Author's Note – When GKZM made Adventurers Beware, he said in the summary, "Probably the worst crossover ever conceived." He was wrong. I had a worse crossover stewing in my head. A deadly combination of one of the most fun books I've ever read (MBS) and one of the most challenging books I've ever read (Moby Dick), this, THIS, is the worst crossover ever conceived. An alternative middle/ending to The Perilous Journey. My first AU.
Disclaimer – I don't own MBS or Moby Dick. Pity.
Warnings: Terrible 'poetry,' character death, mild violence.
~Moby Dick's Shortcut to Glory~
As the Mysterious Benedict Society boarded the Shortcut, Mr. Pressius was having a fit.
"No I WON'T! I WON'T delay my journey! Do you know how much time and effort has gone into my planning? To say nothing of the money!"
"Mr. Pressius, there have been multiple reports of freak storms coming out of nowhere – five in the last week! It would be much safer for you and your diamonds if you just waited until the scientists find out how to track and predict these storms."
"Then why don't you delay your precious little boat launch then? Why don't you do that?"
Captain Noland looked at Mr. Pressius, a pained expression upon his face. "Mr. Pressius," he said, "we can't delay the maiden voyage of the Shortcut. It's been in the papers too long. If we delay it, the public will think that I'm going senile. I might…lose my job." He said the last part in a whisper.
"What if a storm hits the Shortcut, though? What if the Shortcut gets destroyed, just like the Bluenose II, the Bachelor, the Rose Bud, the Eliza Jane, the -"
"I can pilot my own ship! Please, Mr. Pressius. I won't let the Shortcut get hurt! I'm just saying that it would be much safer if you stayed ashore until we know the storms have dissipated. Now will you please take your diamonds and leave the premises. I'm expecting guests."
"Guests? Guests? What guests get more priority than me?"
The captain winced at his poor choice of wording. "I'm sorry you feel that you aren't top priority, but it would be in your best interests to wait until her second voyage to Europe. Really, Mr. Pressius, we just can't risk taking you on this trip. It's for the best. Now please leave the premises so that I can prepare for departure."
The wealthy man's mouth fell open. He began spluttering wildly as one of the Shortcut's lieutenants took him firmly by the arm and marched him away from the captain. Captain Noland took off his hat and wiped his brow. For the past few days, freak storms had been utterly destroying vessels, both small pleasure crafts and huge, steel-hulled commercial ocean liners. They dissipated as soon as they began, leaving little wreckage and no survivors. The scientists had no idea why. They weren't even completely sure that the wreckages were being caused by storms – it was just the best explanation that they could think of. Despite his assurances to his crew and to that Pressius man, the captain was worried. Yet if he managed to navigate around the storms, he would be hailed as the greatest captain ever. Besides, Nicholas would want him to get the children to Portugal as soon as possible, or as Joe would say, ASAP.
The Shortcut sped away from the shores of Stonetown. The members of the Mysterious Benedict Society stood at the bow, the fresh sea breeze whistling though their hair as they stared at the open horizon stretching forth like a great, curving sword set on edge. The deep blue-green of the North Atlantic waters churned under the bow, making a huge wake that rocked a nearby lobster-pot float as they rocketed by.
Reynie was thinking about Miss Perumal, and about how he would never have imagined that in the few hours that he had been away, he would be set on a boat to Portugal.
Constance was thinking about what rhymed with 'ocean.' There was 'motion,' 'notion,' and 'potion,' but those were hardly enough rhymes to make a poem with.
Oh, there's the ocean,
It has motion,
A very salty potion.
It just sounded stupid. Maybe…
Behold the ocean, a mighty sea that is nobody's property.
But before you get some dumb false notion, look upon this awesome ocean;
For it's a gross and salty potion that will get you sick from motion.
This awesome sight is still quite great; it is something I don't hate.
It still sounded stupid, but it was better than the poem she had had before.
Sticky was contemplating the odds of seeing a bowhead whale. They were extremely rare, but they were in the most common place to spot them. What Sticky really wanted to see was a sperm whale, though. He had only recently read Moby Dick (his parents hadn't owned a copy of the unabridged version), and had been entranced. He wanted to compare the observations and facts in the book with the actual thing. Of course, sperm whales weren't exactly common, but he still wanted to see one.
In Moby Dick, Herman Melville had been under the impression that whales were fish. The anatomical descriptions, however, were fairly accurate. The chance of finding an albino sperm whale had been less than one in one-thousand, of course, but Ahab had finally found Moby Dick. Of course, the Pequod hadn't come through very well, and only Ishmael had escaped alive, but seeing such a behemoth must have been thrilling before getting killed by it.
Kate was thinking about air. Such nice stuff! So breathable, so… airy! She thought about how fresh the sea air was. It smelled like seaweed and fish, yet at the same time it smelled like grass and salt and sun and cleanliness all at once. And whenever she looked into the water, her father's eyes, her eyes, glinted back from the watery depths.
High above the group of children, Madge was thinking… well, Madge was thinking about what most birds of prey thought about most of the time – food.
And so they stood for hours, watching the swell roll by and small sailing vessels scoot along the horizon. It was nearing time to go inside for supper, and clouds had begun to gather ahead of the majestic container ship whipping through the sea.
"Ahoy, there! You four should come back below decks! There might be some rough weather ahead, and we don't want you to get thrown overboard." Joe Shooter came charging across the deck towards the four children, shouting to them all the way.
"All right," Reynie said in a tone that implied his slight reluctance. Cannonball didn't pick up on it though, and he ushered the group away from the lifelines and toward the companionway leading to below decks.
As Sticky took one last glance at the water, he saw something odd; a huge spray of water in the distance. A spout!
"THAR SHE BLOWS!" boomed Cannonball, making them all jump. He had seen the spout, too and was informing the crew. Actually, thought Reynie, at that volume, it was more likely that he was informing the world.
"It's a sperm whale!" shouted Sticky, who had recognized the spout. "The double blow-hole makes a distinctive spout, unique to the species of sperm whale. The height, width, and weight of the whale in question can all be ascertained by the…" he trailed off at the look Constance was giving him, which was so dark that it seemed to negate the light from the sun.
Cannonball looked impressed. "Wow! You certainly know your nautical stuff, boy! Very good!"
Much closer to them now, the spout came again. This time, they could see the whale accompanying it. A huge mass of wrinkly, scarred, white flesh. Suddenly, with a horrible clarity, the haunting words that Starbuck had yelled in Moby Dick came back to Sticky. A hump like a snow hill! 'Tis Moby Dick!
"He must be a whopper of a whale!" Kate was saying.
"An albino, right, Sticky? Just like Moby Dick. Wow, they're really rare! Aren't they, Sticky? Sticky?" Reynie asked, a note of concern in his voice, for Sticky had just backed away from the rail, his normally tea-coloured skin a disheartening shade of grey.
Yes, just like Moby Dick, he thought, for he had seen something that none of the others had. A broken, barnacle-encrusted harpoon shaft sticking out of the whale's massive head. It was Moby Dick. "R-Reynie?" Sticky said tremulously, "I think that is Moby Dick."
Reynie definitely looked worried about his friend now. "Sticky – snap out of it! Moby Dick's just a character. He's not real!"
"It's an albino sperm whale with scars all over its back and a harpoon in its head. What else could it be?" Sticky asked, gasping and flinching as the white whale surfaced, this time only a few meters away.
"That's just a coincidence, Sticky," said Kate calmingly. "No Moby Dick."
Constance looked at the three of them, her eyes wide with fear. "It's Moby Dick, all right."
Her friends looked at each other. "How do you know?" asked Kate incredulously. Don't tell me that you can read whale minds. That's utterly ridiculous."
"I don't know how I know! I just… know! I can sort of sense Ahob or Aheb or whoever it is when I concentrate. And smashing some big boats. Moby Dick must have smashed some boat."
"The Pequod," breathed Sticky.
"Wait a second – the storms! Remember the freak storms in the North Atlantic?" Reynie was putting two and two together, the puzzle pieces clicking together as they so often did for him. "The Eliza Jane and the Bluenose II and the Rose Bud and all the others that got destroyed! Was that all Moby Dick, too?"
Sticky had just reached for his glasses, Kate had been about to respond with a sarcastic reply, and Cannonball was just about to run to tell Captain Noland that Moby Dick was swimming by, when the entire boat lurched. The deck bucked suddenly, sending everyone save Kate and Cannonball onto the deck. The Shortcut stilled, and those above decks clambered hastily to their feet.
"What was that?" asked Cannonball, bewildered.
"It was Moby Dick!" wailed Constance. "He's going to eat us!"
"I'll tell the captain. He needs to know what we're up against." And with that, the adult ran off to the bridge.
The Shortcut shuddered, this time more violently, and even Kate was thrown off balance for a second. The others fell over one another once again. They clutched each other in terror, waiting for Moby Dick's next strike. When it didn't come, Sticky said in a quivering voice, "Do you think he's gone?"
A huge, white, terrible shape shot out of the water. Constance screamed, Kate squeaked, Reynie shouted, and Sticky dropped his polishing cloth and spectacles and slumped to the deck in a dead faint as Moby Dick, Ahab's infamous enemy and scourge of the seas, breached. He came crashing down on the deck, all 70 000 tons of sperm whale landing right on top of the bridge.
The children looked up in horror and helplessness. Captain Noland and Cannonball were probably dead, crushed by the albino monster that was now sliding back into the watery depths in which it dwelled. The bridge was ruined, reduced to a smoking heap of rubble and… was that blood? The hull in the center of the boat was buckled and seemed to have several leaks, and the engine was no longer running. They were adrift in the middle of the Atlantic, on a ship where the captain was dead, being attacked by a fictional whale. Bad.
Once more Moby Dick breached. This time, he landed within feet of the Mysterious Benedict Society. Kate leaped backwards, throwing out her arms to prevent her friends from sliding towards the whale. Constance, however, was somewhat below Kate's outstretched arms, and she slid freely toward Moby Dick.
"NO!" shouted Kate, but it was too late to save her friend. Already the toddler was in the water, rapidly sinking; it appeared that she couldn't swim. Without thinking, Kate dove in after her. She landed with a spray of salt and didn't resurface for a full minute.
By the time she came back up, Sticky was conscious again and Reynie was filling him in. When their friends' heads broke the surface, they both gave cries of relief. But relief quickly turned to horror as the two boys saw a white speck appear below the girls, deep beneath the water's surface. The speck quickly turned to a dot, then to a large square. Moby Dick was going to breach again!
"Kate! Look out!" Reynie shouted. She looked about her. She looked confused, and then, with a face of horrible realization, looked below her – straight into the gaping maw of the white whale that was hurtling toward her and Constance. The two girls were swept up into Moby Dick's mouth, Kate writhing and punching, Constance screaming. The sound was cut off abruptly as the infamous whale bit down hard, killing both girls instantly. As blood spurted from the bodies of his victims, Moby Dick came crashing down on the part of the Shortcut that had remained intact – that is to say, the part on which Sticky and Reynie currently resided.
The boys managed to survive the behemoth; they were lucky enough to be standing in a place that was sheltered by a flipper. As the whale made its escape, though, the engine exploded, sending shrapnel and flaming bits of fuel everywhere. Moby Dick made a deep, low, wailing noise, as countless pieces of metal and wood pierced his skin, dying the white a dull red. Sticky, being closer to the explosion, was blasted into Reynie and shielded him from most of the flying shards of metal and wood. Reynie stood, supporting his friend and vaguely aware that they were standing on one of the last parts of the Shortcut still intact.
When the air was less thick with shrapnel, he lay Sticky down on the raft that they stood on. Reynie himself hadn't fared too badly, but Sticky was a different matter. His face and chest were covered in blood, his bald head was badly burnt, and he didn't seem to be breathing.
"Sticky?" asked Reynie, not willing to believe his eyes. "Sticky!" He began to sob, terrible, heartbroken sobs that mirrored his grief for Cannonball, Captain Noland, Kate, Constance, Sticky, and all the other people who were dead because of Moby Dick.
The white whale leaped out of the water, churning up a salty red spray of water and blood.
A shadow fell over the one remaining member of the Mysterious Benedict Society as he grieved over his friend's dead body.
Moby Dick landed with a crash, killing Reynie, who's last thought had been that this story had no Ishmael, no survivor, no hero.
High, high above the wreckage of the Shortcut, Madge, this story's Ishmael, circled, scanning the red-tinted water for a master that would never return.
Author's Note- That was really weird. I don't expect anyone to actually like this, though I do expect you to review it to tell me that you don't like it. Please. This ended up being a bit grim, and I like to end things on a positive note, so I shall say this – Muffins! Thanks.