- The Mechanical Flea -

"a story about sailboats, friendships and finding your feet. "

A sketch of Captain Charlie and Macintosh

PART I: Captain Charlie

Everyone knows Captain Charlie, he is captain of one of the most famous Picsee ships ever to sail the seas: the HMS Bottlecap. As you can probably guess from its name the HMS Bottlecap is not a very big ship...in fact, it's probably one of the smallest. There is a wee bit of space for Captain Charlie and his little chair and there's also a small compartment for beans and biscuits to eat en route and that's it, that's the ship fully loaded. Usually you would expect there to be at least a little bit of space left after the captain got on board so that you could ship some packets and parcels (especially since the HMS Bottlecap was famous for the cargo it carried) but not on this ship...this is because Captain Charlie carried a shipment of a different kind....Captain Charlie shipped stories.

You see...he sailed the seven seas and all their estuaries, he sailed the rivers and lochs...sometimes, on rainy days he would even sail on a puddle or two...but that's a story for another day. Today's story is about all the wee fairy harbours where he would cast anchor and go ashore so he could tell his stories to all the folk around with an ear to lend and a minute to spare. At first he only told stories about his own adventures....he had stories about pirates and piranhas, some about sea monsters and selkies, krakens and calamaries or sometimes he would just tell a story he made up along the way...but the stories that made him so famous were the ones he brought with from friends and family that lived far far away...

If you had an amazing adventure and you wanted to share it with everyone that's close to your heart but far on the map then you just had to tell Captain Charlie and he would make sure everyone heard the story in all its glory before the week is through. It didn't even need to be a story about a big adventure; maybe you've just been a very good picsee and haven't been in trouble for a good few days now...you would definitely want grandma & grandpa to know about this...specially if it's just before Christmas! No problems, just tell Captain Charlie and he would take care of the rest. And if you just wanted to send some regards to your best friend Captain Charlie would be happy to take it on board...and what's best is he would make sure it's the most riveting regards your friend ever received. As you can imagine it didn't take long before everyone knew about Captain Charlie and his stories and soon he shipped stories for every picsees and every fairy that lived anywhere near the sea.

But the more stories he transported the more he would forget little details...usually this didn't matter, he would just make something up to fill the gaps and everyone still enjoyed the stories. But sometimes this could cause a bit of confusion...and this is where Macintosh comes in.

PART II: Macintosh

One day Captain Charlie was sitting under a tree contemplating his dilemma. What could he do? There was just not enough space in his head to remember all the little details of every story and there was certainly not enough space on his wee boat to fit another chair for someone who could. He thought and thought but the only thing he could come up with was to shake his head and sigh...which in this case, turned out to be exactly the right thing to do because someone heard the sigh, someone special.
"Hello Mister" said that someone.
Captain Charlie looked around to see who it was but not a soul was in sight...and as the thought of very polite ghosts crept into his head he heard the voice again.
"Down here" it said.
This time Captain Charlie followed the sound of the voice and the advice it gave and looked down where he saw a wee little worm sitting by his feet.
"Hello Mister" said the little worm again, "I'm Macintosh...I saw you sitting here and you looked like you could do with a little company...What's wrong?"
"Well..."said Captain Charlie and told him the story we just told you...only his version had the addition of a unicorn and a totally unbelievable amount of pirates in.

Macintosh loved stories and listened to every word, from the very beginning all the way through to the end which Captain Charlie concluded once more with a big old sigh...but this time Macintosh sighed with him. This made Captain Charlie feel quite a bit better, if you sigh by yourself it leaves you in despair but if you share a sigh with someone it leaves a wee whirl of hope in the air.

That is indeed a big problem said Macintosh and sat down next to Captain Charlie.
I never knew little things could be so important he said.
They sure are said Captain Charlie, and not just when you are telling stories.
I'm little said Macintosh, Do you think maybe one day I could also be important?
Of course! said Captain Charlie and smiled. I don't doubt it for a second!
They gave this moment some quiet time to settle down and form a friendship and with their new found friendship they contemplated the problem together. It wasn't long before they realised that wee little Macintosh was the solution...see...Captain Charlie needed an assistant story teller and shipmate but there was just no space on the HMS Bottlecap...unless of course this assistant story teller and shipmate was a teeny tiny one just like Macintosh! This was perfect! Well...almost perfect except for one thing that they didn't foresee..a tiny little detail.

Actually Captain Charlie should have seen this problem coming, He was after all one of the very best sailboat captains and if you asked any sailboat captain to name the three most important things you need when you go out to sea, they would all name the same three: Firstly you will need a boat, this is crucial for staying afloat. Next you need a rope for making knots (this is for safety and also to determine how fast you are going) and last but not least you need a good pair of sea legs so you don't fall overboard.
They had a boat, a good boat...the HMS Bottlecap! Also, Captain Charlie always carried a rope (he used it as his belt to save space) and he was born with a good pair of sea legs...but Macintosh was a worm...he didn't have any legs of any kind so when they set sail and the boat hit the first wave he just rolled off the ship like a lazy log! Captain Charlie jumped in and got Macintosh back to the safety of the shore in no time but it looked like that would be as far as his sailing career would take him.

PART III: The Watchmaker

Our two new friends were back on dry land. They were safe but they made no sound, they just sat quietly watching the waves. They considered contemplating their new complications but they were both too sad to do that. Just moments earlier they were filled with excitement, expectations and purpose...and that is what made Macintosh sadder than anything...he thought he found something important he could do.

I should have known a wee little worm could never do a big job like that he said. I wish I was a bug instead! Then I'd have 6 legs! Steady as a rock! No one's going to roll overboard if they have six legs!
This gave Captain Charlie an idea...an idea that would solve their problem and give Macintosh a new nickname. You don't have to be a bug he said...we just need to be clever.

This didn't make much sense to Macintosh...if being clever made you grow legs then surely all mathematicians and philosophers would have so many legs they'd all look like a bunch of spiders! But then Captain Charlie told him a story that made everything fall in place. He told him the story of a famous watchmaker who made the most beautiful clocks in the whole world, and not only were they beautiful they were also the best clocks ever made. If he made it, it will run for a hundred years...and if you had a broken watch or a clock that's ticking a bit slow he would have it running on time in no time...so...when you think about it...if the watch maker can make a clock run, surely he can make a little worm walk!
It was the perfect plan and as luck would have it the watchmaker didn't live too far from where they were, so they set off and were at his shop before sunset. They told the watchmaker about their problem and their genius plan and he loved it! He got straight to work, he took some measurements, made some drawings and told them to come back first thing in the morning...then he looked at Macintosh and said: better make that noon...don't want you running into those early birds.

When they arrived the next day they found the workshop in quite a mess, there were tools everywhere and the floor was covered in more bits and bobs than you would find in the world's biggest bits and bob shop...but in the middle of all this chaos stood a very tidy table. There was nothing on it other than a teeny tiny set of mechanical legs. It was the most wonderful thing that they ever saw! No doubt it was the watchmaker's most excellent creation ever. It had 6 legs in total, just like a bug, all made with the finest and shiniest brass bits. Each leg had its own special arrangement of gears and cogs that were all connected to a special clockwork contraption that converted wriggles to walks...but Macintoshes' favourite bit was definitely the pulleys and springs built into the back legs because these would allow him to jump up high in the air just like a flea (This was in no way a requirement for a story teller or a shipmate but it sure was fun!)
It didn't take Macintosh long to work out how everything worked and he was literally up and running in no time at all. This would make a good story said Macintosh as they both walked back to the harbour. Captain Charlie agreed.

From this day on Macintosh was known as the mechanical flea. He secretly liked this name cause fleas are pretty amazing but whenever someone called him this he would always correct them; I'm not a flea he would say with a big smile...I'm a worm who found a purpose. He could not believe it...if someone told him a week ago that he could be anything he wanted to be he would have thought they were telling tall tales...but in just a couple of days he became a shipmate, an assistant storyteller, half a robot and most important of all...a best friend! Not bad for a wee little worm he though...not at all bad!

You will be happy to hear that Captain Charlie and Macintosh still sail the seven seas (they probably even found one or two more to sail by now) and they still collect stories. They even opened a wee little story depot to store all the old stories. They are written down in books by Macintosh's family...you might have heard of them, they are called the book worms. And the best part is the wee little story depot is right here in the village where we live. So now you know where stories come from...some people call it a place far far away, but we call it home.

by the Picsees
The Mechanical Flea (a short story)
Written by the Picsees and first published on 22 January 2014
© thepicsees.com
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