The Fortune Teller

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Chapter Twenty-Four

A gray fog hung over the Bright Side. It was the kind of fog that you knew was there even if you couldn't see it. Joshua had locked himself in his cabin for a week, and nobody dared enter. The crew had a nasty argument about what to do that had ended in a fistfight. They couldn't agree on anything.

Bates had told them how to get to the monastery, which he said was assuredly where Clooney wanted them to go, and there had been another argument about whether or not they should follow his direction. Bates said the monastery was only about a two day voyage, but he must have been wrong or they must have been lost, because all anyone could see on any side of the ship was endless ocean.

They couldn't afford to delay. Food was running out. Joshua apparently intended to buy fresh supplies in Tagra, but never got the chance. Rations had been cut to half, but it hardly seemed to conserve enough. The idea of slowly starving to death filled Zoey's mind like a nightmare she couldn't wake up from.

“You'll love the monastery when you see it,” Bates said, sitting down next to her on the edge of the deck. He had constantly been praising the monastery every chance he got, but Zoey didn't mind. After all, the only other thing to talk about was their impending starvation. “It's on top of a hill, this wonderfully deep green hill. There's a little dirt path that runs down the village. It's so wonderfully rural. Another wonderful thing about it is that we're all very much men of science as much as we are men of God. I myself am an earth scientist. Did you know I created a farming method which boosted our crop yields by thirty percent? Rotation farming I call it. You grow different types of plants in each field, and then the next year you switch around which plants are grown in which field. If we could get other islands to start using rotation farming we could put an end to ninety percent of the world's hunger? The problem is nobody ever trusts us.”

“I'm going to see Joshua,” Zoey suddenly said. She didn't know the reason for the non sequitur, but she had an instinct that if Joshua could be brought around, then the whole problem of finding the monastery would somehow be solved. At the very least it would solve the crew disputes.

“Were you even listening?” Bates asked.

Zoey didn't respond. She just got up and walked determinedly toward Joshua's cabin. A bored looking guard stood outside. “Gimmie the key,” Zoey ordered so forcefully that the guard instantly obeyed.

“He'll rip your head off if you go in there,” he tried to warn her, but she had already stepped over the threshold and shut the door behind her.

Empty beer bottles and paper covered the floor. It took a second for Zoey to realize that a lot of the papers were books. Indeed, when she looked around, there seemed to be books in every part of the room they could possibly be in. Most were yellowed, and all had stained and ripped pages.

The only light in the room came from a small desk lamp, sitting on a card table next to a ragged armchair. Also on the card table was a half-dozen more beer bottles. And sleeping in the armchair, with a book resting in his lap, was Joshua.

Zoey creeped up to him, trying to be silent but not knowing why, as Joshua needed to be woken up anyway. “Joshua?” she said quietly, wondering how heavy a sleeper he was. “Joshua? Wake up.” She tapped him lightly on the face.

Without warning Joshua yelped and tossed himself onto the floor. “Ow,” he moaned.

“Joshua!” Zoey yelled, surprised at his sudden awakening. “Look. The ships running out of food and we're going to starve. I don't know why but I have this feeling you can get us out of it. Joshua! Are you listening?”

“Lemiee alone,” Joshua mumbled.

“Look, you have to get up your crew needs you!”

“I'm a misanthrope now. Go away.” He rolled over on one side and vomited onto the floor.

“Come on! We need you!”

“I'm not going out!” Joshua yelled, before trying to crawl across the floor and escape. Zoey grabbed him by the collar a hauled him up until they were face to face.

“Look,” Zoey began sternly, “Is this how you react every time you loose a crewmen? Is that you you became a captain? Huh?”

“No,” Joshua moaned. “But she was different.”

“How?”

“I don't know how. She was the only one who knew, I guess.”

“What did she know about?”

“Well she isn't the only one. The doc knows too. He lived it with me. Tough old bastard. But she was the only one I ever told. Now she's dead. The only person I ever called my friend is dead! And maybe I'm to blame? Maybe she was forcing her way through that crowd just as the plank rose. Maybe she was one of the ones screaming at me. They were mad, Zoey, they were all so mad. Everyone's always so mad at me! No matter what I do somebody's always pissed off!”

Zoey shook him, thinking maybe it would get him back to reality. “Come on Joshua, they're plenty of people to meet. Like your crew. You need to help your crew!”

“Shut up!” Joshua suddenly screamed. “You don't no anything you ignorant fleet bitch! You're still one of their slaves! You still think they have morals! You still think they have a soul. You still think they have honor and respect and justice. But guess what? I just watched the Sphere wipe out an entire island of people and my only friend. And I'd still say the Sphere is a thousand times better then those bastards in the White Fleet!” His arm flew up to punch Zoey in the nose, and once she was stunned he flailed until she lost her grip then scurried into a corner. He started sobbing into his hands.

Zoey got up. She'd had enough with Joshua's tantrum. She didn't have time for feelings, the Bright Side needed a captain. It was strange. Only four days ago Bates's crying had filled her with pity. Joshua's crying only filled her with a determination to get him back in command. She walked over and pulled him too his feet. “Now I know that you're sad,” she started in an authoritarian tone. “But right now you feelings don't matter. Right now there's a ship that needs a captain. So in one hour you're going to walk out of this room, clean, sober, and ready for action. In one hour you are going to be that captain. I'll do what I need to get you out of that door.”

“One hour?”

“One hour.”

Joshua slumped back down in his chair. He licked his lips and his eyes scanned her, and Zoey got the feeling she was under going a silent test. “Zoey, you're my new first mate,” he said.

“There's only one problem we can do anything about,” Joshua said about an hour later. He had shaved, washed his face, could stand up strait and all in all looked much better then he had an hour ago. “You told me we're already at half rations. Any less then that and we're dead. Can't do anything about that. You say there's nothing but sea around us. That's no good, my navigation works on landmarks, and I've never even heard of the monastery that we're trying to find. Can't do anything about that. However, I assume that crew moral is suffering?”

Zoey was surprised by the cold analysis of the facts. “Yeah. They keep arguing about what we should do, and everybody just seems kind of depressed.”

“Well that's good, crew moral is my specialty,” Joshua said confidently. He went over to one of the overstuffed bookshelves and pulled out a blue book. It's cover originally read The Time Machine but Joshua had scrawled Songs for crew moral over it. He opened it and took out several discs that had been put in the covers. “You know it's ironic. By the time of the Roar these were obsolete, but they were the only music storage that wasn't wiped out.”

“Those play music?” Zoey questioned.

“Oh course,” Joshua replied. “Long ago I had a speaker system built throughout the ship.” He shifted through another pile of books. “It's here somewhere...” He pulled up another pile and an old CD player was revealed. “Here it is! My little beauty. Haven't had to use this in forever.” He put on of the discs in and hit play.

A sudden cheery whistle came through the speakers. Joshua whistled along with it, and snapped his fingers to the beat. Zoey had a sudden irrational feeling that everything was not as bad as it seemed.

Joshua opened his cabin door and stepped outside. The whistling echoed throughout the ship, and the crews' faces lighted up as they heard the the noise. They swayed to the beat and snapped their fingers along with Joshua. Zoey was very surprised when Joshua suddenly started singing. The rest of the crew slowly joined in:

Here is a little song I wroteYou might want to sing it note for noteDon't worry be happyIn every life we have some troubleWhen you worry you make it doubleDon't worry, be happy......Ain't got no place to lay your headSomebody came and took your bedDon't worry, be happyThe land lord say your rent is lateHe may have to litigateDon't worry, be happyLook at me I am happyDon't worry, be happyHere I give you my phone numberWhen you worry call meI make you happyDon't worry, be happy
Ain't got no cash, ain't got no styleAin't got no gal to make you smileBut don't worry be happyCause when you worryYour face will frownAnd that will bring everybody downSo don't worry, be happy (now)....

Don't worry, be happy......
Don't worry don't do it, be happy
Put a smile on your face
Don't bring everybody down like this
Don't worry, it will soon past
Whatever it is
Don't worry, be happy

They arrived at the monastery the next day.


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