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Stranded: The True Tale Of A Shipwrecked Sailor


I tightly gripped the railing as the tempest-tossed ship shuddered beneath my feet. Immense swells of water lifted the galleon high in the air, then crashed it back down with a shriek of groaning timber. I had set sail out of Europe eight weeks prior on board the Ocean’s Hat as a greenhorn sailor eager to make my fortune. Instead, fate seemed to have a watery grave planned for me. How had I fallen into such dire nautical peril?

To understand why I became a sailor, you must learn the circumstances of my upbringing.

Aye, it was a fine expository background for a sailor. Unfortunately, it seemed that this storm would bring my story to an end.

All my life, I had dreamt of setting sail and seeking adventure at sea, for I had been enthralled by the ocean’s beauty, in the manner that a man might fancy a woman who he was having a dalliance with behind his wife’s back. If mankind has a wife, that wife is the land, for the land is where we belong; she is a kindly matron who keeps a safe and nurturing home, while every moment with the ocean is fraught with excitement and peril. The ship is the hotel where we have illicit sex with the mistress, and your fellow sailors are other men who are also having sex with the same mistress in the room with you. Yes, the ocean is a woman who is a mistress; a mistress full of fish.

The ship’s master was Captain William Brine, a stern man but one brimming with ocean wisdom. At the moment, he was screaming orders to the crew, who frantically ran about the ship adjusting the boat ropes and spinning the boat wheel at his command. Although the captain seemed busy, I was sure he could spare a moment to address my fears and put my mind at ease.

“No, we are as good as dead!” shouted the captain. “This is no ordinary stormit is a Tropical Typhoon Arlene, the most dreaded weather, which all sailors fear! No man has ever sailed through a Tropical Typhoon Arlene and lived to tell the tale!”

“Yes, you’re quite right!” agreed the captain. “We are going to drown very soon and be dead! This is no ordinary stormit is a Tropical Typhoon Arlene, the most dreaded weather, which all sailors fear! No man has ever sailed through a Tropical Typhoon Arlene and lived to tell the tale!”

Even when facing imminent demise, the captain’s enthusiasm for ocean wisdom lit up his face in an immense smile. There was nothing he enjoyed more than talking about the ocean and teaching people about what a wonderful and fantastic place it was.

“A Tropical Typhoon Arlene can be distinguished by three unmistakable signs…” he began.

“The first sign is sideways lightning. As the saying goes, ‘When lightning travels side to side, a sailor will become death’s bride.’”

“Another ill omen is that the birds are flying wrong. As the sea chanty goes, ‘When the gull flies upside down, you definitely are about to drown.’”

“Finally, the third piece of ocean wisdom is my own trade secret that I will never reveal to you or to anyone else. That’s the best ocean wisdom I can provide: Always keep a bit of ocean wisdom for yourself.”

“Have you heard a word I said?” grumbled the captain. “We’re all going to drown and there’s no chance of survival.”

Instead of being offended or taken aback by my expression of filial affection, Captain Brine began beaming a proud smile.

“All my life, the sea has been my only family,” he said as joyous tears filled his eyes. “I never had time to take a wife or sire children of my own. Now that we are about to die, it brings me intense comfort to know that one of the sailors I hired two months ago views me as his father. I will be a good parent to you in what little time we have left.”

“Great idea! Go for it,” cheered the captain.

I splashed into the icy water, thankful that I had never learned how to swim. This would make the task of drowning much easier.


Miraculously, I had emerged unscathed from the sea’s deadly embrace and washed up upon the shore of an uninhabited island. I was not out of danger yet, though. I had no food, no shelter, nor any tools. To survive, I would have to live off the land and tame this wild place.

The island had lush and varied terrain. There are several different regions to explore, but where to look first?

My stomach was growling fiercely, and my mind immediately set to the task of finding something to eat.

Exploring an island and having a thrilling adventure for survival was a hassle I did not need right now, so I decided to stroll back into the sea. I walked deeper and deeper into the surf while shouting “Yes! This is good!” over and over again until the waves covered my head. Then the water rushed into my lungs, and I drowned.

I returned to the beach in case I had overlooked something. The white sands stretched out before me like a billion flakes of dandruff from God’s head. It was a beautiful place, but unfortunately there did not seem to be anything edible here.

Although I was suffering from a great deal of survivor’s guilt over the death of all my crewmates, I decided to sit down and construct a sandcastle. After all, how often does one get to relax on a beautiful tropical beach? It wasn’t as though not building a sandcastle would bring back all my dead friends who had drowned a few hours earlier.

The swamp was an immense brackish stew of murky water and swirling moss, as if God had cried for a thousand years and then sneezed plants upon his tears.

The swamp was rife with slimy frogs, which in my famished condition looked more delicious than a glazed ham and prompted my mouth to dribble saliva all over my neck and chest.

I repeatedly smote the frog with my fists, but the amphibian was too springy and squishy for the blows to have any effect! My hand merely bounced off, and it almost seemed as though the frog was smirking at my helplessness.

I knew there must be a way to kill these frogs, but I would have to find a weapon first.

The mushroom was bright red and presumably extremely poisonous.

Eating the poisonous mushroom turned out to be a mistake. I fell into the fetid muck and began convulsing in agony, unable to do anything beyond shake and scream. The seizures continued without relief for hours, and as I grew weaker, I realized that the death I had evaded at sea had finally found me on land.

The jungle was overgrown and humid, like the majestic armpit of God.

I found a laden palm tree, but to my dismay I was too weak from hunger to climb up its trunk! Each time I attempted to scale it, I found my grip loosening before reaching even halfway, and I would plummet down painfully to the earthy loam of the jungle floor. I would have to find sustenance elsewhere.

All my life, I had wondered if quicksand was as deadly as legends say, and I had hoped to one day put the rumor to the test. I strode deeper into the liquid earth until sand covered my head.

Deep underground, I stubbed my toe on an unknown object. It took all my willpower not to swear like a sailor, because I was one.

To my delight, I had found a coconut. It must have fallen off a tree and sunk into the quicksand.

Unfortunately, my teeth had no effect on the coconut’s impenetrable hull. I next tried bashing it on a tree, jumping on it, and hurling it at boulders, but all my efforts were in vain. This coconut was an Achilles without a heel.

Opening my mouth to curse was a serious error while immersed in quicksand. Liquid dirt rushed into my lungs and suffocated me to death.

An immense mountain loomed over the island like God standing on a chair. I climbed its foothills in hopes of finding food, but discovered nothing save boulders and pebbles.

I bit into the ham sandwich with relish, savoring the taste of warm bread and salty meat. The fresh vegetables crunched nicely in my mouth, although they hurt my teeth quite a bit.

The island had lush and varied terrain. There are several different regions to explore, but where to look next?

My stomach was growling fiercely, and the hunger was made even worse by the inedible coconut in my hand.

The white sands stretched out before me like a billion flakes of dandruff from God’s head. It was a beautiful place, but unfortunately there did not seem to be anything edible here.

Although I was suffering from a great deal of survivor’s guilt over the death of all my crewmates, I decided to sit down and construct a sandcastle. After all, how often does one get to relax on a beautiful tropical beach? It wasn’t as though not building a sandcastle would bring back all my dead friends who had drowned a few hours earlier.

An immense mountain loomed over the island like God standing on a chair. I climbed its foothills in hopes of finding food, but discovered nothing save boulders and pebbles. The coconut felt heavy in my grasp.

I bit into the ham sandwich with relish, savoring the taste of warm bread and salty meat. The fresh vegetables crunched nicely in my mouth, although they hurt my teeth quite a bit.

The jungle was overgrown and humid, like the majestic armpit of God.

The swamp was an immense brackish stew of murky water and swirling moss, as if God had cried for a thousand years and then sneezed plants upon his tears.

The swamp was rife with slimy frogs, which in my famished condition looked more delicious than a glazed ham and prompted my mouth to dribble saliva all over my neck and chest.

The mushroom was bright red and presumably extremely poisonous.

Eating the poisonous mushroom turned out to be a mistake. I fell into the fetid muck and began convulsing in agony, unable to do anything beyond shake and scream. The seizures continued without relief for hours, and as I grew weaker, I realized that the death I had evaded at sea had finally found me on land.

The coconut turned out to be an ideal frog masher, and I crushed dozens of the slimy morsels. I merrily ate the raw frog meat and drank my fill of frog slime.

Without bricks or mortar, I would have to make ingenious use of the island’s natural resources to build a home.

After a few hours of work, I had managed to put together a passable shelter. It was a primitive dwelling, but it would at least keep the rain off my head.

Now, all I had to do was stay sane while I waited for rescue.

“Very well, let’s see what this beautiful bucket’s got left in her!” cheered the captain. “I’ll shout out boat commands, and if you can pull them off, we just might live through this!”

“No, that’s not the right boat thing!” screamed the captain in alarm. Alas, I had failed the test of nautical knowledge and doomed the ship. A huge gust of wind capsized the Ocean’s Hat, and I fell into the sea.

“Pull the starboard boat rope!”

“Well done! Now, pull the astern boat rope and the leeward boat rope!”

“Excellent boatmanship! All that remains is to take the boat wheel and steer us out of this storm. Turn it to the right the number of times equal to the number of ships Odysseus departed Troy with, then turn it to the left the number of times equal to the tons of silver Sir Francis Drake captured from the Spanish galleon Cacafuego.”

Thanks to my nautical expertise, I had triumphed over the storm and saved the ship! The rest of the voyage was uneventful, and I never was shipwrecked on an island or did anything interesting ever again. In due time, I became a successful captain and merchant with a ship of my own, and every day of my long, prosperous life I gave thanks I had avoided having an exciting adventure.

The End.

However, going insane was not my fault! I wasn’t to blame at all! It was the frogs that did it to me, the frogs! They hated me for killing them and drove me to insanity to get their vengeance.

“You’re going to die,” they taunted day and night. Never any peace.

“You’re going to die!” said the frogs.

After months of torment, I was finally captured and taken to stand trial before the Frog King. “You are accused of the gravest crime of frog murder,” intoned the Frog King. “The punishment for this evil deed is the tongues. How do you plead?”

My groveling fell on unsympathetic ears. “You are guilty,” declared the Frog King. “I hereby sentence you to an eternity of tongues!”

A nightmare infinity of tongues surrounded melicking, slurping, oozing tongues! Tongues pink and glistening, tongues, countless tongues, slapping and flapping! Horrific tongues, prodding and roiling, a saliva parade without remorse! Tongues, tongues!

Isaac Newton would accompany me on long walks about the island, where we discussed countless subjects of interest. From physics and mathematics to philosophy, he was an excellent conversationalist with a razor-sharp wit. More than that, he was a good friend. Without his company, I would have surely gone mad.

“My dearest friend,” said Isaac as we walked toward the shore. “I have treasured this past year with you.”

“I so value our friendship that even though you forgot, I remembered that today is your birthday,” continued Isaac. “It required months of work, but I was able to create a gift for you.”

He gestured toward the shore.

“I give you your freedom. Go.” Tears watered up in Isaac’s eyes.

“I wish I could, but alas!” Isaac sighed. “You know the truth as well as I. I’m just a mound of frog bones. I cannot leave this place.”

I embraced Isaac Newton and vowed to stay on the island with him forever. For the rest of my life I was Isaac Newton’s constant companion, and I assisted him with his many experiments. At times I missed the outside world and other people, but on the whole I was very happy indeed.


Now, at last, I returned to the sea, adrift in a small boat with just a meager supply of provisions. Will I reach the mainland? Or will the ocean finally finish what it began? Whether this story ends in joy or tragedy is a mystery. Yet no matter if I live or die, at least I am once again a sailor, and that is enough for me.

The End.

After several days lost at sea, I spotted the mainland in the distance.

I drank deep of the ambiguity, savoring how uncertain things were for me.

As soon as I pulled my boat onto the beach, I was ambushed by a tribe of cannibals! The barbaric natives surrounded me, dancing their pagan rituals and hooting with savage glints in their eyes.

If I did not think fast, I would end up as the main course at their feast!

At last, some good luck! A solar eclipse coincidentally began as soon as I threatened to destroy the sun.

Of course, my trusty flintlock pistol that had been tucked into my belt the past year! Perhaps it could prove useful. I fired it into the air and shouted, “I am a mighty wizard! Behold as I command the thunder!”

The cannibals dropped to their knees and bowed to me, begging for mercy.

I decided to speak with their king and see if I could persuade him into giving me supplies for my journey back to civilization. I entered his rustic hall with some trepidation, unsure of what to expect. Would he be as easily cowed as his followers?

Their king was none other than Captain Brine himself! The old man was dressed in the crude jungle clothing of the tribe, but otherwise looked no worse for the wear.

“It is good to see you in one piece! I was certain you had drowned!” exclaimed the captain, and we spent several minutes exchanging stories.

Brine explained that he had washed up on shore and been captured by the cannibals, but charmed them with some ocean wisdom about the life cycle of coral. Awed by his knowledge of reefs, they had appointed him their supreme ruler.

Captain Brine ordered the tribe to help us build a ship, and we planned our voyage back to civilization.

I had survived my ordeal, and returned to Europe a wealthy and prosperous merchant. Within a few years, I had amassed a large fleet of trading ships that sailed routes to every corner of the globe. Fame and fortune suited me well, but sometimes I would fondly recall my time on the island. The tropical wind whispering through the coconut trees; the mists curling around the mountain; the croaking of the frogs beneath the starlit sky. All those images would sift through my mind and stir pangs of longing.

A few short weeks later, the fog-shrouded hills of the island pulled into view. At long last, I was home.

The End.

All the excitement of the wild tropics without the dangerous ocean travel or perilous terrain. A place where the whole family can sit down and enjoy a meal together, choosing from dozens of delicious entrées, like our world-famous Amazon Fajitas or our Congo Fish Plate served with a side of Safari Fries. This restaurant would be my legacy: a physical monument that will endure for hundreds of years and a tribute to all my comrades who drowned at sea. Thank you for reading the back of your menu and learning the story of the Rainforest Cafe. And now, bon appétit!


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