The Skeleton Crew
By Mike Stevens
A Charles Placard Tale
"Abe Mackerel was looking up; up towards the surface of the ocean 40 feet above. Below him was the wreck of the haunted pirate ship, which had sunk below the waves with a hold full of gold bouillon and an entire crew of drowned pirates. Abe alone knew the location, and he wanted the gold. He planned on diving down and somehow recover it. To that end, he was carrying an extra tank on his back; a tank of compressed helium, which he would use to inflate special rubber boxes, which would lift the heavy gold bouillon up to the surface, where his bikini-clad assistant, Trixi, would then hoist it aboard the recovery vessel. It was a perfect plan; perfect despite several great white sharks which circled the ship in hopes of getting a meal; but they soon would be disappointed, because the only sailors aboard this ship were already dead. The skeletons, still thinking they were sailing the ship, ran along the underwater deck!"
Charles Placard re-read the opening of chapter 12 of his new novel. It was brilliant! He had covered everything readers were looking for in a dramatic novel; money, greed, sex, dangerous animals, and horror, lots of horror. He had poured his heart and soul into the writing, and in his humble opinion, it showed. He was planning on mailing a copy to his local newspaper to have them review it. They had a section called "First Time in Print", in which they reviewed new author's books. Although he wasn't exactly a new, unpublished author, his other books had all been published as comedy books, so he felt like a first-time author because this book was pure drama!
With hands shaking from nervousness, Charles opened his copy of today's paper to the "First Time in Print" section, and scanned the pages. There it was! Just to be safe, he had not used his real name. He almost fainted from the excitement. The article read,
"I received this new novel by Charles Mustard in the mail. No return address was left, and I think I know why. Although I make it my policy never to review a book from anything other than a reputable publisher, I had to make an exception; this thing is an absolute garbage pile! Mustard spins like a drunken sailor from one ludicrous plot twist to the next, with the unfortunate reader left dazed, lost, and disoriented. I would have thought Mr. Mustard was going for laughs, if he didn't include a note telling me this was a work of drama. Just listen to an excerpt from the book,
"Mackerel (Abe) was thrashing around wildly as he fended off the skeleton crew's maniacal attacks. The wild thrashing caught a Great White Shark's attention, and as Mackerel had his eyes glued on the skeletons with swords, he felt a searing pain in his leg. He risked a quick look down, and saw a gray monster swimming away, with a human foot leaving an inky trail in the water behind him, then he let out an underwater scream; where his right leg should be, there was nothing but jagged sinews of pink flesh spewing incredible clouds of the same inky liquid that trailedbehind theshark. It slowly dawned on a disbelieving Mackerel that the foot he'd seen in theshark's mouth was his!"
What was Mr. Mustard thinking when he wrote this? I'm sorry if you were planning on reading this book, but as the only other copy is the likely to be the author's, I don't feel too bad about giving away the ending, because you'll probably never read this. I'm surprised there aren't child-like stick-men illustrations throughout this bloated pig's belly of a so-called novel! It's so poorly-written, it's almost like a little kid's school project, gone horribly wrong!"
Charles gently folded the paper, walked to the fireplace, struck a match, and calmly the lit the thing, along with his dream, on fire. That had killed it; his much-sought-after goal of becoming a successful dramatic writer. After he'd tried so hard to put down onto paper a gripping, suspenseful novel, to the best of his abilities; which were apparently nowhere near good enough, his effort had been ripped to shreds by the reviewer. For sure this time he'd been told in no uncertain terms he had no head for weaving a good story. But 'bloated pig's belly' bad?