Jeb's 74-year-old infirm grandfather asked the young lad to go into town for a bottle of iodine and some Epsom salts. Not wanting to disappoint the old man (and knowing his father would make him clean out the stables for a week if he didn't), Jeb readily nodded in agreement. He never would've gone if he'd known his grandfather was secretly planning a hostile takeover of the neighbor's ranch using Epsom-based weaponry, but there was no way for Jeb to know that. So off he went, not realizing he would never see any of his family again.
The trip to town was fairly quick, and Jeb easily made his way to 'Dr. Flavour's Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex'. Forty five minutes later, Jeb walked out with a brown bag containing his grandfather's salts and some iodine. He was just about to go home when all of a sudden...
“Hey! What're you doin'?!” shouted Jeb at a motley band of shady looking characters who appeared to be tampering with the door on his Jeep Grand Cherokee. What? You thought this took place in the Wild West, before cars were invented? Why? Just because it's about a cowboy? That's stereotypical, man. This happened, like, a few days ago.
As Jeb got closer, he could see all the men retreating behind a single huge commanding figure. By the time Jeb was five feet from the Jeep, the large man was walking up to him. Staring down at Jeb with two coal-black eyes and an unshaven muzzle, the man started to laugh. “I like your style, kid!”
“Were you trying to break into my—” but before Jeb could finish his totally obvious question, the large man quickly pinched his neck in the “Vulcan Death Grip” style, causing Jeb to lose consciousness for a few hours. “Get his shoes,” yelled one of the lesser minions.
The dreaded Vulcan Nerve Pinch.
“M— my car... wha— where am I?!”
Jeb suddenly awoke on in a strange darkened room, with circular windows on the wall. He heard a dripping sound in the background, and smelled mold and mildew. The lights were fluorescent, probably high efficiency bulbs. They must've cost at least five bucks each.
“Rise and shine, kid. The Captain wants to see ya.”
Jeb jerked his head around, only to be punched in the jaw by the large man who had given him a Vulcan Nerve Pinch just a few hours earlier. Pulling Jeb onto his feet, the man unsheathed a broadsword and ordered him to walk. Not wanting to be shish-ka-bobed, Jeb did as he was told and went ahead of the large man, who introduced himself as “Big Jimmy.”
When they reached what Jeb assumed was the Captain's private quarters, Big Jimmy put his sword back in its hilt. Reaching into his pocket, Jimmy handed him a customer satisfaction card.
“The Captain really likes to know how our impressments go, so we've gotta, you know, get your opinions.”
“What? Impressment? I wasn't too impressed, I mean. I mean, you sort of kidnapped me. That wasn't too impressing.”
“No, moron. Impressment. It's like what the British did in the 18th century. You know, where they'd grab you off the street and make you work on their boats. For the Royal... Navy....”
Jeb looked at Big Jimmy with a mixed expression of disbelief and ignorance.
“Don't they teach you runts anything in school these days?” asked Big Jimmy, a look of complete consternation washing over him.
“I really didn't like history class. We were going over, you know, the British. But my friend Bill showed me how to spin pennies, and so that's all I really did in that class.”
Big Jimmy gritted his teeth, and shoved the card into Jeb's hands. “Just check off 'satisfied.'” Then he walked away, mumbling about the poor state of the public education system.
“Just check off 'satisfied.'”
Opening the door, Jeb saw a small man with an neither an eye patch nor a parrot. This can't be the Captain, thought Jeb.
“Tarry ho!” shouted Gibbons. It had been three weeks since Jeb had taken Captain iBeard up on his offer to join the crew of the Seasnail. The slow-paced life of a cattle life-process facilitator (cowboy) just wasn't for him anymore. He wanted excitement, adventure— and Captain iBeard's proposition was too tender to let go. And now Jeb would witness piracy firsthand. The Captain got out of his central chair and walked over to the surveillance board.
“Steady to port, Mr. Gibbons. Jimmy, get ready to administer about a dozen nerve pinches.”
“And you, Jeb, this is your first outing, isn't it? Better get on up to the galley.”
“Aye aye, mon capitan.”
“Don't talk French, Jeb.”
“Do you know why I don't want you speaking French, Jeb?” asked Captain iBeard. Several of the senior officers backed away slowly.
“A few years ago, I was hiking through the Canadian Rockies. I was minding my own business, singing something by 'The Beatles.' I remember that much.” Captain iBeard sat down in his chair, and Jeb braced for a long rant.
“Then I started hearing someone crying for help. I kept hearing, 'someone help me! There's a bear!' So of course, I ran as fast as I could. We humans gotta stick together, your know, especially when one of us gets hit by a bear. Anyway, by the time I got there, what I saw was like a scene out of Jurassic Park. There was blood everywhere, it was just so disgusting. Then, I saw at the edge of the campsite, this kid shivering in the cold. He looked totally scared, 'cause this giant bear was standing over him, growling.”
“This is the good part,” whispered a porter next to Jeb.
“So I walk up right behind 'im and say, 'Hey! You! Bear!' And of course, the bear turns around. That's when I pulled out my flare gun and just fired it at his stupid bear-face. That bear was so dumb, instead of tearing me apart, he just ran away. I started running after him, throwing rocks. I kept saying, 'Stupid bear! You want some more?!'”
Captain iBeard's long-winded bear story.
By now, Captain iBeard's face was turning purple. And a huge vein was bulging out the back of his neck.
“Then I walked back over to the kid. He was all scared and shivering, so I picked 'im up and carried him for four days to the nearest town. I found out he was on some kind of field trip from Connecticut, so the Canadian government managed to reunite him with his parents. And let me tell you— that scared little boy grew up to be the President of the United States of America. And that's how I won the Medal of Freedom.”
Captain iBeard paused for a moment. The few crew members who were listening returned to their duties.
“So, uh, why is that, uh...” sputtered Jeb.
“Why what? Why I don't want you speakin' French? Yeah, here's the real reason. I told you I carried that kid for four days, right? Well, it turns out there was a town just twenty minutes from the campsite, in the other direction. But all the signs were in French, so I wasted four whole days going the wrong way. Because of French.”
Jeb reflected on that for a minute.
“Weren't there arrows on the signs?”
Now Captain iBeard stopped to reflect. He walked over and smacked Jeb upside the head.
“Of course there were arrows! But they were French arrows, and pointed in ten directions!”
“Just get over to the galley,” said Captain iBeard exasperatedly as he slunk down into his chair.
“Argh!” shouted Jeb as he barged into the captive's private quarters. Big Jimmy and various other buccaneers surrounded a tied-up couple. The walls were covered with tacky paintings and a flat-screen plasma T.V. Jeb's bunkmate Robertson was busy booting up what looked like a brand new Pentium 4 eMachine. They had hit the jackpot.
“Jeb, you're new at this, so someone ought to tell ya. It's not 'Argh!' It's 'Arrrr!' You've gotta drop the 'gh' sound at the end,” explained Big Jimmy.
“Thanks, man. Hey, why aren't you guys all, like, taking their stuff?” asked Jeb, who suddenly noticed that none of the pirates were even trying to steal anything of value. The crew turned to Jeb, looking aghast, somehow shocked that anyone would say something like that.
“Uh, Jeb? We aren't that kind of pirate. We don't go around 'taking' gold and stuff like that.”
“Then what do you—”
“Hey, Jimbo! It's all loaded up! Look at this— there's gotta be six whole gigs here! Get the flash drives!”
The truth abruptly slammed into Jeb. “You... you're not real pirates, are you?!” he shouted at the people who had been his friends for the last few weeks. “You're... MP3 Pirates! File sharers!”
Big Jimmy's face bent into an angry frown. As if there's any other kind of frown.
“Is it lonely up there on your pedestal, Jeb?!” bemoaned Jimmy defensively. “We didn't start out as MP3 pirates. Most of us had steady jobs. We were all happy, living nice, peaceful, law-abiding citizens. But we all had one thing in common— a love of music.”
“And Sony and all the others just kept raising the prices on all their albums,” interjected the MP3 pirate holding a cutlass menacingly at the tied-up captives. “Why should we have to spend $20 on a whole CD when all we wanted was one of the songs?! They just didn't modernize, dude. If they'd only worked out some kind of system...”
“Luckily,” continued Big Jimmy, “Captain iBeard saw it coming. He gathered up all together in a chat room one night, and told us of musical riches beyond our wildest dreams. Some call us mad. Others say we're the only sane people left on Earth.”
Jeb was so stunned he just stood there for thirty seconds or so. Robertson walked over to the ship's owners and pulled the gag off their mouths.
“Now tell us where you keep the iPods. And don't think we won't tear the whole ship apart looking.”
“And so help me, if I find any Yoko Ono...”
“Never! You can take everything we own, but we'll never let you make illegal copies of our MP3s!”
“Oh, for heaven's sake Harold, just tell them where— Alpha Alpha Break Strike!”
The whole liner was instantly knocked sideways by a massive explosion.
“Sweet Neptune's Trident! It was a set up!” exclaimed Big Jimmy. “Ev'rybody get back to the ship! And Robertson, if you drop a single flash drive, it'll be your hide!”
“Captain iBeard! Captain—”
Captain iBeard in his private quarters.
Another detonation shook the Seasnail. The Dreadnoughts had been firing volleys on them for hours now. Their supply of gunpowder was nearly gone, and both masts were burning shells of their former selves. There was only one reason Jeb would come to Captain iBeard at this grave time.
“Captain, I think you should pull your money out of T-Bills and invest in a Roth IRA.”
Captain iBeard spun his chair around to face Jeb.
“Lad, I've been waiting for someone to tell me that for thirty years now.”
“Well, with the interest rate about to go up...”
“Yar, I know, Jeb.” iBeard rolled his seat to once again face the wall. “But I've never been good with my money. I mean, as a pirate, it's hard to get credit. I haven't had a health care plan in four years. Thank Neptune all I eat is seafood. That's supposed to be good for you. Full of iron and stuff like that.”
“Yeah, well... oh, by the way, what are we gonna do about all those dreadnoughts that're firin' at us?”
“Oh, those. Well, we've gotten out of worse scrapes before.”
“Really?” asked Jeb with a surprised look on his face. It never occurred to him that—
“No, not really! Are you insane?! That's three fully armed US warships out there! This whole ship is a cheap pine box! Do you honestly think we can outgun them, or even escape?! We totally can't!”
iBeard waited a moment for that to sink in. Jeb scratched his nose and the side of his mouth twitched.
“So... should we, like, evacuate?”
The Captain sighed. “Yes, lad,” iBeard professed, “you can leave at any time. The lifeboats are on the leeward side of the Seasnail. As for me, my place is here. A captain always goes down with his ship.”
A Captain always goes down with his ship.
“But... mon capitan...”
At that, iBeard swiveled with lightning speed and slammed his angry fists down on his oaken desk.
“I... told... you... not... to... use... Freeeeeennnnncchhh!” bellowed iBeard at the top of his lungs. “GET OUT!”
Jeb ran as fast as he could in his pirate sandals to the lifeboats. Captain iBeard waited until Jeb was gone. Then he slowly reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a bottle of whiskey and his personal iPod. Putting the buds into his ears, he sat back and turned up the volume all the way to maximum. 80s style Punk Rock filled his head as hundreds of US naval copyright patrol operatives boarded the Seasnail.
Captain iBeard was quickly captured and convicted of software piracy and tresspassing. He was sentenced to death by hanging. None of the lifeboats launched from the Seasnail are believed to have reached any port; no surviving crew members from the Seasnail have ever been seen.
“Have you any last words, Captain iBeard?”