A Day in the Life of a Ficus 25

In Which Doom Has Never Been so Delicious

I have been subsequently informed that doughnut holes do not, in actual point of fact, sparkle. I would like to apologize on behalf of myself, Kesia, and the ficus for the inaccurate portrayal of deep fat fried foodstuffs in this comic. The next comic may be viewed on the website.

A website: ficuscomic.com

A Day in the Life of a Ficus 24

In Which a Rock Comes Bearing Interesting Facts

So life happened, I wound up moving, and getting a new job, and have only just found time to draw again , but I’m drawing again, huzzah! The next comic may be viewed on the website.

A website: ficuscomic.com

Journal of Water and Air Part 12

I found myself deeply concerned, because I could not imagine that a fight between pirates ended with kindness from either side. I had to admit the need for the fight, and even my part in it. I had no wish to be part of a massacre however. Blaze had a pistol pointed at a now unarmed Captain Jackson, one of Captain Jackson’s own crew had knocked the pistol from his captain’s hand. Much to my surprise no one moved forward for the kill, instead everyone turned to look at Captain Neriena. Captain Neriena seemed to have lost interest in her enemy now that they were defeated however. She was already kneeling by one of her injured men, trying to stop his blood with her neck cloth.

“What do you want done with them?” asked Blaze, who as her second in command, seemed to be the only one brave enough to ask.

“Take anything that we need from their ship,” said Captain Neriena, looking up for a moment. All of the emotion seemed to have drained from her face, leaving behind something empty, and more than a little frightening. If I had been concerned before about what would happen to the crew of Captain Jackson, now I became almost entirely certain that I was not going to care for her decision.

Even as Blaze took men over to the Stribog, using the enemy’s own ladders, more men came forward to care for the wounded. Captain Neriena was among their number, doing what basic aid she knew before those members of the crew with medical skill could come to care for injuries. I looked about myself, searching for Catfish, who I had seen take a blow to the arm from an enemy, but he was nowhere to be found. As I was being completely useless among the wounded on the gun deck, I decided I would go see if I could find Catfish and make sure that he was alright.

Finding Catfish proved to be surprisingly easy. He had simply returned to his engine room, which was the first place I had thought to look for him. His assistant was tying a piece of cloth around his arm, but he was already back to work, explaining to his assistant why it was that in the future she needed to keep a better eye on how much grease was used on some of the moving parts of the engine.

“I thought maybe you might need someone to look at your arm,” I said, feeling slightly uncomfortable by the strange surroundings of the engine room.

“I’m fine,” said Catfish, turning to glance at me, and then turning back to what I could only think of as his engine.

“Are you not concerned what will happen to Captain Jackson?” I asked, voicing what was truly on my mind, and why I had followed Catfish to his retreat. “I know well that there is no love lost betwixt you, but I should think that having served under him you would worry yourself some with his fate.”

“He surrendered, he will be fine,” said Catfish, for the first time his calm broken with a look of slight surprise.

The same whistle as I had heard before, came once again from the speaking tube. Catfish put down the wrench he had been using and walked over to the tube so that he could hear what was said over the sound of the engine. I being a journalist, and therefore naturally curious about other people’s conversations, also came to listen.

“Catfish, I have a need for you on deck to deal with the Stribog,” said Captain Neriena’s voice. Catfish paused for a moment to see if there was anything else, and then turned to me.

“Come,” he ordered.

“Why?” I asked, backing away slightly. I still imagined a massacre and I had no wish to see one.

“We are not barbarians,” said Catfish simply. With that statement he headed back towards the gun deck and I followed, because to do anything else would clearly insult him.

To my amazement, the order that Captain Neriena gave Catfish was a simple one, stop the engines of the Stribog. Captain Jackson and his crew had been returned to their ship, but Captain Neriena did not trust that they would not attempt to continue the fight even now if they were left to their own devices. I cannot in honesty say that I doubt the accuracy of that fear. Captain Jackson had proven to be stubborn in his grudges. Several other members of the crew of the Aeolus climbed over with Catfish, and while the engineer stopped the engines of the enemy ship, the rest of the men made small holes in the air bag, so that the Stribog would sink slowly. As I watched them work from my viewpoint on the Aeolus, I could not help but notice that I was surrounded by a good deal of new cargo that had not been there during the fight. It seemed that the crew of the Aeolus had taken Captain Neriena’s order to loot the enemy very seriously.

Ropes had been added to hold the Aeolus to the Stribog while Captain Neriena’s crew worked. As I watched with confusion however, the ladders that had originally connected the two ships were dropped from the Stribog side. The expedition that had been sabotaging the Stribog took up the ropes that connected the two ships, sliced through them, and as the ships drifted apart, the men swung out into midair.

“They are showing off,” said Blaze next to me, though he did not sound disgusted. “They could have easily come across on the ladders and then cut the ropes.” I looked back down, to where Catfish and the rest of the men were steadily climbing up the ropes back to the ship, and I could not help but wonder what sort of sensation the men would make in the one of the city’s athletic clubs back home. It is clear that being a part of a pirate crew lends itself to a certain amount of gymnastic ability.

Since we parted with the Stribog there has been far less excitement. With the lack of excitement however, I find myself once more thinking of my family, and worrying about what they must think of my letters. I fear that they may have some difficulty forgiving me for being so long from them, though it is not of my doing. I see little chance for me to escape from this ship so long as we continue in the air, and when we are on the ground we are more carefully guarded than any prison.


May 28th,

Just as I was beginning to fear that I would never be free, I find myself on a train from New York City to Chicago. In my company is Captain Bilke, as well as the rest of the crew of the Defender. With us is also a guard of several members of the crew of the Aeolus, but they are simply with us to see to it that we speak to no one about where we were. We have been allowed to announce ourselves as safe, indeed the press made a great fuss of us when we made ourselves known. The story that we have been ordered to tell is that we witnessed the Aeolus fall from the sky in the storm that sank our ship, and that we believe that all of the men of the pirate ship were drowned. We then floated about the ocean in an open boat until we finally reached the land.

It is strange to be speaking of the supposed death of men who I can see watching me from the crowd, but it is what we were told to do in exchange for our freedom, and it seemed a small price to pay. Captain Neriena, and indeed the main portion of the crew of the Aeolus, swear themselves ready for retirement from a style of life they have lives for some time. Captain Bilke took some effort to convince to perjure himself on where we had been and what we had seen, and let the crew he had been sworn to capture go to freedom, but Captain Neriena was just as insistent that they mean to give up the life of pirates. The crew had gained too many enemies, become too well known, and was now too hunted was her argument. Having seen what I had since being rescued by the crew, I could not argue that she was wrong. Captain Neriena could see little reason to gather great wealth if she was never going to be able to enjoy it. Instead the crew of the Aeolus has for the most part agreed to release us, to spread the news of their death, so that they will be able to retire quietly. We were warned however that we would always be watched, against the possibility that we might change our minds about speaking about what happened after the storm.

I am having to write this in secret. My journal is something that I was not meant to take from the Aeolus as it has rather more information about the crew than they are entirely comfortable with. I ripped out the pages that I was able to, and put pen to paper to write this final entry. It is difficult to put into words the emotions that I feel however. On the one hand I am returning to my family after a longer absence than I ever plan for again. The anxiety I feel to see them again is such that I feel as though I could pull the train forward to meet them. However, I am never able to forget that I am a journalist, and it pains me deeply that the words that I have written about my adventures must always be a secret, even from my family. I leave this adventure thinking much about the high cost of freedom.


Handbill printed October 30th, Chicago IL

Airship Aeolus available for private charter.

Cargo and passengers, carried for affordable across United States.

Ship affords modern accommodations and safe transport.

The Aeolus has an experienced crew, and guns to ensure the protection of all aboard.

Visit our office at the airfield for further details, and our rates to specific destinations.    

Journal of Water and Air Part 11

May 25th,

The doctor of the Aeolus assures me that my hand is merely bruised, and that as there is nothing broken he can do little but suggest a little rum for me to numb the pain with.    In honesty I do not believe that he took an overly close look at my hand, but nor can I blame him. He has his hands full with the more seriously injured. There are several men who were badly injured in the battle who take all of the doctor’s time.

There was a battle after Blaze, Catfish, and I cut all of the ropes. The Stribog crew clearly had no time to set up the harpoon guns again. Only one more harpoon attached itself to us in the course of the battle, and that gun was trained close enough to a window that I had no more reason to climb about the ship. I thought my part of the battle was in fact over, but I was wrong about that as it turned out. I had not realized how deep the hatred between the two crews was. Rather than trying to escape now that we were no longer tied to the enemy, Blaze now took over the bombardment, and if anything it gained more foracity. I had no doubt in my mind that Blaze had every intention of sinking the enemy to the ocean below. The cannons on the Aeolus are not large, weight restriction were still a problem, no matter how good Blaze is at creating new designs. They are able to fire at unusually long distances, but the shot is only slightly larger than what is fired by a pistol. This meant that no matter how good the aim of the gun crew was, the damage was slow to take effect. In the meantime the crew of the Stribog was making good of the time, not only by firing their own guns, but also by trying to bring their ship close enough to ours that even without ropes between the ships they would be able to board us. Much to my shock, Captain Neriena ordered that they should be allowed to come to us. I would have much prefered that they be kept at a distance and sunk.

The two airships were not actually able to come against one another, since the airbags were wider than the gondolas, and they prevented the men on each ship from getting close enough to climb across. Neither pirate crew seemed troubled by this however. Instead now pistols and rifles came out and into play now. Finally Captain Jackson ordered his crew to come across on ladders slung across from his ship to ours. The ladders had hooks on the end, which bit into the sills of our windows, making them difficult to remove from our ship, especially when they had the weight of several men on them. It was clear that the ladders had been designed with just such an attack in mind. Blaze had been entirely right when he had said that Captain Jackson liked close tactics, it seemed that his entire armament was designed for such maneuvers. We were only able to tilt off one of these ladders before the others came. The men on that ladder fell to the ocean below, and I could see flotation devices dropped to them from the Stribog, so I suppose that they were fine. We were not so far from shore as it would be impossible to reach in such circumstances, though I must admit it struck me as hardly pleasant. It repeatedly passed through my mind that I had no desire for a similar swim, and I dearly hoped that we could remain in the air through this fight. I have no ability to swim, nor do my children, though I promise as of having witnessed this that I will see to it that Willie gets lessons when his health has improved. I never thought there would be a need for him to know how to swim, but my own adventures prove that you can never tell what life will bring to you.

Since Blaze, Catfish and I had been trying to prevent the enemy from coming across on the ladders, we found ourselves fighting together now that the enemy had made it aboard. I quickly noticed that Blaze was the only one of us who was a fighter. He had guns, so many guns that I quickly lost count, and when he had spent one of them, he quickly changed to the next, with apparently no concern of running out of weapons. I only had the knife that I had been given to cut ropes with, and Catfish contented himself with wielding the poll that had served as the handle for the ax. I had no notion what had happened to the ax head, I had not been watching, but judging by the splintered wood where it had been, it seemed that the ax had broken at some point. Catfish was making do with the axhandle, it being hard wood that was easily swung like a club. Catfish did not seem eager to cause actually permanent damage to anyone however. He aimed mainly for legs, and arms, avoiding anything that could potentially be lethal. I had to admit that I was much the same. Knives could be dangerous weapons in the hands of the right person, but I was not such a person. I was not able to shake the feeling that reporters and journalists were never meant to be combatants. I am certain that Catfish could have made the same argument about mechanics. Blaze however was a gunner, and seemed to relish in the bangs and small explosions he was causing, though they were very small explosions. Blaze was not crazy, and was not so foolish as to try to cause a fire on a ship that was kept in the air with a flammable gas. The walls and floor of the gun deck were covered in metal, and I suppose that they had Blaze in mind when they made that decorating decision. When I had first seen it I supposed that it was for extra armor against attack, but that was before I saw Blaze in action. Blaze has a great love for gunpowder.

I cannot say that I did much damage to the enemy, but as my goal was mainly to protect myself, I am not ashamed to write that. I would have chosen not to fight at all, except that I had my doubts that the crew of the Stribog would be understanding if I told them that I did not feel I was a fighter. In the end I was not needed to cause much damage. For all that Blaze had said that the crew of the Stribog had the advantage in a close fight, the crew of the Aeolus held their own and more. Captain Neriena has gathered under her a group of rough men, mostly former sailors from the looks of them, and every one of them seems ready for a fight. They fought with anger at being invaded by the enemy also, which only made them more powerful.

I had thought that the crew of the Aeolus fought without tactics or purpose, with each man for himself, but as I watched the men of the Stribog were slowly backed against the windows of the gun deck. They suddenly found themselves confronted with a choice, continuing a lost fight, or jumping from the window. It was clear that Captain Neriena had drilled her men at one time or another on what to do in just such a situation. One by one the crew of the Stribog began to throw down their weapons, though Captain Jackson shouted at them to keep up the fight in both English and Russian. It seemed that no matter how powerful the grudge was between Captain Neriena and Captain Jackson, his crew was not so invested in it as to wish to die for it.

Journal of Water and Air Part Ten

Ship log of the Aeolus May 23rd, 9 AM

Over the Atlantic. Fair weather, wind from the West at five knots. The Stribog spotted to the port, and gaining quickly on us. Captain Jackson is a stubborn man. I have had little choice but to order the men to their battle stations. I might well try to evade again, but it would seem that Captain Jackson will follow me until this is through. The crew seems determined to see this to the end. He shall not take Catfish back, Catfish has made it clear that he has no desire to return to the Stribog, and having taken him under my protection, I am duty bound to see this to the end.


May 24th,

I was hardly able to record yesterday’s events as they occurred, and so I am forced to write them now, the best that I remember them. I will admit that my memory in some places might be foggy, due more to the action I am not accustomed to, than because I was not paying attention. I am also in some pain, and therefore find myself having to break off my thoughts often to rest. This may well make the flow of my writing uneven, so it is well that it is only for my own use. Had I not been minding my surroundings yesterday I would have been dead. In the past I have suggested to editors that I might make a talented reporter for wars. I am now grateful for them seeing what I failed to see in myself, and refusing me the job. I lack the temperament for a clear head in the midst of a fight, something needed to record events clearly and impartially. Indeed I am forced to question the judgement of Mr. Donovan for hiring me to cover the Defender. Had we captured, rather than been rescued by, Captain Neriena’s crew there would have certainly been a fight. It was surely supposed that I should write about such an exciting event. I find it very unlikely that I would have succeeded to the satisfaction of anyone however. I find it only possible to start at the beginning and work my way to the end of the events, it being the only manner of storytelling that will ensure I leave nothing out.

Things began when I was walking on the gundeck of the Aeolus. It has never failed to impress me with how free they allow us to be with that space. On the Defender the gun deck was a well kept secret, lest those of us associated with papers should write about it, and give the pirates a hint of what to expect. It should be expected that on a pirate ship they would not wish the people who were sent to hunt them down to know what arms they were carrying, but that does not seem to be the case. The gun deck seems to be as much an exercise space as a place to fight off the ship’s enemies, and those of us who belonged to the Defender have been given as much use of it as any other man or woman on the crew.

I had no idea the meaning of the bell when I heard it ring, but it gained my attention all the same. It was the variety used to announce that a break has come in a factory, but it went on for far longer. My first desire was to cover my ears, but before I could even manage that, people were rushing through the room, in the direction of the mess. As I had no idea of what was happening, I chose to follow them at a calmer pace, mostly out of curiosity. I have at no point managed to convince myself that anything that occurs on the ship is a concern of mine, as I am in the end, an outsider. I like to consider that such a mentality will prevent me from becoming an insider.

Neriena was already in the mess when we assembled, with Blaze standing near her. They both gave out a military air, and for that matter so did the men around me. I was starting to guess at the meaning of the bell, and I was only hoping that it was a navy airship or a search ship, which would come and take me from the company I was in. Though it may make me seem too much an optimist, I do continue to hope for rescue, or relief in some other form, from my captivity on the Aeolus.

“I want this ship battle ready in ten minutes, Captain Jackson is on our port, and will be on us within the quarter hour,” Captain Neriena announced. To my amazement that was all. No further explanation was given, and the crew did not seem to need one. It seemed as though only myself and the other members of the Defender’s crew were unaware of where we were supposed to be in such a situation.

“Captain Bilke to the control room,” ordered Captain Neriena, hurrying past us. “We will need an extra hand in steering lest we fall into some trap.” Captain Bilke obeyed the command without pausing, clearly recognizing that we were all in this situation together, friends or not. This left myself and the remnants of his crew without any leader however. We were standing like sheep who have strayed from the shepherd when Blaze came running up to us.

“You men to the guns,” Blaze ordered. The rest of the men who I had been standing with me. I continued to stand where I was though. I knew myself well enough to know that I would be useless around firearms.

“What are you doing?” demanded Blaze, when he noticed that I was not moving.

“I have never fired a gun in my life,” I replied. Blaze seemed to consider this for a moment.

“Come with me,” he ordered finally. I could not argue, Blaze was armed with several guns, and seemed in no mood to debate. It seems strange to me that I was so intimidated by a boy, but Blaze has the sort of attitude that suggests that he will have his way, or there will be very strong consequences. In any case, as I told him, I have no experience with guns, while he is very comfortable around them. It will never do for a man who does not care for guns to argue with even a child who is willing to shoot him. I followed meekly, and was brought to the gun deck, where Blaze handed me a knife.

“What am I to do with this?” I asked suspiciously.

“Cut their tethers,” Blaze ordered.

“What tethers?” I asked, looking about me for any ropes that were connecting the two ships.

“They will come,” said Blaze, with the certainty of a prophet. “We have the better guns, my own design. They will want to make it a close fight and board us. Captain Jackson has a larger crew, because he will never allow a man to leave him once he has joined the crew. In order to fight close though, they will have to lash themselves to us. When you see a rope, cut it.” With that Blaze was gone, but to my surprise I was not alone. Catfish had actually left the engine room and was standing beside me with a hatchet in hand.

“What about the engine?” I asked him. It was a legitimate concern, it had seemed during the storm that the engine was an old one that needed constant attention.

“My assistant will take care of it. She knows how to run everything well enough.”

“You want to fight Captain Jackson?” I asked, since it was the only reason I could image for Catfish to leave the engine. I had never seen Catfish around the ship, and so I could only suppose that his assistant brought him his meals, and that he never left the engine room. To my surprise, Catfish shook his head.

“I do not wish to fight, I wish to escape. I will not allow them to tie us so that we cannot run.”

“I thought you did not like Captain Jackson,” I said, now completely baffled.

“I do not like to fight,” said Catfish, as if that settled everything about the matter. Then Catfish turned back to watch his old ship approach us.

Blaze had been right. It did not take long for the ropes to begin to shoot towards us. There was very little that could be done, until they latched on to us. Then it was a matter of speed, cutting them before they could reel us towards them. I could not help but notice that they were aiming low, so that the harpoons did not damage the airbag, but instead hit the pulpy wood of the gondola.

“Why not just shoot us down,” I asked myself, not even realizing that I was thinking outloud in all of the excitement.

“Pride,” said Captain Neriena’s voice behind me. “We have Catfish, who he never wanted to let leave his crew. As a result his pride rests on taking Catfish back.”

“I am not a prize,” said Catfish, seemingly annoyed at the manner in which he was being referred to. I could not blame him for that. It seemed that he was a good enough mechanic to have two pirate captains fighting over him, but it also seemed that he was hardly flattered by that.

Captain Neriena might have apologized for her rudeness, but she did not get the chance. There was a jerk as the men of the Stribog pulled us together. Captain Neriena seemed to remember all of the sudden where her duties lay. She turned to scream to her men to fire their guns at the attacking ship. Then she turned back to me.

“What are you waiting for?” she demanded. “Cut the ropes.”

“They are below the ship,” I protested. Captain Neriena said nothing, she simply pointed to where both Blaze and Catfish were already climbing out of one of the gun windows, holding themselves to the ship with the rope netting that held the ship portion of the airship, to the airbag. If I had thought that this would be a more peaceful vocation than firing a gun, it seemed as though I was very much mistaken. One look at the eyes of Captain Neriena however suggested to me that it was more dangerous to object to the danger. Her ship was in danger, and therefore she would make it very unsafe for anyone who refused to protect it. Simple journalist and bystander or not, I was going to have to risk my life. With fear gripping my stomach, I took ahold of one of the ropes, and swung myself over the side of the ship, to hang only from the netting, looking into certain death below me.

Blaze had set one of the lines that connected us to the enemy ship on fire I noted, as I slowly climbed down to where the harpoons had gripped the Aeolus. That was not an entirely bad idea, I thought. There was a chance that the fire might reach the enemy ship, and even if it didn’t, it had to count for some psychological damage. Even as I watched, someone on the Stribog released the now burning rope so that it fell towards the ground. I had the knife that Blaze had given me stuck in my pocket, but I was not looking forward to reaching for it, with only one hand holding me to the ship. I heard a thunk and a twang on my other side, and could see that Catfish had used his hatchet with great force, cutting one of the thick ropes with one blow. He was already moving on to the next. It was clear that for all of his complaints about not being a prize, Catfish had certainly made his choice about which Captain he wanted to serve.

Both Blaze and Catfish were moving towards their third harpoons each when I reached my first. Taking a deep breath I reached for my knife, while clinging to the side of the ship so tightly with my other hand that my knuckles turned white. Even when I had been on my father’s ship as a boy, and there had been terrible storms, I had never been allowed to be in such danger. For once in my life there was no one to protect me, and that thought steeled my resolve. Mindless terror, it would seem, can on occasion lead to epiphany. I doubt that I will ever gain the courage to say that outside of the pages of my journal.

With the little bit of newfound courage I sawed back and forth with the knife at the rope. It was tempting to use the harpoon as a handhold, but I could not tell how deep it had bitten into the wood. Then the rope snapped. It was a rope, about twenty had been latched to the airship, but I felt a deep sense of accomplishment. With the amount of adrenaline rushing through my veins I hardly even noticed when the rope snapped across my hand when the tension released. Now that I am writing I find the pain very noticeable however, and I think I must put my pen down now, and continue recounting the battle on a following day.

Journal of Water and Air Part Nine

May 19th,

The wind remains fresh, but I find it has settled enough that the galley has returned to serving food, to the great relief of all. Just as on a ship on the sea, I discovered quickly that the fear of fire leads the stove to be entirely extinguished so long as the chance of the fire being tipped to the floor is present. I can hardly complain, it has not escaped my memory that the airship is a highly flammable device, with little chance of escape should a fire break out.

Airships are drafty things, and the wind whistles terribly through the cracks, making it difficult to hold a conversation in such a gale. When the breeze is slight all that is noticeable of this failure in construction is a chill to the air. In winds as strong as the ones that we remain in however, I find that I spend all of my time in a coat lent to me by a member of the crew who took pity on my pathetic shivering. All of the men of the crew have also donned coats, except those members of the crew of the Defender who have not been able to find one. They wander about with blankets over their shoulders instead, and look a sad lot. Captain Bilke has simply layered on every piece of clothing he has been able to lay hands on, and wanders about looking a good deal heavier than his natural weight. Captain Neriena gave him one of her coats, but he in turn gave it to a member of his former crew, saying that he felt that his men ought to be looked to first. Captain Neriena did not argue, and I suspect that she somewhat admires him for it. Captain Neriena herself had donned the coat of a navy officer, which I chose not to ask the provenance of. I cannot imagine that she comes by it honestly.

We are now in sight of the coast, and it seems that we will be flying over the ocean before nightfall. I realize that Captain Neriena finds comfort from not being over land, but I am ashamed to admit that I agree with her. Land seems a dangerous thing for a pirate ship such as the one that I find myself on. I would hate to think that we might be shot down before I could return to my family. I find myself more and more uneasy on that account. Captain Neriena seems to have no inclination to release us, and seems to chose to integrate the crew of the Defender into the workings of her ship. It has also occurred to me that she would be placing herself at great risk to release us now that we know so much of the nature of her crew and ship. She does not strike me as the sort who would work against her own interests in the name of kindness. I have considered asking her about it, but I have not found the courage yet.


May 20th,

This morning at breakfast, Captain Neriena announced to us that she had news that would matter to those of us who were formerly of the Defender. I know that I was not the only man who tensed in the room. I doubt very much that any of us feel secure in our position. I only consider us half rescued at best. Instead Captain Neriena informed us that they had received news from telegraph signals from shore. It would seem that they are in contact with someone on shore, though only in certain parts of the ocean. I suppose that it would be too difficult to be in touch with shore no matter where the Aeolus is. I am indeed surprised at the number of people who do seem willing to work with the pirates. It is no wonder that our merchants should have such a difficult time with them considering the resources it seems that they have.

“The members of the crew of the Defender that have not yet returned to Chicago have been declared lost, presumed dead. All search efforts will cease,” Captain Neriena announced.

“What of the letters we wrote our loved ones,” I said, not even thinking of the company I was in, not in my shock. They could well have been a room of kings, and I would have still asked the question. Such an announcement in the papers would cause great anguish to Molly, not to mention Father and the children.  My mind grew instantly suspicious that they had had us write letters to keep us happy, but had never sent them. Captain Neriena gave me a look of great scorn however.

“It will take no short time for your letters to reach so far as Chicago from a place so far from people as we were.” It did not escape me that even when defending herself, Captain Neriena did not share with us where in Canada we had been. I could feel an unmanly flush creep up my cheeks, and I looked down before anyone could see.

I had a lot to think about as I returned to my room. If only for a few days before they received my letters, my family would think me to be dead. For all that I knew, they could well believe my death even before the newspaper gave the news that the government had given up on me being alive. I could only hope that my father would forget on what poor terms we had last written to one another, and would look after my family. The thought still ate at me, so I decided to pick up this journal, and at least put my thoughts into written words, which is the realm where I am most comfortable. It is a melancholic thing to be forced to throw oneself onto your bed with resignation, and admit that there is nothing you can do to mend the circumstances that trouble you.


To Henry Donovan, editor

℅ The Chicago Eagle

Dear Sir,

I am writing to inform you that you must retract your notice that my son met his demise during the storm that sank the Defender. I have received a letter from him, in his hand, stating that he is safe, though he cannot say where he is. I wish that the public should know of this, so that they will petition the government to renew the search for survivors. My son speaks of being in danger in his letter, and a swift response from the government might be able to save his life, no matter what danger he might be in. It is my belief that he has fallen into the hands of some dangerous men. There are many smugglers, and other gangs of bad reputation along the coasts, I sailed those coasts for many years, so I know it well.

I give you here a chance to redeem yourself and your paper. After casting my son’s family aside, and handing them over to charity, the least that you might do is to throw your influence towards the task of seeing my son safely at home.

Captain Christopher King


To Captain Christopher King

May 23rd,

Dear Sir,

It pains me to inform you that you are likely the victim of a cruel prank. There are those who will always take advantage of a tragedy for their own demented pleasure. The loss of the Defender has been in the paper these last few weeks, as well as the names of those who were aboard. It should not surprise me if one of these demented people collected the names of the victims and wrote you a letter claiming to be from your son to see the fuss that results. For one, I refuse to give such a person the pleasure.

You write that the handwriting was in the hand of your son. There are many examples of the writing of your son around the city. I believe that in the past he was employed as a clerk in a business establishment. One of these examples might easily teach a man who wished, how to copy his writing well enough to fool anyone who did not look too closely. I hope that you will not find offense when I say that I have no doubt that you saw what you wished when you looked on a letter claiming to be from your son, saying that he was alive. I am sorry for your loss, but I will not play into the hands of a con-artist, or an attention seeker.


Henry Donovan

A Day in the Life of a Ficus 23

In Which Orders Completely Fail to Be Obeyed

Finally a comic, it has been much too long. The next comic may be viewed on the website.

A website: ficuscomic.com


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