"Ma'am, you know I can't reveal such highly classified information."
"But... my Nigel!"
She carries a photo of Nigel Stottlebottom to remember how much he hated water.
"He's... gone. And he won't be back." He turned from her once again, his vow broken. Now she knew.
They stood there at the apex of the lighthouse for a few minutes, he staring at his shoes, she gazing out onto the sea. At last she spoke.
"He was a great man."
"The greatest, I'm sure."
"No! He really stood for something!" she insisted.
"I've heard of his exploits."
"You've heard nothing!" she spat. "Only what the government let them print. You don't know, nobody knows, about Nigel's war on the water."
"I was there!" he shouted. "I know what he was planning!" twisting his head slightly he let out a sigh. "He wanted to control the ocean."
"Once again, you're wrong. He didn't want the sea. He fought the sea."
He stared at her quizically. "Ma'am?"
"Nigel hated the sea, Horation. I knew him well. He always hated water, ever since it murdered his family. Each night he dreamed of taking his revenge against the ocean. He tried so many times to conquor the water. The international anti-water organization, the lobbying efforts, even that short-lived children's cartoon."
He hated water more than anyone else alive.
"So you expected something like this to happen one day."
She watched the second hand on her watch tick away slowly. "Of course I knew it would end one day. And I knew water would be involved. So tell me," she begged, "what happened out there?"
He pulled out a package of marshmallows and threw some wood pellets onto the fireplace.
"Filthy sludge," grumbled Nigel Stottlebottom as he pulled the rigging free. A crack of lightning and thunder lit up the sky and nearly knocked him to his feet. Forcing his entire crew to abandon ship during a storm was arguably a terrible idea, but Nigel knew better. The water was plotting against him... and besides, he already had the doctor. He didn't need the rest of his crew now.
"Doctor, is the machine ready yet?"
"Five more minutes," came a reply from the cabin.
Soon all my carefully laid-out plans will reach fruition, the voice in Nigel's head gently laughed. Soon water will pay!
"Hurry! The wave is reaching zenith!"
"Just one more... done!" The doctor ran out onto the deck with a small metallic box.
Inside it was anything but metal.
"Doctor," said Nigel Stottlebottom, his face contorting into an unearthly grimace, "do you have any idea of what we're going to accomplish here today?"
Lightning tore through the sky, followed by a thunderclap. Waves slapped the side of the ship, rocking it back and forth. The doctor glanced over the railing. Could that be a shark?
"That's President Stottlebottom. I am the president of the anti-water coalition."
"All your base are belong to us!"
"President Stottlebottom, the machine is ready."
Nigel grabbed the box from his hands. As he opened it, the doctor could see a sickly yellow glow. Reaching into the container, Nigel pulled out an emblazoned helmet. There could be no turning back now; the water must end. With the aid of the machine, vaporization would be quick.
Stottlebottom waited a few moments. The wind started to pick up. Another bolt of lightning crackled through the air, landing a few metric feet from the ship. Too close for comfort...
Nigel stood up, the helmet barely clinging to his weathered skull. Gone! The insolent whelp didn't want to stick around to watch the master of ceremony, Nigel Stottlebottom, conquer water! The coward!
"It's just you and me now, ocean!" Stottlebottom shouted as he entered the helmet's keycode. "You may have destroyed everything and everyone I've ever cared about, but this old man has a few tricks up his sleeve!"
The old man vs. the sea
Another thunderclap. Nigel grasped at the railing. "You won't be rid of me so soon, Neptune! Let's dance."
"So he died the way he lived: fighting water. The fool."
Horation put down his cup and took a deep breath. The smell of cinamon and dampness invaded his nostrals.
"Mrs. Stottlebottom, your husband was the bravest man I ever knew. Only a true hero would put his life on the line to destroy all the water in the world."
"There's something I've never told anyone about. Something Nigel wouldn't have wanted anyone to know, Horation."
He leaned forward. "Was he... was he from the future, trying to put right what once went wrong?"
Her eyes lit up. She ran over to Horation, put an arm around his shoulders, looked him straight in the eyes, and yelled, "Are you some kind of moron?! That's not even slightly what I was about to say! Seriously, what's wrong with you?!"
Horation shifted uncomfortably. His eyes welled up. "I'm telling!"
"Calm down, Charlie Brown."
"No!" he bellowed. "Not until you tell me what Stottlebottom was up to! What terrible secret was he hiding? Was it pudding related?"
"Once again, I question your sanity."
Regina pulled a piece of paper out from the frame of Nigel's photo. It was yellowed and smelled of cabbage. "This, Horation, is a letter Nigel send me back in nineteen aught five." She let that sink in.
"You were alive in 1905? Wouldn't that make you, like, a thousand years old?! What was life like before toothpaste?! Do you have dentures?!"
"I'd like to speak to your supervisor."
"That won't be nesessary. Do go on."
"Yes, well, Nigel and myself were the last two people to drink from the fountain of youth before it was torn down to make room for a lard rendering plant. That explains why we've been alive so long."
"Yes, it does. But... why would Nigel want to keep that a secret?"
"I find myself wanting to throw you into a bottomless pit. It wasn't the fountain that Nigel wanted to keep secret; it was the real reason he hated water."
The piqued Horation's interest. "I thought that he wanted to destroy water because water killed his whole family?"
She laughed. "You actually belived the cover story. How precious."
"Nigel was water."
The storm outside exploded into another mighty thunderclap; there was no lightning. Small droplets of rain pelted the window, resounding off the air conditioner. The sound of crickets chirping was barely audible, but prevelant enough to merit mention.
"Sixty percent water, yes. All humans are... mostly."
"But then... why?! Why all the deception? Why spend his entire life fighting his own composition?"
"He had good reasons, Horation."
She put the picture back on the mantle. Limping over to the rain-splattered window, she rested a wrinkled hand on the pane. Tilting her head up, she sighed.
"The communists, Horation. The communists."