Steve Lyman Books

Adventure Literature...Past, Present, and Future

The Infinite Ship

The captain stood on the deck of his vessel, the mightiest of ships, and took in a deep breath of satisfaction. His ship was unsinkable. Now, mind you, many a master has said this of their ship, and their hubris was eventually revealed as they sank beneath the waves. But in this case, it was not a boast; it was a scientific fact. His ship held a wonderful secret that rendered it invulnerable. Every other ship in the world relied on the space it occupied to stay afloat. Three simple measurements of length, breadth, and depth were combined with weight to determine its buoyancy. Add a few hundred pounds of iron shot and a few thousand tonnes of water, and any vessel would eventually sink. That’s where he held the advantage. His vessel was equipped with a remarkable safety device that ensured its continuous survival. A fourth dimension. The last third of his vessel was taken up by a tesseract of decks that would absorb all the cannon fire in the world. The secret was to properly align the fourth dimension. That was the secret, but the real trick was finding a shipwright who could cobble it all together without needing all the wood in the world. The captain finally found a carpenter with a third eye (not on the outside, but rather inside his head) who could warp and wrap the fourth dimension of every plank and beam to make the most of the materials. That the ship was so voluminous inside was itself a source of potential worry as there could be a situation where the ship’s tesseract could absorb all the water in the oceans. That would leave this proud vessel standing in a puddle of water in the abyssal mud of the ocean’s deepest trench as every drop leaked into the hull. An event of that magnitude would involve a lot of bailing and pirates, like all sailors, grumbled so when forced to man the pumps.

A fit of coughing woke me up from the pirate dream. That, and the fact my throat had constricted to the size of a drinking straw. I got to my feet and sucked in with all my might and headed towards the kitchen sink the next room over. I had been sleeping on the loveseat for a week at that point, since being upright minimized my discomfort. Cold season is tough for me and this was one of the bad ones. I had escaped the troublesome sinus problems my siblings experience except this one area. A bad head cold would have me cough hard enough to take out my voice. Two years ago, I went a week without being able to talk at all. This year’s had come close to that.The airway clenching I was experiencing had scared the hell out of me a few days before. People with asthma have dealt with things like this for most of their lives. At fifty, it was the first time for me. The way to deal with it was to keep breathing and get some water to soothe my throat. As I rounded into the family room that adjoins my kitchen, I realized I had not entirely awoken. While walking, the story of the pirate captain and his ship continued.

The ship was flooding. Not taking on water but actually being engulfed by the sea. The mighty vessel was going down. The captain acted quickly, shouting orders to check the bulkheads, sealing the gun ports, and manning the pumps. It was an emergency of the first order, and the crew went to work swiftly, though he could make out the faint grumble of the men on the pumps. Some things never changed. These were all things a normal ship’s master would do, but there was something more that was needed. “Carpenter, test the tesseract!”There was a simple test of a four-dimensional vessel. It was to take a six-sided die in a cup and drop it on the deck. If the number showing was anything from 7 to 11, then the ship was safe. That indicated that there was more than one side of the cube showing at the top at a time, which was impossible in normal space. “Five, Sir!” came the response with a hint of panic. There was far too little fourth dimension and far too much of the other three. The ship was doomed.

I managed a second breath at the point as I entered the kitchen proper. I was still dreaming but awake enough to see the parallels between the flooding ship and my greatly reduced air intake. Water and relief were only a few steps away. The captain had a revelation.

“The red handles!” the captain exclaimed out loud. “Check the handles!” As busy as the crew was, they were disciplined enough to respond to the command. It helped that there was a multitude of pirates manning the tesseract. All the handles were up, according to the reports that flooded out as chaotically as the water that was flooding in.The handles were installed by the shipwright as a means of manipulating the extra dimension. They were placed at random along the long length of the tesseract passageways. Random, that is, to someone thinking in terms of conventional space. As quickly as his mind raced towards a solution, he also raced towards identifying the culprit who was sinking his ship. The bosun had the authority to have all the sailors pull the handles at once, but not the knowledge of how. The carpenter certainly knew how to arrange the men in the precise order to sabotage the ship, but not the authority.The captain stood straight upwards as the revelation arced across his keen mind. HE was the only one who could have caused this catastrophe.

I reached the sink and ran the water. Drinking when your throat is so tight can be difficult. I managed enough water to sooth the dry irritation and my next breath was noticeably easier. I knew I was coming awake.

The pirate suddenly knew the nature of the problem. He was of two minds. A crew acting against itself was the doom of any voyage no matter the vessel. A rowboat, a brig, an immense tesseract-bound vessel, or even a human mind was vulnerable to such a split. The captain had been proud of his mighty vessel and had dedicated so much of his life to its creation and maintenance that there was precious little room for anything else. Part of his mind ordered the disruption of the tesseract and now part of him was desperate to save it. When the problem was fully revealed the curtain drew aside and the two halves could now see each other clearly. He loved the ship but was afraid of how it became his whole existence. An accord was made on the spot. He ordered the crew to the red handles and, with a single command, the ship’s fourth dimension was restored. He knew it right away, though the carpenter’s gleeful shout of “Eleven, Sir!” was welcome.In keeping with the accord, the captain stepped down and left it to the crew to elect the next master of the vessel. That was always the way of pirates. With a deep breath, as deep as the one in that far distant kitchen, the two halves of the pirate captain were no more, and a single person was left. He stepped off the gangplank to find a new adventure or maybe even an ordinary, extraordinary life. Wherever he went, though, he would feel the joy of knowing the magnificent ship, wonderous in extra dimensions beyond any other ship, would sail on.

I woke up completely at that point, glad the pirate captain had found peace. I filled up a cup of water to keep next to me in case my throat decided to choke me again. I slept the rest of the night with hardly a cough or a flood. The ship sailed smoothly towards the horizon.


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  2. Good post. I will be facing some of these issues as well.. Anthia Flint Noland

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