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Authors: Mark Douglas Stafford

Tags: #science fiction, #pirates

The Secret Invasion of Port Isabel

BOOK: The Secret Invasion of Port Isabel
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The Fairweather




Mark Douglas


Smashwords Edition


Copyright 2014 Mark
Douglas Stafford text and graphics


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A Better Way to Stop

Dinosaurs Eat Paris





Chapter 1 Sometimes

Chapter 2 Fighting over

Chapter 3 Brush with

Chapter 4 Town

Chapter 5 The Hall of

Chapter 6 Another False

Chapter 7 Wild Goose

Chapter 8 Memory of

Chapter 9 Dropping in on

Chapter 10 Iscariot

Chapter 11 Chasing

Chapter 12

Chapter 13 Cowards and

Chapter 14 Keeping Enemies

Chapter 15 The End of Harry

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About the






The important thing
is not to stop questioning.

Curiosity has its own
reason for existing.’

Albert Einstein

(circa 1959, The
Machine Age)




A fire crackled in the
hearth at the back of the Stinging Nettle Café as the ostrich
waitress who had taken their order threw on another log and prodded
the coals. Harry Possum could feel of its warm fingers on the back
of his neck.

Larry Monkey
used black hands with long fingers to push aside the crockery and
cutlery as Flossy Fairweather spread out the map. It was tattered
and rubbed with wax for waterproofing. The coastlines were
skilfully penned with fine lines of black ink and rivers and seas
and other landmarks were clearly labelled.

leaned forward to see.

‘This is the
way I think we came,’ said Flossy. The feeble morning light made
her golden hair glow, reminding Harry that the human girl was like
no other animal living in Port Isabel.

She traced a
long finger across unfamiliar stretches of land and sea, then up
through an opening in the Southern Icewall that lead into the Gulf
of Mexico.

Harry studied
the map. ‘This map extends further south than any I’ve seen. It
shows an enormous sea on the other side of the Icewall and part of
an even bigger ocean beyond that.’ His voice quivered with

‘That’s your
way into the great unknown, Harry. You were right; there is way out
of the Gulf,’ said Reginald Elephant. He stood outside the café,
under an awning, his head protruding through an open window with
the shutters drawn back, for he was too big to fit inside. His
trunk rested on the back of the bench seat facing Harry.

‘Where did you
get it?’ Harry asked.

‘I swiped it
from Pirate Pratt’s cabin on my way out the window yesterday,’ said
Flossy, grinning. ‘There was a lot of other stuff there but I
didn’t think I could manage to swim with more, and I didn’t have

remembered his surprise finding what he took to be a bald-faced
monkey at the end of the long harpoon rope, dragged through the
choppy ocean swell by the
before she collided
with the reef. He had taught the pirate dogs a well-deserved lesson
and ended the threat to Port Isabel once and for all, a very
satisfying outcome; achieved with Larry’s help, who had stuffed
tight the rudder rope holes with two well place cheese wheels thus
preventing the six-gun frigate from turning aside. But Flossy
wasn’t a monkey at all. She was of the House called human,
belonging to a race of animals not seen in this part of the wide,
flat Earth for a thousand years, and long thought extinct. When he
dragged her aboard the little
sopping wet she was
dressed as a pirate, and he thought her part of the
’s crew. But he quickly learned she had been
forcibly taken from her parents and held hostage by the dread
Pirate Pratt, erstwhile captain on the
, now
wrecked on Kidney Reef and that he, Harry, was her accidental

Harry used a
claw to trace a possible route out of the Gulf. ‘If I take the
south-east from here I should be able to find
that pass into the “Caribbean Sea”. There are dozens of islands

‘I remember
the islands but we didn’t stop. Some of them were just cones poking
out of the sea and smoking like piles of leafs too green to burn.
The pirates seemed anxious to go on,’ said Flossy.

‘What’s that
line weaving between the islands?’ wondered Harry aloud. He
squinted to see. ‘There are pictures either side. They’re sea
monsters. I think the line marks a safe route.’

‘That’s where
the pirates attacked the
and took me hostage.
Somewhere there.’ Flossy circled the mouth of a great river on the
very edge of the map.

‘That’s a long
way. Did you travel down that long river connecting the “Caribbean
Sea” with the big ocean, the… ”Pacific Ocean”?’ Harry thought he
had pronounced the names correctly.

‘If it was a
river, it was the straightest I’ve seen.’

Harry leaned
across the map and traced a word written beside the river. ‘Panama
Canal,’ he read out loud.

‘Is it called
a canal because it’s straight?’ Flossy asked.

‘A canal’s a
river, not a natural one,’ answered Reginald, swaying
gently as elephants do. His voice rumbled and his eyes were full of
warmth and friendship. He was a school teacher—or at least he was
until the pirates destroyed his school with a well place cannonball
shot fired from the
as is sailed down the
coast—and relished explaining things to his students, or anyone for
that matter. ‘It’s a long channel cut into the ground and flooded
so boats can be used instead of roads and carts. They’ve been
around for donkey’s years, even before the Machine Age; though not
in these parts. The ground has to be level, you see, or
mechanically gated with ancient contraptions called locks. There’s
no reason it has to be straight, though.’

‘If that’s
true, who do think could make something like that? It would have to
be a hundred miles long,’ said Harry, awed. ‘Were there giants in
the Machine Age, Reginald?’

‘There are
stories of giants in the old books. I remember one about a
beanstalk and a boy named Jack. It was called—and this probably
won’t surprise you—
Jack and the Beanstalk
. A giant lives in
the clouds minding his own business and Jack climbs a beanstalk to
reach him. I think a singing harp and a bird who lays golden eggs
is kidnapped by Jack, or someone. Anyway, Jack murders the giant in
cold blood by chopping away the beanstalk from under him,’ said

‘The poor
giant,’ said Flossy.

‘Yes, killed
simply because he belonged to a different House, I suppose. That
kind of ignorance was rampant in the ancient days. Fear and
prejudice for anything strange.’

again?’ asked Harry.

‘Who can say?’
said Reginald, rolling his big head.

Harry looked
past Reginald into the misty cloud filling Town Square and wondered
if giants still lived above the clouds, and how clouds might be
made to support the weight.

Picking up a
spoon with his trunk Reginald traced the route that Flossy thought
she had taken. ‘Do you think you could find “Sometimes Gap”, Harry?
It doesn’t look wide and in hundreds of years no one has stumbled
on it by accident. Except the pirates, I suppose.’

‘I don’t

Harry sat back
and inspected his bruised tail, crushed by someone’s hoof during
the riot the night before. He looked up and asked:

‘Why do you
think it’s called Sometimes Gap?’

‘Maybe because
it’s not always a gap,’ Flossy said. The others turned to face her.
‘Maybe it’s because the way’s not always open. I was wondering why
we kept sailing past the same part of the ice wall, then one day
there was an opening wide enough for us to sail straight through. I
was sure it wasn’t there the day before.’

‘Opening and
closing like a lock in a canal?’ Reginald asked.

‘I suppose so,
though I don’t know how one of those works. And it would have to be
huge. The ice wall’s hundreds of feet high and holds back an ocean.
Two, actually.’

whiskers twitched. ‘That must be it. And that’s why we haven’t seen
pirates for years. They couldn’t get through.’

Larry Monkey
held up four black fingers.

He was a young
chimpanzee with a flat face and bald pink ears poking out from the
side of his fury head like wings. He stooped when he walked,
knuckles dragging, as if he carried the weight of the world on his
shoulders, and his eyes were sad. Harry knew something had happened
to his parents but didn’t know what.

Until now he
had sat in the corner of their café booth hiding behind an
oversized mug and watching silently as the others talked, attention
switching back and forth as if watching a game of tennis. He hadn’t
yet tasted his hot chocolate and the plump, pink marshmallows were
still lying untouched on his plate.

‘What is it,
Larry? Why the fingers?’ Harry asked.

Larry made a
fist then held up four fingers again. Then he touched his ear.

‘I think he’s
saying that the pass only opens every four years. Four fingers is
four years. And ears is years, you see,’ said Reginald.

Larry grinned
and sat back in his seat.

‘But pirates
aren’t seen every four years,’ said Harry.

‘Ah, but he’s
right,’ said Reginald, ears flapping forward. ‘Do the numbers.’

BOOK: The Secret Invasion of Port Isabel
6.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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