The Aspidochelone

Author’s Note: this short story was written for a writing challenge, to include the words chocolate, turtles, escape, and forgetful

Sir Andrew Bidwell had always said that life was a series of wrong turns. He’d also said often enough that every wrong turn is an adventure, that a man who never makes a misstep might as well be a machine. It was due to these aphorisms that he was the toast of the town, and why he was hailed as the century’s greatest adventurer. But the truth of the matter was that Andrew hated adventure. He simply did an excellent job of hiding that fact because to admit that he did not care for adventure was to admit that he was absolutely rubbish as a navigator. So, every man makes the occasional wrong turn, but without these wrong turns he will never be able to learn, he said.

Still, some wrong turns were worse than others. Case in point: it had been days since they’d seen any sign of civilization. The airship had run out of fuel. Eventually they’d been forced to land on an island. He hadn’t even realised they were at sea. What sort of navigator forgets to bring a map?

“Well,” he said, “This is quite the adventure, isn’t it?”

The captain fixed him with an icy stare but made no reply.

It took only half an hour to explore the island and discover that it was absolutely devoid of any food. There were still a few days worth of food aboard the ship – mostly dried fruit and chocolate, but it would have to suffice until they managed to find a way off the island. They could always just let the ship drift wherever the wind might take them, but the balloons were leaking; a slow trickle of hydrogen was gradually escaping, and the ship was slowly sinking lower and lower. For the moment, it was tied to a palm tree, drifting only twenty or so feet above the surface of the ocean.

That night, the crew slept uneasily, thoughts of vengeance filling their heads. The famous Sir Bidwell had forgotten the map, and here they were. Stranded.

But when they awoke – and they awoke all at once, jostled awake by a rogue wave, which washed over the beach – their vengeful thoughts were soon forgotten. The scenery had changed. No longer were they surrounded by miles and miles of open sea. Just off to the right, there was land. Not just any land either, but a familiar shoreline. The airship was hanging low now, just a few feet above the waves, but the rope was stretched out and the ship was whipping through the air like a kite. The island rocked with the motion of the waves. It was moving, rapidly, through the waves. It was astonishing enough that the island was moving, but its speed was incredible.

Bidwell stood up, leaned against a palm tree, and let the wind blow through his hair. He grinned. “Quite the adventure, eh, Captain?”

“What is going on, Bidwell?” he demanded. “Why are we moving?”

“I can’t be entirely certain,” he replied, “But I can hazard a guess.”

“Let’s just hope this island – if it can still be called an island – decides to head for land sometime soon,” said the Captain.

“Till then,” said Bidwell, “Let’s just enjoy the adventure.”