I gazed down at the sandy beach before me. On it lay the product of four days of hard labor, a third of what wreckage we'd scavenged, and what little I could remember of the top-secret drunken ramblings my brother had treated me to last Christmas. Gently put, it was a complete mess.
"Do you really think this'll work?"
I turned to one of my two fellow survivors, Arthur Gladstone. He was scratching at the few hairs between his mouth and nose that had the audacity to call itself a mustache, and looked like the whiny young adult he was.
"You have any better ideas on how to get off this rock?" I responded dryly. "I'm all ears for your magnificent plan on how to sail the seven seas and reach friendly waters. Preferably without getting us murdered to death. I'm allergic to dying, it's bad for my skin."
He continued to scratch his mustache hairs. "We could have built a boat from the wood instead of using it as a substitute for the metals we were lacking."
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. "Have either you or your brother spontaneously learned the intricacies of shipbuilding in this past week? Discovered a source of pitch, gum, or other product that could be used to seal the wood together? Found a way to prevent anything more complex than a raft from sinking?"
"Then don't suggest plans we can't carry out. The only reason we know how to build a raft is that all it takes is a bunch of wood tied together."
Arthur looked down and began digging his feet in the sand. He looked like I'd kicked him. I sighed.
"Look if you want to help, could you go find Christopher? I need another brain to brainstorm with. I'm beginning to think we shouldn't have used starfish in the flag, and I'm divided on whether we should replace them with Sand Dollars or just plain old sand."
Arthur dithered for a moment, but did leave me in peace. I shook my head and bent down to examine our work. It really didn't look like something that should be capable of summoning the ghost of warships past. Instead, it looked like a garage sale had collided with an extremely patriotic deserted island. On the other hand, according to my (admittedly drunken) brother, everything related to this process was bullshit.
So far we had nothing to show for our work. I'd hoped to get results yesterday, but it looks like we were still doing something wrong. I'd spent most of the morning changing the ratio of wood-to-sunken-cargo-ship, but it looks like that wasn't the problem either.
"What's that supposed to be?" Asked a female voice.
It took a moment for me to realize what she was asking about. "The short version is the American flag. The long version is our ticket off this island."
"Made of starfish, and with how many stars?"
I sighed. "We couldn't dig up a full fifty starfish, so I might have taken a few liberties with the design. That or it flies over an alternate United States where the Dakotas, Carolinas, and Virginias reconciled their differences."
"The dead crabs?"
"We didn't have enough red fabric for the stripes. You see anything else red on this island, be my guest to use it. If this thing still isn't working tomorrow, we'll probably try thin lines of blood before we throw in the towel."
My companion hummed in thought. "So how does the long version help you get off this island?"
"In an ideal world, it will summon us a boat. In reality, it looks like the only thing it might summon is a passing airplane."
"What's an airplane?"
"What do you mean 'what's an airplane'? You damn well know what a… wait, who am I even talking to?"
There was a grand total of three people on this hunk of rock. Just the blunder twins and I. I'm also the only woman, so who the flying hell am I talking to? Am I going crazy, or could my craptastic remake of the crowning achievement of spiritual science bullshit have actually worked?
I turned to look at my companion. She was a girl, check. She was wearing some vague rendition of a uniform, check (thank God it seemed to be a practical, if dated outfit). She had random-ass ship parts jutting out from her body, check. Then I took a second glance and cursed.
Those were definitely cannons. The antique kind even, the ones that shot little round balls back in the age of sail. Even worse, that was definitely a wooden mast sticking up behind the girl like some sort of wooden flagpole-tail. The white sail hanging from it might as well have had 'Look at me, I'm obsolete!' painted on it.
Well, obsolete relic from before the age of turbines or not, the important question was, "Can you sail?"
The girl blinked, her brown eyes rising to focus on me. "Of course I can! I might have run aground recently, but I think it will be easier to fix than the last time it happened."
I smiled for the first time since the shipwreck. "Excellent! I'm still not sure how I managed it, but it looks like all this stuff actually worked!"
The girl surveyed the beach behind me with a frown. "All what stuff? All I see is that rather… creative… rendition of the American flag."
I turned around to see a beach that was mostly empty. There was sand, more sand, a crab, some sand, and the flagbomination. Huh, I guess all the items needed to perform a summon were actually consumed after all. Of course, out of all the materials we'd pulled together it had to be the one we'd spent an entire day agonizing over that was completely unnecessary. I ground my teeth.
Turning back again, I faced the newest inhabitant of Random Ocean Rock. "Well, since you seem to be taking this a lot better than I am, do you mind if we do introductions? I'm Jessica Stanton."
After a moment of examining herself, the girl responded. "I was not expecting this to be the result of my timber being broken up. USS Constellation, ready to weigh anchor and set sail."