Red Sky at Night

Posted on June 5, 2004 by Jenna

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Somewhere out there, there are pirates.
They’re probably too fierce for me.
They’re probably too fierce for anybody.
But that’s okay.
There are pirates in the north.
But this is dry land.

— Meredith’s diary

It is 9:41am, and Meredith awakens to hear the gentle lapping of waves against her window. She looks outside and sees that the ocean has stolen her neighborhood. Short fences, lawns, bushes, street, cars, and sidewalk—all have vanished beneath a tide of green and blue. The surface of the ocean is studded with rising telephone poles on which perch seagulls and the occasional sunning crab; with the second floors of houses, such as her own; and with the gently waving treetops.

“Somewhere out there,” she says, “are pirates.”

She sits down. She sulks. Then she sighs.

“I need a better blanket.”

Outside, she can hear the seagulls squabbling.

Meredith spreads her blanket out on the floor. Then she goes to her cupboard. She’s a bit of a packrat. She’s got a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a whole lot of everything else squirreled away. So she starts by taking out a set of pontoons. She affixes them to her blanket. “After all,” she says, “a blanket without pontoons isn’t seaworthy.”

In the distance, she can hear the blowing of a great deep horn.

“It also needs a sail,” she says, and roots around in the cupboard. “I wonder if I want one mast, or three.”

After a moment, she sighs.

“One,” she says. “The third one’s all smashed. I really ought to have thrown it out after that English schooner shot it up with cannon.”

She fixes the mast to her blanket. She gets out a dehydrated crew and adds water. She uses the water right outside her window, so they end up kind of a salty lot.

“But no innuendo or obscenity,” she says firmly. “This is a family blanket.”

“Yarr,” sulks the first mate. “Things can fall off if you don’t obliquely allude to them sometimes.”

“That’s just superstition,” Meredith explains. After some thought, she fishes a selection of artillery and cannon out of her cupboard and attaches it to the blanket. This perks the first mate right up.

“We could also be using some low-end nuclear missiles,” he points out.

“Hm,” Meredith says, disapprovingly, but she installs them anyway. It’s important not to disappoint one’s crew.

“And a luxurious pleasure palace.”

Meredith checks. “I’ve only got one, and it’s cracked.”

The first mate makes a face. “Yarr,” he sighs. “And I thought you were prepared.”

“I’m not,” Meredith says. She looks out the window. “Somewhere out there, there are pirates.”

“We could have a giant clock,” the first mate says. “That tells time. And grants wishes.”

Meredith ignores him. She pulls out a sewing machine and considers it, then nods and sets it on the blanket. Then there’s chocolate milk, and a life-size inflatable Godzilla, and a peach, and most importantly of all, the figurehead, sitting proudly on the blanket’s prow.

“Let’s go,” she says.

The cannon fires. The wall falls down. The blanket sails out.

“North,” she says.

The blanket creaks as the wheel turns.