CHAPTER II : sail out of here
And there he was, laying on the ground.
His head hurt, still spinning from the fall, and a strange feeling of motion-sickness took over him.
Of course, he was never sick when sailing, plus he didn’t get to where he was by boat.
But that wasn’t the weirdest thing at the top of his mind in that very moment: he definitely was not in the corridor of his building.
So where was he?
The ground was hard concrete as his bruises reminded him, but the texture of it felt different.
And the smell!
His nose was full of it, memories of an old scent he couldn’t quite recall.
Sam looked around and realized: there were bright and pale colors everywhere, even though the place he had fallen into looked a lot like a narrow alley.
The pavement texture and smell now seemed a lot clearer: layers and layers of ink and colored pencil drawings were covering it, and it was not just on the ground, the walls as well were totally covered.
Maybe this wasn’t as bad as he thought.
But something felt different as he put his glasses back on his nose.
His hands, skin and clothes looked the same as the texture on the walls.
“Okay, so now I’m hallucinating” he told himself.
Storming out without a thought about what could be beyond this alley, he found himself in a little harbor town.
Everything was the same as he was: colored and inked from ground to sky, with all kinds of drawings on the little houses, people looking like cartoon characters and magnificent boats from an era that was no more.
“This can’t be real” he said, “I must be in a cartoon”.
Looking twice, he had definitely seen these drawings somewhere…
Right, on the old TV!
He had always thought it was the kids channel, but it was real!
What’s more, if he really was here, this meant that all the things he had seen on the television existed as well.
The super-heroes, flying cars, maybe his friends could be there somewhere.
He had already traveled through his world to the one where he had to live like a hobo, so that wasn’t so shocking after all.
Or maybe he had hit his head a little too hard this time.
Even then, the sun’s rays on his skin felt a lot warmer than what he had known for these past few months, reminding him of the first day of his trip with Mog.
He noticed a pub not far from where he was standing facing the sun (the cartoon people passing by were starting to stare at him, but to be fair it was a little strange seeing this young man humming at the sun).
Heading toward the pub thinking he may ask for a pint of water and some information about the town he was in, a familiar silhouette appeared at the window.
He could only see his back, but he instantly recognized him: Mog, in the flesh (well, more or less assuming he was in a cartoon world).
As soon as he saw him, Sam started rushing toward the pub, and he was only 50 meters away when the door opened.
Thankfully, he was facing the side of the pub, not the front, so when he saw a man looking exactly like himself, he was happy not to have been seen by him too.
But there was no doubt about it.
He had the same face and was the same height, probably the same weight, and had a much luxurious taste for clothes: he looked like a fancy pirate!
Reconsidering his plan, Sam stopped for a minute.
It made sense, if his friends were in there, that his other self was too.
But wouldn’t that be weird, or even completely illogical to meet his doppelganger?
Anyway, he was past his old shyness (plus let’s be honest all that loneliness in his previous world had made him gone a little crazy) and the other Sam was walking away.
Without thinking about it too much, Sam barged into the pub.
There were a lot of people inside, and it was much bigger than he expected, but at the end of the bar were his friends.
All of them: Col, Mor, Sol, El, Ant, Ju, Go and Mog, sitting around a table.
”Well that was quick” said Col.
”What?” mumbled Sam.
”Yeah, it takes you so much longer to change usually” she continued, “what’s up with the ragged clothes?”
”And that face, boy you look like you’ve seen a ghost” added Go, to which Sam stuttered: “I don’t…I…no. I’m okay, you…”
“Is it because of the boat?” interrupted Sol, “Do you trust us so little to make such a long face?”
He realized then that he couldn’t really come in here and take his other self’s place like it was nothing; sure they did look the same as his old pals, but he wasn’t feeling right, lying to them like that.
He was about to tell them when Ant cut him short:
”Anyway, we’re all ready: we have the map you drew, compass, provisions, and we even dressed like you wanted us to.”
Now that he pointed that out, Sam noticed they were all wearing sailor clothes.
“Ready for what?” he asked.
”Come on, cut the crap already” replied Mor, “You promised, and you’re not getting out of it with that stupid “oh no, oh I don’t, oh what” act; we’ve waited a long time for this so we’re going now”.
”Going where?” asked Sam.
”Nowhere.” She said, “You told us that. You’re the one who named it! ”
”Nowhere” he mumbled again. “What’s that?”
”The theme park island which was supposedly lost, you’re the one who found it, remember?” Mor was getting angry and, precisely for that reason, she was exactly like the one he knew.
”Cut him some slack, he’s just tired. You know he can get a little cloudy sometime” saved Mog.
Sam felt relieved, they really were the same, although a little different from the people he knew back in his world.
Maybe he could pull this off somehow.
Then they all went off to the harbor, and apparently Sam had a big old pirate ship of his own.
He and his friends were now on the boat, which seemed ridiculously large for their little crew.
It didn’t bother him so much, considering all that had happened.
It had become pretty normal for things not to make any sense.
”Let us handle it” Mog told him.
”And please do not question our every single moves” added El.
”Don’t worry, I’ll go sit on the deck.”
They all looked at each other with surprise, not used to that kind of response from him, but they shrugged it off in the end.
Maybe he was more reasonable now that he looked so tired.
It took about forty minutes to get the ship ready, and he hesitated one last time about telling them the truth, but the vessel had already sailed out from the little harbor town by the time he had made up his mind.
He would tell them when they got back, thinking he could at least enjoy one little trip before having to face his weird reality.
The sea (or the ocean, he wasn’t sure) was calm, and the wind slowly pushed the ship forward.
It really was a nice sensation, rising above the waters.
The taste of salt on his skin.
At some point, they even saw dolphins swimming alongside the boat.
Everyone was smiling (for this was their first time sailing on their own without Pirate Sam shouting orders) and it could have been a perfect day if a storm wasn’t coming their way.
At first it seemed a little dark offshore, and then it was right over them.
Black clouds, loud noises hovering over them, waves getting bigger by the minute: soon they were in the middle of it all.
”I know you like a little storm from time to time, but this is getting out of hand” Ju shouted to him through the wind.
Sam didn’t say a thing, he was lost: never had he sailed a ship on his own in his life.
”I…I don’t know how to do this, can’t we just turn back and try again another day?”
He was sweating now and everyone was looking at him.
”We can’t just turn back now” she replied, “we’re in the middle of the storm, either we make it through or we sink, that’s your motto for God’s sake!”
A gigantic blow shook the ship, and one part of the sails was ripped from the mast.
They all jumped around it, trying to fix it.
Sam was petrified, what had he done?
“Come on do something!” shouted Mog, running in his direction.
“What are you doing?” he continued, “you’re the only one who can get us out of here, DO SOMETHING!”
”I’m not the Sam you know!” he spilled out, “I’m not a navigator nor a pirate nor anything!
I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I should have told you sooner, I…”
Sam read all kind of emotions on Mog’s face: surprise, incomprehension, anger; but it all went away with the next wave.
His friend was taken away by the waters. He heard him scream, and the whole world turned upside-down.