Art | Fiction | Music | Animations | Scripts | Comics | Games | Sheet music
The Second Element I: Camera Obscura
Add review | Fan fiction index
Act Two: ...Two Parts Conflict...
Elaine woke up the next morning feeling as if she hadn’t slept at all. She rubbed sleep out of her eyes and sat up, yawning. Guybrush was already awake, she saw, and dressed. He grinned at her when he saw she was awake. “Morning, snugglecakes. Sleep well?”
She flinched, belatedly remembering the night’s events. “Not really,” she admitted, but didn’t elaborate.
“Huh. That’s funny, I didn’t either. I had some kind of wierd nightmare.”
Elaine froze with her foot halfway to the floor and stared up at him. He stared back, his face a picture of perfectly blank incomprehension. “What?”
She broke eye contact and stood up. “Nothing, Guybrush.” As she moved around the room, gathering up the clothes she was going to wear that day, she kept her back to him. “What was the nightmare about?”
“It was really wierd,” Guybrush said. “I was staring up at this guy--well, I guess it was a guy--in some sort of mask. And he was mumbling something in some language...I think it might have been French. Or maybe Finnish. Anyway, then I woke up, looked around, and went back to sleep. It was probably something I ate.”
“Knowing your cooking, I wouldn’t be surprised,” Elaine shot back, trying to keep a bantering tone in her voice. But her hands were shaking so badly she had to cling to the edge of the dresser to put a stop to it. “Besides,” she continued, “it’s just a dream. It’s not like it means anything.”
“Yeah, you’re right.” He came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “Remember that dream you had about the giant salamanders and the singing and dancing monkey?” He giggled. “Now that was wierd.”
Elaine sighed and rolled her eyes at him, perfectly aware that he could see the action in the mirror. “I thought we agreed to never mention that again.”
“Oh yeah...sorry.” He grinned mischievously. “So, what are you planning for today?”
“Mmm, I don’t know.” She slipped out of his grasp and went about getting dressed. “I was thinking about going into town. What about you?” As she dressed, Elaine felt her nerves slowly settle. Not even the dark bloodstain on the bottom of her nightskirts worried her too much. I’ll go see the Voodoo Lady, she thought, tying her customary bandana into her hair and fussing with it until she had the perfect ponytail. She’ll know what’s going on. It’s probably nothing, anyway. Guybrush probably gave us both food poisoning or something silly like that.
“I’m going into town, too,” Guybrush said, startling her out of her reverie. “I want to get a look at the Scumm Bar. See how bad the damage is, you know, like that. Do you...do you want to come with me?” He looked at her so earnestly and with such hope that things had finally been reconciled between them that Elaine found she couldn’t resist.
“All right,” she answered, checking her hair one last time in the mirror. “I suppose so.”
“...So, you see, with all the damage here we’ll have to clear this section away entirely and...”
Elaine yawned. She hadn’t counted on the outing being this boring--or taking this long. Mr. Cheese had hijacked the both of them the minute they’d arrived and insisted they help him “talk things over” with the inspector who had come to take a look at the damage. It turned out to be the inspector who did most of the talking--nearly three straight hours of it, in a droning monotone that fit well with his black tweed suit and shoes, polished until they positively gleamed in the sunlight.
She sighed and gave Guybrush another sharp poke to the ribs to keep him from falling asleep. The inspector continued, scratching his thinning auburn hair. “I think you’ll have to rebuild,” he said, “and that’ll take a while. If we have the contract signed by the end of today, my men can begin work tomorrow.”
“But how long will all this take?” Mr. Cheese asked, frowning.
“Oh, no more than a week or three.”
“It might even take a month,” he continued, ignoring the disgruntled look on Mr. Cheese’s face. “It all depends on how cooperative you are, sir, and how fast we are able to work. We do have other contracts with other businesses, you know.” He puffed up his chest, earning only a snort from Mr. Cheese and a quiet laugh from Elaine.
Mr. Cheese looked around at the still-smoldering, blackened shell that used to be the Scumm Bar. “Ye just rebuilt the thing not long ago--and it only took ye two weeks!”
“Well, yes,” the inspector mumbled, fumbling through a folder for some papers. “But as I recall, we had an intact basic infrastructure to work from at that time and...”
Elaine tuned him out again at that point. Her feet and back were already killing her; she didn’t want to add a headache into that mix. She glanced over at Guybrush, whose eyes had taken on a glazed look over an hour earlier. He nodded his head occasionally, some sort of automatic response, but that was the closest he came to actual, human-like behavior.
The inspector launched into a long explanation on why it would cost extra to clear away the current debris and Elaine’s gaze drifted over to the International House of Mojo. The nightmare had started to pester the back of her mind again, and she was practically twitching with impatience to slip away and talk to the Voodoo Lady.
“Guybrush,” she whispered, prodding him in the ribs once more, “I’m tired. My feet are about to fall off. I’m going to go back to the mansion, all right?”
He looked down at her and blinked a few times to clear away the glazed look in his eyes. “Okay,” he whispered back, squeezing her arm. “I think I might come with you; this is worse than Stan’s lecture on time shares...” But when he looked over at Mr. Cheese, the man was giving him a flat, “don’t-you-dare-go-anywhere-or-I’ll-disembowel-you” look. Guybrush swallowed. “Or maybe I’ll stay here. See you later.”
She nodded and walked away, hearing snatches of a conversation Mr. Cheese had just drawn her husband into. “See, this ‘infrastructure’ of yers ain’t so bad, is it, lad?”
“Err, well, it is sort of...smoldering.”
“Guybrush--ye’re not helping!”
Elaine bit her lip to keep from smiling and opened the doors to the Voodoo Lady’s shop. As she stepped into its gloomy interior and tried to take in the whole of the shop at once, she realized, with surprise, that it was in more disarray than usual. Empty boxes were strewn haphazardly around the store, and there was a pile of full boxes in one corner. Many of the shop’s famous voodoo trinkets were missing--in the boxes, Elaine assumed.
“Hello, Mrs. Threepwood.”
She jumped at the voice from somewhere above and ahead of her. She peered into the shadows at the far end of the store just in time to see the Voodoo Lady, tall hat and all, descending a ladder with a box full of unused voodoo dolls.
“Oh, err, hello,” Elaine answered. “I’m sorry--did I interrupt something?”
“Not at all. I was merely in the middle of packing.” The Voodoo Lady set the box down with a smile and walked over to her usual chair.
Elaine’s eyebrows shot up. “Packing? You’re leaving Mêlée?”
She nodded. “I sensed that I would no longer be needed here. I’ve spent far too much time here as it is.” She sat down and made herself comfortable in her chair before continuing. “And I suppose you’ve come here seeking my advice?”
“Yeees...” Elaine said slowly, though she soon started in on the reason why she’d come, nightmare, blood and all, without hardly stopping for breath. The Voodoo Lady listened attentively and nodded her head from time to time.
“--so I was hoping you could help,” Elaine finished.
“Hmm.” The Voodoo Lady frowned. “Guybrush’s dream is not all that uncommon, actually--not anymore. Just the other day I had a young boy come to me with a similar tale...he’d dreamt of a looming face, only to wake a few hours later with blood on his arms.”
Elaine tapped her foot impatiently. “So...what is it?”
“Something tied in with the incident at the Scumm Bar, to be certain. I warned Guybrush to be wary. As for your dream, Mrs. Threepwood, I suspect that you were witnessing an afterimage of your husband’s dream. You must have a very strong bond with him, to have seen such a thing...” She trailed off, deep in thought.
She warned him, Elaine thought, chewing on her lower lip, and he didn’t mention a thing! That stupid--
The Voodoo Lady cleared her throat and arched one eyebrow. Elaine blushed, belatedly remembering the Voodoo Lady’s ability to read minds. “I would suggest,” she said, “that you go somewhere easily defendable. If these powers are to strike again, it may be easier to hold them off behind stronger walls than Mêlée has to offer.”
Elaine nodded slowly. “There’s the fort on Plunder...but do you really think these ‘powers’ will come after Guybrush again?”
“I cannot say. They may, in which case I would suggest you send him directly to me. He’ll know where to find me.” She disappeared in a flash of light, though her voice lingered for a few seconds longer. “And do remind him to be wary.”
Elaine walked back to the Governor’s Mansion with a thousand different plans and thoughts racing through her mind. She was so distracted with figuring out a way to convince Guybrush to leave the island that she hardly noticed when she walked through the doors to the mansion and almost straight into Guybrush himself.
“Oh, sorry,” she mumbled and started for the stairs.
“Not now Guybrush, I’m busy.”
Something in his voice made her turn around. “What?” she asked, flicking a lock of hair out of her eyes.
“You said you were going back to the mansion,” he said, frowning. “But when I came back, you weren’t here.”
She shrugged. “I had to stop in and see the Voodoo Lady, that’s all.” She leaned against the stair banister with her arms folded across her chest and watched Guybrush. He sputtered for a while, looked at her, shook his head, and started to pace. Elaine thought it looked ridiculous.
“You lied to me?” he finally managed.
“You lied to me,” she shot back.
Guybrush’s blue eyes went wide. “When did I ever lie to you, Elaine?”
She bit her lower lip and looked away. “Well,” she said, trying to recover, “it wasn’t so much a lie, I guess, but you somehow forgot to mention that the Voodoo Lady had warned you about--about whatever it is that set fire to the Scumm Bar!”
“Oh. That.” He looked at the ground and fiddled with something in his pocket. “Well...I didn’t understand what it meant, and I didn’t want to worry you--and I sort of um, forgot about it. I was more worried about whether or not you’d throw me out of the house.” He paused, looking back up. “Wait...why did you have to go see the Voodoo Lady? There’s nothing wrong, is there? Is something wrong with the baby?”
She sighed. “No, nothing’s wrong. Not with the baby, at any rate.”
Guybrush rushed forward and enveloped her in a suffocating hug before she had a chance to react. “I’m so glad everything’s all right,” he murmured, burying his face in her hair.
“I didn’t say everything was all right,” Elaine answered, making no move to embrace him. “And if you keep hugging me like that you’re going to squish the baby.”
“Oops.” He jumped back. Elaine smiled thinly and smoothed out her dress, then started up the stairs.
“Now listen Guybrush, we need to leave for Plunder Island as soon as possible. I’ll explain on the way, but we’ve got to leave soon. I’m sure my grandfather will understand; he’s too busy with state affairs and anyway--”
Elaine stopped halfway up the stairs and turned around very slowly to face him. Her face screwed up into a mixture of frustration and confusion. “What did you say?”
“I said ‘no.’” Guybrush looked as if his legs might give out at any moment. “We’re not going to Plunder.”
She folded her arms across her chest again and sighed. “Guybrush, love of my life, I don’t think you quite understand me. We have to go to Plunder. We need to be someplace defensible in case this force of nature thing that attacked the Scumm Bar earlier decides to come back. Plunder is the best place. I know the Voodoo Lady warned you about this, and she specifically told me to go there. Now we’re going.”
“No, Elaine.” He scratched his head. “We came here to stay until the baby was born, remember? The sea’s no place for you to be right now. We need to stay here, where it’s safe.”
“‘Where it’s safe.’” She stared at him, narrow-eyed and thin-lipped. Of all the... “Guybrush, why do you have to act like this?”
He blinked and looked up at her, more determined than she’d ever seen him. “Like what? I’m just trying to protect you.”
“Exactly!” She waved her arms around as if that somehow proved her point. “I don’t need protecting!”
Guybrush sighed, rubbing his eyes. “Look, Elaine, just listen for a minute--”
“Have you even heard a word I’ve said?” she snapped. “I’m trying to protect you from your own idiocy! But you never listen, do you? The Voodoo Lady tried to warn you, Guybrush, and you’re not listening! You’re too wrapped up trying to be some sort of hero to someone who doesn’t need one! And now you’re going to get yourself killed or something because you’re being too stubborn.”
She stopped, breathing heavily, and looked at Guybrush. He watched her through a few stray blond hairs and watery eyes. “Oh god, you’re not going to cry, are you? Please tell me you’re not going to cry.” Elaine shook her head without a trace of sympathy. “I don’t know who’s the bigger idiot here--you, or me for marrying you.”
Guybrush shuffled his feet uncomfortably. “You don’t mean that,” he said, but without a hint of his usual confidence.
“Yes,” she shot back, “I do. You’ve done nothing but treat me like a porcelain doll since I told you I was pregnant. I can’t take it anymore. I thought for sure you’d agree with me this time, since your life is at stake, but apparently I was wrong. Now--now get out of my house.”
He made a sort of squeaking noise in the back of his throat. “Um, technically, it’s your grandfather’s house.”
She closed her eyes and sighed. “Fine. Then get out of his house. Come back when you’ve gotten those plugs out of your ears.”
“Okay...bye, Elaine.” He watched her for a few more seconds, apparently hoping she’d relent and forgive him, but eventually he shrunk away and out the door with slumped shoulders and a defeated look. Some part of Elaine’s mind nagged at her as she watched the door shut, telling her she’d just done a very stupid thing, but she quickly tuned it out by storming up the stairs and slamming a few doors.
Guybrush wandered aimlessly around Mêlée for a long time. He visited a few old friends, catching up on recent events, but Elaine’s voice constantly haunted him wherever he went. “I don’t know who’s the bigger idiot here...” He sighed. “If looks could kill,” he mumbled to himself, “I’d be dead on the floor.”
Well, offered a voice at the back of his mind, maybe she has a point. You have been a little stupid lately...
“I have not!” A few pirates around him started giving him odd, frightened looks. He looked around and chuckled nervously. “Eh-heh...sorry.” They edged away from him anyway, and soon he had a clear path all down the road.
He walked through town with his eyes on the ground. He considered going to the Scumm Bar--before remembering that it had burned down and he’d only just escaped Mr. Cheese and his inspector friend the last time. With a shock, he realized that he had nowhere to go. Well, the voice nagged again, you could always go back to the mansion...
“And have Elaine kill me? No thanks.”
“Hey, Fripweed! You’re blocking my view!” Guybrush looked around. Sitting on the porch of the building he had stopped in front of was Carla, looking ragged as ever, though a bit more sober than the last time he’d seen her.
“Sorry.” He quickly stepped aside. “What were you looking at?”
Carla smirked. “Pirates over at the Scumm Bar. They’ve been wandering around for an hour now, shouting for grog. Too bad there isn’t any. It all went down in flames.” She started to laugh but stopped, seeing the expression on his face. “What’s the matter with you?”
“Elaine threw me out of the house,” he answered glumly.
“I was wondering when she’d finally do that. C’mere, sit down. Just don’t talk too loud--I’ve got a headache like you wouldn’t believe.”
Guybrush sat. On closer inspection, he found that Carla’s eyes were still bloodshot and had a lackluster quality to them that implied too many nights spent drinking. She was staring at him with a strange smirk on her face. “You look like you could use a drink,” she said at last.
“Yeah, maybe. Though I make it a point not to drink during the daytime.”
Carla snorted. “Since when have you ever had a drink? ‘Sides, it’ll be night soon. I know where Mr. Cheese keeps his secret cache of grog...” She said the last teasingly, waving a finger around right in front of Guybrush’s nose.
Guybrush gently grabbed her by the wrist and pushed the offending finger away. “No thanks. I’d rather not end up a sad and lonely drunkard.”
“Is that supposed to be some sort of insult?”
“Um, no. I just...” Guybrush thought fast. “I thought you were trying to stay sober. You know, the whole ‘sign from above’ and all.”
She snorted, the smirk disappearing from her face. “I tried it for about half a day. And you know what? Staying sober’s hard, Fripweed. ‘Specially when you don’t have a job. Nope, I’ve got nothing to do now but lie around, thinking about how I don’t have a cushy government job and how much my head hurts.” She sighed wistfully. “If only the Scumm Bar were open...”
“You’re not the only one thinking that.” He pointed over to the ruins of the bar, where a large crowd of pirates were beginning to gather. He couldn’t make out what any of them were saying, but they didn’t look at all happy.
Carla grinned and tugged on his shirt sleeve. “Hey, that’s the biggest group we’ve had all day! This should be good.”
Guybrush strained his ears to listen as one of the pirates approached a harassed-looking Mr. Cheese and started demanding grog. “Now look,” the pirate was saying, “we know you’ve got emergency stores somewhere. Bring ‘em out!”
Mr. Cheese mumbled something in reply Guybrush couldn’t hear, but the pirate’s response was all too clear. “We don’t bloody care about no ‘past shortages!’ You’ve got grog now, and we’re wanting to drink it!”
“Ye’ll be drinkin’ it and all yer food through a straw if ye don’t clear out,” Mr. Cheese growled. “Now go on, the whole lot of ye, get off before I send for the Governor. Ye don’t want to be in trouble with him, now do ye?”
The group grumbled but eventually began to disperse, though many of them threatened Mr. Cheese with variations of “I’ll be back!” Appearing unruffled by such threats, he simply turned around and disappeared from sight.
“I bet they come back with swords next time,” Carla whispered to him as the pirates passed by. Guybrush nodded absently, watching the crowd. None of them paid him any attention--expect for one, one of the loudest grumblers, who stopped and stared at him. Guybrush stared back. The pirate in question was rather on the short side, with long black hair, beady black eyes and a strong chin. His pants were green and his shirt was white, a perfectly lurid combination.
Guybrush slowly inhaled and prodded Carla, not taking his eyes off the other man. “Carla...do you see that guy, there?”
“The one standing--” But in the second it took Guybrush to blink, the man had vanished. He stood up and peered into the departing crowd, but couldn’t see anyone short and nasty looking among them. He rubbed his eyes and looked again. Still nothing.
Okay Guybrush, he told himself, you’ve lost your mind. But it’s okay. You always knew it had to happen some day. He walked out into the street and watched as the group slowly thinned, disappearing for parts unknown. Then again, it wouldn’t be hard for a short guy to lose himself in a crowd like that...
He sucked in another deep breath and looked down at Carla. She seemed amused by the entire thing. “I bet,” she said, practically giggling, “I bet that they’ll come back with swords and more pirates within an hour. They want their grog, yessir.”
“Right...you know Carla, I think we should clear out.”
“Aw, but why? It’s just getting good!”
Guybrush frowned. “It’s going to get ugly, that’s why, and--” --and I’m seeing people who can’t possibly alive--“and I’ve got a bad feeling about all this. I think we’ll be safer some place else. Out of the crossfire.”
She saluted him mockingly. “Whatever you say, cap’n. Where to?”
“To the Gov--” He stopped himself before he even finished the thought. There was no way his already wounded pride was going to let him go crawling back there to take another beating. “To, um, Meathook’s,” he said, shrugging. “It’s out of the way, at least.”
“Do you suppose Meathook has grog?”
He sighed. “If he does, Carla, you can have it all. I think I like you better drunk.”
Elaine glared at the closed door. “I’m not coming out, Grandpa!”
From the other side, Grandpa Marley sighed. “You’re too old for this, dear. I’m too old for this. Now come on out. You and I need to have a little talk.”
“Oh no we’re not! I’m not going to be talked into apologizing to that idiotic monkey!”
She sighed. “I mean Guybrush.”
“Oh. Well, he does deserve an apology.”
“Sure, for being an overprotective, stubborn son of a--”
Marley cut her off by rattling the door knob. “Elaine, just come out and we’ll talk, all right? I haven’t got time for this; there’s something going on in town and I’ve got to put a stop to it, but I don’t want you to leave you here alone and mad enough to break all my furniture!”
Elaine’s ears perked up. She thought for a moment, then got up, unlocked the door and opened it. “What’s going on?” she asked, coming face to face with her grandfather. “What did Guybrush do now?”
“I don’t think it’s anything he did,” Marley answered with a slow smile. “More like the rest of the island. They’re unhappy ‘bout the Scumm Bar being closed.”
“Mr. Cheese just sent off a whole bunch of them, but he thinks they’ll be back. Been harassing him all day.” He grinned. “And now that you’ve opened that door, c’mon downstairs and we’ll talk.”
Elaine briefly considered slamming the door in his face, but decided against it. It wouldn’t be polite. When he saw that she was at least willing to listen to him, Grandpa Marley headed back downstairs with Elaine trailing reluctantly after him. She sat down on the lounge the moment they reached the foyer and stared at the wall, avoiding any attempts at eye contact.
“You wanted to talk,” Elaine said after a long pause. “So talk.”
“Right then.” Grandpa Marley pulled up a chair and sat down, looking at her over the bridge of his nose. “Listen Elaine, I want to ask you a question. And I want you to be honest.”
She arched an eyebrow and sat up straighter. “All right. I’m listening.”
“What do you see in that kid?"
She laughed. “Is that all? Grandpa, I thought you were going to ask me something import--”
“This is important, Elaine,” he interrupted, frowning.
Twirling a lock of hair between two fingers, Elaine looked at him and shrugged. “He’s just incompetent enough to be charming, and he is a pirate, just like you wanted. Besides, he’ll go to the ends of the Caribbean for me, in case you hadn’t noticed. And he’s...well, he’s adorable, besides.”
Grandpa Marley scratched his chin through his beard. “I don’t know, Elaine...you two aren’t getting along. Haven’t been the last four times you’ve come to see me. The last time you threatened him with a divorce, if I remember right...”
“I was kidding, Grandpa!” She sighed. “Well, not quite kidding, but I didn’t mean anything by it. I was just sick of him treating me like an invalid and arguing with you.”
“Arguing? He told me I fought like a cow and then left.”
Elaine snickered. “For Guybrush sometimes, that is arguing. But d’you see what I mean, Grandpa? It’s that spark of incompetence that I love. It’s just that he’s become outright clumsy lately when he’s not hovering over me. I don’t know what’s going on with him, but I don’t like it.”
“Probably just nerves.” Grandpa Marley shrugged and stood up. “Wish he’d quit acting like a damn-blasted fool, though.”
She sighed, looking back down at the couch. “Me too, Grandpa,” Elaine answered. “Me too.”
“So...” He looked down at her with a hint of amusement. “You threw him out of the house for being too clumsy?”
Elaine blushed and shook her head. “No, I threw him out for being an idiot. He knows better than to hide things from me, especially things that might get him killed. I don’t know what he was thinking.” She frowned, remembering the argument that had put her in such a foul mood.
“Yeah, I heard you two shouting. Well, I heard you shouting, anyway. Half the island probably did, too.”
“Was I that loud?” Elaine asked quietly.
Marley grinned. “Darling, I was outside with the gardener and I heard every word you said.” The grin quickly faded, replaced by a more serious look. “Now I don’t know what that scrawny kid of a husband said back to you, but I don’t think it was that bad. I think you might be overreacting just a little.”
She opened her mouth to shoot back a reply, but the door to the mansion flew open just then, cutting her off. A short, balding man ran in, panting for breath. “Gov--Gov’ner, ye’d better come quick! They’re riotin’ down by the Scumm Bar, they are!”
Marley blinked. “Who’s doing what now?”
The man paused and collected himself before answering. “Most o’the pirates, Gov’ner. They--they came ‘round the Scumm Bar with swords an’ all an’ told Mr. Cheese to hand over his grog. But he wouldn’t do it, so one o’the pirates--some short guy, I dunno who--’e went and broke a window an’ the rest o’them followed his lead! An’ before we knew what was happening, there’s a riot!”
Marley nodded and shooed the man out the door. “I’ll be along in a minute. Go on now, get down there--help Mr. Cheese out.”
Elaine paled. “Grandpa, you don’t think Guybrush is down there, do you?”
“If he’s smart he’s not,” he answered, rooting through the foyer closet.
“I hope he’s all right...maybe I should go look for him...”
“Oh no, you’re staying put! I don’t want both you and him running around like idiots out there. You listen here, Elaine. He may be a stupid, scrawny kid, but he’ll be all right. There’s just one thing I want you to remember--I’ve got a feeling that the more you push him away, the stupider he’s going to get.”
She blinked at him. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Marley tugged on his overcoat and shrugged. “It means ease up on him, that’s what.”
“I’ll...I’ll try.” She rubbed her eyes, sighing. “Grandpa, if you see him down there anywhere--”
He smiled. “I’ll tell him to get his behind back here, don’t you worry. Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got riots to stop.” Strapping a sword to his belt as an afterthought, Grandpa Marley grinned at her one last time and then stepped out the door.
Guybrush looked at the door to Meathook’s house and sighed uneasily. Beside him, Carla burped and reached for another can of grog. Guybrush glanced back at her with a raised eyebrow. “Don’t you think you’ve had enough, Carla?”
“Nope!” She popped the tab, swaying back and forth. “Built up a tolerance over the past few months. I can drink all I want and not get out of control.” She hiccuped. “Well, okay, not all I want, but--”
He sighed. “I get the point, Carla.”
Just then Meathook came in, closing the door and locking it. As an afterthought, he also propped a chair up against it as a small barricade. “It’s getting right nasty out there. Pirates running all over the island...can’t tell who’s on what side!” He rubbed some sweat from his brow. “We should be all right in here, anyway. They’re not anywhere near here.”
Guybrush nodded. “What about the Governor’s Mansion?” he asked, worry creeping into his voice despite himself. “Are there riots near there?”
“Nope, not that I saw.”
Guybrush sighed with relief. Elaine should be all right, then. She wouldn’t walk out into those riots--I know she wouldn’t. Carla hiccuped again and tossed an empty grog can into a growing pile. “Thanks for letting us stay here, Meathook,” he said. “I’m sorry about Carla--”
Meathook grinned. “Don’t worry about it, Guybrush. It’s no problem, really. I’ve been meaning to get rid of that grog for years now!”
“I’m surprised it hasn’t eaten through the cans.”
Carla grinned at him. “Nope, it’s still--hic--good! Want any?”
“No thanks...I prefer to be sober.” He sighed. “Especially when weird things are going on.”
She nodded and took another swig of grog. “Yep, sober’s the way to be, all right. To--hic--sobriety!” Carla lifted her grog can in a toast, only to pass out. Grog spilled out of the can and dribbled down onto the floor.
“Wow,” Guybrush muttered, poking Carla, “that’s some pretty strong grog you’ve got there, Meathook.”
“Yeah, well, I did say it’d been lyin’ around for a few years.” Meathook shrugged. “She’ll probably have one helluva hangover in the morning, I bet.”
“I think she’s used to it by now.”
“Yeah, I’ve seen her drinkin’ around town a lot lately. Kinda feel sorry for her, you know, no job and all...”
Guybrush quickly changed the subject before his guilty conscience got the better of him. “Say, err, Meathook, you haven’t seen a short, mean little pirate running around town, have you? He’s wearing a white shirt and green pants.”
“Nope. Believe me Guybrush, we’d know if Largo LaGrande was around. Besides, isn’t he supposed to be dead?”
He sighed. “Yeah, supposed to be. I thought I saw him today, though.”
Meathook’s dark eyes widened. “Really?”
“Wow. Well, I still think we’d know if he were around, you know. It’s probably just his cousin or something like that.”
“Either that or I’ve gone insane,” Guybrush added halfheartedly.
Meathook chuckled. “That’s always a possibility. But really, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I’ve seen people who weren’t really there before too, you know. Like that time I saw my long-lost third cousin...or maybe it was my aunt...” he trailed off, muttering to himself.
Guybrush sighed. He could still hear the riots outside--and they sounded to him like they weren’t under control at all. People were shouting, and occasionally he heard a gunshot or two being fired. He only hoped they weren’t being fired at anyone he knew. Beside him Carla was snoring, and Meathook was now muttering something about his parents. He scratched the back of his head. It was going to be a long night.
Guybrush woke up the next morning on the floor. It took a moment for him to orient himself; at first he thought he was back at the mansion, but a quick glance around at the wax-stained floor told him otherwise. He pushed himself up into a sitting position and looked around. Sunlight was streaming in through the windows and it appeared to be midmorning, at least. Carla was still asleep where he’d last seen her, sprawled in her chair with her head on the table. Meathook was nowhere to be seen.
He looked over at Carla and saw that she was actually awake. She’d opened one dark, bloodshot eye and was staring straight at him. “Err, what?” he asked.
“Don’t ever let me drink grog that old again, okay? I feel like a whole fleet of ships ran over me.”
“Okay. Maybe you’ll even give up drinking, and then I won’t have to worry about it.”
She snorted. “Yeah, right. Get me a job and then we’ll talk.”
“Right. Um, any idea where Meathook went?”
“Prob’ly went down to town to see what was going on.”
Last night suddenly came rushing back to him. Elaine, the pirate who looked remarkably like Largo LaGrande, the grog riots...Elaine! How could I assume she was safe? Good god I’m an idiot! He jumped to his feet. “I’ve got to get into town!”
Carla hauled herself up into a sitting position. “Hey, take me with you! I want to go and see what sort of damage they did last night.”
He looked at her doubtfully. “Can you even walk?”
“Sure I can! ...Well, I might need a little help.”
He sighed and picked her up carefully, throwing one arm over his shoulders and taking on most of her weight. “Ready?”
“Full speed ahead, cap’n!” She grinned and Guybrush wondered if she wasn’t still a bit tipsy. He shook his head at her and started out. Once he got moving, it wasn’t very hard at all to half-carry her. He figured that her insides were mostly goo from the grog by now, anyway. They had just gotten out Meathook’s front door when she turned to him.
“Is it okay if I throw up on your shoes?”
He blinked. Was she actually being serious? “Um, no.”
“Okay.” She shrugged and went silent as they started across the bridge connecting Hook Island to the rest of Mêlée. As they crossed, Carla looked around. “Hey, Threepwood?”
He tried very hard not to snap back a reply. “What, Carla?”
“Does the bridge seem to be creaking ominously to you?”
Guybrush tilted his head to one side and listened. The bridge swayed in the breeze, occasionally creaking, but not in any ominous manner. “Nope. Sounds normal to me.”
“I must be hearing things then. Heh. Man, what a hangover.”
They were three-quarters of the way across the bridge when the ropes holding it up on the Hook Island side snapped. It swung down towards the sea below and Guybrush barely had enough time to grab hold of a loose board to hang onto--screaming like a girl the entire time.
It was Carla who snapped him out of it. “Threepwood, do you mind? My head! And soon to be the rest of me, too--god, your hand’s all sweaty. Ew.” She was clinging for dear life to his one free hand and was swaying precariously in the light breeze.
Guybrush took a deep breath and pulled himself together. “Okay, we’ll get out of this somehow...” He looked up at the land just a few feet overhead. “Somehow,” he repeated, trying to concentrate. Unfortunately, he’d never done well under pressure like this.
It took him a minute, but eventually he came up with a plan. He looked over his shoulder at Carla and called out, “Carla, I need you to try something, okay?”
“Yeah, sure. Your hand’s really sweaty, you know that?”
He sighed. “Yeah. Just listen--I’m going to try to lift your hand up above my head, okay? I want you to grab onto the bridge and pull yourself up. Do you think you can do that?”
She shrugged. “It’s better than the alternative.”
Guybrush nodded. “Okay then, here goes.” He summoned up all the courage and strength he had and started pulling. It was hard work--Carla wasn’t so light when she was dangling, and he had to work on not losing his grip on the bridge, too. Finally, sweating from the strain and feeling like his arm was about to rip itself out of its socket, he managed to raise it just a few inches above his head. Carla latched onto the bridge immediately. Once he was sure she wouldn’t fall, he let her hand go.
Carla quickly started pulling herself up, hand over hand, while Guybrush watched. She made it to the top and grabbed onto one of the rope anchors, pulling herself over the rest of the way. She disappeared from sight, but he could hear the thud as she hit the ground and moaned.
“Ugh!” she muttered. “My head!”
Guybrush waited for a few moments, then shouted up, “Um, Carla? You want to--um, you know--help me out here?”
“Wha? Oh--oh yeah.” Her head popped back over the edge of the cliff. She reached down and waved her hand around in front of his face. “Grab my hand.”
He used his free hand to grab onto hers, and when she offered him her other hand, too, he let go of the bridge entirely and let himself hang free. She grunted and tugged, trying to drag him up without sliding down herself. His hand slipped once--Carla was right, my hands are sweaty--but he managed to grab hold of Carla’s again easily enough.
Finally, with one last tug, Guybrush’s head and shoulders popped up above the cliff edge and he grabbed onto the rope anchor to pull himself up the rest of the way on his own. Carla fell over backwards, breathing heavily and moaning about her head. Guybrush fell down on his stomach next to her.
“Thanks, Carla,” he said after a few minutes. “Thanks a lot.”
“Hey,” she answered, “no problem. You saved my life too. I guess.”
“Yeah.” He pushed himself up and looked back at the bridge--or rather, the place where the bridge used to be. “I think maybe Meathook should’ve stuck with the pulley-and-poultry method. Seems a lot less dangerous.”
Carla shrugged. “Never had a problem with the bridge before. I wonder what made the ropes snap like that...”
“Maybe one of the rioters cut partway through it.”
“Yeah, but on the Hook Island side?”
Guybrush sighed and tried not to think of the other alternative--that the force that had struck the Scumm Bar had struck again. “Who knows?” he replied instead. “Come on--let’s go on into town.”
“Do you think Meathook’ll be mad we broke his bridge?” Carla asked, nearly giggling again.
“I hope not. Maybe if we explain it was just a freak accident, he’ll forgive us. Or maybe if we tell him that we were hanging moments from death...” He shrugged. “Come on. Can you walk on your own now?”
“Um...no. Not quite.”
“Okay then.” Guybrush got up and pulled her to her feet, too, supporting her the same way he had earlier. “Let’s hope the earth doesn’t split open on the way into town.”
Luckily for them, the walk into town was uneventful. Though, they did pass by a few pirates in various stages of hangovers--some even passed out in the middle of the path.
They walked past the burned-out ruins of the Scumm Bar and into the town proper, looking around. Debris--mainly empty grog bottles and broken glass--littered the street, several windows were broken and one shop had its door broken in. The town’s one dock had been smashed to bits; Guybrush didn’t want to think of the damage done down by the harbor. A couple of pirates were still stamping out a brushfire on the path to the Governor’s Mansion. There were also many very hungover pirates lying in the street and on porches.
Guybrush grinned at Carla. “Hey, you should feel right at home.”
“Oh, very funny.”
“Thanks, I try. Where do you want me to drop you off?”
She looked around. “I dunno, maybe over there where there’s not so many--” And at that exact moment, Elaine strolled around a corner, berating two pirates who were holding their heads and moaning. Guybrush caught sight of her and dropped Carla without a second thought. “Or here's fine,” Carla said from the ground.
“Hey, great,” Guybrush answered distractedly. He stared at Elaine, who never looked his way--she was too busy extracting a lengthy apology out of the two pirates following after her. She had one hand on her pregnant stomach and another running through her long auburn hair, today hanging loose around her shoulders. Her dark blue eyes were practically alight with anger, something Guybrush recognized well, but he wasn’t used to it being directed at someone other than him. He smiled. God, she’s beautiful.
He stood there staring at her for what felt like forever. She kept on yelling at the pirates until, once, she happened to look over in Guybrush’s direction--and stopped, seeing him there. She fixed her gaze on him, sweeping up and down his rumpled clothes and the circles under his eyes and, finally, locking gazes with him.
After a long moment, she turned back to the two pirates and said, briskly, “And don’t do it again!” Dismissing them, Elaine walked over to him with a quick, sure stride. Guybrush, on the other hand, felt his knees going weak beneath him.
“Guybrush,” she said coolly. “I didn’t expect you to be here.”
“Where...where else would I be?” He cursed himself silently for tripping over his own tongue. When he looked back at Elaine, he wasn’t at all surprised to see the faint beginnings of a smile on her lips.
She shrugged, but then dropped her cool composure. Her face fell into an expression of worry and concern--directed, Guybrush was surprised to find, at him. “Oh Guybrush, I was so worried--I couldn’t sleep--I thought you’d been caught in the riots, and when Grandpa couldn’t find you...”
He hesitated briefly before he threw his arms around her and pulled her close. “It’s okay, Elaine,” he murmured, running his hands through her hair. “I was far away from those riots, don’t worry, I was hiding--err, staying--at Meathook’s. And you...you were safe at the mansion, weren’t you?”
“Yes, yes, I was.” She closed her eyes, sighing with relief. Then she pulled away and looked up at him. “Guybrush--Guybrush I’m so sorry! I was a complete and utter idiot; I didn’t mean anything I said. Oh Guybrush, you’re an idiot, but you’re my idiot and I love you.”
He grinned so wide and so hard he thought his face might split open. “I love you too, Elaine. But you were right--I’ve been so overprotective of you I forgot that you don’t need protecting. You’ve got so much spirit, Elaine, and I can’t believe I tried to kill that. I am a complete idiot...but I hope you’re not the bigger idiot for deciding to marry me.”
She smiled and let out a breath she hadn’t known she’d been holding. “No, of course not--and that I didn’t mean. I hope you know that.”
“Of course I did,” he answered playfully. He looked down at her, then around at the hungover pirates. “I guess the rioters got what they wanted.”
“From what I heard, Grandpa somehow talked Mr. Cheese into handing over his grog stash. The pirates drank themselves silly. And a good thing, too, or Grandpa would’ve had trouble controlling them all--they were starting to get ridiculously out of hand. That would probably hurt him in the polls.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Guybrush sighed. It was always only a matter of time before Elaine got down to business again. “Hey, um, Elaine?”
She arched an eyebrow. “What, plunderbunny?”
“Can I go back to the mansion now? I mean, no offense, but all this stuff is...um...really boring.”
“Well, all right.” She ran her hand through her hair again. “Besides, you were never any good at berating pirates. I should be done in a little while. And then, Guybrush, you and I are going to have a little talk.”
Guybrush swallowed. “A...‘talk?’”
“Mmm-hmm. You didn’t think that just an apology would put an end to this, did you?”
“Well, I was hoping--”
“Nice try dear. I’ll see you back at the mansion after I’m through here.”
He nodded and, as an afterthought, hugged her again. As he walked away with a significantly lighter step than he’d had before, he looked at her over his shoulder--and was glad to see her smiling at him. Things were looking up.
As he swerved to avoid a large pile of pirates, he glanced up at the clock tower. It was going on noon, and his stomach grumbled as it realized he hadn’t eaten all day. “Okay, okay,” he mumbled under his breath, “I’ll break into the kitchen just as soon as I get back to the mansion.”
He looked back up at the clock tower again. Was he seeing things, or was the clock casting a longer shadow than it usually did? And was it tilting precariously, or was he imagining it after his first harrowing experience of the day? Guybrush looked around. No one else seemed to notice anything. He watched the clock while he tried to come up with a rational explanation.
Finally he conceded that he had no explanation and yes, it appeared that the clock was tilting in an ominous manner--he could see the top of it pulling free from the archway. It wouldn’t be long before it plunged into a free-fall to the ground below--squashing flat the congregation of pirates below it.
Guybrush did the only thing that came to his mind--he ran forward and barreled straight into the pirates, knocking them flat on their backs and safely under the archway.
“Hey!” shouted one. “What do ye think ye’re doin’?”
“I--err--um--hey, I must be stronger than I thought!” Guybrush grinned and shoved the rest of the protesting pirates to safety just as the clock’s shadow loomed over him. He didn’t dare look up--he dived out of the way, landing on the bare pavement with a thud that was drowned out by an even louder thud from the clock as it struck ground nearly on top of him.
Dazed, Guybrush stared up at the sky, hardly hearing the shouts around him. Boy, those clouds sure are fluffy...
Elaine’s face appeared above him, drawn and worried again. “Hey,” he protested weakly, “you're blocking my view of the clouds...”
She arched one eyebrow at him. “Guybrush? Guybrush! Are you all right?"
He looked at her and seemed to truly notice her for the first time. “I’m Bobbin,” he answered groggily. “Are you my mother?”
She grinned. “You’re fine.” Taking his hands, Elaine gently pulled him to his feet, supporting him with her weight until he could stand on his own. She turned to two pirates standing around nearby, clutching their heads. “You two! Get this clock out of the way!”
“Now!” They moved out of the way as the two hungover pirates shuffled over and went about trying to move the heavy, broken clock out of the way. Guybrush watched them with a dazed expression on his face.
“You know Elaine, that thing could’ve squished me.”
“Mmm-hmm. Flatter than a popped inner tube, plunderbunny.”
“And that lightning strike at the Scumm Bar could’ve electrocuted me, and Meathook’s bridge collapsing could’ve sent me falling down to my doom. I think I forgot to tell you about that.” He paused. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say someone on this island was out to get me.”
“Yes dear.” She glanced away, appearing distracted, then looked back at him again with a sly grin. “Have you given any more thought to our leaving?”
Guybrush sighed and shook his head. “Listen, Elaine--”
“You know,” she said, pursing her lips, “who knows what could attack you next? Grandpa Marley’s china cabinet could fall over on you. That could be worse than the clock.”
He gulped. “China cabinet? As in...porcelain?”
It didn’t take much more thought than that for Guybrush to arrive at his decision. “Elaine, I’ve made a decision! We’re going to Plunder Island. Now. As soon as possible. I’ll go arrange for our things to be taken to the ship, you can go tell the crew to get ready...and I’ll stay as far away from Grandpa Marley’s china cabinet as humanly possible.” He kissed her forehead and dashed off, his brush with death quickly forgotten. Elaine smiled.
“I knew he’d see it my way.”
Guybrush appeared on the docks as a walking pile of luggage less than an hour later. Carla trailed behind him, still grumbling about her head but somehow looking more cheerful than she’d been in a long time.
“It’s about time you got here; I’ve been waiting for half an hour.” Elaine came down the gangplank, glanced at Carla and Guybrush and shook her head. “Guybrush, put that luggage down in the hold--and what’s she doing here?”
Guybrush staggered up the gangplank, past Elaine, and dropped the luggage into the hold with an unceremonious thud. “She’s the newest member of our crew, Elaine,” he said, wiping sweat from his forehead.
Elaine gave him an unconvinced look. “She’s a drunkard, Guybrush.”
“Yeah, I know, but it’s kind of my fault she’s that way anyway so I figured I owed her.” He looked at her pleadingly. “C’mon, please? I’m doing what you wanted...”
She sighed. “Oh, all right. Fine. But just this once!”
He grinned as he waved Carla up on deck. “Thanks, plunderbunny.”
Preparations to get underway moved smoothly and efficiently with Elaine barking orders and Guybrush hanging back and trying to stay out of the way. Soon, they were ready to go. Guybrush took charge immediately. “Carla, raise the anchor. I’ll take the wheel.”
Elaine grabbed him by the shoulder and gave him a dubious look. “Guybrush darling, not to be cruel or anything, but the last time you took the wheel we wound up going the wrong direction for two days.”
“So I can’t steer the ship?”
She shook her head. “Maybe next time.”
“Okay...I guess I can live with that.” He looked hurt for a moment, then ordered another crew member to take the wheel. With a silly grin plastered on his face, Guybrush stood at the bow of the ship as they got underway. “All right, Elaine!” Guybrush struck a dramatic pose. “To infinity...and beyond!”
“Guybrush dear, stop that, we’re going to get sued.”