairy tale with a random sub-genre twist. The telling wasn't an issue. The 1,000 words was; I used the exercise to practice hitting a word count target and working on being more concise (I cut over 1,600 words!) Not entirely convinced that the end result is better, but it achieved a goal. Hope you enjoy.  

M y name is Peter.  I’m a private dick.  I used to work for the King’s brigade, the best of the best, but the damn bottle was my undoing.  Too much of the juice they said.  So now I freelance.

One day this blonde with legs up to her neck sidles in.  I just about choke on my drink when I realize it’s the Queen.  Sure enough, the King ambles in next.  I’m flustered, making with the bowing and such but he tells me to stand up.  

“I’ve heard you’re the best but have a fondness for the cups.”  A statement of fact I think.  He continues, “Can you stay out of the whiskey long enough to solve a case?”  Definitely a question.

“Word is I'm the best, so it would seem so.”  The Queen is watching me like a cat after a canary.

“I have a job for you.  A man has threatened to kidnap our son unless my wife can guess his name.”

“So you just need his name?”

“Oh no.  I shall have his tongue cut out and his head removed from his shoulders.”  Thus spaketh the Queen.  Apparently the cat had claws.

“My wife and I come from different worlds.  Her father is a Miller whom I met over a business transaction.  He told me of his beautiful daughter and though I knew many lovely women something he said caught my attention.  He claimed she could spin gold from straw.”

I look at the Queen.  “That’s some talent.”

She plays it cool, says nothing.

“When I saw her I was smitten.  She was dressed in ill-fitting, tattered rags, but was unmatched in beauty.  Still, I needed to know about the gold so I closed her in a room full of straw.  For three nights I left her and each morning I awoke to find myself in possession of a new spool of freshly spun gold.”

“Looks and skill,” I say. “What about this mug?  Where does he fit?"

“She first saw him lurking about when she came out after spinning.  She remembers specifically because he was short and odd-looking but also because she had felt sorry for him and given him some of her jewellery.  She's always so generous."  The King looks adoringly at his wife who favours him with a small smile and modest, downcast eyes.  “She didn't see him again until this morning when he made the threat."

“Surely you have people to deal with this sort of thing.  Why me?”

“I considered having an archer put an arrow in his ear the moment he appeared, but that's the rub.  He won't appear until his name is spoken aloud.  If we don’t say his name within three days he will someday return for my son."

"I shall bring you my findings tomorrow."

In the Queen’s childhood village I speak to the Blacksmith, the Tailor, the Baker and finally the Innkeeper who also runs the tavern.  Well, mostly I negotiate with him over my tab.  

I learn that the lass was the prettiest maid around and sharp besides.  The Miller is a proud grandfather who wonders aloud at the idea of someday being grandfather to the King, yearning for that time and the changes to come.  I also inquire about the little man, hoping for some thread of information.

The next day I call at the castle and am led into the throne room where the royal couple sits, raised on a dais above the room.

"Greetings.  I hope this day finds you well."

"Cut with the pleasantries.”  The Queen is impatient.

"His name is Magnus." I reply.  Presently, a small man walks into the room.

“Magnus Rumpel Stiltskin, at your service my King."  His path is blocked by two large guards.

"Seize him!  Cut out his tongue!" The Queen is up from her seat, pointing at the diminutive man.

“Easy, my Lady,” I respond, "Before you stands Magnus Rumpel Stiltskin, Tailor in the village where the Queen was raised and unwitting conspirator in a devious plot against the Crown.”

"This is preposterous," screams the Queen, who pounces off the dais like a wildcat.  With a nod from the King, a guard intercedes, holding the Queen lightly but firmly.

"Silence my love.  Continue sir."

"Mr. Stiltskin was here when you met your wife and accepted her jewellery.  I have here Mr. Stiltskin's business accounts which show the purchase of three large spools of gold yarn in exchange for a ring and necklace.  Mr. Stiltskin, may I have the ring please?  This signet ring bears the emblem of the Millers guild to which your father-in-law belongs.  My Lord, for you, such things are baubles but these were likely their most valuable possessions.  One would not part with them lightly.  Though she has spun quite the yarn, I do not think the Lady knows of what she speaks.  She spoke of a sewing machine.  A spinning wheel is used to to spin yarn, not a sewing machine.  You also indicated when you met, she was clothed in “ill-fitting rags”.  Surely a young woman with skill in spinning yarn would have tailored her clothes to fit properly.  That clue led me to Mr. Stiltskin.”

“But why?” he pleads.

“Power. My inquiries proved that the Queen’s father looked forward to the day his grandson took the throne quite eagerly.  I anticipated as much.  Mr. Stiltskin corroborated, explaining that he was asked to deliver the golden yarn to the palace.  The Miller and his daughter felt that if you believed she could create gold you would quickly marry her.  The natural progression would be an heir.  Further, the Queen’s insistence that Mr. Stiltskin’s tongue be cut out led me to believe that she felt he was a loose end.”

“But what of his threat to kidnap our son?” asks the King.

“There was no threat.  They needed you kill the one man who could undo their conspiracy.  Then they would kill you and rule through your son.”

The King nods and the guard drags the Queen away, snapping and spitting oaths at everyone in the room.

“I believe I owe you gentlemen a drink,” sighs the King.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


This story is for a writing class that I just started.  It was based on an exercise we did in class that used two prompts supplied by classmates.  We were given about half an hour to come up with a story and then share those tales with small groups.  The prompts I received were "Your friends will find you" and "A friend borrows your lawnmower".  We weren't strictly held to using the topics - they merely provided a jumping off point.  As you'll see if you read it, I took some liberties with the idea of friends and borrowing both.  I hope you enjoy it and please feel free to critique the piece in the Comments section.


It really was a great lawnmower.  He hoped they would let him cut the front yard.  It really did need it.

* * * * * * * * 

He had always admired the men on the street as a boy.  He’d watched them pull into their driveways in their sparkling Buicks and Cadillacs, their suits well pressed, ties straight.  They would stride into their fine homes, briefcases in hand, where their wives and children would be waiting for them, dinner on the table.  It was on Saturday when the magic would begin.  The morning would break with birdsong and the occasional barking dog but soon the silence would be punctured by the drone of small motors up and down the block as the men of Cherry Lane began the weekend ritual of trimming, raking, tidying.

As a boy he'd had no particular brand preference.  In fact, as a boy he hadn’t known anything about makes or models - only colour.  There were black and red, several hues of green, orange.  He had loved the colours.  Later, when he had grown older and inherited the responsibility for the yard work after his father had dropped dead in the driveway from a heart attack, he had come to appreciate the finer points of lawn care equipment.  Things like baggers, mulching and separate tanks for oil and gas rather than the hassle of mixed fuel had become important.

But through the years the novelty had faded.  He had tried to to find inspiration by carving profanity on the lawn as he cut, but the joy in that had passed quickly too.  He had continued to push the envelope, striving for the pleasure he remembered from childhood.  He modified his mower, adding knobby tires, strips of purple lights that glowed beneath the deck, hydraulics that raised and lowered the rig with the flip of a switch.  He had it painted an iridescent gold with metallic flake and blazing red flames.  The euphoria lasted a single season.  He upgraded, buying a mower with more levers, switches and wires.  No love.

So he began venturing out.  It started with the boulevard.  One Saturday after he finished his own lawn he pushed his mower out into the street and cut the centre strip of grass that divided the two lanes.  When the people in the oranges vests from Public Works came by on Monday they seemed puzzled by the freshly shorn grass.  The next week he decided to raise the stakes.  On Friday when his neighbours climbed into their cars and headed off to work he phoned in sick.  And then he began to cut.

At first everyone seemed to take it in stride.  They were all neighbours, friends even, sharing laughs and Coronas over the barbecue in summer and swapping cards at Christmas, so the initial reaction was to receive his work as a gift.  But as the weeks tumbled on, and the cutting continued, people began acting strangely towards him.  Women would pull their children tight to their sides and hustle the other way when they saw him on the sidewalk.  Men began to cross the street to avoid him on their way to the mailbox.

And then one day his mower was gone.  In it’s place was a note.


The note wasn't signed and there was no indication of just how long it would be gone.  He thought of calling the police but the note had said it had been borrowed.  Surely whomever had borrowed it would return it soon.  Saturday came and went and the lawnmower had still not been returned nor had he seen anyone using it as he had stalked the street looking for it.  

He waited another three days and then decided he would need to go find it.  When the sun set he began prowling through the backyards and sheds of the neighbourhood.  It was in the Tomlinson’s shed where he finally found it, tucked into the back corner and covered with an old sheet.  He knew the outline immediately when the beam from his flashlight washed over it.  He uncovered it and quickly checked for signs of abuse.  Under the glow of his flashlight all seemed to be in good order but he would need to give it a more thorough inspection upon returning home.  As he wheeled it out of the shed the strong spring on the door swung it shut with a bang that echoed like a gunshot in the still night.

A light came on in the Tomlinson house and as he made his way through the gate from the backyard to the driveway another light came on across the street.  Soon he was running down the street, mower in front of him, moving as quickly as he could.  He pulled up short in front of his house where a group of men from the block waited in his yard, standing on the much too long grass.  He heard the pounding of feet on asphalt and looked back in the direction from which he had just come.  Men were running down the sidewalk and the street, quickly closing on him.

He squatted beside his mower and pushed the rubber orb that primed the motor.  Push and hold.  Push and hold.  Push and hold.  Three times.  It started on the second pull of the cord.  He would need to change the spark plug soon.  The hum of the motor eased the tightness he was feeling in his chest.

“There’s nowhere to go.  We’ll find you,” came a voice over the whirr of the motor.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Cartographer's Fear

The below story was written as part of a challenge over at Chuck Wendig's blog for his website, Terrible Minds.  The challenge was to compose a work of Flash Fiction (a really short story) based on a randomly generated title.  As you can see above, my assignment was based on the title, Cartographer's Fear.  I hope you enjoy it.


Damario Aiza cursed his father’s name.  The waves lapped against the small rowboat as the waters churned about him on all sides.  He hated the sea.  Hated it.  He longed for dry land, the warm embrace of one of the young fishwives from the docks and bread that wasn’t hard as stone and riddled with mold.  One good night’s sleep, undisturbed by the sound of rats slinking about his bed would also be lovely.  But he had been at sea for many weeks now and such was his life.  The others on the ship didn’t seem to understand.  Most were ne’er do wells with limited choices and the idea of adventure on the high seas seemed more attractive than the back-breaking labour of a farmer or blacksmith.  And so they would sign on with the ships that arrived in Vigo, keen for this exciting new career path.  Explore new worlds!  Meet exotic foreigners!  Secure your fortune!  The reality was that the average day onboard a galleon was little better than forced labour while fighting a constant battle against roiling waves, bitter winds and the vast unknown of the open sea.  Besides, nobody every drowned while planting turnips.

This was not Damario’s first choice.  He was an artist at heart.  He loved to work with stone, pulling the beauty from within the depths of the rock.  Oftentimes he could see the finished piece immediately upon laying eyes upon a large slab of granite.  But there was no money in art; not in Vigo at any rate.  And so his father had pushed him into the family business as it were.  Tavio Aiza had earned his living on the seas, working his way up from a simple deck hand to captaining a ship for the Spanish King.  At the first opportunity he had found work in the fleet for Damario who had turned his artistic abilities toward a more practical trade - cartography.

And so it was that he found himself alone in a small boat, pulling at the oars, fighting the swells, preparing to capture the lines of this jagged outcropping of rock and sand that loomed up out of the waters before him.  The waters here were too shallow and treacherous for the ship to come in closer so the artist often used one of the small rowboats for his work.  He was usually accompanied by another sailor who would pilot the boat, allowing Damario the freedom to sketch at his leisure, but on this day everyone seemed otherwise occupied and so the captain had sent him out alone.  The Captain had insisted that they could not delay; Damario would need to chart this stretch of small, coarse spits of land as they were deemed ship killers.  The vessel that sailed into this area unawares would end it’s voyage as little more than kindling.

 The small joy he did find in his work was discovering and revealing the truth.  His job consisted of mapping the uncharted and undefined zones on the fleet’s maps.  Though an artist, he also had a penchant for critical thinking and reason and so felt strongly that the fuzzy areas at the edges of the maps merely represented limits of travel and documentation.  The same could not be said of the sailors that surrounded him on each trip.  They typically eschewed reason, instead clinging to superstition, mythology and ignorance.  This often lead to differences of opinion with his fellow crewmen.  Though self-educated, Damario considered himself scholarly nonetheless and certainly far removed from the circles that the cretins he found himself sharing quarters with occupied.

He was surprised to learn that on this particular vessel the Captain was little better than the crew.  Most of the vessels he had sailed on had been commanded by educated men, or at least, men whom through experience and proximity to people of class and power had developed a level of refinement equal to their roles as leaders.  However, this Captain was boorish and crude; Damario had tried to engage him in conversations about current politics, the arts, and philosophy but had been met by sneers and barbs.  It had reached a head a few days earlier and Damario had let the Captain know just how little respect he had for the man, indicating that if not for his ability to follow a compass the Captain’s intellect would see him best suited for cleaning up dung below the gallows.  Damario smiled slightly to himself, thinking about how he had left the Captain looking stunned and bewildered.  It had felt good to speak his mind and put the idiot in his place.

The cartographer saw that the ship had turned away from him, pointed back in the direction from which they had come.  These mariners were still a mystery to him, constantly adjusting their bearing and course based on the whims of water and air.  He let go the oars and drifted, reaching for the tube that held the rough copy of the map he would be working on.  The details he captured here would then be transferred to the originals back on the ship; that is where her would perform his real artistry.  As he unfurled the map all superiority drained from him.    There would be no need to sketch these shores.  He looked towards the ship.


“Cap’n, what’ll we do about the unfinished chart?” asked the First Mate.

The Captain grinned at his First Mate.  “Advise the crew to raise the anchor and set sail.  Mind those rocks and bear wide around this place.”  Then he pulled his quill from the cup where it sat, unstoppered an inkwell and dipped the quill.  He leaned over the map laid on the table before them and in a fluid script scrawled something across the expanse of water where they were currently positioned.  The First Mate glanced at the chart quickly as he headed out to relay the Captain’s commands.  In fresh red ink, were three words: “HERE BE DRAGONS”.